Monday, March 20, 2017

Springtime in Switzerland (update #33)

Bonjour tout le monde!!

This week has been AMAZING!

I have unfortunately no time to tell you about it, but some highlights were:

1. Our exchange with Sœurs Allen and Margrin of Neuchâtel. They come over and had a sleepover. They are both just the most calm, loving people...and also hilarious. I laughed so hard I cried multiple times.
2. Soeur C. walking up to me, grabbing my hair and just started braiding. I was so confused, but enjoyed it anyway!   hahaha.

3. MIRACLE: I was sitting in Relief Society when a member taps me on the shoulder and says: "sister, this is Jessica. Her family in Utah are members of the church and this is her first time here, she came all by herself." After talking with a her a little more she said she's here with her two sons, her aunt told her about the church and that she wants to learn more. She's coming to church next week and gladly accepted our self-invitation to go to her house and teach her family more about our church and the gospel of Jesus Christ. It literally constantly baffles me that we have to work our hardest and have all the faith in the world so that God can just send these miracles walking through the doors of the church. And it's just a testimony that member missionary work is really what works. Missionaries are just her to have faith and teach the lessons, but if her aunt hadn't opened up to her about the gospel, she never would have come to church.

4. Another miracle was Alejandra coming to church!! She randomly wandered into one of our member's restaurants and the missionaries showed up at the same time. Turns out she's a member but hasn't been to church in five years. At first she didn't really want to come, but we convinced her to meet us at the metro and walk with us, she stayed all 3 hours and even for the ward social after church and had the best time! Prayer works.

5. Soeur Goreeba and I have seriously bonded this week. Partly over this ugly face mask which she insisted on taking a picture but mostly just in the hilarious day to day experiences that arrive to us dans la vie missionnaire quotidien.

Switzerland is great, life is great, this ward is great, je vous aime!!

Soeur Cami Goold

She still gets to make cupcakes...

A rendezvous with Sophia and her friend, Jane.   

Soeur J. has the missionaries over every week and always bakes them amazing treats.....

The amazing K family.  They're 89 and 92 and still "kicking it!"   

Today's P-day adventures:    Beautiful Lake Geneva and Notre Dame de Lausanne (a beautiful 13th century cathedral on top of a hill in Old Town of Lausanne overlooking the city)

Some more pictures from last week's hikes in the Swiss Alps:   

Monday, March 13, 2017

In the Swiss Alps (update #32)

Bonjour from the Swiss Alps!

There have been a lot of firsts of my mission this week. Some good and some bad and between the two I think it's made for one of the best weeks of my mission. I don't really know how to organize my thoughts, so I'll just make a list.

Yes, as a missionary this is front page news. And not good news because you never want to be alone as a missionary. We were on our way to a rendezvous with a member, as usual we split up to do some contacting on the bus (try and start conversations about the gospel and find new people to teach). Anyway, Soeur Goreeba was at the front of the bus while I was more towards the middle. The bus filled up super quickly so there ended up being a lot of people between me and her. Long story short, neither of us realized it was our stop until the last second when Soeur Goreeba yells back to me "Soeur Goold, c'est là!" (it's here) I quickly said goodbye to the guy I was talking to and try to hop off the bus,  but I was a second too late, the door was already closed with my companion standing on the other side. At this point there's nothing to be done except wave to Soeur Goreeba on the curb as the bus pulls away. There's not really a good way to describe what it feels like to be alone on a bus as a missionary, but it's the weirdest thing ever. We ended up reuniting halfway in between the two bus stops, both of us laughing hysterically because it's the first time either of us has been sans collègue de puis LONG TEMPS (without a companion in a long time). So, yeah, that happened.

2. Next story is from Saturday. Saturday was honestly just one of those days that I woke up and didn't want to be a missionary. I just felt like I'm not good enough at anything, I don't speak good enough
French and I'm too tired to try today, I don't have the skills to teach people about the gospel, I want to see my family, I want to take a nap, blah blah blah, me being selfish. these days don't happen very
often, but I think it's worth documenting because of what happened next. The whole morning I was just kind of struggling, not in the sobbing, melt down sort of way, but just in the my heart wasn't all in it sort of way. As the day went on, it ended up being a BEAUTIFUL day. Spring in Switzerland has got to be one of the closest things to heaven that exists. Then as the evening rolled around, we had the
chance to go to the baptism of an 11 year old girl named Jolie. There's nothing like going to a baptism to bring the missionary fire back. And this particular baptism came from almost the exact same story as Kelly B. (who got baptized my last weekend in Val de Saône) so it was especially near to my heart. By the end of the baptism I was feeling way better when our amie, Sophia showed up for
our rendezvous.

Us with Sophia! 

S. is golden. She was baptized into a Christian church in China and when she came her for her studies she wanted to find a church here in Switzerland. Her teachers warned her not to go to any church besides their church, but one of her friends randomly saw our church and told her she should come. God literally brought them through the doors of the church. It constantly blows me away that we spend all day trying to contact people on the street, hunt down less actives, find people who are ready. And the ones who are really prepared ALWAYS seem to come to us on their own. Anyway, in our lesson with S. she just talked about her faith and how God has really directed her life, but
she feels like something's missing. She told us that it never felt right that there were sooo many different churches. We taught her about the restoration and she said she believed it was true. When we asked her to be baptized by the authority of the priesthood she said "honestly, I feel absolutely perfect about that."  Honestly, we didn't do much. We just taught her and invited her and loved her, but any missionary could have done that. This perfect lesson was just a tiiiiiny step in S's journey to come unto Christ. And I'm just so incredibly lucky to be able to be a little part of that journey. I don't have words to describe what these little, celestial moments feel like. During the baptism the words of the hymn "venez à Jésus" ("Come Unto Jesus") really hit me "venez à Jésus, il vous écoute, même vous qui ne l'avez pas écouté." (Google translate version:    "Come unto Jesus, and He will listen to you, even if you don't listen to Him.")  That morning I wasn't really listening to Christ. I let myself be discouraged and I wasn't really listening to His invitation to "fear not, believe only." But despite all my weakness, despite the fact that I wasn't my best self, He allowed me to be a part of S's story. To benefit from her faith and to help her find her way to the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I really wish I could describe how that feels, but frankly there aren't words to describe the joy that comes in these little celestial moments. And these little celestial moments that turn into relationships that will last an eternity. Saturday morning I let myself focus on the 18 months that I'm giving up for God.  I hope I never again forget everything that He's giving me.

