Monday, January 28, 2013

January 28, 2013 - Nice, France

Fear Not, I Am with Thee

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10

ma famille,

bonjour!!! I hope that everyone is doing great this monday. So I lovelovelove (yes, I just said love three times in a row) this scripture. Does it ring any bells? How Firm a Foundation, maybe? Ohhhh my goodness, such a powerful song! So I actually sang that for a member family when we went to have dinner. They are the Manas! and they are just so great!!!! I love them. They have a son who is actually getting home from his mission (serving in the Portland mission! hey!!!) in less then a month! so we can speak english! but they have two sons, who we met at dinner, who are super inactive. one served a mission and has since done things in his life he regrets and the other is only 17 and just became inactive in the last 6 months, i think. But we are working on getting them reactivated. thats a big thing in our mission right now, is to find through members and to reactivate ones that have fallen away. I really like this approach. We are making every member a missionary and it is such an incredible experience for them!! How cool to be able to have your friends meet the missionaries, even just to let them know our beliefs! Yesterday we had a member of the bishopric, Brother Cresto and his wife bring their friends, a couple who have a 5 month old baby. We talked to them a little and theyre really interested in our church, and I'm sure a main reason was because of the great example that this family, the Cresto's, show to them! I asked her if she wanted us to teach her more and she said yes! She just had to figure out when with her husband! Voila! Cordonnee from a member! I really hope that things start moving forward with them!!

Oh yeah, before I forget, I love my companion!! She is just the sweetest thing! I'm pretty sure she has made my bed every day this week. hahaha. I tell her not to, that I will after I shower but she does it when I'm in the shower!! Haha. Shes so great. deals with my weaknesses. I love her.

So! I have a great miracle which will probably take the rest of my time on the internet, but c'est la vie. It's that good! SOOO! It all started before I got to Nice. Kind of. So when Soeur marker and soeur harris were together, they were having a not so great day because it was raining a lot and they were on a bus and there was this weird guy staring at soeur marker and then when they were getting off the bus, he got off too and accidentally (?) stepped on her shoe and kind of broke it. haha. so she's like, dang. and he is like, oh I'm so sorry let me fix it and shes all, no its fine and basically he wont take no for an answer, because he says he 'repares shoes'. So she gives him her shoe under this awning of a store, and he pulls out htis little pack of glue stuff and squirts glue ALL OVER her shoe and shes like, what the heckkkkk??! but thanks him anyway and takes her shoe. He takes a photo with her? I dont remember why. then he wants to learn more about our church but he never showed up to the rendez-vous. Wondering how this is going to turn int a miracle, arent ya? Keep reading.

So the first week I'm in Nice, we go porting and we cross a street (its the evening and its dark), and while we are crossing the street, this guy passes us, but stops and is looking at us, and soeur marker says to me 'keep walking' and so I keep walking. She tells me this weird story and we go about our business. A few weeks later, we run into this guy again! OH! And I forgot to tell you: his name is Maurice. Like...Beauty's fathers name in beauty and the beast. "Crazy ol' Maurice!" hahahahaha. That got us laughing a lot. anyway! So we see this guy AGAIN, and we were again crossing a street, but waiting for the light. Soeur marker is standing by him and didnt realize it until the light changed and he says, "do you remember me?" and she just says, 'no' and keeps going across the street! then she tells me about it, I'm like, well...that was a little bit like lying since you DO remember him..but I understand. but she felt bad so we go back to that same spot to see if he's there but he's not, so we go to the tram to go back to wherever we were going. Guess who is at the tram stop. MAURICE! So he asks her, "are you sure you dont remember me?" and shes all, 'yeah I do' and he says he tried calling the number we gave him to cancel the rdv but it wasnt the right number? so we set up another rdv for sunday at 12:30 after church. He doesnt show up. then he calls us from a different number then the one we had for him which hadnt worked at around 4 that same day and apologizes and says that we can meet next sunday at 2. So soeur marker's like, fine, 2 next sunday. So we call him from the same number he called us on saturday to remind him and he doesnt answer so we leave a message reminding him of hte rdv at the church at 2 on sunday. So he calls us back later that day on the bus, and is like, who is this? and soeur marker is getting annoyed and is like, the missionaries! and hes like, whats your name? and soeur marker is thinking, this guy is creepy! and he already took a photo with her!!! so shes like, its the missionaries. Then he was like, okay, and she tells him again what she said on the message, and hes like, okay where is the church? and by now shes super annoyed because he had said he knew where the church was. so she told him again and hung up when they finished the conversation. so sunday comes along, and we arent really expecting maurice to show up. so souer marker calls him at 2 and he says hes on his way but not sure if he went past the street, so she talks to him until he pulls into the parking lot, then we walk to the doors to meet him, and...its not maurice. Its not maurice at all. Soeur Marker is like, ...I..dont think that's Maurice. Are my eyes working?? That isnt Maurice, is it?? And I was just like, no..thats not him. so we go up to this guy, and we're like, hey! and hes like, hi, i'm suppose to meet the missionaries here? And I was like, we're the missionaries! what's your name? He says, "I'm George."

