Monday, March 27, 2017

Easing Burdens and Unbreakable Eggs (Update #34)


All is well over here in Switzerland :) 
Friday we had zone conference and as always it was so inspiring. Soeur Goreeba and I got to give a presentation about baptism and confirmation which was super cool. It was my first time presenting so I was a little nervous, but I think it went really well. We started by trying to have someone break an egg by squeezing it in the palm of their hand (which as  my family well knows is quite impossible) and then read Mosiah 24:13-15 and talked about the "covenant" that baptism is and how it makes us virtually unbreakable. 
And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.
And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.  And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.
Like an egg, we may be fragile, but with the covenant we have made with God, when we keep our end, He will give us the strength necessary to bear our burdens. It doesn't say life will be easy or that we won't have trials, but rather that God will strengthen us enough to support our trials with "joy and patience." And then we talked about some other things too but that was the gist. The elders got a real kick out of the whole egg thing. hahaha.

We also made cupcakes for the conference which was fun. And it's always an adventure transporting them to Geneva using buses and trams and trains. We've found that the best way it to make the cupcakes, freeze them in gallon sized bag, bring them in big grocery bags, then frost them on site at the church. Makes for an early morning but better cupcakes. 

I'll start off with a funny story from comp inventory this week. Companionship inventory is what all missionaries do at the end of weekly planning when you and your companion talk about your goals, your relationship, any problems, etc... Soeur Goreeba and I get along so well so comp inventory is basically us just talking about what a good time we have together. Anyway, I said "this is honestly the happiest time I've had my whole mission" to which Soeur Goreeba responds "for me it's just the weirdest..." hahahaha I died! And just imagine this in her cute little French accent. She continued to finish the phrase and it made more sense but in the moment it was so funny. Maybe you just had to be there. Anyway, moral of the story Soeur Goreeba is the best. 

Another funny story this week is from Soeur M. For the last 4 weeks that I've been in Lausanne I've heard stories about Soeur M. Lots of stories. I knew she's Italian, kind of old, very disorganized, has food all over her floor, spends all her money on silly things, etc,etc. Anyway, when Soeur Goreeba told me it was finally time that we really needed to go visit her, j'avais PEUR (I was scared)! My favorite quote from Soeur Goreeba while she was mentally preparing me for the visit was: "she likes to rip papers and put them on the floor....and you can't touch them. But some of them you can touch."

Anyway, we show up at her appartement and I just have all these horror stories running through my head. We pray as always and make sure to ask "s'il te plaît béni nous de ne pas mourir" (help us not to die). We walk into her apartment and it honestly wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. There were crumbs and ripped papers ALL over the floor, but she had some nice natural light from the window and she's honestly a super cute old lady with some cool (a little off the wall) spiritual insights. All was well... that is until Soeur Goreeba had to use the bathroom. She leaves to the bathroom and then returns about 20 seconds later "il n'y a plus de papier" (there's no toilet paper). Soeur M. instantly stands up and starts apologizing. She didn't have any in her apartment. Soeur Goreeba just tells her it's "pas grave" and that she's happy to wait until we can go at home. But Soeur M. was determined. She was going to find a solution. She starts rummaging through piles of ripped papers and holding up various items that could work as toilet paper. An old At this point I'm holding back snickers and trying not to smile. A dirty Now I'm really trying not to laugh. THEN she pulls out of a pile a dirty, white button down (missionary style) shirt for Soeur  Goreeba to use as toilet paper. I died. It's a good thing Heavenly Father blessed me with a completely silent laugh because I was cracking up, tears running down my face. (Don't worry, Soeur M. didn't see). En fin she found some little napkins that were clean and in the package so Soeur Goreeba didn't die. But it was hands down one of the most funniest experiences I've had in my mission hahah.

So this week was more of a funny email, but I will just say super quick that if I'm learning anything in Lausanne, it's that miracles come from faith and unity which bring hope and joy. That's a lot of qualities in one sentence, but I don't know how else to describe it. I LOVE this scripture in the Book of Mormon:
Ether 12:4,6

Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with suretyhope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.
And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witnessuntil after the trial of your faith.

We're seeing so many miracles and this really is the happiest I've been my whole mission because we walk by our faith and we walk together. And that's not to say my other companions and I weren't united (Soeur Kelley, Soeur Jones, and Soeur Wilson are still 3 of my favorite people in the whole world), but just that I'm learning more about what I need to change about myself to be more hopeful and united with my missionary purpose and my companion and it's making a difference. I've found that hope and happiness really is subject to our attitude and gratitude and not our circumstances. Miracles come from faith, regardless of external variables.

I love you so much!

Soeur Cami Goold

Here are some pictures from her week:   

at the chapel in Geneva 

Random sights around town.  She especially liked the "MTC".  :) 

Food!   Apparently fondue in Switzerland is quite a thing and she's been informed that she hadn't really lived in Switzerland until she had fondue.   So now she's official.    And don't get me started on the croissants.  Let's just say that if you haven't had a real deal freshly baked croissant from France (or Switzerland) you are missing out.  

Another shot with the cupcakes...

Cute Soeur Goreeba! 

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.