Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Angels Near and Far (update #71)


First off, here are some pictures from Lucille's baptism, since I didn't have any to show last week:

I wanted to start this email with a funny story, but the only thing I could think of was was more embarrassing than funny.   Today at the marché de Noël in centre ville we were at a stand and Soeur Gowans and I were speaking in English and there were two French ladies that came up to look at the stand. One of them cracked a joke about leather and Christmas cows and without meaning to I laughed super loudly. It kind of just came out and they both looked at me super weird like I was an alien and then walked away. Haha. C'est la vie.

One thing that I wanted to share was from this Thursday. It was a little bit of a rough day in general. Actually a really good day, but I wasn't feeling like myself. I felt like I was doing a lot of things wrong and basically just exhausted from running around and still never doing everything that needs to be done. When we finally got home to our apartment after a whole day of running from place to place in the cold rain I just sat down on the couch and wanted to never move again. Anyway, I opened my iPad and read an email from Ash (currently in the MTC going on her mission to Armenia) where she shared the scripture Alma 32:7 (I think) which says: "be humble, and be submissive and
gentle. full of patience and long suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God."

Reading her email it felt like God was sending me a clear message:  "you're doing a good job. Stop feeling bad for yourself. Pick yourself up off the couch, be humble and be diligent in keeping my commandments. I'm here to help." I love that our ministering angels can be seen or unseen. That cold, rainy day in France my angel that I needed was my best friend thousands of miles away in Utah. Sometimes angels come from heaven, sometimes they're the people around us and sometimes they're people really far away.

Speaking of angels, here's a video that a lady in our ward made that shows a big Christmas service project we helped with last week.  It was such a cool thing to be a part of and you can see a couple glimpses of me and Soeur Gowans in there if you look!  I love being a small part of  #LIGHTtheWORLD

Something I love about this whole #lighttheworld thing is that every single day so many people are taking just a little more time than usual to turn outwards and help others. And in doing that we become the Savior's hands and the angels of this mortal world. Thank you for your lights.

This upcoming week is Soeur Gowans' last week as a missionary so we are living it up over here in Toulouse seeing all our amies, and going to member's houses and trying to eat as many patisseries as possible ;)
Speaking of finishing missions... shout out to Katy who is going home from Argentina this week!! So proud of you, you're my role model.  Well, that's all the time I have, love you lots!


Monday, December 4, 2017

ÉclairerleMonde (update #70)

Joyeux Noël tout le monde!!

I think I'm going to start every email from now until Christmas with Merry Christmas because I'm sooo happy it's Christmas :))

I'm sad because I don't have a picture of the most important thing that happened this week: Lucille's baptism!!! It was so beautiful. As she came out of the water and up the steps of the baptism font she just fell into our arms and was crying tears of joy and relief to "finally" be baptized. As I hugged a warm, wet and very happy Lucille it was so obvious that she was completely at peace and happy with her decision. I feel like before my mission I always imagined what it might feel like to "baptize someone" or teach someone who chooses to be baptized. The funny thing is that it doesn't feel much different from going to the baptism of a sibling or a friend. It's so special and you love the person so much, but the most breathtaking part isn't the fact that we taught the person, it's that someone we love so much has taken such a huge step of faith to come unto Christ.

Also, s/o to Mama Goold for making the programs for the baptism!!
They were perfect and Lucille was SO sparked that they were made by someone in America who loves her (even without really knowing her).

This week we also hung out with Marie and the Thomas family (super cool Americans in our ward).
It was SO much fun!! We talked, ate delicious potato soup, watched a Christmas video and had a great time. Honestly being with Marie is just like being with a friend. And the best part is that part of being her friend is also helping her (slowly but surely) come to know Heavenly Father. She wasn't raised in a very believing family, but religion is gradually becoming a part of her life. I love love watching the huge difference it makes to begin to understand the simple belief that Heavenly Father is real, that he loves us and has a plan for us. It simplifies and changes everything about life.

Speaking of simplifying, I've been thinking a lot about the importance of simplicity this week. It has been a crazy, busy couple of weeks here in Toulouse. We've had conferences, exchanges, meetings, ward parties, just so many things!
 And I've loved every minute of it. If you know me, you know that I'm a busy person. I like to have things to do, and when I don't have things to do I usually find something to keep me busy haha. But sometimes I get so caught up in my "busyness" that I forget WHY I like to be busy. The point of doing things isn't just for the sake of doing something. the point of doing things is to edify and be édifiéd, to learn and grow, to give and receive love, to appreciate and make the most of this beautiful Heavenly Father has given us.

