How are ya dearest family? Actually, after reading your emails, i think the better question would be, "are ya dead man?" Seriously! Your guys' craziness makes me feel like I'm out here on a vacation getting 8 hours of sleep every night. But, everything sounded totally SUH-WEET!
I can't believe johnny almost let his prom date fall down the stairs. ONE JOB dude!! (Kinda funny though, in a certain way hehe.) Mattmoos--what's new as far as your love life goes? I don't think I have had a good update lately about you???? Hullo, sister needing details here?! So cool that Joshy man was first pick for the draft! Way to represent studly brother! Happy Birthday halle baby!!! I'm still laughing about your smoochy smooch letter. Do you still do the diva dance? And when is your last gymnastics meet this season?
Oh and speaking of hilarious letters--i am still not over how hilarious grampa's letter and picture were. We all laughed our heads off! Too good and so classic grampa. (Still looks as tan as ever i might add) I'm glad your birthday trip out to Disneyland was fun Tara! I really do think it is one of the happiest places on earth (or whatever they claim it is...i forget), so I hope you made sure to get a good princess picture in!
(Okay, just slightly interrupted by the assistants calling and asking me to give the spiritual thought at mission council on friday. Ugh. I think I have had about enough calls from them lately. just kidding! kinda.... ha)
Anyway, I sure do love hearing from you guys and the happenings and craziness ensuing over there across the pond. So thanks for the good updates! You're the best. You really are! I know I've been a pretty big
slacker lately, and now I feel like there has been so much happening here that I don't even know where to begin or what you even care to hear. I'll just have to cross my fingers that I don't bore you to death and that there might be some recent happenings you actually wanna know. So, I'll just start rambling and hope something sensical (is that a word? This could be tough....) comes out.
1. Wanna know my reaction when I got a call from the Assistants on Friday asking if I would be willing to train in Paris, as in St. Merri? I think saying that it took me a few minutes to pick my jaw back up off the ground would be an understatement. After interviews and just transfer logics, I figured training here in caen or being transferred to Paris were possibilities. But never once did it cross my mind that the combination of
whitewashing and training in paris would be an option. Let's just say, I am glad I know they are inspired, cuz otherwise I think I'd be freaking out that I was about to send the mission into shambles. It'll be one heck of an adventure, that is for sure. And I am really excited to be heading back to Paris! And this time I will be on the other side of the apartment-- the one with the good closets. hehe.
2. Wanna know some of the best knews of the week? Yosephe is getting baptized May 8th!!!!!! About time is right! She first met with missionaries in 1998. And I think she is actually leaning towards being
baptized in the font at the church instead of in the ocean. She is still as hilarious and quirky as ever, so I am kinda sad to be missing the baptism because I am sure she will do or say something outrageous. But, I am so excited for her and I am grateful for your prayers for her. I am sure they helped her be able to take that last step of faith.
3. Wanna know one of my new favorite French fetes? That would be the carnival étudiant. Actually I don't know if it is France-wide, or if it is just one of the perks of living in a university city. But, I think Tara's
recent woodstock party must have moved up here, because the best way I can describe it is Mardi Gras meets Halloween Soddom and Gomorrah style. My personal favorite sightings were a group of bearded men dressed up as ballerinas in little pink tutus and leotards, a barrel of beer, and plenty of speedos. It was refreshing to see some french people really get into the "holiday spirit" or what have you, and go all out, even if you had to be really careful where you looked all afternoon!
4. Wanna know one of the most recent DOOZIES? Like seriously, this one I still just can't help but laughing about. Mostly to keep from throwing my hands in the air and giving up. So setting the scene--sunday school class for the investigators and recent converts. The lesson is about scriptures, what they are, why we have them, etc. Basics. Goin' great. Then out of NOWHERE, the teacher (mind you this isn't the normal teacher) drops the urim and thummim bomb. Okay, manage to navigate that one okay--investigators
seemed to have already been pretty au courant with that one. Phewf, bullet dodged. But, of course, we couldn't just quit there. OH NO. We had to continue on, and don't ask me how in the world this tied in, to talk about the "super secret temple room where the prophet and apostles talk with Jesus." I didn't even dare look at the investigators again at that point. I was too focused trying NOT to make eye contact with any other missionaries because I knew I would burst out laughing, like "yeah. that really did just happen." Good vun (said in steve martin pink panther voice).
5. Wanna know how it went down wearing high heels again? (someone asked me about this a while ago, so feel free to skim if it wasn't you) Let's just say I was a bit out of practice, so it was probably a good thing that smartypants had forced me to practice by wearing them to the district meeting the day before we left to New york. I'm sure we looked absolutely ridiculous (heels=very not practical missionary attire), but at least it was good comic relief because I kept falling all over the place. I may or may not have almost taken Elder Rueckert down with me once....or twice. Bad.
