Monday, September 22, 2014

Fin.

I don't really know what to say. This week was a really good one and full of really sweet miracles. Small, but sweet. I really love being a missionary even when it is really hot and the people are mean. Just to find that one person that asks you, but really, why are we here? ... that is enough to make you happy. 

Just watch this video. It is really good.  


I feel really happy to be a missionary. I really love my ward and this city. I don't feel ready to leave yet but I feel good about the things I have seen here and the things I have done. So that is positive. I don't really have anything overly inspirational to tell you. Just that things have changed a lot over here in France. I don't feel like the same person... because I'm not. A better version of me hopefully :) I could probably use another year and a half to keep getting better and better but it had to end one day. I knew that. 

The loudest message I think I've had from my mission is that we rarely achieve what we want if we just sit around and wait for it to happen... and even if we do get up and try, we won't get very far without the Savior. They know who they want us to be and how we can get there. But it's hard for us to see. So we can try if we want... to do this alone. But we will never achieve our potential in this life without the help of our Heavenly Father. Sometimes we let pride get in the way. Sometimes we are tired. But if we can find a way to put our trust in them, things will get better. That's all there is to it. LIFE is hard, not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that is true. 

The Savior lives. He loves us. He cannot wait to bless us, if we let Him. LET HIM. 

I'm looking forward to a really good week :) Then next week, well. We'll deal with that when we get there. I love all of you more than I can say. Thanks for being faithful readers! Talk to you soon :) 

Sœur Loder 


Monday, September 15, 2014

WEEK TWO?

Gosh, already week two. 

For those of you who remember, I marked every week as week two in my planner. Usually I'm really bad at tricking myself but this seems to be working out pretty well for me :) 

So this week we had zone conference in Bordeaux where we got to hear from Elder Ballard (an apostle!) and he gave us some really incredible instruction and promises. One of the things that stuck out to me the most is that, basically, the attitude we have shows how much we love the Lord. It says something like that in Preach My Gospel too, but it is so true. If we get up with a happy heart then we know that we are putting our faith in Him and that we love Him :) So yeah, lots of other things but that one was my favorite! 

It was cool because it was a four zone conference (usually it is only one or three zones) and there were so many missionaries there that I love love love with all my heart! It was perfect because well, at your last zone conference you bear your last testimony. All the departing missionaries do it. We were all sitting up front and the elders had gone (four elders and four sisters) and I was the first sister. I felt okay until the moment I was standing up to go to the mircophone. In those five steps, the reality of everything kind of hit me in the face. I don't remember what I said. But I didn't cry until after so let's just say it went pretty well. It was a really good conference.

Unfortuntely almost every single person we were supposed to see this week did not come to our rdvs so that isn't very nice. It is kind of hard to plan so carefully for things just to have people never come and never answer the phone... it doesn't make you feel very good. It turned out to be a really good week and we still taught lots and lots but it was quite exhausting. We went back down to Ax les Thermes and it was kind of... rough. We had a potential there that never found us and she was really offended by it so we walked over to our amie who was going to be baptized a few weeks ago and we learned that she has gone backwards. It was a really hard rdv. She drilled us with questions and as we answered them she didn't believe us and we left just feeling really sad. She came to church this week... I was surprised after all the things she said to us. Hopefully she can feel something. But there isn't a lot we can do except love her. She has to make the choice now. 

The elders baptized a really awesome lady this weekend. She is really close with all the missionaries and her baptism was awesome :) Sr Hiltunen played piano for E Liechty and I. We sang a nice song for her and her baptism was just so nice :) Even if the ward is difficult the Lord is still blessing us to find the people who are ready. I love Toulouse! Even if all the members are all telling me I look awfully tired these days. I'm not surprised. It's all good :) 

I love you all! 

Sr Loder

Monday, August 25, 2014

Finish with a Finnish

Ha... I thought that was clever because my last companion is Finnish and she is really cool. Her name is Sœur Hiltunen and she is small and really fun :) Haha, and we get along great. She has such a wonderful desire to work and be a good missionary so we have seen a lot of success and miracles already! 

Our amis have been making good progress even if it is slow. Not everyone jumps into the font after just a few weeks! Ha, mostly they have all just really opened up to us this week. I think it helps that they have all known me for a really long time now so they feel comfortable really telling me what is in their heart and the real questions they have. It has been a really eye opening week and I feel like I have never loved these people more. 

The fun part of the week is that thursday we went down to Ax-les-Thermes to see our amie Sophie and we walked into her apartment and before we had sat down she said she talked to the bishop about baptizing her on Saturday. In my head I thought she meant she had talked to him ON Saturday about baptizing her but she meant to baptize her THIS Saturday. In less than two days. My head exploded with the millions of things we still had to do to prepare a baptism but we got it together and talked to our leaders and set up the interview. I wasn't sure if she would be ready but I knew she could be. So the next day she came up to Toulouse and had her interview with one of our zone leaders... it was three hours long. That is NOT common. I think at the two hour mark I realized that she probably wasn't getting baptized the next day. 

So we had our fun FHE at the church and all the missionaries waited with us... they came down the stairs and they were both really happy but she said she wanted to move the date back. The elders left and we talked to her bit and she said that our zone leader had really opened the scriptures to her like we did and she wants to be the person that REALLY wants to live the Gospel and the commandments, not just the person that lives them because she has to but doesn't really want to. So it was an incredible experience and she had come to that decision herself. I think that experience will help her to find a deeper testimony. It was sweet because the elders brought her a bunch of cookies and she was really just... happy. Happier than I had seen her in a while. So. All is well :) 

Saturday all our plans AND back-ups fell through (the worst) so we went over to our normal contacting area and within a few minutes... I saw a guy we taught right when I got to Toulouse who had just disappeared. I'm not sure if he was excited to see me or not... but we went and sat down and talked to him and he opened up and told me he has been fighting himself for weeks and weeks to come to church or call us but he didn't because he didn't think God wanted someone who didn't know who he was. So we got to testify of God's love and the important things in life and he agreed to start meeting with us again. I just love this work. Nothing compares to seeing people change and sincerely seek truth and light. 

I love being a missionary :) 

Sr Loder 

Monday, August 18, 2014

TOULOUSEE

That's right everyone, I'm staying in Toulouse for my FIFTH (and one-sixth) transfer. Hahahaha YES I couldn't believe it when President told me. Sr Bridg left for Nice though and my new companion is from Finland :) She is about halfway through her mission but that's all I know. She will come in around five tonight and we'll go from there. Today is day one of my last transfer! I'm ready to tear this place up, it's going to be the best. I can tell already. 

This has been one of the best weeks of my mission! It was really crazy though... we just went and saw lots of members and that almost never happens so we were really happy about it. We went and visited a non-member family for Sr Bridg's birthday and he is a baker... a literal French baker. So he gave us aprons and hats and we made a seven layer cake and an apricot tarte. SO GOOD. 

We just went about talking to people all over and it was good. We just had a million things to do so it got kind of crazy by the end. The members have really started to trust us and have opened up and told us what things they think we can do to help the ward. So when President said I was staying I got really excited to put all of this into action! Plus I will get to be here for Sophie's baptism :) I'm anticipating the best transfer of my mission. 

Wednesday night we got a call from the elders and their 85 year old amie called and told them she wanted to be baptized THAT Saturday. So. We did it! The thing is that she is really old... and has a hard time walking so it was kind of a big effort to get all this planned. So we quickly put it all together and called members and amis to get them there and it turned out to be one of the best services I've ever been to. They got her down into the water and there were two missionaries there to help her... she was so scared but she trusted them a lot. They got her under and brought her up and she just hugged Elder Baty for like five minutes while everyone watching just cried. It was a really special moment. Elder Liechty and I translated an arrangement of Abide With Me into French and sang it and it was really nice and yes... it was a really, really good night. 

As soon as we realized Sr Bridg was leaving we suddenly had three million things to do so we ran around like crazy people for three days. There are a lot of people moving in the mission but it's good. Change is fun! I only say that because I haven't left Toulouse for eight months... yeah. Haha. I love it here! I never want to leave. 

I love you all. Have the most wonderful week :) 

Sr Loder 

Pictures of us as bakers, and then the district after church! 

Monday, August 11, 2014

How Great HE Is

I've spent this week marveling at the greatness of God and His creations. It has been a wonderful week of super hot weather and teaching and fun things all over. We drove down south through the mountains and I was astounded at their beauty... and just after we got home the biggest lightning storm I have ever seen rolled through Toulouse. 

We spent a lot of time this week setting up for our American Night. Our ward is really bad about procrastinating and so all the activities I have seen here have been... really not so great. So they don't organize anything and then the activity is not good and then the next day nobody can figure out why nobody comes to activities! So Sr Bridg and I decided to change that. We put together this activity in two weeks and worked really hard to call every... single person with a phone number that we could find and ask them to bring food to share. Well.

