Monday, August 24, 2015

Mission life!

Archery at the Chateau

Bourges excursion….

This week was uber awesome, but super tiring! 
On Tuesday we decided to do a "finding day" in Orleans, we needed to find some new people! We contacted all day and taught a couple lessons, met some very interesting people lol.
Then Wednesday we had a bunch of rdv. And met with the DMP. I got an email from the mission stating I was officially departing Dec.10th...weird. 
Thursday we went to Bourges and had district meeting in their chapel. It was good and while we were in the meeting this guy walks in and the elder who is in Bourges went to go see what was up, then the district leader left, and we sat there for like 10 minutes, finally I popped my head out only to see them teaching the garbage man who came to give them a flyer lol. So then the zone leaders we're like, Ahhh... I said lets just continue with the meeting, so I got up and pretended to be the district leader and continued with the lesson making up random stuff that went with the topic they were all laughing so hard. Then like a minute later the district leader came back and was like what the heck is going on here? Haha. It's ok the zonies were there laughing too. But, because of that stunt the DL called me Sunday night and is making me do the formation Tuesday hahaha. Karma. So, I have to give a training on "what it means to me to be a successful missionary"... In French. I think we're the only foreign mission that has to have all of our meetings in the mission language because we have a French president. But it's good, it keeps us on our toes with the language. And word on the street is that the France Paris mission speaks on average better French than the Lyon mission lol. Anyways, then we went out and did contacting and we were walking down a street and there was this sign posted to a pole, so naturally I had to read it when there was a picture of a cat, well me reading this poster I guess was super rare in France because then everyone wanted to see what I was looking at hahaha, so we attracted people! We got to teach a lesson. Then after the contacting session we all met back up and ate at the BEST Chinese place! Dad it gives Shanghai a run for its money. Like it was Good. I think this is my favorite district ever! We are all super close friends, and not one of us is from Utah! Can you believe it! Soeur kemp is from so California, Merrill is from Idaho, dudfield from Australia, Williams from Oklahoma, omohundro from Kentucky. So it's pretty surprising! 
Then Friday was absolutely hilarious. We went to go see a less active who lives on a river boat an hour and a half away. That was a day to remember, and best part we are going back to help work on it. She has a little 12 week old puppy too! Reminds me of when Kona and Moki were little. Anyway, after the mission I have to tell you about her, she is awesome. 
Saturday we did the coolest thing too, the relief society wanted to do a bonding activity, which here I guess means going to a chateau, picnicking, and playing 1700's games lol. We went to chateau Meung sur Loire. It's pronounced like if you say "man" then drop the "n" and make a nasal sound at the end of the a, you've got it, just add a "sir" and "Lowar". Voila you can speak French. Haha the tour was so cool it's super hands on chateau and you can touch everything, and they have so much stuff, they show you how they lived in the olden days. It was probably one of my favorite chateaus I've ever been to. Almost everyone agreed it was better than chambourg, just because it's so interactive, and the people that work there are so cool. And we got to play archery haha. On top of it two of our less actives were there and one of our amies! 
Sunday we had 3 amies at church and finalized baptismal plans for Vanessa for the 26 of September. We're so excited! Also mini miracle for us, we had no money because our reimbursements from Paris trajet haven't come in yet, so we were super worried about groceries this week, and as we were standing talking to our amies after church a member came up to me with a huge bag full of groceries! What! Literally coolest thing of my life, I thanked him profusely for it, but he was like, sister, like no problem! I wish I could do more. Oh man I love the members here! They really take such good care of us. We went shopping today and had just enough money for the week! It was so cool. 
Learning opportunities this week. Comme d'habitude..
I have thought a lot about my entire mission all in perspective, as we are both approaching our 14th month on the mission. We have been reminiscing on our "blue" days (when you are being trained) and then when we trained, our other towns, and companions, the MTC, etc. and now both getting our departure questionnaire. It's been a roller coaster year that's for sure, but one I would never take back. There have been days where you feel you are tried beyond your capacity, and days when you are on top of the world and nothing could go wrong. Recently during our interviews I was waiting and only the blue in our district was standing there waiting with me elder Dudfield. I asked him for real how he was finding the mission? How he was doing with everything, and being trained. He said, "I've been preparing my entire life, and always knew I would serve a mission, but even with all of that, it's still been the hardest thing I have ever done. And the only way to know what it is like, or why it's so hard, is to serve a mission. But, I would do it again all over." Well said my friend. It's just been such a crazy year of ups and downs, but this is my most precious year, one I would do over again, because malgré nos épreuves, we find happiness in who we are, and the gospel principles that we found our lives in. One of my favorite quotes ever, "be willing at any moment to sacrifice what you are for what you can become"

Bonne semaine! 
Soeur Stevens 

Monday, August 17, 2015

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also...

