Clean Conscience

My mother and sister would be so proud of me this last month. Despite my little health slipups I have managed work, school, a calling, AND a social life. For each of the last couple of weeks I’ve been on at least two dates and I’ve almost been having fun! Haha. (My expectations are really high for these men…) Anyway, the last three weeks there has been one guy pursuing me with a bit more gusto than the others. Then he tried to hold my hand last Friday and I was definitely not feeling it. So I tried to make it seem like I didn’t know what he had just done and somehow talked myself out of the current scenario/scene (we were sitting at the top of Rock Canyon of which we had hiked). At the door scene he asked me if I had had fun, I said “yes” and was about to add the BUT when he enthusiastically said “GREAT, than we will keep doing this!” How do you come back from that?

My nonreciprocal feelings haunted me. I knew that I had to tell him, but how do you do that? Allow another date to be made just to tell him before you go out? Call him randomly? Text? I didn’t want to dig myself a deeper hole or lead him on. He is a Really great guy (not that being kind to anyone should be conditional based on one’s caliber).

Tuesday night he came to the “meeting” which was a get together with friends that he had kind of invited himself to in the weeks prior. He came and unfortunately by the time he got there there weren’t anymore seats around me. mince! ūüėČ My sweet cousins were super talkative and we caught up for a good portion of the time so I was not able to talk to him. ¬†He asked me on a date for the next night, but lucky me I already had one with s.o. else which gave me a legitimate excuse.

After my ‘other’ date tonight [to the byu synthetic jazz concert: they were amazing! I was so so impressed by these jazz players. It made me wish that I could just study music 24/7 again] the guilt kept coming over me in waves. I knew that I had to tell him. I wrote out a little note card of sweet ways to break the bad news and called. We had great conversation for probably about 15 minutes when I realized that I needed to just spit it out. I confessed, “A… I think you are great. I really have had some fun times with you, but I respect you to much to leave you in the dark. ¬†Although you are such a high caliber guy that I want to be around you, I don’t think that I have feelings for you or that I will.” ¬†I’ve never had a guy take it so well. He told me that ¬†he had gotten that vibe from me on several occasions but didn’t know how to ask. He was so grateful for my honesty and told me that he’d still love to see me again at the next ‘meeting’ and we ended the conversation. Breaking a man’s heart has never felt so good.

Side note: Made me miss the really good drop lessons as a missionary where you do it just right. Just right so the person wishes that they had done more, act self-motivated to change, and don’t feel like you’ve written them off as a lost cause. Love that. Miss that. Take me back, today.

Voyage au Quebec: le 21 novembre, 2012

Early morning (and the day before) Soeur Thibault was preparing a meal for kings. ¬†The cabane a sucre started shortly after Elder Leon, Williams (a new one- taught by Ritter and Sybrowsky), Reid, and Duran showed up. I couldn’t have been happier to see Elder Leon and catch up a bit. It was also great to be on the other end of the table, convincing Sister Thibault to keep putting food on his plate (and the others) although if you know Sister Thibault at all, she needs no encouragement.

Mother dearest was feeling sick after her wonderful Quebecois experience (quel surprise) so we relaxed most of the afternoon. I made calls, helped around the house and jumped on the trampoline. ¬†Papa Thibault was laughing at me as I jumped¬†barefoot¬†out in the cold. He asked me to come in and help him with laundry so I quickly leapt off of the trampoline…straight into the dogs caca which stuck hard to my foot and wouldn’t shake off. I had to slime it on the grass and hop into the house to wash my foot. Surely you can imagine Papa Thibaults tears of joys at my situation. It’s a good thing I love him. haha

We went to Sister Sames and had a great meal. She talked for a half hour about what happened to her husband and such. I met her sons Denzy and Alexandre. Denzy was very opinionated (especially about the creole language) and Alexandre was pretty quiet. Neither of them ate really anything which offended Sr Same, but not quite as much as the amount that my mom ate offended her. I’m guessing three days of force feeding her was too much?

After the dinner with Sister Same we drove rapid speed to see Sister Perkins and Sister Lopez at Papineau. We were twenty minutes late but they were still there! She screamed and ran to see me. It made my day. I love that dear sister. I wish she felt more appreciated as a missionary.