IT WAS AWESOME. 

The first guy that walks in is a less active man. With his non-member wife and daughter. And they had come early to help us set up :) THEY ROCK and are so kind and I absolutely cannot wait to work with them. Slowly the people came in... and kept coming and coming! We had close to 25 amis and non-members, 5 less active families and at least 30 members. We started off by doing some camp songs (while we waited for the late people). Haha, so good. Then we did some minute to win it games (like the cookie sliding down the face game and cutting the flour tower) with some select, classic American music. Hahaha literally everyone loved it. Then we had a GRAND buffet with hamburgers and hot dogs and so much food we didn't know what to do with all of it. 

I spent almost all the food time in the kitchen washing the dishes and telling people what to do. Takes me back to the MTC days. Sr Bridg was outside directing the floor and then all the other missionaries were doing their thing. It was probably one of the most successful activities the ward has ever seen. SO GOOOD. 

Other than that, we have done a lot of traveling. Once you have been in an area so long (and your area is as big as ours) you start making the efforts to travel and visit the less-visited families. Even if that involves hours of trains and buses during the week... it is always worth it :) We went back down to Ax les Thermes and visited our amie with a baptismal date... she rocks! But she pushed it back to the end of September because she will be busy with work and also we still have a lot to teach... it will be good. I love her a lot. 

I LOVE IT HERE and I love being a missionary. Transfer calls are this Friday... now that I have been here over 6 months and my companion is here for a little over 4 months and we have done three transfers together... nobody really knows what will happen. Everyone seems to think I will stay. I guess you all will find out next week :) Stay tuned! 

I love you :) 

SR LODER 

These are some photo highlights from the activity. The cookie game and the Americans :) 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Rainy Days.

My companion and I have been absolutely dying in the heat so we prayed for some rain and let me just tell you... God answers prayers. It is currently mega downpouring haha. We like that though :) 

It has been a really really really good week and we have gotten some quality work done. Our amis are doing great. We taught our two young adult friends the plan of salvation and I forgot my puzzle so I drew it out on the board as we taught it. It really warms a missionary heart to see your ami drawing it out so he can take it home and remember it :) They are doing great and they came to our now weekly family home evening and they loved it a lot. 

This week we went porting in a little town called Cugnaux and this woman slammed the door in our faces. It didn't hurt our feelings too much but she came out later as we were still porting on her street and apologized for slamming the door. It was a really good moment! 

We also had a really good opportunity to talk to some members this week about how they were really feeling about missionary work and the ward and they opened up a lot. That helped us SO MUCH and we also learned that they literally have no idea what they could possibly to do to help the ward. But we, the missionaries, organized a HUGE All American Night and we have tons of members and their friends and our amis coming. We're going to do some games for prizes with some funny music (We Like to Party and Mika, stuff like that:) and a big buffet with hamburgers and hot dogs and all that classic stuff. The ward is really excited about it and so hopefully this can get the ball rolling to show them what activities really should be! 

I think the highlight of this week was yesterday after church. We had a MILLION things to do and we realized we couldn't do it all... but we had to. So we got a member exchange approved and I went and taught lessons while my companion did stuff with the members. I went with a member that got home from her mission about two weeks ago to teach our amie that lives down in Ax-les-Thermes. She feels she had never received an answer and didn't want to more forward until she felt sure... so we get into the lesson and I started asking if she had been reading and praying. She said yes. I asked if it was going well and she said yes. So I asked if she had felt anything... and she said... YES! The peace and joy she had been waiting for. I asked if that was a good thing and she said yes and that she felt ready to take the next step. I asked what that meant for her and she said, baptism :) Then proceeded to fix her own date of August 19 (which is a Tuesday but she is really not available because of work on Saturdays). Literally... I am so happy. She is someone the elders had started teaching but felt better about us working with her. So when they heard she had accepted to be baptized it was basically just a big happy party. I'm really so happy for her... I love her a lot and she really knows how important this is. It is nice to have people that understand this important step of following the Savior. We will be busy trying to finish everything for the 19th! 

Overall... awesome week. I'm happy about it. The rest of the transfer is looking REALLY cool. I love you all lots :)

Sr Loder

Monday, July 28, 2014

Salut!

I'm sorry because I have like 8 minutes to write my e-mail this week... good thing nothing super spectacular happened and I don't need to take lots of time telling you about it :) 

The ward is going really well and we are starting to feel like more of a part of it. Especially as we are making big efforts to work with the members and really just... love them. They are incredible! We were able to do a family home evening with us and some members at the chapel and it was SO FUN and the members liked it... and asked us to do another this week so. We'll do that :)

I have like... two minutes now. We did a lot of contacting in the burning heat but it wasn't so bad. We have met a lot of really cool people and prayed with them. Our amis are progressing like champions and we had zone conference this week! We had interviews and President thought I was hilarious and direct and told me to tell people I love them more. So... I love you all okay? I hope you know that :) 

Sr Bridg and I also performed a nice song called Gethsemane. It was an acapella arrangement of a supposedly new primary song and now our zone is obsessed with it and they have been singing it all week :) It was wonderful. Really really good week but I think this one is looking even better! Look forward to it. 

:) Sr Loder

Ps really sorry about the worst weekly e-mail ever! 

Monday, July 21, 2014

NICE.

This week got kind of crazy but it was easily one of the best and most inspired weeks of my mission. First, the fireworks last week were super cool :) We went with a family to an outer city and it had a movie theme. Super cool. I loved it :) 

The next day we got up and jumped on a train to Nice... and then got there eight hours later whoo! It felt like home walking off the train and outside of the gare. I had been worried that maybe it would be unfamiliar after a year but it wasn't at all. We walked over to the apartment and started planning for the day. The sister I was working with had only been in the area for about a week so she didn't know too much about the members and everything. So... I started calling lots of members to say hi and to see if we could visit them! Of course, the first people I call are... the Brias! The senior couple in Nice haha because I love them so much. It was actually a huge blessing to see them this week because Saturday they left to Corsica.

From the members I learned that my recent convert from last year, Xavier, was no longer active and not only that... had asked the members to stop visiting him. I was so so so sad to hear that and my secret hopes of passing him were dashed. However, I called one of the young adults that I was good friends with and he was like SISTER LODER YOU ARE IN NICE? And I didn't understand his absolute excitement until he explained that his brother and wife had invited Xavier over to have dinner with them the next day. He was like, you have to be there. I had actually already talked to his brother and they said it probably wouldn't be possible for me to visit them because they had friends coming over (they just hadn't mentioned that it was Xavier!). He was like, no. You have to be there. I will call him right now. They were worried that since he had said he didn't want to talk about the church anymore that me coming would have been too much and would have upset him. But they ultimately decided that I should go. 

We went about our exchange (yes, Nice is just as hot as I remember...) and visited some members that insisted they see me. On the way to one I spotted a floral shop... back in the day Sr Bentley and I had made good friends with the florist there, Thierry, and he always gave us discounts on flowers. I decided we should stop in and he remembered me and Sr Bentley and was so touched that even after a year I would think to come and say hello. Isn't missionary work the best thing? I went through the day kind of worried about the rdv with Xavier... I didn't really know what to expect. But when we showed up he was really happy to see me and touched that I remembered so much of his life and plans. He showed me that he still had the picture from his baptism and remembered the song that I sang as well. It was nothing extraordinary. He didn't resolved to be active or come back to church, but he was happy. 

On the way home I was amazed at what God is willing to do to help His children. When I first found out we were going to Nice I really thought that was ridiculous. The tickets are expensive and it will take three days to get there and back. But as soon as I finished that exchange I realized that it doesn't matter... God will send us wherever He needs even if it is complicated and doesn't make sense. He loves us individually and perfectly. I hope Xavier was blessed by that miracle that I was in Nice on the one day he had decided to see some members. I'm also thankful for the sweet members who have not given up on him. 

We got home Thursday night and then Friday morning took yet another train out to a small village called Ax-les-Thermes. There is a picture of it below OH MY it is so beautiful there! It is a tiny village in a mountain valley and I love it so much that I cannot wait to go back :) We taught our amie there and she is wonderful. She has known the church for two years but it was for someone else... so that all didn't work out and he is no longer active. But she still comes. She really wants to know the truth and she is great. The hard thing is that she knows A LOT so it is hard for her to focus on the simple truths. We think she has received her answer but she hasn't seen yet. I love her so so so much. I can't wait to see what is in store for her :) 

THEN we had a dinner and family home evening with our favorite member family and their non-member friends :) IT WAS AWESOME. That family is an incredible missionary family. Their two less-active children were also there so it was just a super cool night of missionary work all over. It went really well. At the end of the night the mom asked me if she could give us their phone number and we could come by soon :) This is what missionary work should be, everyone! Trust the missionaries. They love you and they love your friends too :) 

It has been a great week and we have a lot of really cool stuff coming up this transfer. I love the work :) 

SR LODER 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Bastille Day!

