Monday, January 30, 2017

1/3 Done! (Update #26)

Bonjour tout le monde!!
This week I hit my 6-month mark and I'm 1/3 done with my mission!   I'm feeling particularly blessed to be serving in France and especially in the Val de Saone ward. It's gonna be a sad day when I have to leave all of our Amis and members here. Not to mention Soeur Wilson, I'm grateful for her and not sure I'll survive without her.

{We taught a class of the cutest kids ever at church this week!}  

So this week we found out that Dona (our amie and the wife of our recent convert, Cani) lost her little brother. We decided to put together a little care package for them with notes and goodies from a bunch of members. It was soooo cool to see how the members all rallied around Dona and Cani, even though Cani is such a new member and Dona has never even come to church before. 
It's incredible to me the community and love that comes with the church. This week we were over with Cani and Dona and they had a super catholic friend over. Cani said something about how he liked the church because we all discuss together and learn together instead of just a priest preaching. The catholic friend immediately corrected him and said "you don't like the church, you like Jesus Christ." Which is of course true. Our church is the church of Jesus Christ after all. Everything we teach, everything we do is centered on him. BUT, the church is the vehicle of his doctrine. It's the organization that helps us all come unto Christ individually. And it's really beautiful to see the things this incredible organization does to help people in need, whether it be a country after a natural disaster, or the wife of a recent convert after a family tragedy.

{Someone from our ward painted this amazing picture of Christ.}  
Another cool experience with Cani's catholic friend was that we were explaining a little bit of the Plan of Salvation when she just bust out laughing and said "that's absolutely crazy." We had shared a
couple verses with her from the Bible, but at that point we weren't going anywhere so I decided to just bear my testimony. I told her simply that I respected her beliefs and that I don't know anywhere
near everything, but I know that the Book of Mormon is true because I've prayed about it and it's changed my life. It was really cool to see her countenance change after that. She didn't necessarily believe me, but she couldn't deny it. It was a cool reminder that my purpose of being a missionary is just to love people and testify of Christ and if they don't chose to listen, that's okay. But when we just open our mouths, amazing things happen. Lovingly bold.

{Stained glass of the First Vision}

Speaking of people I love, I need to tell you about Eliette. She's an 85 year old recent convert who was baptized in our mission president's pool this last summer. This week we were over at her house to share a little thought and wish her happy birthday. At the end I gave her a little card I had written her which she immediately read right in front of me (French people always seem to do that, not sure why). Anyway, halfway through she pulls out a little crystal on a chain and starts intently swinging it over my card. It took everything in me not to bust up laughing, Soeur Wilson and I almost died. After a minute of the swinging she starts "reading my energy" from my card. She said I have a very organized head, good energy, I'm never sick and that I'm always happy. Don't know how accurate she was, but it was soooo funny.

{I wonder what Eliette would have thought of my "energy" when I was going after that bug in our apartment! haha!}

Mishpiration:  I've mentioned this talk before, but I love how this reminds us that all things cannot be proven and that the lack of proof does not mean that it is not true.  We have to use our minds AND hearts to study matters of faith.    "Faith never demands an answer to every question but seeks the assurance and courage to move forward, sometimes acknowledging, “I don’t know everything, but I do know enough to continue on..."

Miracle this week: Aaron (a 20-year-old man from Congo who is nervous about navigating the public transportation system to come to church) conquered his fear and came to the church for one of our rendezvous! He's been nervous about taking the bus, but after our rendezvous he said he wanted to have all the rest of our appointments there because the spirit is so strong at the church! Prayer works! In other news, Aaron thinks he needs to get baptized in a river because Jesus that's something we're working on with him :)

Kelly is doing well and still on track to get baptized next month!!! Words can't express how much I love the little famille Blanchet, it's so incredible to watch them progress step by step as a family and

Also funny French moments this week: 

"Passez l'aspirateur" means to vacuum but it sounds like "pass the vacuum" so the other day we were cleaning the church and a member asked me to "passez the vacuum" so I, of course, went and passed her the vacuum. To which she got very confused because she had really just asked me to vacuum the room and I show up offering her the vacuum. #french

The flu in French is "la grippe" which sounds like some sort of terrible illness. So imagine my fear when someone shows up to church in a medical mask saying "don't touch me, don't touch me, j'ai la grippe." Literally thought she has the Black Plague or something. But, no fear, it's just the flu.  Not that the flu is good (as my Dad would know), but it is a mite better than the Black Plague.   Get better soon, Dad!  
Well, that's my random assortment of events from this week. Je vous aime!!!

