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.

my trainer loves me!! parcel from france

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

Emergency/ Surprise Transfer!

First, some really big news- this morning we received a phone call from President Herrington informing us that due to difficulties with Soeur Hootini’s foot over the past week we are going to have an emergency exchange meaning that I will stay in Abymes with Soeur Tepapatahi while Soeur Hootini will go to Baie Mahault with Soeur Needs and Soeur Reep to be in a car. Obviously this is not expected and all 5 of us are really in shock right now but loving Soeur Hootini as much as I do and seeing the pain that she has been in over the past week I know that this has been an inspired decision. So transfer 5 and companion number 6 here we come!!

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L-R Soeurs Holt, Reep, Needs, Hootini and Tepapatahi

We also learned a little bit more about Soeur Hootini’s foot problem which has been troubling her for a while; she has something muscular in the arch of her left foot which causes her a lot of pain while we are walking and spreads to encompass all of her left leg when at its worst! So it sounds like a car may be the best solution for her.

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No idea what the elbow thing is:)

After weeks of Frisbee and table tennis Soeur Holt and the other sisters on the island finally did something ‘cultural’ for their p-day. They went to the Memorial ACTe which explores the history and memory of slavery and the slave trade in Guadeloupe. Soeur Holt described it as being very powerful. The aim of the construction of the Memorial is outlined on the website:

“During his in-depth policy speech on 26th October 2004, Victorin Lurel, President of the Regional Council, announced the willingness of the local authorities to participate in the construction of a collective memory and to encourage research on slavery, the slave trade and the abolition of slavery. The aim was not to bring up the pain of the past to spread dissension. To the contrary, the intention was to transcend the suffering engendered by slavery and the slave trade so as to promote affirmation of a shared and somewhat appeased memory of the slavery era, an epoch greatly affecting the edification of the Guadeloupe society.”

Further, “Collective memory is not built solely on history and speeches. Today, places and objects representing authentic memories still exist and should be seen; chains, working tools, places of labour, jewellery, artefacts, objects of worship, places of resistance. A slave was first and foremost an individual with a story to tell, a collective story, a memory articulated through songs, dances, language, culture, traditions and rituals. The ability of the slaves to escape the whims of their masters, to maintain their cultural practices and traditions, to find areas of retreat outside of their master’s supervision, to create language and vernacular aesthetics is, without a doubt, a sign of their profound humanity in a world that negated them.”

As with any part of history that is painful, its remembrance can be used as a lesson and as an inspiration for current and future generations to never allow such suffering again.

In addition to the weekly teaching efforts, Soeur Holt had many other experiences including a singing tutorial. We spent Monday evening with Soeur Alifax, she is the musical director for the branch and got us to sing and sing and sing. I think she just enjoyed giving us some tips on how to improve which I think it made her really happy. We watched the video about the Saviour healing the paralysed man on the Sabbath and she loved it; we discussed the need of faith to stand when commanded by the Saviour.

Soeurs Holt and Hootini also continued with their determination to speak to every person they meet. Wednesday morning we went to the boulangerie, obviously to buy a baguette and also, to contact everyone else who is there buying theirs- we are in hot France after all! We met a gentleman, and a lady with 2 children. We also saw a miracle in meeting a young lady who is actually the friend of some members and SHE STOPPED US!! We spoke for a little bit mostly about our English class but she is really cool.

Some of the times the sisters teach are really pertinent to the lives of the people they meet. They taught a man this week- it was a really powerful lesson actually because he told us that he has lost his cousin this week and has been thinking about death more and more which made him turn to the plan of salvation brochure which we have given him. He was really touched by the opportunity which we all have to live again and I love bearing testimony of the saving ordinances which are available for the dead in our holy temple. And then another man; we had a great lesson about our purpose of life on earth and he broke down in front of us- I really didn’t know what to do as he is grown strong man. We just bore our testimonies that Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Redeemer, is always there for us and will support us through whatever we have to face. I don’t know what made him break down but I think we did something in supporting him with our testimonies and love.

It is sometimes really hard to change though. That evening we had another amazing lesson continuing the Restoration with a young man we had been teaching and talked about baptism; he told us that he knows he needs to be baptised but doesn’t like commitment of regularity within his life. He also spoke as if he had received a confirmation for himself saying something along the line of I am here meeting with you isn’t that evidence enough of my conviction and the witness that God has given me. The problem is that he is such a 21 year old and so like us!!