Hello everyone and HAPPY BASTILLE DAY. That is French independance day and it should be fun! President gave all the missionaries permission to be out until midnight to watch the fireworks as long as we are with members the whole time. So tonight we will go down by the river in downtown Toulouse and watch fireworks until midnight... am I a missionary? Haha. 

We finally found some people to start teaching again but they aren't very solid so... we are getting there. We have started traveling out to the surrounding villes to do porting rather than street contacting in the same place I have been street contacting for 6 months. We have a lot of hope for it :) 

This week we were out and there were lots of kids running around and playing as we were knocking on doors. As we came up to one of the doors one of the little boys was like, that's my house! Hold on, I'll get my grandma. So he goes inside and she comes out and we learn... she is Portuguese and does not speak ANY French. She didn't really want to talk to us at first but her grandson was like, Grandma it's for JESUS! You have to! So she did talk to us and we found out she believes in God and loves the Savior and she prayed with us :) Jesus transcends all language barriers. Also, Jesus knew what He was talking about when He said that we needed to be like little children. 

I feel we have finally started to make some progress with our amis who have been really slow progressing. Especially our Indian friend :) He had been on a trip for the last week but came home and we got to talk with him in the park for a while. He is still caught up on science and everything and we explained where our testimonies came from and the many, many experiences we have had... where by some chance it could have been a coincidence but part of faith is believing that those blessings came from God. All of a sudden he was like, HOW CAN I HAVE MORE FAITH? That is probably one of the hardest questions to answer but he is getting there. He has such a desire he just needs to keep going. He opened up a lot about his life experiences and how hard they were for him. Sr Bridg and I just had the most overwhelming feeling of love for him as he told us that he didn't feel like God loved him. I know he is loved by our Heavenly Father. We just have to help him feel that too. Missionary work is the most heart-warming work there is. 

This week will be really good! Haha, we found out that we are doing an exchange with some sisters... in Nice. Yeah, that is a solid 8 hours on a train. So we will leave tomorrow morning and stay for Wednesday and then come back to Toulouse on Thursday night. I will be working with the companionship that has my BLUE in it! Sr Patrick :) Should be fun. Plus I get to see the Brias again. Fun news, they are finishing up their time in Nice but they extended their mission and will be going down to Corsica next week to be the branch president. Man of miracles. I'm really happy I get to see them before I go! 

I love you all very much. I've been studying the recent talks from General Conference and as I have pondered the things taught to us by the apostles and the prophet I have been gaining such a love for certain things. Like the Priesthood and the wonderful elders and men that are worthy of it and are doing their best to serve the Lord. For God's love and the power it has to change hearts and lives. This Gospel is beautiful. Have a wonderful week! 

SR LODER 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Happy.

So do you know that song Happy by Pharell Willims or something like that? Well they play it everywhere here and even though I have never really just sat down to listen to the song I think I know all the words... it has been super stuck in my head all week! It helps though. It's a song all about being happy, haha. It doesn't get better than that! 

... and yeah, it has just been a week of normal missionary work. Nothing too special just a lot of work. It has been really hot again (as usual) so we are trying to stay cool. We do a lot of contacting on the three bridges that cross between our sector and the other because they are super windy and help us to not melt even though we are in the constant sun. Good thing we have been teaching a lot so we don't have any extended time in the sun just trying to find people! I remember this time in Nice we had NOBODY to teach so we were just outside all the day long trying to find members and everything. So miserable! It's better now :) 

Oh yeah. Transfer calls this week. Get ready! I have no idea what is coming for my last two transfers... 

The fun part of this week is our new best friend from India who is really cool :) He has a Hindu background and is so sweet. He is absolutely blazing through the Book of Mormon and... is horrified by it. There are a lot of wars and descriptions of the destruction and the things the wicked people do and he freaked out and thought those were our beliefs and said if we teach those things "the world will set on fire" and it took us several hours to explain to him that he is RIGHT! Those things are really bad and we are not teaching them. We are teaching people to keep the commandments and follow Jesus and then we can all be happy, but also trying to help him realize the reality of the things around us. It has been fun... we saw him the next day and he had calmed down and said he will keep reading. He's so sweet. I've never had an ami that is scared of the Book of Mormon though! First time for everything. 

We have seen wonderful changes in the ward. They think of us a lot more and are serving us a lot... yesterday a member brought us homemade bread and another member brought us a pasta dinner with chocolate cake and we have like, three dinner rdvs with members this week... it only took me 5 months but they finally love us! Haha, wonderful. I love this ward a lot. I'd be happy to spend my last two here. Easily. 

Anyway, should be a good week. Keep looking for those miracles in your life. I love you all so much! 

Sr Loder

Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer Heat.

... we got hit hard this week with the heat. Summer is definitely here. I've been praying for clouds and rain and we got a huge storm today so I'm pleased :) President gave us permission to use hats as long as they are tasteful and classy. I'm definitely jumping on that one... my face is so burned. 

Besides the heat, this week was a good one. We made a goal this week to set a specific hour for a miracle every day and... every day it happened. Every. Day. It was too cool! Most days we put it during our contacting time and one day during our miracle hour we had three lessons on the street and found two new amis. Has God ceased to be a God of miracles, NO! Moroni 7:29. We've been putting Elder Andersen's promises to the test and they have not let us down yet :) I actually gave a talk at church yesterday on faith and miracles. It went really well. Sometimes our ward has the tendancy to... not listen during the talks but I was so happy and almost emotional to see them listening intently to my stories of faith and miracles since I have joined the church. It is wonderful to see change in people! 

I'm also happy to tell you that I'm finally legal in the country! I had my rdv with the préfecture this week and they accepted everything and it is all good. They take all my stuff in order to prepare a card, which is like a visa pretty much. But that takes about two months to prepare so during this time I have a temporary legality paper. So... just a few weeks before I go home I'll have to come back to Toulouse (assuming I leave, of course) ... and get my legality. Haha. Okay! 

One of the young adults in the ward got his mission call this week :) He opened it around 9 pm so he called and had us on speaker when he opened it. We had been talking about it forever (it takes a little longer than 10 days for mission calls over here...) and he wanted SO badly to go to America, or at least anywhere not speaking French. Well... he is going to TAHITI! Speaking Tahitian. And it is cool because his mom served there. He's super excited because he gets to go to Provo for language training (Tahitian and English) and he spent a solid 10 minutes asking me about what kind of food they have at the MTC. He's going to be such a cool missionary. He will go to the MTC just ONE WEEK after I get home. Cool. He was writing his acceptance letter yesterday and I was helping him translate it from French. Missions are so cool! 

Unfortunately we had an anti-miracle this week... our friend with a baptismal date decided he didn't want to meet anymore. We realized that it was probably for the better. He just wouldn't accept the spiritual side of what we were teaching him. The lesson was pretty interesting. We were teaching tithing and he understood and when we asked him to live this commandment he said he couldn't because it was impossible until he was making more money. We explained 10 times over that it didn't matter how much you made but that you give of whatever you have... and that it as an act of faith. He said he understood but still said no. Then he went off on his random tangents (we have been teaching him for almost three months and he is... a talker) and we stopped him to explain that he was missing the point. We explained that we aren't just teaching our opinions or good principles, but the truth that comes from God and does not change. He said he would think about it. Late that night he texted us, said he thought about it, and decided it was not possible to pay tithing and thus would prefer not to meet anymore. And then it was over like that. We are hoping he comes to feel the difference in his life without the Gospel... he was meeting with us three times a week, going to family home evening and institute and church and all the activities. We'll see what happens. It is always sad to have someone make the choice to discontinue, but they have the choice. And it happens. 

This week should be good. We have some other wonderful amis and we are excited to work with them :) We are seeing miracles but also praying for more and more each day :) I love you all. Keep an eye our for those tender mercies of the Lord! 

Sr Loder


Monday, June 16, 2014

Back to Nice


Words don't exactly describe what last week was. I'll do my best, but just know I probably won't talk too much about what was said in the conference. It isn't a secret but... literally I won't do it justice! I'll start from the beginning :) 

Our bus left Toulouse at 12 pm on Monday and we drove to Montpellier and picked up some more missionaries (it filled up the bus) and then we went to Toulon, I think. And actually arrived in Nice around 7 pm. Our bus driver was quick! He also loved when we sang him hymns :) I was pretty motion sick at first but it got better as we went along. As we came into Nice I started recognizing the cities around us and then... the sea :) They put us in our hotel room, gave us pizza and then I stared out the window at the streets I used to work on. It was kind of weird but also good! Haha, I love Nice. 

