Thanks so much for the updates! I'm glad to hear things are going well and that some things haven't changed. (Just so you know, currently there are two men (yup) evidently learning a dance off the internet next to us and there are definitely some expressive arm movements going on. Really quite entertaining, though slightly distracting.) Mom--im so glad that cals and liz came up (haha remember the very first time they came up and you found us all crying together on the couch? classic.) i told liz to give you a hug for me, so hopefully she made good! (no pressure liz hehe)
Ok, i just feel like I have so much to tell you I dont even know where to begin. I'm gonna cut out as much as possible, but just know that we have had a week of miracles! However, I have to back up a little and tell you one story from last week. So, i told you about the 57-yr-old lady in the ward who has 8 birds, 7 cats, AND 3 yr old triplets, right? (Her husband left her when she was pregnant and refused to abort any of the babies). Well, she was scheduled to have hip surgery a couple weeks ago. She was all checked into the hospital, ready to go for the next morning, when they found a huge sore/infection on her arm, that turned out to be shingles (i think....again. french vocab kinda stretched on that one) caused by stress. (cant imagine what the poor thing would have to stress about....) Anyway, so, of course, they can't operate on her then and send her back to take care of the infection. So, the elders come with us one night to give her a blessing and it turned into quite the experience. First off, Elder Volpe is talking to her, getting the story, and his face was just about the most hilarious thing i have ever seen, as she starts unbuttoning her shirt (to show him the huge sore on her arm)! He mutters in english, "im scared. im really scared." I'm so mean, but i was definitely having a hard time keeping the chuckling contained. Plus, she had a shirt on underneath, so no worries!
K, so then we are ready to sing and pray before the blessing, and all of a sudden Sister England like yelp-screams from the other side of the table. Remember the 7 cats? Well, one of them had apparently crawled into her purse and cuddled up, so when she reached in to grab her hymn book she was a little surprised to have a big furry thing there instead. Then, of course, the lady starts freaking out, "did one of the triplets put that in there?!!!" HAHAHAHAHA. Kind of Herdmann esque, but the elders were good sports, the blessing was beautiful, and she was really grateful. K then, that same night, we go to our next rendezvous and their little apartment is infested with cockroaches. (Like you open a cupboard, and you brush them off the jar you want to get out.) They are at least the little ones, but when I am like bearing my testimony about something and the girl shoots out her hand to brush a cockroach away from my arm, I all of a sudden feel somewhat less secure about things. K there was a very good reason i was not sent to a mission in the jungle--I would not have survived. I had nightmares about cockroaches in my purse all night!
So, this is a side note, but another interesting phenomenon I've noticed and get a kick out of every time (that takes place way more frequently than you'd think because you just forget that the number of truly normal people in this world may be on a decline) is when random people feel compelled to give you their two cents in order to put you in you're place. (because of the nametag, of course). My two favorites this week would both be categorized as memorable metro moments. The first--we're waiting on the quai, the doors open, a guy is standing there about ready to get off, but pauses and glances at our nametags and then says, "Hell. Direct.," before steeping down and walking casually away. (i just smiled at sister england and was like well apparently we are going DIRECTLY to hell. not passing go or collecting 200 dollars.) The second was a different guy sitting a little ways off, who you could just tell was festering with something to say to us. So right before he gets off, he comes over and with a very severe finger waggle (always my favorite part hehe) tells us that God does not exist and that we need to stop believing in fairytales, etc. Of course these experiences make for good stories, but really you just feel so bad for these people. How much more happiness would be theirs, if they would just let it in?!
But, there are a lot of people who are ready to let it in!! Wednesday morning we passed by some old investigators and we found two of them home!! (well, one of them walked up as we were waiting on the doorstep.) BUT, they both let us in and we had great lessons and they fixed return rendezvous!! Mylene has still been reading the book of mormon and believes it is true. And Aurelie believes that Joseph Smith is a prophet and still has a desire to be baptized! I am super excited to get to work with them.) Saturday we placed 5 Book of Mormons. And Sunday, two new people came to church and it was a great fast and testimony meeting!!! People are ready and miracles are happening.
Those two people who came to church were Faman and Helene (this is a new Helene). I don't think i ever told you the story about Faman. When we were coming back from conference one night, this big group of teenage girls was on the metro and they were all laughing and giggling and trying to flirt with one of the elders and talking about how they were looking for his name on facebook. Anyway, it was all kind of amusing and when they got off I saw this guy laughing at them across the metro, so we made eye contact and exchanged smiles. Anyway, we get off the metro in a couple stops and start walking away, but I look back and see that guy looking at us still. So, thank goodness my comp was on the ball (total fumble on my part not having a card ready) cuz i asked her to hand me a card quick and i ran back and slipped it to him before the doors shut. Didn't think much about it until the next morning we get a call from someone saying, "yeah now i dont know what number this is exactly. Someone just gave me a card, but i'm having a hard time finding this address to go to church." For real! (K I can count on one hand the number of times people have actually called after giving them a card. Actually, im not even sure i'd need a whole hand, but it happened twice this week!) Turns out, Faman just moved here about a month ago from Sri Lanka and said he has been looking for a place to go to church. He said he went to our church when he was living in Romania too. (Granted im not quite as positive about that because he said they used wine for the sacrament and had never heard of the Book of Mormon.) But, he is way cool and chill about things. The Sunday School lesson was kinda confusing for someone's first exposure to the church, but he was just kinda like, "hey I'll get it. Little by little."