We came home and Cassandra was there! I’d never had much time to get to know her so I was happy to see her, but it was a hard night for the family…. Bless her heart. ¬† Oh and my mom had her first ‘tire de sucre’ and detested it. I helped her hide it from Sister Thibault by putting it in her tea instead of eating it. I’ve finally figured out how to get around Sister Thibaults all seeing eye!

 

Voyage au Quebec: le 20 novembre, 2012

Not on purpose, I woke up late and by the time I got all ready Sister Thibault couldn’t stop teasing me about how late I had awoken and asked several times if I wanted to eat breakfast or lunch? hardi har har..

I made a few phone calls to confirm the plans for the day and then we headed to Montreal where we drove through Vieux Montreal and visited St. Josephe basilica. There were very few people there so we felt as if we had the place to ourselves. My mothers favorite part was not the view, the preserved heart in a jar, or the cathedral but the museum of nativities. No surprise there!

Then we zipped across to the east side of Montreal where we did ‘passbys’ to Maria (who we caught mid pasta making) and Diana (Maria’s daughter) who was watching a movie with Her daughter. Visiting their families was a real highlight and I think mom found them to be very interesting.

Lastly we went to Les Baldis for dinner. Rebeccah asked me to tell her a little bit about my mom so that she could get to know her. I started to talk about my lovely mother when I realized that she asked this because she thought that my mom couldn’t speak for herself. So I quickly said, this is my mother. Her name is Bonnie, I am the sixth of her eight kids and then my mom started speaking in French and kept going on her own. Rebeccah looked shocked and then smiled. My mom explained that she had served in Switzerland and Southern France. I wen to go help Jeremie in the kitchen, but as my Mom kept talking to Rebeccah they discovered several people that they both know. Incredible, right? ¬†We had delicious food- pasta, cake, salad, and bread. We much discussed the current missionary work in the ward, how to help the ward, and what they are up to. I felt very personally invested because I had taught one of the Elders that was serving in their ward and I had trained one of the sisters. We had almost left when Jeremi reminded me that I didn’t have a copy of the finalized ‘Marche avec Moi’ that I had helped him record. We went into his new fancy work room (they live in a new apartment) and listened to the song with the wonderful acoustics and edits. ¬†The funniest part is that Jeremie included some of my scat/mixing as I just played around with the music. That made me happy. ¬†Lastly, they kept trying to think of men to set me up with, but all the random men that they listed Rebeccah shot down because they just aren’t good enough. That’s unfortunate, what I would do for a French man!

Voyage au Quebec: le 19 novembre, 2012

Still asleep on ¬†the floor in the morning, Tandice gently woke me to tell me that she was off to work. Saying goodbye was sad. I hate not knowing if or when I will ever see these people again. After rehashing my goodbyes with Heather and Tchoha (just a bit later) I set off to Longueuil once again; I was meeting with the missionaries for lunch that afternoon at the pupusa restaurant by the Beaubien metro stop and needed to leave the car at the Thibaults before taking the metro to meet them. I realized halfway home that the ‘home’ for the GPS was not the Thibaults house so once again I did not know how to get back there. I stopped at a gas station, filled up, and used the internet to call Sister Thibault and get the address. I took one wrong turn on the way home and I got there a half hour late. Turned out that it wasn’t that big of a deal because the sisters were running late too. I saw Sister Hill and Sister Limburg get into the metro at Laurier but they were one train over. I swtiched trains and walked up to them. She started laughing, hit sister Limburg, and said, “Did I call it, or what?” I laughed and asked what they were talking about. Evidently Sister Hill had said “Sister Pace is going to see us first and come ask us why we aren’t contacting people!?” Well, I didn’t ask them why they were contacting because well I missed them. It was the last thing on my mind, but now I was thinking it… ¬† As we walked out at Beaubien I saw Elder Mortenson, Smith, and Lopez and I could not believe my eyes. They were here, serving in my mission. I think they were almost as excited to see me as I was them. ¬†Elder Smith had told Sister Hill to tell me that I wasn’t allowed to speak French with him this day. haha The pupusa place ended up being closed so we went to a latino restaurant at Jean Talon instead. Just walking through that metro reminded me of Tito. I wish I could have see him… one day I will find him and buy a cd from him.

