A Big Lesson Learned From A Tiny Ward In Switzerland

How An Accidental Find, Turned Into A Life-Changing Experience.


When I was 16, I had the great opportunity to visit some Family Friends in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. This was the greatest adventure I had ever been on. I fell in love with everything. I mean, literally everything; the food, the country, the people, the language, the clothes, and even the smells. It seemed as though the world was simply more perfect there.

geraldine 3We were staying in the apartment of our friend, Geraldine-a very beautiful, red-headed, and accomplished returned missionary. She showed us all around the beautiful city, and took us to the most refined and beautiful places. I found myself watching her, and eventually wanting to be just like her. She was simply incredible. She treated people, the way they should be treated. She laughed often, and was so generous with what she had.

geraldine 2Soon a few days after my arrival, I was able to attend the local French Ward with Geraldine. (Thank goodness it was only 20 minutes from where we were staying.) Some members that I met were from as far as the German Border to attend the French Congregation. There was a wonderful spirit in the building and it seemed as though everyone was completely illuminated.

My twin sister and I, being 16, were ushered into the Young Women’s room. (Which was smaller than my bedroom, and looked a bit like a craft closet with the amount of decoration on the walls.) There were 2 girls that were already seated, and 1 that came in late. Coming from a Utah Family Ward, which consisted of 36 Young Women, I was shocked by the small numbers in the room. 3 Leaders, 3 Swiss Young Women, and 2 American Visitors. Geraldine was the Young Women’s President at the time, and taught the lesson that week.

My very limited understanding of the French Language left me mentally withdrawn from the things beings said, so my mind started to wonder. I looked around the room and the other Young Women. They had extreme styles, a lot of make-up, and skirts so short I was surprised they were comfortable. They were nice, and interesting, but I felt very different from them. Though they were the same age, they seemed a lot older. I definitely began to judge them. I made assumptions about them, their social lives, and their interests. I felt like I knew them, without even understanding their Language.

After church was over, I said goodbye to these girls with the traditional bisous, we added each other on Facebook, and I never really talked to them again. When I got back to the apartment, I began to ponder the whole experience. I felt eager to get back to my big Ward in Utah, and tell my friend all about what church was like in Switzerland. I passed Geraldine’s bedroom on my way into the bathroom, and found a list of names taped to the back of her door. Looking a little closer, the names belonged to each girl that was in class today, the leaders, and a few names I didn’t recognize. Next to their names, was something that they needed in their lives. The list was titled “Daily Prayers.”

My heart stung as I looked at the lengthy list of things that Geraldine prays for every single day. I saw the trials, accomplishments, and efforts that those girls were going through. My heart started to soften immensely. I had judged them so harshly, and truly had known nothing about them. After reading these tender scribbles on her prayer list, I felt overwhelmed with how amazing these girls really were. One was a convert, trying to share the Gospel with her family. The other, was new and struggling to adjust to a new environment after her parents’ divorce, but she was an inspiring musician. The third was in an incredibly impressive scholastic program that was way beyond her years. There was bullet-pointed items that Geraldine thought to pray for, for each of them, individually.

I was touched to say the least. But more than that, I was changed. Geraldine, and her amazing love for these girls has completely changed the way I view church callings. Callings are not about “Leadership” they are about individuals. She knew those girls in a way that only Disciples would understand. She sought their success, and wanted to help them grow-and not just on Sunday. I learned a valuable lesson about judging others. Next time a stylish girl with a short skirt walks into church, I want to meet her. Not so I can judge her. But rather, so I can learn from her.

Everyone around us is going through trials, and hard ship. But how wonderful it is that we have people like Geraldine, praying for us behind closed doors. Bishops, Relief Society Presidencies, Elder’s Quorum Presidencies, Youth Leaders, Husbands, Wives, Children, Home Teachers, Visiting Teachers, Temple Patrons, and of course the General Authorities, pray every day for the well-being of others. Maybe we can help them out a bit, and create our own “Daily Prayer” list. Because I truly believe, everyone deserves to be prayed over, every day.



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