Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
Can you believe it's six days until Christmas?? Crazy!
Well, to start off, I'll give you porting experience in Caen. I'm thinking porting on a Saturday night will become a typical Saturday night experience. Soeur Cope and I sometimes will be walking around sometimes on weekend nights and say, "remember when we used to go to parties and stuff on the weekends? That was weird." haha it's great.
Background: it's raining, it's cold, it's Saturday night. Soeur Cope and I were wearing matching scarfs, matching hats and we happen to have matching umbrellas.
We get to the neighborhood. In Caen it's hard to find places to porte because sisters aren't allowed to porte inside apartment buildings and we're not allowed to porte houses that have their gates shut. aka like 80% of houses in January. But this neighborhood had no fences, so it was basically a little paradise for missionaries.
Door #1. We knock. They answer.
Soeur Cope: "Bonjour, nous sommes missionaires pour notre eglise..."
Other person: "Non, Merci." Door shuts.
Door #2: We knock.
Other person from closed door inside: "Who is it?"
Soeur Cope: "It's the missionaries from the church of Jesus-Christ..."
Other person (door still closed): "Who?"
me: "It's us!"
Other person opens the door: "Hi, we're the missionaries." Door closes.
Door #3: We knock.
other person: you see them look through the door peekhole like 5 times. They finally answer. "Why are you here?"
us: "We're missionaries..."
other person: "Nope. Bye."
Door #4: (my personal favorite)
Person opens the door a tiny tiny crack, I see one eye, literally. and then she slams the door. I just started laughing. Seriously, porting lived up to every discouraging expectation I had ever heard. Except I didn't feel discouraged at the end of the porting experience weirdly. I think I was just so happy to try.
After three doors of trying the "We're missionaries" approach and not even being able to finish a sentence before the door closed scenario, I suggested we switch it up and try the family question tactic. (like mom's idea) but just saying, "hi, we're missionaries, can we ask you three questions about family?" well, that failed just as miserably as the other tactic. But here's the thing, I feel like porting opening lines could be refined drastically to increase interest in at least some people. As for right now, it did not work too well.
Walking home that night though I just thought about how grateful I am for the gospel in the lives of our family. It really is such a blessing and brings so much joy into so many people's lives. That's really what I think of when people say they're not interested in hearing more, I think of my family at home and am grateful that at least we're inviting others to find that joy the gospel can bring.
On Friday night we invited two of the young women in our ward who are awesome to come Christmas Caroling with us. We headed out. Soeur Cope and I were just praying in our hearts the whole time because virtually every house had their gate closed around the church. We ended up finding a few houses and it was really interesting what happened. First of all because Christmas Caroling is definitely not a French tradition. Definitely, definitely not. I have never had such a hard time getting people to listen to a Christmas song in my life!
One woman was standing outside of her house and so we asked if we could sing a Christmas song. She said no. We basically begged her to just let us sing one verse of Silent Night. Finally she said, "okay, it better be short." She seemed really put out about it. So the four of us sang the first verse of "Silent Night." After we finished singing, I looked up from my hymnbook, and the countenance of this woman had changed. Before she seemed so annoyed with us, and I looked up and she was smiling. She thanked us and told us it sounded really beautiful. We told her good night and were about the leave so we didn't take any more of her time, and she asked us who we were and what we were doing. She kept asking us questions and was suddenly so sweet and nice. She didn't want to see us again or hear more about the church in the end BUT I developed a new appreciation for the power of music. For the ability that music can have to touch hearts in a way that words can't.
We also had missionary exchanges this week. IT was the best best best best thing ever! I exchanged with Soeur Martin, she's from Southern France. She comes from a family of 8 kids, and they're all musicians. How cool is that. And they're french. She came up to Caen and Soeur Cope went down to Paris. Soeur Martin speaks some english and so it was so great because we probably did half the day in french, half in english. We went contacting up at the university in Caen and it was so cool to do so with a native french speaker. Then, for lunch we ate at the university cafeteria and contacted the students we were sitting next to. (they were actually english majors funny enough. So they were asking me some questions about english. Funny what they teach in foreign language classes sometimes. They asked me about yo-ho, like pirate yo-ho and what that means compared to yoo-hoo like what grandma does to get the attention of a waiter.) Anyways, we had an awesome day together and I really hope we get to be companions at some point, because she is so great. She's in her fourth transfer.
Well, I hope you all have a Merry Christmas this Sunday! I'm thinking of you all! Mom, thank you so much for the Christmas package! That is the sweetest, cutest package and gifts ever. I feel so spoiled, you take way too good care of me. thank you!
I love paralleling the Christmas Story in the Bible to the BOM Luke 2 with Helaman 14. The sign of the star was for everyone. It appeared in jerusalem and it appeared in South america. The message of the gospel is for everyone and Christ still lives for each one of us. D & C 84:88 is one of my favorite scriptures. "I will be on your right hand and on your left hand. I will be before your face and my angels shall be all about you." (i'm not quoting it exactly right). But I love thinking of Christmas as the celebration of Christ coming into the world, and realizing that he hasn't left the world behind. He's still with us every step of the way through whatever challenge we face. I know that message is true and I'm so grateful to be here to share that with other people.
I miss you all and love you!
Monday, December 12, 2011
This week has been awesome. I love it here and am just continually more and more impressed by this ward in Caen. They were a branch and just recently became a ward a few years ago. Never in my life have I been in a ward that is so missionary oriented, it amazes me every week.