After lunch we headed to the Laurier church building/the mission office. I walked in and saw the biggest surprise of all: Elder Lanning. I hadn’t even told him that I was coming because his area is an hour northwest of the island and I would not be able to see him. Lucky me it was ‘zone activity’ and his whole zone was there playing volleyball in the gym. There were many other elders that I got to see as well that I had tutored or subbed for at the MTC. It just felt like a huge reunion. Oh how I wish I could stay there with them.

They had changed to Chinese Dodgeball, I was talking to Sister Hill when a young man named Sony walked into the building holding a Book of Mormon. He said that he was there to meet with Elder Osorio and Elder Smith (who had just left). We called them and they turned around to teach him. When they got there Elder Osorio came to talk to me while Elder Smith was talking to Sony. Elder Osorio animatedly told me the story about how Sony used to be homeless and he met a member family who took him in and how he really wants to be baptized because he has never felt as at home as he does in the church building. I was fascinated by his story and then I realized they were about to teach him.. I asked, “Do you have a member or can I teach with you?” Elder Osorio smiled sneakily like that had been his plan all along.. He glanced back at Elder Smith (one of my Elders) and said.. “Elder Smith is going to kill me, you’ll have to be pretty insistent” ¬†I laughed, got Elder smith’s attention, and mouthed- I’m Coming! His face went to panic mode, but I knew this was an experience that I wouldn’t pass up. The lesson was great, all about the restoration, and they applied it decently to Sony’s life. It helps that Sony is very open and really wants to know about it so he asks good questions. They almost for got to commit him, but Elder Smith looked up at me and I gave him the signal to give the baptismal commitment so he did! He was commited for December 12th.

I didn’t want to leave Laurier, but I had to take the bus in rush hour to pick up my mom from the airport. I zipped into the metro and headed there. Finding my way TO the airport is harder than finding my way From it. I was fifteen minutes late and panicking because I thought that I wouldn’t be able to find her. Turns out that her flight was late anyway so after a twenty minute panic, she walked out of security just as I was running to another baggage claim.

Mom and Dad had booked a rental car with a place that closed at 7. Seeing as it was 7:15 and the rental place was not on site, we knew that we wouldn’t be able to rent from them afterall. We went to all the rental places asking prices and then found one that was only five dollars more than the original one. After an hour in line we drove off the airport property finally to go to the Thibaults who were waiting anxiously.

The Thibaults, as always, had prepared a feast of a dinner for us. My mom kept saying how it was enough, but Sister Thibault kept bringing out another course or serving more onto her plate. It was fantastic for me to watch. I know that I shouldn’t find joy in the pain of others but for one week I knew that my mother would live my mission and that would make everything worth it.

Sister Thibault was alright at talking slowly that first night, but Papa Thibault sure wasn’t. My mom would look at me with big eyes when he got really excited telling jokes and stories which indicated to me that she wasn’t catching all that he said. They are so funny. I wish I remembered some of the jokes they told.

Papa Thibault is always cracking jokes, like dad, but with puns and scriptures. And just as dad is obsessed with chickens, dogs, wood, and blueberries-Papa Thibault loves birds (he has 10’s of birdhouses and feed just outside the house windows) and he sings with them. He also loves cars and is an incredible mechanic. If you don’t find him helping his wife in the kitchen or whistling outside with his birds he is working on a new project in the garage. The car that I borrowed to go to Ottawa was his daughter Sandy’s and he had bought the car for 100 dollars because the engine was shot. Of course, he salvaged what he could of the engine and redid the rest of it himself. And she runs beautifully.

Sister Thibault is very headstrong and often outspoken. She is unique for women in that she is always trying to find solutions. If there is ever a problem she will present a solution before talking the whole thing through with you (like most girls). She is incredibly good with numbers and can remember the price she paid for something months later, always making deals. She has incredible faith and never gives up. The night that I arrived she said that she prayed outloud as she was searching the metro station saying, “She’s come all this way. I know you’ll help me find her.” and I found her car (although she wasn’t at it) moments later.