Tuesday they took us to a big conference center down by the coast where we had our conference. We practiced our singing with the special choir and then... Elder Andersen came in and immediately the Spirit dropped on all of us. He is so funny too... he came in and smiled at us and looked around the conference room and was like, this is fancy. Look at these flowers, it's like our funeral! 

President and his wife spoke, as well as Elder Kearon and his wife, then the Andersens! I can't sum up what they said... it was a lot. Elder Andersen spoke specifically about France and the concerns and troubles we find as missionaries here (he was mission president in Bordeaux back in the day) and the coolest part is that it wasn't anything new. He talked about faith and how we need to raise the bar and invite miracles into our lives. How? By filling our hearts with the scriptures and being diligent. Simple as that. The spirit was strong and testified to us all of the reality of the Savior and His teachings and we all left touched in a way we can't really describe.The music really touched me, especially as we all sang as a mission. President was emotional, as were the others. I imagine that if the angels in heaven were singing it probably was something like that!

Immediately we were back on the bus and went to Montpellier for the night. Only our zone was there and we had a little dinner all together and jumped back on the bus for Wednesday and... back to Toulouse. Our bus driver loved us a lot and actually came to our activity we had this week and the elders will be visiting him and his family this week :) Missionary work is cool.

We started working right away and saw miracles. I don't have a lot of time but I'll tell you about one :) Our new friend. We were out contacting to finish the night and literally... I have never felt so hated by the French people. But we kept going and I contacted this guy who was like, uh I don't speak French? So we talked to him in English and he is from India and has practiced Hinduism his whole life... he talked to us some about it and the contact got confusing and complicated then his phone rang and he had to go to a rdv and left. Disappointing. A catholic woman started talking to us and about 15 minutes later our friend comes back and is like, I finished my rdv and I actually have some questions. We talked to him about God's love, and how we can be healed from our past with the help of Jesus Christ. He said he saw a light in us he had never seen before and "I don't know why, but I think I need to come to your church." We taught him the next morning and he said he has had a lot of difficulties in his life and he feels that even after one meeting, he can feel the healing. He came to church with us yesterday and the elders and us translated all the meetings for him and they just love him... he's hilarious and cool so we're good friends. His knowledge is very basic but it is perfect. He said he is a "blank slate" when it comes to Christianity and that he thinks that is a good thing :) I've literally never been so excited to teach someone. I love him a lot. 

Those were the highlights of our week. The ward music night was super good... we had 15 non-members there and tons of members and the numbers were great and we were all happy! The funny part of that day was that... my companion and I got separated on the metro. I showed up at the main cross of the two lines and... she was gone. I had the phone so I called the zone leaders and they laughed and told me to go check another metro stop and then go back to the change and if she wasn't there, call back. So I traveled alone on the metro and around Toulouse a bit... kind of weird. I got back and couldn't find her and she hadn't called so I started calling all the Toulouse missionaries and NOBODY answered. So I was instructed to go back to the apartment... alone. Haha. I got about an hour of not having a companion wandering around Toulouse. It's a good thing we are both really calm people... we didn't freak out we just both eventually found our way back to the apartment and it worked out. Hahaha. Too good. 

Anyway, lots you all lots! Have the best week! 

Sr Loder

Here are some photos of our bus ride and finally arriving in Nice! That sister is Sr Henretty, who I was with in St Etienne :)



Saturday, June 7, 2014

Surprise!

The zone leaders texted us at 10h15 last night and told us we have to do our e-mails today. So here we are! 

Honestly nothing too exciting has happened this week. We have taught a lot. We have lost some amis and found some new ones as well. We have had some breakthroughs with some of them and some seem to be going backwards in their progression. The mission is a roller coaster and what I've found it that it always comes from others. I think on most nights I forget to pray for myself because there are so many around me that need prayers. I think that is what a mission is really about. 

It has been a weird couple of weeks as a lot of my friends have been going home from their missions and today I found my flight itinerary in my inbox. THAT wasn't a pleasant surprise but it didn't bother me too much. I recognize that there isn't much time left but it helps me move forward. Something that has really driven me this week is what I found in a talk President Uchtdorf gave to the missionaries at the MTC recently. Basically he said, every morning when you put on your tag you must decide... what kind of witness will I be? I took that to heart in all the aspects of my work. It has been a miracle worker and I've seen rapid progress in just a few days. Change starts with us :) 

Now that I have explained that not much has happened this week, I'll tell you about how we're getting ready for the visit of Elder Andersen! We will be traveling from 12 pm Monday from here in Toulouse to Nice, where we will arive at 9 pm. We're staying in hotels and it will be so cool! I'm really excited. They put together a special choir based on referrals from other missionaries (I'm in it, whoo!) and we will be singing the Hosanna Anthem that they do at temple dedications (for the Spirit of God, a hymn we have in our book) and it is incredible. Seriously so beautiful. 

We learned at our zone training that Elder Andersen's visit wasn't necessarily planned. He is speaking at a conference for all the members in France tomorrow morning (from Switzerland) and then he and his wife had a few days to travel around if they wanted and instead, they chose to come and speak to our mission. We are so blessed! 

As for spiritual preparation, there is a story in the Book of Mormon that I love a lot. In the book there is a moment when Christ appears to the Nephite people. This is right after there are incredible storms and earthquakes and mountains becoming valleys and cities being destroyed by fire, etc. All the people that survived are around the temple and they are talking about the "great changes" that had taken place when they hear a voice coming from somewhere but they don't understand. Then they hear it a second time but they still didn't understand. Then it says they opened their ears to hear and did look "steadfastly" to where the sound was coming from and finally they hear it, "Behold my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name- hear ye Him." And then they saw the Savior. Throughout the next several chapters it talks of the things He taught and the heavenly things they saw and heard, even the angels came to minister unto them. 

They could only have this kind of experience if they are prepared, and worthy, and ready to change and act in accordance with these things. Much like these people, the mission is preparing to receive the blessings of an apostle of the Lord and we are so very excited. After Christ leaves the people, they lived in righteousness for a very long time (whereas before they were prone to wars and contentions). I think our mission will be blessed for a very long time after the departure of Elder Andersen, but only if we have ears to hear. 

Well, sorry that was nice and missionary-like. Just know that I'm so excited to hear from an apostle in Nice with the entire France Lyon mission. It will be an experience I'll probably talk about forever and ever so get ready! 

I love you all :) Happy June! 

Sr Loder

Monday, June 2, 2014

RAIN

This week we got trapped in the biggest downpour I have ever seen... ever. We were walking down an empty road about 30 minutes outside of Toulouse and there was nowhere to take cover or anything. So we kept walking. The only I can describe how I felt was... taking my dress out of the washer in the middle of the cycle, putting it on, then jumping in the pool. It was the worst... and we still had work to do. So we passed the last family and when the wife opened the door she gasped. I don't blame her... but yeah. We caught a bus home... and an hour later we made it home. My dress is still hanging out to dry. It hasn't quite finished. 

Missionary life. 

Oh, important. We are going to Nice next Monday around noon so we will not be able to e-mail. We will leave at noon and get there around 9 pm Monday night, have our conference and get back on the bus... stop in Montpellier for Tuesday night and then get back sometime on Wednesday. So expect to hear from me then :) 

We had a crazy miracle this week. Our rdv canceled for 15h30 and we tried calling our member that morning to cancel but she never answered. We kind of forgot and went about our day and at that time we get a call from the other missionaries that our member showed up. So we bust out of our apartment and literally sprint down the road (we live about a 15 minute walk from the institute building) and stop every person and ask if they want to learn about Christ. Most of the are saying no so we are freaking out and begging for a miracle. Finally, one of the last people we would have seen before the center said YES and we taught him with our dear member :) Crazy, and definitely not something we want to do again... but miraculous nevertheless. 

Other than that, it has been a normal week. We are preparing for our musical night and our musician member arranged this hymn before our eyes and wrote the COOLEST flute/violin part so I'm pumped to start playing again and perform it. We'll get a video, don't worry! 

Our amis are doing so well. I love them, even when they say they will come to church three times but still don't come. Haha. We'll get there :) I love you all. Keep looking for those missionary experience and remember, the missionaries love you a lot :) Help them out. They need you. 

Until next time! 

