Monday, September 15, 2014

Running Running Running (like a constipated weiner dog)

French Fact: We only have time for one activity per day here. For example, Monday I go to the doctor's. Tuesday I do to the hairdressers. Wednesday, I do yoga. Thursday I walk the dog. Friday I take a nap. Saturday I go shopping. Sunday I go to church. I'm booked all week!  

The French people thought we were crazy when they heard about our day Saturday. We came back from Lyon, taking an early four hour train ride. We ran to our apt, half an hour away to eat lunch. Fifteen minutes later, back to the Gare to take a train to Antibes. It took us about an hour to get to the church. We taught a lesson. Back to Cannes to meet with a less active. Ran across the city to teach another lesson. Then back to Antibes again for a dinner appointment. Finally, back to Cannes for some sleep. Traveling stresses me out. It sure would be nice if everyone's schedules could work together and make this convenient for us. But, alas, I digress. 

Our rdv with a member and her friend, M. Dion, was sadly interrupted by the woman's Catholic daughter who is extremely against Mormons. Despite the fact the she doesn't know who we are. She accused us of preying on the weak and brainwashing people. We excused ourselves and will let it lie for a bit. Later on, M. Dion told her member friend that she can do what she wants and her daughter has no say. Still, we like to have peace in the family. 

We're still teaching Eloisa and Colette. Both going pretty well. Raphael came to church. And Sandra, the engagee from St Raph finally saw us. I felt like I was a marriage counselor, but we also worked through a lot of things. They're both willing to put in some effort to better their lives and that's always good to see.          They have enormous potential for good in this world. 

As far as less actives, we had one officially drop us and another pick us back up. Akima had some serious trouble in Portugal and will now be coming to church every week and inviting us over as much as possible. That'll be nice. We've had to insist a bit in the past. Par contre, Soeur El Klai, who loves our visits, suddenly decided she doesn't want to see us for a while. 

En plus, we saw Soeur Cocq this morning at a funeral and she still remembers and loves us. Albeit, we did walk the pioneer trek to find her hidden house. But she is lovely. 
We went to Lyon for a combined ZC with a third of the mission. Meaning I got to stay at Soeur Jones' house and have a waffle party. 

President has set up so perfectly our next transfer as Sississtants. He said, I don't know where one face begins and the other ends! We bugged him and the Assistants the whole day about putting us together to kill each other. No one else could handle it. 

We heard from Elder Ballard at our Zone Conference. As per usual, everything he said was in PMG (Preach My Gospel Manual). We don't come up with new doctrine, we just steal each other's stuff and teach it again. He emphasized asking questions to check understanding, having a sense of urgency, and treasuring up the word no matter how many times you've read it. 

We have a new DMP! Aka ward mission leader. And he's one of my favorite members. He's funny and enthousiastic and efficient and here to hasten the work. On y va.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Story of My Life

stairway that goes on and on and on
French Fact: Not sure if this has more to do with me or the French people, but I've had several people tell me this week that they don't like how I look at them. Apparently I look into their souls and it kind of creeps them out. One was a member who said it was a good thing. Another was a weird guy on the train that said I was manipulating the conversation until BAM. Not sure what the BAM is, but there you have it. 

As per usual, we had approximately two days out of our scheduled seven spent on a train and in Montpellier for our exchange. Nothing unusual to report there. 

We also saw the Ashton family, Americans that know President Roney and have a lot of super active family, but are not active themselves. Soeur Ashton was really hesitant about letting us in, making excuses about how the kids were busy and stuff and then Carter, the 7 year old, says I don't have anything to do! So she let us in and we talked for probably two hours. During which, she told us almost her whole life story, told us where the best porting neighborhoods are, and insinuated we'd be welcome back. At least that's how I took it. 

We are teaching a lady named Christine Dion, who is a friend of a member and has 80ish years. Wowzers. But hey, she committed to baptism and is progressing well. Way better than expected anyhow. 

Our other ami, Colette, is also progressing, slowly but surely. She read Enos this week! And she keeps saying that she likes to just take pieces of different religions and will do the same with the BOM. She just can't accept everything written in this wonderful book. However, she believes everything that she's read so far. 
We also started teaching the Elders' ami, Eloisa, who is often alone at her house so the Elders have trouble teaching her. She is very willing to learn but is easily distracted and has trouble understanding. Doucement. She is actually a really old ami, but they lost contact for a while. Then, she was reviewing an old calendar and seeing what she did on the same day a year ago and turns out she had had a rdv with the missionaries. So she decided to recontact them. 

Ward Council is fun. Once we get passed all the boring ward stuff and get to missionary work. Then we get to tell lots of fun stories about our amis, everyone argues about whether to have baptisms in the ocean or the pool, and I get to be in charge because everyone else gets distracted. But it's so funny. 