So what had happened was that Maurice had borrowed George's phone (a random guy), and called us to set up another rdv, and we had recalled that number and George later told us that he had checked his phone and saw that a random number had called, and he was like, eh whatever, but then he felt prompted to call us back. So he listened to that prompting, set up the rdv with us, and showed up at church. He's portugeuse and he is just the sweetest man! Hes in his 40s-50s and loves his son and loves our church!!! He has come the first time and yesterday (since we've met him he's come), and we taught him on saturday and yesterday and he accepted a baptismal date but was like, "I dont feel ready right now, but I love this church and I feel really good (as he grabs his chest)" and we're just like, thats why we set a date. we know youre not ready right now, but its a date to prepare for! and he said okay! Oh my goodness he is so great. so receptive to the Spirit!! We will be meeting with him again this week.

I have to go, but I love yall so much! I know that this church is so true. Heavenly Father loves us so much. He gives us everything, and even when we feel like we cant go farther, He can reach out to us and lift us up. That Josh Groban song comes to mind.."you raise me up"..lame but not at all! I love that song! I know that this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ, the doctrine that He taught on the earth is restored on the earth today. I love you all and I hope that you have a great week!!

Love always,


Monday, January 21, 2013

January 21, 2013 - Nice, France

Put your shoulder to the wheel

my dear family,

how blessed I am to have such an incredible, beautiful family. I am so proud to call myself a member of our family! So things here in Nice are going pretty great. We found 5 new amis last week!!! FIVE! that is...a lot. just saying. and its soeur bicchierri! shes out of control! haha. she talks literally to everyone and she has a level of enthusiasm that I cant even reflect. So we are learning how to work in unity. haha. but its so great. shes an incredible example to me, and I love her. so excited! always smiling and complimenting people and its just crazy how much she does!! she is a convert of five years, only one in her family. she is from northern italy, but her mom is french. so she speaks pretty dang good french, and uses it all the time with me. french is from 7am to 9:30pm. shes a handful. a handful of joy! haha.

okay! so the list of things i have to write about! first off, my halfways mark is on wednesday, the 23rd, which is pretty dang weird. whatthewhat???! and april 18th i'll only have 6 months left?!!! That is just around the corner!!!! seriously time FLIES on a mission. and ive already had 4 companions not including my mtc comp. thats cray. and im already on my sixth transfer. wow. soeur bertolio was on her...sixth or seventh transfer when she got me! but she was also already fluent in the language..but she goes home in MAY!!! which is soooooooooo soon! holy moley. im getting old in the mission. and we're apparently recieving like 26 or 27 or something new soeurs in april!! we have like 30 right now. that means...almost every soeur will be training. craaaaazy. and new areas opening up!!! so cool!!!!!! go missionary work!!!

so soeur bicchierri is big on goals, which is so great!!!!! so we set goals and i was going through mtc notes i took, and turned to a scripture frere lepretre gave us, proverbs 29 verse 18, which says 'where there is no vision the people perish'. so true!! goal setting!!!! top priorities!!!! HOLLAH!!

It rained like 4 days in a row here just ending today. it was terrible. haha. and cold. not cool. heck, i'm in nice!!! im in teh cote d'azur! this should not be happening!!! lol. But today is blue skies smiling at me and nothin but blue skies do i see.

new amis!!! I dont even know where to start. yesterday we met with this older woman, her husband, their son and his wife. we contacted the older woman on a bus and she wanted us to meet her son and teach him about Jesus because he is really believing and he has been in a bad accident so he's handicapped and he would appreciate it. So we made a rdv and met with them last night. Oh my goodness, how incredibly humbling it was. we didnt ask what happened, but hes in a wheelchair with slowed abilities and he has very limited eyesight. He can speak but very slowly and slurred, but has a great mind and speaks french and english. He loves God wiht all his heart and testified of him, that he knows that He exists and has given him peace in his situation. He wants to learn more about our message because he just loves to learn about God, and he is muslim so I dont know if we will ever be able to baptize him if he accepted, but still want to teach him. He is an incredible example of faith and of love. He is an artist, and has his art all around their (nice) apartment and we seriously felt the Spirit in their home. it is the most spiritual home I have ever been to of someone who is not a member of the church. I left the home feeling very humble and very loved from our Heavenly Father for all of the great blessings that I have.