Voyage au Quebec: le 18 novembre, 2012

As stated in the previous post I woke up at seven and quickly took a shower. I can’t remember what we ate for breakfast, so maybe we didn’t? But as the kids were getting ready for church they packed themselves snacks: each one bag of chocolate crisps and one clementine. They later told me that since I was one of the kids, they had packed the snacks for me too! ¬†Being back in the Gatineau ward was a dream come true. I saw Sebastian blessing the sacrament and Emmanuel passing it. Daphney was there with her husband and Jadon too. Josie and her parents were there and Josie wrote me a ‘fill-in-the-blank” love note that I treasure. Emmanuel passed the sacrament to my row, but he was very solemn and focused so he didn’t see me. After the sacrament I walked up to him and knelt down in the aisle by him. I asked, “Vous ne me reconnaitriez pas, non?” and then he panicked. He jumped up and started pointing me out to everyone! He said “Est-ce que vous voyez? C’est elle. Finalement c’est elle! Elle m’a arrach√©e de loin! C’est elle la soeur!” and he clasped my hands in his and just smiled. What a good feeling to be so remembered and treasured. One of the elders that I tutored at the MTC, Elder Boehme, was serving in the Gatineau ward. He was panicked to see me, but very kind. One of the sisters told me that when he found out that I was coming he shrieked and told one of the members to never speak to him in English again. Apparently an old teacher coming to visit is more motivation to speak the mission language than teaching investigators? Oh the irony.

En plus, Sister Charland and Nina started arguing about whose house I would stay at next time that I was in town. Nina is very very high strung and so I’m not sure if I would be able to visit anyone else if I stayed at hers, but I’m honored by the invitations regardless.

The Dows Lake ward:

After church I went to the Dows Lake ward, but I was late and I knew that I probably wouldn’t be able to see all of the people that I had come to see. As I walked in the back door the Spencers and the Backstroms walked out of their respective classrooms at the same time. I lived in the Spencers basement the three months that I served in Dows Lake and in the Backstroms during the 5 months that I served in Gatineau. Seeing their families made me very very happy.

I had a good conversation with Chris Oddy, which is interesting because he rarely spoke to me as a sister missionary but now we were supposed to be best friends? It was definitely interesting to play the other side of the social realm in this ward. There are still sister missionaries in the ward so I got to see and take a picture with them: Sister Lucas and Sister Rojo. They are great. Sister Lucas is my granddaughter too which is cool.

After sacrament meeting I drove Heather Thomson to her grandmothers house to pick up her bike and we struggled to take off a tire and fit it in the back. Luckily Sandy’s back seat goes down so Heather didn’t have to bike back to Gatineau (about thirty miles).

I was staying at Tandice Wiwichars house this night which is the best! It’s three single women: Heather Thomson, Tchoha Diarrassouba, and Tandice Wiwichar all of which are dearly loved. Tandice and Heather are actually Canadian Anglophone and Tchoha is from the Cote D’Ivoire so the dynamic is a good interesting. ūüôā They made crepes for dinner… yum.

After dinner I realized that it was my last night in Gatineau and that there were some people that I had yet to see. I called up Anne Marie and told her that I was in town. They told me to come over right away and so I did. They were happy to have a visit, to show me wedding pictures (which were still on film :() and their huge brand new flat screen that they got with wedding money. They are an interesting couple indeed.

After I got back from Anne Marie and Ferdinands we had girl talk. Apparently Tchoha has a boy who lives here in Salt Lake who she is really interested in. Imagine if Tchoha moved to UTAH! That would be wonderful. Heather told me somethings too that I found very curious, because it showed just how small the world was. When Tandice got home from the Stake Young Womens activity she started moving all of her sheets downstairs. I fought her off and insisted that I sleep downstairs intead. I was pretty stubborn about it, taking her things upstairs and moving my down so she gave in.

Before going to bed I called President Cannon which felt weird because I didn’t ask my district leader if I could… but it was SO good to talk to him. It was like catching up with a very close old friend. He invited me to come stay at his house anytime throughout our stay in Quebec and to sit in on his meeting with the Assistants the next Monday morning. I couldn’t wait, of course.

Voyage au Quebec: le 17 novembre, 2012

Carissa and I didn’t fall asleep until probably four in the morning, but we got up faithfully at 7:30 so I could get her to work on time. I’m not sure how this girl does it, because I’m pretty sure that this is an everyday thing. I went back to her house and got ready for the day in her room (which felt weird) and then I went upstairs to chat with Jenn Butler. Jenn was baptized the very first weekend of my mission. i never mentioned her much in letters because I didn’t actually have the occasion to teach her except for the recent convert lessons. She is the girl who once told me, ‘Don’t take prozac- get baptized!” The gospel brought her THAT much joy. Fast forward to November 17th, 2012 and we are conversing about how Jonan her highschool boyfriend will be coming home from his mission in a short 10 days. You could tell that she was filled to the brim with anxiety and excitement.

jennandjonan

aren’t they adorable? He’s home now (I’m late posting this-obviously)… and this is them as they are reunited.

