Saturday, November 5, 2011

I did speak english once, right?

November 5, 2011

Happy Halloween! Following the suggestion of Soeur Emilcy, she and I had themed costumes this year. We decided to dress us as Mormon missionaries -name tags and everything -we went all out. ;) And then, as par tradition, at the end of the day we even went trick-or-treating. A.k.a. we went porting. ;)

Sunday we had a weird "coincidence." Soeur Emilcy and I'd planned to go contacting, but when the hour arrived, felt contacting on the street was not what the Lord wanted us to do. We thought about porting. Also not it. In the end, we decided to go to the apartment and call the people in our area books. I love area books. The first thing I do when I get to a new city is to go through the book and see if there is anyone who is no longer being taught that may still have potential. However, there are a few pages in there I don't like to deal with: potential investigators. Whenever we contact someone who gives us their name/address/phone number etc, a member gives us a referral, or the church sends us a name, they are entered into the "potential amis" page. From there, if lessons are started, there's a spot to mark that they've been taught. Generally, if they are still on the list and were never taught after being contacted, there is a good reason for that. Like...they tell us never to call them again; we're a sect; they gave us a fake number; etc. So...not my favorite list to blindly call. I just don't have a testimony of it's success. But, we felt it was what the Lord wanted us to do. So...we did it.

There are several pages of names in the book. There are a couple pages from the summer of 2010 that have virtually no information/commentary about the people, nor anything stating if they were passed to other missionaries, taught, etc. So we figured half of them had probably been passed to other missionaries around Paris, but we needed to call them anyway just to be certain. One of them is named Jean. Soeur Emilcy called him. She stated who we were and asked if he remembered meeting the missionaries. He said, "Yes. I actually have a couple of the brothers here. I think they are in your ward." "Oh really? You're sure they are members of our church and not Jehovah Witnesses?" "Umm...yeah I think so. I don't know them very well though. Their names are Elder Hall and Elder Duarte." Those two elders happen to be the assistants and are most definitely members of our Church and in our ward! Soeur Emilcy just laughed confirmed that he was right. Then told him that we'd love to see him at church and that that was proof that we were doing our best to take good care of him ha ha. Hanging up the phone, knowing Jean was a single man, I just assumed that the sisters passed him to the assistants a long time ago, but forgot to write it down. We laughed for a while about the coincidence of that timing, but moved on thinking nothing more of it. About thirty minutes later the elders called. "Did you just call someone?" (Yes. Quite a few people actually.) I told them what we'd been doing and that I figured the sisters forgot to mark that they'd passed him. Then, not believing in coincidences, I was curious about Jean. So I asked about him and their side of the story. When Elder Duarte got to the area, he flipped through the area book, found Jean and noticed that he was from the same country as Elder Duarte's father. So...sure why not. He wrote down his information and planned to contact him some day. He's carried that piece of paper around with him for three weeks now and felt impressed to visit him Sunday night. They had never met him before. They knocked on his door. He let them in. They talked for a couple of minutes then started with a prayer. Right at the end of the prayer, Jean's phone rang. "I'm sorry. But I have to answer this." Jean picked up the phone and guess who was on the other line! The sisters! God was making sure Jean had contact with the missionaries that night. He told the elders that he's very active in his church, but if this church is true, his ties to his current church don't matter and he'll join. He explained to the elders that they couldn't convince him to join though. He'd have to pray. "I know God will tell me if it's true." I love when investigators "teach" us what we'd planned on telling them all along. =) So now it's up to Jean. He could be a major miracle story as long as he does his part and listens. If nothing else, both the assistants and Soeur Emilcy and I had our testimonies of God directing us and this work strengthened that night.

Tuesday marked the beginning of a new month (Where did October go?!) Meaning, my eleven month mark. To "celebrate" we had our regular transfer exchange. This time it was with the sisters in Louise -the other ward in Brussels. (I haven't served there, but it's where Sister Woodruff was trained.) I didn't realize until our train was pulling into Brussels and I saw that city, how very much I've missed it. I felt like I had gone home. =) Walking though that gare and that city again felt so surreal. It was like this fictional city and story I have in my head; a story that says that I used to live there suddenly became real. I told Soeur Emilcy it's probably a small fragment of how I'll feel when I actually go home. I feel like everything about home could just been a story I've created, or a film I've seen. It's a story I know really well, it really true ha ha? I LOVE Belgium. =) It was just wonderful to be there again. And there were so many little things I'd forgotten that just made me smile when I saw/heard them again. (Most of them are French words or phrases that no one else says outside of Brussels, or I'd explain them to you.) I was with Sister Woodward and Sister Ingram. What cute girls! They are just dolls. It was just an amazing exchange. But, one flaw: English. They are both American. I'm American. They speak English. Doesn't sound like there's a problem there. I know. But there is. Problem: apparently I can't speak English. Not speaking it anymore has absolutely destroyed my ability to speak! I was having the hardest time staying in English - constantly slipping in French words or phrases, or just altogether forgetting how to say certain words in English. It was ridiculous. ha ha Honestly, eleven months into the field, several months left to go -there is absolutely no hope for me when I get home. ;) "I am just a disaster!"  ha ha