I know that our Heavenly Father loves us and that he listens to our pleas. He can give us strength, like the man we met who is handicapped, and peace in times of trial.

So I read "Be anxiously Engaged" by elder M Russell Ballard this morning, a gc talk given this last conference, so study it!!!
I love yall so much and I am so grateful to be here on a mission to be crafted into who I was designed to become.

love always,

Monday, January 14, 2013

January 14, 2013 - Nice, France

When I Leave this Frail Existence, when I Pass this Mortal by,

Father, mother, may I meet you in your royal courts on high?

My dear family,

First off, I was not transferred, but Soeur Marker was. Shes headed to Bordeaux right now and my new comp just got here! Her name is Soeur Biecchierri, and yes, she is italian! AND she was just companions with Soeur Bertolio! She is a little ball of energy/enthusiasm/love!!! I will really miss soeur marker. She was so great and so fun and so willing!! OH such a great companion!! I was so sad to say goodbye. Those are the hardest. But I have a good feeling about this italian. She got off the train and went off in french to me! Language transferrrrrr, I can feel it! So exciting!!!!

I was so incredibly sad to hear about grandpa passing away from dad on saturday. I was honestly a little bit of a mess that night. Luckily we were already planning and about to get ready for bed. Grandpa passing away is definitely the saddest thing that has happened to me in a very long time. I know that the whole family has taken it hard, also. Grandpa was an incredible man, an incredible husband to Loretta, an incredible grandpa. I love him so much and am so glad that I have the knowledge of the Gospel to bless and strengthen me in times like these. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is real. I have seen it in my life countless times; especially in times like these. At home I would have sat around and cried and just been miserable for a few days or so, but not here. Not on a mission. I cant afford that. The people here cant afford that. I pulled myself out of bed on Sunday, got ready for church, did whatever possible to make my eyes less puffy, and ran out the door to catch the 7:56 bus to church, like every other Sunday. I think the hardest part is not being there to help yall get through it, to help Loretta and be there for the funeral. But I feel as though I am very blessed to be out on a mission in times like these, because instead of being sad throughout the day, I have other things that I need to think about and people that I have to serve. It really is true, that serving people helps you become a happier person. Instead of thinking about how grandpa wont be around when I go home, I think about how he is in a much better place with his other family, and that I get to share that with others and I begin looking for people who might need help with something. I pray that everyone who loved grandpa who is grieving will pray to ask for strength and a stronger testimony of the plan of Salvation. I prayed and am continuously praying for that strength to help me get through each day. Although I'm a missionary, everyone can pray for strength and recieve it. I urge yall to look for ways to help others; forget yourself in service, and you will become happier. Its like that mormon message based off the talk, "hope ya know, we had a hard time"

I love you all so much and I know that our Heavenly Father loves you, too. Life is hard, as court said in her email, and that is so true. You have to find reasons to be happy, and during times like these, thats a really hard thing to do. We may not have the ability to make ourselves happy, we may not have the strength to keep pushing forward, but Jesus Christ does. Through the Atonement we can be strong. We can face every challenge that comes our way with courage and love, with capabilities beyond our own comprehension. Jesus Christ knows what we have gone through, what we are going through, and what we will go through. He has suffered everything for us. He knows what it feels like to lose a dad, a grandpa, a spouse. If we will only pray for this strength that he has offered to us, we can be so much more then we ever thought possible. Honestly, though. I am the biggest baby in our family, and I dont think I could have ever dealt with grandpa's death the way that I have. I know that I could have never done that alone. Jesus Christ loves us. He lives. He has given us so much, and we can be so much through His Atonement. Let us continue to strive to be the person we were designed to be, the person grandpa would want us to be.

