Dancing in the rain!

We received a letter this week from Soeur Holt telling us a little bit more about her companion, Soeur Tepapatahi. Being together for nearly two transfers will mean that Soeur T will have been her longest companion so it’s lovely to learn more about her. The first thing is that she is not Tahitian as we have been saying. It seems that Tahiti is an island of French Polynesia, and that Soeur T is from a different island called Tubuai. She is 23 years old and when she was at home she loved to dance, and that is what she did to earn money in order to come on her mission. In Polynesia dancing is taken very seriously and it is all part of the culture. Every island has a specific way to dance with different rhythms and gestures. Soeur Tepapatahi has never been taught how to dance (no HSD for her), it is what her grandma and mum taught her in the home from being little. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t compete! The year before leaving on her mission she won the best dancer for her entire island (she says it wasn’t a big deal but Soeur Hootini tells me otherwise!). So, she loves to dance and she can play the guitar (that’s how her parents met- her dad was playing the guitar and her mum was dancing! haha). Soeur Tepapatahi is older but one of the biggest things that I love about her is her testimony and love for her Saviour.

It is amazing to hear how well they get on. Soeur Holt has been so fortunate with her companions, what she tells us about her relationship with Soeur T gives us so much comfort as she is away from us. At this moment in time we are truly just extensions of each other and so I always seem to be talking using the pronoun ‘we’. She is my companion and we experience exactly the same things each and every day.

On that note we’ll talk somewhat about their experiences this week. One day we had a lesson with one of our friends. She was in the middle of watching a sermon on YouTube- so to start off with we taught her about the Mormon Channel and watched the video of living below our privileges with the man on the cruise ship. She loved it and said that she would watch more.

We talked a lot about the Book of Mormon but she also talked to us a lot about the fact that she has lost faith in religion as an institution. We testified that through the Book of Mormon and prayer she can know the direction that God has for her. Another lesson was with Sister Bogot of the Lamentin branch- she took us to teach her friend who lives in our area. She had set up this appointment after giving her friend a Restoration brochure. The lady is really excited about the Book of Mormon and identified a lot with the searching questions of Joseph Smith as she searches for the truth. A really amazing lesson with Sister Bogot.

you can take the girl out of manchester...

Soeurs Holt and Tepapatahi did some contacting in areas where people were shopping this week. Soeur Holt mentioned Pizza contacting which she’s discussed before, but also in the Mac shop. I bought a foundation from Mac this week- this was only because we contacted the people who were working there and I felt guilty not buying anything. The man was really sweet and very flamboyant; we asked him if her had met the missionaries before and after a few moments… oh the boys in the suits and ties; I LOVE THEM!! He invited us to go dancing with him so probably not ready for the gospel yet but it was good for our image!! Just not for my bank account!!

They also had time for some planned and some spontaneous service. Saturday morning we helped a member move house- loading beds and boxes into a van. One night we also helped a man catch some kittens which had been left on the side of the road. I learnt Tahitian for kitten… minou! One aspect of Soeur Holt’s service was writing to her dad for Father’s Day. She mentioned: yesterday church was good the primary sang for the papas and we had a munch and mingle afterwards we made chocolate cake. We also learned a little bit more about Soeur Naffer as they met and sang with her. We read Jacob 3 and just talked to her about her dad- actually she lost her mum when she was young so she is really thankful to her dad who raised 7 children by himself while he was a sower at a plantation. Soeur Holt had remembered to send me a letter to read on Father’s Day morning- I now realise why she likes written letters so much, you can put them in your pocket and reread them at different points of the week. I’d forgotten how lovely that feeling is.

fish and roquefort sauce made by sr t

Food made a return: We arrived in time for the fhe with all the family and the Elders. The elders shared a message about always praying and then we ate!! We ate something called fruit a pain literally translated as bread fruit and it is so good!! Like potatoes but better!!… Monday last week we played ultimate frisbee as a zone then onto pitta pit for lunch where Soeur Needs and I had a craving for a milkshake so we got a peanut butter and chocolate one; SO GOOD!!…

we had a milshake craving!!