As soon as I had packed up my things, I loaded up the car and drove directly to Victors place. I had called to confirm the preceding afternoon and he told me the wonderful news about a new baby in the family! Cuirine was 2 months pregnant when I left, but of course it was too early to be telling me. The little girl was two weeks old when I got to hold and meet her. Her name is Rachelle. ūüôā

I found out almost immediately, that even if I don’t live in Quebec anymore people find it hard to be ‘scheduled in’ so everything takes longer. I was late to visit with Ryan, but luckily my following appointment was gracious and said that I could come a half hour later. Ryan and I caught up on his life and his current endeavors and we walked to my favorite dam/waterfall that I had always wanted to take a picture by, but had never found the opportunity. Lucky me that he lives right across the street from it!

Kat and I met up at the Billings Bridge mall. We had lunch, talked, discovered how disgusting their public bathrooms are, and took pictures with Santa! Kat is from Bulgaria and she had never done it before- so it was especially fun for her.

Finally, after the sun had set on beautiful Ottawa (although the sun sets at about four o’clock pm this time of year) I made my way to Aylmer, Gatineau where I visited the Burock family. They were so sweet and gracious. The children had drawn pictures for me, they made a beautiful dinner for me, we caught up on our common friends/the ward, and we watched a movie together although i can’t remember which one. Little Melissa was sitting on my lap and seeing as she is a ‘hot body’ as mom used to always call us, she made me very sleepy.

I got to sleep on the bottom bunk in the childrens room where Brian normally sleeps. Melissa kept saying, “avez-vous une chanson pour me faire dormir?” I told her that I couldn’t think of one, but she was quick to clarify that it didn’t have to be in French. So I sang her “Castle on a Cloud” which is a song that I used to sing to polly all of the time at night. I sang it once, she said Thank you and then a quick “BONNE NUIT!” Little did I know that it was just the start of the “BONNE NUIT!”. She said she couldn’t sleep every thirty minutes for the next two hours and I would have to sing the song again. Finally I pretended to be asleep and she shouted BONNE NUIT probably twenty times before she climbed off her bunk to shake me awake until I would in turn respond’ bonne nuit’. at 4:30 am she woke me up because she needed to go to the bathroom. I told her that she could go if she wanted, but she said she couldn’t go alone. The bathroom door is connected to their room. All I did was stand up so that she could go in and close the door. There I waited until she finished. It is now 4:36 and she tells me that I have to sing to her again… so I do. It was half heartedly and most likely half as pretty too, but it suited her well. I woke up at 7 for good just to find that she had left to sleep in her parents room. They told me in the morning that “Soeur Pace ne reveille plus”. I smiled and was grateful to have some of my dad’s genes afterall.

Voyage au Quebec: le 16 novembre, 2012

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I had a delicious French Toast breakfast with the Thibaults right before they went to work in the temple that morning. Then I hurried to get ready to drive to Ottawa!! As I was going out the door I realized that it didn’t matter if I knew how to get to Ottawa from Montreal.. the problem was that I had no idea where I actually was. I looked outside and got the house number for the Thibaults but I still didn’t know their street. Eventually I found their address on google but getting out of Longueuil, to Montreal, and to the right highway seemed complicated. I prayed for help and in walked the Thibault’s son Sylvain who told me to take his GPS and bring it back on Monday. What an answer to prayer!!

The drive was really boring besides the fact that I got to know what kind of music Sandy Thibault listens to because I went through most of her cd’s, some of which were quebecois but for the most part they were popular pop stuff from the US, which doesn’t really entertain me.

I drove straight to Josie’s place where we sat down and caught up. She told me all about school, her friends, boys, and church after which we decided to paint our nails. Josie did her nails blue but then painted my name on them so her hands said ‘lindy’ because she wanted to prove that she would never forget me. After we played Just Dance 3 (a wii game) in her family room. Her mom and dad¬†eventually¬†joined us and we got some really great laughs out of that. ¬†Dilly (Larochelle) disappeared and turns out he has made me this huge incredible meal. He cooked this incredible salmon like I had never tasted before, he cooked rice, and he cooked cucumber and broccoli. I was in heaven although I was really full. You HAVE to eat all the food when Haitians feed you… which can be painful.

