Monday, July 26, 2010

Great Things!

What's up gang?!!!! Actually I think you are all probably sleeping at Lake Powell as I write I sure hope you have some good boy scout adventures planned for the week!!

So, I'll just be straight up about it--the numbers were not doing so great last week.... BUT, some great things happened and next week is looking great!!! So, all in all, life is just great. (And now I promise I'm done with that word...)

A couple GREAT things of the week:

1. Tina set a baptismal date!!! September 14th. yeah, we found out that it's a Tuesday, so not exactly the ideal--don't worry about it. haha. (It's kinda a long story why that date is important.) Was not something we expected to do with her that night, because she had canceled on us a couple times, but you don't say shhhhh to the spirit! First of all, we show up to her apartment and walk in and I swear it was a completely different place from the last time. Like before, you kinda had to clamber around piles of "stuff" (really the word "crap" is much more descriptive, but much less becoming), could hardly find a place to sit, and I don't know the last time she had thrown out anything. She had apparently spent the last 4 days cleaning and organizing and the place looked awesome!! So, it might not be a key indicator that we report, but in my opinion, the scriptures don't say that a "house of order is a house of God" for no reason!!

And this was an indicator to me that she is ready and willing to make changes in her life--that she is ready to get things in order. So, hopefully now that her apartment is much more conducive to the spirit, she can start making some good spiritual changes as well. Anyway, so I think I explained how Tina has a very unique personality--she is one of a kind and you can't help but love her. She is very, very bright, makes connections very quickly (like right after we talked about the First Vision, she was like, "so they gave Joseph the priesthood and called him to be a prophet?".....haha yup. my heart just about burst with pride!), she asks questions if she doesn't understand, is super blunt and honest, does this hilarious lip biting thing, and is tough, but also very sweet, and the most adorably quirky person ever. Example that kinda illustrates Tina--we followed up on her Book of Mormon reading and praying, and asked her what she thought and felt, and she goes "I think it's another Testament of Jesus Christ. Like it says." The end. Super matter of fact. That's just how it is. We kinda chuckled and were like well, yup!!! You're right! So, enough rambling. Gist of the story is that we love Tina and are excited for her to progress!! (We will also be tackling the Word of Wisdom this week with promised blessings, a trash bag, and the stop-smoking program essentials (juice, vitamin C, etc) in hand. Should be fun!!) (side note: she came to a baptism with us the other day (8 year-old in ward) @ church wearing these pink booty shorts & a white tube top! Haha)

2. Public buses are very well-equipped with super heavy-duty windshield wipers. It really is a great thing; I for one certainly feel safer knowing that our safety on transport will not be compromised because of congregated water on the bus windshield. However, it is also a different kind of a great experience when it is like practically a monsoon outside, so you are skillfully maneuvering and timing your movement from the cover of the bus stop to the bus, but meanwhile forget that the bus is equipped with these heavy-duty-safety-promoting windshield wipers that have like a 5 ft splash (and an ability to fling off an incredible amount of water at a time). I'm sure you already put it together, that yes, I did make the mistake of standing in direct shot of this 5 ft splash. It is one, though, I plan on never making again, as I'm fairly certain I looked like I had tripped and fallen INTO a fountain afterwards. So yup.....that was great.

3. So for our last rendezvous with that family from Haiti, we wanted to help them really get into the Book of Mormon. So, we took turns reading verses from a chapter, and when 8-yr-old Andrew started reading, the spirit just filled the room. He was so proud to get to take his turn and was trying so hard to say everything just right (he really does read very well, but it's still super cute to hear like the french version of hooked on phonics). It was adorable and such a good way to start the lesson!! Of course, shortly later a little mayhem and havoc followed in spurts (giggling girls and little boys pretending to be preachers.....). But hey, you roll with it, and I thought it was great!

