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


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.


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 :) 


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