Soeurs Holt and Hootini have also been working a lot with members of the Church to help them share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These conversations seemed to happen each day; on Sunday afternoon we went to eat lunch at Soeur Isabelle Gamiette with Soeur Rinaldo, Frere Affoy and his daughters Marie, Sarali and Noé. It was a great time and really cultivated our relationship with all of them. Soeur Gamiette live in an apartment complex with a private beach which we were able to admire from a safe distance!!

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One of the things that Soeur Holt shared from her studies this week has really made us think. In an email that President Herrington sent us all last week he talked about rather than having extraordinary faith we should instead strive to always have increasing faith- this really touched me because I often find myself worrying that my faith isn’t strong or extraordinary enough to accomplish the miracles which I desire on my mission but I find comfort in the fact that I know that my faith is increasing and that’s all that really matters! This linked with the scripture that stood out during my Book of Mormon reading this week is found in Ether 3.19-20:

 “And because of the knowledge of this man he could not be kept from beholding within the veil; and he saw the finger of Jesus, which, when he saw, he fell with fear; for he knew that it was the finger of the Lord; and he had faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting. Wherefore, having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil; therefore he saw Jesus; and he did minister unto him.”

 After the miracle of the stones with the brother of Jared the Lord explains that it was actually the brother of Jared’s knowledge of the Lord that enabled him to see Him, not his faith. It made me reflect on how I can achieve the knowledge of my Saviour enough to be able to see his hand in every aspect of my life. I think I came to the conclusion that it is often the Sunday school answers of searching the scriptures and praying to learn more and more about his nature and draw closer to him.

We are so looking forward to our Skype call this weekend. For our Skype next Sunday we will be doing it at Danielle’s house, the lady who you met at the Paris temple; she loved you all by the way and commented on how beautiful my little sister is!! We are going to do that straight after church so around 130pm my time but obviously be ready early and don’t get scared when I am late because we are always late!! I am so excited and am already thinking up topics of conversation!! If you phone our house around 630pm this Sunday please don’t be offended if we ignore you!

Singles’ Club

No, it’s nothing like that! On a Monday evening for Family Home Evening the single members of the branch get together. Last week it was at Sister Point du Jour’s home- we played a game where Stracy had to get across the room blind folded with Sister Volet instructing her and the rest of us making lots of noise and distracting her. We used it and Doctrine and Covenants 10:5 to illustrate the principle of prayer.

“Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work.”

It was whilst we were eating that Stracy received a skype call from Soeur Heno and I freaked out!!

We made Soeur Holt a little jealous this week because three of us were able to go to the Paris Temple Open House where we met Soeur Heno or rather Sophie now she is home from her mission. She lives about an hour away from Versailles. We also met one of the people Soeur Holt is teaching- Danielle was one of the ladies who comforted her on Mother’s Day in March.

Some things we learned from Danielle and Sophie:

  • When Soeur Holt spoke to Soeur Heno on Monday – Soeur Heno’s reaction: ‘When did you learn to speak French?!’
  • One day when asking (in her then developing French!) a young man to get down on his knees to pray, Soeur Holt actually asked him to get down on his ‘skirt’ to pray!!!
  • One day Soeur Holt was ‘inspired’ by a fellow red head friend serving in Greece to go out for the day without suncream “His skin has become resilient to it so I’m going to trust mine will be too!” … Nope!
  • Danielle only spoke French so Sophie translated for us, but one thing that we understood: “Soeur Holt: c’est magnifique!”

It was amazing to connect with people that love Soeur Holt and have been or are such a blessing to her. They were a pleasure to meet! The way to our heart is through food and Sophie had made us some treats to enjoy on our journey home – Gideon described them as ‘sweet Yorkshire puddings’ – delicious! We told Soeur Holt about our experiences: I’m so glad you had the opportunity to meet Soeur Heno and Danielle- I will see you in a few weeks… We will be Skyping on 14th May- so excited!!!!

This past Monday (it was a public holiday so emails came through on Tuesday), we went to the singles club family home evening at Sister Volet’s where we shared a lesson about scripture study using the game scripture study charades. It was really fun. We used Doctrine and Covenants 11:21 about ‘first seek ye to obtain my word.’

