Monday, February 27, 2017

All About Lausanne

Located on the shores of Lake Geneva (locally known as Lac Leman) with the Savoy Alps in view, the setting of Lausanne is extremely picturesque.    The town is built on three hills, surrounded by vineyard-covered slopes, with the lake  at its feet.  The attractive old town is largely car-free. Small alleyways with cafes and boutiques shape the streetscape in the medieval city centre.

The old town is dominated by the cathedral, which is regarded as Switzerland’s most impressive piece of early Gothic architecture. Lausanne was a diocesan town for over a thousand years. Shopping streets can be found surrounding the cathedral as well as in the pretty waterfront area of Ouchy. Switzerland’s only Metro (which boasts the title of the steepest Metro in the entire world) connects the various parts of the town and eases travel in this incline-based town.

Fun Facts about Lausanne:

Lausanne has been the home to the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee for over 100 years.

Population: ~140,000 (according to Wikipedia)

Lausanne is located about 40 miles from Geneva

It's the smallest city in the world to have a Metro system. It's also the steepest Metro (with an average grade of about 5.7% - 12%)

Lausanne was once a Roman military camp called Lousanna built on the Lake Geneva shoreline where ruins still exist.

Among the numerous famous former residents of Lausanne and surroundings were David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Freddie Mercury, Charlie Chaplin, Benito Mussolini, Charles Lindbergh, Ernest Hemingway, and Audrey Hepburn.

In the Lausanne LDS stake, there are 6 wards and 3 branches.

Off to Switzerland!!!! (update #30)

I'm getting TRANSFERRED today!

Val de Saône (right outside of Lyon) ➡️ Lausanne, SWITZERLAND (click here to read fun facts about Lausanne)!!!

I'm so pumped!!! 

Not only will I be changing areas, but also countries. Normally I would take a train there,  but the office has a car they need delivered to Geneva which means I get to road trip to Switzerland with Soeur Burton.   WOOOOO. Literally so excited :))) I'll be leaving later today and go meet my new companion in Geneva.    Elle s'appelle Soeur Goreeba.  (Her name is Sister Goreeba) She's SO COOL. I've only met her twice for a couple minutes but she's so nice. She's from Paris and the Reunion island (next to Madagascar)... I'm so happy. She's my first French companion which means I have A LOT to learn from her in regards to the language, but from what I hear I think I just have a lot to learn from her, period.

As excited as I am to go to Lausanne, I'll be honest and say that my heart is breaking a little bit. Over the last 6 months Val de Saône has become like another home to me. They say home is where the heart is and I think a chunk of my heart will never leave this place. Cani, Kelly, Eliette, la famille Wachter, Bliss, Diogene, Ahmed, Luzia and Alexandre, la famille Joulac, la famille Smurthwaite, the list goes on and on (see pictures below for a glimpse of most of these people). Sunday was hard. There were a lot of tears shed. Leaving people sucks...but it's so worth it to have the opportunity to love them.

6 months ago I remember getting home from church and just crying my eyes out. I couldn't understand anything, I couldn't talk to anyone, and I definitely couldn't imagine building relationships in French. I remember being sure that I would feel like an outsider for 18 months, never feeling comfortable or at home. I couldn't have been more wrong. Since then I've learned two very important lessons:
1. God qualifies those He calls. There's no logical way I should have been able to pick up on French as quickly as I did. But God doesn't work in logic or convenience. He will never ask us to do anything that is beyond our capacities... well, maybe a better way to put it is that WHEN He asks us to do something beyond our capacities, He will increase our efforts until we can do what He asked us. I literally feel the power of God helping me and increasing my small efforts every single day. It's not in a grand, I see Christ walking next to me sort of way. It's hard to explain, but it's in a small, almost
imperceptible way that I feel Him strengthening me. Enough to get out of bed and work out every morning, enough to hunt down less actives and contact people on the street, enough to listen to and pour my heart out to people in a language I've never spoken before. It's amazing. Me + Christ = so much more.
2. The language isn't the most important thing. Words cannot express how grateful I am that my French is coming along, BUT I didn't come to France to learn French. Learning French is a side affect of LOVING people who only speak French.

