Let me preface this story by telling you all a fun fact: over the course of my mission I've taught the gospel to people from over 25 countries, and met people in a non-teaching capacity from over 25 more. This Tuesday I added one more country to the list: Romania.
So we were in Lille for exchanges. Me and my exchange comp, Elder Fonua from Hawaii, decided to go batting (a missionary-invented word made by combining "tracting" with the French word for "apartment building"). Around the 4th or 5th floor, we rang the doorbell of this family of five Romanians--some of whom spoke very limited French, the rest of whom didn't speak any at all. They let us in (which was already kind of a miracle) and eventually we got across that we were servants of Jesus Christ, and we asked if we could just pray with them because they couldn't understand much else. They all got pretty excited to pray with us. All five stood up, and the women went and got these prayer shawls (I'm guessing they got that from 1 Corinthians 11:5) and one of the women started praying out loud in her language. And then the other woman joined her, both saying their personal prayers aloud beside each other. And then the three men joined in one by one, so that five individual prayers were all being said out loud simultaneously. I didn't know what to do, so I just looked at Elder Fonua, bowed my head, and said my own personal prayer out loud with the rest of them. God hears all of them anyway, right?
After a few minutes (and a few amens and hallelujahs) everyone quieted down one by one. We looked up...and saw that one of the women was crying. Initially I thought that she was just feelin' the Spirit super hard, but then she told us that her husband was really sick. And before I could even open their Romanian Bible and show them the verse that says elders can heal the sick with oil, they were asking us for a blessing! Using this half-broken-French-half-charades language, I'll just let you imagine. So we ended up giving a Priesthood blessing to an ill Romanian man that we had met 10 minutes earlier.
We set a return rendez-vous for the next day and left. Then the next night, as Elder Smith and I were back in Amiens, we got an excited phone call from the elders in Lille, who told us the rest of the story: they went back, and the family of five had brought nine more Romanians to listen! As they passed around a few Romanian copies of the Book of Mormon, one of the new people (who spoke French) said, "I like this book. Can I have more copies?" When they asked him how many, he responded, "Well, my Romanian congregation has about forty people. Can we get forty?"
Stay tuned as the elders in Lille distribute forty BoMs to a congregation of Romanian Christians. Will they believe? Will a Romanian branch be started in Lille? Find it all out next time, on the new hit series, Why Don't We Ever Just Teach French People.
One other story before I close. So we met a man from Cameroon in front of the Amiens train station to teach him. After a weird and slightly contentious conversation (in the which he said it was pretentious to call ourselves Latter-day Saints and judgmental to say our message brings people closer to God), we offered to pray with him. Suddenly we became best friends as he offered the prayer. As per his suggestion, we ended up the three of us holding hands in a circle while he said a typical Evangelical African prayer (Oui Papa trois fois saint, mon Dieu mon Roi etc). It wasn't that weird until he started singing (while still holding our hands in front of the train station). He went for four verses of song and then broke into falsetto, and Elder Smith and I could barely control our laughter. So that's the story of how I ended up holding hands with a big African man singing Jesus songs in his falsetto, while people walking out of the train station observed.
That's all I've got for this week. Merry Christmas everyone! Make it awesome, and anyways focused on family and on the Saviour. Love you all!