Every week Soeur Holt mentions about the opportunity they have to visit with Sister Naffer who is poorly and can’t come to Church. That evening we visited her and read with her as usual in Gordon B. Hinckley- every time we go she seems to get worse in health but she always brightens my day. She also gave us star fruit from her garden it was my first try and I love it! We received some pictures this week:

Service continued to be a theme of the week’s activities for the Sister missionaries. On Wednesday morning Soeur Hootini received an impression during her personal study that we should go and serve a sister in the branch, so I told her lets got for it. We took appropriate clothing and turned up out of the blue to clean her house. She told us later, after we had really gutted and immaculatised it, that she had prayed for Heavenly Father to send her angels to help her with all the things she had to do that day and then we turned up.

That afternoon we headed to visit the young man at the hospital on the bus with his mum, his brother met us there. As promised we brought him a pizza this time and he loved it!! He is really getting a lot better as well he was making jokes with us about small and fat doctors.

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Soeurs Holt and Hootini continue to spend a lot of their time teaching. One such example is where we taught a gentleman at the church with Soeur Volet and taught him the First Vision using the Restoration video.  He was really touched and he had already read Joseph’s testimony in the front of the Book of Mormon and had the great question of what was Joseph’s specific calling as a prophet like Noah was to build an ark and Adam was the first man. We answered and are really excited about him.

Friday was all contacting and trying back with people missionaries used to teach, this was hard work but still full of miracles. Part of me felt like though that every door that we knocked on and they didn’t answer was a person that we hadn’t spoken to on the street over the past couple of weeks. I used to be really good at stopping and talking to everyone with Soeur Heno and Soeur Needs but Soeur Hootini prefers having a door to knock on. It definitely taught me a lesson that I honestly find a lot of satisfaction when I know that I have used every opportunity to share my testimony and it has been a lot better at that over the past few days!

Saturday morning we saw the miracle from our effort yesterday in contacting people who were taught before. We taught a lady a lesson as well as with her 11 year old daughter- they are both amazing and were telling us that they love our church services so much. In the past she had been to a class on Wednesday evening and whilst there remembered the sister missionaries and what they taught- she told us that our doctrines just make sense to her and that she missed meeting with us. It was her birthday and she joked that we were her present from heaven. Sunday was district conference again and they came to church and were really welcomed by the members who remembered them- Soeur Bouchaut and Soeur Otto. It was such a tender mercy and a miracle I am so excited for them!!

Sunday afternoon was fun! We had a lot of time so we took my new conviction to talk to everyone and spoke to everyone which resulted in lots of good contacts with some young people and an invitation to go to church with a lady called Ezra- so we went. It was different and kind of gave me a head ache from the loud prayers but it was an experience.

So many other things happened this week that we can’t cram them all in- even a couple of really intriguing events only get scant mention- a p-day visit to ‘ghetto nandos’; a visit to the Nestors and to give them the gratitude jar and shared the video about telling and showing your love to your family; a wearing out of her favourite shoes; a package from friends and so many other things.

Finally Soeur Holt’s study this week has all be focussed around the Saviour: I was also studying about the Book of Mormon being Another Testament of Jesus Christ and found Jacob 4:12 where it really describes that the scriptures explain the atonement of Jesus Christ and enable us to receive a perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ and gain a testimony of the plan of salvation.

“And now, beloved, marvel not that I tell you these things; for why not speak of the atonement of Christ, and attain to a perfect knowledge of him, as to attain to the knowledge of a resurrection and the world to come?”

This was coupled with Mosiah 3:5-9 in which I loved the simple explanation about the Saviours entire earthly ministry; and also 3 Nephi 17: 15, 17 which explains where Jesus was praying for the people. It really impressed me that Jesus is praying for me. In 3 Nephi 19:25 as well I love the description of Jesus watching over the disciples as they prayed and I love the image of my Saviour watching over me as I pray!

“And it came to pass that Jesus blessed them as they did pray unto him; and his countenance did smile upon them, and the light of his countenance did shine upon them…”

It is lovely to hear of her faith in Jesus Christ, and we are also grateful that He is watching over her every day.

As an afterthought we should mention that Soeur Holt is staying in Abymes with Soeur Hootini for another six weeks at least, which she is very excited for.

It’s alright to say no!

sr amounsouga, her brother is serving in downham!!

