So, of course, last week was fantastic. I have so much to say so don't have tons of time to expound all of my favorite conference talks. But, I absolutely loved it. Ah, it was perfect, I'm inspired, there is no doubt that Jesus Christ is the head of this church and that he inspires our leaders. Oh, and in case you're wondering, when I speak English now, I have the accent of Elder Causeé (priesthood session).
So, I thought I'd do this letter a little different. I'm basically going to copy some segments of my journal so you can get "real time reactions" to things. Here's a little bit of my week and my thoughts...
Mercredi, 2 Octobre 2013
"Tonight was spent in meetings for several hours. Oh wow, I just want to help this branch. It is really struggling--but in different ways than the ward in Carcassonne was. There are 166 members in Besancon with an average of 20 at church every week, every member that has been baptized as far back as I can trace is completely less-active, and the active members are trying but they are exhausted. Sitting in this branch council, there were several times I just wanted to cry. There were five members there and us. This literally comprised all of the super active people in the branch with the others being a couple older sisters, one primary kid, the youth program--one YM and one YW (and they're twins), several students, and then the couple "off and on" members. Out of the five members present at the meeting, there were two couples. It was evident that these same five people had been meeting together for years and merely exchanging back and forth major callings (except for the branch president, who has held his calling since my birth). They talked about the struggles they were having--how the relief society president's efforts with the less-actives are not making a difference, how the perception of their branch among less-actives, amis, and even members is becoming to be more of a social institution rather than the church of God because it's basically a monopoly when it comes to leadership, how the active members are being neglected because so much is being focused on the numberless weak, etc. Don't get me wrong, this was not a meeting of dispair. There was a lot of hope and desire in these leaders. But, there is a lot of work to do. I'm excited. I don't know what it is, but I have grown to love situations like this. I know that many missionaries would prefer to get sent to Aix--a thriving ward who baptizes quite a bit and is fairly good at retention. I loved Aix, but if I had a choice, I would rather be here or in Carcassonne. I feel like I'm more needed and I like this type of work. I love working with the members and the less-actives. It doesn't make sense to me why we would beat down every door in the city for months, trying to find anyone who will listen, when we can't even retain the members that we have. I love this kind of missionary work and I'm excited to see miracles."
Samedi 5 Octobre 2013
"Oh my gosh, day of miracles. First off, we resolved the mess with general conference that we've been working on all week. So, they've never broadcasted general congerence in Besancon. They always go to Dijon and watch it with that ward. I'm honestly not sure why they've never showen in here-- I'm not sure they understood it was a possibility with the technology. Pretty sure that was the problem. The problem is, there are lots of old ladies, less-actives, amis, and people without computers or cars. All of these people have never seen conference. Not good. Problem: the prophets of God are speaking and the people aren't hearing it and we're not even in a third world country. So, we've been working all week to get things set up to show it here. It's really not difficult, it has just been a pain. But (miracle), all got set-up this morning. And, I'm so glad that it did because that was just the start of many miracles. While we were at the church preparing for conference, Soeur Roux, an older less-active that we've been trying to get a hold of for weeks showed up. She said that she was needing to reschedule the rendez-vous we had set for Monday, but that her phone wasn't working. She figured she'd just stop by the church in hopes that we'd be there. Well, there was about a 98% chance that we wouldn't have been there when she came because we're never at the church. But, we were and she was shocked to hear that general congerence was going to be here. Now, not only has she met the missionaries, she's been in the church, and is probably coming to conference tomorrow. Next miracle, Sandrine and her four kids came to conference! She loved it! I feel like every talk was for her, expecially President Uchtdorf's (I knew he'd have my back). The whole time she was constantly looking over at me, smiling, and confirming that what she was hearing was true. I'm not sure that I've ever felt the Spirit so strong in a session--and I know it's because I was watching it with an ami." So, I definitely just ran out of time, but we ended up having several of our amis there, members, and less-actives. Total success. Nothing like the prophets to start turning a branch around.
Je vous aime,
Soeur Alisa Hulme