Soeur Cami Goold

{Soeur Wilson eating a yummy sandwich and me heading down the stairs in a sketchy apartment complex.}

Monday, January 23, 2017

Doing Jesus' Dishes (Update #25)

Hey, hey everyone!
All the talk in France is about Donald Trump so I can't even imagine what it's like over there aux États Unis! Everyone we meet on the street wants to know how we feel about it and we always just say "il faut prier pour les États Unis." (We need to pray for America)

In other news this week, Souveraine O. got baptized!!

She's not technically an amie by missionary guidelines because she hasn't turned 9 yet, but she sure feels like our amie. We've been going every week to teach her for a long time now, we got to make the program for her baptism and we've been yelled at by a spicy little African woman about 10 times in the process. 

That being said, it's been all so worth it and I love this little family more than words can express. Constance (Souveraine's mom) says "passez les gros bisous aux États Unis" (send big kisses to America from me).

In the process of making the program for the baptism, we had a rendezvous with Constance this week to go over some last minute changes. She then asked us to drive her to work, which we would be
happy to do except we aren't allowed to drive members except to teaching appointments. We of course told her we wished we could," mais il y a les règles et on n'a pas le droit" (but there are rules and we aren't supposed to),  to which she responded by getting in our car, getting buckled and shutting the door and saying "your Mission President won't see, I'll hide myself, only Jesus will see." And with that we broke a million rules and drove Constance 5 minutes to work. hahaha

Kelly (the 11-year-old amie I mentioned last week and pictured below) came to Souveraine's baptism which was so good because it's the first time she's ever seen a baptism in her life and we're hoping it got her excited for her own baptism next month!
Also this week we went to the J. family  (remember the family with the powerful experience teaching the 10-year-old girl?) to help clean their house...MUCH NEEDED. I did dishes for three hours and Soeur Wilson cleaned out a very moldy fridge. It was fun. It's so fun to do service like that because the whole time I was just thinking of the scripture "inasmuch as he have done it unto the least of these my brethren, he have done it unto me." Et puts je me suis dit "I just did Jesus' dishes"

Something I've been studying lately for our amie, Dona (Cani's wife) is the Plan de Salut (Plan of Salvation). It's been super cool to teach her and gain new perspective for myself at the same time. Dona is super catholic and it's cool to see how much of the Plan of Happiness is new to her. She's still a little hesitant but we're all learning a lot in the process.

My favorite realization is that the great Plan of Happiness works on both a grand, eternal scale and on a microscopic, personal scale. Simply put, God's great plan is that we all lived with him before this
earth as spirits, he sent us here to receive bodies and learn and become like him, and through his son Jesus Christ he has established a chemin (path) for us to return to live with him again. Only this time when we live with him, we will be like him. It really is incredible. But, just as important as this immense plan, is the microscopic level. It's the fact that God knows each of us by name. That long before we even came to this earth, he had a plan for us. For some of us that means school, missions, family, friends, whatever it is, God is in the details. He knows what needs to happen in every day, every moment for us to eventually achieve what's available in His grand plan of Happiness. I'm not sure if  I'm making sense, but basically it takes my breath away to know that the God of all the universe knows and loves me. He's aware of me. And he cares what I do today, tomorrow and every other day. And somehow He has a way to care and love for every single one of His children with that same, unfailing love.

God is good.  France is good.  The mission is good.  I love you all so much!! Thank you for all the prayers and support.
Soeur Cami Goold


A few random pictures:

It's been quite cold in Lyon the last few weeks.    She finally had to get some more warm clothes...

A  French vineyard in the winter is still quite a lovely sight....

 Soeur Wilson...

Cami and Soeur Wilson with an awesome ward member (Celine).

Monday, January 16, 2017

God is Aware (Update #24)

Bonjour tout le monde!!
This week has been borderline comically rough. And by rough I don't even mean emotionally, tough as in so many things went wrong it was almost unbelievable.  I don't have time to tell all of the stories in their beautiful detail, so I'll just make a little list.

One night while trying to pick up a member for a lesson we ran into 3 blocked roads, finally found an open one just to get halfway down and realize that this road was also closed. All the cars then had to turn around in the middle of this one way road and drive the opposite way to back up. So imagine a tiny, windy European one way road with cars going both directions up a mountain. Yep, it was fun. (Between that, my new French drivers license, and my terrible parking skills, I'm almost starting to feel like a real French driver ;))
After our member walked up a million stairs to meet us because all the roads were blocked, we were finally on our way....only to get stuck at the péage (toll booth) because we were driving a different car than normal that didn't have an ez pass. We then had to back out of the booth into oncoming traffic and make our way across six lanes to a booth that we could use coins to pay. Again, fun. BUT, after all the opposition in getting there, KELLY PICKED A BAPTISMAL DATE!! This is such a miracle. 