Soeur Holt had an experience this week that made us laugh and wince at the same time. Part of being a missionary is being polite and respectful to all. We think she may have taken that to a whole new level this week. It all began fairly straightforwardly: Saturday what a day!! This morning I fell over and cut my hand open because it was raining luckily we were on our way to the appointment to teach a member called Gerty Chanel who is a nurse so she patched me up nicely…

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That evening we had one of the weirdest experiences of my life. We decided to try and see a lady who Soeur Heno and I contacted what feels like a lifetime ago. She welcomed us in with open arms and sat us down with a drink each- we thought we were onto a winner. But then she saw my hand because I had taken the plaster off to let it get some fresh air and she said she had just the thing for that – out she comes with the vinegar!! It burned so bad but I couldn’t find the words to politely let her know ‘no thank you’ so she kept on adding and compressing more and more. I cried and so she grabbed me into her bosom literally and started kissing my head and calling me the equivalent of my dear!! It was so freaky and Soeur Hootini, bless her, just sat there because she was as freaked out as I was.

We think that polite acquiescence may not always be the best approach and sometimes no is an acceptable response!

She then asked me to read from the Book of Mormon but with the heart so I read the passage in French meaningfully; she stopped me and said to read with the heart again; then stopped me for a third time before she explained that she meant in the heart i.e. silently!! So hilarious you should have heard me trying to read with all of my heart and feeling!!

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A lot of Soeurs Holt and Hootini’s teaching experiences this week focussed on the Saviour and God’s love for all of us. In preparation for a lesson this week I studied all about the pre earth life and trying to make that part of the plan of salvation lesson more spiritually impressive because it is such a unique part of our belief that can resonate with so many people and I loved the scripture Psalms 82.6 and Hebrews 12.9 talking about the relationship we truly have with god as his children. Every day I feel of my Heavenly Father’s love for me and for his other children- and he works through me to help them have a knowledge of his plan for them.

I also studied the Living Christ – it was also good because it was something that I had gotten out of conference this month. I really am thankful for the time that we took in Stake young women’s to memorise it and really recognise the blessing of a sure foundation in Christ as Helaman talks about. Especially now as I testify of him nearly every day. We were also able to share a message about the story where the two disciples who are walking away from Jerusalem after the death of Jesus and then he comes and walks with them. We likened it to when times get tough – do we start to walk away and move on from our covenants or dedication to the Saviour or do we continue to rejoice in the glory of the resurrection.

Also, the difference in approach between Soeur Holt and Soeur Hootini brought a smile: Wednesday morning we had a contacting experience where Soeur Hootini started helping some men at a house build a wall and I went and started talking to two ladies who were sat on the porch watching [a good division of labour!] They then tested us on our knowledge of the 10 commandments and we read with them in Mosiah; they were impressed and promised that they would read and test out our theory to whether the Book of Mormon can work together with the Bible.

That evening we had another great lesson with our young friend Matthew and this time we got Coeurby there with us it was amazing they really clicked and actually knew each other from university. Coeurby testified of making commitments like he did and bore a really amazing testimony about the restoration of the gospel and the blessings he has seen in his life since his baptism; he is so much like our pride and joy!!

The weeks continue with teaching, contacting and visiting. They were able to stop in at the hospital again, then a ‘heart attack’ for Soeur Alifax (perks of the Dominican members is that I can write in English, the French writing is still so hard!!).

Before her mission Soeur Holt spent a couple of days with her Nana learning and doing some family history- this really helped this week: then onto Frere Viranin who we taught about temples and family history work; love you nana!! She also loved her Nana this week as an Easter parcel arrived with chocolate! (The parcel from us still hasn’t arrived).

Love you all have a great week, don’t get into too much trouble xxx

The wildlife of Guadeloupe:)

Following the Saviour with small acts of service

Slight delay this week as Easter Monday meant no access to email cafes on Guadeloupe. Fortunately Soeur Holt has learned from earlier events and was careful with how she titled her email: Exchanges with Soeur Needs, Zone Conference and a visit to the hospital (to visit).

Service was the theme that ran through her week. Sometimes the acts of service that we render are small, sometimes they are huge. All exemplify a desire to follow the example of the Saviour shown in Soeur Holt’s scripture of the week:

“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (1 Peter 2: 21).