This month they have really been stressing the letter the area presidency sent out for December - the big push to have every member of the ward and missionaries bringing an investigator or less-active to church. This ward is really focusing on December 17th being the week they want everyone to bring someone. So we went to church yesterday and for a full three hours they focused on that challenge for the ward.
Relief Society was combined with Priesthood and it was so cool to be there, it was really like a family council meeting. They had Frere Destribrois (the one dad met in le Harve... their family is awesome) give the lesson and he just shared his experience inviting someone to church. He then posed the question, "what makes it so hard to invite our friends to church" everyone threw out reasons and excuses we might have to not invite people to church, then they discussed how to overcome those fears. They had a few people get up and share their missionary experiences they had had over the last week and their testimonies of why it's so important to share the gospel with their friends. At the end Frere Destribrois asked for names of inactives that the ward would like to see at church on the 17th. Within 2 minutes there was a list of like 15 people/families on the board. The ward is contacting them all this week to invite them to church. The young women wrote letters to inactive members inviting them to come to church as well. Then in Sacrament Meeting they had the ward mission leader kind of conduct the meeting and they had members share their conversion stories/missionary experiences they have had. It's so cool because instead of just talking about doing missionary work, this ward does it actively. So lots of prayers that many visitors come to church this Sunday!
At the end of Sacrament Meeting one of the members (Soeur LeCavelier) came up to Soeur Cope and I and introduced us to a woman who wants to start hearing the lessons. Soeur LeCavalier was actually a missionary and baptized this woman's daughter many years ago. The mother of the daughter just called Soeur LeCavalier and said she wants to come to church and hear the lessons. We are excited!
Our other ami is Vivian. A couple weeks ago when we visited her she had lapsed back into depression and we were really discouraged by it. Since then though she has been doing really well. She still hasn't come to church. But it was so cool because last week we came into her apartment and she was listening to classical music. So I asked who her favorite composers are, etc. and then I told her I would play the piano for her if she wants at the church... and we invited her to come take a tour of the church with us and she said yes! We're hoping she will come to actual church on Christmas. Also, we read a talk with her "It's better to look up" and \i thought of the picture of Christ mom hung by our garage door. "Look and Live" so we made her a picture (i included it in the attachments) that she can hang next to her front door. She was really touched by it.
The elders had a baptism on Saturday. The guy is 18 and is actually from Afghanistan originally. He was so strong, and is absolutely so cool. He is now considering going to BYU next year too! He started investigating the church when he was 14. It was really cool to see his baptism.
We also had Christmas Conference in Paris last week. First of all, I love our mission President. He could not be more amazing as well as his family. They are the greatest people. They had every family of every missionary send letters so we all had something to open. There was lots of crying and sniffling from the missionaries as they read the letters. Thank you so much! The Poznanski's also gave us all stockings and great talks on the spirit of Christmas, and also on the importance of never giving up and refining ourselves each day as missionaries.
We were able to go and see Marie Sylvie last week as well and get hot chocolate. She is my absolute favorite person in France I have already decided. I walked out the door and she just gave me a huge hug. She gave Soeur Cope and I Christmas gifts and was just so incredibly happy to see us. Wow, dad her family is so strong and she is such a huge strength to Le Havre. She brought a photo album of the missionaries and had page after page of pictures of Dad. (I told her she has more mission pictures of you than I think you have of yourself.) She told us the story of her conversion. She just kept saying how grateful she will forever be for Dad. At the end of our visit she got tears and her eyes and just said that she wants me to understand how much the gospel has meant to her and to her entire family and what a huge blessing dad has been in her life and the missionaries. Elder Adams (in my MTC group and is a great missionary) is serving in le Havre right now and I talked to him on the phone last night because they are going over to her house for dinner this week and really want to try to start teaching her husband.
I'm trying to think if there's anything else. We are buying a mini Christmas tree (it's real) today to put up in our apartment. We did a little more contacting this week. That I do not like very much, I will be honest. It's awkward and uncomfortable a lot of the time, but I always feel better after we do it. And, typically people are nicer to me because they see me struggling with the language so they try to help me.
Oh and Nicole is our other investigator right now (has been for a long time) and it's cool because we both lived in Israel so she's bringing all of her pictures from the kibbutze next week to show us, I'm excited!
I hope everything is going well and you're getting ready for Christmas! Thank you for all of your prayers, I really do feel like I can feel them, I feel so happy and so grateful to be here.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Dear Friends and Fam,
Thank you so much for all of your emails! I can only write family on emails, so I cant write friends by email so mail is the best for that. I love mail, thank you!
Well, I feel like week 1 was kind of the break in week and now it's starting to get down to the real deal.
It's weird, so far missionary work has been different than I thought it would be. It has been a lot more just walking, waiting and sitting in people's houses than I was expecting. For example, we went to an American woman named Sherry's house last week for lunch. Her son is baptize but she is not. She loves to have the missionaries over for lunch and dinner to her house but really doesn't feel like she needs to get baptized into any church, as long as God knows her heart. So anyways, that ended up being our day. After studies, we took the train out to the country, she picked us up, took us to her house in the countryside and we ate and were there for a long time. I was dying inside because I was always under the impression that you eat fast, share a spiritual message and then get out and go to work. The elder companionship was with us too. So we ate, and then were just lingering longer and I dont feel like it's really my place as the brand new missionary to just say "okay, well we need to share our thought now. or okay, well we need to go now." because I'm the new one. So then, we figured out that we had missed our train and there wasn't another one until 5:30 that night. So we were stuck at Sherri's house all day. (we got there at about 12.) So. I was dying inside. So then finally we start sharing a thought with her and got on the topic of why she needs to get baptized, etc. etc. it ended up being a good discussion but she is still not convinced that she wants to be baptized, etc. but she still loves having the missionaries over. aka I think we're going back next week. It's frustrating though because we were stranded there until she drove us back into town and that was really our entire day. and that's just how it feels like sometimes. For example, we went to our missionary committee meeting with the ward mission leader and I would think it would be a half hour meeting and then you go out and go back to work but it's like two hours long. This ward is so so so awesome and we have had lots and lots of dinner appointments the past two weeks which | have loved but they are always so long. I know to a big extent it's part of the French culture. For example: our mission has a different rule than other missions.... dinner appointments should not last longer than 90 minutes verses the usual 60 in other missions. But, sometimes the end of the day comes and I just feel like I could have done so much more than we have.