Sorry this week isn't super detailed, it went by really fast and I was very busy. We started by having a super fun soirée famille with the young adults and played games, and they wanted us to do it in English, anyway we had a super fun time, and our amie who is a young adult came and she had a blast. So we now have them scheduled for every Monday! Then Tuesday was zone conference and we went to Paris. It was a really good conference, but we were a little late with trains so that's why I was in the back in the photos I'm sure you've already looked at from Facebook lol. I had the best interview ever with Soeur babin, I LOVE HER, she really is like another mom to the missionaries. We just talked about my testimony, and the change that happens to us. Then I talked with President and mostly just about going home, he told me what to start doing, and I'll send another email with more detail, I think you have to call SLC. Missionary department travel. Anyway, after a long day of us being one of the last for interviews, we finally made it to the gare, and voila our train left, so we all had to take the train to Orleans, and then it's like a fork that splits to Bourges and Blois, but when we got to Orleans the train only kept going to Bourges, so we took the Blois elders and walked across town to the big gare, where they found the next train didn't leave for a good 1.5 hours. None of us had had dinner or water since lunch in conference and it was 9 at night, so we told them if they chilled in our parking lot we would give them some water. So we all kinda sat there in our parking lot waiting for their train lol they didn't get home until 11. Yikes! But he was the DL, so I don't think that was a worry. Then Wednesday and Thursday we went to NOGENT for exchanges. It was super cool to see the ville again, and I got to see the bishop, and some members I worked with that we're like, "Soeur Stevens! We thought you would be home by now! How long has it been?" Hahaha thanks guys, I love them. Oh and a member I knew from Rennes got his mission call to Indiana Indianapolis mission, and was visa waiting in NOGENT so I got to see him too! Then on the RER ride we were sitting next to this guy who was Asian and speaking some other language, I was like eh, maybe mandarin? Nope. It was Cambodian lol (sorry Andrew). But I asked him, something about RER and he saw my plaque so he started asking questions, he speaks English more than French, and I asked him if he knew the Elder missionaries. From what he said it sounded like he had known them, but he said no he'd never met them, just seen them every week since he'd moved to France. He said, "I see them all the time always laughing and smiling, but it's not just that, they have a genuine happiness, I can't find that here in France." It was awesome! So we gave him our number and I hope it goes well! He was super curious about us though, all from just seeing the missionaries always with a smile on their face. He taught me a lesson that day, sometimes missionary work really is just a smile to a stranger. Then Friday we saw more miracles, a guy stopped us while he was on his bike and asked if he could take our lessons and learn more about us.. Ok.Ok hand sign🏼Fisted hand sign🏼Smiling face with Sunglasses im feeling on top of the world haha. Saturday came and went just as fast, and Sunday we got to meet some non practicing members thanks to an elderly couple, and a missed appointment lol. Lots of stuff happened, and once again full of miracles, and learning opportunities. I still find there are so many life lessons I need to learn, and so many ways to learn them here. I just feel like sometimes 18 months there is no way I can learn everything I need, but hopefully I'm getting something. 
One big lesson this week: 
"Oublie toi, et va travailler" forget yourself and go to work. I realized at the beginning of the week, I was kinda thinking about home, and reading through emails of all the fun things my friends were doing back home, and I think a little piece of my heart was there, because that was where I had placed my treasure. 
3 nephi 13:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
At first I thought maybe it's just going to bit a bit of a rough week, but after a couple days, I realized there was something different. It was me who was making myself suffer. It was because I was focusing more on myself, than I was on others. One thing Soeur Erickson taught me was, you can be the best missionary on the planet and find x number of investigators in a week, and have x number of lessons, but the real questions is "how much time out of everyday, when it's just you, do you think about your amies, and your members?" That is the real test, and I don't think anyone is a perfect missionary, but I do believe what we choose to spend our time on says a lot about our character, and if we begin to choose to think of others instead of ourselves, it can lead to a whole lot happier life. I had started to think more about home, than the blessings I had in front of me. When we put our treasure(time) on others, there will our hearts(happiness) be also. Anyway, that is my rant, thinking about others leads to actions to help others, which leads to changing lives, "The only limit you have is the one you set yourself, we'll never know our full potential unless we push our selves to find it"  -Travis Rice
Love you tons,
Soeur Stevens 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Characteristics and Goals God has for you...

So at district meeting this week we did an activity to help us
remember why we are here and what our potential is, but the potential
God sees in us. He asked us two questions, the first,
What are the characteristics God wants you to be or to have? And the second,
What are the goals God has for you? Then we went into different rooms
and read our blessings and wrote down what we thought were our
answers, it was a really fun activity, I think you should try it!

Characteristics God wants you to be or to have:
-shining example to others
-light to those who know me
-keen mind
-understanding heart
-have the art of healing and helping
-intellectual and intuitive ability to see into minds and hearts
-strength and ability to sit in judgement of others
-righteous judgement
-move through this life with grace
-ability to good without calling attention to yourself
-peacemaker and arbiter

Goals God has for you:
-my testimony to become a consuming fire within me
-dedicate my life to the service of the gospel
-complete my task which I was sent here to do
-succeed at anything I set my mind and heart to
-called upon to preside in the Kingdom of God
-invited to council with others
-give strength to those who need it
-mend the broken hearts
-proclaim gospel of Jesus Christ and bring home to Zion those who
would embrace it
-invoking powers of priesthood in my future home.
-create a sanctuary of peace and security in the tumultuous times to come.
-look upon generations from covenants I make in temple
-come forward in the first resurrection
-embrace Heavenly Father and hear,"well done my good and faithful servant"
-lay upon the alter a life worthy of all acceptation, and all emulation.
-future is bright with hope, there is nothing within reason you cannot

Meaning of Love

I was talking to some other missionaries discussing our life after the mission, and how nervous we were to start our lives again, they had read this article, and given it to me. I feel like it's everything the mission tries to teach you about love wrapped up into an article. Lol
I did however realize that love is controllable, and when we do our best, we can determine our happiness with others.  

