Monday, June 21, 2010

That's What I'm Talkin' About!

What is up Gang?!

Nice work at the sectional J&M!! Mom--your week just sounded too exhaustingly productive if you ask me (granted anything that involves the word "caulking" would warrant that opinion from me)! Dad-- alright already i get the point about your missionary work rant! hehe. and please tell me that that was you and josh who decided to stop and get those wyoming fireworks. oh and happy Father's Day next week! "why dont you get yourself something real nice" and then ill have a real gift for you here. ha. Tara--i started a letter to you today and was so excited to get another one in the mail. Joshy--i want to hear how you like the feel of your new racquet? thats pretty sweet! halle--girlfriend!!! i absolutely loved loved loved the picture you sent me of you on the podium with your medal! so cool!

Well, the work goes well. We set out this week determined to teach 20 lessons. And didnt happen. BUT, we taught over twice as many as the first two weeks of the transfer and we set a baptismal date! That's what I'm talkin' about!! (If I may borrow Dad's new favorite phrase.) Her name is Nadia Lopez and she is from Cape Verde. We were mining the area books a while back, and it was kinda a mystery why the missionaries said she didnt seem interested and stopped teaching her, so we decided to investigate and find out what the story was. She was way excited to meet with us. She doesn't have much religious background, but she says she just feels good when she comes to church and when she has the missionaries over. So, it is so fun being able to teach her why she can feel that difference. In a lot of ways she's like teaching a child (like she had never heard of moses or abraham or read any of the Bible), and it is so refreshing! I know that for the honest and earnest seeker, all big concerns about our church and being baptized can and will be resolved (hullo truth on your side gives you a little edge up), but sometimes people get these crazy ideas (example--being re-baptized, even with authority, would mean that they didnt believe in Christ before or something) that really limit their progression. But Nadia is totally open and willing to do the work and make the changes necessary to be a member of the Church! And there are some other people in our ward who are from Cape Verde as well and they have already been great about welcoming her, teaching with us, and are getting excited about coming to her baptism on July 3rd. Hey, our zone is "Dreaming of White" and miracles happen every day.

I haven’t actually ever heard it from President myself, but I guess his “miracle of 2010” came about because one night he woke up & just felt the spirit really strong. So he went to his office & prayed, & I don’t know how he described it, but something like somehow he felt like he “felt” the keys he was given, for his calling as president of this mission, turn. And that he kind of had a revelation of where things could go. You know how I said that there have been > 100 baptism already this year? That might not sound like a whole lot, but when you compare it to the fact that, that’s more than ALL of last year, it’s sayin’ something! Anyway, I don’t know the details, but good things are happening in the mission.

Last week we had FHE with a two sisters (marie and kiki is what they have us call them) in the ward, and one of their non-member sons, and it was awesome. It probably helped that she didn't force feed us, but mostly it was cuz after the lesson and dinner, we were talking and Sister Nikiema said something about dancing in Africa. And so I asked her to show us and teach us. (Hey gotta profit from bein in a very African area!!) And I think she loved it cuz she got up and turned on some nice chill african style music and man she went to town. I was really glad her son had left, because we had an awesome girls dance party! (keep in mind these sisters are like 50 years old, but dang they still got it. they got some moves!!)

Another good night this week was when we were teaching English class to a bunch of men (mostly African) and I know I sounded super dumb when I asked if they knew the ABCs. haha. But, no, they didn't and they didn't know how to say the alphabet in English. And you know--that's kinda a good foundation to have! So we practiced and then we sang the song a couple times. And they loved it! They asked to sing it again next week even. I can only imagine how hilarious that would have been to pass by a bunch of old African men singing the ABCs with these little American missionaries. The things we do as missionaries. gotta love it.

Speaking of old men. There is this super cute, TINY old man in our ward named Frere Micale. We're talking he might be a few inches taller than me...maybe. He drove Nadia and us to church in Versailles on Sunday (it was Stake Conference), and when he came to meet us at the gare, the cute thing still had the huge sticker showing the size of his pants on the bag of his leg. He lives all alone, had obviously bought new pants, and didn't have anyone to tell him that he needed to take the tag off before going out in public! I know it probably wasn't super dignified, but I couldn't help but just being endeared to him and squatting down to give him a hand. You know how I have a weakness when it comes to cute old men!!