After the dinner I went to the institute center where I sat in on the end of Kyle Saundersons lesson, then we went to ‘Perkins Family Diner’ as an institute group to get dessert and catch up. It was so great to be back with the YSA ward. It had been literally two years since I’d seen them!

I went home with dear Carissa Kubota. We went to watch a movie but ended up talking through the whole thing about her engagement, her life challenges, and theories on how to best live the gospel. She is so busy and her life is so hectic. I wish I could help her more. Overall it was a wonderful day and I found myself very grateful for the friends that I have.

Voyage au Quebec: le 15 novembre, 2012

Le premier jour du voyage:

Packing didn’t commence until probably 12:40 AM. I had finally collected everything that I needed and wanted by around 2:45. My bag wasn’t packed (there was no way everything would fit), but I felt reassured in preparing for bed and rather waking up earlier to finish faisant mes valises. The alarm kept ringing from 6:01 to 6:28 when my roommate woke me up. That’s right. I was sleeping through my ringing alarm.  Tout de suite I was astutely awake. I started rolling all of my clothing items up and placing them in my bag piece by piece and after forty-five minutes they almost fit. Exhausted as I was, I eventually rolled my bag out into the front room and awoke the sleeping James from the couch. He followed me out to the car and we started the trek to the airport. There were plenty of cars but no stopping, especially for the HOV lane.  I arrived to the airport at 8:30 which seems early for a 9:45 flight, but security took three quarters of an hour alone.

Lindsey was the sweet blonde lady in her mid thirties that was sitting next to me. She had the left side of her nose pierced with a classy stud (if nose piercings can be classy hers was) and she was on her way to Kenya to work in a hospital with the families and doctors. She was accompanying about 40 adolescents who also were going, each one of them having earned their own way! She was incredible the way that she talked about her mom, her life, and what was really important. The school that she was coming with was seventh day adventist but she was not, she was simply christian hoping to change the lives of those that she met.  We talked about what changes we would want to see in the world today. She said that she wants to see others have a more innate desire to serve and forget about worldly things, I talked about the disregard for family values and how I wanted the sanctity of the family to be restored. We both were satisfied with the others answers.

The bearded man on my other side was a bit frightening. ¬†Lindsey nor I spoke to him for quite sometime I think because we were both intimidated but I stopped judging and decided to get to know him. He was bald with a white beard just on the lower half of his jaw and then he had a small four inch long gray braid coming out of the middle of the back of his head. He was also in jeans and a bright orange t-shirt that said the name of some prison on it. Now you know why I was intimidated. When I first started talking to him he didn’t respond much, but then I realized that he had taken out his hearing aid. We got to talking a bit more and he put it back in. He told me about his two kids and his wife, how he is a veteran for our country, and how he now taught math in a juvenile prison. What an incredible man. He carried my suitcase all the way off of the plane and it’s ramp for me.

2nd flight- Hawkesbury Man asked lots of questions about me, where I came from and where I was going (sounds similar to the plan of salvation questions right?) but the second he realized that I had been a missionary in Quebec and Ontario he changed the subject. He didn’t want to talk much about it but he DID want to show me what a gentleman he was. He helped me with everything! He turned my reading light on, he would throw my trash away for me, he got down my bag and put up my coat. And then as I was getting off of the plane he offered to give me a ride to Ottawa. Insane right? Oh and he is in the management for a quebecois plane company that starts with a b. ?

A woman on the bus seemed lost as the driver kept saying ‘arret 6’, ‘arret 7’, Especially because no one knows the number of the stops but the street that they need to get off on. we laughed about it, then we got off together and attempted to find the metro. It was a long hallway so I was lucky to not be alone. After 5 minutes she stopped me and said, so you aren’t quebecoise huh? It took her that long… which is funny because I’m really struggling to imitate the quebecoise these days. SUPER nice woman. The people in Quebec just seem to be these angels ever since I stopped wearing my nametag around them. How sad right?

Metro fiasco with Sr. Thibault: ¬†She told me to go out where the cars pick people up. ¬†I did. There were at least four of these places around the building- I didn’t have a phone, she didn’t have a phone, and I was fa-reezing. Finally I started walking around the building to all of the other stops and I found her car with a stranger in it- Frere Paquette, the father of Marie Michelle and Gabrielle-Andree. wow

Comme la reine, the second I walked in the door she pulled out all of the stops to really feed me well, make sure that I was comfortable and prepare me for my trip to Ottawa the next morning.