The Meaning of Love

The Meaning of Love 
 Clark Swain 
 A song tells us that “love is a many-splendored thing.” In a humorous way love has been referred to as a supersaturated solution of sentimental slush. It has also been described as an insane desire to squeeze orange juice out of a lemon. Throughout the centuries poems have been written, songs have been sung, mountains have been climbed, and battles have been fought because of love. Even murder and suicide have been committed in the name of love. We do not always think in an accurate way about love. One of the incorrect and irrational attitudes we tend to have is that love is merely a mystical feeling, a mysterious power that takes over; and when it comes, we “fall into it,” helpless to control it. We are prone to think that it can vanish as mysteriously as it came and that we are helpless to prevent its leaving. A number of months ago a woman came to me for counseling. She explained that she had fallen out of love with her husband and had fallen in love with another man; she and the new man were considering divorcing their marriage partners so they could marry each other. Each had several children--ten children were involved--and yet they were considering giving up these children and their partners because they had fallen in love with each other. The woman felt that she was as helpless to learn how to love her husband once again as she was helpless to terminate her love for the other man. Another individual who came for counseling told me that he was thinking about divorcing his wife because, he said, “I don’t think I love her anymore,” as if it were impossible for him to do anything to change his feeling. Such a person needs to learn the meaning of real love. We need to stop thinking of love as a mysterious power that has control over us. We need to think of love as a way to treat other people, rather than as something that happens to us; then we will begin to have power over our loving. Those who conclude that love cannot be defined--that there is no way to explain it and it is something we cannot understand--are those who think incorrectly about love, who think of it as a mystical feeling, a mysterious power, a trap into which one may fall. Those who think of love as it really is can define it, explain it, and understand it. It helps if we think of a person as being loving, or if we think of one as either having ability to express love or lacking this ability. One of the most important things to look for in a marriage partner is the extent to which that person is able to express love. And in preparing ourselves for marriage, one of the most essential characteristics to incorporate within ourselves is the ability to give love as well as to receive it. This ability begins in childhood, in the loving care of a mother’s arms. To illustrate, a city boy went to visit his cousin on a farm. He watched carefully as his cousin milked the cows, took the milk into the house, ran it through the separator, and then took some of it back to the barnyard where he gave it to the calves. Finally, with a tone of enlightenment in his voice, the city boy said, “Oh, I see what you do. You put it into them when they are young; and when they get big, you take it out of them.” This is the way it is with people and their ability to give love. The more love we give a child in his younger years, the more ability he will have to give love throughout his adulthood. When parents give love to a child, they are helping him develop loveability. Babies and children need love just as they need vitamin C and whole grain cereal. It is impossible to give a baby too much love. One who receives insufficient love may become retarded in his physical growth and his personality development. He may become emotionally and physically ill. One of the important reasons for giving an abundance of love to a child is that it helps him develop self-esteem--appreciation, respect, and love for himself. And the more fondness one has for himself, the more able he is to give love to others. The selfish person isn’t the one who loves himself; it is the one who has negative feelings about himself, who is self-centered, who is focusing on himself, trying to overcome his misgivings about himself. One who is at war with himself does not have peace of mind; he has inner conflict. If we can help a child develop self-love, then he is likely to be free from inner conflict and free to give kindness and love to others. In one study recently, people were asked to indicate what they loved. Ninety-two percent said they loved children, 86 percent said they loved God, and 66 percent said they loved animals, but only 33 percent said they loved themselves. We need to stop thinking that it is wrong for a person to love himself. The Bible doesn’t say, “Love thy neighbour instead of thyself”; it says, “Love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matt. 22:39. Italics added.) If a woman says, “I know my husband loves me, but he hardly ever tells me so, and he seldom shows affection,” it is possible that this man grew up in a family where love was seldom expressed. It is important for parents to tell their children often that they love them and to physically express love to them; and a husband and wife should frequently show love to each other in the presence of their children so that their children learn that to feel love alone is not enough--it must also be expressed. Many persons have not grown up in loving families; they still can learn to love, however, by learning what a loving person does and by making an effort to do those things. Dr. Erich Frohm, in his book The Art of Loving (New York: Harper & Row, 1956), defines and explains what a loving person does. A loving person cares about the loved one. Parents who really love their children take good care of them. A person who says, “I love flowers,” but who doesn’t water and cultivate his flowers, really is not loving his own flowers. A person who says, “I love dogs,” but who doesn’t feed his own dog, is not giving love to that dog. Loving is caring. A loving person respects other persons. A part of respecting people is not to force them. It may be necessary at times for an adult to force a child to do something against his wishes; but when two grown people are relating to each other, if there is love between them, there is no force. We may try to persuade a person to see our point of view, or we may try to convince him to do something we would like him to do, but if we really love him, we do not force him. A loving person responds to others. Since some people have more ability to love than others, it is reasonable for us to conclude that some people have more ability to respond than others, but we can learn to improve our responses. Loving is empathizing, trying to understand how the other person feels and letting him know that we understand. A loving person has concern for the welfare, progress, and happiness of the loved one. He not only has concern; he does something about it by making his resources available to the loved one. Loving is giving. It is the giving of material things to others, but even more important, it is the giving of one’s time. Among the gifts a father gave to his son for Christmas was a letter that read: “To my dear son: During the coming year my gift to you is one hour of my time each day for you to use as you see fit.” Isn’t this an act of love? Loving is giving, but what about a person who becomes upset because the gift he receives is not as fine and luxurious as the gift he has given? This person has a bargaining approach to giving. A true gift of love is one that is given with no strings attached; it is given with no concern about what will be received in return. Who is richer: he who has much or he who gives much? The giver is the richer, for he always receives for having given. Consider the parent who gives abundantly to his children by educating them and helping them maintain good health; then, when they grow up to become happy, productive adults, they are able to give more in return to their aging parents. The builder who gives extra time and effort to build an excellent house gains satisfaction from the contentment of the family that lives in it. The actor on the stage who gives extra preparation and exertion to his performance receives from the audience their approval and applause. An important dimension of loving is that the loving person also makes a conscious effort to receive. He is willing to receive not only physical gifts but also suggestions, advice, and acts of kindness. Have you ever known a person who will not allow you to do anything for him? who will not even permit you to open the door for him but always insists that you go first? who will not allow you to pay for refreshments when you are accompanying him on an outing? A person who is not willing to receive deprives others of giving. Receiving is an important part of loving. Loving is sharing. Have you ever seen a rainbow or a beautiful sunset when you were alone and thought, “Wouldn’t it be lovely to share this with someone?” Or have you ever been alone during a time of illness or trouble and thought, “Wouldn’t it be consoling to have someone here to share this experience”? Loving is forgiving. A loving person forgives one who has wronged him, and he also forgives himself for mistakes he has made. Guilt feelings can have some value in motivating a person to stop whatever it is that is causing him to feel guilty. To keep the guilt feelings beyond this point only interferes with a person’s effective living and happiness. It is a mistake for one not to forgive himself for something he has done that he considers to be wrong. Another word for love is charity. Thus, when Paul tells us what charity is in the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, he is really explaining what love is. A loving person suffers long and is kind. His love is of long duration; he envies not. He is not puffed up. Arrogance, boastfulness, and conceit are not his ways; he is humble. A loving person does not behave himself unseemly; he thinks no evil; he bears all things; he endures all things; and he is not easily provoked to anger. A loving person does not hold a grudge against others; he realizes that to do so is to bring more harm to himself than to them. Real love is basically the same in all human relationships, whether between a grandfather and a grandmother, a newly married couple, or a mother and her child. It involves caring, respecting, responding, empathizing, having concern, giving, receiving, sharing, forgiving. Notice that these words we are using are verbs, and verbs denote action. Loving requires action. A person who says to another, “You have killed all the love I ever had for you,” does not understand the art of loving, because nothing can kill love; if it dies, it commits suicide, because love is not a measure of the one being loved, but of the one doing the loving. Whether or not we give love should not depend on another person’s attributes and behavior. It may be easier to love one person than another because one may be more charming, more pleasant, and more physically attractive. But our loving should not be determined by the nature and the behavior of another person; it is not just a feeling--it is a way of treating a person. If a person is mature in his ways of loving, then for him love is not blind. Mature love sees more, not less; but because it sees more, it is willing to see less. The mature lover is other-centered in his loving, not self-centered. He is patient and willing to prepare for a good marriage. If a man and a woman are mature in their way of loving, their love relationship will enhance their growth as individuals. What about being in love? It is possible that a couple may have great capacity to give love as individuals, but they are not in love. Perhaps they have different backgrounds and interests. He’s from the country and she’s from the city; he’s interested in ranching and the out-of-doors and she’s interested in travel and music. He is Catholic and she is Protestant. He desires to have children and she is not interested in having a family. Thus, even though each may have great ability to give love, it would not be wise for them to marry. Maybe you are wondering if you are really in love with your partner, if the two of you have a genuine love that will stand the test of time. If there is admiration between you, if you agree on most things, if you cooperate instead of compete, you are probably in love. If you feel comfortable together and can relax and be natural, you are probably in love. If you feel proud to be seen together in public, if you have similar interests, and if you really trust each other’s loyalty, you are probably in love. If you enjoy one another’s company so much that when you are apart you have a longing to be together, and if you have feelings of deep affection for each other, you are probably in love. The more of these dimensions that exist in your relationship, the more resilient and lasting your love is likely to be. Love does not consist of gazing into one another’s eyes, but of looking outward in the same direction. When a man and a woman have learned to do this, though they are two separate persons, a state of inter-person fusion exists between them so that in a real sense they have become one. Each feels toward the other, “I am all for you and you are all for me.” Thus, love is truly “a many-splendored thing.” 