4. I was also greatly humbled this week. I need to take back my complaining attitude about France in last week's e-mail (that said I didn't always like living here), because let me just paint a quick pic of our P-day. (because of some circumstances we had to do most of it last Saturday, and are just doing e-mails today.) K, well started with groceries, and that's somewhat less than exciting (but always somewhat amusing that despite the fact that we go to the same place every week, they still struggle at first with our foreign credit cards). But, then we went to the musee Marmottan Monet. Saw some water lilies, impression: sunrise, and then randomly a temp exhibit with modern art and lots of Jackson Pollock--always cool. So, we saw some good stuff. And then we sat down on a bench in this park just outside the museum to finish letters for a few minutes. So, we are sitting on a bench in the shade of a tree. There are greek goddess marble statues placed around the park, little boys playing soccer a little ways off, little girls playing with sand toys, people taking naps in the sun on the grass, pony rides going on on the other side, a carousel with little kids squealing nearby, and a marionette stage a little ways down the path that winds through the park. I exaggerate not. So yeah.....I have no right to complain. Paris is awesome!! hehe.

5. We saw our favorite line L dancing fiddler again. Yeah, I really wish I had time to give a detailed account of his public transportation performances, because they are priceless. Really, more than just a great experience!! French people usually do the whole stoic think pretty well, but I love looking around about 3/4 of the way through this dude's "thing", because there are so many hilarious expressions and people attempting to stifle laughter. And least it’s a great bonding experience for us fellow passengers to share together.

Well, I had some other stories I was going to share, but we gotta run. Sorry I'm such a rambler!! Being a missionary is awesome. I love you guys!! I want to hear all about Lake Powell! catch a lizard for me! sure hope you didnt forget the boat registrations, granted that would be breaking tradition! hehe

love, jordo

ps by the way, I was fine last week when you left. I was glad that we went straight to a rendezvous right after we said goodbye, so I didn’t have any time to let things get emotional. It might not be the healthiest way to deal with things, but I realized I have like boxes (or bubbles if that computes better for you). I have my “mission-life box” and my “home & real life box.” And normally they don’t really cross. Anyway, point is when I turned and walked away from you guys, I took a deep breath, brushed back the welling tears, shoved you guys all back into the other box & headed to the rendezvous; so I think I handled it fine. Maybe not super healthy, but hey – whatever gets the job done! So, no – I haven’t been distracted or anything over the visit!

Pss good news, apparently French is sinking in along the way, because I guess when I hear Sister Bellini up puttering around in the middle of the night, I speak to her in French. Mind you, I am not conscious of any of these conversations even taking place.

Halle – I loved the fireworks you drew!
Joshy man – That was a pretty impressive Ferris wheel you drew! Hope you have your lizard scampering feet ready for Powell.
Matthew – I thought your tennis sock tan line was pretty impressive, even if mom didn’t think it was important enough to talk about in person, haha
John – Promise you’ll follow the don’t do stupid things rule! They talk about that rule a lot in the MTC (I’m serious ha), but I think it really applies to life in general…a good moral code
Tara – yeah, kinda stinks you weren’t here last week! But hang in there with your life of servitude.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Well, hello family dearest!!!!

I know it's only been a week, but I miss you already! I'm glad everyone made it home safely, even if it's just to be welcomed back to tennis camp craziness. But, how was Italy? Did the guys and boys love it? Speaking of.....can I just say that I loved, loved, loved the package?! I am so spoiled!!! I don't know how you and Nana thought of everything, but it was perfect. Thank you so much!!!!

So.....I'm a France. How in the world did that happen?! Seriously, I know it's been like 5 months, but sometimes I still wake up and am shocked to look out the kitchen window and see very French looking apartment buildings all smooshed together. (Another quick reminder is when men get on their scooters and chase after us down the sidewalk yelling in French--those situations tend to jog my memory a bit! but hey--at least we don't get chased by dogs down the street!) And then I think man, it's a miracle I havent been the demise of the mission one area at a time!! Seriously, like who am I to be entrusted with such an important job? But, then I remember that it's not such a miracle, because it's not us who do much at all. The Lord gets it all done. And that is a testimony to be that it must all be true--if the Lord can use kids from Provo to get the work done, then man, there's just no doubt in my mind! hehe. These last couple weeks have been full of some tears and heartbreak, but so many, many more miracles.