We had a ward council meeting last week and that was one of the first times so far I just felt really, really discouraged. First of all, this ward is amazing. amazing amazing. Everyone is so motivated to do missionary work. They have a goal this month for every member to bring a friend to sacrament meeting every week this month. Frere Destribrois (it's lionel dad, i'll have to tell him he met you!) got up to bear his testimony and had a whole list of names of friends he had written down during the meeting he says he is planning on inviting. So this ward council was largely on the subject of how to do ward missionary work. I just got so discouraged because I was sitting there and I couldn't understand basically anything at all. So, I couldn't add anything to the meeting which made me feel completely useless because usually I would love to ask questions or add comments, etc. It's the same thing at dinner appointments. When I meet someone I always like to try to get to know them and ask lots of questions and understand all about their lives. I go to dinner appointments here and try to ask some questions but can't understand the majority of their responses so I don't know what to ask follow up questions. ahhh it' s so frustrating. A lot of the time I just feel like one of those missionaries who just sits there and doesn't really add anything or help anything. So at the ward council meeting I just started wondering why the heck I am here learning French when I could have gone to an English mission instead. It would have saved at this point three months of when I feel like I could actually be effective versus right now when I'm just there and feel like I can't connect with people hardly at all.
Then on Saturday Soeur Cope and I went to go visit Vivian, our one progressing investigator at this point. We took a member, Soeur LeCavelier. She is one of my favorite ward members, I love her. She was a missionary in the Lyon mission. So we went to Vivian's and had a lesson to teach her planned on faith. She struggles with depression and social anxiety and the missionaries have been seeing her since June. Soeur Cope and I taught her a lesson last week and it was awesome and she was doing great. Soeur Cope said her depression has been a lot better in the month of November and she was making lots of progress, they were hoping she would be baptized by the end of December. Well, we did two pass bys earlier this week and she didn't answer her door. She finally called later in the week and we set up a time for Saturday. We got there and she had lapsed back into depression. it was seriously like started at ground zero with her. Soeur le Cavalier asked her some questions at the beginning and Vivian just said, "yes, I like to learn about lots of different religions, I meet with lots of different people, etc." That made Soeur cope frustrated because it was like she didn't have any testimony that our church was different than the other ones, etc. So, then we teach this lesson on faith and shared the story in Luke 18 I think it is when Peter walks on water. My french was struggling way more than usual. And Soeur Cope was struggling with her French too. I start bearing my testimony about how hard it is to have faith when we're going through hard things at the moment and can't see the end yet. I told her how it's hard for me to be here because I can't understand a lot of the time and i can't say everything I want to say but we still have to have faith and just keep moving forward everything and I almost started crying while I was saying this to her- the first time I've almost cried since I've been here. Anyways, so the lesson did not go well. Our goal was to get her to come to church, she said no.
We came home. Soeur Cope and I talked about it and we both just felt really depressed. WE talked about the lesson and about how we both just felt so hopeless in that lesson and really discouraged and the spirit was not there. It's difficult, we don't know what to do with her. She has clinical depression but Soeur Cope says she hasn't been impressed with French doctors, they just have a cure all medicines but don't always address the root of the problem. So we don't know what to do with Vivian. So we finish that lesson and as we do so Soeur Cope asks me to call Patricia to set up a second rendez-vous.
Patricia was the one we found porting (the one and only door I have ported so far.) We had a first rendez-vous with her and taught her a message about how the gospel blesses families, the Book of Mormon and the importance of Christmas. Before the rendez-vous we were so nervous. Soeur cope says she has never been so nervous for a first rendez-vous ever in her whole mission. Because she feels like this is the family she's been waiting to teach her entire mission. We taught the lesson and it went really well. Definitely imperfect, but the spirit was there and it was so great and they are such nice people! We asked if we could come back to answer questions why we are here and where we are going. She said, "why not? sure!" I called to set up a lesson for this week. She answered and she said she couldn't meet with us again next week. So I asked her about the week after. I think there was definitely some language barrier but she said to call her after next week. I think though she was saying she doesn't want to meet with us again, but because I couldn't understand maybe she just said call back after next week. I don't know, I'm hoping she'll meet with us again. I hung up the phone and told Soeur cope and we both just sat there about to cry. It was a bad night.
We haven't done a lot of contacting and I feel like I could be doing so much more. But for example in line in the grocery store today I looked at the lady behind me and said, "j'aime vos chausseures." I like your shoes. And she just kind of acted like she didn't hear me and I didn't say anything else. I just think the French culture is so different from what I'm used to. People are a lot more reserved than what I'm used to I think. We're sitting on the buses and on the trains and people look at us and whisper to each other and the other day some guy knocked on the window of the train we were sitting in and flipped us off. Oh thanks!
