Tuesday, October 28, 2014

On Vacation

French Fact: It's really bizarre to travel long distances. Driving even 30 minutes is literally the biggest hassle in the world. That being said, members of the Church are slowly killing this cultural norm through youth activities, temple trips, and stake conférences. Normally if you drive more than an hour, you're on vacation, and you stay there for a week, au moins.

Why would this be relevant? You may ask. Let me tell you. Last pday, after playing tennis at the Perez family's court and emailing, Sœur Staples and I took a train to Montpellier, leaving at 13h and arriving at 18h. We started an exchange with our STLs. Sœur Francis and I visited Fanny, one of the most wonderful recent converts ever, who's stuggling a bit right now. She's a delightful human and we were able to bring some light and revitalization into her life. 

The next day, we visited a woman currently studying to be a pastry maker. No complaints there-we were well snacked. 

We also stopped by an African lady who is now engaged for baptism! In between there we were yelled at on a tram and then hit on by a different guy. Missions are fun. 

We ended by having a short rdv with a member who now has some cool activities planned with his friends. 

Also, since I have no problems in my life, Sœur Francis just asked me questions and delved into the neverending pockets of wisdom that I possess. They're actually a myth, but we don't tell anyone.

We then rejoined our collègues and Sœur Staples and I headed to Bordeaux. Yep, there it is. Again. Sœur Clark said that a sister had to bribe a guy at the airport about 200 euros to get home and she doesn't want me to do that. I said, well no worries, I'll just have to stay in France till it's done. She didn't like that. Neither did President Roney. They told me to go to BDX and stay there until I was legal. 

So I did. We went to the prefecture first thing Wednesday morning and they told me to fill out a form and they would contact me shortly. I explained that I had doubts about that because I'd actually already filled out the form. They said do it anyways. So I did. Then we waited. We did our studies. We worked. I saw Sonia who is back on the baptism track. I saw Justine at Institute. And I dropped by the Jouault's house to grab the keys from the sisters so we could get into their apartment and they told us to sit down and eat with them. I said OK. Again, no complaints. They're wonderful. Frere Jouault and I just make fun of each other the whole time. I felt bad infringing on Sœur Swenson's and Sœur Pape's rdvs, but not too bad.

Thursday we did studies and kept checking my email to see if the prefecture would send me anything. Nothing. So we went out the Gradignan. There, we had a much needed visit with the Lerbschers. They also fed us on the spot. Then we did some porting and found some less actives. And we went back to check my email and turns out my carte de séjour was done in July, but no one wanted to tell me. We met the sisters coming home from a visit with the Lancelots and also profited from the extra food she gave the sisters for us.

Friday we went to the district meeting there since we missed ours. My comp had her first kebab. She now understands. And we went to the prefecture between 130 and 245, the only time you can pick this card up. Unfortunately, we were in a long line of unprepared people and it took a while and we missed the one straightshot train to Cannes by ten minutes. So we did the next best and went halfway back, and spent the night in Carcassonne. 

The next morning, we took the first train back to Cannes at 1230 and arrived at 630pm. I also paid for that myself since the office forgot the day before and Saturday is their pray. 

Finally, we returned to our own sector where the sun is always shining and I don't have to wear a sweater. We saw Akima and the Carpios before the night was over. Both are struggling.

At Church, however, we had a great day. Everyone missed us even though we didn't tell anyone. Raphael came to all three hours of Church and brought Akima and her kids. Sandra and Tangi came. The Elders had a few amis there as well. And it was just a really good day. It's so wonderful to be back in our sector. 

We are planning on double timing it even more than before. Splits and blitzes are all chez nous from here on out. And since I'm Sister Hutchins, people literally do whatever I ask. I think it's weird, but I'm not complaining. Have a monster of a week. Love.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fresh Baguettes

French fact. Mold counts as cheese. I mean, you have your normal roquefort, which is like cheese that is only like two thirds mold but the rest is cheese. Then you have real delicacies that are only mold. Does that count as cheese? Not so sure. 

Well last Monday it rained buckets. Like go take a cold shower and that's about what it felt like. I changed my clothes three times. Which I could do because it was P day. Also we accidentally left our phone at an internet cafe. Then some guys stole it. Then we went back to get it and used the pay phones to call it. The guy reluctantly agreed to give it back. So we waited for 20 minutes in the rain for it. And by rain I mean torrential downpour. Hehe. 

We had an FHE chez Rutily that night. I like kids. They make FHEs more fun. Sometimes adults don't pay ettention if the lesson is simple because they think they don't need it. They do. Having kids there is the perfect excuse to teach them simple things. Then they pay attention because they have to get their kids to pay attention. Then we played Dont Eat Pete with candy corn. Spicing it up. 

Raphael has a baptismal date. He's got a long way to go, but he's engaged now and that's the first step I think. Toni and the Carpios want to go to the temple, so that helps us as well. Fix goals and your progress accelerates. 