Our first miracle was with Parfaite. She's been taught very slowly for a few months now, and was always good at keeping commitments (mostly I think because her cousin was just baptized into our church and she was curious), but just wasn't really what you would call progressing, because she wasn't willing to come to church (it conflicted with her church meetings) and stuff. For some reason, we felt like it was a good idea to watch Finding Faith in Christ with her this week. Which we did, and then testified that the Atonement is real, that Christ is our Savior, and that he has again established HIS church on earth, etc, etc.... The Spirit present in that little family room was overwhelming. And when we knelt together to pray at the end, it was the first time she actually asked Heavenly Father about the things we had taught. (So.... it might have, sort of, kinda still been in a round-about-evangelical way, but she did ask!!!! haha.)

And it was the first time she committed to be baptized when she knew these things were true!!! K. I realize that might not seem like a whole lot, but hey, I was there the first time she was invited to be baptized (months ago) and I tell you what--that isn't an experience I'll forget anytime soon!! (in case that left some question--her answer was a very, very rock solid, unquestionable NO.) The spirit can wear anyone down! hehe. jk, but really, I am so grateful for the Spirit that testifies of truth so much stronger than I ever could. Ya know, I might not always love living in France, and I might not really like French men, and I might mostly hate public transportation (man that sounds like debby downer), but I will NEVER, ever, ever get sick of bearing my testimony of Jesus Christ. And bearing testimony brings the spirit, and the spirit brings miracles!!!! And seriously--who doesn't love miracles?!!!

Then came some heartbreak. Opposition in all things right? Well, I know I've told you about Virginie before. She was one of the first investigators I met and she is great. I absolutely love this woman. She prays, reads the scriptures, tries to do what's right, tries to help people around her, wants to be a mom and have a family, so much faith--just a really genuinely good person. Which, makes the whole heartache thing sting even more. ugh. Long story short--this week, the last part of our RDV consisted of Sister Bellini explaining sweetly, but firmly that Virginie does not in fact have the GIFT of the Holy Ghost, nor is she a prophetess. She wasn't very pleased. And then, after I exchanged a glance with Sister Bellini and I knew we were both feeling the same thing, I was left the honors of giving "the talk." Which in missionary speak translates to telling her that we love her, that she's always welcome at church, that we'll be there to answer questions and teach her again WHEN she is ready to progress. At the end of that lesson, it was just made clear that she isn't really searching for answers or even asking questions. She's just not ready right now, and if we continued to see her, we'd be straying from our purpose. oh man--dagger to the heart!!! It was still a good lesson, but as soon as the door closed behind her, I just burst into tears. haha. I know, I'm such a girl, but I just couldn't help it! But, I can still hope that she'll get it (or at the very least, someone will smack her over the head with it :)) eventually.

But, of course, miracles are never far away! The next afternoon we got a call from the elders out in Angers (I dont even know where that is) saying that someone named Tina called them and wanted to see missionaries and they thought she lived in our area. So we give her a call and are like "so, are you interested in seeing missionaries?" yup. "When are you available?" 1900. "oh!!! you mean like tonight? haha. ok." Needless to say, that doesn't happen very often. So we go meet her and probably within the first 30 seconds of sitting in her apartment, she says that she thinks she has a problem--that she thinks she is possessed. " exactly what makes you say that?" (just a sidenote--when she said that i suddenly felt like 2 years old trying to fix a very, very big problem) Anyway, don't worry--she's not really possessed, nor is she crazy. Turns out that she has a hard time sleeping because she has been having bad nightmares and can't get these terrible images out of her mind (she saw some kinda traumatizing things when she was little).