 I love the lyrics to this song, the one we sang at grandma nila's funeral. I love yall so much and I am so thankful for everything that you do for me. Please know that I love you and pray for you everyday. Have a great week!

love always,

O my Father, thou that dwellest
In the high and glorious place,
When shall I regain thy presence
And again behold thy face?
In thy holy habitation,
Did my spirit once reside?
In my first primeval childhood
Was I nurtured near thy side?
2. For a wise and glorious purpose
Thou hast placed me here on earth
And withheld the recollection
Of my former friends and birth;
Yet ofttimes a secret something
Whispered, "You're a stranger here,"
And I felt that I had wandered
From a more exalted sphere.
3. I had learned to call thee Father,
Thru thy Spirit from on high,
But, until the key of knowledge
Was restored, I knew not why.
In the heav'ns are parents single?
No, the thought makes reason stare!
Truth is reason; truth eternal
Tells me I've a mother there.
4. When I leave this frail existence,
When I lay this mortal by,
Father, Mother, may I meet you
In your royal courts on high?
Then, at length, when I've completed
All you sent me forth to do,
With your mutual approbation
Let me come and dwell with you.

Monday, January 7, 2013

January 7, 2013 - Nice, France

I get knocked DOWN, but I get UP again!

Aint nothin gonna bring(keep?) me down!

ma famille et mes amis,

bonjour!!!!! So this week has been GREAT!!! We set a goal to contact 100 people, like soeur bertolio and I did, and did we achieve our goal? you know it!!!!! And it went great!! COURAGE, BRETHREN! and ON, ON to the VICTORY! Doctrine and Covenants 128:22. The BEST. I quote that all the time when I'm feelin lame and uncourageous. is that a word? Quand-même. So! I wrote down the stuff that was exciting that I wanted to share this week and its a nice little list. Here we go...

First off, shout out to one of my bffs MADELINE RUPARD who got her mission call to HUNGARY and is leaving soon!!!!! Congrats, gurrl!!! You will do SO GREATTTT and I love you!!!!!!! I'll be seein you in fall 2014!!!!

okay! so I forgot to tell yall about the time we went streetboarding almost 2 weeks ago and the POLICE came! hahaha. It was great, because we had contacted this man who is actually an evangilistic missionary here in nice from cali, and after we had been talking for like 4 min, he was like, isnt that your board? and the police were like trying to figure out how to take it down all awkwardly. hahaha. And there was a member with us and he was like, what are yall doing?? and hte police were like, is this your board? and he was like, its theirs and pointed us out and when we were walking over there, these two teenage boys were like, do we pay you to write on the board? because its the board thats like, if you could ask God one question, what would it be? and there are all these questions I wrote out behind hte main question so sometimes people think its a "write a question on hte board", and so these two boys ask the POLICE MAN who is trying ot take the board down! hahaha. and the police man is like, no, its over! hahaha. so. good. we were laughing so hard about that because they were basically asking to be contacted but to the officer...anyway. something about streetboarding during the holidays and needing a permit? but its freedom of religion, which is allowed we just leave when they show up. In Monaco we arent allowed to proselete (sp???) so we literally have to take our nametags off or hide them, because its against the LAW! crazy, huh? Monaco. So we visit members there. Thats the only reason we go. Pretty sad. but it smells really good in the gare, which NEVER happens in france. holy cow. hahaha. anywho!

So I went to marseilles for exchanges! I was there with Soeur Kohler, who was one of hte first soeurs I met on the mission cause she was in Bordeaux for 3 of the 4 transfers that I was in that zone! there are a LOT of muslims in marseilles. holy. cow. but it wasnt too bad! and we contacted a guy from corsica (which just got opened like 2 transfers ago in our mission, only for elders) and he said that he loves Jesus and then said hes from corsica and that if someone gets in their way or soemthing they just KILL EM! and we were like,..huh?? hahaha. and he was like, yeah! you dont mess with people in corsica, or we'll kill em! and he kept talking about killing people and said that he likes missionaries because we love Jesus and then we finished up that contact and walked away. hahaha. crazy. soeur bertolio said that the mafia is crazy intense in corsica, and I believe it!!!! we also contacted this woman, Nadia (AUDREY ALIAS!!!) and she was just like, yeah I'm interested! and she was pushing a little girl in a stroller and gave us her address and number and we set up a rdv just like that!!! crayy! 

so back in nice, we had been praying for finding a man for one of our members, violetta, who is from peru, and we were praying for an ami like audreys in cali, super believing and lamanite kind of man. so we get off the bus to go home and souer marker was asking me if we wanted to just finish the number of contacts we needed for today tomorrow, and before she could finish I just contacted this guy right off hte bus! and he totally looked mexican and I contacted him and he's from PERU and is here on business for 6 months but usually lives in paris and doesnt have fam here, and gave us his numero and we are so STOKED to teach him!!! miracles!!!!!!

