Monday, January 22, 2018

The Finish Line!!! (update #76)

Bonjour à tous!!!

Je ne sais plus comment ressentir ou quoi dire... c'est la dernière fois que je vous envoie un email de la France en tant que missionnaire. Bref... c'est vraiment un mélange d'émotions mais je vais faire de mon mieux de m'exprimer.

So this week was amazing as always. Currently trying to just drink up every minute I have to spend in this beautiful place with these beautiful people.

On Wednesday we went to Lucille's house and she cut my hair (yay!).  She also shared with us some quotes from the talk "Lord, I Believe," by Elder Holland. (Yes, you read that right, she found the talk and shared it with us)!
Fast forward to Saturday when we had a rendezvous with our amie Valerie Anne right before a baptism. Lucille came to help us teach. Recently Valerie Anne has been passing through a really hard moment in her personal life and it's been the coolest thing ever to see how God is strengthening her and helping her to find joy in the journey. Despite what's going on in her life, she's happier and more at peace than I've ever seen her before.

At the end of the rendezvous LUCILLE challenged Valerie Anne to choose a baptism date (teaching with recent converts is the best). We pulled out the calendar and let Valerie Anne choose. She chose the 10th of February. Besides Lucille I don't think I've ever seen someone so happy to choose a date for their baptism. As I saw that huge smile on her face I remembered the first time we met a few months ago. It was totally dark outside and we were on the bus heading home for the night. I went and sat down next to her and started a casual conversation. She said that she was interested in religion, but didn't believe in God. Then she said something that I'll never forget. She said: "I can tell that what you believe makes you happy. I would like to be happy like you."

It's been a long, beautiful journey since then. but every time we see Valerie Anne I see a little more of that joy in her. Every time, she has a little more faith, she has another experience with prayer and the scriptures to share. It doesn't happen all at once, but when let God into our lives, our lives change for the better.

I love the scripture that simply says: "The glory of God is intelligence. Or in other words, light and truth." This intelligence isn't an intelligence of worldly knowledge or facts, but a knowledge that "God loves his children." (1 Nephi 11:17) and when our lives reflect that knowledge, light, hope and joy flood into every moment we live.

I don't know how to describe it, all I know is that I've seen it. When we trust God, good things happen. Jesus Christ really is the light, life and hope of the world. I've seen that light fill my own life, that's why I came on a mission. And I'm so grateful to be able to see that light come into other people's lives.

For the Valerie Anne sitting in the bus so many weeks ago, having that light in her life was impossible. But, through little acts of faith (the first one being simply to fix a rendezvous with us), she is finding the joy that comes from trusting in "the One who knows all things."

In the words of Elder Holland:
"I am not asking you to pretend to faith you do not have. I am asking you to be true to the faith you do have. Sometimes we act as if an honest declaration of doubt is a higher manifestation of moral courage than is an honest declaration of faith. It is not! So let us all remember the clear message: Be as candid about your questions as you need to be; life is full of them on one subject or another. But if you and your family want to be healed, don’t let those questions stand in the way of faith working its miracle."

After our lesson with Valerie Anne and Lucille we all went together to watch the baptism of Kobé's family. Kobé has been baptized for about 3 years now, but his family was still living in Africa. They recently came to join him in France after a looong wait. And this weekend Kobé was able to baptize his wife and 2 kids. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen, I just wish you all could have been there.

Well. I don't think I have anything deep or meaningful to say to close 18 months of being a missionary in France. It's difficult to find words to express 542 days worth of people, places, culture,
experiences, learning, love, joy, tears and miracles. I guess all I can say is that I know that God is our perfectly loving Heavenly Father. He know all things, but most importantly, He knows each of us
personally. When we feel lost, hurt, sad, weak, disappointed or down in any way (which we all feel sometimes), He is the one that knows exactly how to help. I know that because He loves us perfectly, He did not leave us here alone on earth, but he sent his only Son to show us the way.

I can't thank you enough for your love, support and prayers! See you next week! I love you so much!