Dr. Swain is associate professor of marriage and family life at Montana State University and marriage counselor for the district court. He serves as Young Marrieds leader and assistant general secretary in the Aaronic Priesthood--Adult in Bozeman Ward, Helena Stake.

This weeks thought and quote on happiness.

« Le véritable voyage de découverte ne consiste pas à chercher de nouveaux paysages, mais à avoir de nouveaux yeux » Marcel prost 


My dear brothers and sisters, my message for you today is that there is a different path than ones of fear and doubt or self-indulgence--a path that brings peace, confidence, and serenity in life. You can’t control all of the circumstances of your life. Things both good and challenging will happen to you that you never expected. However, I declare that you have control of your own happiness. You are the architects of it.

      I can still remember these wise words pronounced by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf during the last general conference:

      “The older we get, the more we look back and realize that external circumstances don’t really matter or determine our happiness.

      “… We determine our happiness.”

      No, your happiness is not really the result of the circumstances of your life. It is much more the result of your spiritual vision and the principles upon which you base your life. These principles will bring you happiness regardless of the unexpected challenges and surprises you will inevitably face during your journeys here on earth. 

Wish you could see what I see even for a day!

Went to chateau chambourg! It was super fun, and the couple we went with was a hoot, she reminded me of aunt Amy. Then we went and did some emails, I got all your photos and saved them, we went and taught our less  active "my little one" haha.

Well we started out late, but Dad that recipe you have of grandmas brownies has come in handy, we were in charge of district dessert, so I made some really fast, and it's like the one dessert recipe you can make in France, did I ever tell you guys how different the cooking is here haha. Anyway we got ready and got out the door with 4 minutes until our train left, sprinted to the gare and we were running on the platform as the conductor blew the whistle, and we jumped on right as the doors closed haha it was pretty epic timing. Anyways, we went to Blois for the day, first for district meeting, then for contacting. It was super fun! We talked to soooo many people, and out of the 3 equipes we got 3 lessons and 7 contacting cards given out... HUGE success for Blois! Anyway, we then met back up and ate a sandwich and talked about it. Oh man, everyday I fall more in love with this country, mission life, and I have found so many wonderful friends here! We then took the train home.

We went to Marie's for our lesson and taught Priesthood and auxiliaries. It went really well. It's kinda really hard to explain to our amis why there aren't any women in the first presidency, then why women can't have the priesthood. But we testified our the role women do play in the church and on the earth, I think it went ok, but it was one of the harder lessons I've had just because there isn't really an explanation as to why women don't have the priesthood, it's just faith. Then on our way to do pass bys we met the Bourges elders in the gare traveling through Orleans. We talked for a second then the gare guys came. Well that's what we call this crew of dancers who do break dancing in the gare, they are pretty good too lol. We watched them for a while, and then Elder Merrill was like, "man this is better than step up" hahahaha. We also had our DMP meeting, and finalized plans for a movie night Soeur Kemp and I organized, and since we were there I used the computer and guess what! I turned in my scholarship for Utah State, so let's pray that I will get that. I asked Elder Merrill (who went to Utah state before, and he's going to be there after) if a lot of students got the scholarship, he said, yes they really try and give it to everyone. He knew at least 8 people, so I'm really praying that that will go through. 

Well we woke up and did our studies. Then we went down to the immigration office right next to the cathedral and waited forever, then one of the dates was wrong on one of the papers so after all that they didn't accept it. So we called the office and she said they would email us directly with the right paper, but we had to wait a good thirty minutes, so we ate subway on the cathedral steps, it was a nice break, but it took until 4 until we got everything and then we just did pass bys until our appointment with a less active family. 

Round 2 legality haha. And she got it! Haha after we visited a less active. And weekly planned 

Went and taught some Amis haha and more mission stuff! Lol 

We went to church and translated for a German family who were there on vacation visiting all the chateaux near by. They were from Hamburg, we got to talk to them about the Berlin mission a little too. It was cool to see what other European missions were like. Then we went with S.Javoy and taught one of our amies. Then we went and tried to do this pass by and ended up in what kinds looked like a Brazilian ghettos haha where the streets are about as narrow as a Mini Cooper, and all gravel, with doors and paths that lead in all directions. Haha sometimes I wish you could see what I see even for just a day. Then on our way back we were waiting at the bus stop and there were tons of cars going by, so we decided to make people smile, that was fun, in the 10 minutes we waited we got 15 smiles! Haha I love my life. 

Today! We cleaned, went shopping, prepped for the coming week, and oh we will be in Paris for a couple days, conference, then exchanges... IM GOING BACK TO NOGENT THIS WEEK! So stoked for that! I get to see my blue ville again! Oh and next week I'm going to Bourges. Fun stuff planned for the transfer. 

A week of adventures ...