A nice lady invited us in to drink and gave us mangoes… Weekly planning in the morning- my beautiful companion made me Roquefort sauce rice and fish for lunch; traditional food for French Polynesia and it was AMAZING!!

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One evening the Mancunian love of rain came through for Soeur Holt (not so much for Soeur Tepapatahi): That evening was a tropical storm with thunder and lightning it was absolutely breathtaking we sat outside to do companionship study and language. My companion thinks  I was crazy in a good way because I started running around and dancing in the rain with the lightning surrounding me but I always remember that mummy told me before I got set apart to seize every opportunity and don’t miss a thing and I think that’s what I was doing last night!!

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We’ll close with her scriptural thoughts of the week: This transfer I have chosen the Christlike attribute of virtue. I found the scripture Psalms 24.3-4 to theme my transfer

“Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.” 

I really love the interpretation of virtue with regards to focusing all our talents and energy and thoughts on the Saviour and our work right now as missionaries. It is not bad to think about my life before but it is bad when it is distracting when I should be thinking about the people here or about how I can help them.

I saw a quote this week and thought it would be good for all of the Holts because I know how we stress; Sometimes you have to stop worrying, wondering and doubting-have faith that things will work out. Maybe not how you planned but just how they are meant to be. I see that every single day when plans fall through but we see miracles in their place. Salient advice for us all!

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Staying in Abymes

The big news of this week is transfer news!! I am staying in Abymes with Soeur Tepapatahi and I am so happy I really thought that I was leaving and I really didn’t want to; we both screamed down the phone at the APs (Assistants to the President) when we got the news. The next transfers are in six weeks time and so this will mean that Soeur Holt will have been in Abymes for about 7 months. We’re glad she’s excited and happy to stay.

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We have asked Soeur Holt a couple of times about any excursions she has on p-day, and so far the highlight seemed to have been the visit to the museum a couple of months ago. We had seen pictures of other missionaries in the past at idyllic looking locations, and this week the Zone were able to go to a waterfall. So p-day we woke up super early at 5.30 (seminary time!) and headed to the river/waterfall. It was beautiful and amazing to kind of feel the benefit of the water i.e. up to our knees. The Tahitians tried to fish with the elders to no avail and the rest of us just took in the opportunity to be in nature. We all ate together baguettes and meat balls which Soeur T and I had made before heading out to shower and do emails shopping etc. We think you’ll agree that the pictures look amazing, and it was a good recharge for the missionaries in preparation for a week of work.

There seemed to be a few opportunities for service this week. These were very diverse in nature. One day we ended up at a banane pezee restaurant helping to clean and cook. Our objective was to talk and contact the customers but no one was there at that time so instead we helped and talked to the owner and her partner. A really bizarre morning but we spoke about the gospel and served and also got free banane pezee at the end of it. A more planned activity was when we helped at the banque alimentaire which is like a food bank.

banque alimentaire

Soeurs Holt and Tepapatahi were also able to help some of the people they are teaching. Murielle picked us up to go and help her set up for a party that she was throwing for her daughter’s ‘profession de foi’ in her church. We ate at her home before ironing for the entire family Soeur T and I laughed because none of them knew how to iron white shirts and were amazed at how we do it (we iron them the same way!!) We then helped set up chairs tables decorations etc. When we got home we talked about whether we thought our day had been effective as missionaries and we said yes! When one guest arrived we overheard her complaining Murielle that she had invited the Mormons- Murielle defended us and told her that she thinks we are wonderful and kind. We talked with the entire family and all asked us questions about why we were there etc and we really felt that it went a long way to establishing and improving the image of the church and so that these people can see missionaries as people as well.