Gratitude

I’m grateful for elbow pads. I’ve always scoffed at them a bit, thinking that they weren’t really all that cute or fashionable as people think. But for the first time ever I wore elbow pads today. (Of course Katy was the one to give me the elbow padded sweater because I don’t experiment unless it’s Katy inspired) That rubbing or discomfort that I feel when I have my elbows on the desk at school- gone. I might as well have my own personal air conditioning… elbow pads make life sweeter.

Yesterday I gave a talk in church. I’d thought about it a lot, but hadn’t had much time to nail it down. Saturday night instead of going out with friends after the Men’s Chorus concert* I came home to work on my talk. I got distracted and didn’t touch my talk. The next morning I had meetings from 8:30 am to 11. I came home at 11, got ready for church, helped Genny with the baby and suddenly it was 12:15. I panicked and left for church thinking that I would better prepare there. ¬†As I sat in the Wilkenson center I pondered what I could possibly muster up out of my pocket that wouldn’t seem like random words thrown on the page. I remembered Brother Bott telling us the three steps to a talk. Of course I didn’t remember them, but I did remember that he told us to make three points that helped accomplish our purpose and that you should have a story or scripture to accompany each of them. So I made a list of stories about gratitude and searched for a couple of scriptures. Did you know that ‘gratitude’ isn’t in the bible dictionary? Neither can it be found in the topical guide (although Thanksgiving is there), the Christ-like attributes, or anywhere in Preach My Gospel. I’m sure that there are references to it throughout all of these books- but no way to look them up. Oh heavens, I was in a fix.

What should have been my worst talk ever given, turned out to be probably my best. I think Heavenly Father holds me in a special place in His heart. He never stops blessing me.  Here is an overview of the things that I talked about:

Point 1– Gratitude eliminates trials (believe it or not). A young father, busy with school and full-time work awoke in the wee hours of the morning to care for his son who- in the fathers eyes- never slept. He was tired and done. He picked up the baby and started rocking him back and forth to quiet him and prepared his heart to offer up a prayer to God that the baby would go to sleep. All he wanted was for the baby to sleep. As he looked at the small child his urgency to pray disappeared not because he no longer wanted to pray, but because he didn’t have a reason to. He was so grateful for that small child in his arms that nothing else in the world seemed to matter. It was no longer a trial to be awake at four. In the face or the reality of God’s great blessings to us- we forget our self pity and pains.

President Joseph F. Smith said, “The grateful man sees so much in the world to be thankful for, and with him the good outweighs the evil. Love overpowers jealousy, and light drives darkness out of this life.

Point 2– Gratitude guarantees that God will send us help and comfort. (this is where I told a story about the Vietnamese, but didn’t necessarily mention that they were people that I had met on my mission. What I did tell is one hundred percent true) ¬†For a culture in education class I was asked to interview a refugee. I interviewed a family from Vietnam that emigrated in 2011. Most of the conducted interview was done with a young girl named Yuong who is fifteen years old. Yuong when asked about her journey to the United States was nothing but grateful and gracious. She mentioned the fact that her family was separated by countries, oceans, and miles but continued to thank God as we discussed her living situation. When you walk into the home of this family you see how little they have. They don’t have anything to clean up, let alone anything to clean with. You would never find soap in their bathroom. They need nothing more than the assurance that their God is there. They count every blessing and God sends them love and comfort throughout each trial. When I asked her about the hardest part in coming to the America’s she said that she missed Vietnam. She misses have nothing (which is what I thought she had currently). She called the world that we live in ‘dangerous’ because there is too much that is available to want or have. ¬† This is when I learned that gratitude is the acting force that overcomes our tendency to covet.