Sr Loder

Enjoy this picture. It was about 45 minutes after the downpour but... it was still terrible. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Toulouuuuuuse

In honor of my wonderfrul transfer call that I am STAYING, I will give you the creepy quote of the week, translated from the original French: "I know that God exists, no machine could create eyes as beautiful as yours." ... I responded as missionary-like as I possibly could, "So you believe in God. That's awesome! We're actually here sharing a message......." He wasn't interested. 

So literally this has been the fastest transfer of my life. I was just at the gare seeing people that I saw come through the gare last transfer and I'm like, has it already been six weeks? I had to look through my journal last night because I literally cannot remember what we did. Some of the highlights: 16 lessons a week, being quacked at by a bunch of guys in an ambulance (does anyone know if this offensive or a compliment? I still haven't decided), finding the coolest amis ever, ... okay yeah. 

I guess that isn't really that much but really, I always tell myself that it cannot possibly get faster but I know it does every time. Especially with going to Nice and all the activities we have planned, it will be SO QUICK. Speaking of activities, we are planning a big musical night and one of our musician members is writing an arrangement of a super wonderful hymn only in the French hymnbook called Souviens Toi. He's going to write me a flute part! Yay, I get to be musical again! I'm really excited. It's going to be a really sweet activity. 

We also had another wind storm this week. Seriously, it makes our doors and windows rattle open and it's kind of scary. Plus it makes it nearly impossible to talk to people on the street because everything blows away and they hate you for trying to talk to them in the middle of a wind storm. Also we had to wear pencil skirts all week, for obvious reasons. Then my sweet amie from Limoges came through Toulouse on her way to Spain and we got to have lunch and talk with her. SO COOL. I love her a lot. 

As for our two most progressing amis, they are doing well. One of them PARTICULARLY so. This makes 6 Sundays at church and he seriously loves it so much. This is the guy that told us he was athiest and didn't want to meet with us the first time I talked to him. Not only does he speak of God as actually existing, he offers to give the prayers at the end of lessons and they are so sincere. The biggest concern is that he literally will change the subject and ramble for a really long time... we have been teaching him three times a week for this whole transfer but have not gotten all the way through the third lesson, haha. Baby steps! He has come so far though. We will give him a baptismal date this week :) The other one is so funny, but cool because he made the connection that all we are trying to do is make him happier. Unfortunately he is 39 years old and his mom will not let him do anything so that is kind of a hindrance... I'm not really sure what to do about that yet. We'll figure it out. 

I'm so happy to be staying here in Toulouse. Same companion too! I love this city and although the ward is difficult, they are starting to get it figured out. I think we will see a lot of good things happen this transfer. I have three transfers to just go go go and sprint to the end. I will go home with one of my zone leaders so we made these super sick plans so we can just dead sprint all the way to the finish. It is going to be the best :) But now all the missionaries that are going home are people I actually know well. It is super weird. Life just doesn't wait up. 

Have the best week. I love you all! 

Sr Loder

Monday, May 19, 2014

Tsunami

Our zone leaders have this thing where they want our zone to be the "high tide" and basically lead all the other zones by example. But my companion and I decided we wanted to go a little bit further and be the tsunami so we have been working SO HARD and trying to take the mission by storm (in our world cup, that is). It is working :) 

It has been a great week and more and more members are stepping up to help us out. I'm so proud of them! We are seeing some really good changes in the leaders and most of the members. The funny part is that our two most solid amis right now love talking so much that they are progressing so slowly in the lessons. We have been teaching our one ami for the entire transfer twice a week and we have not finished the plan of salvation... which is the second lesson haha. It's okay. He is still making big steps in his belief in God. He is the coolest :) The others are coming along slowly but still coming. It is so cool to see people change... even if it is painfully slow sometimes! Such a cool work we are doing. 

This week ended up being a little bit crazy because a sister in Carcassonne got really sick so the mission sent her and her companion (Sr Metsatahti from Finland, who I know very well) here to go to the hospital... but then it was too severe so she got sent home (to Paris, so not far) for a couple weeks to get treatment there. Then Sr M was just awkwardly here for three days in a trio with us haha. She ended up getting a ride back though so it worked out. Emergency trios seem to be my thing here on a mission! We taught a lot though and it was really sweet. Sr M had been really interested in our success and seeing how we do it so she got to get in and try it herself! 

My companion and I have focused on street lessons this transfer and at our district meeting we talked a lot about the Book of Mormon and how that can help people gain a testimony. So we applied that and went out and taught four different lessons in a park and gave them all books. It was too good. I literally LOVE being a missionary so much. 

I've fallen in love with Toulouse. I'm SO sad that transfer calls are this week... of course I'll go wherever I'm asked to go and do whatever but I'm finally starting to see the change that this city and ward needed so I don't want to leave yet! Last night we were out contacting and my favorite family called and were like, where are you? We are going to come find you and you can have dinner with us. That never happened for the entire last two transfers I was here. Magical changes! This family... gosh they are awesome. The dad loves cooking up random things and seeing if we like it and it never fails. SO GOOD. 

Life is good in Toulouse. 

:) Sr Loder 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Missionary Life.

We had a miracle early this week... and we hadn't even technically made it into our area yet! We figured that our area is closer to walk than to take the métro so we just walk across a beautiful bridge when we plan for contacting and I stopped this guy who was like, I know who you are. You're the Mormons. I don't want to meet or give you my phone number but I am interested in your book. Of course... I wasn't going to let him get away that easily so I started asking him questions and he warmed up and we talked a long time (he loves talking). He was talking about a lot of random things that I don't really care about at the moment (politics and such) and I interrupted and said, Honestly I don't know anything about that but I am here to give you a message that will make you closer to God. Are you interested in having a better relationship with Him? And he stopped for about 30 seconds and said, yes, I have been looking for Him with all these other religious but... I haven't found it. Long story short... he ended up giving me his number, fixing a rdv, praying with us and we HAD the rdv and he is awesome. I just love this work. 

This week we spent 3 days in Bordeaux for an exchange which was fine... I have done about 6 exchanges there now so nothing really new and exciting. Except the end of our second day there the sisters get a call and learn that the sisters there the night before us... had lice. And we had slept in the same beds. They freaked out and we went home to wash the sheets and I found that the STLs had lice, but we didn't! I escaped again. It has been my second close call with lice... not fun. Unfortunately it is kind of a big problem in southern France because to be completely honest, people do NOT take care of themselves here. It is not uncommon to see bugs on people so. Lice is not an uncommon or shocking occurance among missionaries. I will get out of this country clean, though! 

Other than that, really average week. We did teach quite a bit for having only two real work days in our area (a virus is going around the mission currently and my companion caught it so we were down during the weekend). The office also called me to confirm my plane tickets home. It's a "five months in advance" thing so I was waiting... still caught me off guard. The time absolutely flies here. I never believed people when they told me that but I should have had more faith. I feel that this transfer has only been a week but in reality we get transfer calls next week. OKAY. So that's how it goes. 

There is nothing like this work. I have never felt closer to the Savior as I study His life and try to follow His example. It is such a unique opportunity to be able to serve Him here... it's something I know will always be really precious to me. 

I love you all. Super cool to talk to my dad and the Hancocks on Skype :) THE BEST. But it was overshadowed by our neightbors ringing our doorbell a million times in the middle of the night and then banging on their ceiling when they realized we weren't going to answer. What a wonderful time to exercise patience. 

:) Sr Loder

Monday, May 5, 2014

Spit & Serenades

Stay tuned for the meaning of the title. 

This week was a super cool week! We found our miracle ami knocking on doors and he came to church... well we had the chance to teach him twice this week and it was magical. Why? Because he is ME but in before baptism form and so now I'm teaching myself. In French. Point is, he has all the same questions and concerns and I had. He is the coolest... I'll keep you up to date with him. Gosh every time we have a rdv with him we get so excited! I just love being a missionary. 

Our zone is doing a fun "consecration" effort where we all work on our missionary fears (talking to big groups, public transport contacting, etc) and they have developed the three-second rule. That means that as soon as you step onto any form of public transport (tram, métro, bus) you have three seconds to start your first contact. We were all excited to try it out but I think everybody on the métro this week was really angry because... everybody was really mean to us. I've never disliked métro contacting until now haha. It's a work in progress anyway. 

We had ZONE CONFERENCE this week! It was fun as always and my mission leader from Limoges actually stopped in on his way to Barcelona (for a big NuSkin thing, which President... owns... so that is neat). Then in the middle of the AP presentation (the assistants to the President) half the zone gets a text at the same time. There is a member that we all LOVE (he teaches us French class every week, he's married to an American) and his wife has been pregnant. A while. Well, we all got the text that her water broke and we all celebrated! It was such a fun moment :) We got to go visit them this week and they are just too precious. 