Two best public transportation sitings of the week:
1. little boy using the wall inside the train station as a urinal while mother stands by waiting for him to finish. for real.
2. little girl getting bored while standing and waiting for her mom to finish talking on the phone. So she sees a little crumb of food on the ground and picks it up and puts it in her mouth. oh how i wanted to cry!!!

Well, sorry I dont have very funny stories for the week. I love hearing about your adventures from home and am glad things are going well! I dont remember her name, but one of the church leaders who spoke at the conference yesterday (transmitted from Salt Lake), talked about 3 ways to be virtuous and strong or something (dang i need to pay attention better), and they were reading your scriptures every day, praying every day, and smiling!!!

Mom I loved that you talked about laughing in your e-mail, because it's so true--laughing and smiling give us power and make life so much better! I know I sure have a lot to smile and laugh about. I'm grateful for you guys and I miss you, but I am so grateful for this opportunity to be a missionary. I am sure blessed.

Love you lots and lots,

ps ive been waking up with these new huge bug bites every morning and it is so not a comforting thought!!! hello im in Paris, France, not Guatemala....I am so NOT okay with it!

ps mom your little dialogue on being funny made me giggle. i am not concerned about you, but after this e-mail maybe i should be concerned for myself.

pss LOVE YOU!!!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Dreaming of White"

Hello Dearest Family!!!!

Ok first things first--Dad how did you manage to get attacked by another man-o-war?! Like seriously, how does that happen? No wonder why mom used to text me changes to your will before every trip you guys take together! Evidently you're just askin for it these days.

And heck yes "Soeur Pearce will have an investigator at that fireside" on the 4th of July!! What's funny is nothing stays a secret. I happened to randomly call Elder Stover for a question about institute and he was like "so I hear your dad is coming to town." haha. And he mentioned that President was talking to you guys about doing a fireside. And President kinda tested the waters (it felt like it at least) during our interview again this week. I told him we weren't planning on seeing each other (this was before I found out about the fireside), but that I didn’t think it would bother me. I was just more worried about my mom....but now I figure you can be tough!! hehe. Loving daughter I am. And Sister Bellini says she'd be fine because she only has a couple more months after that anyway. What is the fireside going to be on anyway? Is it the whole team doing it? (and dad so help me if you offer me to translate. I refuse. just sayin!)

Anyway, we had another great week. Started out by going to the Rodin museum for P-day and having these super American tourists ask to take a picture OF us. No they were not members of the church, and no they weren't in the picture with us. They actually just took a picture of us. So random! And that day we actually looked relatively normal (ok let's be real sister missionary attire doesn't usually make blending in super easy....). Today, on the other hand, we went into Paris to do a boat tour on the Seine with our district. And guess what all six of the Elders showed up in? Boo-boos. Yes, that's right African boo-boos. (I will have to send you a pic sometime.) We turned a lot of heads today that is for sure!! And all the Africans selling those little Eiffel tower keychains at Trocadero were going crazy. I felt like the elders were getting hit on by African men! It was kinda refreshing to be honest, but also SO entertaining!

Then we had interviews. The Zone leaders did a great training and had us "go back to the MTC" (we even had to hand over our plaques and everything) and then learned about finding, teaching, and baptizing, and even had gym time (aka ping pong and 3-legged-companionship-unity-building races) and role-played. Then they finished with us all sitting in front of the baptismal font for the big finale. They said they had been jealous of normandie having their "get on the wagon" thing, so they came up with one for us and gave a little talk to introduce it....bum buh da bum...."Dreaming of White." They talked about how this is not the time for planting seeds. This is the time for baptizing!!! Maybe slightly “Remember the Titans” pep talkish, but hey it worked!

It was powerful and we now have a zone goal that every equipe will have a baptismal date by June 21st. And then the next morning we woke up to a great voice mail from them singing "I’m dreaming of a white mission" (to the tune of White christmas of course), and it was hilarious! And then as soon as their training was over, Sister Bellini and I had to stand up and walk into the other room to role-play with President and Sister Staheli. Can you say pressure?! haha. jk it went great and wasn't too stressful. They wanted to make sure that their missionaries knew how to teach people to pray, because I guess when Elder Hinckley was here he said that nothing happens until you get people on their knees. So, we better be able to teach people to pray!! And I definitely learned something from the training president Staheli gave after about teaching prayer.

