Hello Dearest Family!!!
How are you? So cool the boys are doing well in the Easter Bowl. And WHOA about TCU. Im excited to hear how this weekend goes down! 4.0s all around????? nice work....though somewhat disappointing that the 'wall of shame' didnt come back out! AND OMG happy birthday to Tara tomorrow! (ps cant believe youre finishing your freshman year of COLLEGE)
Oh, did news of the two elders getting shot in Switzerland make it there? Sister Howell’s brother is in that mission (which covers part of France), so if it did, I could only imagine that her mom was freaking out! The missionaries are fine, but we heard it was a group of muslims & kinda laughed because we live in a super muslim area. That’s what happens when you are assigned to the ghetto baby! Our church is in the 93 (“neuf-trois”)! And people around here KNOW what the “neuf-trois” means! But the sisters apartment is in a little less sketchy of an area as the Elders’ & we don’t go anywhere near Sarcelles. We’ve passed by on trains & man, I thought you only saw stuff like that in Haiti, Jamaica, or pictures from National Geographic. There are some REAL ghettos. Makes you super grateful, that’s for sure!
So, you'd think that since I have now been wearing this nametag for two months (weird time warp out here for sure), i'd have some semblance of an idea what im doing. While that is somewhat true, not a single day goes by that something doesnt happen for a 'first time.' So, this week I am grateful (again) for FIRSTS.
For the first time, I realized how truly great the scripture reference 'nimrod' is
I got to experience my first transfer e-mail! and whoa. I had not previously understood the excitement surrounding this event. We got back in town Saturday morning and had hardly put our stuff down when we started getting these calls, asking 'so whats going on???' Sister Howell starts shouting at people on the phone not to tell her anything, shouts at me to get my dang nylons on (great moment, like really), and we sprinted (literally), skirts, nylons, and all, down to the e-mail place. Turns out, not only is Sister Howell leaving (shes going to Melun), but Im leaving too and St. Ouen is closing for the next transfer. SURPRISE!! haha. Im going to Versailles to be with Sister Gifford and Sister Bellini!!! I wont lie--it was not fun saying goodbye to friends in the ward (and I had only known them a few weeks), but I am way excited to go to Versailles! I’ve heard wonderful things about the sisters there! Plus, it’s close enough that we can still kind of help keep the St.Ouen investigators goin and stuff. I’ll be in the same district as the bureau elders, and Elder Messick (who went to Timpview) will be transferring to the bureau, so it will be fun to see a familiar face!
First time we got locked out of our apartment. Actually, we figured out that the drawback of having a super sweet-romantic- 'secret garden'-type-ancient key, is that when you dont use it for a few days, it gets super rusty and is nearly impossible to open. Lovely. But, I tell you what--I would have shimmied up the dang tree in our backyard before I called any elders to tell them we were locked out WITH our keys!!! We eventually walked a couple miles to the members who have our spare key and got it to work.
First time I contacted a lady on a bus and she pulled out her husband's lab values (he was in the hospital) for me to look at!! she was asking questions about what we were doing and what happens after we go home, etc, so she found out I was in nursing school. Then, all of a sudden she goes 'oh!! well in that case..." and whips out this stack of papers!!! so funny! dont worry, I did not advise her on anything. I pretty much just smiled and nodded 'oh yeah, that does look a little low...gosh thats hard that he's not feeling very well...." There is still such a special place in my heart for old people!
It was the first time I carried a box of over 20 Book of Mormons home from Versailles. I gotta say, that was probably the hardest thing I have done on a mission so far!!! haha
It was the first time I realized how I am so NOT okay with men giving other men bisoux.
It was the first time I realized how exciting it is to pray during lessons with investigators from very Evangelical backgrounds. You just feel so sweet and empowered when they are like humming, "amen-ing", and 'halleluiah-ing" after everything you say in your prayer! Example--Me: thank you for all of our blessings. Virginie:hmmm....amen!