The Sisters continue to teach people and love the opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One such example was really bizarre- the lady’s entire familky was at her house cutting hair and the children were eating ice cream- not really contusive to the spirit or teaching. But we were committed! She told us that she wants to read all of the Book of Mormon before being baptised. We spoke to her about how we have a series of lesson which we teach which we know will prepare her. However when we asked her about her reading she said she had read regulations de naissances ie birth control in the guide to the scriptures. Sr T didn’t believe her but there it was in black and white!! Even funnier is that her favourite topic ever is the resurrection; every lesson she asks us about is and there is was on the opposite page, but no she had read about birth control! Why? Because they are always talking about it on the telly apparently…. we laughed because otherwise we would cry. Another lady told the Sisters that she would come to church if it wasn’t for her oxygen tank!!

They also continue to meet new people: That evening we went to see someone we had been teaching who wasn’t in and has stopped responding to our phone calls. No bother- we both had a really strong feeling to contact his neighbour and we found a super cool young man to teach- he talked to us about how he has lost lots of people in his family over the past few months and he is really searching for confirmation that there is a life after death. We obviously testified of the plan of salvation and the opportunity we with have to live with our families again.

Friday afternoon we had a lesson with Sister Bordin and a lady we have been teaching who has loads of questions about the atonement of Jesus Christ and how could he have really died for me? I tried to use both the Bible and Book of Mormon- we talked about the plan of salvation so Genesis 3.22 being linked to 2 Nephi 2.22-23 or for the atonement 1 Peter 5.7 linking to Alma 7.11-12. Sister Bordin was amazing and talked about her experience prior to joining the Church and how she felt lost with regards to fully applying the atonement in her life and how only through the plan of salvation has she been able to understand and apply. She also bore amazing testimony of the Book of Mormon- at one point Marianne said “oh so it doesn’t replace the Bible, it compliments it.” She thanked us at the end for our visit and told us that she felt lots of her questions had been answered.

While Soeur Holt is away we have control of her Facebook account and it was a really lovely surprise to see that Sister Bordin had added a picture with the comment ‘I love Monday evenings’ which is when Family Home Evenings happen.

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Family Home Evenings this week – we went to the Nestor family to do a fhe, its Coeurby’s birthday party- I made a Victoria sandwich and we played the flour game linking it back to repentance using Alma 7.14 and being clean. Such a fun night with one of my favourite families. The flour game is one we enjoyed as a family while Eleanor was growing up, so it’s nice to see that she’s transporting across the Atlantic.

Soeur Holt had exchanges with Soeur Reep. This coincided with Saturday morning which is sports with the branch- the Elders left after 30 minutes to do service with the zone leaders. So we seized the opportunity to contact the people who were playing; I realised that when I have  a native speaking companion I know she can make the first move to start the conversation with small talk when it is not a given that I would know the vocabulary- after the small talk I can then join in. But with Soeur Reep it was all on me and I can do it!! We met 3 young men playing basketball and when we talked about religion one told us that his family has a problem with the baptism of children so we read Moroni 8 with him and he seemed really excited to learn more!!

Soeur Holt learned some things about herself in her studies this week: In my New Testament reading this week I really loved Luke 10.41-42 and the story of Martha and Mary- I changed the name Martha to Eleanor and said “Eleanor, Eleanor thou art troubled and worried about many things” (which is so true) but only one thing is needful to listen at Jesus feet.

Luke 17.10 also stood out talking about how an unprofitable servant only does that which is his duty and I think that is often true of all of us and especially as a missionary when the work seems hard and the sun just keeps on beating down do I just do my duty or do I always try to serve my Master with all my heart might mind and strength? Which linked with a discussion During district meeting last week where we talked about character and specifically the character of our Saviour Jesus Christ; I loved a definition that an Elder gave of character though – it is how we react to any given situation and the consistency of that reaction.

As an aside, even though Soeur Holt is away she was able to cast her vote by proxy in the UK Parliamentary elections last week- an event she referenced in her sign off:  I love you all- have a great week; stay healthy happy and safe (that goes for the political situations right now as well) xxxx

Heavenly Father has created all of his children differently but loves every single one.