Email: theme of this week, was "be inspired" 
Monday: well after p day this super cool Tahitian family picked us up and took us to dinner! So we were in the car and they were like, what do you want we'll take you anywhere, so we finally all agreed on sushi... Dad your going to hate me, but I genuinely really love sushi! They took us to this really nice place and we got to eat tons of it! I tried some cool stuff, but my favorite is the salmon sushi, with a little bit of avocado on top. Sushi. Then we ate dessert and shared a message on the living Christ. We took a selfi in the car with them haha. I'll send it too. And they asked if they could help teach with us, so they are coming with us on Thursday to our less actives lesson! 

We picked out a ton of pass bys we needed to do, and started contacting. We came back for lunch and I got your letter! Haha yes I still have my original clothes, but there are things called soeur boxes in each apartment, where you find all the clothes that other sisters left behind, so I just wear them and leave them, so I still have everything you got, I do wear it, but why not wear some other things, you can only go so long wearing the same thing everyday lol. I feel bad for the elders haha. Then we did a ton more pass bys lol. We ended the day with a really good rdv with our amie Annabelle. She is super cool and reads the Book of Mormon by herself, she is French, and asks us questions.... So basically GOLDEN. Hahah. Then we came home and ate dinner. Good day ;)

We started out with a rdv with our amie Marie. And then we came back to eat lunch and we waited for the plumber to come. Then guess what! For the first time in two months I flushed our toilet! He replaced the top part that was broken, and no more mop bucket flushes lol. Then on his way out he made the mistake of asking what it is we did for our "work" hehe we taught him the articles of faith and a little bit of restoration. Then he said he would try to come to church. But the thing that got us was he said, "I'm curious about your religion, you are very clean people, and I can see you have high morals, I like that." Well, COOL! The real kicker is that he has a tattoo across his back that is like an entire image, with black wife beater on, and military boots, with 6 hoop earrings and a ponytail, with shaved eyebrows, which here in France means you belong to a biker gang lol. And he was curious in the church because, and I quote, "looks like you have high standard of living, I like that" haha. Soeur kemp and I both just looked at each other and were like, well we might have been the ones teaching, but God taught us today. So... We hope to see Céderic the plumber on Sunday at church. 

District meeting! We have a new district leader, straight from the heart of Kentucky. Super southern accent he is a bit younger in the mission and it's his first time being DL, the zone leaders called us and we're like, "be nice to the guy it's his first time, ok!" Hahaha! It's ok he gave a good formation. We all made district goals for the transfer, and then the zone leaders gave their formation, and they created a "finding bucket list" so it's challenges we have to complete by the end of the transfer and if everyone does them we get something, idk I forget, but either way it's fun. We went out to a couple rdv's, but we were walking by this tram stop on our way to an rdv, and we passed this girl, walked a little ways and my comp was like, hey we need to go back and talk to that lady, but we will be late, and now it's awk because she just saw us me challenge accepted, so I turned around and my comp was like, crap I don't know what to ask her! And I don't know how I just had this surge of blindless faith and went straight to her, and asked the first thing that came to my mouth, "does this tram go to downtown?" Hahaha I'm crazy. My comp just stood there neither of us knew what to do next, after she said, "yes it does." And I knew it did, but I was like oh crap I don't know what else to ask, but I just kept asking stupid questions, so I was like, "oh are you from here?" And she was like, "actually no, I'm from *a tiny island*" then I asked, "oh do you have family there?" And she was like (at this point a little creeped out, but still answered the question), "yeah, my mom is from there, and actually she is a baptized member of your church, I know you missionaries pretty well." YES PRAISES! I'm not crazy! Well then my comp chimed in and we had a nice discussion and got her contact info. oh it was a funny miracle.

Well we went to a RDV with a less active, who we see every week, and I had thought about it a lot, with S.Erickson we taught some stuff about the atonement, but I wanted to talk more about it. So we choose a Mormon message, I think it's "climbing mountains" in English. Anyway we went through and the spirit was getting stronger, and by the time we watched the video it was the strongest I've ever felt the spirit in a rdv. I had to hold back tears, yes it was a first for me on the mission. But she was really crying, we had a very beautiful discussion on why trials are given to us in this life, and what our purpose here on this earth is. I testified about my mission, and we both got emotional. But, I said, "you know before I left on my mission, everyone tells you it's the greatest thing ever, it's hard, but it will be the best decision ever! So coming here after making that decision, and finding out, what "hard" really meant, and in the beginning, you have to really ask yourself, is it really worth it? And I did, many times, but in the end I decided I had made this decision, and I need to live with it. Well now nearing the end of my mission, I can tell you yes, there are moments that will take you down, and you will need your faith to be anchored, but with the faith we acquire, we can get through our trials, and there is a happiness beyond what we can imagine, but it's not found anywhere else, but here in this gospel. I believe that this strongly correlates with what we did in the pre existence. We knew it was going to be hard, very hard, but we made the choice to come to this earth, to accept these trials, but to learn from them, it's here we act, and anchor our faith. We knew very well that it would not be an easy experience, but we chose it. I testify that there is happiness in this life, and God has given you a way to find it, all you have to do is turn to Him. He is waiting, He has a perfect plan" the spirit was really strong, and I think I finally saw change. What every missionary hopes and prays for. Then we went on and finished planning for next week. We went and met another less active family, and they said they would come to church! 

DL told us guess what! Day of finding!.... In Blois! I get to go to Blois for an entire day and wonder the streets and contact people! Sooooo excited, so if there are any cool places I should check out, tell me! Anyways, we went to our first rdv of the morning which was our rdv with the elders ami, Jean-luc. It was good...we had our member Melody with us too. Anyway, then we went to the church and had our lesson with an amie Orleans has had for a long time, and made some goals with her and hopefully got her into progression. Then we went and visited our recent convert, love her! She is the one that calls me "my little one". We showed a video on overcoming trials and talked a lot about God's plan for each of us. It went really well, like all of our rdv's went really well that day! 

