Monday, July 21, 2014

Always Remember Him

French Fact:  I just got dad's letter where he met a Portuguese family and couldn't understand them. I laughed because that's what France is like every day. Seriously, you meet people from everywhere. So at this point, my one liners in other languages is significantly increased and I can now tell everyone I speak a little of their language and bear a short testimony. Oh, you don't speak French. English? Italian? Spanish? Portuguese? Dutch? Arabic? Lingala? Wolof? Ewe? Russian? German? Czech? I could go on. 

Not sure if you heard, but about two weeks ago, our mission had 22 BAPTISMS in a single week. Did I hear someone ask for a miracle? There you go. 

As a reward, our dear President Roney gave us all permission to stay out late and see the fireworks on Bastille day, France's national holiday, and then to sleep in late on Tuesday. It was awesome. We scheduled a last minute FHE with the family Rodriguez and they fed us and were wonderful. They are a Portuguese family and they're preparing to go to the temple. They have three crazy girls who are on vacation and one cute little baby boy. Adorable. They would have us over every day if they could.We had a wonderful time talking about Daniel and the lions den since they don't know the Bible very well. Then we walked down to the beach to watch the fireworks. It was a good show. It was also put on by the Italians. #frenchpride With scores like Batman and Pirates of the Caribbean, who can complain? No one, especially when there are loud, shiny explosions right above the beach you're sitting on. 

We slept in on Tuesday and then went to a lunch appointment with a part-member family. Only to find out that all four Elders were also invited. We all made a mental note to make sure we clarify that that's contrary to regulations, and then sat down and enjoyed a bounteous feast. 

Here in Cannes, we've just kind of hit the ground running. Our stove and hot water finally work. Kind of. We have a member list, which has no addresses on it and half of the phone numbers are wrong. We acquired the member book from the Elders and we're trying to figure out this ville and the bus system. Quel horreur. We had our first lesson with an ami we then dropped because he wasn't actually interested. 

And we hiked literally up a mountain to visit a less active family called the Turners. She is 88 and funny and her new husband Brian is an Englishman who has done tons of research on Joseph Smith and the mormons on the intellectual, factual side. He doesn't actually understand too much French, which is weird. They live near her son, Philippe, who has weird facial hair, but is delightful as well. They loved us and they have already started calling me Chef. They came to church on Sunday and Soeur Turner just said to me, Look around. Out of all the people here, you chose us to visit. Why did you choose us? I had no response other than inspiration. The Lord leads and I try to keep up. 

Kind of like my comp and I climbing that mountain. It was at least a 90 percent incline. I still feel it in my calves. 

We got the chance to go to zone training this week and it was awesome. We had it in Antibes' villa chapel and it was led by Elders Davis and Pettingill, both wonderful. It kind of sparked some interesting studies on the Sacrament and on prayer and we have goals to increase the efficacity of both. It's been good so far. 

I thought it was going to be a simple study, but it's turning out to be really just connected to everything. The Atonement especially. I love and have a great appreciation for this selfless and eternal act. I know it happened. I know that's the key to God's plan for us. It's wonderful, isn't it? 

Today as I was learning about the Sacrament, I was thinking about how the water we drink represents the blood that was shed for us because Jesus Christ's spiritual agony for our sins and sufferings. It's interesting to note the progression of the gospel in this aspect. 

Back in Moses' day, they used to do live sacrifices of animals that represented the sacrifice that Jesus would perform. Moses then sprinkled the animal's blood on the people to represent the covenant. Apostasy happened, human sacrifices and idol worship and other gross things fought for precedence in the hearts of the people. 

Years later, when the time was right, Jesus came to earth and fulfilled this law, installing and initiating the higher law. He performed the great and last sacrifice and the blood was changed to wine, which was drunk weekly in rememberance of this sacrifice. Then the apostasy happened, thing were changed and lost and deformed. Even the scripture were altered. So remnants of Jesus' church tried to pull itself back together with the resources that remained. Not an easy task, I assure you. But today, in various Christian congregations, we see evidence that people didn't quite agree on how it should work, etc, and the sacrament or communion is performed differently. 

Anyhow, yet again when the time was right, the gospel was restored to the earth and the higher law we were supposed to be living was amped up just a bit more. Now, in place of wine, we use water. Living water is representative of Jesus Christ and should help us to remember him. But the interesting thing is that if you look over the alterations of substances that has occured over time, from blood to wine to water, it's slowly becoming more and more pure. Like we need to do. Interesting. 