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The Guadeloupe Missionaries on a p-day activity we’ll hopefully learn more about next week

This week President Herrington has invited us to be finding 10 contacts each and every day. This links with the desire of Soeurs Holt and Soeur Tepapatahi to be speaking to everyone they come into contact with. We have really latched onto this and have really been working hard while we walk to take the time to talk more and more to people. It is not as easy as it sounds.. But we definitely see the miracles as we talk to as many people as we come into contact with and invite them to draw closer to the Saviour. As Soeur Holt has focussed on the Saviour in her service and in her teaching she has gained new insights, I found the description of the atonement made in the Garden of Gethsemane in Luke 22.39-44 really powerful and just demonstrates that we learn more about the atonement every single time we open the scriptures.

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Gethsemane by James Christensen

“And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”

For Latter-day Saints the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is not just focussed around the events of the cross and the tomb, the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane is in concert with the other events and integral to the atonement of Jesus Christ.

This exhibits very much the idea of the love that is shown by Heavenly Father to all of his children. I studied God as our loving Heavenly Father for one of the people we are teaching who is having a hard time believing that there is a loving God and I found 1 Nephi 11.17

“And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.”

I love the conviction with which Nephi declares I know that He loves his children and through that knowledge we can find comfort despite not knowing all things. We taught two sister this principle this week- we talked for ages about how Heavenly Father has created all of his children differently but loves every single one.

driving again

Soeur Holt also reflected on the benefits of the British education system, particularly Religious Education (the focus of her Dad’s career) I went to Baie Mahault this week because Soeur needs had to go to missionary leadership council which takes like 5 hours and because they are in a trio they wanted to work and leave her there. Neither Soeur Hootini nor Soeur Reep can drive so I went as a driver and drove around working with Soeur Hootini for the morning. We visited the Sesorans- Sister Sesonaran was sick so we shared a scripture with her before leaving and meeting with Sister Eclar to teach someone who, it turned out, wasn’t in. I had a great conversation with a member about her decision to convert from Islam- she is so brave and cool I wish daddy could meet her but she seemed impressed with my knowledge of Islam. So thanks Ms Lealman [her RE teacher] and daddy of course! Here in France it is illegal to talk about religion in a place of work or a school. So different to the culture which I grew up in and I can definitely see the perks of the British way.

IMG_0848Things seemed to be breaking and being fixed this week. On p-day we broke the fridge door off so we had to call the zone leaders who fixed it before breaking it in a worse manner. On returning home on Thursday evening we found our new fridge and installed it before calling it a night! Something that Soeur Holt had not mentioned to us before was a broken sink. An afternoon was spent at the house with the plumber who replaced our sink in the bathroom which has been broken since I started my mission- it was nice to brush my teeth in a sink rather than the bath!!

Teaching and meeting with new people continued apace this week. Monday evening we were supposed to have a Family Home Evening with a family but they cancelled last minute and so Heavenly Father made us prove that we will work no matter what. We contacted and met a nice young man as well as a Dominican man and his daughter. Other things they taught included the importance of church attendance and we are still persevering with getting him to recognise his answers to prayers- the Spirit was really powerful at the end of the lesson as we offered a kneeling prayer together. To another lady we have been teaching for a while we taught the plan of salvation after she had a lot of questions about the resurrection- her daughter was there with her 2 little girls and she was really engaged in the lesson too asking if she could come to the next and maybe we could pass by her house as well!!

Food made a return- but it was all home made! Soeur T cooked lunch after she told me off for always cooking it was a really good Chinese stir-fried vegetables with meat balls and rice. The next food event linked with teaching and service: Friday morning I had made a cake to take to visit a member but he wasn’t there so we saw Soeur Naffer instead and she loved it while insisting that we share it together over the scriptures. We then headed to the church to meet with the nephew of a member- she gave us his number because she says that he is searching. It was a really great first lessoned he really understand the principle of prophets- I am excited to continue teaching him!!