We had the best ward council this week. Super effective and lots of things getting done , which is great to see. 

We showed Colette the Retab film and she loved it. She also promised to come to church when it's back in Cannes. 

And Akima is just so delightful. Also I speak portuguese. I said my first prayer. I also know how to eat fish with the bones still in it. 

OKay, here are my highlights from church. First, basically think of the people you love most in the world. Your kids, your spouse, your BFF, whoever. Then think of times when you sacrificed everything for them. You know their weaknesses and you don't care because you love them so much that you will literally do anything for them. Now imagine what the world would be like if you loved everyone like that. Go try it. 

Second, when your kids are misbehaving, you are less likely to talk to them or  help them. You send them to their rooms. Or you tell them to clean up their mess. But, when they are polite and respectful and sage, parents are much more likely and willing to help. God is like that. He is more likely to help us when we are behaving ourselves. 

Third, Frere Perez's son gets home from his mission in December. He is so excited he is already planning a party and a snowboarding trip the very next day. He loves his son a lot and is excited to see him again. Again, that's like God. He sends us out here and all he wants is to bring us all back. He wants to have a huge party. Celestial kingdom. 

Well that's all I have. It's short, but you can handle it for a while longer. Love. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Raphael. That's all.

Family Photos are such fun!
French fact. They do, as per the stereotypes, carry baguettes around under their arms. Berets, no. Baguettes, yes. Also, the French stereotypes of Americans is baseball hats and chewing gum. Accurate. 

All I want to talk about this week is Raphael. I will also tell you our ami Toni has a baptismal date. Back to Raphael. 

I met him, stopped him from crossing the street and told him I had a one minute questionnaire. He agreed. I talked to him for 30 minutes, teaching him the first two lessons because he just kept asking questions. I asked if we could meet again and if we could pray with him. He said no. So I said, fine, at least take this BOM. He said ok and left. 

Ten minutes later, we were still there waiting for an ami to show up and Raphael literally comes running around the corner to see us. He said he would meet with us again. We fixed a time. 

A week later, Soeur Houasse and we went over to his house and despite the fact that he only kind of believed in God and only wanted to meet with us because we were delightful people, we had a great rdv. We talked about who God is in a way he could understand. The spirit was strong. He agreed to come to our ward activity. He said he didn't want to pray. But I convinced him. 

Halloween package minus most of the candy
The following Saturday he came and brought his 15 year old daughter. She spent the whole time with the little kids and he played basketball with the adults. We all ate barbequed sausages together. He told us this came at a good time in his life and he really liked the community. I told the bishop to talk to him (sometimes French people forget that they need to do that). The bishop invited him to church. 

He came to church. Only to the Sacrament. But he came. He even tried to wear a button down, but he burnt it while he was ironing it. Silly Raphael. He sat near us and sang and prayed. (And then bragged about it later, hehe). He said he really liked it and that although he didn't agree with all of the talks, it felt good. 

He was busy and we didn't see him until he came to church two weeks later. He came in a white shirt and suit and everything. Still kind of felt awkward amidst the crowd of people that knew each other, but that he didn't know. That was a crazy day. I had to find a ride home for Akima and her two kids, so I rushed around doing that really quick before everyone left, but by the time I was done, he was gone. I called him later to apologize and we fixed a rdv. 

He cancelled last minute because he had to go to a birthday party. 

We called the next week and fixed a rdv. We weren't sure what to expect because last we'd really checked in, he still wasn't interested in taking lessons. Only with being a part of our community because we were all friendly. So we tried to make it lighter, but he testified about the spirit at church and asked about baptism and a few other things. We told him about how we have a living prophet and general conference and stuff and he said he'd look at it and come to church. For the first time I felt like his heart was softened enough to really start getting down to business. 

So we wanted to get him to come to church earlier than the last hour. We therefore asked him to take Akima and her kids. He agreed to coming an hour earlier. This week we had our first Gospel Principles class ever. I taught it and Fr Perez made lots of comments. Meaning it was exactly what we wanted it to be. We had some extra members, some less actives, lots of amis and missionaries there. IT was awesome. 

Then in Sacrament meeting, a guy from the high council spoke all about missionary work and hastening it and it was so cool. Pumped up all of the ward. Everyone came over and talked to Raphael afterwards (with a little prompting). And Akima's kids were really attached to him and followed him around like little puppy dogs. He loved it. He told us afterwards that the class we had before Sacrament was awesome and if church was always like that, he'd have to come early every week. Yes, yes, you must. 

I love Raphael. He's just a good guy. He loves his family and he feels the spirit. He's so cool. If he was my friend at home, I would think to myself, he's so cool I wish he would come to church with me because we would have a good time. Anything is better when you're with people you like. It's funner.