This is a reflection of a promise that Latter-day Saints make each week as they take the sacrament to be willing to take upon us the name of Christ: Sunday in church something really cool happened- the sacrament prayers have been changed in French by the First Presidency the word veulent has been changed to disposé à to better reflect the English ‘to be willing to’. It made me be thankful for living apostles and prophets who can receive revelation such as this!!

The small acts of service that permeated this week included: We received a prompting during companionship study opening prayer to ring a family and that resulted in us going to the hospital with them to visit one of their children. It took the entire afternoon because we had to walk there and back but it was so rewarding. He has had skin graft operations and is wrapped in bandages. He can talk and is conscious though. I had made a peach sponge that morning and he seemed to love it, or at least he ate most of it. We sang together and prayed. The spirit was so strong I think those moments sat by his bed singing ‘families can be together forever’ will live with me forever. I can’t communicate the impact it has had on me across an email.

Soeur Hootini ‘heart attacked’ Soeur Holt’s desk on the morning of her fifth month anniversary- such a sweet thing to do.

sr hootini is so cute

Soeur Holt’s mum had sent an Easter package for her- small bags of Easter treats for the children at Church. At the end of church we went into primary and gave out the little bags of treats and I can safely say that we are now the favourite missionaries ever!! Thank you mummy!! There was even a bag left over for the Elders.

The local Churches also hosted some Easter celebrations on Monday to share companionship and hospitality. That afternoon we spent it at the family Amounssouga where most of the branch and some of Lamentin were, along with lots of friends who are not members of the Church. All of us celebrating Easter Monday together. It was a great day and the missionaries were assigned to make the coconut ice-cream which turned out amazingly. We spent the entire day there mingling and finding some people to teach before heading onto a family home evening at Frere Freddo’s home, still with the Elders, where the other half of the branch were and the Elders taught about scripture study.

Sometimes, or a lot of the time, the acts of service missionaries perform involves sharing the message of Jesus Christ. This became especially pertinent this Easter week. On Monday evening we had a really great family home evening at Soeur Point du Jour’s home with the Elders and her daughter- we shared the Easter film with them and also read in Alma 7 about the atonement. Then we ate banane pezee!!

We continue to be thankful for all the local members of the Church in Guadeloupe who serve by helping the missionaries. Soeur Holt mentions so many people who go teaching with them, one such example is when Soeur Natalie Bouchaut picked us up and we went and taught someone we had been teaching for the first time in what seems like forever!! It was a great lesson based on the Easter video and how through Christ we can accomplish anything; she shared with us that her partner is now noticing the difference in her since she has been reading and coming to church. She is heading to Paris this week for the Temple open house and she showed us that in the suitcase her son had already put the children’s Book of Mormon which I had given him; he is just so cute!!

Being on the same island meant that Soeur Holt was able to go on exchanges with Soeur Needs and visit some of the people she had become close to in Lamentin and some new ones too. It was so strange to be back!! First we taught a Dominican lady  and  really quickly and I realised that I now hate teaching in English- I don’t know what to do with myself!!

We taught Soeur Versailles with Soeur Kasongo next and it was amazing to see her so happy and really buzzing with the spirit after her baptism. 

There were so many other teaching experiences this week, too many to list. The missionaries in Guadeloupe were also able to have a Zone conference this week.

We all ate chips and chicken at the church together beforehand and then zone conference started. A new invitation to missionaries is to memorise 10 personalised scriptures in French from the New Testament and 10 in the Book of Mormon over the course of your mission. A small part focused on eternal marriage and the family; I think it was slightly scary for the missionaries who are leaving soon but for me I am really more reflectful on the great family which I was born into and the foundations in Christ which you raised me with so thank you xxx

Saturday morning we worked with Sister Herrington and therefore had a car!!! We contacted a little bit before teaching Soeur Rosa about the Temple and family history. She seemed really excited to try and find her ancestors! That afternoon we got trapped in the house by a bike right outside our door and so took the opportunity to text everyone on our phone to come to church tomorrow!!

bike race

We’ll finish this week with Soeur Holt’s study of a recent talk by Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. I loved where he spoke about 10000 hours of practice is necessary to become a world class expert at anything. This helps me both with gospel understanding and knowledge as well as the language spurring me on to work harder. He talks about 3 questions which shape all of his decisions and I really relate to that. He also talked about how the refiner’s fire is preparing us for an eternal destiny.