I'm gaining such a big love and appreciation and respect for members of the church here because here the church is small and people think we're a cult. One of our investigators told us that someone at the store last week told her that we are terrorists and some horrible cult. No idea where people even get these ideas from but, the members here are so strong. And it's amazing. Also, of how much our family has been blessed with materially. There are a lot of members who have had us over for dinner etc, and I just realize more and more how abundantly blessed with so many things our family is and so many people in our neighborhood too.
So, things here are good. One thing I have been so grateful for is the experience to study abroad in Jerusalem. I have already used stories from that with Patricia's lesson and the spirit was strong and also with our investigator Nicole. She used to work on a kibbutze in Jerusalem and we were able to talk about Jerusalem there and the Savior's resurrection, etc. So amazing.
I think mostly right now I'm frustrated that I don't talk to more people on the street or on the trains, and that I feel like I can't contribute as much as I would like right now and there is just so much I wish I was doing that I'm not right now. But, it's good. I have such a great trainer. She's really patient, I love her, she's obedient, she's awesome and I feel so blessed for that.
Funny story, we went to Soeur Gidions house on Saturday. She's this little 90 year old woman we go read Ensign articles to every week. She can never understand or hear one of the two what I'm saying to her in French. She has this little dog named Tommy who just has these patches of skin and no fur, so gross. We walked into the apartment and Tommy had pooped on the kitchen ground. haha oh man. So then at the end of every message we sing her hymns. Combination of a lot of things but Soeur Cope and I just started busting up laughing while we were singing and we couldn't stop. WE couldn't get through the hymn for a good minute. Soeur Gidoine just kind of squints at us, and doesn't say anything. I think she can't see super well and can't hear super well so we don't know if she noticed when we're not singing and laughing too hard. Every hymn we sang for her we just started cracking up in the middle and wouldn't be able to continue for a long time. It was so funny. Tommy just walking around, I'm just kind of gently kicking him away whenever he comes near me.
WE get to go to Zone Conference on Wednesday and we get to go to lunch with Marie-Sylvie on Thursday! i'm really excited. Love you and have a good week and tell me any advice that you have!
Love you all and hope you're having a great week!
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
Hi Family and Friends!
We got to the mission home and it is in the most gorgeous part of Paris. It is in this beautiful French neighborhood. We got there and Pres and Sister Poznanski are the sweetest French couple ever. Pres. Poznanski interviewed us first thing. He told me to the effect of, "you know, there's a lot of people who will probably not be very nice to you but you are here to find the elect. There are some who are ready, don't be discouraged, just keep working." I also got a really nice email from Marie Sylvie and dad she is the sweetest woman ever. Actually, she left a message on our cell phone today saying she wants to fix a rendez-vous to see us in Caen. (oh that's my area!)
Anyways, it's funny because I feel like Marie Sylvie is a prominent figure in the church in France. At the mission home I was talking to Soeur Poznanski about Marie Sylvie for some reason and Soeur Poznanski said, "oh! Pres. Poznanski just told her conversion story in zone conference last time! You're dad is that missionary??" and then I talked to some other elders and somehow Marie Sylvie came up and they were like, "your dad was that missionary??" and then my first dinner appointment was at the Destribras, a French family in the ward and she is good friends with Marie Sylvie. Anyways. Cool.
So the first night the APs (dad did you serve with an Elder Hall by the way? one of the APs dad's served in Paris and is your same age.) They took us to Consecration Hill. It overlooks all of Paris and it's beautiful because it's at night when the city is all lit up and there is just one solid "rod" of light (all the traffic I think) going through all of Paris as far back as you can see. They related the scene to Lehi's tree of life dream. Then they talked to us about the difference between being honorable missionaries and consecrated missionaries. They invited us to consecrate the next 1.5 years to the Lord there. It was really cool.
Next day we went to the Paris ward house to meet our trainers and find out our areas. I saw Bobby Elder Cannon! Mom, you'll have to tell Chris Cannon that every missionary I talk to who knows Bobby can't stop talking about what a hard worker he is. I talked to one missionary who was companions with Elder Cannon and he said, "yeah, I thought I was working hard before and then I became companions with Elder Cannon. He's the hardest working missionary in the mission." Apparently he's a "contacting machine." haha anyways, I feel so blessed because: A. I got an awesome trainer. B. I got assigned to one of the best areas of the mission with a really strong ward and where a lot of miracles have been happening. C. We have the nicest apartment ever. Way nicer than anything I lived in in Provo for sure! :)
My trainer is AWESOME. We get along really, really well. The Assistants to Pres. told Soeur Johnson and I that our trainers were going to be awesome the first night we got to the mission home and that they are some of the best in the mission. They said, "one is an absolute workhorse and the other one is the nicest sister I have ever met." I think I got the nicest one they have ever met. Her name is Soeur Cope and she has been out for 14 months. She's from Provo. If I said she reminded me of someone I know I would say she reminds me a lot of Maggie STrike. She's really, really nice and the thing I love the most about her is that she is always, always so positive and just makes things fun.
Well, I feel weird because I thought the first few days I would just come back to my apartment and cry and hate it and wonder what I’m doing here and feel so discouraged and like I can't do anything... and it hasn't been like that at all. I love it. I really do. I feel like Heavenly Father is helping make it as easy of a transition as possible for me... thank you for all of your prayers! I honestly feel like I can feel them in my life right now.