6. Wanna know what i think i forgot to tell you forever ago? Zeinabe ( in versailles) got baptized and is doing great!!
7. Wanna know why we gave up our attempt to start running again? Because after jumping a fence, scaling what felt like a cliff (though really only like a 15 foot stone wall), two holes in the pants, and a battle wound
bruise, we ended up popping out of that random street by the Parc des Expositions.....meaning like the far end of La Prairie. Meaning a lot more than we bargained for. All in one morning. We decided we'd deal with those fun feeling-like-you're-going-to-die-panting-experiences once we get home.
8. Wanna know a tried and definitely true method to gain over a kilo in a single evening? Get invited to go eat Raclette at the Pintos. They are the portugese couple that marisela is living with and they are absolutely the nicest people in the world! They've come to church a couple times and we've seen them a couple times, but I don't know how interested they really are. Still, they have started to read the book of mormon and we had a great soirée with them. Good food. Good chatting. Not as good on the scale the next morning! But, totally worth it. (And I think we even scored some points by taking them a thank you note and flowers a couple days later!)
9. Wanna know one of the best things I have ever heard elder holcombe say? Well, he was telling me about this joseph smith class he is going to be taking summer semester and just joking that on the final, he'll just like bubble in the scan tron to spell out "I know that Joseph Smith lives." And, you know me. I can't help myself, so i was like, "oh yeah? Joseph Smith lives does he? Does he live in that super secret temple room too?" And he was like, "Dangit! I've been teaching the wrong things the last two years." Maybe you had to be there, but it was almost as good as cassidy's "primeape" comment. I had a good laugh at any rate!
10. Wanna know one of the most satisfying feelings in the world? picture this: samedi sports with the JA (young single adults). sun is blazing over the volleyball field. 4 missionaries (ie americans) vs. everyone else (ie the french...okay and africans). And we finished the day with three solid wins in a row! We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. And soeur smart and I chuckled together after about how funny it was to see holcombe and rueckert start covering more and more area on our side of the net when points got a little more tight there that last game! But, believe me--I was more of the shove-me-down-if-you-have-to-but-we-have-to-win opinion, so i had no problem with the keep-the-ball-away-from-the-girls-strategery whatsoever! I was just proud to have kept my liability status to a minimum and we had a lot of fun. (didn't hurt that we won either haha)
The JAs in the branch are seriously so great, especially now that they have set up an official JA center in Caen. I totally get why the area presidency has been focusing so much on JA support over here, because they are such a good strength to branches and wards. I mean here in Caen, the young mens president, half of the branch presidency, the primary presidency, young womens counselor, elders quorum counselors, dmp, seminary teachers, and plenty of other leadership callings that are currently evading me, are filled by young adults (albeit, a couple of them are married ones). Anyway....yeah, sorry for that digression.
11. Wanna know how great it was to finally beat Elder Holcombe in ping pong? So good. Words don't do it justice. Plus, added satisfaction of knowing in advance that we had reached at least one of our transfer goals! haha.
12. Wanna know why we might be thrust down? Because we stole toilet paper from the church. If I say, "desperate times..." does that sound too much like justification? ;)
13. Wanna know an important packing tip for future missionaries? Ear plugs. Last week on exchanges I woke up in the middle of the night and felt like I was sleeping between a hibernating bear (ie my dearest companion who will probably kill me for saying this, but she was sick, so its okay. plus she told our district about a really embarrassing dream i had, so i dont even feel that bad! side story about this--we were teasing her about snoring one day and she was like, "come on! among ALL my perfections, I have ONE flaw, etc" So dang funny! While she still insists she was joking, we all know the truth and haven't let her forget it! Classic soeur smart!! Oh man, I love her.) and a dragon (ie the water heater in the brussels
apartment that makes noises you wouldn't believe!). So, ear plugs are not only handy for exchanges and companions, but also neighbors who sometimes provide nighttime entertainment you don't want to hear.
Okay and just to even the playing field, i will admit that I am probably not the best sleeping companion either. Smartypants has informed me that I have giggling tendencies while I sleep, and that occasionally, right as I'm falling asleep, I snort once. Plenty of comp unifying moments when you share 24/7
14. On that subject....wanna know why I am in denial? Because Sister Smart is leaving. Seriously, I think I am going to be a wreck on Wednesday! Gonna have to employ the compartmentalizing techniques again, I guess. I mean, it really doesn't get better than serving with one of your best friends. You get to share wonderful spiritual experiences and you know you've always got each other's back when things aren't going quite so well. You know how the other one will teach and contact, and it's just easy. And so much fun! We probably laugh together too much, but seriously Plus, I think we make a pretty good team. People have told us that soeur smart is "super classe" and that i am "super pétillante." So, I figure she gets us credibility and respect from her classiness and we make people feel comfortable with my "pétillance" because they can rest assured that I am always on the verge of saying/doing something "stupider" than them.