In other news, in case you were wondering if French is different in Switzerland, here are some fun facts.
- in France when someone sneezes you say "à vos souhaits" (to your wishes) but in Switzerland you just say "santé" (health). So we literally just walk around yelling "health" at people who sneeze.
Pretty funny to me.
- they use different numbers for 70-99. In France 70 is soixante-dix (60 +10), 80 is quatre-vingt (4 x 20), and 90 is quatre vingt dix, but in Switzerland they like to keep it simple and just say septante,
huitante, nonante. It's kind of nice but also super confusing at first As for the accent, it's definitely different but both Switzerland and Lyon are pretty neutral accents so it hasn't been too hard. In fact I
think they speak slower here so all is well, I've heard it's the south of France where the accents get super crazy.

- Switzerland is as proud of their chocolate as you would expect. One time a member (old woman) was offered a French chocolate bar and her reaction was sooo funny. You'd think someone asked her to eat dirt. Apparently Belgium used to be the best chocolatiers in the world but one time their queen came to Switzerland and tried the chocolate and it was all down hill from there. Something about how the Suisse stir their chocolate for a full day.

Well I think that's about all I have time for today. Merci infiniment pour les prières et votre foi. Vous ne pouvez pas voir combien ça m'aide chaque jour. I love you all!!!

Soeur Cami Goold

 Here are some more random pictures from the last week:  

They had a mini MTC reunion this past week.   

Soeur J. from their ward has the missionaries over on a weekly basis.  

  Soeur J. is quite a baker! 

Here is a Cami on a train with some other missionaries on their way to or from Lyon for her MLC (mission leadership conference). 

They went hiking in the Swiss Alps today!   Beautiful!   

Cami and Elder P. are the only two Americans of the group. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Getting to Know Switzerland (Update #31)

Hello everyone!!!
Update: everything you've heard about Switzerland being BEAUTIFUL is 100% true.
 It's unreal. I live in a postcard.    
Nestled between rolling hills and Lake Geneva, snow-capped mountains line the horizon above our little ville. I'm so grateful to be here, if only for the purpose of strengthening my testimony that there's absolutely no way this earth could have been created by anyone or anything except God. 

In other news, Soeur Goreeba is AMAZING!!
 She's an incredible missionary, is so loving, and is teaching me so much. She's from the Reunion Island but has lived in France for 1/2 her life (they speak French in Reunion), but she also speaks peeeerfect English. We made a goal that we would speak only in French outside the apartment and only English inside the apartment (that way we're both progressing) and I love it. It makes me feel like more a part of the country and culture to always be speaking French, but sometimes it's nice to speak English too :)
The ward here is super cool...mostly les persons âgées (older people), but seriously awesome. And just in this last week we've already seen SO MANY MIRACLES. 

I'll just share my two favorite:
1. One of my first nights here we decided to go hunt down a less active that Soeur Goreeba had never met before. We couldn't find their name on the letterboxes so we decided to port the whole building to
try and find her (knock on all the doors). We started at the top and worked our way down. When we knocked on this one lady's door she (surprisingly) was super interested and even invited us in to share a video. The longer we stayed, the more we learned about her story. She had been taught by missionaries for years, but one day they just stopped coming and she had no idea why. She said she used to go to church a lot and wishes the missionaries would come back. It's so incredible how God uses so many different ways to make sure we are in the right place at the right time, but sometimes we have to decide to knock on every door in an apartment building to figure out where we need to be.
2. SOPHIA. She's so cute, 18 years old, Chinese, speaks English and is her for her studies. She came to Suisse all by herself. She just showed up at church saying that she was converted to Christianity (a
different church) in China and that God led her to find our church in Switzerland. When I was translating for her in relief society I said something about the temple and she just said "what?! I didn't know that temples existed today! I thought that was just a long time ago when Jesus was alive." She's so open and loves learning more and is sooo cute.

Although I LOVE my companion and we've seen soooo many miracles, I'll be honest and say that this first week hasn't been the easiest of my mission. I think change is always hard and especially going from an area where I knew and loved everyone to starting completely over was challenging for me. Val de Saône became kind of a home away from home. But I love times like this where there's a little bit of a learning curve because "there's no growth in a comfort zone and no comfort in a growth zone." It's gonna take some time to figure out how to be a missionnaire à pied, going on exchanges, not being in the ville I know, but it's so fun to have so many different experiences.

In other news, I'm already back in Lyon for the day!! It's MLC tomorrow (Mission Leadership Conference) so we got to come back! Just couldn't stay away.... hahah

Love you all!!!
Soeur Cami Goold
Sent from my iPad

And here are a few more pictures from the week:   

Cami arriving to Lausanne by train from Geneva.   

What a lovely place that she is living. 

The requisite tag pictures.   

 She was having a hard day and was inspired by this quote...

More pictures with Cam and Soeur Goreeba...

I don't know why she included this picture, but she probably has a memory or story to go with it, so I'm leaving it here. 


 Beautiful Soeurs in a beautiful city!   

Lausanne has officially been added to my bucket places of places I need to visit someday...