So side note: ya know how the Versailles zone had kinda been falling behind? Well, Bretagne is up to like >80% of the new standards of excellence! Like Bretagne was the area that had the biggest reputation for being totally dead & impossible to baptize in. So I guess President Staheli (he shared this @ mission council – so I heard it second hand) asked Elder Collins what they did to change it so drastically, and I guess E. Collins said something like, “President, we just believed.” Elder Collins is also the person, as I understand it, who started the phrase, “get on the wagon” – which is now like the mission wide slogan for the miracle of 2010.

This next week we have rendez-vous set up with like 8 potential new investigators. So things are picking up!! And you'll never guess who one of those appointments is with.....this was like one of the hardest things I've had to do I might add.....but Madame Dard. Yes, as in the Madame that I lived with when I was on my study abroad (the one who cleaned the bathtub with the kitchen sponge!!hehe). Her name kept coming up in my head, but I kept pushing it out saying that I didn't think she was even in our area and that would just be weird and awkward. But then when Sister Bellini was sick and I had the opportunity to do like 5 hours of area book studying and calls one day, I found other fiches that were by her metro why not right? We kinda had to be creepers cuz her building is really secure, but someone let us in and then we buzzed her apartment and she was like yeah, come on up. We talked for a little and she asked why I was back and everything. But, she and her sister were on their way out to a museum exhibit VIP opening, so she gave me her number and said to call. I didn't notice it, but apparently half way through our conversation she switched from tu-toying me to vous-voying me and I have no idea what that means!! I know I'm probably just being a girl and reading too much into it, but I don't know if it's that I'm older now and speak French better, or if she's trying to establish that now that I'm a missionary, we aren't as familiar.....aaaah. I just don't know. I fully intend on being bold about why we're here and why it's so important, but we'll see how it goes with her this week I guess! (Remember she is a very devout catholic) Her apartment still smells the same as I remember it.

Which reminds me to tell you our theme for the transfer, and I know you will laugh, because it totally reminds me of an Herbal Essences commercial. But it actually came about because I was singing that song from Hairspray where she says, “big, blonde, and beautiful”—so to that same tune, our theme is “Be bold and beautiful.” Haha. Great? Oh yeah. The beautiful is referencing the scripture that says like how beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who proclaim the Gospel. So, we are determined to paint our toe-nails sometime this week as well, to help with the beautiful gospel preachin’ feet thing. And we are really “believin” in a baptism this transfer, so we are gonna be working really hard on those feet to find someone prepared! And the BOLD is because we know that there are people who are ready! So, we are gonna be BOLD & BEAUTIFUL this transfer! Haha laugh all you want, but we like it! (And, yes, sometimes I do wave my hair when we sing it; just for fun and dramatic effect!)

So I got called and asked to speak for a few minutes about the teaching process that led to Gloria’s baptism for part of the training @ interviews tomorrow and then also to do ANOTHER musical number at the Zone conference.

So can I share one of the things I love about my companion?! She takes the phrase "Stop and smell the roses" quite literally. Like I have learned that if we ever pass flower bushes (especially roses), I will have to slow down, because if I look behind me, her little behind will be sticking out as she leans over to stick her nose in the flowers. It is probably the most precious thing ever!

Ok and I have a request of you. Get up and go find a hymn book (right now!). Turn open to "In Our Lovely Deseret." Read the words. Then tell me how badly you would be squirming as you are singing that in a sacrament meeting with like 5 investigators!! And then try explaining that we're not a bunch of weirdos. Not an easy task I tell ya.

Well family, missionary life is great. I love you guys. I love hearing from you and I'm glad that things are going well at home. I'm so proud to have such awesome brothers and sisters, and I am sure grateful for ya!!

