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 yeah....world 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, "yeah...do 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 know...it 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!!!!
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?