I love this Dieter F Uchtdorf quote:
"If life and its rushed pace and many stresses have made it difficult for you to feel like rejoicing, then perhaps now is a good time to refocus on what matters most."
And what better time of the year than Christmas to slow down, take a deep breath, and remember what matters most? I LOVE the #LighttheWorld (Éclairer le monde) initiative the church is doing in December. The best way to find ourselves and remember our divine identity as children of God is to turn towards others and help them recognize their own divine potential.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the thought that I'm supposed to "light the world." But what I love about lighting the world is that it isn't about changing the world all at once. We're not setting the world on fire. We're not expected to fill the world with light alone. We're just giving the little we have to give. No light is too small to cast out darkness. It's a smile, a hug, a kind word, an invitation. And at the end of the day, we are just spreading the perfect, all encompassing light of the only perfect human ever to walk the earth: Jesus Christ. So what good does it do to worry about how big or small my light might be?? None!

"This is a work of love and not statistics" - Mother Theresa

In other words, it's not about how much we do or what we do, but the motivation with which we do it.

We had an activity Saturday after Lucille's baptism to #Eclairerlemonde by making little shoe boxes filled with food and little presents for families in need in our area. Soo much fun!! I'm mostly just in awe with how people can come together and make things happen. Everyone brings what they have to contribute and then all together it lights the world.

Other highlights this week included Christmas conference today with all the Bordeaux, Toulouse and Montpellier zones (and the Browns)!! We had so much fun and even watched Cars 3. Super weird to sit down and watch a movie haha... it's been a while. it was actually really good though.

Well I have to run but I love you!! Thank you for the lights that you are in the world and the inspiration you are to me.

Je vous aime fort!
Sœur Cami Goold

Monday, November 27, 2017

When Christmas Comes to Town... (update #69)

Bonjour à tous!!

Christmas has officially hit the streets of Toulouse and I couldn't be happier. The lights are strung, the Christmas market is set up in the town square, there are trees everywhere and everybody just seems a little bit happier. Seriously, it's the best time of the year. To hit off the Christmas season, this week has been absolutely CRAZY, but also so good.

On Monday and Tuesday we spent a lot of time making cupcakes for tri-zone conference (we froze them so they would still be good). We also had to squeeze in almost all our lessons with our amis on Tuesday because Wednesday morning we woke up dark and early to catch our plane to LYON for MLC.
This MLC was different because the morning before was the Lyon 6-zone conference with general authority president Johnson. Toulouse wasn't part of that conference because we're too far away (ours was Friday). So we showed up in Lyon, made our way to the church, had a crazy adventure going to the wrong chapel (silly miscommunication hahah), showed up to MLC 10 minutes late, stayed for an hour and a half, and left right after the closing prayer to catch our flight back to Toulouse. Hahaha it was insane. But I got to give a quick hug to my favorite people (Sœurs Jones, Rutter, Wilson) and get some inspiration from MLC as always. So that was a super fun adventure. So grateful for the opportunity to go to meetings like that.

Then we got back on Thursday and had one day to do normal work/ get totally set up for the Toulouse tri zone conference (the rest of the mission that wasn't at the Lyon one).

We finished frosting the cupcakes, picked up flowers, set up tables.
It was so fun!!
I absolutely love doing things like this. Then Thursday night everyone showed up for conference the next day. We had 12 extra sisters sleeping in our apartment.
Madness. And so fun, there literally was not room to walk because there were sleeping humans on every inch of floor space.

Then, the highlight of the week: zone conference!!! It was the day after Thanksgiving and the theme was gratitude. For all of the new amis that Heavenly Father has given us and for how He is helping us to do His work here in Southern France. And it got us so hyped to be missionaries and to be able to be a little part of what Heavenly Father is doing here.

Conference was just another reminder of how grateful I am. The next day we were at stake conference and we got to introduce Lucille to the Browns. Three of my very favorite people in the whole world all in one place. And it just made me realize yet again how blessed I am to be here and to be able to know and love the people here. Lucille is one of the most faithful, loving open people in the world. The Browns are two of the kindest, most genuine and LOVING people.
 Not to mention all of my companions, members, and friends I've been able to meet here in France. And that's not even getting started on my wonderful family in America, my loving boyfriend who supports me from afar, my best friends on missions all over the world, so many blessings. Ahh sorry I'm getting so carried away. I'm not trying to make it sound like my life is the best or perfect by any means, God is just really good.

In the words of Alma:

36 "Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people, who are a branch of the tree of Israel, and has been lost from its body in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land."

My favorite part of being a missionary is and always will be experiencing the love that Heavenly Father has for his children.  Seeing all of the good that comes from that love. This is my light, my joy and my salvation. Even after 16 months, sometimes I feel a little like a wanderer in a strange land. I still struggle with French, I still don't know what I'm doing. Part of me thinks I feel a little like a wanderer for the rest of my life, but I can say without a doubt that God has been mindful of me. "God is mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land"

Well, life is good. I love Soeur Gowans, Toulouse is great.
I love you all with all my heart!

Soeur Goold