Love you more!!!!


p.S. mom I’m starting to feel selfish now, so you can give matthew permission to use my ihome--on the condition that he gives it back when I get home......eesh....matthew just does have a way doesnt he?

pss tara – thanks so much for your last few letters, I’m sorry I haven’t had time to respond adequately. Love you sister!

Psss Johnny bravo – thanks for your letter this week! Your letters are so hilarious! Love you.

Pssss Matthew, totally left me hangin w/suspense at the end of your letter! You better plan on finishing it! Oh & nice work on the grades. And yeah…even when you’re in high school—always a safer bet asking a girl to forge your mom’s signature! That was pretty hilarious though! Love you

Psssss Joshy man – that was a pretty cool line thing that you learned how to do on the computer. I don’t know how to do that! Oh & I like my name the first way better. And, even though you totally cheated, thanks for the really long note! Love you

Halle baby! So cool that you have gymnastics 3x/wk now! Those were beautiful flowers you drew, I really like the leaves. And the rainbow was sooooooo good!!

liz and callie--peace. love. temple marriage. miss you.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Me, Sister Bellini, Gloria & Sister Giff jacket should have been done up...oops!

Me & Sister Bellini on the Seine.
This was one of my first days in Versailles. We got stuck out in some city & apparently none of the buses ran after 7 pm, so we got to walk a LONG way! You can't tell in the pic, but it was also raining, so it was one of those "pituresque" tromping through the rain missionary moments!

Mining the area book!
Sister Bellini secretly took this pic while Sister Gifford & I were sprawled out getting to work one evening!

I decided this could be titled either "Nasa nerds @ work," or Battle Preparations." haha
District meetings are awesome either way! I snuck this picture in while we were deciding where to do our finding activity -- it was too kodak of a moment to pass up!

Paris P-day!
Ice cream in front of the fountains by the Eiffel Tower....does it get much better?!

For your viewing pleasure...Welcome to St. Ouen!! This is the graffitti wall I told you about on our building. Home, sweet home!

Me & Sister Bellini headed to a rendez-vous one Sunday night!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

No Surprises!


How are you doing this week? I can’t believe the crazy summer you have planned; sounds like a party though!! I'm pretty jealous that everyone is going to be at Lake Powell this year! Not gonna lie--you all sound pretty spoiled. mexico, jamaica, lake powell, europe, and new york (maybe?), plus the tennis trips all in one summer?! (denver, however, might erase some of the lucky points. I think I’m still scarred from that one year!) Granted, I'm currently living in France, so I guess we're all just pretty lucky! I love hearing your stories and love hearing about what's going down on the home front.

The past couple weeks have been great. I have to tell you about one couple we started teaching before we left Versailles. Their names are Clodine and Hadi. So, one evening we were passing by some old investigators in Rueil-Malmaison, but none of them were home. So, we asked some of their neighbors sitting on a bench if they had seen them lately, they said they were en vacances, so we just left a note in their box and thanked the people for helping us. Then we headed back to the gare.

As background--it's like a fifteen minute walk to the gare from this place. So, when we were a couple minutes away, you can imagine our enthusiasm when at the same time Sister Gifford and I both stopped mid-step and turned. She said, "oh man." And I ever so eloquently responded, "Dangit, I know." We had missed a great opportunity to talk to the neighbors sitting on the bench! So, after a short exchange, we turned and booked it BACK down the street and went and mosied on BACK up to the people on the bench, who had now been joined by another neighbor, and said, "ya know, we got all the way to the train station when we realized we didn't ask you if you would be interested in hearing about our message, blah, blah, blah..." And the two neighbors who had been sitting there before, deftly side-stepped it and slyly got out of there (I gotta hand it to them though, they did it very sneekily), leaving us talking to this new lady.

To all of our surprise, she was like, well if it's a good message, let's go to my house and you can meet my husband and talk to us." HAHA. For real! That was a testimony to me that the Lord can do His work, DESPITE us! I will admit that Clodine and Hadi are probably people we would have overlooked (I know that sounds terrible, but it's true). He has tattoos all over and has done time (it was kinda funny actually, because you could tell he was trying to shock us when he said he had gone to prison and had done a lot of what?! We all have weaknesses, that's why we need Jesus Christ!), and Clodine is just very quiet, but the sweetest thing ever! They are a way down to earth and honest couple and said they've always had questions, just didn't really know where to find answers. HULLO! Ready for the gospel of Jesus Christ?!! Heck yes! And last I heard they are doing great!

