Dear family and friends!
Glad to hear that y'all liked the spotlight format. It felt a little wierd to write like that, but I figured it would be a little more enjoyable for you to read it like that.:) I have so so so much to share this week! but I will do my best to communicate as much as I can in the limited time that I have.
I got to go to the chateau in Blois this morning! Oh my it was the coolest thing in the world! and Sister Linton and I couldnt believe all of the history that has taken place in our tiny little city of Blois.:) The chateau itself seems pretty small and plain from the outside, but inside it is grand and so diverse! I didnt know this before, but before the royal courts were based out of Paris, they were here in Blois! Francois 1, his wife Catherine de Medeci (I think that is how you spell her name haha), and several other kings lived here, and because Caterine de Medeci was half Italian, there is a lot of Italian influence in the architecture and art througout the castle. Francois 1 collected a lot of really incredible art, and there are a couple pieces of DaVinci and Reubens and Rembrant here. It was such a treat! Hopefully I can get a couple of pictures attached for you to see.:) Man alive! I cannot believe that I live here! I am the luckiest girl in the world.:)
I know I havent told you about Jean-Luc yet, but he is a really really funny guy that we have been working with really closely lately. He is probably...fifty or sixty years old, has long hippy hair, and has the biggest smile.:) The funny thing is is that he doesnt speak a WORD of English, but yesterday he called us from a random number and started talking to me in English! It really really took me off guard, and it took me practically five minutes to realize that it was Jean-Luc just throwing out every single phrase he knew. "See you later!" "How are you doing?" "What is your name?" and "I like to eat food" haha! For a second there I didnt even realize that he was speaking English!:) He's so awesome.:)
Well in honor of the country that I live in now, and in honor of the country I dont live in anymore....I ate french fries on the 4th of July! haha. Yes yes french fries exist here.:) And they are good! But nothing beats America.:) Hope you all had fun that day!
Well...there are a million different stories that I want to share about the investigators that we have!!! We started teaching four really amazing people this week: Jean-Luc, Christ and Maria, and Miriane. I'll just tell you a little bit about each of them.
Last Tuesday we had a really long Zone Meeting in Tours, but we had about an hour or two once we got back before we were to be in for the night, so we decided to go porting. We knocked in to a couple of people, but they were all really disinterested. But we kept pushing through! We could have easily gone home, but we decided to knock one more door, and that is when we met Jean-Luc.:) He invited us in to pray with him, and we ended up teaching the entire first lesson, commiting him to read the Book of Mormon, and to pray to know if it is the word of God. He listened intently to all we shared, asked a lot of questions, and commited to do all we asked. We set up a rendez-vous for Saturday, and to our greatest surprize, he had already read all of first Nephi. We were shocked. What an incredible example he is to me! He truly has a desire to know the truth. He was not able to attend church with us yesterday, but I know that he has a desire to know the truth for himself. Please keep him in your prayers this week!
We had the feeling to call Chris and Maria at the beginning of last week. We knew only a little bit about them-they had dropped by the missionaries here about a year ago, and there had been absolutely no contact with them-but when we called, they answered. We set up a rendez-vous for the following day, and it was the most incredible experience. It wasnt exactly a structured lesson...but it was completely guided by the Spirit. They opened up completely and expressed all of the reasons why they werent so sure... Their biggest worries were Priesthood authority and the pressure they felt from the missionaires to be baptized. They had prayed and prayed together to know if they should be baptized, but felt like they werent recieving an answer. That day we met with them, the Spirit bore incredible testimony that the authority to baptize is found in one true church, and we extended the invitiation for them to begin praying again to know that they should be baptized. At the end of the meeting Chris said the most inspired prayer, asking whether they need to be baptized. After he finished, Chris began to cry, and we all sat quietly. After a couple minutes he asked us to come back again. We set up another rendez-vous for a couple days later. This experience taught me that truly hearts are softened at specific times in special places. I am so grateful for this experience that we had with Chris and Maria. Please please keep them in your prayers so that they will recieve their answer together.
Miriane found us. We were sitting on a bus on the way to an appointment, and she came up to us and asked us if we were the Mormons. We said yes, and immediately we began teaching her. She just barely moved to Blois from the Congo, but it turns out that her husband (who lives in England) and her sister (who lives in Sweden) are taking the lessons from the missionaries, and she wants to know what they know. The lesson that we taught was so directed, and she is truly seeking to know the truth. It is so incredible to be able to watch investigators learn. The Gospel just makes sense. We commited Miriane to read the Book of Mormon, pray about it and come to church, and she did all three. She also accepted a soft invitiation to be baptized. This week her daughter Jennifer is coming here from Belgium and the next week her husband and three other children are coming from Africa, and they all want to hear. Please keep Miriane and her family in your thoughts and prayers this week that they will all travel safely here and that they will all continue to progress in the Gospel.
I hope it is plain to see the many many miracles that are happening. France is blossoming, and the Gospel is spreading. This is the work of the Lord. Do all you can to share the message of the Gospel with those around you. If you can build the church in France, you can build it anywhere!
Remember that you can make a difference, wherever you are. Find someone to help. And always always remember to smile.:)
I love you with all of my heart, Soeur Laura Lee Judd