First, some really big news- this morning we received a phone call from President Herrington informing us that due to difficulties with Soeur Hootini’s foot over the past week we are going to have an emergency exchange meaning that I will stay in Abymes with Soeur Tepapatahi while Soeur Hootini will go to Baie Mahault with Soeur Needs and Soeur Reep to be in a car. Obviously this is not expected and all 5 of us are really in shock right now but loving Soeur Hootini as much as I do and seeing the pain that she has been in over the past week I know that this has been an inspired decision. So transfer 5 and companion number 6 here we come!!
We also learned a little bit more about Soeur Hootini’s foot problem which has been troubling her for a while; she has something muscular in the arch of her left foot which causes her a lot of pain while we are walking and spreads to encompass all of her left leg when at its worst! So it sounds like a car may be the best solution for her.
After weeks of Frisbee and table tennis Soeur Holt and the other sisters on the island finally did something ‘cultural’ for their p-day. They went to the Memorial ACTe which explores the history and memory of slavery and the slave trade in Guadeloupe. Soeur Holt described it as being very powerful. The aim of the construction of the Memorial is outlined on the website:
“During his in-depth policy speech on 26th October 2004, Victorin Lurel, President of the Regional Council, announced the willingness of the local authorities to participate in the construction of a collective memory and to encourage research on slavery, the slave trade and the abolition of slavery. The aim was not to bring up the pain of the past to spread dissension. To the contrary, the intention was to transcend the suffering engendered by slavery and the slave trade so as to promote affirmation of a shared and somewhat appeased memory of the slavery era, an epoch greatly affecting the edification of the Guadeloupe society.”
Further, “Collective memory is not built solely on history and speeches. Today, places and objects representing authentic memories still exist and should be seen; chains, working tools, places of labour, jewellery, artefacts, objects of worship, places of resistance. A slave was first and foremost an individual with a story to tell, a collective story, a memory articulated through songs, dances, language, culture, traditions and rituals. The ability of the slaves to escape the whims of their masters, to maintain their cultural practices and traditions, to find areas of retreat outside of their master’s supervision, to create language and vernacular aesthetics is, without a doubt, a sign of their profound humanity in a world that negated them.”
As with any part of history that is painful, its remembrance can be used as a lesson and as an inspiration for current and future generations to never allow such suffering again.
In addition to the weekly teaching efforts, Soeur Holt had many other experiences including a singing tutorial. We spent Monday evening with Soeur Alifax, she is the musical director for the branch and got us to sing and sing and sing. I think she just enjoyed giving us some tips on how to improve which I think it made her really happy. We watched the video about the Saviour healing the paralysed man on the Sabbath and she loved it; we discussed the need of faith to stand when commanded by the Saviour.
Soeurs Holt and Hootini also continued with their determination to speak to every person they meet. Wednesday morning we went to the boulangerie, obviously to buy a baguette and also, to contact everyone else who is there buying theirs- we are in hot France after all! We met a gentleman, and a lady with 2 children. We also saw a miracle in meeting a young lady who is actually the friend of some members and SHE STOPPED US!! We spoke for a little bit mostly about our English class but she is really cool.
Some of the times the sisters teach are really pertinent to the lives of the people they meet. They taught a man this week- it was a really powerful lesson actually because he told us that he has lost his cousin this week and has been thinking about death more and more which made him turn to the plan of salvation brochure which we have given him. He was really touched by the opportunity which we all have to live again and I love bearing testimony of the saving ordinances which are available for the dead in our holy temple. And then another man; we had a great lesson about our purpose of life on earth and he broke down in front of us- I really didn’t know what to do as he is grown strong man. We just bore our testimonies that Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Redeemer, is always there for us and will support us through whatever we have to face. I don’t know what made him break down but I think we did something in supporting him with our testimonies and love.
It is sometimes really hard to change though. That evening we had another amazing lesson continuing the Restoration with a young man we had been teaching and talked about baptism; he told us that he knows he needs to be baptised but doesn’t like commitment of regularity within his life. He also spoke as if he had received a confirmation for himself saying something along the line of I am here meeting with you isn’t that evidence enough of my conviction and the witness that God has given me. The problem is that he is such a 21 year old and so like us!!
Soeurs Holt and Hootini have also been working a lot with members of the Church to help them share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These conversations seemed to happen each day; on Sunday afternoon we went to eat lunch at Soeur Isabelle Gamiette with Soeur Rinaldo, Frere Affoy and his daughters Marie, Sarali and Noé. It was a great time and really cultivated our relationship with all of them. Soeur Gamiette live in an apartment complex with a private beach which we were able to admire from a safe distance!!
One of the things that Soeur Holt shared from her studies this week has really made us think. In an email that President Herrington sent us all last week he talked about rather than having extraordinary faith we should instead strive to always have increasing faith- this really touched me because I often find myself worrying that my faith isn’t strong or extraordinary enough to accomplish the miracles which I desire on my mission but I find comfort in the fact that I know that my faith is increasing and that’s all that really matters! This linked with the scripture that stood out during my Book of Mormon reading this week is found in Ether 3.19-20:
“And because of the knowledge of this man he could not be kept from beholding within the veil; and he saw the finger of Jesus, which, when he saw, he fell with fear; for he knew that it was the finger of the Lord; and he had faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting. Wherefore, having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil; therefore he saw Jesus; and he did minister unto him.”
After the miracle of the stones with the brother of Jared the Lord explains that it was actually the brother of Jared’s knowledge of the Lord that enabled him to see Him, not his faith. It made me reflect on how I can achieve the knowledge of my Saviour enough to be able to see his hand in every aspect of my life. I think I came to the conclusion that it is often the Sunday school answers of searching the scriptures and praying to learn more and more about his nature and draw closer to him.
We are so looking forward to our Skype call this weekend. For our Skype next Sunday we will be doing it at Danielle’s house, the lady who you met at the Paris temple; she loved you all by the way and commented on how beautiful my little sister is!! We are going to do that straight after church so around 130pm my time but obviously be ready early and don’t get scared when I am late because we are always late!! I am so excited and am already thinking up topics of conversation!! If you phone our house around 630pm this Sunday please don’t be offended if we ignore you!