I have to tell you about a miracle that happened on Saturday. Soeur Cope took me out to go porting for the first time (door to door). Before we left we went to the store and bought those prinzen cookies that were my favorite in Germany as "celebration" cookies or as "pity party" cookies. As we were walking to catch the bus we were talking about how in the missionary miracle stories you hear when they're knocking doors is always the last door they knock in is the one who will let them inside. And that it's always the greenie who is the one to say, "just one more door, come on we can find someone." and we were wondering why it always has to be the last door that they knock on that is the magic door or whatever.
So we start walking down the street. A cute family passes us by. They pass and then I say, "that's a cute family. Should we talk to them?" So, we end up chasing them down. Talked to them, I thought they were going to let us come over, then they didn't. But come to find out that was a practice contact. :)
Soeur Cope wanted to go to a neighborhood that was actually kind of far away from our apartment. So we took the tram, took the bus out to the area. As we were on the bus, Soeur Cope looks out the window and says, "dang it. What was I thinking! They all have gates so we can't get to the front door!" So she pushes the button on the bus to get off immediately. So we get off the bus and are walking to catch a bus to a different area. I looked over to my right and the first house I see happens to have no gate blocking us from the door so I suggested we try knocking that door. So we went up to the front door. It was dark at this point. We knocked the door and a woman looks through the door window and sees that we're strangers, smiles, and opens the door. Soeur Cope gives a whole little spill about who we are and what we're doing and asks if we can come back to share a Christmas message with her family. And she said yes! So we set up a rendez-vous and are going back on Wednesday! Her name is Patricia and she was normal and nice and has a cute family (we just met one of her daughters who is 11 briefly.)
She closes the door and we walk out of the driveway and Soeur Cope starts freaking out. She said that is one of the best things that has happened to her in her entire mission (she has been out 14 months!) She said she has always just taught weird people and has been praying she can find a family to teach. Anyways, it was funny because it's the first and only door so far I have ported and she said we can teach her! So we started studying for the lesson we're going to teach on Wednesday this morning, we are so excited about it. Pray for us! It was funny because we called the other Elder Equipe in our city and told them we found a family. Elder Barney said, "Ah! Call the Cherbourg Elders and tell them you found a family to teach!) haha, i guess that is the difference between a French mission and a South American mission. Every family you find to teach here is a big deal! But I think there's lot of families that are ready, we just need to find them.
Another cool thing, My first night I was telling Soeur Cope about Marie Sylvie for some reason and suddenly she was like, "oh that's the story Pres. Poznanski shared in zone conference!" She then went on to tell me that when President had shared the Mezerai story he had read a letter Marie Sylvie had written him and she had said at one point that Elder Chard's daughter was coming to the Paris mission soon.) at that point Soeur Cope had the impression that she was going to be companions with that sister... and now we're companions!
Another awesome thing, I was at ward choir practice on Sunday and met one of the ward members. I told her my name and she asked me if I was related to someone who had gotten in a plane accident many years ago. I told her that was my grandpa! She told me that she was good friends with Grandma Connie and Grandpa Gary when they lived in the Versailles ward and that they had spent the evening with Grandma and Grandpa Gary the night before the accident. Soeur Liebard is her name and I know I have heard grandma talk about her before! Soeur Liebard said to tell grandma hi! Her husband is the bishop of my ward!
As far as the French goes, I am absolutely so incredibly grateful for the help of Heavenly Father because I know that I am not learning the language alone. I'm able to remember concepts so much better and vocabulary so much better than I ever normally would be able to. A lot of the French people in the ward have said that my French is really good for a new missionary. I have such a long way to go but I think it's a miracle I'm able to speak as much as I can right now. I am not going to lie, a lot of the time I smile when they smile, straight face when they have a straight face and laugh when they laugh. Comprehension... depends who I'm talking too. Dad, I now know what a Norman accent is... haha I have a hard time understanding people who have the super thick accents!
We have a progressing investigator who the sisters have been teaching for a few months now. Her name is Vivian and I met her for the first time a couple of days ago. She is the sweetest woman ever. She has some social anxiety and so the sisters haven't been able to get her to come to church. However, she reads BOM, she's so prepared and so perfect in so many ways. Anyways, that was my first lesson with an investigator. And.... I never thought I would do this. But I tried to commit her to baptism on my first lesson with her! And then I went on this big thing about how important baptism is, why it's such a necessary step etc. Bottom line, she needs to come to church first. I really think she will get baptized though.
Today for P Day we had Thanksgiving! We had an awesome thanksgiving dinner (we have senior missionaries in our area. I'm telling you, we have the best of all worlds!) pumpkin pie, turkey, etc. Then we had a turkey bowl. WE played touch football with the Elders serving in Le Havre (shout out to dad!) and Cherbourg and Caen. It was really fun.
What I'm learning: I feel like we could be using our time so much more effectively in so many ways. You can be missionaries who are technically outside of the apartment all of the hours you're supposed to be, you can come back at the end of the night and be tired. But, that doesn't mean that you have been effective that day. We could be contacting so much more, and I just need to be better about it. I'm scared, I'm nervous and I just don't know how to do it. But that is something I'm making a goal to overcome. Because it's so important to open your mouth about the gospel at all times and in all places we are.