These last couple days in Val de Saône have been the best of my whole mission. Now, it's a little ironic because in these last few days, a lot of my personal weaknesses have come to the surface and that always sucks. To explain what I mean I'll just tell you a story.

Saturday was Kelly's baptism!!! 
Woooooo. Best day of my whole mission...but it didn't start off that way. That morning I made some brownies for the baptism because I had promised Kelly months before that I would. I had a vision in my head of what I wanted, but as I was frosting them Soeur Friolo started having ideas of what she wanted to do (writing in chocolate syrup on them).  I wasn't too excited about changing plans and we were having some major communication barriers (she speaks perfect English, but sometimes we all have our trials). Anyway, it ended up with both of us being frustrated, trying to communicate and not being able to, and me being (unintentionally) not very nice. OVER BROWNIES. This is not a joke. I'm a 19 year old woman who's on a mission to serve God and I let myself get frustrated over brownies. I felt really bad and apologized, but at the end of the day I think it made me realize that after all this time I still have the mentality that if I can do something by myself, it's better than if someone helps me. And it's SO NOT TRUE. 

In the end, she wrote her part in chocolate syrup and I wrote "Kelly" the way I originally envisioned it.  

At first I just felt super bad about myself and like I'm the worst human alive, but then I went and read Ether 12:27 
"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. 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." 

As much as it sucks to be so weak, it's comforting to know that it's God who's showing me my weaknesses. And as far as I am from perfect as I am today, God still loves me, and somehow He'll make me enough.

After the little brownie escapade, we headed to the church for Kelly's baptism. (PS don't worry, Soeur Friolo and I love each other beaucoup beaucoup and the brownies only strengthened that love hahah). I don't have words to describe how incredible it was. There were beaucoup (lots of) des flaws (i.e. We messed up her NAME on the program, we told two people to talk about baptism and nobody to talk about the gift of the Holy Ghost, etc), but none of that was even a little important. Kelly was so nervous and was glued to my side the whole time leading up to the baptism. I braided her hair and then we helped her get ready with her mom. And then she got baptized. It was beautiful. But the most beautiful part for me was when her mom got up and bore her testimony about the temple and the gospel and the change it's making in her life. (Her mom is a member, but has been less active most of her life). From the first leap of faith it took to knock on a strangers door, through lots of awkward moments, many hours in the car with the Nautas (members we teach their family with), to Kelly's baptism, my heart is just so dang happy that I got to be a tiny part of this family's journey to eternity.

This is us with Sister Nauta.
Missions are seriously so cool.
Yesterday I bore my testimony in sacrament meeting (right after Kelly was confirmed:)) I mostly held it together but when I came and sat down I was between Kelly and Eliette (my favorite 85 year old ninja in the world), and I couldn't hold myself together. Kelly wrapped her arms around one of mine and rested her head on my shoulder while Eliette took my other hand in both of hers. Sitting between two of my favorite people in the entire world, I just kind of let it sink in how blessed I am for the experiences I'm having on my mission.

Here we are with Eliette
Some days it feels repetitive. Some days I'm an idiot and get mad over brownies. Sometimes I wonder why God needs ME here. But all those days are swallowed up in the sea of celestial moments we get to be a part of. They're quickly forgotten in how much I love these people, this country, this culture. They're lost in the moments like Kelly's baptism, teaching a primary lesson with Cani, driving Eliette to church, and so many more.

Cani helped us teach primary on Sunday!  
 I'm 100% sure that I need to be here in France (and soon to be Switzerland). Not necessarily because I'm changing anyone's life, but because they're changing mine.

I love you all so much, thank you for your prayers, love and support!!

Avec tout mon amour,
Soeur Cami Goold


Here are some more last glimpses of Cami with the Val de Saone ward:   

Marianne S.  is a university student who comes to teaching appointments with them and is planning on serving a mission soon.  

Luzia (the woman we met in the elevator) is on the left, Cani (the one who was recently baptized) is on the right. 

Here are some more pictures with Luzia at a dinner appointment.   That's her grown son with her below and her young son, Alexandre, in the sky view shot at dinner.   Cami loves them dearly and is so proud of how far they've come in the past few months.

Cami calls this ward member,  "Crazy (in a good way) Ahmed"

This is the three of them with the Cuche family.   They're strong and faithful members and Cami always follows up references to them with #goals.   