Ok and then Helene's story is so cool! I'll fill you in how it unfolded for us. A bishopric member comes up shortly before Sacrament meeting is about to start and says "hey sisters, this is Helene. She just sonned at the door and It's her first time here." So, we greet her and ask how she is doing and she just starts crying. So, she sits down, pulls it together a little, but then we start singing and she starts crying all over again and hardly stops for the rest of the meeting. So, sister england turns around to me and says "i have no idea what is going on, but do you think we should ask her if she wants a blessing?" She asks her and she says yes, so we talked about who we could ask, decided on Guillaume , and I went and asked him. The blessing was wonderful and she said she felt "different." Just so grateful for the way the Holy Ghost can touch people's hearts! Anyway, we asked her if she would be interested in learning more about why she felt that way and about the church and she said yes. (So we're seeing her on tuesday!) But, fast forward to about an hour later, everyone is almost gone and Guillaume asks us if we knew the story with her. No. So cool--I guess he was out working with Elder Ostler like 6 months ago and they contacted her on a metro (she had been praying to God that she would find a church and then the elders and guillaume sat down right across from her!). She had a problem with her teeth that following Sunday, so she didn't come to church, and then admitted she just lacked the motivation after that. But, that morning there was just something that pushed her to come to church and she still had the address, so she came. We had no idea of any of that when we asked Guillaume to give her the blessing, but it was definitely a tender mercy that she already had a connection with him. Just another testimony that this is the Lord's work and it is so wonderful to be a part of it. We should never be "weary in well-doing," because we never know what will come out of a seemingly insignificant conversation that happened 6 months ago!
We also had interviews this week, and they were great as always. President Staheli walks out and goes, "Mountain West Conference coach of the year!" Really? haha. (Did you forget to mention that or did you tell me and i'm just a terrible daughter and didn't congratulate you on that?!) I also love talking with him and Sister Staheli! The topic of his training was the Book of Mormon and how combined with the spirit, it is our greatest tool in conversion. He talked about ways to use it better and more often, and then the assistants directed us in role-play practice of the first invitation to read the Book of Mormon. K, but not like split off into your own corners and practice, we're talking like a companionship comes up in front of the whole zone and practices and then everyone critiques them. I'll be honest, I wasn't super looking forward to our turn (probably an understatement hehe), but we survived and learned some good things, so I really was grateful for the "opportunity." haha. I am very grateful for the converting power of the Book of Mormon. It's a power you can't describe, but is very real and helps make up for some of my own weaknesses in teaching and speaking French.
Ok, that might be a new level of confusing rambling! Good luck getting anything out of that. But, unfortunately, I'm not quite done because I also learned a few new things this week pendant the latest episode of the adventures of holmes and watson.
LEARNINGS of the week:
1. Putting trick candles on Elder Volpe's birthday cake and watching him react to them is even better than watching 3-yr-olds. Maybe they don't have trick candles in Italy.....
2. "Is that a cheese?" is apparently not a good opener. Learned that one the hard way! hehe. Sat down next to this woman, who looked like she was maybe having a hard time of things lately, but decided to try to start a friendly chat. It looked like she was eating some cheese, so I figured hey, french cheeses are friendly and harmless enough...not so! There was definitely some throwing of things into bags and muttering and much arm gesturing that followed. Needless to say, I have abandoned that option.
3. I learned that should you ever comment on an older "ish" lady's collection of perfume, you will be doused from head to toe with it--doomed to leaving a lingering scent whereever you go for like three days! I am not joking that I could still smell that stuff after 2 showers. Rookie mistake.
4. I learned that should you accept directional help from a certain muslim man, you may or may not be put in the awkward position of having to decline his asking if he can come live with you after your mission.
5. I learned that if you start talking to the man on the bench, who is from Martinique, then you may be offered a tour of the neighborhood, which, according to our well-versed guide, "is really more like a village, because it's got a small town charm." (He actually turned out had been taught by missionaries in the past. He's got some way crazy ideas, but he was super nice and gave a great tour!)
6. I learned that should you happen to compliment a Senegalese (?) woman on her gorgeous African dress, she will stop and be practically giddy and give you huge smooches on each cheek!
