Monday, June 20, 2016

Week 102 "The Final Stretch"

Andrew's Baptism June 17, 2016 !!

In my mind, the best thing about running a marathon would be getting chocolate milk at the end.  I always see it, the runners all dead-tired in the finishers area with their medals around their necks drinking chocolate milk.  Twenty six miles and change run in just a handful of hours through the sun, wind, and rain, and when you're at the end you're exhausted.  Man how good chocolate milk would taste after all that!
I've never completed a full marathon, but I'm about to have completed a full-time mission.  I'm running through the final stretch, the last hundred meters where people start gathering to cheer on both sides of you.  I can hear the cowbells, the crowd, the announcer's not too far-off voice announcing the names of those who finish. I feel pretty tired but I've made it this far without giving up, so I'll push on until I cross the line in three days.  And the best part? Chocolate milk.  I've gone without my favorite thing for two years, because drinking it during the race would only slow me down. 
The chocolate milk is my beloved family, and I'm more than excited to see them in a mere matter of days.  Nothing is better than seeing your family when you've been away for so long.
In this final stretch of the race I had a lot of fun.  This week was packed full of train travel to Bourges, unexpected dinner invitations, rainstorms, sushi, french food, oh and Andrew's baptism!

Elder Smith, Andrew and Elder Jones
First thing, we went to Bourges twice.  The train strikes the previous weeks made travel impossible, but we got out and back with no problems.  We went contacting and found a new ami, made bread, and I played a four-string guitar (called a merlin) for the first time. The second time we went to bourges was on Saturday for their finding day. We taught two lessons, found a new ami, and Elder Durant our district leader surprised us with the activity of taking 400 stairs to the top of the Bourges Cathedral!  That was a fun way to take our last 'district photo' and we did a good dying picture too.

  I decided to spend a lot of money on groceries this week because hey, you aren't in France forever.  All you Americans probably think I'm crazy but I spent my last week eating Japanese, Indian, American, and African food.  Yep, we ate Foufou in Bourges,  The Lintons took us to get burgers, I made chicken Tikka Masala, and Elder Smith and I refined our sushi-rolling skills as well. We did eventually eat French food at the Liebard's house on Sunday and enjoyed one of my favorite French dishes, the Tartiflette. Lots of food this week, and that made me happy!

  We got to witness Andrew begin his spiritual life this weekend, as he was baptized a member of the church and received the Holy Ghost. Despite the 60 kilometers of travel to reach the chapel, twenty members came. For a branch of thirty to forty regulars,  that's a wonderful turnout to have. I had the privilege to baptize Andrew, and wow it was just amazing the feeling I had when I lifted him out of the water. I know that he's started on a journey that culminates in Eternal Life with God.  I love seeing the changes in people's physical
and spiritual appearance that come with progressing toward the promise of baptism, Andrew has manifest this change! Baptism is so real! It really changes and sanctifies, and I'm so glad I got to take part in that sacred, wonderful ordinance.  I am happy I could act worthily and help Andrew be baptized.

Liebard Family and the Missionaries

Oh, well here we are at the closing paragraph...I'm going to share one more miracle.  We were at the church planning Andrew's baptismal service.  My comp had slipped into the other room and I was left alone thinking about things, and I was feeling down because I wanted to go outside and contact some people but I wasn't sure if my companion would be up to it.  Even though I still wanted to go out, I said to myself better to finish the baptismal planning.  As I was about to go back to planning a giant rainstorm came from who-knows-where and started filling up the street with water.  As I glanced toward the church entrance, I saw a guy standing with his back to the door, obviously trying to get some shelter from the rain.  Elder Smith and I approached the door, knocked, then opened it and invited him in.  He
gladly accepted and we talked waiting for the rain to pass.  We got on the subject of religion easily enough, sitting in our own chapel.  We invited him to come and he said he would stop by one Sunday, and just after, the sun came out.  He walked off, just as he had come, and I felt that Heavenly Father had answered my internal prayer of wanting to go outside and contact; instead he brought the people to us.

Elder Jones and Elder Smith (He will be going to Versaille for his last transfer.

   Everyone be of good cheer, Christ has overcome the world. John 16:33 .... Repent, repent, (meaning change for the better) for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand Alma 7:9
   The still small voice will pierce to the center and cause your
heart to burn, you will know it. Kings 19:12    3 Nephi 11:3
And I know that this Gospel is True!
Elder Jamison Jones
(Happy to drink my chocolate milk in 3 days)

Celebrating with Smith

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