Also, it's really cool. I was brushing my teeth the other day and just had a huge rush of ideas come into my mind. We teach an English class and the first one, I was thinking, "this could be so much more effective." So, I thought. Why don't we teach them English the same way I learned French? So, we're taking one of the MTC learning French books and converting the same format to learning English. I also thought, why don't we have Vivian (the investigator we're trying to get to church) ask her to prepare 15 to 20 minute French lessons for Soeur Cope and I every time we come and visit. Right now in her life she feels like no one needs her, like she doesn't have a lot of people who need her. Well, I need her to teach me French desperately so it could help her feel needed and help us at the same time! We also are teaching a less active woman right now who just has a lot going on and I thought of some things we could teach her.
It's just amazing because there are so many thoughts and ideas rushing into my mind and so many ways to be effective missionaries and I know that the inspiration is not just my own ideas. It is so amazing! Anyways though, tonight we had to go visiting teaching with this woman in the ward and it took a lot of time and I just felt like it was a complete waste of time because we didn't really do anything, we were just there. There's just a lot of things that make me frustrated (a lot with myself) that I want to change to use our time more effectively in our proselyting. and I'm excited for the challenge and I’m so excited to change and to become better and I just love it here! And I'm so excited for Christmastime! They have these hanging lights over the streets in Caen for Christmas and it is so festive and beautiful. It truly is a beautiful area.
One last funny thing, Soeur Cope took me the other day to get a "religieuse". It's like a really good French eclair. Religieuse basically means a nun in french and that's what a lot of people think we are! So it's tradition for the Soeurs in Caen to get. It was fun. I love Soeur Cope.
Oh, last thing. We're also teaching a recent convert. She was baptized by Elizabeth Smart! Isn't that cool? She's a single mom and works all the time, I think 2 jobs and so can never come to church. She has one day off on January 1st and is just counting down the days because that means she can come to church. It's so crazy to me how much I’ve taken for granted the gospel, the ability to go to church every Sunday, etc. When there are people who desperately want to be able to go and can't. We're praying she can find another job.
Okay, this is a super long email. Sorry! There's still so much more I could say... but I will stop there.
Oh last funny story: we went and visited this old woman a few days ago. She's like 94. Walk inside, horrible smell of dog pee. The dog's name is Tommy and he has huge bald patches. So gross! I tried talking to her and she kept not understanding me. At first I thought it was my accent, or just my bad French but I think it's just she can't hear well at all. It was a funny experience.
Thank you for all your prayers!
Monday, November 21, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Hi friends and family!
I am leaving in 6 days! That's so crazy! We got our travel plans a few days ago. Our flight is at 5:00 PM direct from SLC to Paris on the 21st (Monday). There's 20 of us that are going to Paris that day that will all be on that same flight. Soeur Johnson and I are the only sisters though. I'm so excited! And yes, I get to call when i am at the airport! i think it will be sometime between 2:30 and 4:00. (we leave the MTC at 1:30 and can call when we get to the airport, through security and everything.) And I will call dad too on his cell phone (that's a long business trip dad!) and I will call on Mom's cell phone.
Heather asked what my favorite part about the MTC is right now. I would have to say it's on Sunday when they have the conversion story spotlight for the sister missionaries. They have a sister missionary who is a recent convert share their conversion story and they are always incredible stories. This last girl was from Albania and she met with the sister missionaries and had the discussions about 8 years ago and then had forgotten about them. 8 years went by and she was in a school class and people in the class started talking about how proud they were they could prove there was no God. It continued and she got so passionate about it she stood up and started drawing diagrams on the board about how she knew God lives. She started asking them questions about the purpose of life and God, etc. and they went quiet and couldn't answer. She went home that night and prayed to God and thanked Him for all the blessings He had given her and asked Him how she could help Him. (This is before she was a member). She remembered the missionaries she had spoken with 8 years earlier for the first time and began being taught by the missionaries again and was recently baptized. She's going to Germany on her mission now. She came to our dorm room door a few nights ago looking for some sisters and knocked on the wrong door so I was able to talk to her for a few minutes. She is amazing. She speaks 6 languages and said, "I feel like God had blessed me to learn so many languages because He wants me to share my testimony with everyone." Anyways, that's my favorite part of the MTC.
My other favorite part is the apostle devotionals at the MTC. Not only when they actually come speak (Elder Scott came which was so cool) but we can also watch the rebroadcasts here and they are only available to missionaries in the MTC. Soeur Johnson and I watched one of Elder Holland's on Sunday night and i loved it. I love him because he gets so passionate and down to business with every single thing he talks about and he just lays it out how it is and basically the message I got from his last message was: suck it up and do it well.
He talked about a poem that I really liked: (i will probably butcher it but that's okay it goes something like this):
"Come to the edge."
"No, I'll fall."
"Come to the edge."
"No. I'll fall."
"Come to the edge."
So he went over the edge. And he pushed him off the edge. And he flew.
Elder Holland said, "Man's extremity is God's opportunity." And how our missions are a chance to come to the edge in everything we do so that we can truly be instruments in God's hands. I love thinking of it that way.
Devotional on Sunday was one of the MTC presidency again. Last time he gave a talk on the law of tithing. People were joking he would give the same talk again. And then.... he did. He got up and said, "you know, I never ever repeat a talk twice. But I have felt so inspired that I need to give another talk on teaching the law of tithing to your investigators." AT first I thought that he had literally said just about everything there was to say on tithing. Then he gave his talk and it was incredible. It was incredible because this time he was much more focused on the eternal perspective of the blessings we receive from tithing. It's cool to think that every other baptismal commitment question is based on principles you already have needed to be living. This one is the one principle investigators will not have yet lived. It is something they will be doing their entire lives and something they must do in order to be sealed as families in the temple. He showed a clip from the District (missionary discussions that they film in the field and show as part of training in the mTC) of two sisters teaching a family the principle of the law of tithing and committing them to live it. Then it showed that same family a year later (January of 2011) going to the temple to be sealed as a family. it was so cool to really think of tithing in that eternal perspective like that.