Cami said they (the Famille Cuche) wrote a beautiful song about the atonement and performed it for them. 

What happens when you remember a change of clothes, but totally forget to bring a change of shoes to a service project...

Packages to France are quite expensive to send, so she doesn't get them often from us.   I couldn't resist sending a fun Valentine's one though!   

Michelle is a ward member who not only is an amazing artist, but is also one of the best member missionaries ever....

A better look at her masterpiece...

 Flowers from Eliette's garden and another photo of Cam with Soeur Nauta (from the ward)....

This is Cami with Diogene.   He's a 20-year-old convert of 3 years who teaches with the Sisters all of the time.  He's a great guy who's hoping to go on a mission soon himself.  

Cam and Eliette (Eliette is the awesome ninja referred to in the above letter and the energy reader mentioned in a previous letter)....

 Bliss is only 14 years old, but she is as classy as they come and often accompanies the Sisters to teach and contact.  

Soeur Friolo and Cami shared a final picnic together before parting ways today...

And here are a couple more goodbye shots of the three of them (Cam, Soeur Wilson, and Soeur Friolo) and two Sisters serving in the next ward over (one of them is Soeur Bright, but I'm not sure what the other one's name is)

And the final shot of the interesting, but delicious  looking French pastry that they got for their picnic today.... she comes!!!!   

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Parable of the Butterfly (update #29)

Hey tout le monde!
Once again I'm finding myself a day (or two) late and a dollar short...sorry.  (Don't think I used that expression right but it seemed fitting).

ANYWAY, exciting things this week :)

This week is transfer week which means we'll get calls from president on Friday letting us know if we stay or go, exciting things are in the air!! I've been here for 4 transfers which means, to quote President, unless God strikes Him with lightning, I won't be staying in Val de Saône. BUT, nothing is impossible. Sometimes God sends some lightning  ;) stay tuned till next Monday...

In other news, I'm loving Val de Saône more than ever. Not sure if you remember Eliette, the 85 year old Buddhist woman who got baptized in President's pool this summer. Well, she's officially become one of my favorite people in the entire world. We go visit her about once a week and starting this week she's coming to church with us in the car. We can drive members in our car if they are coming to help us with a teaching appointment so we're just working to find "teaching appointments" for her to help us out with every week.  

Kelly is getting baptized this week!!!

 Don't have much else to say besides the fun miracle this week was when we were at the church trying to print off a talk or something for someone. The printer at the church just about never works properly. It's either out of ink or paper or just plain broken. So we're trying to print the talk for about 5 minutes and the printer was just rolling and making all sorts of fun noises that printers aren't supposed to make. It was looking pretty clear that it probably would not be working out in our favor. Then Soeur Wilson just says "Heavenly Father, please help..." and BAM the printer magically prints exactly what we need. It was actually very cool, maybe you just had to be there, but it was literally instantaneous.  A lot of the time it seems like we have to pray, study, listen, pray again and still wait for our response, but it's cool to see those moments when God just gives us exactly what we need in the exact moment we ask for it...even if it is just a silly printer.

Which reminds me of a story our MP (Mission President) told us this week about "le papillon"  (the butterfly).  After caterpillars spend weeks in their cocoon morphing into butterflies, they finally get to stretch out their wings and fly. The process of unfurling their wings takes hours of hard labor, then even more time of flapping and drying them out until finally the butterfly is ready to fly. One day a little boy found a butterfly struggling to open its wings for the first time. It looked so painful and difficult that it was hard to watch. Thinking that he could help it out, he picked it up and
gently unfurled it's wings for it. He then pushed the butterfly off the branch, helping it to fly. The beautiful, but weak butterfly fell to the ground and died. It's a little bit of a sad story, but I love how it applies to us. God certainly doesn't like to watch us struggle.  In fact, I think that's probably one of the things God likes least about being God. But, He knows what we can become. He knows our potential to fly. To be so much more than just a pretty pair of wings, but a beautiful, strong pair of wings that can defy gravity.  It's pretty amazing to think that the God of all the universe loves us enough to help us with a silly task like printing a talk, but even more amazing is the thought that he loves us enough to give us the time to learn for ourselves. Instead of stepping in and unfurling our wings for us when we're struggling, He loves us enough to invest in us long term. And oh how much has He invested in us? He created this whole beautiful earth so we could have a place to come learn. He developed a breathtakingly simple plan so that we could return to live with Him again, so that we could become like Him. He gave his own son to suffer and die to make it all possible. And all so that one day we will be able to spread our wings and fly. "Je sais qu'il aime ses enfants, néanmoins, je ne connais pas la signification de tout."  (TRANSLATION:   "I do not know the meaning of all things, nevertheless, I know He loves His children.")