(Speaking of, did I ever mention that during lunch after interviews the other day President was teasing me hard core about fulfilling my role of always being the one to say the wrong thing? Man, he was just on a roll
that day! So funny.) I have loved our last three transfers together and I have learned so much from her. (I think she has been really good for my stress tendencies, because she is so NOT a stresser.) Anyway, I really am excited for her to be going home and getting on with things, but I am going to miss her. Plus, I don't know what I am going to do losing half of my wardrobe all of a sudden!
15. Wanna know one of my favorite days of the transfer? Cleaning day. Yeah, sure the shower might be something I dread for days in advance, but waging war on the room-of-requirement-like missionary closets is always quite the gratifying feeling. So liberating! Nothing better than throwing out garbage bags of crap (scuze the french). Though, what's incredible is that as many transfers in a row that we throw out bag after bag after bag of, what seems to be, decades old junk, there still seems to be plenty left to go around for the next transfer. Chalk it up to Heavenly Father providing us with simple pleasures I guess.
16. Wanna know what a lot of the JAs here call me now? Walt Disney. Not my favorite, but, things could probably be worse. Ambroise is the one who started it, because he insists that when i sing disney songs I sound just like the disney princesses. But, I am reassurred knowing that Ambroise's nickname is meatball. Like i said....things could be worse!
17. Wanna know how great the new senior couple in Coutances is? So great (im sorry, i didn't know how to respond to that one....i think i needed to quit a few bullet points ago)! I think they are starting to get over their culture shock a little, but they are hilarious! And they are so nice. They took us to mont st. michel last week (which was great!) and then we get in the car and elder wilkins was like, "hey as long as we're out here, would you guys care if we went out to the american cemetary out here?" Of course we didn't mind and were excited. Well, like after a two hour search and many many circles, we finally finally pulled up in front of the place and I just started laughing when we saw the sign, "brittany american cemetary." Quite the p-day adventure that ended up with us out in Bretagne. oops!!
Totally didn't intentionally leave our zone, but hey! Now we can both say we've been to Bretagne. I really do love this couple. When they first got here, they were just kinda curious to see our aparment, so calling it an
unofficial inspection, they came back with us from district meeting to just see what it was like. And because we hadn't been planning on it, we just about almost died when elder wilkins went up and started reading some of the sticky notes on our quote wall! Not because they are bad or anything, but without context some of them would need a lot of explanation. Luckily, sister wilkins had some girl sense and was like, "kurt. stop it kurt. those are personal!" But, that was really close to a big OOPS moment. Definitely gonna have to remember to take down our inside joke quote wall before we move out.
18. Wanna know who I am really going to miss leaving Caen? Marie Laure. She is seriously the best investigator ever! She has such a big heart, loves church, loves meeting with us, wants to do what's right and change, and is progressing like you wouldn't believe. And I love her. I am dreading saying goodbye, but I know that's how it goes. I am very grateful for the experiences we've had reading the Book of Mormon with her and the sweet moment we had when she started praying for the first time. I will always remember how that spirit felt and how grateful I was for the my testimony and that I could share it and see the light come into her eyes and the excitement of it all in her voice. She just soaks it all up and was definitely prepared by Heavenly Father to accept the Gospel now. Amazing how he looks after each one of us. Anyway, I know i don't do her justice, but she will be baptized in the next couple transfers and she'll be a great relief society president or something!
19. Wanna know how much I love you?! I LOVE YOU TO INFINITY. And back. haha halle. can't beat that!) Seriously, you're the best. Thanks for being the best family ever! and I hope you have a great week.
ps tell diana thanks so much for the email this week!
pss ill have to tell you about the visiting americans who knew you, and the
middle aged member kissing my hand, and why sisters should never drive, and
our musical number for saladdin's baptism and my talk (tell joshy thanks so
much because i used his primary talk for part of the talk i gave at
saladdin's baptism) some other time when i haven't already bored myself to
death with my own babbling. goodness. i never did handle guilt trips very
well, so i think i may have over done it a bit this week. good luck
Tara, that cathedral I was telling you about is in amiens, they claim to have the head of john the baptist. pretty gross actually, but i don't know where they get off claiming that? why the heck would his head have ended up in these parts? i've also heard that there are a bunch of other places that claim to have his head too. Who knew a head could be such a hott comodity? (spelling is going really downhill these days) They might be a little distraught come the resurrection and the people who actually do have the head are suddenly headless. hmmmm.