It was the first time I realized that I truly belong in Primary. One of the elders' investigators (Sophia) has a 4-yr old daughter, Marie, who we took to primary (which she absolutely loved after she got comfortable). I felt like I fit in so much better there on the little chairs! Plus!!! I swear they dont primary-ify lessons as much as we do in the states! However, what's more likely is just that my French is at about a primary level! I felt right at home! Marie and I loved it! (by the way--she is the cutest thing ever! When we met Sophia and Marie at the train station, we hadn’t even gotten all the way to the metro before she had let go of her mom's hand and come and grabbed on to mine to walk with me! We shared shimmery chapstick and talked about our dresses and tights and our favorite colors. I was in heaven! And when I went to pick her up from primary, she runs to me and like shouts all proudly, "look at my pictures! I did them all by myself!" Adorable.)
I was accused, for the first time, of idolatry. Yup. That was a new tracting experience. We were all excited at first, because I tell her that we are missionaries for our church, and she is like "oh come in! come in! I have had a personal crisis and my friend just keeps telling me I need to go to church!" You can imagine how thrilled we were?! k well, maybe not so much at the personal crisis part, but we'll take it...hehe! Anyway, long, long story short--she freaks out that we have a picture of Jesus Christ and tells us what a serious sin it is to worship idols like that and that we should really go home and reflect on the seriousness of our sins! After I got over the shock, I got a good chuckle out of it.
It was the first time I had zone leaders (elders harper and jenson) rip off their shirts, buttons and ties flying everywhere, as part of a visual effect for their part of training! talk about a dramatic 'rent-ing of their clothing!' I dont think Moroni had much on them! hehe. It was pretty much the sweetest thing ever. They then ripped up the shirts and had each companionship write their own "Title of Liberty" of hopes, dreams, and goals of how we are going to avoid mediocrity, etc... After all was said and done, I asked Elder Jenson how his mother would feel about his rent clothes, and he said he used someone elses shirt! hahahaha! so great.
I was able to experience the excitement of interviews for the first time! ok, lets be real--I hardly slept the night before on account of the stress that was eating me up inside--but they were great! Sister Staheli is so sweet and President is awesome. His training afterwards was short, but so great. He used the scripture in D&C 31 that talks about rejoicing and how we should be happy, and NOT stressed (timely advice), and that this should be the most carefree time of our lives. We dont have worry about jobs or money or school or kids and should just be happy and know that when we accepted our call to come on a mission, we succeeded. It was great and I, honestly, felt so much less burdened and less stressed afterwards. I am very grateful for inspired leaders!
ok...I got to go to Belgium for the first time!!!!! (I will admit, I just about had a heart attack on the spot when I heard the price of the tickets (306 euros). I backed away slowly and let Elder Gould and Sister Howell deal with it cuz I just couldnt handle it!) I was totally a skeptic, but their waffles really are better. I dont know what it is....they must have a secret ingredient (I can just imagine dad and tara laughing so hard watching that movie this week haha) And the sisters, who we did the exchanges with, absolutely blew us away! Double booking is no joke, but they had us booked the entire day. Sister Shannon (who is from Ireland, is hilarious, and has the greatest accent ever) and I went to a funeral (their coffins are totally vampire creepy), taught Raymonde, Vicky, committed Emilie to baptism, and helped Mme Humblet pick out her church outfit (most hilarious thing of my life--details to come in letter....)! I am so spoiled! It was so fun and I learned so much!
K well, I had a longer list, but I am out of time!!! I love you all so much!!!! Thanks for your prayers and support! I pray for you every day and am so grateful for you! Being a missionary is such a blessing and such an adventure! Ill write more later...
p.s. More about the coffins, you know how ours are like just nice big rectangles? Well, theirs are like they shoved the corpses shoulders in between two boards & then tried to use as little wood as possible!!! So they have that vampiry shape! Granted, anything that involves incense & a priest chanting in not really my thing.
p.s..s have I told you our landlady calls me “Martine,” because Jordan is too hard for her to say? So funny. I’m gonna miss her.
p.s.s.s. that made me laugh that you included boiling egg instructions. You know me too well!!
(oh and before i forget----the picture of me that goes out in the ward newsletter has got to be done away with!!! i might be a sister missionary, but my vanity is still intact enough that that is SO NOT okay!! thank you in advance hehe.)