Last night we had our first rendez-vous with a lady named Rita. She is one of the people we found during our Sunday "finding" session. She was another person that had no information next to her name other than her number and address. She was more than willing to meet with us and fixed a rendez-vous right away when we called. We got talking with her and I honestly expected that she'd had contact with the missionaries that just hadn't been documented. Nope. Apparently, the sisters contacted her on the street, and (African that she is) she was more that happy to give them her information knowing that they wanted to talk about Jesus. But that was the last contact she'd ever had with the missionaries until now. So we got to start at the very beginning with her. I love those rendez-vous. When you get to really set the foundation without any preconceived notions from their past lessons, it's just...wonderful. =) We talked to her about the restoration of the church and the Book of Mormon (typical first rendez-vous.) I invited her to be baptized when she has her own testimony. She gladly accepted and begged us to tell her how and when she could get her hands on a copy of the Book of Mormon so she could start reading it as soon as possible. She was thrilled when we told her she could keep the one she was holding in her hands. She's fantastic! She's from Congo Kinshasa -just like Philomene. And boy is she ever like Philomene! She's toned down in personality, but her mannerisms, style of speech (not just accent), her openness to the gospel, etc. It was such a flash back to my Paris Lilas days to be with Rita. And that is never a bad thing. =) I just really hope I get to be here when we teach her about temples and can tell her there will be a new one in her home town! I'm so excited to work with her. She's going to be incredible. The only down side to that rendez-vous was leaving it. We went out and waited for our bus with two very drunk men. The one was at the point that he was struggling with his aim in getting his can of beer to his mouth (never really succeeding the whole time we were there.) In between attempts to take another drink he was doing his best to show off his German Shepherd to us. The alcohol in his system could be smelled from a mile away, but otherwise, he was pretty harmless. However, our other sauced friend was convinced he had to tell me about everything he knows about Jesus. He got down to the details of Greek vs Hebrew words. Sorry frère, the French you speak combined with the alcohol you've ingested causing you to slur something fierce, coupled with your logic about the existence and deity of Christ are more or less lost on me. But...I'll give you points for persistence. I was SO happy when that bus finally showed up. That may have been the longest four minutes of my life. We got on the bus. I greeted our bus driver and thanked him (he'd seen the situation.) He just smiled and said, "I'm sorry. I got here as fast as I could." ha ha

Last thing to tell you about from the week was our P-day today. I love today. We did our shopping then quickly ate lunch. Soeur Emilcy laughed at me a bit for my choice of how to pass my lunch hour, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Nothing beats Mango nectar, French cheese/bread, apple sauce and an episode of The District. (The District has become my favorite series! Possibly because it's the only one I can watch -not being allowed to watch TV, but I love it! They use it for training purposes with us. It's made up of clips of a district of missionaries in California. So you get to see them, their investigators, etc.) I realize it's kind of lame that training videos have become a highlight in my life, but...what can I say? ha ha =) After that, we finally went to the Chateau. Wow. Honestly, there aren't even words. It was breathtaking. Pictures just don't do it justice. I can't imagine living like that. Marie Antoinette had such a bizarre life that I will never be able to relate to (and I'm SO okay with that. If nothing else I'll pass on that whole death by guillotine thing.) I wish you could see it. It's just...amazing! Soeur Emilcy wants to go back again next week. ;) I would send you pictures, but my camera can't connect to the computers here. Maybe later.

Well, there's my week in a nutshell. I love you! Have a wonderful week. =)


Wednesday, October 19, 2011


OCTOBER 15,2011

Starting where we left off last week: the first three of our baptisms for the month. It wouldn't have been a normal baptism if it hadn't been coupled with the normal stress of having forgotten the video to watch while the family changed, not knowing where the tv was, etc ha ha. But in the end, everything went over rather smoothly. And it was SO African ha ha. I think I told you about our rendez-vous several weeks ago that we had with Ann where we were teaching the word of wisdom. The member we had with us was an older African man (actually he and Ann come from the same part of The Ivory Coast.) He just went off telling her all kinds of stuff. A.k.a. thinks like the needed stamps for sending a letter to Africa from France. We're still not really sure how he did it, but by the end of his tangent, Ann agreed to live the word of wisdom. Seriously, it's like they speak a different language than us. ha ha. Well that same member was who they choose to baptize them.
The font in our chapel is attached to the bathrooms -like normal. So Soeur Barros and I were standing in the door way next to the stairs down to the water with Ann and Karen. Frère Ya was already in the water and we could see Benjamin across the font standing in the doorway of the men's entrance. As we stood there and Frère Ya just stared at everyone watching the baptisms, Benjamin wouldn't go into the water. I signalled for him to go ahead and he just smiled at me but still didn't move. Then...Frère Ya, in the most epic voice he could muster, shouted "Koudou-Benjamin" Benjamin answered "Oui?" "Viens" (come) Then he entered the font ha ha. (Maybe you had to be there.) Having never baptized anyone before, Frère Ya had received a lot of instruction from the elders before hand. Yet, not unlike any other baptism, it often takes more than once to get them totally under the water. At first Fr. Ya struggled getting the wording right ( he was putting his own interpretation on it, but the witnesses insisted he stop) but then did just fine. Then he dunked Benjamin. That was the moment that Ann told us how scared she was. What?! She'd never mentioned a fear of water to us before. We did our best to quickly comfort her and promise her she'd be just fine. In the mean time, the witnesses noticed Benjamin hadn't gone totally under the water. Thus...he had to try again. Ann freaked out. "A second time?!" We explained why, but now super freaked out she told us she had to pee and ran to the toilet. While in the stall, Frère Ya had to dunk Benjamin for the third time. Now terrified Ann shouted (I'm sure loud enough that everyone in the chapel heard her ha ha) "Encore?!?!" ha ha poor lady. The third time was the charm. Karen was second. At that point Frère Ya was a pro. He got her under in one try. Ann followed and did great. Again, only needed to go under once. She was SO relieved to have it over with and was just shocked at how easy it was. Baptisms are always an adventure. =) The best part is, despite everything: it happened! The three Koudous where confirmed the next day and are now happily members of the church. And now Ann can't wait to have a calling so that she "can be a part of this work and give back a little of what (she's) received." They are doing SO well.

