Bonjour ma chere famille! (keep in mind as you are reading the serious struggle i have typing on these impossible keyboards; i promise i am not TOTALLY losing my mind, though will admit, maybe a little)
how are you all doing???? I miss you so much, but im not gonna lie--i absolutely love, love, love being in france and being a missionary. Seriously i am so blessed.
Thank you for all the e-mails and letters (diana-ill keep you posted about london and thank you for your sweet pensees, kim--i love baby details and am so impressed you took a cake class with the girls--not gonna lie i think i would have been kicked out, so even grandma looking cakes sound like you have superb talent to me); people kinda look at me like im un peu psycho when im like chortling out loud, but i can’t help it—you’re so great!! and I’m so grateful to hear that things are going well at home. And Lisa, ali, kirstin, & nana & grandpa, thanks so much for all your support, you guys are amazing, so far, I have hardly gone a day without a letter from at least one of you.
So, I think I had either forgotten (more likely blocked from my memory) some of my long lost french loves. Like milk that supposedly lasts months, or everyone remember THE SPONGE episode may 2008??!! yeah well, the first thing I saw when I walked into the kitchen in our little apartment was a nasty, rank sponge that looked like it had been gathering bacteria for who knows how many millennia!!!! needless to say, i thought it was a very fitting welcome--i felt right at home again in france (and promptly disposed of it and put sponges on the top of our shopping list)!
My next favorite thing--public transportation baby! We live out in a city called Nanterre, which is like an hour away from our church and stuff, so we get our fair share of planes trains and automobiles (more like buses, trains, RER and metro, but whatev), so ive decided nursing is a blessing and a curse. When I step onto the bus I have such an internal struggle over whether i should succumb to the pole and all the array of infectious diseases that are most likely blossoming on its fomitish surface, or whether i should just risk flying into the person standing next to me, which then usually gives you a very valid (albeit awkward) excuse to talk to them! Public transport contacting is great and always good for a laugh. like yesterday on the RER a woman, glowing with pregnancy, and a man who got on the RER and sat across from us. I started asking about when the baby was due and if they had names or anything, etc... turned out he had been to utah and loved Bryce Canyon! Long story short--they were both wearing rings on their left fingers, she was pregnant and they were excited about it, and they were holding hands--apparently STILL NEVER a good idea to ask someone how long they’ve been married. DER. oh....well, lesson learned!
Ok and my third long lost love would definitely have to be French men (more so such parisian men). For the sake of little eyes who might be perusing, i won’t detail. But, great welcome to France!!!
So since we came in at a non-transfer week, our schedule was a little weird. President Staheli picked us up at the airport and then we went to the mission home and had lunch, took a nap, went to consecration hill, had interviews, met our trainers, dinner, testimony meeting (in french--that was fun ha), and then the elders dropped us off at our apartments (Sister howell and I are the only 2 in our apartment, which i said already is in nanterre; but technically our proselyting area is the St. Ouen area). The Stahelis are absolutely wonderful!!! Sister Staheli is probably one of the nicest people ive ever met (if you ever see sister cusick, you can tell her to tell andrew that i made sure to give her a big hug just for him), and president staheli--wow. I am just impressed and feel so blessed to have him leading us. He’s down to earth and way funny, but also just powerful.
It’s a mission wide thing now that everyone is shooting for 20 lessons a week. I don’t know how it is in other places, but just what ive seen these last few days, that is going to work us really hard!!! However, I am excited for the challenge and just wish i knew so much more of how everything works out here. I sometimes feel like a little puppy that Sister howell has to reign in on a leash when we go out in public. Its such a powerful feeling knowing that there are people ready to have their lives changed by the gospel, but I really need to be patient and learn how things work. Needless to say, we know why patience has been given as counsel in like every blessing ive ever received; sheesh--think someone might know me pretty well?
I have to admit I felt pretty grown up when i walked in and saw a board with peoples names on it and realized that WE HAVE AMIS (aka investigators--there are weird mission culture things here...like some of them are REALLY weird, and im not super pleased that they are becoming normal. ask Andrew about the being BORN, DYING, and mom/dad stuff)!!! i still havent met very many of them, because we had a lot of people cancel at the last minute this week. awesome feeling? yup. But i can tell you with certainty that i will never forget my first lesson. Her name is Renate and she has been investigating the church for a while. She is super believing in God, but I swear she must have friends in like every cult possible, and it seems like she just believes everything people tell her. AND she speaks like a thousand miles an hour!!! So you know i wont lie and tell you that i understood everything she was saying, but afterwards i was like "wait, was she really just telling us about a devil worshipping something, with people tied up or something, and something else that i dont even want to write down something??" cuz yeah...im pretty sure that just happened! We managed to teach a little--I was just trying to figure out where she's at, but certainly an unforgettable experience. She's so nice, has hard things going on, and doesnt really get the whole necessity of baptism thing (problem), but MIRACLE--i squealed and jumped out of my chair when i saw her walk into sunday school!! she came to church!!! My heart was bursting!
long, long story, i will try to make it brief. Sister Howell was having a really hard time the other day. Another person canceled on us and we were running late, and we couldnt get a hold of the member who was supposed to teach with us to tell her that the ami canceled. So, the member eventually calls and i dont know what happened, but Sister Howell ends up in tears. And because shes so upset, she must not have heard right, or was just flustered, so she took us to the wrong place and the member called again and was like "where are you?" So we finally find the member and as we are walking up to her, Sister Howell starts crying again, and like cant speak. So fun for me--I get to deal with this Chantalle woman who just made my companion cry, is shaking her finger at us like only a french woman can, and is saying something about being penibles (annoying)!!! Chantalle asks Soeur Howell what is wrong; sister howell cant speak. So ...i was like "oh. ....its been a hard day and she doesnt feel well. But, everything worked out great--she invited us to her house and we worked out times to go contacting with her and then she came to teach a recent convert with us. By the end, she was insisting we call her "chanchan" and was telling us stories about her family and really offering sincere help finding new investigators and working with the ward and stuff. I think we made a dear friend in Chanchan, and that she will really be able to help the work in St. Ouen!!!
Anyway, my time is up, but i hope you all know how much i love you!!! what a great blessing is knowing that we can have eternal families if we accept Christ as our Savior and follow him?!!!! because i just dont know what i would do without you!!!
mom--i promise i will write you later with more details. the office got my coat today. and were gonna try to go get it sometime soon. its been pretty dang cold, but I’ve been trying to bundle up; and today is actually kinda sunny! Which reminds me--i found one of my favorite Sister Wang quotes in my notebook--she said this in a prayer she gave in class: "Thank you for a shiny day, although its a little cold. But, were grateful for the sunshine." I feel like i have so much sunshine here every day, because this work is truly such a blessing!!!
JE VOUS AIME!!!