Well. As we were walking to the clinic to visit them... somebody spit out the window a few stories up from where we were walking and it landed right on my face. It was literally the most horrifying thing that has ever happened to me... but I stayed surprisingly calm. Then proceeded to dump hand sanitizer all over my face. The worst. After the visit we were talking to this man on a bench and this group of three guys walks by (two of them seemed fairly... drugged) and they all had guitars. As usual they stop and make a scene because of our tags and then decide to sing us a song that we call Maria, Maria. There aren't many words but it was pretty good and I got it allllll on video for your viewing pleasure :) Coming in September. 

That was our week! We taught a lot but nothing too special :) The BIG NEWS is that in June, Elder Neil Anderson (an apostle) is coming to speak to our mission and the mission is making the effort to send everyone... all the missionaries all over the south of France... to NICE to see him. OH MY GOSHHH I almost cried. HOW COOL will that be? He came to this mission a few years ago and blessed France that we would see miracles like we had never seen before... people walking in from the streets to find us and all sorts of things and it happened. I'm thrilled. One, an apostle is coming to see us and two, back to Nice! Where I was born :) What a blessing. I love missionary life. 

Have a great week! 

Sr Loder

Monday, April 28, 2014

April showers.

GOSH it has literally rained all week! It makes it really difficult to talk to people on the streets so we have been knocking on doors again. It is just hard because you don't get to knock on doors until you get let into the building... so it was a really wet and cold week for us! We had a lot of fun though and also some miracles so I hope you enjoy reading about them :) 

Monday we had a fun Easter activity at a member's home and we painted eggs and did an egg hunt :) I was partners with a recent convert from down south (by Marseille) and she is incredible. She said she had met with Jehovah's Witnesses for 12 years but when she and her husband split up the shunned her and told her it happened because she wasn't righteous enough. Her brother (a Mormon) invited her to meet with the elders and they gave her a blessing in which every question she had ever asked the JWs (and they had not answered)... was answered. God loves us so much, doesn't he? 

So my French legality is expiring very soon so I received a massive packet from the office and had to go to the préfecture to make an appointment but we waited for TWO hours the first day but had to go to a rdv before I got in and then the next day... another two hours. For them to tell me that I had to come back June 19 for the actual appointment and that is approximately one month after my visa expires. So pray that I don't get kicked out of the country, thanks! 

This week has been super cool for missionary work. We taught A LOT of people on the street. I don't know but something about sitting on a bench with a stranger and teaching them about the Restoration really makes me feel like a missionary. It's really cool. We found a lot of people who want to learn more.... our questionnaire is magical and it gets people talking and we can find out exactly what part of the Gospel will bless them. It's incredible! We taught a lot this week and did not have much time to contact but when we did we only would get 2 or 3 people because every survey turned into a lesson and then a return appointment. I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY. 

That's all there is to it. Life is good (although it just started raining again) and we have an ami with a baptismal date that is progressing like a champion. And more to follow. I love them all so much :) Saturday night we only had a little time to go out and talk to people but it was pouring rain so we got off a metro stop and picked a building. Someone accidentally let us in (yesssss) and so we went to the top floor and knocked on the first door. A nice young man answered and agreed to take our survey and we talked to him about half an hour about our beliefs and what we do as missionaries. He was super interested and we fixed a rdv for the next weekend but he surprised us by coming to church the next day OHH YES. I love that too much. He loved church a lot and just called a few minutes ago to move our rdv from Saturday to tomorrow :) 

Bonne semaine! 

Sr Loder


Monday, April 21, 2014

Pâques

Hello. Imagine that with an English accent haha my new companion is from England. Even better, from the same ward as my trainer Sr Hoar who just finished her mission last week! So that has been fun. She is wonderful and funny and we get along great. I'm not worried one bit. Good thing I am already used to English phrases and such or else I would probably be really confused. But the use of trousers and rubbish don't phase me one bit. 

This week we focused on finding people and teaching in the street. A lot of times we miss the opportunity to start teaching and testifying during those really solid street contacts and even an opportunity to pray with them! So we have focused on teaching in the street and it worked wonders. It was a really successful week and I'm looking forward to LOTS more to come! 

I don't have anything extraordinary to tell you this week. Just the normal labors of missionary work and the happiness and the hard times that come with it. However I have taken the week to really study the life of Christ and realize how close are are to Him as we go about doing His work: teaching and preacing and even accepting the rejection. It isn't an easy work and I never expected it to be. You do reach the point where you feel so sad for these people that tell you that you are spreading lies when really the driving purpose is happiness and love. 

We have everything because of Him. I can see that so clearly here as a missionary and it is something I never saw before. A mission is beyond worth for the lives of the people we teach but also for us. I imagine a lot of you already saw this site but it is really cool and the video is WICKED good. Take a look. You won't regret it :) 


Je vous aime tous. Bonne semaine :) 

Sr Loder

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mutations.

Funny story of the day. A homeless man stole my juice in the gare. Right in front of me and my companions. And drank it in front of me. Welcome to France. Hahaha. The lady next to me was offended but I laughed. I didn't know what else to do. 

... anyway. We had a week full of contacting and trying to get members to teach with us. Our ward is having some BIG problems and the stake is working with the missionaries to get them fixed. Our job was to get the sisters to teach with us (because they weren't) and so we stood up on Sunday and said, we have these rdvs... who is coming with us? And after a lot of awkward time some people stepped up. Soon they will see the blessings of helping us :) It's a work in progress. 

Transfer calls! Sr Carvalho is going back to Geneva and I will be receiving Sr Bridgwater from England! I have never met her but I know she has blonde hair. I'll meet her in a few hours and let you know next week :) Staying in Toulouse whoo! Good deal. There are a TON of missionaries changing in Toulouse so it has been crazy. The Toulouse gare is a massive center that missionaries come through from all over the country for train transfers so we spend time there and see everyone and help them get their bags to and from trains. It's really fun :) 

We taught some lessons to our friend with a baptismal date. He has some work to be done but he is awesome. We taught him and his athiest friend (who isn't at all interested in us but comes sometimes anyway) who refuses to have faith. We read a chapter in the Book of Mormon about faith being like a seed that you have to plant and take care of in order to see the fruit and our investigator is reading and is telling her to listen because she needs more faith. Haha he is defintiely getting baptized :) I love him a lot. The work is so good! 

The weather was beautiful. I have an awesome farmer's tan and my shoe tan line is coming back quickly! What a life. I love you all. Pray for missionary experiences. You'll get them! :) 

Sr Loder

Monday, April 7, 2014

This time last year.

... I was on a mission. Yep. I hit one year and well, it happened really fast. I remember SO vividly walking into the MTC and being there that day and wondering, "I wonder what I'll be doing this time next year?" As I was walking along a bridge in the pouring down rain after knocking doors all day I realized... yep. I should have known this is what I would have been doing! What a life. 

The great news is that our ami Didier now has a baptismal date and is progressing magically :) He came to conference and loved it so I'm happy. He is the coolest. We also have our wonderful family who is coming slowly but surely and lots of other people we are working on. What a cool time to be on a mission and teaching, even! Ha. This family has a lot of promise. As we visited them the second time the 15 year old daughter told us she tried praying before we came and read some of the Book of Mormon. The two 11 year olds emphatically answered OUI when we asked them if they believed in God. It's a dream here in Toulouse. 

Of course Conference was wonderful and I feel that the leaders are going back to the basics. KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS and LOVE PEOPLE. If we can get those things down then everything else falls into place... and that is true but we are stubborn and don't do these things all the time even though we are trying to be good. I know I and everyone else can "try a little harder to be a little better" as my favorite teacher at BYU always told us. So I'll be doing that. 

TRANSFER CALLS this week. We'll see what happens. I've felt like I never fit in with the trend. So while everyone else is sticking around longer than usual, that means I'll probably get transferred again. Who knows. Maybe I'll stay in Toulouse forever. Guess you'll find out next week! 

:) Sr Loder

And below is my "what I was doing this time next year" picture :)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Duck.

I affectionately named this e-mail duck because a member fed us duck... which I have never had. It was... okay! Hahaha but I think in my head I couldn't stop thinking about what I was eating. And it was kind of bloody so that didn't help. STILL better than the traditional blood sausage! 

The questionnaire is working miracles in Toulouse. We went out to a city and knocked on doors with these questions all the day long and found SO many people and taught SO many people! One of them was a man (so we couldn't go inside) and we explained we could come back with a woman on Saturday. He agreed, and when we came he had invited his friend so that we could come teach both of them :) They also both came to church yesterday and LOVED it. After finding him we found the sweetest family from Bulgaria. The 15 year old daughter had to translate for the family (French to... Bulgarian) and as we testified of the family and how important it is they became emotional. It was one of those moments that every missionary would die for. So we're going back tomorrow with all the supplies we could find... in Bulgarian. 