Anyway, then we got transferred to St. Ouen. On Saturday Sophia was baptized (she’s that one with the super cute daughter who came to church with us). I’m not entirely sure why people can’t figure out the underclothing thing. I thought it was fairly common knowledge that when white gets wet it is pretty see through? Evidently not! This time, she didn’t bother to wear anything underneath! Haha. Too good.

There are three things that I did not miss about this apartment. And they all three live in the tree just outside our window and are all very jubilant, in their own unique way, about welcoming in the new day. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about waking up to birds chirping cheerily outside your window in the summer! I'm just not quite as enthused about it at 5 o'clock every morning! (nor, do I really qualify a crow's cawing as a 'cheery chirp')(dad, do you think you could get your bb gun through security for when you come to Paris??? just saying.) But, really after we waged war on the fridge with a very concentrated bleach solution, the place is habitable again! And we discovered that our neighbors are great! We had our "fete des voisins" this week, and we decided that would be a good opportunity to show them that we aren't 'those great religious fanatics next door' (or, maybe to confirm their suspicions of it, I don't know!). So, we went and took cake, and it was great! One of the older men, named Sam, was like "come sit down and tell me what exactly it is that you do all day." We were kinda celebrities since we're like 'the young Americans.' And even though the French might pretend to be stand-offish towards us, lots of people are at least somewhat curious, especially about the plaques and the church 'we work for.' So, it was a lot of fun and it's way more exciting meeting people in the stairwells these days. And apparently the man next door likes to hear us singing in the morning. (we sing a hymn to start comp study)! hehe.

Anyway, I'm getting used to the idea of being back in St. Ouen again. I know it was only closed for one transfer, but it really is like starting over and "opening" it back up, so I am so grateful to have Sister Bellini! The phrase she says more often than any other is "why not? Why the heck not?!" There really isn't anything that seems too hard or too big for her. And we feel like it's gonna be a good transfer. We want to "get on the wagon" and just really believe that there is good work to be done in this area!! President keeps talking about his revelation about the Miracle of 2010, so good things are gonna be happening. I mean, it's the end of May and the mission already has over 100 baptisms. St. Ouen is going to be contributing more from now on dangit!

And, of course, no matter where you are, not a week goes by without adventures of some sort!!! One of the most exciting, unfortunately, was getting separated from each other. So, we're walking through Chatelet (a huge metro, RER stop), and then I turn around and Sister Bellini is nowhere in sight. Ah dang; not good! If you had to make a list of worst places to get separated, Chatelet would be very close to the top. So, quite a while later, when I still don’t have a companion, and I have grown up with a mother who insists that there is a kidnapper on every corner, I had managed to come up with every possible worst situation and was pretty sure that Sister Bellini was in a trunk somewhere headed out of the country!

But, long story short, eventually Sister Bellini called in the Elders, who we had been working with, as backup (since she said the police were useless--haha she was sorta frantic at this point too), and they found me. I make sure to keep a better eye on sister Bellini in Chatelet now.

So, Friday was mission council. Sister Bellini is a coordinating sister, so Sister Smart and I did a mini-exchange for the day while our companions went to their boring meetings (haha jk. I'm dying to know what goes down in those secret-combination-conclave meetings!!hehe)! And apparently they've just had to drop a whole lot of investigators, so pretty much we had 5 hours of contacting on our schedule, but by no means was it boring!!!

Ok, well the first 4 hours were rather uneventful, but then we had an expo shift to do. (Expo is like a little open house/show-room set up with displays about Christ and the Restoration and Book of Mormon, etc where people can just stop in and ask questions or look around, etc.) So, we pulled out the harp and she started playing, because we've found that a lot more people poke their heads in, or at least glance in our direction, when there is music going on. Well, we had some great heads poke in!!