7. I learned that Germans who are trying to escape you by saying that they don't speak French very well, will be very not happy to having admitted they speak English when you tell them that you, also, speak English much better! (That man was really not pleased and just groaned, shook his head and walked stubbornly away. It was pretty dang funny.)
7. We learned that apparently using the dryer, vacuum, two burners, the oven, as well as the lights and two refrigerators all at the same time is not a good option in France. But, we did eventually figure out how to turn the power back on, so we redeemed ourselves a little.
8. We also learned that candles provide more than just a great apartment atmosphere for companionship study, but also are very convenient starburst roasting tools! (We celebrated Sister England and Sister Thompson's one year mark!)
As far as the terrorist update goes--we received instruction that we are supposed to avoid public transportation during rush hours in the morning and in the evening. And thanks for the advice to follow the spirit w/o question. Actually, I don’t know if I ever told you, but once when I was with Sister Bellini, in the ghetto, I firmly believe we were protected by the Spirit. We were in a semi-sketchy area, but it was mid-day and there were people around. We were trying to find this address to go meet a potential new investigator, but were doing a little wandering. Anyway, we were about to cross a street and we both stopped dead in our tracks and sister Bellini turned to me & said, “I don’t feel good.” And I told her I didn’t either and we turned around and got out of there. Have no idea what would have/could have happened, but was grateful to be warned. Anyway, we had not heard a word about the Eiffel tower being evacuated or anything, that’s crazy!
Well gang, we definitely have to run--lunch at a street cafe by Notre Dame and maybe an excursion to Sainte Chapelle and some scarf shopping are on the agenda for today. Miss you, love you lots and think I am so lucky to have such a wonderful family! I'm glad you're keeping me updated on some of the inside jokes, because I think laughing with you guys is one of my favorite things in the world! (Dad, you are right--that was a classic Pearce and John moment!) I pray for you every day. Hope you have a good week!!!
Oh and just because this was adorable--My favorite metro moment of this week was talking to this five "AND a half" yr old boy (I was under strict instructions not to forget the half), who did fyi have an earring just like his dad. He was hilarious and after we had exchanged birthdays and stuff, he turns and asks me, "How would you grow without having birthdays?" I definitely copped out and told him that that would be a great question for his dad!
Tara--I met an Elder Reed, the day that the new missionaries came in, who said he knew you! (Steven maybe? but no, still have not met elder hales) The poor thing looked like he was about to fall over on the spot from jet lag, but he was hilarious and told me I was exactly like you. I took that as a compliment! Did I ask how the porcupines did? oh and i told all the sisters here about your Keats presentation and they were all as impressed as I was--seriously creative! love you sister. oh and i have a christmas favor--dont send me anything but this of course--but how would you feel about making me a good christmas CD or two? i didnt come very prepared. christmas is a little different i guess, because pretty much anything goes (k like maybe not rudolph the red nosed reindeer type stuff), but it doesnt have to be strictly motab.....would that be too much of a pain with all your hecticness going on?)
John--doesnt sound like you need my help. "star gazing?" Bahahaha. still getting a good chuckle out of that one. But thanks for the details about your life. sure love you johnny bravo!
Matthew--nope, i never had to do a bug thing, which is good cuz i probably would have failed! lizards i can handle, bugs--not so much. and as far as ecuador goes....i think you'll have to give me a little explanation on where in the world that one came from??? What's the last name of the girl in your seminary class? love you math! (hahaha "wathcloth" hahah)
Josh--dude, i could definitely tell that you are an old pro at New York because those drawings were very accurate. I was way impressed with the details. And you're right--i do miss two of halle's birthdays and only one of yours, but I love you both!! but we totally still have our cool people with december birthdays club, k? love you joshy man!!
Hals-I just got your leaf creation today and wow that was beautiful! did you find all those leaves yourself? and girlfriend, I hear you are kickin some booty in gymnastics and piano these days. I'm pretty excited to come to your meets next year. love you halle baby!
p.s. If you ever see Andrew, ask him if he ever taught Gwenelle when he was in Troyes (because she was just baptized this last weekend!), and tell him that Elder Holcombe is still sportin his pants proudly. haha. Also, I ran across one of his fiches for Fati Bounab the other day. She didn't seem super interested in seeing us, but she was really nice!
p.s.s how are Cal and Cameron doing? (TOTALLY cool about the ukraine temple.)
p.p.s tell the rashes thank you so so much!!! beckham is absolutely adorable!!!! give those cheeks a big kiss for me (i still am not very pleased that he will probably be like walking by the time i get home, nor will he have any clue who i am!!! we'll have to make up for it.....) And i loved the notes from the kids!
p.p.s.s. Tell Lisa thanks for the emails, I do get them but can’t respond directly!
PSS president told us to pass it along that if our parents are sending christmas packages to the mission home, they need to be there by December 1st.