Yesterday we had district meeting and heart attacks for two sisters in the world [Not the cardiac variety- covering their doors with heart shaped messages of appreciation]. They loved it and one of them rang us to say that she had goose bumps and that we had made her week!!

As Soeur Holt continues to serve God continually and always try to be a more consecrated missionary, we reflect on all of the relationships she has built up over the last six months. She loves the Abymes branch and all of the members. Next week is transfers and we don’t know whether she’ll be staying or going but it seems to be at the back of her mind: With regards to next week who knows whether I will be packing my bags to leave or not? Transfers are stressful I don’t like change!!

Distance makes the heart grow fonder!

On Monday evening in Manchester, our home town, we experienced an horrendous terrorist attack. This took place at the Manchester Arena which is a venue we have all visited many times for sporting and music events. For Eleanor, most recently, she attended a Summer Live event with various artists performing. Although Manchester has been the subject of terror attacks in the past this seemed different somehow. Knowing that Soeur Holt would be worried we sent a message through Sister Herrington which she received on Tuesday morning: First of all, thank you so much for the message to Sister Herrington-I received a phone call from her on Tuesday morning, and from then on throughout the week everyone who I met spoke to me about the attacks- after introducing myself as from England they would say “not Manchester?” I would then proudly proclaim YES!! I love my city and after reading the response from the people of Manchester I love it even more; it’s true what they say distance makes the heart grow fonder!!

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In our emails to Soeur Holt we had focussed on the remarkable response of the community and city. We sent her a poem that Tony Walsh had written for a public service on Tuesday that seemed particularly poignant and peculiarly Manc! The atrocious events are not things we can begin to comprehend or control but we can choose how we respond. For all of us it has helped us realise the love that we have for our city.

This is the place

Everything else we might say after that pales in comparison, but one of the messages of all of this is that life must go on, and in life continuing we are able to move forward and not give in. One thing along this line of thinking that stood out from Soeur Holt’s email is her reflection on my reasons for serving a mission because when we start teaching someonewe often discuss just that and I often talk about the hymn “Because I have been given much I too must give!!” But I also found a scripture this week in Luke 3.11:

“He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.”

This also linked with one of the Sisters’ experiences with a man they are teaching. He explained a bit about his life that he is sceptical about God and religion after working in a psychiatric hospital in France and seeing horrific things which we understood can damage someone spiritually- he told us that he questioned the existence of a loving God. We taught him that as he receives the Holy Ghost he can have a constant source of comfort.

Soeurs Holt and Tepapatahi had a very busy week this week and found someone new to teach every day. They were very excited about this. One night we spoke to a girl along the road who had met the missionaries before and then saw someone we had been teaching, her husband  joined us. We tried to talk about the reason that we are here as missionaries- they were really engaged. We were then posed the question “how can I know which religion is the correct one because all profess to be?” We turned to James 1.5

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

One other example came from when the Sisters were contacting in a tall apartment building.

On the last door we met a lady who is a teacher and she asked us lots of questions about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and why he had to die for us. We bore a quick testimony and set up a lesson for the next day… On Saturday we taught her about the plan of salvation and the atonements enabling power; she received it really well and I think we answered some of her questions.

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Another talent show in the branch: We went home and did our studies before heading to the soiree de talents at the church- it started an hour late!! It was a great night and the branch is so full of talent a highlight was a little girl called Andrea who sang a folk song in creole and everyone joined in whilst dressed in a madras dress!! So cute!! Soeur T and I sang “I am a child of God” in Tahitian, English and French. Soeur Tthen played the guitar and sang a song about going on a mission; she is so talented!! We ran home to get in on time!!

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Sunday- Danielle came to Church and also a friend of a member who we had taught in the week but without his member friend!! After church it was time for Soeur T to talk to her family as it was Tahitian Mother’s Day. We did this at Soeur Volet’s- I had made a Victoria sponge so we ate and chatted whilst she was on the computer.