The first was this crazy Russian lady with bright red hair. Evidently she is a contralto and loved the music. So, she comes in, plops down at the piano and just starts playing and belting out some opera song!!! It turned quite a few heads and Sister Smart and I had to carefully avoid making eye contact in order not to lose it! The next was this man who looked like he was like backpacking through Europe or something. I asked if he had any questions, and he proceeded to ask if we were the Mormons. Yes...and then he follows that with a "so is it true that mormons can have multiple wives?" I said no, and he cuts me off and says, "well that doesn't interest me then." I had never quite had that response about polygamy before. But, I kept talking and shared our beliefs about family and the sanctity of marriage, etc, etc. And somehow (and I still have no idea HOW), he gets on this rant about energy fields and giving back to the Earth. Man, it was good stuff. But, the icing on the cake was when at the end, he puts his hands together and bows to me and thanks me for recharging his soul with my presence. Then he left. "Well, you're sure welcome!!! Anytime." Never a dull moment I tell you!

And THEN the third person, at this point, I think I'm ready for anything....EXCEPT, apparently, a man coming in and saying, "I want to be baptized." I'm fairly certain I responded with a "wait, really?" haha, dang I’m a good missionary! But, turns out, he is from Algeria and because of the muslim presence, he couldn't be Christian, but he believes in Christ and has wanted to be baptized into a Christian church for a long time. "Well, you came to the right place!!! I decided I should just learn to NOT be surprised by anything. People are ready for the gospel and it's such a privilege to be a missionary.

BUT, let's be real, despite all the lessons I've learned, I'm still surprised on a daily basis. Like when the member leading the music at a baptism on Saturday (again, a different elder equipe called the day before and asked me to come play the piano for their baptism....I was more than happy to, of course, and it was for the baptisms of this couple!!! 4 beautiful children! So great.) whips out a tuning fork and makes everyone like hum the first note before starting and then proceeds to lead the music with the tuning fork. Or when there is mention of speaking with the gift of tongues after you receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, I just really shouldn't be surprised. I also shouldn't be surprised when we get sandwiched in a metro between this scooter gang of ten little 10-yr old boys with 10 scooters and the whole cheering section for a rugby team (I dont even know what team it was, but there was a whole lot of yellow and blue face paint involved)(apparently, there was a final match at the Stade de France--which just so happens to be on the same metro line as our church building!), and then somehow mace is sprayed and the metro doors get blocked. I also should not be surprised when I'm sitting next to a child on a couch during a rendez-vous, and the next thing I know there's a whole lot of wetness on my leg and a big unidentified area of moisture on the child's clothes (lovely!).

Anyway, I'm sorry I just ramble on so much with no real point! But, I love you guys and I promise I'm not consciously TRYING to bore you to death via these e-mails. However, I do sincerely apologize if it comes off that way. I am so grateful for your support and hope you remember that I pray for you every day!! We gotta run, but I will write you by hand later.

Love you more!!

p.s. One thing that has been thoroughly entertaining to see lately is the amount of contention that comes from stillettos on public transportation! Particularly buses. I can imagine that it wouldn't be a very pleasant feeling to have your foot stabbed with a stilletto heel as a person is flung into you, but you should see the "looks of death" that people exchange, while, of course, saying "c'est pas grave" through gritted teeth! hehe, simple pleasures.

ps2 thought i would share the lamest french thing I learned this week--"storm clouds" = les nuages qui annonçent une tempete. for real. like talk about not keeping things simple!

Ps3 tell ali & matthew c. thanks for the letters (& to matthew cunger that yes, the Eiffel tower is big!) and lisa thanks for the email.

Ps4I talked to Elder perdue a couple of weeks ago. Yes, like tim—the “epic adventure” one, dad chased away!! It was just on the phone, but it was still kind of weird. Like it’s so much easier being “normal” as a missionary when it’s not people that you knew before. I don’t think I gave Andrew enough credit when I ran into him! haha

Ps5 so one weekend we didn’t make it to the store in time & it worked out that none of us had any toothpaste left. Sister Gifford & I scrimped & squeezed but Sister bellini choose to use a combination of baking soda & mouthwash. That’s about as close to roughin’ it in Nicaragua as we get here!

Ps6 if It’s not too much trouble ask Allie to write down some notes about the best thing to study for the NCLEX. & tell Tyler & Sonya, I loved their announcements and I was so touched that they thought of me!