I don't really know how to explain all that's happened the last 3 weeks other than what I said in the subject line. It's been the most challenging time of my mission by far.
Jan 12th today we had an exchange in Rouen with Elders Larsen and George. It was pretty sick because it started out with us doing service for their Bishop and Samuel Babin (from the I'm a Mormon video "I'm a Mormon, Frenchman, and a Trilingual Family Father" the translation isn't as funny as what he actually says btw) who also is President Babin's little brother (President Babin is playing tennis with him in the video haha!). We helped them transport some huge dressers but it was super easy because they had hydraulic jacks, so we didn't have to wreck our backs haha! It was really fun because the bishop in Rouen is the son of a family I knew well in La Rochelle so we chitchatted a bit about them and what not. That evening while George and I were out searching for some less-actives it started to pour....guess who didn't have an umbrella or jacket and was wearing the suit he needed for a conference with the Europe Area President....This guy haha. I was completely drenched from head to foot. Literally my feet were soaked because there are holes in the bottom of my shoes (I'm pretty sure that Ecco said their shoes would last my full mission....well 2 pairs have gotten me through 2/3 of my mission.... Maybe I'm wearing them wrong haha!) There was nobody out on the streets and we were in a residential so to help keep our spirits up George and I sang hymns with all the gusto and enthusiasm we could muster (which was a whole lot more than I thought we could!) In the end we had a pretty good time :)
Jan 13th Today we were in Paris for a special conference with Elder Patrick Kearon of the Seventy who is the president of the Europe Area. The Spirit was present even before he entered the chapel; during the prelude music I was on the verge of tears. Then he came in and the excitement kicked up about 20 notches! Haha. He had us all sit down and then said he and his wife would like to shake all of our hands. As it was my turn to go up he asked where I was from and I said St. George, but then he asked what stake I was from and my mind went blank. I got this dumb look on my face and all I could think of was "Le pieu de Paris" haha! After about 3 seconds I finally remembered, told him, then got out of there as fast as I could. During the conference President Kearon talked to us about our mission culture, what it means to be truly happy doing missionary work, receiving chastisement from the Lord and changing accordingly, the blessings of a good morning routine and the importance of the "numbers" in missionary work. Then he shared his conversion story about how it took him two years to be baptized, and how one companionship focused on "his number" even though everyone including the mission president said to give up on him. He's been a member for the last 28 years, and now has served in many callings that have allowed him to help others, especially his current calling. It was extremely powerful.
Jan 20th Got the news that Grandpa had a stroke, and then that night I got a call from President Babin informing me of Grandpa's death. It still doesn't feel totally real. I spent some time on my knees and in the scriptures and I just knew that Grandpa had lived the life he was supposed to, and now he was at "rest". I say that because I know he's working just as hard on that side of the veil as he did on this side :) I also called up Elder Libby because his grandpa passed away from cancer while we were together. He let me vent a little, made me laugh because he's the weirdest kid I know, and made me feel a lot better. He told me a story that made me die laughing, so I'll share it with you. So there's this BIG Hawaiian elder in our mission who LOVES hugging people, and when he hugs you it's a bear hug with a lift haha.
So, the Kearon conference was two days because they couldn't get both halves of the mission in the building, and the second day was when this elder was there. After the conference right before lunch this elder goes up to talk to President Kearon (and President Kearon is a fun, humorous, loving guy) and then he gives him a hug complete with the lift. When he puts President Kearon down a serious look comes on PK's face and he says (with his intense British accent) "Don't you ever pick up a general authority again." and then he walks away. This elder just about faints from fear! Haha I was on the floor laughing from that, 'twas too good!
Jan 24th. In order to convey the significance of what happened today I must give an overview of how the work has been going the past month...🏼🏼🏼....and that despite us working as well as we could, being as obedient as possible, and still nothing. With that done, I can proceed. The only bright spot for us was with Brice he had committed to come to church for all three hours with his entire family, read the BoM everyday, and focus only the simple doctrines of the gospel. Today after church we get a text which essentially said, "there are too many basic beliefs of your church which neither I nor nor my pastor can find in the bible or feel comfortable about. I have decided definitively to stop investigating with you. I respect you and you are always welcome in my home, but I'll be staying in my own church." After reading that I felt like I got hit by a truck. And to top it all off, my depression started coming back in full force and hasn't left me yet. There's probably some correlation there. I literally got to the point that I was going to tell President that I should go home.
Jan 26th We were in Paris today so I could pick up my second year legality card. It went super fast and so we had a couple hours in Paris before our train, so we visited the temple site (it's moving along so fast it's incredible) and the Eiffel Tower because Rollins hadn't seen it yet. It was pretty fun. There are some pics ;)
Jan 27th Back in Paris for our district meeting and interviews with President. I told him all about what was going on and even mentioned going home, and in a kind, but still serious way said, "Elder Jorgensen you are doing too much good for the missionaries around you. You aren't going home." It was a definite help. We talked for a good 15 minutes and even though I'm not completely back to normal I'm doing much better.
Jan 31st Today at church we had Lionel come for 2 hours and the branch meal afterward. He really liked it and said he'd for sure come again next week. That's a miracle considering we had to repeat not only the sacrament prayers but the hymn three times (a member who is kind of mentally handicapped played the sacrament hymn rather than me, and he had practiced it way too slow and couldn't adjust. Yes I play the organ every week, melody only, but still ;) ). Then we had a sick branch council and the members asked us for our input on a lot of important subjects which was way cool.
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