Soeur Bouchaut then picked us up and we spent some time with her family and her mum who is not a member but she could fool anyone with the way she prays and sings our hymns.

So that was my week, 

Love you all so much stay safe happy and healthy!!

Couple of other things to note- the six month package that we sent arrived safely!

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So Soeur Holt has a record of the blog and all her photos we made a book of the first six months and it arrived this week. It looks fantastic:) A preview is available here.

Six months has come and gone!

Last Tuesday Soeur Holt marked the day that she has been on her mission for six months (including the MTC): That evening, as I hope you will be able to see from a picture, we had a borsin and baguette supper during language study and celebrated my 6 month mark. Although it seems like such a long time since we’ve seen her, it has also flown by.

borsin to celebrate sr hootini made the sign and told me to not look until after the photo was taken - Copy

Each week the missionaries host an English class at the church. This can be a bit hit and miss, but this week it seemed to go well: Our English class this week was a hit- the Bordin family, Alfred, Robert and another of our friends, Jean Sebastian- the Elders and I taught and it was really entertaining as well as useful.

One of the things that we pick up from Soeur Holt’s emails is that whilst the Sisters are working hard, speaking and helping as many people as they can, the individuals they are teaching changes somewhat each week. Soeur Holt is always so positive, but it was nice to hear of some encouragement and experiences this week that seemed to help her.

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During my exchange with Soeur Needs we talked a little bit about how over the past few weeks the work in Abymes has been slightly difficult with the heat and all of our efforts seeming not to correlate with visible results of work. She shared with me Romans 8.18:

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

 Our adversity and self-sacrifice now, is not worthy to be compared with the glory that we will receive- miracles are just around the corner here in Abymes. Another scripture that she shared was D&C 123.17

“Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.”

We need to cheerfully do all that is within our power and then when we stand still or rest we know with a surety that ultimately we will receive salvation, but immediately we can see the Lord’s hand in our lives, i.e. his miracles.

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A couple of weeks ago Soeurs Holt and Hootini met a lady and her daughter who they taught and they came to Church. Soeurs Holt and Tepapatahi were able to meet with them again this week: We taught them plan of salvation and I don’t know why but we were impressed to talk about the temple but on seeing the picture of the Paris temple she felt as though she recognised it. She has a lot of questions about the spirit world and the spirits of our loved ones being able to come and visit us so we told her we would study it out and come back to her. Note: Put simply, the spirit world is the space between death and resurrection where spirits wait and learn prior to judgement.

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As suggested earlier Soeur Holt was able to spend time with Soeur Needs, and also with Soeur Hootini as they went on exchanges: we dropped off Soeur T and Soeur Reep in Abymes and then there were three- Soeur Hootini would have usually stayed in Abymes but with her foot she stayed with us in the car. We grabbed lunch at the boulangerie before companion study and going to follow up with some of the sisters’ contacts. We then met with a man who is progressing amazingly who we taught the plan of salvation to. He really understands it and answers questions really briefly but still thoughtfully, he is excited for his baptism on the 10th of June.

Then to one of my favourite members in Baie Mahault, Soeur Wina- we taught her a lesson based on priesthood and auxiliaries and encouraged her to read some of the talks referenced in this month’s Relief Society message. She also complimented me on my French which always puts me in a good mood- she says that it has improved!!

A theme in a lot of the Sisters’ lessons this week seemed to surround the Sabbath day. One such example was with a family whose mum has to stay home with her son- so they discussed how she can sanctify it. Then another member with whom we shared 1 Nephi 3.7 that god gives no commandment save he shall prepare a way to achieve it he is having a lot of trouble with working on Sundays – it gets him down at the moment. This links with one of Soeur Holt’s spiritual insights for this week-I read a talk by Russell M. Nelson called drawing on the power of Jesus Christ into our lives, his last point is reaching out to the Saviour in faith; something that I thought about is that we need to reach out of comfort zones sometimes in order to force ourselves to rely on faith and on our Saviour.