In other news, at church on Sunday, someone called us the sunshine of the ward and at ward council they talked for about twenty minutes about how anyone we talk to is just lifted and touched by what we say. I don't know how that's been happening because all I say is hi a lot of times, but there you have it. The light of Christ at work. I love you all. Now get out there and get to work yourselves.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Forever Lyon

French fact: Cannes is like America. In that there are American movie stars painted and imprinted everywhere. Also, there are a lot of American tourists here. And almond milk still comes in a box. (But, so does every other kind of milk, so I guess that's a little weird. Also the smallest jar of PB will cost you five bucks.) 

As explained previously (as long as my memory is good, which is doubtful at this stage), I travelled a day early to get to Lyon. This permitted me to have so many opportunities that I think I might accidentally travel up there early every time. 

Monday night, Soeur Carter slept over with us, so I got to spend some quality time with her. She said this would be the last time we'd see each other before she dies. This is funny because 1. I vaguely remember Grampy saying something similar to me right before I left on a mission and 
2. With my track record, I will see her several more times. The fact that I've managed to see her at least a few times a transfer and that I've never stayed with a comp for more than one transfer...It's not a lost hope. 

Opportunity number two came late that night when all the dying missionaries came in to go to bed for like four hours before they had to get on a plane the next day to return home. Soeur Hulme was there, we took a picture, and then she told me how awful dying was and how much everyone cries. Gross. I was just happy to see her and did not want to hear anything about dying. 

Next opportunity was me getting to spend all of Tuesday working in Ecully with Soeur Witt. She's one of those really quiet, but very lovely and interesting people. And we had a great day contacting and passing by people and porting for the Ecully soeurs, aka Soeur Carter and Floisand. That night, we reunited with the trainers for the traditional trainer's meal at the pizza place. Francois the Leader cut us a deal-pizza, drink, and dessert for the price of a pizza. And Elder Thompson told me all about how 'dope' Cannes is. Wonderful. 

Wedsnesday we had a meeting for the trainers, during which I just told funny stories about when everyone's nightmares came true during my last two training experiences. I was trying to show them that all of the things they're worried about will probably happen and that it doesn't really matter, but it might've done more harm than good. Ah well. I love training. 

We went to the Ecully chappelle and we ate with all the new missionaries. As per usual, I sat with all the Elders and made them tell funny stories. Soeur Schreiber is my new comp. She's from SLC, although her dad is German and her mom's from Guatemala. She studied French for six years and speaks alright. She loves Korean soap operas and is extremely humble. I like her a lot. 

We did a lot of practices, learned how to questionnaire people, various other skills. Then, we had to stay the night so she could do her legality the next day. So we went out to eat at Flunch, where the hamburgers are not cooked all the way and the potato balls are delicious. We contacted some cool people on the metro on the way back. The other day, I just remember looking around at the metro when everyone was smiling and talking to missionaries and I thought THIS is how it should be. Normally, people are quiet and cranky and stick to themselves. But that metro was just a buzz of happy. It felt good.

We spent the next day doing legality and menial office tasks and getting people on their trains because we had to stay AGAIN because we couldn't get back to Cannes before 11pm. So we stayed the night, chilled with Soeur Roberts and Richardson and made pancakes, buttermilk syrup, and hot chocolate. We were up bright and early the next day to get our train to Cannes. 

The Elders met us at the Gare, forgot buses exist, and helped us drag our suitcases (and all of our supplies) to our apartment. It took about forty minutes up a steep hill. Being the most chivalrous of sisters, I took the heaviest bag, which soon had a wheel break, and I dragged pure friction up that hill. I was sweating like no other. All the while I was really impressed at the other Elders and how fast they were walking. Then one of them switched me when we got to our parking lot and it was like I was pulling feathers. So much for trying to preserve my suitcases. I tried hard. 

We bought some food and unpacked and found a map and showered and went to bed. Saturday we studied and then did some contacting before a sweet ward activity. We played soccer, during which I was actually competitive. That's right. I can defend like a boss. Par contre, it was hard not to get too physical. I tried hard :) 

The ward is so excited to have sisters. That night and Sunday at church everyone came up and said we're so happy you're finally here! Mama Gentil even kissed my cheek for ten seconds. Wow. The Elders just handed me a member list and book, so now the work will begin. Still waiting on a working stove or oven or hot water in the shower. Yes, Elder Hutchins, even in France we take ice cold showers. But it's so hot here that  I can't afford not to shower. In other news, I have a bazillion mosquito bites on my left calf. Vive la France! Happy Bastille Day. Have a good one. Love.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

French fact of the week: Every year there is a huge film festival in Cannes. I think it's in May. Correct me if I'm wrong. Why does this interest you? Well, we got transfer calls and I will be moving there and opening a new equip of sisters and also training! I forgot what it's like to train. And also only have two exchanges a transfer. Cannes is also hot and right next to Nice. Soeur Luthi says I will be sunburnt. Skin cancer. That's what that is. Please direct me to the nearest sun screen. And hooray for puns only my ex-ZLs would love. Credit to Soeur Luthi for the title. In other news, Soeur Jones is going to be my new STL. Less than no complaints on that one. Love her. 

