Hello my dearest family!!!! You hanging in there with that humid utah air??? Matthew, I just love you and am kinda sad that I missed another classic John or Matthew talk. I would have loved to hear you say it’s important to have humidity instead of humility. bahaha! (I decided we need to note that one down right under 'wathcloff'. hehe.) Happy birthday too Matthew, I hear you scored an Ipod…"nice." Oh & I so wish I had been there when you told mom you had a 100 pt. assignment for Am. Studies due the next day – so classic! (And even though I’m not condoning that behavior, I am chuckling over it!)
President & Sister Staheli are awesome. I wish I had time to write the things he said & taught @ zone conference. They were pretty cool. But one thing that kinda shows the kind of ship he runs is this phrase that he uses: “In essentials, unity; In non-essentials, liberty; In all things, charity.” So we follow the important rules, but we’re creative & we use the brains God gave us.
The work here is really slow, I looked @ the papers & I don’t even know when the last baptism was in this area. I am so excited to be here and I don’t want to waste any of the Lord’s time, but I realize I need to learn how things work here. Sister Howell is really shy and doesn’t like to “contact” people, so I am doing my best…with my French!
Well, it’s been raining (or sprinkling) a lot here. Which means, of course, that I have found myself humming 'My Favorite Things' from Sound of Music quite frequently, because its just the greatest rain song! And it's fitting for life as a new missionary, because I have found a lot of new favorite things, or things that just warm my heart and make me smile. I have realized that you just have to laugh off the annoying stuff and savor the simple, funny things that happen every day (even when they are annoying as well haha).
So one of my favorite things this week was exchanges!!! I got to go up to Lille and spend the day working with Sister Carson. Well, technically I went to Villeneuve d'ascq, so maybe nelson served there too, idk. But, it is awesome! They are on fire and it was so neat to get to learn other teaching and contacting methods and get a feel for how 'the North' (what used to be the belgium brussels mission) does things. Sister Carson is like a master contacter!! We taught some lessons, did some contacting, and went to their district and DMP meetings. And the next morning, on our way to the train station, she made sure we stopped at "the Renard"--which is apparently like 'the place' for good patisseries. Anyway, I absolutely loved it! (side note that is kinda funny about the missions merging. Last night Elder Snee (hilarious Scottish lad--just imagine it) asked me if I was a pureblood or a mudblood! dont worry--I quickly reassured him that I was indeed a pureblood (ie my mission call was always paris)!
Another one of my favorite things this week, that I dont think I have ever fully appreciated, is the alien gore graffiti wall that welcomes us home every night. Like seriously whoever put that masterpiece up on the public property outside our apartment...I applaud them for their artistic ability. It is gloriously gross and like one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever laid eyes on!!! But, it's home. So, I love it. and am very proud that our home has character!!
Another favorite thing---the classic 'ah bah oui' response!!! Have nelson demonstrate it for you sometime, because it really is one-of-a-kind, and usually I have to stifle a smile whenever I hear it used for real!
Another favorite thing--cold weather. This one actually surprised me. But, when its cold we can wear tights!! and tights are so much more cozy and less scratchy than nylons!!! (like I said, savoring the simple things here!)
oh I also love ghetto hymnbooks. Because it creates a great opportunity to laugh when the bisophric hurriedly asks you to come play the piano for sacrament meeting because they dont have anyone, so you rush up to play, start playing, get to the end of the first page of the hymn, and realize that half the dang hymnbook is missing! for real. But I figured it just gave the congregation an opportunity to practice their a cappella singing as I got up and walked to the front row to get another hymnbook, that did indeed contain the music for the second half of Praise to the Man!
oh another favorite--watching people trickle in an hour late to church after daylight savings!!hehe.
ok another favorite thing (though this is more one of the have to laugh it off, super ANNOYING things)--young Morrocan men following you from the quai, down three cars of the train (hoping that they’d get the hint you were going 'away'), and then sitting with you on the train and wanting to chat, where there is no escape! Oh, but it gets better! The one who asked me why I didn’t have a boyfriend, is smoking and blows the cigarette in my direction (mind you he's like two feet away), waiving his hand to blow it into my face, and says, 'here this is for you because you’re so beautiful.' UGH. 1. missionary nametag...hello! 2. I really dont think that is the way to any womans heart. I was slightly, ok super, bugged. So I promptly pretended to put on a cough fest, waved the smoke away, and told him I didn’t smoke. he responds, "oh I think thats beautiful." So, even though we knew they were muslim, we quickly brought up the fact that we could give them information about the english class that the BROTHER missionaries taught. That is a super convenient line sometimes and almost always works--hence, the reason it is also one of my favorite things!
Another favorite thing--African culture. I am learning many things about it that I did not know before. One, is that if an African calls you and then hangs up after one ring, it is 'an african call' and means that they want YOU to call them back, but their phone doesn’t have enough money on it to call you. Two, is that their idea of appointments doesn’t really translate to what americans think of as 'appointments.' The only people they really make actually obligatory 'apppointments' with is doctors, other than that, its like 'yeah 6 o clock at my place sounds great!' And then, if they happen to be home around 6, awesome, if not, then whatever!! haha, so great.
ok another favorite things of the week is Charming parks. Even though we later found out that it was like Muslim Central, this park we found close to our apartment was totally outfitted! We're talking ducks, pond, awesome running path, merry-go-round, playground, children giggling and chasing after balls, etc, etc... But we spent a great consecrated contacting hour there and talked to some great people. Ya know those cheesy stories that always end in 'it was the very last person, or the very last door on the street'...well I have a firm testimony that they are all true! After the white muslim, the lady who said 'it wasn’t worth the pain' (haha), and the old couple who handed us back the pamphlet we gave them, among others, we said okay this is the last one, and we found a baptist man sitting alone on a bench who was awesome! We talked about Joseph Smith and the First Vision, and he was like 'k wait, sit down, I want to hear more!' It was a great opportunity to bear testimony and teach about the Restored Gospel! I love consecrated contacting hours! (thats what the north calls them. apparently, down here its 'pure finding', but I prefer the former and since we’re all one big, happy mission now, its all good!)
I have a lot of favorite things, because life as a missionary is so great! I have A LOT of things to get better at, but I’m learning petit à petit. I am so grateful for your prayers and your support. Mom and Dad I love you and absolutely loved your emails this week (tears--thankful ones only-- and out loud chortles)! I’ll respond to them in my letter to you. halle--girlfriend! you are like a backhandspring diva!! joshy man--hows school going? let me guess... 'terrible'? hehe, is that still your typical response? have you been workin out with the team lately? J&M--good job in los vagice! love you! Tara--this is great, I have been so excited to write this to you all week....bahaha...so ya know 'L'Academie Francaise,' or the group that is kinda in charge of keeping the French language pure (or that is my interpretation of it)? Well, I read in my dictionary (I promise I was looking something up and have not taken to reading the dictionary), that the people in the group are elected for life and they are called 'les immortels.' For real!!! so much good material with that one! Well, I love you dearly family and am glad things are going well, even though they are CRAZY! I really am thoroughly convinced that I have the best family in the world!