Point 3– Making our prayers more heartfelt not only insures that we are more grateful, but it helps us to be more loving, forgiving, and¬†optimistic¬†about the future. [I didn’t have time to tell the story that went this principle so I talked about how we can do this] ¬†When I thought about what we could do as a congregation to make those steps to deeper gratitude I knew that I needed to talk about prayer. Being grateful- in my mind- doesn’t start with a list of Thank you’s. It starts with a list of blessings that you want for others. A grateful person is mindful of what others need before¬†them-self. It seems silly, but the further I got out on my mission the more I realized that I could never remember all of the people that I needed to pray for regardless of how much I loved them. So I made a list, and I added to it each day based on the needs that I saw and felt in my heart. I reviewed this list before praying and as I did each night, my list of ‘thank thee’s’ increased exponentially. Make a list. Show the Lord how much you care for His sheep. ¬† Ray Huntington said, “Prayer awakens our grateful heart. Forgetfulness is an obstacle to being grateful while “awareness is a precondition” to having a grateful heart. Our personal prayers provide us with sacred time to ponder our blessings and express gratitude to Heavenly Father.”

There are many reasons to be grateful: some other reasons are because when we are grateful God is permitted to send us greater blessings, we have better perspective, and our doubts and insecurities ‘fly’.

Last but not least, “as we thank Him daily, our gratitude should be centered on God’s greatest gift to us: the gift of His Beloved Son, who ransomed us through the shedding of His blood. (Ray Huntington)” Reading this quote is what brought everything together for me. ¬†Pure Gratitude recognizes not what we have, but the greatness of He who gives.

* The Men’s Chorus concert was phenomenal. They had wonderful music, dynamic, and spirit. They had four songs that were ‘on the range’ focused that made me feel right at home. The encore was a beautiful rendition of Danny Boy. If I wasn’t enjoying myself enough, my grandmother was sitting right behind me in the audience making comments like “That song just has me¬†over pouring¬†with joy”, “what a magnificent arrangement”, and deep breathy sighs every two minutes or so.¬†My friend Wayd- also known as Elder Odle from my mission- sat on my right side while my roommate Chelsie and her friend Maggie were on the other. I haven’t even touched the best part yet. They did four songs from the Jungle book. My cousin Benji was Balou. He came out singing with all that he’s got and dancing all over the stage. His smile which is so contagious just lit up the room with every note he let out. ¬†We thought that he would just be there for one number, but he sang one- went back into the Men’s chorus crowd where everyone was dancing and popped back out second later all dressed in a grass skirt and bright red lei. He continued dancing and singing about things like the ‘prickly pear’, he pretended to drop it and took the occasion to shake his behind to the whole audience (while not missing a beat in his singing repertoire) and beating his chest and dancing around. He came back out to dance with the king of the monkeys later on as well. Monkey or itchy bear imitations- i love my cousin. He made me so happy. Chelsie has gotten to know him pretty well as he comes over to the house all the time and when he started dancing like that she burst into laughing tears. What a great night it was.

Sang

I’m a regular. I donate blood. I save lives.

I may or may not take pride in this small fact. I love everything about donating blood. I love the eccentric conversations as I wait in line. I love the questions they ask me, the fact that they expect me to freak out with the needles all around, and that they are all so versed in taking blood that they have come to sound like flight attendants.

As I was sitting in line I heard comments like, “they really need my blood because I’m O+” (which made me laugh because O- is actually the universal giver and O+ only helps O+) and “my viens roll so donating actually is pretty hard for me”. I’m just the opposite. Everyone always tells me that I have great viens. I was walking to my seat to my ‘right-arm tray’ (the way that they refer to it makes me think that they are going to cut off my arm and serve it to someone) and as I walked by a woman her eyes followed me. As I sat in my donors chair the woman called over to the guy who would poke me and grieved, “you’re lucky, she’s got really good veins”. ¬†Verdict is out- the woman is a vampire or I have veins that pulse and flash because she was never close enough to really observe that…

This morning I subbed for a district that is three weeks in: Elders Dawdy, Queen, Mackay, and Campbell, I was so happy. Almost like they were my first district that I miss so much. We spent an hour struggling through “how to begin teaching” because well they didn’t understand me. We just spoke in French- as it’s supposed to be- but it’s harder to do than to say. I pushed them to keep trying and tried to make it fun. We had an hour of class left and they asked me if they could work on answering questions. They WANTED to practice which I was more than enthusiastic to do with them. We did a half hour¬†role-play¬†in English and then the same in French. They struggled a bit more in French but comparing both of them afterwards they realized that the spirit was the same and that God still directs their words. It was great. And then one of the elders, Elder Mackay, told me “Sister Pace. You’re a hard teacher.”

awkward pause

“but we think it’s awesome” ūüôā