Interesting story of the week. We sat near a man on the train to Montpellier. We started talking and he was asking questions and telling us that he was still atheist despite what we told him. A while in, he just turns around and asks a random guy, Are you hearing this? These people are real Mormons. Do you know what Mormons are? The guy just says No, I have no idea. I've just been listening to music. And then he comes and sits with us. We had a jovial conversation, the old man may have tried to set us up with the random guy, and also everyone thinks we're a weird mixture of nuns and monks. Jokes on them, we're much more fun!

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Storm is Coming

French Fact: Some people come to the azure coast to vacation. Of the people that live here, half of the people are kind of like tourists in that they like going to the beach and worrying about superficial things. (Half are most likely illegal immigrants.) 

The other half are wonderful French people that don't like the tourists or the superficial people and they just somehow ended up living here. Case in point, Fabrice, and his two daughters Claire and Clemence. They asked us what we were doing here and so we explained a bit and the whole family was really involved asking questions and explaining their values, what they disagree with in the Catholic church they attend. It is always refreshing to talk to people with similar values. We gave him a BOM and he kept repeating, I will keep it preciously. I don't think that translates the same into English, but you get the idea. 

On another note, so many people on the Azure coast use cars that they are the best stick shift drivers I've ever ridden with. Second only to Bishop Kitley. I'm planning on lessons btw. 

This week was insanely tiring. It started off with a challenge from Elder Peterson to get 30 lessons this week, and it all kind of spitballed from there. It was cool because literally ALL of our 15+ ami lessons fell through, so we had to do some scrambling to replace them. Our contacting increased in energy and focus and we really tried to teach people on the streets rather than just plan another time to do that same thing. We'd try to get them to sit down with us for a minute and listen to us and we met so many cool people! 

Let it be known, these are not all people that will be seeing us again soon, but judging once again on the number of tears shed by these people, I am fairly confident that we did some good work and faith building. We also are living all of the controllable standards of excellence, meaning we saw three members and five less actives this week. 

One of those is Akima, who actually recently decided that she doesn't like us visiting. Probably because we call her to repentance. Par contre, her children love us. And whenever we go over, they beg their mom to let us come over tomorrow. That's the secret. Get in with the children. 

We visited the friend of a member this week, Christine Dion. She's really old, but really loved our message and agreed to let us come back. So that's cool. 

We taught Ismael in the parking lot of a Muslim mosque. He chose the venue. That being said, he only comes from a Muslim background and is searching elsewhere for the truth. We met Uric, a self-proclaimed hobo reporter who speaks impeccable english and has lived in Australia, Turkey, Lebanon, and India. He's 25 and due to his revealing reportages and various angry groups, he's already taken two bullets. He also spends his whole day going out of his way to make other people happy. What a delightful soul. 

Adelito and Antunes are both Portuguese Catholics that have already met the church in Portugal and are willing to act to find out more. 

Here's Soeur Schreiber's favorite story of the week. We saw three black guys sitting on the steps of a building, so I go up and start talking to them. They're Catholics from Cape Verde and somehow related. One of them is older, the others are 31 and 25. The old guy just keeps saying over and over again that he doesn't understand english, but he speaks French and he speaks better Portuguese. He probably said that 300 times. 

So I ignored him and let Soeur Schreiber listen to him while I started trying to teach the other two the Retab. After charming them with my limited knowledge of Brazilian Portuguese, they listened a bit. I showed them a Portuguese Retab pamphlet we had and we talked about the Book of Mormon and the first vision. This is all pretty spiritual, while being interrupted by the old man. 

So eventually, I just get one of the kids to calm him down and read to him out of the brochure. He listens like a little child. The other young guy gets a phone call and his friends ask him to come meet them at the bus stop, so he's trying to get us to all go walk down there together. Anyways, Danny, the 25 year old reading the brochure to the old man, says, Wow. I really like this message, I would like to learn more. So we exchange numbers so we can meet him without the old man yelling the same things over and over like a crazy guy. 

The other guy, Tavares; 31yrs, decides he also wants to exchange numbers. But he says, No, I don't want the missionary number, I want YOUR number. I laughed and said haha, yeah right. You can have the missionary number and only if you really want to learn more about Jesus Christ. Then the crazy old man yells NO! HE WANTS TO MARRY YOU! And starts trying to convince me it's a good idea. He's alone, you're alone...Please. Eventually I just yelled NO ONE IS GETTING MARRIED HERE TONIGHT. To which they all laughed and we ran away telling Danny we'd call him.

In other news, Raphael came to church and loved it despite the fact that he disagreed with some things. So that was cool. And we ended up with 26 well-earned lessons and my brain is so tired. We are rewarding ourselves with ice cream. Then we're gonna do it again.