Then...much sooner than I ever wanted it to come, Wednesday came. Sister Barros and I left the apartment and headed into Paris to meet up with everyone at St. Merri. Soeur Emilcy got there around noon. Then the three of us along with a few other sisters headed over to my favorite panini shop to grab lunch. As much as I love the food there, it was not a lunch that was crazy fun to sit through. It was very much like when we went out to eat before you dropped me off at the MTC. It's kind of hard to enjoy lunch with this ever present clock ticking away over head. But, again, c'est la vie. We ate lunch, went outside, hugged, cried, said goodbye, hugged some more, still crying ha ha, then ripped of the band aid. I walked away with Soeur Emilcy and Soeur Barros stayed behind. And life moved on. I'm going to miss her, but I'll see her again. So...back to work.

Soeur Emilcy is great. She's super happy all the time, but wow is she ever a change from Soeur Barros! It's SO different. Absolutely everything has changed, more so than any other transfer change I've experienced in the past. We for sure have very different cultural bases too. We literally just live differently. There's no other way to put it. And we're got some very different personal bubbles. After being in theatre I figured I could handle anyone. Apparently I've still got a cross-able line. ha ha This is turning out to be quite the interesting experience. The speaking French 24/7 has been a lot easier than I expected it to be though. So that's good news. Don't get me wrong. It's not easy, but it's doable. There are still language barriers. I don't speak the language perfectly (far from it) and she doesn't speak English. So we do a lot of defining of words and phrases. But, we're getting by. However, I'm just mentally tired from it and it's only been a couple of days ha ha. There was a time with Soeur Barros and Soeur Moraga where we tried to speak French inside the apartment. This is SO not the same thing however. You know how much of a morning person I am...not. Holding conversations in English in the morning is difficult for me. Well, she is a morning person. So she starts talking the second she's out of bed...and in French. Oh heavens, does my brain ever hate me in the early morning and late at night now. It's just not at all willing to help me function in French. ha ha But, like I said, all in all, we're getting by.

The next big project we've got to work on are the three baptisms next Saturday for Rayna and her two daughters. From time to time I've felt a little like we've been pulling teeth on this one, but it's slowly coming together. Getting them to church is just a nightmare sometimes. They live too far away to be able to make it to church on their own. So they need a ride each week. Rayna is working on building up a budget to be able to by train tickets to be able to come on her own, but in the mean time, they need help. The problem with that is, everyone who lives by her, already carpool. So each week we have a project of pulling strings to get her there. She really wants to come, but just can't without help. This week especially they have to be there because they are going to have their baptismal interviews during church. After panicking a little because we weren't finding anyone, the ward council pulled together and worked it out. Next problem: I called to confirm with Rayna that someone would be picking them up, and the told me that Carla (her younger daughter) can't come. Carla's father insisted that she be with him this weekend, and they are currently in the middle of getting a divorce. So apparently Rayna can't say no. So now, I'm a tad bit stressed about that one. She'll be fine for Saturday. We just have to get her interview out of the way and I have no idea when every one's schedules will line up so that we can. Bawh! You know sometimes I get ridiculously frustrated with the stumbling blocks Satan puts in the way of baptisms! I know it will all work out. I know God will help us with this one. I would just do so much better if I could see how! ha ha But the saga continues. I'll have to give you the update next week.

It's really incredible to view the people that are completely converted. Nothing pulls them away. It was the same thing with the Koudou's and now Rayna and her family. Nothing can pull them away, but that sure doesn't stop Satan from trying his hardest. But ça va. We'll win out in the end. =)

I love you. Have a wonderful week. =)


Saturday, October 8, 2011


Message body

October 8, 2011
I love General Conference. =) It's such a wonderful spiritual boost. But I have to tell you one of the most incredible moments came with the announcement of the new temples. The missionaries and members here have been on the edge of our seats for months now waiting for that news. (Or for many members -it's been years.) They had a French translation broadcast in the cultural hall, but in the Relief Society room and the room directly beneath that they had the direct English broadcast. Most of the missionaries were in the Relief Society room, but knowing this building, serving in this ward, we knew the set up. Wanting the less crowded room, Sister Barros, Elder Gardner, Elder Draleau, Elder Godfrey, Rémy and I watched it from downstairs. When they didn't announce any temples at the beginning of the session we were all a bit surprised assuming that meant there would be no new ones. But when President Monson stood up our heart rates shot through the roof. Then the choice words..."Paris France." We all cheered, echoed by the much louder shouts upstairs. =)
What an experience it is to be in a place where shouts of joy were heard at the announcement of a temple. It's a huge blessing to have the temples that we have and sometimes I feel like we forget what a big deal it is. At least I think I do. I've always appreciated having so many temples so close by to my home. We read the stories of the people who travel for days after years of saving the needed money just to finally go to the temple. But I don't think I ever really had much of a perspective on the matter. But now knowing these people and having faces to place with the stories...we are SO lucky in the states! I'm really grateful that I got to be here just for that moment -to see the joy of these people at the thought of being able to have a temple near them. AND one of the other temples: Congo Kinshasa. That's Philomene's home town! It's where her kids still live. I so wish I could have been with her for that one to hear her default "Eh!" response =) And Star Valley Wyoming...that's Soeur Moraga's home town. Gotta say, not too shabby of a list. =)