She had been taught by missionaries like 8 years ago, and somehow had the idea to call them to get help. She definitely turned to the right place if she needs spiritual healing--gospel of Jesus Christ, the Atonement, and the priesthood are powerful. And she is so earnest and sincere in her desire to learn, despite being kind of an interesting character. it was funny, the first time we asked her to pray about the Book of Mormon, she was like, "No".....long pause where missionaries are like well, awesome, that's one we haven't heard......followed by, "I trust you." so adorable!!! we explained how she needed to pray and know for herself, but it was seriously so cute!! And she received a blessing from one of the members in the ward and it was funny because she was so worried about getting her name right, "well, is it a problem if I have two last names? because I changed one of them at the prefecture.....well which one should I use? I only have one first name though, is that okay?" Oh, you just can't help but love this one. Miracles are everywhere I tell ya!!!

And just cuz it's too awesome of a story not to share--we had testimony meeting yesterday (it didnt get done the week before because of the bishopric being re-organized) for Sacrament, and this one lady gets up and starts talking about how there are false friends in church who lead you to perdition. yup. oh she said it. And then continues (oh yes, it gets even better) by saying that as members of the church we get the Holy Ghost that gives us the right to judge people "like God." Just to set the mood better, she also has kinda shadowy eyes, opens them super wide at very precise moments, has a crackly old voice, and was slightly swaying behind the pulpit. I was just waiting for the moroccas to break out to start the "tribal ritual dance welcoming the devils among us to perdition" to start. Was a little disappointed, actually, when it didn't happen...but yeah, never a dull moment!! (and ever so grateful I wasn't the bishop who got to get up at the end and be like, "So just to clarify....we get the Holy Ghost...." He handled it tactfully, but still funny.)

Best public transportation experience of the week: some dude asked me for a drink of my water. I'm fairly certain the first words out of my mouth were, "wait, seriously?" Once I ascertained that he was, in deed, quite serious about the request, I just opted to give the water bottle to him.

Best English class quote of the week: Elder Cutler likes to start out the class by having everyone introduce themselves and answer a random question. The question this week was, "if you opened a restaurant, what would it be called?" I think by far the best answer was this one guy, in all seriousness, saying that his restaurant would be "heavenly Father's Italian McDonalds Restaurant." I think everyone could find something to their taste there, wouldnt you agree?!

Well, I'm gonna try to find time to write you later, because it is Sister Powers' birthday and I think the sisters are having lunch in paris together and then we have an early RDV scheduled. But Ill try!!!! Love you guys lots and lots!!!! Miss you!!! Can't wait to get the pics! Hope you have a good week!

love, jordo

nana--i seriously loved the package!!! i have already used some of the CTR rings!!! and I love your e-mails!! i print them and read them all week. thank you so much. love you so much!!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Just Keepin' On

Hello Dearest Family!!!

How are you doing?! I guess I hadn’t quite put it together that you were starting in London because of Wimbledon. der. But that is cool that you might meet Tsonga and Gasquet AND Monfils!! Did you eat with Nadal again?! (seriously that is still one of the most hilarious experiences of my life--turning around and seeing Rafael Nadal standing in the line to get food behind me.)

It is so crazy to me that half of you are just like an hour away and that I will see you in a week. You can be in person witnesses to how my social skills in English are on a steep decline. And cup is crazy!! It's a great contacting tool cuz you can just play dumb and be like 'hey how did that game turn out?' and everyone is more than happy to elaborate, and then it's like you're already fast friends. Except a bit scary when the U.S. played Algeria. We got warning calls to make sure and speak French all day and be smart about where we went after the game. Super great that our church is in the ghetto and we live in like little africa. but, hey whatev!!! at least the US won!