Soeur Cami Goold

PS Huge shout out to my mom who kept the US postal service in business and lifted my spirits multiple times every single week with handwritten letters. You're the best, mom! 😘

Monday, January 15, 2018

Two more weeks... (update #75)

Bonjour à tous!!

I don't have a lot of time this week but I promise to tell you more about all the AMAZING things that are happening in 2 weeks when I get back :)

For now I will just quickly update this last week. We went to Montpellier for an exchange with Soeur Manea and Perry and I forgot to take pics (hence the picture from google), but it was GORGEOUS!!

We had zone conference with President and Soeur Brown. We made the food and some cute boxes for everyone....
and I gave my departing testimony...which was weird. Still doesn't feel real that I'm going home in 2 weeks.

We had a rendezvous with Marie and Soeur Jill Thomas and we learned SO MUCH. Soeur Thomas has so many incredible insights about the gospel, I'll never forget this one thing she said: "it's impossible to go deeper unless we do more." I think so often in life I find myself wanting to have deeper experiences, feel closer to Heavenly Father, have deeper relationships with family and friends. But I have to remember that if I want "deeper" anything, it's going to take more effort.

Marie is doing great. Honestly it's going to be so hard to leave her. (thank goodness she's moving to America for her studies this summer!!)

Lucille is KILLING it as a missionary!! (She not on a mission, but she may as well be). Sunday at church she just pulled aside our amie, Valerie Anne, and was bearing her testimony about how God will help her and baptism is how she will be able to better access that help. To which Valerie Anne said that she knows she needs to be baptized!! Then that night Lucille sent US a list of scriptures to pass to Valerie Anne to help her in her studies. THEN Lucille texted us to tell us that she was able to invite someone to church and got their phone number!!! What?! She is so strong and such a blessing to me and all the people around her. The gospel works. And it brings so much joy.

Well... life is amazing!! I don't really have much else to say. This week in my interview with President Brown, memories flooded back of an interview I had with him 16 months ago at the very beginning of my mission. In this interview I told him my plans to go home 30 days early, so I could get back to school in time to start the semester. He said "lets pray about it." So we did. And we both felt like I needed to stay. At the time I didn't know why, I just knew that God wanted me to be in France until January 30, 2018.

As I sit here now I can't really find words to express how grateful I am for these "extra" weeks of my mission. And by extra I mean the weeks that I wasn't planning on, that God clearly had planned all
along. I've seen more miracles, felt more strength in my relationships with amies and felt more joy in missionary work than ever before. God is good. And he has a plan for us that's always, 100% of the time, better than our plan.

Have a wonderful week!!

See you soon! Talk to you next week!


Soeur Cami Goold

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Gospel Changes People (update #74)


I'm going to miss greeting people like that. Bonjour is such a happy way to say hello. Anyway, life in Toulouse is incredible!! Honestly I've never felt happier to be exactly where I am.

This week we got to see Marie twice and she is doing so well. We have an ongoing "joke" that she needs to get baptized right now so that she can go on a mission asap. Obviously she's not going to get baptized just to be a missionary... but she would be the best missionary AND it is so cool to see how much the gospel and God have changed her life over these past few months. She's still her crazy, fun Marie-self, but she's happier. She has more peace. It's literally so beautiful to see how the gospel WORKS when we apply it. And I'm just happy to be able to do that with people who have some of my best friends (Marie, Lucille, etc)
Speaking of Lucille, her sister Léa got baptized this week!! It is so cool to see how Lucille's faith and decision to follow Christ is already blessing and influencing her family. At Léa's baptism I talked a lot to their other sister Lydia who's also studying to become a nurse. She told a lot of stories about how in her volunteering at the hospital she's felt a lot of power in praying for her patients, even though most of them are not believing and don't know she's doing it. She talked about how she can really see God's presence in every step of the healing process. It made me really excited to continue to make God the #1 priority in my life after my mission. Whether it's in missionary work, nursing, or anything else I'll do, I love that God will always be present if we let him.