This weeks has been a bit of a surreal experience. They started working on the transfer board on Monday. (Normally they don't start until the end of the week, but due to interviews and other conflicts they started early this time.) Sister Barros and I had to go into the office for some reason on Monday. When we walked in, her card was sitting on Elder Gardner's desk. (The transfer board has a card for every missionary with their name, picture etc.) Seeing it sitting there, having been removed from the board with the other "dying" missionaries, was...weird. In our heads, (depending on the day) it feels like she's never leaving. So knowing she's been officially removed from the board...bizarre! I've known the majority of the week who was currently on the board as my new companion, but until the repertoire is typed up, nothing is official. So I didn't think about it too much. But then yesterday Sister Barros and I got a call telling us officially that my companion will be Soeur Emilcy. Knowing who was coming in made it feel real finally. That's the moment it hit. =( I am really not excited for Soeur Barros to leave. I'm going to miss her SO much. But in the end, I'm just glad that I've gotten the chance to serve with her at all. We've decided that we have to stay best friends forever ha ha. But that doesn't mean saying goodbye is going to be all.

As for Soeur Emilcy, I can't tell you much about her. I met her on her first day, but otherwise, that's it. She's only in her second transfer right now. (I'll have to give you more of her story when I actually know it) I believe her family lives in France, but originally they are Haitian. As of three months ago -and it's still pretty much the same according to the office elders -she spoke no English. President told her to learn it "because it's the language of the restoration" and Preach My Gospel says the same thing. But that's not super easy for missionaries to do always. Especially since they get NO language training when they are francophone other than having anglophone companions. Not going to lie, I'm pretty stressed about it at the moment. I can get by in French, but dealing with amis, members, people on the street, etc, is not at all the same as not being able to speak to my companion in my native language. I don't have any doubt that I'm supposed to be with her. The Spirit has confirmed that one to me. It's what the Lord wants. So I know I'll have his help in the matter, but
all the same, I'm a bit stressed.Oh well. What would life be if it didn't throw these adventures at us, right?! So...on we go. =)

As always, I've got to run. Ann, Benjamin, and Karen are getting baptized in about an hour. =) So...we've got to run and take care of these last minute details -getting them dressed, filling the font, etc.

I love you. Have a wonderful week!


Friday, September 30, 2011

My Fabulous 22nd Birthday=)

September 17, 2011

How can I ever being to explain how much I love knowing that God looks out for me and is aware of me?! Wow is all I can really say. Life is just wonderful! 

Okay Mom, you asked me to tell you what I did for my birthday. So...the day started out very normal. Typical waking up well before the sun, studies, etc. You know, just the same old same old. We had to run to the chapel a bit later to go let the Nogent soeurs in, along with the nanny who cut our hair. (the trend is going around ha ha. Natalie agreed to cut their hair too that day.) Then on the way home we went and bought a couple pizzas for lunch. As we took that round about way to get home, somehow the topic came up of our last couple days in the "real world." So a bit later, after we'd finished lunch, and Soeur Barros went to take a nap, I worked a little bit on finishing up a tape I'd been meaning to send to you. That's where I got a bit trunky. I really think it's hugely to blame that I'd just spent the last 30-45 minutes talking about saying "goodbye" to you, but that coupled with the fact of knowing that this was the first birthday in  22 years that I wouldn't be spending with you really kind of increased the feeling. It was a good day. I was happy to be where I was, but I just missed having family with me. After finishing the tape, God and I had a bit of a chat. I just asked him to help me enjoy the moment and not be fixated on what I was "missing." But I told him, happy though I was, if I could change anything it would be to have my family with me. But, since that wasn't changeable at that time, me not "survive" the day, but rather enjoy it. I mean hi, who gets to say that for their birthday they ran around Versailles France after all?! ha ha

Anyway, after my momentary homesick couple of minutes, Soeur Barros woke up and we went out to do some street contacting. We were even able to get in our second lesson of the day doing so. We talked to a man who used to be Christian, but currently believes that God is just a figment of our imagination. wasn't the happiest lesson, but it was a lesson all the same. When we set goals, we can't always anticipate how, but God will help us achieve them.

After that was the more exciting part of the day that we'd both been looking forward to. We ended the day with a rendez-vous with Remy. Now, at the same time, as happy as I was to be seeing him, it had also been causing me the most anxiety. You know how much I just love being the center of attention...not. So knowing that he was planning...something, was causing me a bit of stress. But all the same, I was just flattered that he cared enough to do anything at all. So I was perfectly happy to go with a smile on my face and just play along. He is such a good friend. I was absolutely floored with what he's put together. My head is still reeling.