we contacted this guy, and he was like, sorry, i'm italian, then i was like, OH! and remembered a tiny bit of what I learned from soeur bertolio and basically got out that we're missionaries and learning more and he was like, OH! and just began speaking italian to me!!! and I was like, uhhhh.... hahaha. but he was like, no, but thanks! and it was so COOL that i contacted him in ITALIAN!!!!!!!!! not really totally contacted fully in italian because it was like a french-italian mix, but still! and our dmp (ward missionary leader) served in italy so I had him tell me how to actually contact someone in italian. I am my mommas daughter!!! (soeur BERTOLIO!!!!!) So the question now do you contact in espagnol??

the families in the ward LOVE the soeurs!!! they gave us so many gifts this last sunday and we have like 4 mangez-vous this week! Theyre great. I love our ward. What I love sharing with members at this time of the year is Alma 5, when alma the younger is teaching the people about the nephites in the land of mormon and how they had a "changing of their hearts". Here it is:

 7 Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; yea, they were encircled about by the abands of death, and thebchains of hell, and an everlasting destruction did await them.
 8 And now I ask of you, my brethren, were they destroyed? Behold, I say unto you, Nay, they were not.
 9 And again I ask, were the bands of death broken, and the achains of hell which encircled them about, were they loosed? I say unto you, Yea, they were loosed, and their souls did expand, and they did bsing redeeming love. And I say unto you that they are saved.
 11 Behold, I can tell you—did not my father Alma believe in the words which were delivered by the amouth of Abinadi? And was he not a holy prophet? Did he not speak the words of God, and my father Alma believe them?
 12 And according to his faith there was a mighty achange wrought in his heart. Behold I say unto you that this is all true.
 13 And behold, he apreached the word unto your fathers, and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their btrust in the true and cliving God. And behold, they were faithful until the dend; therefore they were saved.
 14 And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye aspiritually been bborn of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty cchange in your hearts?
 26 And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a achange of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the bsong of redeeming love, I would ask, ccan ye feel so now?

I LOVE this. and I invite you all, as I do with the members, to do a review on how youre doing relating to your change of heart. We are either progressing or degressing. Can you feel that change of heart now? Though we should always be changing and striving to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, it being the beginning of a new year can be the beginning of a new you. And can I just say that Alma is the most poetic prophet in the Book of Mormon?? Oh my goodnessss I LOVE reading Alma!!!!! Sooooo good!! AND the talk from last conference by Elder Quentin L. Cook called "Can Ye Feel So Now?" is a verrrry good talk that actually he titles from this chapter!!! I just read it for studies this morning, and it was a nice little boost from my idea on this little message for the members. 

Well, the time has come, and so my love(s), I must go. But I love yall. So. much. I dont know how to explain this love, but its like the grinch's heart being 2 sizes too big or whatever. 3 sizes? But yeah. I love yall. I love this gospel. its so true! The Book of Mormon is in reality the word of God. No one can deny that. Its another testament of Jesus Christ, and when people are ready, they accept this. Sometimes agency can be so annoying!!!!! haha. But there are miracles all the time. Alex, my second baptism in pau, is getting married to soeur lavie!!!!!!! March 16th!!!! They can be an eternal family soon!!!!!! WOW!!!! I know that this gospel changes lives and makes us better people. I know that Jesus Christ set hte example for us to return to him and our Father in heaven again. I know that Joseph Smith, Jr restored the true gospel of Jesus Christ back on the earth today for us. We are so blessed to have this knowledge! But its not just a blessing, it is a responsibility. We are responisble for bring others to the gospel, whether or not you have a nametag. Get lost in this wonderful cause! 

I Love you all and I hope to hear from you very soon (letters..)!!!

Love always,
Devaneaux -soeur gardner-

ps. could you send me quotes? inspirational, motivational quotes that are both religious and non? ranging from Winston Churchill to jon keats to President Monson? And could you send me like 50? haha. THANKS!!! I have begun putting these kinds of quotes in  each day of my planner. its pretty sick, not gonna lie. :) 

pss. we have transfers next monday so if you dont get an email next monday soeur marker (or me. probably her) probably got transferred so you'll get one maybe tuesday! love ya!!!!!!