Wow...where do I even start. Well, we forgot until that morning that we were supposed to teach the gospel principles class, but in my defense it was a pressed week, we had a lot of things. So we read the chapter that morning and headed to church. We got there and our amie came, Marie, which is awesome, then...something neither of us were expecting... THE PLUMBER. Yep he came to church, ha tattoos, motorcycle, earrings and all. Get this... The priesthood lesson was on eternal marriage lol. Anyway and also this other guy from California came so we are going to meet him another time in the week. But second hour came and there was a confusion and like 3 members came to get one of us to talk to someone before they left. So Soeur kemp left, and I had to teach the class all alone! Ah it was rough, but got through it, and she came back just before we finished and we showed a bible video of the Good Samaritan, and the lesson was on service. Anyway so then during sacrament the family compos da silva invited us to eat with the American couple for lunch. So we went over and had an amazing 6 course meal, including 2 desserts :) oh it was good, they had some Good Brie, I can finally say that now that I have had cheese every week since I came to France! Haha. Anyway then we went and had a rdv with one of our armies, but we were driven home by the American couple who offered to take us to chambourg for p day! So we might do that for p-day. Then when we were on the tram I walked on and there weren't any seats so I just stood there for a good minute and looked left and there were three seats open, so I walked over there and I was sitting next to 3 older men, like grandpas age, and I scraped up my arm exercising earlier in the weak and it was now scabing up so I started to itch it and one of the older guys was like, hey! Don't do that hahaha. I was like oh sorry, so he proceeded to tell me this"French remedy" for curing my itchy scabs on my arm (he said tonight I have to pick them off, then rub alcohol on it then cover it with honey and wrap it over night, and voila healed)haha. well since he contacted me, naturally I kept the conversation going, and asked him more. He opened up and we started talking, turns out he unfolds his life to me and he was a solider for France in the Algerian war, he pulled out his wallet and showed me all his identity stuff, it was pretty cool. Turns out he was like somewhat of a POW,and was starving for food, and was Christian, surrounded by Muslims, but he said they gave him tea. Anyway he was super cool, and then I gave him our number, so I really hope he calls, he is French and married and totally got the coolest stories from the war! Haha I love being a missionary I get to meet the coolest people!

Anyway that was my week, another full of adventures, and learning experiences, and hopefully, some service. Hope you all have a fun week in Canada, tell everyone hi for me! 
Soeur Stevens

Look at others through the eyes of Christ..

Mom notes:
So I thought some more about what I was saying with disobedient missionaries with responsibilities, and I read this email from soeur Ericsksons brother who served as AP in his mission In Guatemala, she asked him the same question and this was his response. (And I want you to know that this is very much real mission life outside the states)

"K. So missions are weird. and some are called to leadership positions within the mission so they can learn things. Remember, leadership positions doesn't always mean they are for leaders. or because they are more obedient. leadership doesn't mean anything. It means that God wants those elders to learn something different. I was a zone leader and busted by butt with an amazing companion that i got along with so well. Two changes later, he went home and I was with an extremely terribly lazy missionary. Let's just say he has a child in Guatemala that was born a few months after his mission. you do the math.... haha so needless to say, he was wicked haha. but we still had some success. He had a cellphone in the mission he would call some girls on every so often. I told him that I'm not his father nor his keeper. Remember that Satan wanted complete control and wouldn't allow us to mess up. I did not prohibit or force him to stop. That's not what we believe in. He could do what he wanted but if it affected me or our investigators in any way then I would make it stop. he respected that but continued to do bad things. I told him I told president and he always liked my honesty. I told president what he was doing and asked why he became a zone leader and why he was a leader in any way. and why he was even on a mission haha. he said, do you know the retention rate in this country. or any country outside the united states? well, it's terrible. We need all the return missionaries we can get to be strong members when they get home. If i send this missionary home, he will never come back to church. he will lead other people away and do Satan's work. But if we have faith in him just like God does, then maybe he can change and be better. I felt inspired to put him into a leadership role to give him responsibility to have him shape up. He told me I should love him for who he is and not for what I see. That I should look to him as if i saw his true potential. After that, i saw him differently. Paige, we never ever know what a person has gone through. No one is perfect and we will never know what is going on in someone's mind when they commit a sin. The only person who does is Christ. And that's why He is the only person who can judge. He knows everything and knows what is going on in that person's head when that sin is being committed. Now remember, that God wants every child of His to come unto Him and join His church. Now, if a missionary is bad and still testifies of the Gospel. if that investigator has that one shot to join the church or forever be cut off, the spirit will still testify to them that it's true. Now, at the end of the day, when that wicked missionary stands before Christ and has to prove himself and answer for all of his sins, as we all will, he/she will feel ashamed. Now, no one is perfect. remember that. I remember one time, this sister missionary trio got 1 lesson a week and 5 contacts. That's terrible for Guatemala. you could walk out the street yell and do better than that. so i called them lazy on the phone when i lost patience. I wasn't perfect then haha and asked for them to forgive me. They didn't improve haha You said i was an amazing missionary. I worked hard yes, but I wasn't perfect Paige. No one is. I had a lot of fun on my mission and enjoyed it a lot. and a lot of people didn't think i was the best or the most obedient missionary. but i had fun and wasn't a robot. You do the same. Never lose your personality or your sense of humor. Don't worry about other missionaries and just love them as Christ would. See them as He would. Now for some advice, Do what the spirit tells you. Tell your mission president what's going on. He will know what to do and give you awesome counsel. This is God's true church but it is has man in it. and we aren't perfect. Just work hard and do your best. Don't give in to peer pressure or anything. When you come home from your mission, you will look back and say, yep i didn't slack and i didn't waste my time or money. I worked hard and God is proud of me. Numbers don't mean a thing. Become converted and gain that testimony."

When I read that it kinda all made sense. I understand now. I need to work on me, and always remember to look at others the way God see's them, which is unlimited potential. When I start looking at people this way, I am able to better understand who they are and where they are coming from. It's easier for me to become charitable towards that child of God, and want to give them the gifts this gospel has to offer. I have to say there have been people on the mission that I have met that meet the same criteria as this "zone leader" but I see it now. We might be looking through our own eyes at first, but when we use the eyes of Christ we can see in a whole new light, not only others, but that continues into ourselves. We need to learn that if God loves these people more than imaginable He loves as just the same. Imagine your own potential, and see what you can give to, and share with others. 

More spiritual stuff: 
So I was thinking, no matter what happens on this earth or in this life, as long as you are sealed by the power of the priesthood, your good. Like, it never really occurred to me how powerful Gods love truly is. It's eternally perfect. It blows my mind! Oh love, I learn so much about that on this mission. 
Love and service. Also I have come to the conclusion that soul mates don't exist. If you are living worthily of the gospel well, there is no such thing as "one chance for happiness" God gives it to you in lots of ways, I believe we can be happy with whoever we choose as long as we continue to strive to put the Lord first and work through our problems, love will always be there. We are given the opportunity to create our own soul mates. 