So, I have a lot of random stories to share about the adventures of the past couple weeks that don't really relate to each other in any way, shape, or form. (Meaning, you'll have to be patient with the lack of organization and grammar.)

Like I said, last week I did exchanges in Lille, but I forgot to share the highlight. (Surprisingly it wasn't getting stood up by a new investigator and traipsing all over the city doing pass-bys with an older lady member along for the fun.) We had English class that night and this little old Asian lady is the only student that night. She speaks English pretty well, but I think she comes mostly because she is lonely and the missionaries are her "friends." Anyway, she was just full of hilarious comments, but I think my favorite was her explaining that she wanted to take us shopping for clothes because "I want to help you, because you have no taste." Ok, that I can take (let's be real--sister missionary call packet pictures--enough said). But, the situation warranted at least a stifled giggle because this comment was preceeded by her giving Sister Curran this one-of-a-kind floral print cotton nightgown (we're talkin worse than Aunt Kirstin at Lake Powell...hehe-sorry Kir!). Evidently this was "tasteful" sleepwear. Needless to say, I was very grateful for her styling tips and definitely took note!

Somehow we found ourselves in the middle of a whole lot of racial contention this week. For example, we had a rendez-vous with a new investigator who explained how she hates French people mostly because they are super racist. Following which, she told us that she doesn't like St. Ouen (where our church is) because there are too many Arabs and "blacks." Huh.....that's interesting. (But she is like BFF with sarkozy's first two wives, so she's still pretty cool.)

Another example--we were contacting one night and we started talking to this man. He put an abrupt end to the contact, however, by saying, "I will believe when Sarkozy is dead," and then walked away. I just didn't know where to go with that. No follow-up questions were coming to mind! Or, a souci that I have never heard before (I guess that's what happens when you grow up in Provo)--a very drunk man came up to us (when we were outside the church with the elders and some members doing a porte ouverte type thing) with a cigarette, can of beer, and another bottle of some clear alcoholic substance in hand, and had all these very boisterous concerns about how he was the son of a slave and how Jesus was white and had blue eyes. So ya....contacting is always an adventure, no matter how many hours you do a day! But you know what? I don't know where people get off saying WE are the weirdos! If they only heard some of the things they say! Priceless.

So besides being educated in racial prejudice, we are also being introduced to many different world religions. We were contacted by a TJ missionary this week in a metro station, trying to get us to come to some scripture study thing. I mean I'd venture to say we probably aren't the most effective contacts, but it was really quite endearing, because she was like our age and her hand was shaking as she handed us the flier because she was way nervous!

We also set up a Rendez-vous with an old investigator, but all the fiche indicated was that she had muslim origins or something. Well, it didn't take us very long to find out that she is very much a fully practicing Muslim. She welcomed us in and then said she was about to pray, so we said okay. She pulls out her special carpet and beads and began to pray. I know I will probably be like struck down for saying this, but I'm fairly certain i saw like a half-downward-dog pose in there somewhere. (She's probably in really good shape.) Anyway, it was a really interesting way to start our lesson. And at the end we asked if we could kneel and pray with her, and she was like, " you want to use my carpet?" Very generous of her if you ask me.

In other news, it is now officially summer and it is SUPER hot! We spent like 4 hours traipsing around St. Denis (had to go during the day too cuz it's kinda a sketch area of the 'neuf-trois' and definitely involved people bathing naked in the canal with dish soap...just FYI) the other day doing pass-bys for old investigators, and let me just tell ya--I have the beginnings of some super awesome tan lines. And yeah....we didn't make contact with a single one of the people.... so that was a fun afternoon! haha.

Sister Smart and I went and volunteered at the Red Cross a few days ago, while our companions were at the secret combinations mission council, and it was a really great experience. Kinda sad to see and full of some interesting smells, but also a great place to spread a little cheer. I had strict instructions of how I was supposed to serve the food and what they were allowed to touch and stuff, but my favorite part was just smiling at the people I served meals to. It felt like they weren't the kind of people who got smiled at very often, so I was really grateful for the opportunity!