The questionnaire has been very interesting. Here is what I have learned from asking people these questions: One, most people think it would be AWESOME to have a prophet today (a testimony that people really are looking for truth). Two, a lot of people would love to know what God would say to us if He were speaking today. Three, even though people want to hear from a living prophet and know what God has to say... they do not want to hear it from us! Haha, it's always so interesting. They say YES of course I want to know what God has to say! And then we are like, perfect well we have a message for you about how God IS speaking to us today and they are like... I'm not really interested. Okay. Anyway, it has been fun :) 

It really has been a great week but things got a little funny last night. Story is, we have some downstairs neighbors that are maybe a little... crazy. In the time that I have been in Toulouse they have called the other sisters and told them that we are too loud in the morning. Not walking or moving around... but they can hear us going to the bathroom and said it is so loud in their apartment that it keeps them awake. Well, after all these calls (and clearly this is extreme... we have never heard one peep from our upstairs neighbors, let alone their bathroom use) we filed a complaint with the building manager and the guy didn't say anything else. Last night though he came with his wife and child to complain to us about how we have not changed anything. I guess the sisters before us rearranged their whole schedule to keep them happy (SUPER not allowed) and they said we are allowed to change our rules. I told him that wasn't true and he was being really... obnoxious and rude about it. I told him he should talk to the manager if it was causing him that much of a problem but that we were not going to NOT use our bathroom. He wouldn't have it. So I left the blue that doesn't speak French at the door and called the office and am talking to E Kunz about what is going on while the neighbor is going off on the poor blue and E Kunz is pretty sure they are just going to find us a new apartment. WHAT IS LIFE. People are really weird sometimes. I still used the bathroom this morning. I didn't feel too bad. 

... so yeah it has been a fun week. Ha. We had a freaky windy couple of days. Our doors and windows were rattling like crazy and we opened them to try and close the shutters and the doors slammed open and it was a mess. We could barely be on the streets because we couldn't hardly stand up without being blown away! So we ported all day and miraculously we were let into every building :) What a work we are doing here. 

I love you all. Have a great week! 

Sr Loder

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Not of this world.

I think my entire week revolves around the zone conference we had yesterday (the reason we didn't e-mail) because it was one of those days where you realize... Heavenly Father does answer prayers. 

On a happy note, I was reunited with Sr MAG who I love with all my heart. She did give me some really devastating news though. The miracle we had in Limoges (Nathalie) is turning out not so great. I guess she had a really big trail in her life and no longer believes that God loves her and doesn't want anything to do with us anymore. The ward has complete faith that she will come back though. I do too. But it still broke my heart. 

Anyway, I want to focus on what President taught at conference because literally... okay. He started with a scripture in the Book of Mormon. It is when Christ comes and everybody is praying. He tells them to stop praying (he is going to teach them) but tells them to NEVER stop praying in their heart. President asked us to do that during this conference and promised we would receive the answers we were seeking. He did not lie. 

He talked about wind being something we cannot see yet we see the effects of it, and how that is very much like the Gospel. He then explained (using the story of the disciples in the ship trying to cross the sea of Galilee, when Jesus walks on water) that sometimes... the wind is contrary. Whether that be the wind of the adversary or even the will of the Lord. Sometimes it isn't helping us too much. 

Sometimes we have a crisis... where we doubt our faith. Where we tell ourselves based on logic that these things cannot happen and that what we believe cannot be possible. He described that the biggest crisis of faith must have been the Atonement. When Christ was on the cross, surely at least some of his followers were doubting that he was all-powerful and that he really was the Christ. 

The Lord gives us opportunities to build our faith... by giving us opportunities to test this faith. These are the times when we can show Him that we trust Him and what we are willing to do for Him. Worldly experiences and worldly logic tries to break out faith by telling us that there is no possible way that any of this works. But these are the times we must follow Him the most! After all... Christ says, I am not of this world. Neither are His ways. And we have to accept that sometimes heavenly logic doesn't make sense in worldly ways. That is what FAITH is. 

In the Book of Mormon, in the Americas, there is a group of believers watching for the sign of Christ's birth. The non-believers end up telling them that they have a deadline. If the sign doesn't appear before THIS day, then they will kill them. It says there that these people began to doubt and fear... that maybe their faith was in vain. NEVERTHELESS they did watch steadfastly for that new star. And it came. 

President told us that literally the only way to be happy is to trust in the Lord no matter what. And although I have never seen that man shed a tear, he became emotional... and told us that although he cannot speak of the experiences he has had, he knows without a doubt that Christ lives and loves us more than we can imagine. 

As you can imagine, it was a powerful conference and without a doubt I got on the train back to Toulouse with a lot to learn and think about. I love President. Mostly I love the Lord who answers our prayers in his own way and time. 

I love you all. This Gospel is true. Have a wonderful week :) 

Sr Loder

Monday, March 17, 2014

Printemps

Welcome to the first week of all beautiful weather :) I walked outside in parks all day without tights or a jacket, what a blessing! Now I can ditch all the winter clothes, yeah? Haha, finally! The flowers are blooming and it has just been a magical week. 

... of finding. We passed a lot of people and barely any of them lived there anymore so we just talked to anyone and everyone that moved and it was really, really good. I find I'm much happier when I talk to people :) Who would have guessed? Anyway, we started something interesting this week! And interestingly enough it is something Sr Mag and I tried a little bit in Limoges... now it is mission mandated! Questionnaire! I don't know why but if you stop a French person and tell them you are a missionary they don't like you, but if you stop them for a questionnaire they will almost always stop... so yeah! French people like their questionnaires. We now have the France Lyon Mission... questionnaire :) With four simple questions that really open people up and has allowed us to have an infinite amount of Gospel conversations with people that usually would have said no from the start. 

Quote from President about the questionnaire: I know this will work because the Lord told me.

Well, can't argue with that! We've only been using it a few days now but I just love it. It's SO fun and allows us to talk to so many more people and ACTUALLY talk to them. Not the 2 second rejection method. I'm excited about it and we've already seen miracles so no problems here :) They are just questions that start fairly neutral about serious problems in the world and move into things like, do you think it would be good to have the help of God today? Or if God spoke to us today, would you be interested to know what He said? And then we testify :) It's good. Really good. 

This week we found NEW AMIS! ... and then had to pass almost all of them. Toulouse is such a massive city that there are 16 missionaries. 8 of us have one half, and the other 8 have the other. The other ones have more of the city so usually the people we find live on the other side and we are required to pass them to the other ward. THE WORST. Pray for us to find people on our side of the river, yeah? 

We are happy. Although a man yelled at me this week. He stopped me and started preaching about how Jesus doesn't wear ties so clearly our church isn't true and he went on and on and on and I was trying to ask him questions (he was really contradictory, as you can imagine) and he got mad about that and yelled at me (translated from original French) LET THE GOOD WORD ENTER YOUR HEART and... I laughed. Sorry, maybe I'm a jerk but it was really funny. I just can't think of any missionary I know talking to people like that. But what happened after is the best. So this man is literally preaching to me and my companion on a street corner and it's kind of freaky... and some guy walks up and stands next to me and I'm like, do you know him? He looks at me and is like, no... but... it's interesting, anyway. HAHA WHAT? So weird. I love this place. Missionary life is the best. 

I love you all, have the best week, will you? 

Sr Loder :)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Sunshine.

It has literally been the most beautiful week ever! No jacket weather :) Unfortunately that means that it is time for my body to freak out and I got a little sick but the good news is that it's almost gone.

Last Monday I knew my companion would be coming in, but she got stuck somewhere between Geneva and Lyon so I got the call that she would be coming the next day. THEN I got another call that said she would still come that night but at 10h20! I couldn't believe it. The zone leaders had to bring her... she got to the apartment around 11 at night. What a great start from the transfer, ha. 

Sr Carvalho is from Portugal. And get this... convert of 5 years. Only child. Only member. And pretty much we have the exact same story. I cannot tell you how COOL it is to tell every doubter on the street that we are converted and bear testimony. And that we did! All week. It's vacance so every member is out of town and all we had to do all week is find new people to teach :) I took my companion and hit the ground running. I'm tired of finding in every single city. I want to be teaching more so I'll do what it takes to do that I guess. 

Toulouse is wonderful. I love having a metro, makes everything really efficient and fast and they play funny music in there. All the stores and places in France don't really play new American music. It's old stuff but still the good stuff. I find it really fun :) 

We also learned some self defense from a young adult that has done martial arts his whole life... we asked him and he was like I'll show you. So I stood up and he moved his arm and I flinched. Hahaha, I was so scared! You can't just show me all the pictures of your career in martial arts and then say, "I'll show you" and expect me to not be scared... but now I can hurt people so it worked out. 

