Thursday, December 16, 2010

Updates & Inside Peeks

Family Dearest!!!!!

How are you?! K but first off, I have to thank everyone for all the fun goodies you have sent. I feel like I must be the most spoiled missionary in the world, and i think you guys must single-handedly be keeping the US postal service in business. Holy cow!!! I am so excited to start the 12 days of christmas, I absolutely loved the calendar (we all pored over it multiple times), the purse was awesome (the other sisters thought it was pretty chic), so grateful for the cd from the cusicks, the boots are super super cozy, and i loved the necklace!!! And the Paris sisters were so cute and surprised me with an ice cream cake (im sorry mom, i used the cake mix you sent me for elder jaquier's birthday!)!! It was definitely a memorable 22nd birthday in Paris, even if we were super super sick and even if I’m still in denial about my old age. haha. So thank you. I love you. You are wonderful.

Things here are going well. I guess the biggest update as far as news is concerned is that my days in Paris are numbered. As soon as my companion gets back (supposedly sometime this week), they are shipping us out to Caen (Normandy). I am so excited about that. Neither of us has ever served there so bring on the whole whitewashing and re-opening a ville the week before Christmas adventure!!!! I figure at least with the Book of Mormon christmas contacting challenge we got at mission conference (which was AWESOME!!!), at least we'll know where to start--ie giving out 22 book of mormons before christmas with follow up. haha, it'll be one heck of an adventure that is for sure. I think the luggage plus christmas packages plus christmas tree moving on a train will, alone, be quite the memorable experience. Mom, don't worry, I will for sure picturize it! I am super sad that I will miss Suzie and Valerie's baptisms next Sunday, but we'll make sure and get everything good and ready this week, so it can go down flawlessly. And on the memory card I sent there is video of the musical number me and Elder Holcombe did for the mission Christmas conference.

Speaking of Suzie and Valerie, can i just say how much I love them?????!!!!!!!!!!! Seriously they are amazing. It is such a pleasure teaching them. They really want to understand and make sure they are doing everything right. K small example, but normally when you teach the 10 commandments, people are like "well yeah, duh," but they are like, "so what does that mean exactly?" And they have really been supported well by the Paris Young Adults. They went to a party a few weeks ago at the young adult center and met a ton of members, and more than once now we have showed up to teach them and they are hanging out with other member young adults and are so well integrated already! Anyway, I love them and I am so excited for them to be baptized, whether or not I am here. And did I ever mention that we set a baptismal date with Marguerite too? I don't know if i did.....oops, sorry about that. hehe. But she was supposed to be baptised the 19th as well, but her mom is still really not happy about her meeting with us, so even though she is 18, we are going to wait a few more weeks. But she is awesome. So, basically I am sad to leave our investigators, but I feel good about what we've seen happen in Paris Lilas and I am excited for a new adventure!

K, you know how i normally get sick like once a year around finals time? Well, it seems that whether or not I am actually taking finals, i am still cursed. Except that I have never been sick like this before. But, we learned very quickly that France doesn't mess around with their OTC meds. When you can buy lidocaine cough drops, you know you don't need to worry!!! (I have pretty much lost everything i once learned in pharmacology, but if i do recall correctly, lidocaine is like a sodium channel blocker used for local anesthesia. like when the dentist is going to drill into your mouth. haha.) Needless to say, it had a nice numbing effect for sore throats and coughing!! And the pharmacists here are hilarious. They like have such pride in fulfilling their pharmaceutical duties well and obviously enjoy doctoring people up. So, you walk in and tell them what's wrong and they are like, "ooohhh.....yeah, you need THIS. this will make it all better." So we get a good kick out of the pharmacists.

We also got a good kick out of the doctors as well, though for a different reason. Our first experience with French healthcare this morning was certainly one i won't forget for a while! First of all, the waiting room, i don't have time to detail, so let's just leave it at--SKETCHY. Then the doctor comes out and has us come back to her office/exam room. The whole place reeks of cigarette smoke, there are cigarettes on her desk, and like shoe boxes containing patient records. More sketchy. So, we chit chat for a bit and she asks us what is wrong with some details for a bit. She looks in our ears. And then asks us for our first and last names and our birthdays, gives us each a prescription for amoxicillin, and says that it will be 22 euros. Seriously, that was it. No questions about allergies (and HULLO!!! that's a penicillin antibiotic), no medical history, no documents, no insurance, no legality (certainly not complainign about that considering my current status (ya, I am still illegal) hehe), not even a single signature. It was like the most hilarious thing. I walked out of there like, "well huh.....that's how healthcare works in France, whaddayaknow." But hey--quick, cheap and got the job done, so we'll go with it!!! And honestly, as long as it helps me not feel this horrible than i am totally down with it!