So we've been teaching this Haitian family (parents, 3 kids, and two of their kids' friends) and this week we found out that one sure way to get people to church is to show up at their doorstep half an hour before church starts to see if they need any help! And, after a lot of little kids running around in towels and a big one running around without a shirt (uhhh....), we all piled into the car and went to the sauna-of-a-church together. I'm really glad the kids enjoyed primary, because after the priesthood and sunday school lessons on repentance and how we are all sinners, and the sacrament meeting with, what had to have been, the hand picked crazy people in the ward speaking about Joseph Smith, I was maybe starting to stress a little... Good thing the church is true! hehe. But, this family is great. The 8-yr old son, Andrew, loves helping in lessons by reading scriptures in the Book of Mormon, and the 11-yr old daughter, Woodlyne, is a pretty precocious chica and asks all the right questions--like "where did we come from" and "why isn't there just one BIG church?" I sounds scripted! The biggest problem is that the Dad is very involved in his evangelical church and the mom feels like she has to follow the dad, because unity is important. But, we'll just take it a step at a time and see how it goes.

So the most awkward "Elder moment" of the week is too good not to share. I was talking to an elder at expo and asked him how his area is and how things are goin, etc....and he responds that things are great and that he has decided he "wants to marry someone like Sister Wilson.....or you." HAHA. Well thank you, you sweet, dear and incredibly innocently awkward elder. I was all about diffusing the situation and helping him not feel stupid, but Sister Bellini was all about embracing the awkwardness, so all-in-all, it was just a good moment.

Most disgusting public transportation siting of the week: someone using Q tips and then examining the contents that were procured from his ear canal (which, was way too much by the way).

Okay, and on a different note (haha im so sorry that this e-mail is such a hodge-podge of nothings), I love zone conferences. We have this new system where we rotate zone conference, interviews, and leadership trainings every month (ie we have one of them every month. so, for example, we have interviews every 3rd month), which is kinda sad, because they are so great. But, also necessary because our mission is really big now (we will be getting smaller over the next few months, but right now we have the biggest mission in europe (after combining us with Belgium) by like 45 missionaries).

Anyway, one of the things Sister Staheli talked about this past conference was how we are a team and we're doin it together. How our individual obedience and efforts are all part of the team effort. She said, "so when someone asks you how many people you have baptized, you say 'well last year I think we baptized about 122 or something.'" It reminded me a lot of the scene from Miracle when the coach says that the name on the front of the jersey is a heck of a lot more important than the name on the back of the jersey. Anyway, I loved that idea. And President Staheli shared a really neat experience where he received the revelation that he had to pass on--"Tell the missionaries to not be discouraged. What they are doing is very much appreciated. They are not wasting their time." I am very grateful that we have such a wonderful and inspired mission president. And I am grateful to be a little part of such a great work! Things are just keepin' on over in these parts!!!

I hope you are having great summer adventures! I can't believe I am going to see you in less than a week. I miss you and love you lots and lots and lots, but I gotta run!!!!

Love, Jordan

p.s. matthew--you will for sure beat brian folley next time. and you'll have to let me know how Nana handles the "firepower" (think night at the museum) demo at lake powell!!

pss liz and cals--your letter made my week!!! and i want pics of (dang i forgot their names already.......).....the fish. and you're probably right--they will probably live longer without me overfeeding them! They just always looked so hungry the poor things......

psss. dad i am starting to understand what you mean by the "acquirement of a taste." I don’t mind dijon mustard so much anymore. actually, sandwiches don’t really seem right without it now. Perrier, however, will never be an acquired taste!

psssss. if you brought it, you should wear your new blue pin-striped suit to the fireside! hehe.

and tara, sister dearest whom i love so much, how would you feel about calling rebecca and asking her for her address?