Anyway just some randomness crazy thoughts, 
Je t'aime avec tout mon cœur!

The thing missionaries miss most…..

Well this week has happened really fast that's for sure. I got to spend my last few moments with Soeur Erickson then on Wednesday we left Orléans at about 9h30 to Paris. I got to see Soeur Simpson again, we really have grown pretty close, she wrote me a letter, she is still loving Paris but kinda feeling it getting to her. It's been 9 months of her mission there, and as much as it's hard for her to admit, she just might need a change. I got to see some more old friends, and see some of them die. Meaning leave the mission. I don't know if I mentioned Elder Gram, he's from Denmark, anyway we served in the same zone for like my entire mission, so we became friends and he just died, so that was weird. I feel bad his homecoming is his parents driving from Frankfurt where they live now to pick him up and drive home. Haha he's a sport about it though. Then a Soeur Hales died, I knew her pretty well we served around each other for a long time too, she was comps with Soeur Tupai right before I got there. I just always remembered her as a younger missionary and all of a sudden she's gone! Ah I'm starting to know a lot of the people leaving now and it's weird. I only have 3 transfers left in the mission, it's like people have already started to count me as dead! I guess Wednesday was more of a wake up call than anything haha. 
Then I said goodbye to Soeur Erickson, that was a bit of a tearjerker. But we took our new comps and went for it. 
So here is the catch of that day....
The tickets that I had printed out for the train home to Orléans we're going first to a station in Tours then switching trains to a station called les Aubrais which is on the opposite side of the vile and we live on the street of the other gare. So I thought it was pointless, I called the AP and we got a direct ticket back, so.... As we are waiting for everyone to come I realize that my comp wasn't here yet and our direct train left in 20 minutes, already missed it, so I talked to the zone leader, and he was like, oh I'm on the same train going to Tours, follow us and come on that one, so I was like ok easy. That train though left from Montparnasse (worst gare ever, it's huge and takes like 45 minutes to get through with a ton of stairs for luggage) so we finally get there and my comp was like, hey I haven't printed my ticket, so we go to print it and it doesn't work. We went to the ticket booth thing with the lady and talked to her about it, she was like to get to Orleans you can't take this gare, your ticket is messed up. You have to go to gare Austerlitz. Ahhhhhhh So we returned told the zonies and then the Paris Lilas ZL were there and took us from Montparnasse to Austerlitz. We finally got tickets and got on the train but didn't get home until 16h30. That was a bummer and our bodies were just broken from carrying our luggage all over for so long. BUT, point is we made it to Orléans. We are here, and we are doing well. 

I think from all that hustle yesterday my comp is a little sick and we are both so sore hahahaha, obviously we need to workout more. We did a ton of area book work sorting out Amis and such, with the entire vile now ours we didn't know where to start, but we made some RDV for the coming week, had some miracles, and now we are teaching men, with members haha. We went contacting and found a nice girl, we saw some miracles I must say. Totally worth it. Then out of the blue as I'm just finishing my nightly prayer, the phone rings so I answer it and it's from our amie who really needed some comfort, so I prayed with her on the phone, and planned on seeing her the next day at 10h. 

So we went and saw our amie, she was doing better we talked about the article in the liahona Jesus Christ our prince of peace. She liked it and we set another RDV for the next day too. We came back and did tons of planning and area book because the elders book was so screwed up. Then we went to check the iPad and found out that Vanessa had tried to message us and wanted to meet all this week, so I messaged her back and hopefully Saturday night we can see her on skype! Also I tried the speculoos mc flurry at McDonald's haha, it was really good. Can we get speculoos in the states? 

Well we had our first RDV with our male ami "Bienvenue" and we had a member with us melody, but he frudged us, so we just shared a quick message about temples with the member, she's really cool, she went to BYU Hawaii. Then we had a couple other RDV but we were frudged on all of them. C'est pas grave. Haha then we tried to finish our weekly planning. 

My favorite day of the week! We had an amie at church so it was even better. And we have a couple service opportunities too. Also the elders before they left made us a mangez-vous with a Tahitian family in the ward for Monday. I just feel so refreshed after Sunday, like the weeks is somewhat manageable haha. Oh also we talked about temples too, which brings me to my other points. I've talked about this with every one of my companions, what is the hardest thing about this mission...
Hints: not the...
It's not having a temple in the mission. There are definitely moments on the mission when each missionary has sought for some type of personal peace, which most times can be found at the temple. I think it's one of the things we as missionaries in this mission need to go through. It gives me so much more respect for those people who don't have a temple anywhere near them, or travel days to get to one. I have such an appreciation for temples now, and honestly know that going back to the temple is definitely one of the first things I will do when I get back! 

So during my studies I have been reading, Daughters in my kingdom. I found this quote that I really like, speaking about women Lorenzo Snow said, 
“You have ever been found at the side of the Priesthood, ready to strengthen their hands and to do your part in helping to advance the interests of the kingdom of God; and as you have shared in these labors, so you will most certainly share in the triumph of the work and in the exaltation and glory which the Lord will give to His faithful children.” Just a fun quote I thought I would share 

I love you all hope your week was well,
Soeur Stevens

Trust in the Lord, He has a plan….

Hey so to start off the week..

After pday we went contacting on the river here and met a really cute Chinese couple! It was really hard to communicate, but we prayed it would work, they committed to come to church...we got their number, so let's hope! Then finished it off with some popcorn for dinner! Haha oh but we got a show of fireworks, or as the French say, feu d'artifice, the French start celebrating their independence with fireworks the night of the 13th then up to the 14th there are fireworks going, it was a pound night with some explosions in out parking lot haha, but it was fun to watch. 

We started out by having the office couple come and inspect our apartment, then they drove us to the church so we could meet our member to have a lesson with our amid Marie. And guess what?! She accepted to be baptized the 22 of August! So we are super stoked about it, and we talked about obedience, I shared the scripture D&C 130:20-21 

20 Il y a une loi, irrévocablement décrétée dans les cieux avant la fondation de ce monde, sur laquelle reposent toutes les bénédictions;
21 Et lorsque nous obtenons une bénédiction quelconque de Dieu, c’est par l’obéissance à cette loi sur laquelle elle repose.