I love you all!

Soeur Cami

Here are a few pictures of Cami with her two companions, Soeurs Wilson and Friolo.  

I have no idea who this cute family is....

 Perhaps this is Eliette?

Cam and Soeur Friolo (from Italy)....

And I have no idea what beautiful building this is, but hopefully Cami remembers....

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Short on Time (Update #28)

Hey everyone!
We're not going to end up having any real time for emails this week so I'll just introduce our new companion: Soeur Friolo!!!

She's from Italy, speaks 4 languages (more or less), and is a ball of blue fire. She already wants to talk to everyone and talk in lessons and it's amazing.  I think my favorite experience with her this week was one night when we were kneeling down to pray after planning/ before we went to bed. I started to pray as usual: "notre chère père céleste, nous te
remercions pour tout ce qu'on a fait...." (our dear Heavenly Father, we thank thee for everything....) when suddenly I hear in a thick Italian accent "Sorry sister!!! You need stop. We hold hands." Then Soeur Friolo proceeds to take one of my hands and one of Soeur Wilson's hands and I get the go ahead to continue praying. We were all holding back laughter the whole prayer, so that's just a peek into our life as a trio. It's honestly so fun, I love my companions to death. There's definitely going to be a learning curve to be able to teach with 3 people and really work well together (Soeur Wilson and I had our system down), but we're having a blast while we're learning! And I can see already that we have a lot to learn from Soeur Friolo :)


she was so short on time that she just sent me a picture of her journal page for this week's #mishpiration

Kelly is still doing well and planning on getting baptized the 25th :) Aaron promised to come to church before the end of the month. And we're teaching one of our members friends named Laure!! She's super cool and open to new ideas and religion and teaching with members is SO COOL. As missionaries we just try our best to bring the spirit and start the conversation, but the members are the real tools. The best people to share the joy of the gospel with are the people that already love and trust you.

Here is the only other picture I got this week.  This is a picture of the Ecully zone at this week's zone conference posted on her mission president's wife's FB page.   I wish I knew which one of these is her new companion, Soeur Friolo, so that I had a face to put with the name, but, alas, I can only tell you a few people who I know it's not.   Hopefully next week...

Soeur Cami Goold 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Blue Fire in France (Update #27)

Soeur Goold and Soeur Wilson are pleased to announce the coming arrival of their new companion, an Italian Sister straight from the MTC!!! Expected to arrive in Lyon this Tuesday :)
Yep, Friday night we received a very unexpected call from President Brown saying that there's a new sister coming into our mission halfway through the transfer (we assume it's because she's more advanced in her French skills than they expected) and she's going to be joining us in Val de Saône!! They've already brought in a bunk bed and an extra desk to make room for three in our tiny apartment.   Pretty funny that the bluest (newest) sister équipe (team) in the mission is now receiving ANOTHER brand new blue. When the ward found it I was training Soeur Wilson they said "it's like a blue with a blue" so I guess now that makes us "a blue with a blue with a blue".    Hahaha. We're so pumped!!! So much BLUE FIRE, France won't know what to do with us.  
Apart from that marvelous announcement, this week has been anything but boring. I'll just share some highlights.

Friday we had a rendezvous with Aaron. We love Aaron. He's 20 years old, from the Congo and does everything in his life "par la grace de Dieu." (by the grace of God).   In the words of one of our members "il est un peu bizarre, mais il comprends tout." ("he is a little weird, but understands everything.")  That just about sums up Aaron, a little bizarre, but in the best way possible. Never a dull moment. He's doing really well, the one hiccup in his progression being that we can't get him to come for church :( He says God always pushes him to come for our appointments, even when he has other things to do, but he doesn't feel the need to come on Sunday. The other minor thing about Aaron is that he wants to get baptized in a river. "Il faut le faire comme Jesus" ("it must be done like Jesus") so... that's also a thing.