We had told him the night before that we were struggling to find another sister to teach with us. (And boy were we! I swear we practically called or talked face-to-face with everyone imaginable, but to no avail.) Knowing the missionary rules better then we do, he knows very well that we can't enter his apartment without a third party. So when we showed up at his door and rang the sonnet, he answered with "Are you two or three tonight?" Getting the response all three of us had basically been expecting, that we were alone, he came down to join us. We found a bench just around the corner that was actually really nicely secluded for teaching a lesson. Sister Barros and I've used it before when we've gotten to the city he lives in a few minutes early. We'd normally sit on that bench for a couple of minutes until it was actually time for the rendez-vous. But, I'd never thought to use if for a lesson. It was kind of perfect. And it has an amazing view of the Eiffel Tower. Yet again, my life is pretty enchanting. =) 

As we finished the lesson, he said, "I know you can't come in, but I have something in my apartment for you. Can you just come to the door and I'll bring it down." As we rounded the corner, Nicole, an absolutely adorable young single adult that we have had come with us when we taught Remy, was standing there. She'd just gotten off work and came straight over (part of Rémy's plan.) He grinned at me and said, "Now there are three of you. So you can come upstairs." Soeur Barros knew that Rémy was planning on inviting Nicole so that we'd still be able to go inside and eat some sort of cake or pie that he planned to make. But both of us were shocked when we walked in and all of the office elders were in his apartment. As expected, hidden behind a door with the light turned off, once opened, they all jumped up, shouted "Surprise" and sang "Happy Birthday." Caught off guard as I was, it was an amazing experience. Not because I just love having the entire focus of the room on me or anything like that, but because in that moment and throughout the rest of the evening, I repeatedly felt the love of my Heavenly Father and realized, the one thing I was certain couldn't be changed about that day, was. Granted, the three of you weren't there. But the overwhelming feeling came over me that, I had a family with me. Cool, huh? God cares about even little things like birthdays. =) I couldn't have asked for a better night. It was so wonderful. And Rémy had gone all out. He bought drinks, made guacamole, cubed cheese, and made these things called "blinis" that very much resemble miniature pancakes. The blinis were used like James uses the rings of bread in his hors d'oeuvres. He had smoked salmon, caviar type stuff, three cakes, the works. He said he'd stayed up until one in the morning cooking and then finished up during his lunch break.  It was the first surprise party Rémy has ever planned, but it was the classiest birthday party I've ever been to. He really put his whole heart into it. Like I said...I was just floored.

I went home from that just in shock. It was just so...perfect. How could Rémy have known that apparently the one thing I "needed" was exactly what he did in bringing that group together? Especially since I didn't even realize that need within myself until I was at the party.

We had another lesson with him last night. (He even ended up being our joint teach at a lesson with an inactive member right after that ha ha) Before our lesson he handed me a folded up piece of paper and told me that there were things he wanted to tell me on Monday night but didn't get the chance. So he'd typed them up. In this letter he'd written me he explained that he knew I wasn't a fan of being the center of attention. But he still had wanted to do something for me. So he'd planned on Soeur Barros, myself, himself, and some sister from the ward sharing a cake after a rendez-vous. Simple. But then, feeling like there was something more, he prayed and asked God what I needed. And he got the answer "It'll be better if all the Elders are there." So he went to work. He walked up to them at church, handed them maps, codes to his apartment complex, the key to his front door, everything. The elders were super surprised by the meticulous detail he'd put into it. When they got to his room there was a sign on the door that said "This is it."

Seriously, every elder in our district is now just in love with how awesome this kid is ha ha. But, back on topic, as I said, I was stunned all night long after getting home Monday. It was just...perfect. And just as that amazement was starting to fade a bit, Rémy let me understand why. He prayed. God answered. He listened. He acted. And then he became the tool in God's hands that I needed that day. It's just a miracle to me that God cares so very much about us. And he totally takes care of us. I just can't wrap my head around the personal miracle I got that night. And Rémy played such a major role, all because of his humility, sincerity and willingness to listen to the spirit. 

All in all, no matter how many years pass away, that was a day I will never forget. I couldn't if I tried. =)

I'd love to tell you more about the week, but I've got to run off to a rendez-vous. But, until next week, know that I love you and pray for you all the time. Have a wonderful week!


A Fabulous 22nd Birthday=)

September 17, 2011

How can I ever being to explain how much I love knowing that God looks out for me and is aware of me?! Wow is all I can really say. Life is just wonderful! 

Okay Mom, you asked me to tell you what I did for my birthday. So...the day started out very normal. Typical waking up well before the sun, studies, etc. You know, just the same old same old. We had to run to the chapel a bit later to go let the Nogent soeurs in, along with the nanny who cut our hair. (the trend is going around ha ha. Natalie agreed to cut their hair too that day.) Then on the way home we went and bought a couple of pizzas for lunch. As we took that round about way to get home, somehow the topic came up of our last couple days in the "real world." So a bit later, after we'd finished lunch, and Soeur Barros went to take a nap, I worked a little bit on finishing up a tape I'd been meaning to send to you. That's where I got a bit trunky. I really think it's hugely to blame that I'd just spent the last 30-45 minutes talking about saying "goodbye" to you, but that coupled with the fact of knowing that this was the first birthday in  22 years that I wouldn't be spending with you really kind of increased the feeling. It was a good day. I was happy to be where I was, but I just missed having family with me. After finishing the tape, God and I had a bit of a chat. I just asked him to help me enjoy the moment and not be fixated on what I was "missing." But I told him, happy though I was, if I could change anything it would be to have my family with me. But, since that wasn't changeable at that time, me not "survive" the day, but rather enjoy it. I mean hi, who gets to say that for their birthday they ran around Versailles France after all?! ha ha

Oh side note I spaced. The package. I love that fabric! The summerish warmth has been holding on here, but it couldn't have been more perfect when it suddenly cooled down just enough that that outfit was perfect for the weather on Monday. Thank you! New clothes are always life savers out here ha ha! We ate the brownies after our pizza. The candles posed a bit of a challenge getting them to not fall over, but since our apartment complex didn't burn down, we seem to have succeeded. ;) And we love the shoes! You're right, I can't really wear them super often, but trust me, I will happily find plenty of excuses to do so all the same. ;) I have gained a whole new appreciation for non-ugly shoes after wearing sister missionary shoes every day.