They tried some new ways to talk to people: That evening we decided to buy a pizza and talk to everyone. The people that we talked to didn’t seem super-duper interested in the gospel but we found something effective to do at night and talked and bore testimony of our Saviour- so that’s all that really matters.

A couple of final incidents with Souer Tepapatahi: On Thursday for lunch that day my companion made me a Polynesian specialty raw fish in salt water with layonaise!! I hope you get the picture, she also cooked some fish for me but the raw fish was actually really good and she loved me for even trying it; but the thing that I was most impressed with was that she filleted her own fish!!

On Friday it was slightly crazy because my companion was in a lot of pain; we went to the drop in clinic. Ultimately after 4 hours there she’d strained something as a result from our walking! It is all sorted now and she is feeling much better. Soeur Holt seems to be wearing her companions out!

Just a final note- last week the internet was slow, so we’ve been able to upload some more photos to last week’s post.

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A package from Soeur Heno!

Manchester

18581837_1246388192136323_8044325292797554425_nThe post has been slightly delayed this week because of the events in our hometown of Manchester on Monday. Our thoughts and prayers have been focussed around those who have lost loved ones, those who are suffering and the senseless loss of life that this is. We emailed Sister Herrington on Tuesday morning and asked her to let Eleanor know that we were all safe, and that as far as we know all of the people she knows are safe. We also let the families of the missionaries serving in our ward know that they are safe. Sadly, for many families they are not so fortunate and they are coping with the loss of loved ones, including children. Our hearts, our thoughts and prayers are with them. We know that Eleanor will be hurting for her city and she will be praying for all of us. If you’re reading this in Guadeloupe and see Soeur Holt please give her a hug from us.

Talking with everyone- including her family!!!!!

This week was very exciting and emotional for Soeur Holt and for all of us at home. It was American Mother’s Day on Sunday so we got to Skype for an hour. We made sure that everything was set up the night before and that we could play the call through our television so we weren’t all huddled round a screen. It was probably the most anticipated event of the year in our house. Just being able to see and talk to her for an hour was absolutely amazing- and very emotional.

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Soeur Holt felt the same way: Thank you for your beautiful faces yesterday I know that I cried but it was honestly tears of joy; I love every second that I spent with you all but I know that this is the place that I am meant to be right now.

There were many things we talked about but a couple of things that we learned were:

  • We’ve been pronouncing two of her companions’ names wrongly. Soeur Heno is apparently Soeur ‘eno. You’d think being from Manchester we should have known to drop our h’s. Soeur Hootini is Soeur Ho-o-tini with every letter pronounced.
  • Soeur Holt has taken up running every morning- this was Soeur Heno’s influence. Soeur Hootini used to play tennis while Soeur Holt ran, but Soeur Tepapatahi likes to run too. They have half an hour at the beginning of each day for exercise.
  • Soeur Holt is not as red as the photos suggest!
  • Being from the UK the only thing we use umbrellas for is to shelter from the rain- Soeur Holt now uses one to protect herself from the sun.
  • She described how to make banane pezee- we’re still not convinced it is as delicious as she describes but she has promised to make us some when she comes home!

There were so many other things, but just know it was a lovely 60 minutes- we were also able to have her grandparents and nana skype or pop in to spend a few minutes with us all. We need to say a huge thank you to Sister Volet who allowed Soeur Holt to Skype from her home. We asked Soeur Holt to share her beliefs/ testimony with us in French and were impressed with her progress. She tells us that she is now thinking and dreaming in French. We include a video of her testimony- the playlist of two videos overlaps because we had two recordings that captured different parts.

Following the Skype call- the Sisters made coco-freeze ice cream with Soeur Monlouis the old fashioned way:

Last Tuesday was Soeur Hootini’s last day in Abymes with Soeur Holt. That evening we went to visit Frere Paul who gave us passion fruits from his garden and Soeur Hootini said some goodbyes. Then Soeur Volet where Soeur Hootini shared her favourite scripture and said goodbye. The next morning after personal study we switched companionships.

