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!