Anyway, after my momentary homesick couple of minutes, Soeur Barros woke up and we went out to do some street contacting. We were even able to get in our second lesson of the day doing so. We talked to a man who used to be Christian, but currently believes that God is just a figment of our imagination. wasn't the happiest lesson, but it was a lesson all the same. When we set goals, we can't always anticipate how, but God will help us achieve them.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Beautiful forest, but spiders?

I was a bit rushed last week (due to my own fault.) So practically the second we left the mission home I thought of loads I'd not told you about the week that I initially intended to. So this week I'm going to try to catch you back up to speed. So, as always ha ha, sorry in advance if it's a bit scattered.

One of our baptismal dates, Ann, and her husband came to church last week (the 14th.) It was her first real time being there. She had come once before with her husband, but they missed their first train. So they only made it for the last half hour of church. So, like with any one else, we just hope and pray it goes well. The first time there can make such a huge impression. Sitting in Relief Society on either side of her, both Sister Barros and I were just praying that she would feel the spirit of that lesson. The lesson was great, but it was on family history. Now I've found that sometimes amis, especially Africans, tend to come to church expecting to here nothing more discussed that Christ. So they can be a little surprised to see we discuss all kinds of different aspects of the gospel. Family history is majorly important and has eternal significance, but we just really didn't want her to see the lesson as just a logistical lesson full of statistics and websites. always...prayer works! When we talked to her a couple days later in our rendez-vous she would not stop talking about Relief Society. "It was all good, but the meeting that really hit me and touched me; touched my heart, was the lesson on family history." Cool, huh? Maybe just a coincidence, but we're counting it as prayers answered yet again.=)

really didn't want her to see the lesson as just a logistical lesson full of statistics and websites. always...prayer works! When we talked to her a couple days later in our rendez-vous she would not stop talking about relief society. "It was all good, but the meeting that really hit me and touched me; touched my heart, was the lesson on family history." Cool, huh? Maybe just a coincidence, but we're counting it as prayers answered yet again.=)

FYI fact of the day: Mick Jagger freaking lives in our area! Crazy right?! ha ha. Sister Barros and I contacted a guy last week who basically told us his life story. It really was kind of a sad contact. This guy is just SO lonely. He went running into his house and brought out pictures of his kids and grandkids and any time we told him that we needed to go, he'd bring up something else at random to stop us from leaving. We were honestly heart broken for him when we left. He was just so sweet and so so sad. Anyway, tangent over, in his rantings about life, he told us about Mick Jagger. Apparently he lives (or maybe not "lives" but at least owns a château) near that man's sister. Ha ha, never know what you'll learn when you just go out talking to people at random!

Wednesday this week was such a packed day! We started out the morning taking a couple of hours from our P-day and got our hair cut by an American girl who is here as a nanny. She got her license just before moving to France a couple months ago. Oh my gosh. I missed bangs and not having split ends! Hair cuts are basically one of the most wonderful things in the entire world! After Wednesday I am thoroughly convinced of that fact! ;) If nothing else, change it wonderful.

After that we went to tract down a referral we'd gotten from the Salt Lake Temple visitor center. The little town it was located in  like a "U" looping around a forest. Our referral was pretty much a straight shot through the town from the gare to her home. Aka we had to cut straight through the forest. No problem, right? Forests are lovely and it was a lovely day. One problem: I hate spiders (surprise!) I don't really get it, but I have never seen so many spiders (big ones at that) in all my life as I have seen here. They are just everywhere right now! My spider spotting skills are getting so well toned it's ridiculous! Well, their population isn't exactly diminished in a forest. At on a rather skinny part of the trail I had Sister Barros walking in front of me. I'm SO glad I did. Out of nowhere she freaked out and stopped dead in her path. Directly in front of her was a massive spider sitting right in the middle of his web which completely covered our path from one side to the other. Umm...yeah...forests are lovely, but I was so happy to be out of that one!

On the way back to the gare we opted to take the bus rather than hike through the forest again. Best. Idea. Ever. We got to ride a short handicap bus that looked like it belonged on The Magic School bus 2.0!

On Tuesday our entire zone came out to Versailles, we went on splits and did contacting for an hour. I can't really explain it, but it was so neat. Even though Sister Perez and I were by ourselves, just like any other day for Sister Barros and myself, there's just something cool to know that you aren't the only ones there. There are other people united in the same cause as you and there, in a way, working side-by-side with you. Obviously, directly tying into our work as missionaries, but it kind of works for every member that way too. We're all asked to do the same things and work for the same goal. And no matter how hard or monotonous that may get, we can always know there are a whole lot of other people working right along with us. Like I said, hard to really put into words (and quickly at that -I've got to finish up fast here) but it was just a cool experience/"ah ha" moment.