I'm a happy missionary again. I love the city and the work. Missions really are the most wonderful thing we can do. We get to work with the Lord in His greatest work: saving souls. How great is our calling! 

I love you all. Have a great and hopefully sunny week! 

Sr Loder 

Monday, March 3, 2014

La ville en rose.

Salut! I'm happy to report that things are calming down. This week was INCREDIBLE. I came in late last Monday night... then early Tuesday morning Sr Jones and I got on a train to Bordeaux for an exchange. Ha, it never ends! Good thing I love trains so much. It was good to get out and do missionary work for a change. 

We kind of healed each other this week and jumped in! There wasn't much going on here but we went out and found people and taught and found three new people. In just a few days. People are ready! If we go out and find people with the Spirit and with love for your companion (that is really important, I now have a really strong testimony of that) then you see miracles. It is as simple as that. 

The really fun part of this week is that we were literally outside all day, every day... in the rain. Toulouse has the CRAZIEST weather I have ever seen. It will be beautiful blue sky and you turn around and all of a sudden it is hailing golf balls. Haha, but it was fun anyway. We were just out to have fun and find people and that is what we did :) 

Thursday the office told me that I would be staying in Toulouse for sure (transfer calls were the next morning) but they wouldn't tell me if Sr Jones was leaving so we still had a surprise. She is leaving today, to Bordeaux, and I am receiving Sr Carvalho from Portugal! So I'm pretty much whitewashing again. Good thing I have done that my entire mission so no big deal? With this transfer... I have officially had 11 companions hahaha. This is only the start of my 8th transfer too. What a life. 

Toulouse is great. I'm doing great. No worries here. I love you! 

Sr Loder 

This is me and my companion of a week. She is from Texas and is really proud of it :) Haaa. We had a fun international activity this weekend. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

FISH SOUP

Our week started a little rough. All the missionaries in St Etienne did a birthday party for our DMP (ward mission leader) and he decided to feed us fish soup. Literally the entire fish put into a blender and heated up and served to us. I don't know how I or any of the other missionaries did it but we did. We suffered for that all night and the next day, though. 

That is about when things got crazy. Tuesday morning my companion went into her room during personal study because she wasn't feeling too well and we all assumed it was the soup. We were about to start the next hour of studies and went to see if she wanted to join us and I found her writhing in her bed, holding her stomach and crying so much she couldn't even speak to me. I darted out and called the elders and they came to give her a blessing. It helped and she slept most of the day... got up a few times and called the mission nurse. 

We decided to take her to a local doctor after she still wasn't feeling better and he figured she has a calcium buildup in her kidney and prescribed some medicine and gave her instructions to rest A LOT. So she was doing that and there I am in the apartment all week! I've been getting a lot of quality studies done so I'm not too worried. I usually do an exchange every night with Sr Bentley or her blue to go see members and all that. 

I was out Saturday evening with Sr Bentley and we got home around 9:30 and my companion was sleeping. Literally two minutes after we come in, my companion is dead asleep and then sits up in her bed and is sobbing and can't talk again and it is way scarier this time! We run out and Sr Bentley is calling leaders and I'm calling members trying to find out who can come and help. The trams and buses don't run that late and the two closest hospitals are... pretty far. One member comes and gives her a quick blessing and we all four get in his car and race to the ER. 

I cannot put into words how much respect I do NOT have for French medical care after Saturday night. We check her in around 10 pm and they are the rudest people ever! My companion is literally dying in her chair, crying and holding her kidney and they are all upset that they cannot understand what street we live on and asking who we work for. The other lady asks me where she is hurting and I said her kidney (really difficult word in French) and she doesn't understand obviously because I am so American (sorry, that was sarcastic) and I point to my side and she's like, your kidney isn't in the front. OH I was so mad. Finally after like, 20 minutes of me kind of arguing with the people at check-in, they take her back and make me go into the waiting room. 

... where we waited for 4 and a half hours. MY WORD. They also wouldn't let us go back or tell us anything really. We were with the coolest member of the ward though who stayed with us the whole time despite the fact he has a family at home and church in the morning. He served a mission in London and so we did some language practice with him, learned all about accupuncture (he studied Chinese medicine) and ... laughed a lot because it was two am and we were exhausted beyond words. Around two a French/English family sat and talked with us and we shared a little bit of the Gospel with them so that turned out to be a blessing. 

At 2:30 Sr Cattin comes out, alone and with some papers and no instructions and on a lot of morphine. The ER wouldn't tell us the test results and said she has to see another doctor later this week in order to find out what is really going on. We got home around three and crashed. It has been a rough week and it isn't over yet. She can't see the doctor until like, Friday so that is difficult. And if this keeps happening President will probably send her to Switzerland or America so that she can get actual health care. We will see what happens. Pray for her! 

Other than that, I'll be in the apartment all week :) I did learn last night that Nathalie (you remember our miracle in Limoges) was not able to get baptized this last Saturday because her spouse (whom she is trying to divorce) will not consent and she is absolutely devastated. She needs your prayers too. Think of her this week. 

I love you all! 

Sr Loder 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Overhaul.

This week was such a weird week... the office elders drove down (up?) from Lyon and overhauled our apartment. We spent days... yes days, cleaning. Not just normal cleaning but deep cleaning. I felt like I was cleaning the nasty stuff at the MTC again. Especially as I pulled out the washer and oven and found grease, slime, HAIR, a spoon, bugs and shattered glass. I was literally almost sick. Point is, it is all gone now and we threw out all the nasty stuff and replaced it. The elders also bought us desks (four sisters, two desks, one chair... didn't work well) and we're feeling better. 

Our washer was broken and we had no dryer, and with four people in the apartment they prefer we have those so they told us they would be getting new ones, yay! Well yesterday afternoon the office calls and says they are on the way with a washer/dryer combo. Come to find out is literally a washer and dryer in one. Really convenient because we don't have much space! They hook it up, check it out and put my clothes in to try it out and they leave. Well, it literally starts spinning so hard that it is pulling out of the wall and pushing the oven and the whole apartment is rattling. OH MAN. So we unplugged it, deemed it a beast and it is untouched. The office will be back soon to check that out... 

Then I got sick. Yay! Haha, nothing serious. I think it just from traveling so much and stress and cleaning and... all that. I'm better now. We relaxed and got some stuff done inside. Apartment overhaul, plus sick, plus an exchange in Lyon... we literally got almost nothing done this week. It's crazy. I was so ready for the week to be over! Now we can get things done. 

We did find a sweet girl in our area book who wanted to meet with us again and she is wonderful :) I'm excited to keep working with her. She loves our beliefs but she got lost because she moved to another apartment building and the missionaries just... never saw her again. Good thing we checked! Last night we went to Lyon for a fireside with lots of missionaries and recent converts :) It was awesome! I used to go to things like that all the time in Ohio with the missionaries and now I get to be the missionary :) So wonderful. I loved it. 

We're happy here. Really sunny today! But still cold. I love the work, but I'm excited to actually do it this week. Even though we still have apartment troubles... it's fine. If that is my work then I'll accept it :) I hope you all have a great week! Sorry about the boring e-mail about my apartment. I'll make it better next week. Au revoir! 

Sr Loder 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Neige.

Neige means snow, and we certainly got it! It literally snowed ALL day on Thursday. It was astounding! Thankfully we were mostly inside cleaning and cleaning and trying to get everything organized. Sr Bentley threw a snowball at me and good thing I already love her! When I found out I get to live with Sr Bentley again I was beyond thrilled :) She just got BACK to the mission... she went home because she was really sick and they found thyroid cancer. But she is all better and now sitting right next to me :) WITH her new sister that is from Ohio! What are the odds? 

Turns out Sr Bentley and I are the whitewashing specialists because literally that is all we have done our entire missions and not only that... but always into nasty elder apartments that we have to clean! I guess if that is my calling then I'll take it. 

We pretty much spent all this week wandering around the ville (walking because we can't buy full transport passes until the beginning of the month) and meeting members. I love them all so much... already! The city is nice :) Really old but I like that. I really do think I'll be happier once I don't have to carry a map everywhere! Plus creepy men always ask to help you when they see two girls in skirts holding a map. I prefer not to use them too much :) 

Thankfully we have already seen miracles. Members who have called us in moments of need and we could help them and contacting people that had been lost. Missionary work is a wonderful, wonderful thing and after 10 months (yes, I know) I have learned that it really is about love. ALL about love. Our love isn't perfect, but thankfully God's love is perfect and He can help us if we have the desire. 

I love you all :) Pray for us! 

Sr Loder