 We've been teaching Kelly Blanchet (11 years old) since my first transfer and she's never been too engaged.  She's always been our amie, but never too much of an amie de l'église. Her date is for February 25 and we still have a lot to teach her, please keep her in your prayers! Not sure if I've ever told the story about how many huge miracles it took to find the famille Blanchet in the first place, but their story has been going for a long time and this is just one exciting step. This family is such a
testimony to me that God is so aware of all His children.

 Speaking of how God is aware of all His children, I had a really cool experience this week with feeling how aware God is of me. Last night was a Stake fireside to prepare for the Paris temple dedication (in MAY!!!). During it they showed a video of a cultural event for a temple dedication in Brazil. Thousands of people were singing and dancing and rejoicing because a temple was coming to their city. Watching the video for some reason the spirit hit me so strong, tears were running down my face (and I'm not usually a crier). I was honestly a little confused at first why this video touched me so much.  It was cool, but it wasn't necessarily the most spiritual video I've ever seen. But when I thought about it for a little I realized it was for 2 reasons:
--Every person in the video was so HAPPY. prophets, teachers, missionaries, members, Amis, the whole world was together to REJOICE the coming of the temple. And that's what this gospel is. It's the plan of HAPPINESS. and I love that that's what it all comes down to. I needed that reminder this week.
-- It really struck me as I was sitting there how big of a deal this temple is for all of French speaking Europe. This is the first temple in France or French speaking Europe. It has been awaited for decades, and I am lucky enough to be a part of it. And not just to watch it happen, I get to be here to help announce it. Announce the joyous news that a temple is coming to France. I get to learn the language and culture of this incredible place and be a part of the celebration. Je suis bien béini.  
The last couple of weeks have been a little hard, but God knew exactly what I needed to feel. He knew what I needed to see and hear to remind me WHY I'm here. To remind me of the JOY of the gospel. I have such a strong testimony that God is all powerful and the creator of all things, but more importantly that he is our father. That He loves us infinitely and unconditionally. And that He is aware of us every single day. Il ne va jamais nous laisser tout seul.

Other funny things:
 We got trapped by gendarmes (police) who were standing every 10 feet surrounding the building we were in for a lesson. They were all holding big guns and bullet proof shields and masks and vests. They let us get into the car but wouldn't let us leave for over 30 minutes... we got home pretty late that night haha. (Nothing exciting actually ever happened, we just sat there and watched them stand guard with their guns).
We saw a zombie on the way home from the above event. Crazy guy with a grocery sack slowly limping down the middle of the road.

We tried to make wax seals for the cute cards we made for our young women. Didn't have a lighter so of course we tried to use our electric can see the pictures to see how well that turned out.
We got yelled at by 3 different members for all different things that we had little to no control over. So that was fun :)

I love you all, have a great week! Thank you for your prayers,
examples, letters and support!!
Soeur Cami Goold

Here are some pictures from her week: 

Her and Sister Wilson are staying together in Val de Saone for another transfer!    

I'm not sure why she included this picture, except that maybe she thought it was cool that it was entire shop dedicated to scooters.  

 Some more shots of the wax seals they were making for letters to the YW!

She sure is serving in a beautiful part of the world!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Engraved (update # 23)

Cami was  short on time this week, so I did not get a lowdown on the who, what,  or significance of any of these pictures.   Hopefully she'll still remember at the end of her mission and can fill in the details then.


Bonjour!! Sorry I don't have much time left so it's going to be super short this week :)

This coming week is transfer week so all the missionaries are starting to get a little excited! Soeur Wilson and I think/hope we're staying together one more transfer, but you never know!   Just in case there is an unforeseen change,  let me just document how FUN it is to have Soeur Wilson as my companion. She's so fun to be around, gets along with everyone, is never phased by anything and is also an INCREDIBLE artist. I've seriously lucked out with all my companions, I have no idea what I'm going to do when I get another one...

I came across these two scriptures from the Book of Mormon in my studies this week:

1 Nephi 21:16
Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.

Alma 5:19
I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?

I love that both of these scriptures use the word "engraved." I love this word because it implies so much more than just written. If something's written, you can erase it, but if something's engraved
then it's permanent. It becomes part of the thing it's engraved on.