I'm (as always) running short on time. But last couple thoughts really quickly: we got transfer news today and...Sister Barros and I are staying together in Versailles!!!! We are so super stoked!!! =) still have SO much I could tell you, but I just don't have time right now. Sister Barros and I did our exchange with Caen yesterday and I came up to Normandy to meet up with her this morning. Someone she's taught (and someone I taught with her on our exchange my third transfer) is getting baptized today. So we've got to run off to the church here pretty fast. SO...have a wonderful week. I love you!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Pink Umbrella =)

August 20, 2011

I forgot to tell you about it last week, when we went on that tour in Paris, our tour guide asked us to take a picture with him. William tried multiple people to try and get them to take a picture of us. No luck. After the first three he just turned to us and said, "Typical French." ha ha It was so nice to know that even Parisians have a hard time with that and it's not just us as missionaries that struggle to get people to be willing to take a picture ha ha. He asked for "funny" ideas from our group. The first idea was, "Um...we could like, sit down and pretend to be reading." We were all a bit lost on the humor of that one, but we did it anyway. And jumping at the chance to steal as much publicity as possible, we just happened to be reading the Book of Mormon. AND Sister Barros whipped out her pink umbrella to draw even more attention to the book. ha ha's posted on facebook now. So here's the link:

Great news! Ann, one of our baptismal dates, her daughter AND husband now want to get baptized too!  So they are a ways off, but we're looking at four baptisms in one month now! How cool is that?! =) And we LOVE families getting baptized together. Nothing gets better than that. =)

This week really has been pretty lovely. There's always the hiccups along the way, but overall, wonderful. We had zone conference on Tuesday. I just love zone conferences. You get so super charged afterwards to go out and be the world's best missionaries ha ha.

Oh my gosh. On Thursday we had a crazy day! Sister Moraga's companion finally made it to France. So we said goodbye to her in the morning and sent her off for the mission office to wait for Sister Johnson to arrive. And they  shipped out to Nantes. We then had a rendez-vous in the afternoon with Ann. Another a little bit later on the other side of our area with a new amis and then an hour later with Remy. Okay. So I know that doesn't sound crazy, but it SO was.  There was no way, with the trains and buses we'd need, that we'd be able to make it to everything. So we asked one of the office elders if we could borrow a car for the day. We got the approval. Initially we were pretty thrilled. We'd be able to accomplish otherwise impossible rendez-vous and pass-bys. So it seemed like a brilliant idea in the beginning. Oh my heck. I wanted to KILL that GPS. Driving was SO not fun that day. I thought we were going to die. Everything was going wrong. And just when I thought it couldn't get worse, I got pulled over. Imagine how much getting pulled over in America stresses me, but now it's in French. Panic mode! But this power happy cop pulled me over to tell me that I had cut him off (I promise you I didn't!) When he told us that Sister Barros and I both had that "Seriously?! You have got to be kidding!" moment in our heads. He told me then how turn signals work in France (seriously! I'm not retarded) And then told me that Americans are calm drivers and I need to go be an example to the French. Oh dear... As soon as I pulled back on the road, he pulled up on his little motorcycle to the car in front of me at a light and chewed them out too. After a very stressful driving day, I was SO not in love with cops like that. But, all is well. I didn't get a ticket (I didn't deserve one in the first place) and we made it to all of our rendez-vous! =) Happy day.

Today's been a bit of a weird P-day. We spent the morning in the chapel decorating for a wedding that happened at one this afternoon. We finished a bit after noon. The sister we were helping (our bishop's wife) was SO stressed. Listening to the guests filtering in talking about how tired they were and tried to figure out what they were going to eat for breakfast brought back so many memories. It doesn't matter where you go in the world, weddings always have their common theme. ha ha

After finishing that, we spent the rest of the afternoon playing tennis with the elders on the hottest afternoon we've had all month. But it was so fun all the same. I'm about out of time, but I'll have to tell you next time about our super hero project.

Sorry this email is so jumbled and short. I've been stealing music from the elders and it's cut in a bit. Sorry again. Have a wonderful week!

~Sister Jorgensen

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hey nice skirt=)

Message body

We're doing emails from the mission office today. So I'm using one of the elders' computers. Next to me on the desk is a note pad. The top page of the pad is dated and says "Salut tout le monde," (his greeting line to the letter) and that's it. Ha ha that's kind of how I feel. I could start this and just say "HEY!" and have no idea where to go from there. It's funny how that works. Some weeks, I just have copious amount to say and then others I don't even know where to begin.

I guess last week's baptism is as good a place as any to start. It was just wonderful. =) Dorothée was so happy. And you know how I've told you that they are the living proof of the gospel's power to bless families. It was lovely. Knowing where I saw them come from as a family, but especially as a couple, it was more than just that "oh how cute" moment when Christian pulled her up out of the water and very tenderly kissed her on the forehead. It's really hard to truly explain what a miracle that is without having personally witnessed it, but you can trust me, it's literally a miracle. =) And if that wasn't good enough, it was so funny being there with Sister Barros. Sister Barros served in Valenciennes from five months. So that ward knows her super well. They talk about her all the time still. Yet none of them knew she was coming. They were all freaking out when they saw her. It was literally like being with a celebrity.