So other updates--Faman (whose name is really Saman; a fact you will learn in the letter i am sending home today) has started praying out loud. and the right way!!!!! yay!!! seriously, you don't know what a feat that is!

And we also have a new contacting tactic, that seems to be working out pretty well. Basically the plan goes like this--talk to every Indian person you pass. I love Indian culture! Like when they say they will do something, they will do it. When they say they will be somewhere, they are there. Sometimes it's a bit surprising actually!!! Anyway, tactical plan is goin great!!!

okay, well ill get that other letter finsihed up and sent out today, but we gotta run. We did go to the Eiffel Tower today earlier and hiked up all the stairs!!!

Love you guys! Miss you. Hope you know how grateful i am for you!!!!!

did I mention we played our turkey bowl on the fields in front of hotel des invalides? (ie napoleon's tomb place and also the place where we (dad, mom, me & tara) took a nap that one time) I didn't contribute a whole lot, except that I stuck my man well and freaked elder helvey out a little, and stayed out of elder holcombe's way enough that he basically single handedly won the game for us. hehe. but, we were all covered in mud from head to toe afterwards and the next day we were so sore!!

so, side note I have loved the Christmas cds and every time I get weird looks about the bugs bunny ones or whatev, I just say "artistic license!!!!" Thanks Tara!

tell the congers their Christmas card and school pictures were awesome!!!! of course ali has her Christmas cards sent out (even to the people in france) by like december 4th. oh and OMG those letters from grandpa were hilarious!!!!! and he made every single one like tie in somehow to that specific person----so funny! the sisters were impressed with how clever and quick he was, I laughed SO HARD.

did I mention enough times that I absolutely loved loved loved josh's primary talk?????!!! I cried, of course. and made all the sisters listen to it!! (bahaha--it took my dad a lot of courage to go and tell my mom what happened.....hahahaha) also, josh and Halle’s letters this week were even more hilarious than normal. so tender that he donated 1.00 to the "mishonary fund"

Matthew--I am getting too old, because I do not even remember the name of my biology teacher's name......oh's coming....W......Wh....whitaker?????? maybe. and since when did you have an ipod touch?

josh--thanks for donating, that's so nice!!! Can’t wait to hear about your birthday!

halle--of course you're still my favorite little 7-yr-old diva princess!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Learnings, Laughings, Lovings

Hey gang!!!

How are you doing?! Sounds like things are keepin on at the homefront! I got your package on Saturday and I can't believe how much stuff you sent. That was like the best package ever, but you need to stop! The whole TAco Soup for dummies (aka jordan) was pretty funny. And FYI, even though "Heavenly Father is watching," you are just lucky i am not a mischievous kid, because it was really tempting to peek and "try to figure out" what the gift was I wasn't supposed to open until Christmas Eve.....hmmm...... Speaking of Christmas Eve, whose room is everyone going to sleep in? Oh and FYI, I won't lie I think i much preferred Tara's response to Harry Potter than Dad's. Talk about Bahumbug (hmm never realized that was so hard to spell)!! Speaking of bahumbugs, it sounds like we're gonna have more of an All american thanksgiving in France (go figure) than you guys. So, I guess the bonus to being like the orphan missionary is that I have been kinda temporarily adopted into the paris zone and ward and we are doing a legit Turkey Bowl (an announcement of dividing the teams has already been sent out, but i think elder ellsworth should be fired from the naming of teams job cuz i'm pretty sure we are Tuna Fish and our colors are black and blue) and having dinner all together at an American member's house.

But, before then we have a whole lot to do because there are so many great, great things happening in our areas! And the adventures of these last couple weeks have been great, but I thought I would break up just a few of them into some of our recent learnings, laughings, and lovings. Oh man, I so wish I was better at writing, because bein' on a mission is just so great and I just don't do it justice!!! (Side note: we just had a p-day raclette party for elder jaquier's birthday and it was so fun! Super funny when President and Sister Staheli walked in and it was suddenly absolutely silent! haha. Of course all I can think about is, "ah no, I haven't written my president's letter yet...." President was like "how come I always feel like a wet blanket? Oh, they are just great.)