Along with temples, today is my last temple day! I am going right after I send this email for the very last time until I get home. I realize more and more every week I go what an incredible blessing the temple is to have in our lives. It's THE most important blessing we have in our lives and what a blessing it is to have so many so close to us. So here is my challenge to Dad, Mom, Danielle and Hez (as much as possible): try to go to the temple every week for the next year and a half, and I promise that it will bless your lives in so many ways if you do that. I know that by going to the temple we are given strength to do things we can't do on our own and it's the best thing ever.
I love you and will talk to you on Monday!
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Hi family and friends!
I can't believe we only have 13 days left! Well, at the same time, I feel like I have been here forever and ever and ever. I'm really excited to go! I have loved it here but sometimes there are moments where Soeur Johnson and I just look out the window at the outside world and say, "wow, I kind of feel like a bird in a cage right now." i'm excited to be out in the world again. Last night we were walking back into another block of class after dinner and there was a random elder behind us who started singing, "I can't take this any longer, thought that I was stronger...I hate this part right here." Dani and Hez have probably figured out that was a tribute to the PUssycat Dolls "I hate this part right here." I think he was having a moment of not wanting to go study at the same desk for another three hour block moment. I thought it was hilarious. Anyways, it really is amazing here though, promise.
Mom asked what a typical day is like. Well, we have a different schedule every day of the week but typically:
6:30-7:00 get up and get ready
7:00-8:00 personal study
9:00-12:00 class (mixture of PMG studying with our teachers, reading BOM in french, teaching our investigators, preparing our lessons to teach with our investigators)
Then we have gym for an hour, more personal study, about an hour and a half of personal language study, TALL (computer program for language study) and another three hour block of class with our other teacher. We also have workshops focused on "Our purpose" from PMG on Saturday nights and then devotionals on Tuesdays and Sunday nights. Then we have 9:30-10:30 to get ready for bed, write in journals, etc. I think the hardest part of the MTC for a lot of people is just the routine of sitting in the same desk in the same room for about 10 hours (probably less than that) every day and making sure that you're directing your personal study time to make the best use of it all the time. That's at least what I find the most challenging.
Mom also asked about our instructors: AMAZING. We have Frere Larimer who is a RM from Quebec and then Soeur Welch who is an RM from Brussels. I especially love Soeur Welch. She started working at the MTC right when she got home and ended up marrying one of the other french teachers here at the MTC so they both work here now. They just did an internship both of them in Paris last summer. Anyways, she's awesome because she is always down to business as far as just being super effective, giving us tons of opportunities to teach and discuss, etc. and tells us the coolest mission stories that she had. She is always giving us feedback and ways we can improve. She's at BYU right now and is almost done with school, she's going to be a high school french teacher. Tomorrow for class she's having us really focus on how to ask good questions (that's something that would be super good to work on in mission prep. mom and dad :) ). she said the difference between helping an investigator come to Christ and not connecting with them most of the times is being able to ask good questinos and to listen. So, you go to a scripture and then she said, "I'm going to make you go to heaven, ask an inspired question. Then listen." That's something we've been trying to work on a lot lately. Asking good questions is a lot more difficult than I thought and can have a huge impact I'm realizing more and more if you carefully select them. Frere Larimer is awesome too, he's engaged to a Vietnamese girl right now and is always super nice and encouraging. We have great teachers.
The other day Soeru Welch and Soeur Mortenson (another of the teachers) came into our class to role play a Plan of Salvation lesson for us. They did it in 15 minutes and did it so well. Everything was so concise, their french was amazing, and they shared two scriptures, and answered the investigators questions and everything. Right after that demonstration S. Johnson and I had to go and teach our lesson. We started walking to go teach and S. Johnson started crying. She just got super overwhelmed with everything we're supposed to do and know and teach to our investigators and french and knowing scriptures etc. And because we're leaving so soon to go be missionaries. There's definitely moments when you can feel overwhelmed. That's for sure. S. Redford had a similar experience right before she left for Madagascar and was trying to teach about prophets in french and just started crying and felt like she didn't know any french whatsoever at that moment. I have definitely had moments like that too (I haven't cried *yet*) but it's incredible to think that we can be effective missionaries and teach people not lessons that are memorized in another language. I honestly think it's incredible and have been thinking of the scripture in 1 Nephi 3:7 that God won't ask us to do anything that we can't do.
Also, our branch presidency is absolutely incredible. Dad, I'm sure you know Brother Mangum is in our presidency. Because every time I talk to him I tell him to tell you hi. But tell him that we all think he is amazing. He provides so much insight and encouragement to all of us all the time. I just had an interview with him on Sunday. He talked about how important it is to not get trunky and that if I will really work hard that french will grow exponentially and also in the gospel over the next two weeks. That is a struggle sometimes to stay really motivated and to really dig in and continue to work hard after 8 weeks of studying in the same place. Our coordinating sister made a really good point the other day. She said that this last week has been hard for her because the longer we are here in the MTC the more we start focusing on ourselves, on the things we can't do, on our weaknesses, on what we miss, on ourselves in general. Once we're in the mission field it really becomes all about the people you are there to serve and you are able to not just focus on yourself anymore. I love that thought and think that's really true as well.