I really like these verses, we are truly blessed on our obedience to each and every commandment of God. We talked a lot about blessings that we have seen in our lives and I just love when Soeur Erickson testifies about her family's conversion. The spirit was super strong and the member did an awesome job of sharing experiences, and testifying, but Soeur Penverne served the Belgium Brussels Mission! So it's pretty cool, one of her mission companions was Soeur Babin! Can you believe it! Then we were invited to her house for lunch and it was fun, their family has a "Soeur book" they are books where all the missionaries you serve with write about your time together and put photos and stuff in, everyone has one. So we looked through all the photos of elders back to 2005. It was really fun. Then we came back and did some language study, then headed our way back to the church to have our DMP meeting. Mission leader for the ward meeting, but the elders forgot the meeting, and they lost their phone on the bus, so we had no way of calling them, but we had stopped by that afternoon to tell them, they live 2 doors down from the Penvernes, comes in handy haha. Anyway they showed up late, but they were there none the less. It was sad, every RDV they have scheduled this week they have been frudged on. Sad. Then they rubbed their luck on us, and our RDV got frudged too that night. But ca va, the life goes on haha. All in all it was a good day, we got another baptismal date! 

 We had our last district meeting! We ate racklette which is really good, it's cheese that you melt with a machine not like fondue, but I can't really explain it. Anyway then cinnamon rolls and they were so good! So much for the 6 months to sexy haha. Elder Faults gave a good formation and shared this scripture in Moses 6. 

33 Say unto this people: Choose ye this day, to serve the Lord God who made you.

34 Behold my Spirit is upon you, wherefore all thy words will I justify; and the mountains shall flee before you, and the rivers shall turn from their course; and thou shalt abide in me, and I in you; therefore walk with me.

It was a scripture I hadn't read before, It's just really cool to be a missionary haha. But I know that these same promises apply to all who do missionary work. There are definitely moments in life here when as missionaries we feel alone. We feel like we are the only ones getting rejected, and doors slammed in our faces, but it also goes for the successes, sometimes we feel like they are ours as well. It's good to remember, "thou shalt abide in me, and I in you" the Lord is with us in all things, the successes and the losses, He knows, he knows them all. We need to humble ourselves to that remembrance, "it's not about you." We need to constantly keep striving to find ways to do missionary work, and to share this gospel. President Monson said, "Membership in the church is not a cloak of comfort but rather a robe of responsibility." I know when we prayerfully seek to do His work, he will be with us, forever, and always. 
Then after district meeting we went to our rendez-vous with an amie but they weren't home, we contacted a nice lady, but she was not interested. We on the bus were actually contacted by a man, us haha whenever you get contacted here, you will either baptize the person, get told crazy stuff about the church, or like this man say he is a member and wants to know how he can get his name taken off the records... He gave us his name and number, oh silly him, a "non pratiquant" just gave the missionaries their number Smirking face. Anyway we came back and made crepes for dinner. I have a super good crepe recipe, super French, totally making them for you when I get home! Then we went to another less actives house and started the lesson with just the wife, then the husband came in, then the youngest daughter, and followed by the older daughter. It was a super cool RDV. We read "Jesus Christ the prince of peace" i could tell the spirit was really there. 

 oh where to start. We started by doing a little contacting, met a girl who was wearing complete American flag outfit, lol. We talked for a bit, but nothing came of it. Then we ate some lunch, salad and popcorn! Haha. We then went to a members house for service. We didn't really know what we were doing for service but we showed up. She showed us what she was making, and our only pervious knowledge as to what was going to happen was it involved sewing. I thought we were going to make bobo's, or blankets, nope, stuffed animals lol. Started from scratch drew it on paper and cut it out, then sewed on the nose, eyes, mouth, and then paws, (we made kittens). Mine was the scariest thing I've ever seen and I feel bad for the child who will have to look at that all night lol, but hey we got em' done! Then we came back and ate a quick 15 min dinner (my favorite, heated up crepe with hot dog in the middle, catsup, and samurai sauce). Then we took the bus to the church and helped set up for a wedding of 2 recent converts in the ward who were getting married Saturday. Then I'm sure it had to be a FPM record, we skype called an amie and had a lesson! With Vanessa. We talked about obedience, fasting, and reading your scriptures. It was such a good lesson, and over Skype! It was so cool! Then we came home and awaited the oh so nerve racking day of répertoire... Saturday.

Well we did the usual then went to the church and looked at repertoire. And let the shock sink in. Soeur Erickson is leaving, going up north to Arras. Then... Guess what! They closed the elders equipe here! Can you believe it. They are giving me all of their investigators and I'm getting a new companion her name is Soeur Kemp. She just served in Caen. It was crazy. I literally have an entire vile all to myself haha. SO MUCH WORK. but my new comp is in our same MTC group so she is in the same transfer as me, which is a great relief, taking on an entire vile and ward will be a bit easier when you have someone awesome by your side. The ward though was devastated when they heard the news that the elders were closing, they have had the elders in vile for 25 years ish. So huge changes are happening. But hey an all sister vile, WHAT! I'm pretty excited! We have 2 baptismal dates and 3 companionships worth of investigators. Happy birthday to me eh? 

We went to church and had a good last Sunday the ward all cried when they realized everyone was leaving... Or was it because I was the only one staying? Haha anyway they were really shocked by the whole thing, and they said it's been a good 25 years with the elders. But life happens. So then we stayed after for the baptism of a Tahitian families oldest son, it was actually Elder Utahia's cousins! Haha it was really good. Then we went to a RDV with our aime, but she frudged us, so then we went to the church and waited for Vanessa for our skype call lesson. Also printed out our train tickets to Paris and back for transfers, but the route back we have to go all the way through Orleans to blois and into tours, then transfer and come back to Orleans, weird right, so I called the ZL, they called the AP's and sooner than later the one and only Elder Lam is calling us haha. Well got all the train things fixed so now it's direct. We had a good last chat with the district leader, he will be leaving too. It's crazy they are closing so much in the mission, nobody is coming in! Everyone go on missions! Haha we need you! Oh Our amie fridges us as well. 

So yes that was my week. Spiritual I learned a lot this transfer, but my biggest one. TRUST in the Lord. He has a plan. 

Soeur Stevens