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 drugs....so 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!