We got 10 new sisters in our zone last week. Soeur Waldron greeted the first three on Tuesday and they all spoke fluent french. Soeur Waldron went up and said, "Est-ce que vous avez besoin de quelque chose?" (do you need anything?) and then she asked them where they were from in french and they went off on this huge thing and she didn't even have any idea what they said. She came back into our room and was telling us how embarassed she felt (she went into fetal position) haha but she was laughing about it. I thought it was so hilarious. and I'm just imaginging myself getting to france and the first french person talking to me and I just say, "je ne comprends pas" over and over and over. and then go into fetal position. haha jk or at least I hope I'm jk. :)
Oh anyways, so those new sisters got put in another zone and I think they're leaving early. But 7 other American sisters came in. I was talking to them the other day and said, "how are the elders? do they focus?" they said, "Yes, sometimes they get sidetracked talking about scriptures that aren't relevant though." I started laughing and said, "well, at least they're sidetracked on scriptures. Our elders are wild." then, 5 minutes later e. Burgess (my district) went running down the hall as batman (crafted out of garbage bags) and making weird noises. Typical day in our district. The new sister poked her head out the door and said, "oh, I see what you're saying now."
Elder Zwick came and spoke at Devotional on Sunday! He did an awesome job. On prayer and how when we stop praying we are putting our confidence in ourselves. Also, we just got back from the temple (our second to last time). I LOVE it more and more every time I go and realize what a huge blessing it is to have one so close! Go as often as you can!
Last thing, OLy boys are amazing. I.E. Elder Spencer Simpson. They work hard and they have fun. He was telling me all this stuff they're doing in their danish district. Oh my gosh, they're amazing, and his danish is sounding great and he is just such a good example to me of how to study and they have so much fun too. Danielle really had the best friends last year! (send him cookies! :) ) I told him you were going to. :) Love you all so so so much! and hope everything is going well!
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Hello family and friends!
I wonder if it's raining in SLC right now? It's raining here and I love it! Soeur johnson and I went jogging this morning in the MTC outside in the rain and I loved it. It was a big deal because Soeur Johnson doesn't usually like running and so it was fun and then at breakfast she ate mini wheats for like the first time since being at the MTC! Do you know what's crazy though? We have been here for one transfer already! We are on week seven in the MTC now. I had the most terrifying dream one of the first weeks that I had finished my mission and was ready to come home on a plane and I still didn't really speak french and I had no one to say goodbye too and I had completely wasted the last 18 months. It was horrible. So, hoping that's not going to happen.
Yesterday Soeur Redford left for Madagascar! We spent most of the day helping her get ready to go and everything. It's funny because when Soeur Soares (the brazilian) left all of her bags were over 70 pounds and so she had to stuff things in her carry-on bag (which ended up being like 40 pounds or something.) Soeur Redford's was much less stressful. The island she will be serving on (la reunion) apparently is like the Hawaii of France so she's excited.
This week we get 28 new french-speaking missionaries! 10 of them are sisters.... but none of them are going to Paris. Lyon and Montreal. But still really exciting! It's weird that we are now the old districts and are leaving in three weeks. I've decided that the MTC is like a cocoon (I think mom or dad said that before? and it's so true). Everyone's encouraging, you have devotionals two times a week, you are in warm buildings just learning and feeling the spirit all the time. And then you actually get to your mission and I have no idea what that will be like! But I'm excited.
We had one sister in our zone go home this week. There have been four missionaries who have gone home early in our zone since I have been at the MTC. And actually three from one district (a district has 12 people in it.) It's amazing how well they have handled it. They're always so positive about everything.
I did see Eileen Tate at the temple for a minute last week! I also saw Aunt Sylvia in the temple last week. We do go to the temple every P Day. And best thing ever, I was walking during gym time last week around the field and suddenly someone came up behind me and hugged me and I turned around and it was Brindy! (My roommmate from winter semester!) It seriously made my whole day, it was so fun to see her! Whenever I leave MTC premises I'm always looking everywhere to see if there's anyone I know around.
Also, interesting fun fact. Did you know mom and dad that in the MTC now we don't memorize D&C 4 we memorize "our purpose" in preach my gospel?
One of the best parts of the week was Sunday. We always have relief society with all the sister missionaries. This week Sister Dalton came to speak! She talked about an experience she had when she was running with her husband and she got to a hill and was giving it everything she had and then her husband still passed her on the hill. She called up to him and told her she was turning around and would meet him back at the car. He jogged back down to her and said, "don't you know that you should never stop in the middle of a hill?" she related that to serving a mission and to never stop when you're in the middle of the hill because it's so worth it at the top. She also encouraged all of us to start keeping a scripture card with our favorite scriptures and she shared with us the scriptures that are her favorites. It was such a good meeting!
Your Boston trip sounds so amazing! Ah, and perfect time of year to go! Crazy time coming home it sounds like, and dad running into a car haha that's great. Thank you so much for sending so many letters/packages! It makes me feel so loved!
I think that's all this week! Not too much to report on this week. But I do absolutely love it here! I was laughing because I did have a couple times this week that I just went into the bathroom and prayed that my companion and I could get along and it worked! We're doing great, and we're both learning and I'm loving being her companion. I'm learning how important it is to communicate all the time. It relieves so much tension. Three weeks and we're done here! I go through phases of being so ready to go and excited and other points where I feel scared out of my mind. But I think no matter how much you learn in the MTC to some extent you will feel nervous. But you learn the most through experience and just jumping into it.
Love you all and have a fabulous week! Thank you for all of your prayers! I miss and love you all!
Soeur Chard (lou!!)