Today, Monday, I took a train at 9h30 and arrived at 17h00 in Lyon and nobody knew I was coming. Surprise. Turns out my ticket was for tomorrow, but nobody cared on the trains, so glad that trip is over! Met the STLs at the Gare and now I am not feeling in the mood at all to email. Sorry if this is going to be lame. Also, some last minute changes made it so I was on the train with people, but their assigned seating was all the way at the other end of the train. So a long train ride alone, stressing out about my luggage being stolen, and eating homemade banana muffins and sandwiches, thanks to Soeur Luthi. What a great human. 

Here's the week. We had our last exchange of the transfer! Soeur Pagano and I found a new ami who is from Sénégal. I love all people from this country. They are wonderful. 

We also had homemade French toast on brioche, with buttermilk syrup, and strawberries. We started porting and second one we ring, a man named Stan walks up and says Hey! Are you the Mormons? Can you come over and pray with me? Yes. Yes, we can. And we can teach you too. He's from Guadelupe and his sister was meeting the missionaries in Paris, so he met them before.

Then we sparked soeur Petit hardcore with some beautiful piano music. And also Soeur Pagano's delightful personality.
This week was really full of member visits, which was cool to do, especially since I knew I was leaving all week. We ate at the Tran-Congs which only wasn't awkward because her less active and very talkative mother was staying. They are a very quiet couple, but the mom really spiced it up. Also Frere Tran Cong grew up in Annecy! So that was awesome to remember all the people I love there. 

Soeur Fleureau was welcoming and she practically force-fed us a whole cake and almond chips. It didn't even seem like she was upset because we were over two hours late. Extrenuating circumstances involved a trek through the Sahara. And we definitely previewed her on it, so it wasn't too much of a shock. 

We kept helping Soeur Lerbscher get her new place ready to move into. We scrubbed the dungeon floor this week. Perfectly ready for all the prisoners. Or food storage, not really sure which. After we left, I was starving for some reason and a kid at the bus stop ate an entire tube of pringles as we waited. The fact that a majority of our amis and potentials are doing Ramadan right now prompted the following remark. That kid keeps eating his Pringles and I feel like a Muslim at Ramadan. There you have it, I now have more sympathy for them. 

Cup du Monde. When France wins, everyone drives around on the streets and when they pass a bar, they honk their horns really loud and frequently. This subsequently causes all the drunk men to run out into the middle of the street yelling and dancing and cheering and running into things. Vive la France! 

America Day. I love America so much. You have to not have things to notice how much you love them. I don't have America right now and boy do I appreciate the land of the free and the home of the brave. So much so that we celebrated by wearing flag colors, eating fried chicken (granted, it was Halal), and making flag-colored pancakes. 

District Meeting was a review of miracles. Faith-building. We also had fajitas and Magnum bars for lunch. Elder Adamson added as a side-note that it would be cool to create a Hebrews ch 11 for our missions. Challenge accepted. 

In other news, a bunch of people's calls were changed mid-week, including Elder Adamson's. He is now moving to Montpelier. And his equip is being whitewashed. So we are now teaching Justine's BFF, Sarah. A wonderful young adult who is so ready for her baptism this month.

Valerie. Doing Ramadan. She is wonderful and notices the differences in her life because of the gospel and meeting the missionaries. I only wish that would motivate her even more. 

Sonia. Officially dropped us this week. I am still confused by that. She will be baptized one day. For now, I'm just going to chalk it up to family issues that she can't explain to us when we go to her house. 

Malo. Our ami who we successfully set up with a member, although not too proud of that one. It's weird for everyone involved. He's...going. Slowly, but surely. 

Saturday was baptism day for the whole mission. Stephen, the BDX ZL's ami was the baptism for us. He is so cool. He researches online when he has questions and finds answers himself. That's the coolest. He is sad a bunch of missionaries are leaving, but he'll be ok. 

Church on Sunday was also awesome. The Magré's brought their neighbors to church! Yay for missionary work. I said goodbye to dying missionaries. Elder Heck. What a wonderful person. And then we rounded it off with a very delightful evening chez les Jouaults. We had a delicious pasta salad and chocolate cake. I'm going to need the recipes for both of those things. 

I learned France's version ofSassafrassin', or 'dang' for old people. Aka my parents. And we just had a good night with them. Justine and Sarah and chatted about our families and it was just pleasant. Then I came to Lyon! Voila quoi. Also don't have my camera right now, so I'll have to get on that next week. Sorry again for the rushed quality of this letter. Love.