Then we have Kelly B. who is more excited than ever for her baptism in 3 weeks!! Amazing experience this week was at church when we were sitting behind Kelly and her mom, Linsey. The Stake President was bearing a very powerful testimony when he said (something along the lines of): "I know that God sent us here to learn and grow with our families so we can be sealed in the temple and live with them forever." Right as he said that, Linsey turned to Kelly and whispered something to her with a huge smile on her face, Kelly responded by grinning back at her mom with a sparkle in her eyes, nodding and then resting her head on her moms shoulder. I have no idea what Linsey said
to Kelly, but in that moment I could just picture their little family at the temple being sealed for time and all eternity. I've had a lot of incredible experiences on my mission, but I think watching the famille Blanchet progress has been the most humbling and breathtaking. From that day 4 months ago when I couldn't keep my mouth shut and invited the two Tahitian members to come with us to a random less active's house when we didn't even have a rendezvous, to now, it is so clear that God has a plan for this family. Linsey's been at church almost every week and is preparing to go to the temple. Kelly is getting baptized next month and is finding her own testimony for the first time in her life.
Words can't express how grateful I am to be a tiny part of this little family's celestial path to eternity.

Last cool story I'll share is from last night. We spend a lot of time trying to hunt down less actives from the ward list, oftentimes to no avail. Either they won't live there anymore, their address doesn't
exist, they aren't home, or they just straight up tell us to go away. It can be a little discouraging sometimes, because it honestly kind of feels like a waste of time. And nothing feels worse than being a missionary and wondering if you're wasting God's time. But I guess that's just one of the things I'm learning from a mission, that truly nothing done in God's name is a waste of time. When we walk by faith, our steps count for something. Anyway, back to the story. Last night we felt like there was somewhere we needed to be so we prayed and felt like we should go visit a less active we've never met before. We drive to his house, knock on the door and meet a lovely old French lady who has never heard of "Frankson Hyppolite" in her life and has lived there for a long time. As I turned around to walk back to the car, Soeur Wilson just yells  "cherchez!!" (Keep looking). I was like "okay...I'm following you here." She then goes turns in a circle, sees an apartment building across the street, points, and says "I think he lives there, let's go." 

At this point I'm just happy to follow. We walk up to the apartment, search the sonnerie (not sure what this is in America but the thing that has a list of all the names who live in the apartment building and you can click one to call up and they can let you in). 

What do ya know, the third name in the list is HYPPOLITE!! He came down to talk to us and told us a little about his story of conversion and how he fell away from the church when he moved to France from Haiti. We talked about the temple and how if he starts preparing now, he could go soon and how there will soon be a temple IN FRANCE (#hype). He got really excited and we have a rendezvous to go back this week. Moral of the story: follow the spirit... or in my case follow your companion who's following the spirit.  ;)

"Of utmost importance in {the} schooling process {of our lives} is our responsibility to act, without delay, in accordance with the spiritual promptings we receive. President Thomas S. Monson stated: “We watch. We wait. We listen for that still, small voice. When it speaks, wise men and women obey. Promptings of the Spirit are not to be postponed.”"  David M. McConkie

I'm so grateful to have a companion that recognizes the promptings of the spirit and has the courage to act on them without delay!      

Well I think that's all I have time for this week, je vous aime beaucoup!!!  (I love you very much.) Merci pour tout les prières et ce que vous faites!  ("Thank you for the prayers and all you do.")

Soeur Cami Goold

Here are some more pictures from her week:  

This is the Famille Wachter, whom Cami says is very strong and has them over for crepes on a regular basis.   

This is Ahmed, a relatively new member of the church, who says that everything about the church is "very very important."  

They finally got to go to a nice French restaurant...

She lives in a very lovely part of the world.

Soeur Wilson has awesome hair!    The picture on the right is her with the Ecully Sisters at some kind of botanical garden.

A closer view of the botanical gardens.

She didn't explain this picture to me, but it looks like her and Soeur Wilson brought a little treat over to the Elders who live nearby.    I have no idea if it was for a special occasion or just for fun.   In any case, it looks delicious!