Monday, 3 December 2018

Mission Conference AND a baptism

This week was so exciting! So many things happened so I'll try to get everything in this email!

Monday: préparation day so Sœur Ethington and I cleaned all day to get ready for the Soeurs who were staying over for mission Conference! (all ten of them!)

Tuesday: We taught our new friend George, and it was so awesome! We taught him about the restoration of Christ's church. He told us how he hasn't prayed in many years because he felt like God had forgotten him and he had lost hope. So we invited him to give it a try because God always loves us no matter what and He wants to talk with us. Later in the week, we called him and asked him how it went. He said when he prayed, he "felt like he had never been alone." Isn't that awesome? 

Wednesday: Mission Conference day one! This was super exciting for us because we had all the missionaries in our mission (half of France) in the Versailles area to listen to one of the leaders of the church for this area speak and give us some training. Soeur Ethington and I were scheduled to attend the conference the second day so we stayed at the visitors centre to be on shift. Antonina and Soriana came to the visitors Centre for a tour! I wish you all could have seen Soriana run into the garden, run up to the Christus and just be SO AMAZED. You can tell that she recognizes the spirit that is present in the house of the Lord, because she was glowing with happiness! It was such a fun day, they were at the temple for a few hours so we got to show them around the temple model and spend a lot of time with them. It was so great!

Then that night, we had 8 sisters staying over from outside of the Paris zones. It was CRAZY but lots of fun to have all these sisters over! It was really nice for Sister Ethington because her last companion got to stay over! We went to bed super late (by missionary standards) but we had a great time!

Thursday: Mission Conference day two! One of my favorite parts was at the temple when Sister Johnson talked about the change that happened in her family when they were sealed in the temple. Sometimes we talk a lot about how the temple is somewhere we feel peace and God's love, which are such important things in everyone's life. But I love how her testimony pointed out the real difference it can make in someone's family to make those  sacred promises in the temple. She had a daughter who passed away, and she shared a really touching thought about how every time she is in the temple, she feels close to that daughter. Heavenly Father has real and tangible blessings waiting for us, things that we have wanted our whole lives, and he's just waiting for us to be ready to receive them. When we do those sacred ceremonies in the temple, we prepare ourselves for those things that he has in store. 

The senior missionaries prepared an amazing meal for us for lunch. We felt so special and we were so grateful for all their hard work. Soeur Ethington and I had a great time, we got to sit with President and Sœur Sorenson and Elder and Sister Johnson! They asked us about how we do missionary work online, and Soeur Ethington got to tell them about the family the she connected with the missionaries in India! They just got baptized, and their extended family is being taught too! The funny thing is that Sœur Ethington didn't even remember that family until they sent her an email about their baptism. It just goes to show that Heavenly Gather takes our small effort and turns it into MIRACLES. 

Friday : We did weekly planning then went over to Antoninas house to do last minute baptism preparations. Their grandma told us about all the things God has done for her, and how her dream is to repay him by serving in the temple. She has been a member of the church for a long long time but because of her health, hasn't been able to even go see the temple! We started making plans RIGHT away to get her there and to be able to enjoy the spirit there. 

Saturday: Antonina's baptism day! Everything was crazy as it usually is when you're getting ready for a baptism! We held the baptism with a family from our ward who's daughter just turned eight so she's old enough to be baptised too. Because of protests and riots in Paris, Antonina and Soriana got there late! And because the little girl's whole family was there on time and impatient to get things started, we had to do our best to make things work! 

At the end of it all, the baptism was wonderful. We witnessed a beautiful moment after they had both gotten out of the water, they were glowing! Antonina was so happy, she hugged her daughter and said "c'est fait, ma fille! C'est fait!" or in English, "it's done, my girl! It's done!" After getting to know them and seeing all they've been through, it was so beautiful to see the relief and the comfort that comes from Christ's atonement. I was so happy to see them experience the beautiful blessings that we had promised them! Feelings of sadness, guilt and fear were gone from them and you could see the difference. They were so happy, and Soeur Ethington and I were too. There were quite a few tears of joy shed that day! 

Afterwards, we invited their grandma to come to the temple. She's such an amazing woman. I don't know if I've ever met anyone who loves God so much. We had a wheelchair there for her, so we took her up to the Christus, and had a very special and sacred moment together. You can just tell she's been praying for her family to have her family joined together in the church for so long. She looked at the statue, and with tears streaming down her face said again and again "merci seigneur, merci." I am humbled by the blessing I've been given to  know these people and help them get closer to Christ. 

Sunday : Antonina and Soriana were given a special priesthood blessing that confirmed them as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and gave them the gift of the Holy Ghost. It was a really beautiful blessing, and you could tell that the spirit of God has already started to change them. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ and what it has done for these people that I love. 

We also got to get started on the churches #lighttheworld initiative by sharing a box of pastries with a homeless man who we see every week on the way to church. It always feels nice to share. I hope you all enjoy the Christmas season and the feeling of giving. 

I also hope you all got to the end of this, it's been one of my favorite weeks of my mission. 

soeur Ackroyd 

 The family in India that Soeur Ethington taught online.

 Us right before their baptism! 

Antonina and Soriana with Melissa, the little girl who got baptized 
 Us with the whole family! 

The baptismal program we spent forever on
 Another one with Antonina and Soriana

The banquet tables at mission conference. It was amazing and Sister Fitt made an amazing Christmas dinner for all the missionaries and we were all so honored!

Us with all the sisters (10 total) who slept over in our tiny 2-man apartment for the mission conference! It was such a blast. 

Soeur Angelique came to the temple for the first time after a lifetime of being in the Church. She wept as she rolled her wheelchair to the base of the statue and placed her hand on the scars in His feet. It was a beautiful and powerful moment so I snapped a picture to remember. 

All of the adorable VC sisters! Together, we speak French, English, German, Russian, and Spanish. Coming soon: I am currently learning Lingala. :)
 The Visitor's Center Christmas tree
Us in front of the temple with Antonina and Soriana and the twins! 

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