This week we got to go to Béziers and Montauban for exchange!! It is such a blessing to be able to travel around and see so many beautiful Southern French cities 😍

Montauban is a classic, small, old French village.
Soeur Turner and I spent the day talking to a lot of fun people and hanging out with the CUTEST old French catholic couple ever. 

While we were there we got to watch the "prince of peace" video (except it was in French)...

and the grandma was reading all the words out loud. Hearing that sweet, humble, wise, old French woman read those beautiful, poetic words about the Savior was one of the coolest experiences ever. Jesus Christ truly is the light, life, and hope of the world. And I'm so grateful for these little moments to FEEL the power of that message on a real, personal level.

Béziers on the other hand is basically the mini California of southern France!! So beautiful, we didn't even need a jacket and there were palm trees everywhere. We got to visit a couple really cool Romanian families before heading off to our train to a little outer ville. We ended up missing our train which meant we had an awkward hour to kill before the next train. Instead of sitting in the train station Soeur Hopkins said we should go walk around the park across from the gare (train station).
 Technically we're not allowed to go contacting (talk to people) there and missionaries often get stopped by police, so we were mostly just going to walk around and see Béziers. Well... Heavenly Father had a different plan. We ended up talking to the cutest young couple with a sweet little baby. We talked about eternal families. With tears in her eyes this kind, young mother said (something like): "I've been asking myself for months what would happen to my family after this life. I was scared that we wouldn't be together after death. You just answered my prayers."

Heavenly Father knows us. He knows the burdens that weigh on our shoulders and the worries that occupy our minds. And He will send help.

Words can't really express how happy and grateful I am to be here in France with these beautiful people in this beautiful country. Have a wonderful week!!

I love you!

Soeur Cami Goold

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year! (update #73)

 Hello everyone and Happy New Year!!

For a funny story from this week I will quote Elder Alvarenga:

"We all had a great time! After district meeting, we went to Dominos and got pizza! 🍕However, the most unexpected thing happened, heavy rain started pouring while we were on our way back to the church. We all started walking a little faster then I turned around for a minute and as she was walking against the wind, protecting herself from the rain and having Sœur Brooksby holding on to her left arm, Sœur Goold stop paying attention to her pizza box and her pizza slid out of the box and fell on the dirty sidewalk 😬😂! We were all shattered... oh well they still got to eat a pizza so in the end everyone was happy! 🍕 "

It was pretty funny hahah.

So one day this week I was honestly just having a weird/ rough day for no good reason and then I felt really guilty about not being the kind of missionary I would want to be after 17 months. All of us are imperfect and we know that, but sometimes our imperfections get pointed out to us and it hurts a little bit, haha.

I love this scripture from the Book of Mormon (with my own little disclaimer added in there):   

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness {and it will probably really suck for a minute}. {But don't worry about that because}, I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."

I am so eternally grateful for little moments like these that remind me exactly how human and imperfect I am, because it reminds me that all I can do is "rely fully upon the merits of he who is mighty to save."

We have seen so many many miracles in the last couple weeks that it is clear to me that Heavenly Father is not letting my many weaknesses in the way of Him doing His work.

Some of the miracles from this week include:

--Lucille getting her patriarchal blessing (click the link to learn what a patriarchal blessing is)!!

--Hearing from Kevin after 3 months of nothing!! Turns out he's been to visit the temple in Paris and was super happy to hear from us and wants to see us when he gets back from vacation!

--Seeing my favorite people (Soeur Wilson and Soeur Rutter and Soeur Jones) at MLC!!!

--Watching "Beauty and the Beast" and playing games with the Thomas family  for New Year's Eve. (watch Jill Thomas' instagram stories for occasional glimpses of Cami)

This time of year just makes me so grateful to be living in this beautiful place amongst these beautiful people. So grateful to have 4 more weeks to enjoy it. (And so pumped to see all of you in 4 weeks)!!

Thank you for you faith and love and prayers and letters. They mean the world to me!!

Soeur Camille Goold