Soeur Tepapatahi is from Tahiti, has been out about nine months and speaks hardly any English at all. Soeur Holt sees this as a blessing as she continues to develop her ability to speak French.

Immediately, we had a lesson scheduled with a man so there no time for crying. After ringing him several times and waiting for him for 30 minutes we gave up and went contacting (this became a theme of the week). But on the positive side we managed to meet up with him in the afternoon; Sunday was great as he came to church for the entire 3 hours!! and loved it and said that he is coming again next week.

The sister missionaries continue to love meeting with the Nestors. We did some role plays with them about how to give out brochures to their friends and people that they meet .We had planned to teach their son but he was resting. Sister Nestor hopes that he can come to church with them all next week.

We also had an amazing lesson with one of the men we have been teaching for a while. We decided to read with him in 3 Nephi 17- my favourite chapter in the Book of Mormon. Soeur Bouchaut worked with us and we talked about receiving a spiritual witness about the message. I can’t describe it but the spirit was so strong in that lesson as all three of us bore testimony and as he committed to reread the chapter and pray to receive a response.

A theme for the week is that a lot of our fixed appointments fell through.  One night we ended up doing some hardcore contacting in the rain thunder and lightning. Everyone we contacted said we were stupid and should go home but there was no stopping us! Other people the Sisters met through this included a hairdresser who is hilarious and declared his desire for a wife and his love for Soeur Tepapatahi. I don’t think we will be going back! And also a farmer who needed help with his cattle.

Tuesday: We got bokits with the other sisters from Baie Mahault and the Guiana sisters were over for exchanges so it was a big party!! I love all of the sisters on the French side of the mission so much!!

Friday morning we visited Soeur Bordin who is the Relief Society President. She told us that she wants to work with us more. We have made plans to work with her and visit the sisters more with her this week. Soeur Holt encouraged us to work with and give support to the missionaries in her home ward in Hyde.

This Sisters also got to visit an Adventist Church this week. A visit to see Soeur Naffer, then we got picked up by a lady called Bernadine (we had taught a lesson to her last week with our friend Antoinette) to go to her church with her. She received a prize from the pastor for bringing us as visitors!! We had a great chat with a young man and a lady that I had contacted a while ago who asked for us to go and visit with them. Bernadine introduced us to her son and his partner and their baby girl who actually stopped yesterday and gave us a lift home. So you could say that we are best friend with the Adventists now!!

The missionaries have also started a sports morning on a Saturday to get the young people whom we’re teaching involved and integrated. It was a huge success, a good number of members came and our ami Matthew came with his 19 year old brother!! Yesay!!

We also got a story about suncream- perhaps to highlight that she is applying it regularly!! I had put on some suncream which ended up in my eye and I couldn’t see. But it gave us the opportunity to contact a lady who was working at the private ambulance depot!!

We’ll end with a couple of Soeur Holt’s spiritual impressions from the week. In studying the atonement this week in the context of the plan of salvation, I found a scripture that really touched me in Mosiah 14.5:

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

I’m really impressed by the imagery and poetic nature of this verse, that through his stripes we are healed!

She is grateful for all the strength and support she receives. I read Moroni 7.31 and loved the fact that this verse seems to say that angels are working alongside me as I work to fulfil my purpose as a missionary. After my skype yesterday I finished the Book of Mormon and read Moroni 8.2-3 and I think I was feeling really sentimental or something because when I read that I imagined you praying like that for me my beloved daughter Eleanor…. cheesy I know!! 

“My beloved [daughter, Eleanor], I rejoice exceedingly that your Lord Jesus Christ hath been mindful of you, and hath called you to his ministry, and to his holy work. I am mindful of you always in my prayers, continually praying unto God the Father in the name of his Holy Child, Jesus, that he, through his infinite goodness and grace, will keep you through the endurance of faith on his name to the end.”

Love you and have a great week xx