In the first scripture it talks about how we're engraved on the Savior's hands, because He suffered for us, He died for us, and most importantly, He lives for us.  He's already given us all. We are
permanently engraved on his hands.

But the next scripture isn't sure, it's in the form of a question: "is Christ engraved on your countenance?"

That one made me really stop and think. As a missionary it's really easy to say, yes,  I have Christ in my heart. Literally his name is on my tag right over my heart every single day, BUT, when I take that
tag off, is He still there?  Is it a permanent engraving?

The other week someone bore their testimony about how Christ has already given us everything. He's given us hope and joy and eternal life. And the only thing we can give him in return is our agency, our actions. It's to align our will and purpose with His. And I think the more we try to do that, the more His name becomes engraved in our countenances.

And the more God is in our countenances, the more light will come from us. The more hope and joy we'll be able to find in the world and the more light we'll have to share with others. Not sure if any of that made sense, but that's what I was studying this week :)

I hope you all have a wonderful week!  I love you and am so grateful for your support!
Soeur Cami Goold

Monday, January 2, 2017

Focusing on the One (Update #22)

In all honestly this week has been a little slow. We have people to
teach, but with the holidays it's been really hard to arrange rendezvous with them and none
of them are really progressing right now, which is almost harder than
not having anyone to teach. And we've been spending a lot of time
unsuccessfully trying to find new people to teach.

I'd be lying if I said it's not a little discouraging. It makes me ask
myself questions like "why am I here, obviously there are a million
people out there that could do a better job at this than me?" Or "Why
did God take me away from my loved ones and school and life for 18
months to track down less actives that don't exist and get stood up by
our Amis?" And the killer: "am I wasting God's time?"

But, at the end of the day, I'm grateful for weeks like this. I'm
grateful because it reminds me the real reason WHY I'm here on a
mission. I didn't come here to convert the whole world, I didn't come
here to teach a million lessons every week, I am here because I know
that Jesus Christ lives. I know that we are all children of a Heavenly
Father who loves us. Who somehow is aware of every single one of us
and has a plan for us each. I'm here because that knowledge has changed
my life and if I can share that message of hope and light and
happiness with anyone, it will be worth it.

On Sunday I asked one of the members how he would go about balancing
focusing on Cani (our recent convert) and focusing on his wife, Dona
who has just started expressing interest in the church. His response
really struck me, he said: "l'évangile est pour les uns" or the gospel
is for the ones. In other words, focus on them both. Treat them like
two separate people because they are. 

It reminds me of the scripture I chose as my mission scripture:
14 Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world. 
15 And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come.     3 Nephi 11:14-15:  
The multitudes came unto Christ ONE BY ONE and that's the nature of
this gospel. I'm here on a mission to help the ones. To help the
Cani's, the Dona's, the individuals, to come unto Christ in any small
way that I can. And if some weeks that means working my butt off and
still feeling a little discouraged and ineffective, that's okay. And
at the end of the day, I have SO MUCH to be happy about and to be
grateful for, even on the harder days.

Speaking of finding joy in the ups and downs of the mission, my favorite Christmas gift this year was a daily calendar my mom made me.

On each day there is a picture and a quote for every day of 2017.
At first I kind of saw it as a count down until next year (aka the end of
my mission), but after a little while of looking through it, the way I
looked at it changed. Instead of representing the number of days left
between now and when I see my loved ones, it represents the number of days
left that I have to give my life to God for 24 hours a day, 7 days a
week. When I looked at it like that, the calendar started looking a
lot smaller. Somehow I've already been on my mission for 5 months
(wow, time flies). But I have 13 left and instead of focusing on
enduring the long days and hard work, I'm trying to remember to find
joy in the journey. After all, the whole purpose of our existence is
"so that (we) might have joy," in every stage of life. Whether it be
missionary work, school, real work, raising kids, quoi que ce soit
that's stressing you out, remember to find some joy in it at the same

And with that I wish you the happiest year of 2017!! I love you!
Soeur Cami Goold 

Here is a picture of Cami when she met Soeur Wilson for the first time! 

This is Cami, Soeur Wilson, and Lucie, a young woman from their ward who is preparing to serve a mission soon too! 

Dinner at the Smurthwaite's home with Elders Smith and Laurens.

Today for P-day, they visited the Musee de Beaux Arts in Lyon.

Another picture from the Fetes de Lumieres a couple of weeks ago.  

 Christmas dinner at the Smurthwaite's home and also the location where she made her Christmas day phone call from.   Cami LOVES the Smurthwaite  family.