1. I have a new favorite French idiom--"entre chien et loup." Which directly translated would mean: between dog and wolf. But, idiomatically translated? hehe means: twilight. At first glance, it is totally another one of those really lame french things (like instead of knowing something like "the back of your hand," apparently, here we know things like "your pocket." enough said.), but is actually genius and sheds a whole new light on the term twilight and its use as the title of that book!

2. The typical stranger stopping you to say, "franchement, il faut que je vous dise que vous etes si belle," doesn't always have to end in a horribly awkward way. And this dude actually came to church and gave the elders his number. Definitely a new one for me!

3. So last night, we learned how incredibly awkward it can be to find ourselves in the living room of a Muslim family while you are fasting. To back up a little, I started talking to this man a week or so ago on the metro, turned out he was way nice, had 3 little boys and invited us to come over to his house and meet his wife and stuff. So, we set up to come over Sunday night. We walk in and see the adorable little kids running around and are like "suweet!!!!!", gonna baptize this whole family!!!......and then we see that he is wearing a booboo.

Suspicions begin. Wife is also wearing a booboo. Oh man, definitely from Senegal. THEN, we walk into the living room and there are like pictures of mosques and they tell us the oldest boy's name is mohammed. Well, certainly cleared up any clarification we may have needed. Needless to say, the father wasn't very keen on the idea of starting "the lesson" with a hymn about Jesus Christ. But, somehow the shut down to the gospel was much easier to take than the African guilt trip that came our way for not being able to eat their food because we were fasting.... Awkward. Love it!

4. Ok so this one has been haunting me all week. I learned that French people are very particular about very specific manners. Let me explain this by way of example. We are sitting on the metro one night heading home and I am a little slow at covering my mouth when I yawn, so I only got it covered like half way through. And the man sitting across from me like kicks my foot and freaks out about how I should not show my mouth so in public and was super huffy about it. My first reaction is, of course, to respond by sticking my tongue out at him, but i somehow mustered enough self-control to refrain. Not easy!!

So, now I am like freaked out and edgy every time that I yawn for fear that I will show too much mouth. Apparently they don't have a problem with things like public urination, but be on guard because inappropriate display of the mouth is definitely a faux-pas! Good to know.

When i told the paris sisters about it, Sister Thompson told me that she has also gotten in trouble for folding her arms on the metro because it made her look unladylike. hahahah. And then the MAN proceeded to demonstrate for her, placing his hands and feet in what were, evidently, more feminine positions. So basically you must make sure that all appendages and mucosal membranes are placed and covered and maneuvered appropriately and that you don't look unladylike and that you don't look defensive! And while, of course, it would completely not be appropriate missionary behavior to purposely invoke furor in the harmless passers-by, I do have to add the side note that it is pretty amusing to see them go all "French huffy." Just sayin.

5. Also learned that there is actually an elevator that goes up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, and that if you are really really nice to the young security guard and tell him that you just came down and forgot to buy the gifts you needed to, he will use his cool walkie talkie and inform the other super secret guard that you are coming over and move the metal gates for you and give you directions to the elevator entrance, and then you can stand comfortably in the 15 second elevator ride and feel all cool thinking about the other people who were currently hiking up the 284 steps on the other side! (granted, we had been those "other people" like an hour before....hehe.)

6. Also learned that you don't give the kids the armor of God visuals until AFTER the lesson. That is, if you intend to actually teach a lesson. Note to self!

7. Okay and I also had more of an eye-opener to how much missionaries really are blessed to learn the language. I told you I was getting a mini missionary right? And that I was praying she spoke French? Everyone is like "oh no, she'll for sure speak French. "Yeah, well, when we met her it turns out she is a 19 yr old American who has been staying in France for a couple months. And we're talking like Joey in our favorite friends episode, hehe! But it was great to have my own companion for the week!

OKAY Im sorry. My companions are done and we need to go, I will finish next week, Im sorry that I didn’t even have time to get to the laughing and lovings!!!!!!!! Love you guys so much!! have a good week!!!!