Sister Moraga, Sister Barros and I try to say "Bonjour" to every one we pass on the street, especially around our apartment. We've gotten to the point where most of them will even say hello back to us. So that's good news. =) But on Sunday, it paid off even more than our neighbors just liking us. On our walk home from church, a woman walked up behind us and said "Bonjour" a couple times, finally she caught up to us enough to really talk with us. She told us that we had said hello to her the day before and she wanted to know what we do and asked if we'd be willing to come over to her home for tea, cake and to talk. Umm...heck yes we'd love too!!! We never complain about people setting their own rendez-vous from us. ha ha. She's awesome! Her name is Olga. She's originally Russian. Her mother was christian, but had to be so in secret. And her father was a communist. She's studied out a lot of different religions, but she'd only heard of us and not much more. We told her a bit about the restoration. She was totally cool with it and asked us to come back. (One of the coolest bits of that rendez-vous: she showed us her and her father's old Soviet Union passports! We SO felt like we were like FBI agents or something ha ha)

As always, members are honestly the key to missionary work. If I learn nothing else while I'm out here, it's how very crucial members are to this work. We got a referral the other day that we went and tracked down on Wednesday. I've gotten several referrals while I've been in the field, but none of them have ever amounted to much. Normally, the phone number doesn't work, they address is wrong, they really don't want anything to do with us, etc. But this time was a bit different. We had a bad address, but miraculously we were able to find the real address AND he was there AND when we asked if he was interested in learning about our church he said, "Oh of course!" Sister Barros and I freaked out a bit because neither of us have ever had a referral work out. As we were walking home we repeatedly discussed the fact that we don't know where to go with a referral past the "Are you interested in learning more about our church?" "No, oh okay, well...have a nice day" ha ha But he immediately set a rendez-vous with us for the next day. When we taught him, he explained that he visited America with some friends who took him to Church, Temple Square, the Conference Center, gave him a Book of Mormon with their testimony inside, and asked if he'd like to see the missionaries in France! Members make ALL the difference. Members get into places that we as missionaries never can. Members are absolutely essential!

Tuesday night was a bit of an adventure... We were teaching English class when a recent convert came in. I've met him before, but only a couple times. The first time was in the visitor center with Sister Williams. At that time he was a little...excited to get married...Well nothing changed in the time I was gone. When he came in he asked Sister Barros how to say "jupe" in English. She quickly told him it's "skirt" and went back to the lesson. Right after learning that new word, he recommenced awkwardly starring at me and said, "I like to see your skirt." Oh be still my trembling heart... ha ha Probably the best pick up line I've heard in a while ;) It's a mystery as to why I ignored him when he told me "I would very much like to marry you" right after the skirt comment. Oh dear...ha ha

Today for P-day we ran off to Montmartre to see the Cathedral up there called Sacre Coeur. It's the only cathedral here dedicated to Christ rather than one of the saints. It was beautiful. It was still very much a cathedral, but it was one of the brightest inside I've ever seen. It was just a lovely day that I don't have tons of time to tell you about right now. Sorry...I'll have to manage email time better next week.

Well, yet again, a very choppy letter. I'm sorry. I'm just not good at fast emails anymore. But, it nothing else you know a bit of our past week now.

I love you. Have a great week!


Friday, July 29, 2011

News from Versailles=)

July 23, 2011

Bawh! I literally have no time today. But luckily it's for a good reason. Sister Barros and I are on our way to go to Dorothée's baptism. We really lucked out in being able to go. President is cracking down on missionaries running all over to attend baptisms, but since it's our P-day, we've both taught her, we're not taking proselyting time, we're paying for it ourselves, and Sister Moraga (our third companion) doesn't need to be with anyone since she's a senior sister, he gave us the green light! Best part is, Dorothée has been praying and praying and praying that Sister Barros would be there, but since that didn't look like a possibility until late last night, she has NO idea we'll be there. We're pretty stocked! =)

Is it winter where you are too? Middle of July and it's just dang cold here. Oh well, it's better than being gross and sweaty while trying to get people to talk to you about Jesus.

Tuesday this past week we had our last district meeting of the transfer. Valenciennes used to be an elder only ville. So there's some very elder-ish things in that apartment (like an extra suit, shoes, weights, etc.) Along with that, we had two bikes in the basement that we weren't allowed to use. We told our district leaders about it one day and they'd been asking for them ever since. Well Monday night they called us and asked us to take the bikes to district meeting so they could have them. Wow was that ever a feat. We had no idea what we signed up for when we said "yea" ha ha. We had to be up pretty early Tuesday morning to check out of the hotel and be back over at the apartment for yet another appointment with out plumber friends. While running around dealing with them we had to get these two bikes to somehow fit into our little Chevy.  We were quite the sight, standing on the street talking to plumbers, wearing sister missionary clothes, talking to a whole ton of random neighbors who were sure (for some odd reason) that we should know endless facts about the inter workings of the neighborhood, and crawling all over our car trying to make those two bikes fit! ha ha Finally after, twenty-five trips up and down the elevator, two very disassembled bikes in the back of the car, a working shower and toilet in our apartment, we were on our way to Lille. All before ten in the morning. That may be one of the most jam packed productive mornings I have ever lived through.

And to end that day/transfer with a miracle, I got all of my stuff packed and somehow it took up less space and less time than last transfer! I tell you, I'm going to be the world's best last minute packer by the time I come home.

Wednesday was the big switch. With our alarm clocks ringing at a very unholy hour of the morning, we got all my stuff out the door and into Paris (even if we were about an hour and a half later than we intended to be...oops) Sister Rowley picked up her new companion. Sister Barros, SisterMoraga and I met all the new sister and then we headed out for home. Oh. My. Gosh. Versailles is beautiful! This city is SO much more concerned about aesthetics than anywhere else I've served. It's definitely not something to complain about looking at for six+ weeks. =) The work is a bit slow though. There in a bit of a slump and with everyone and their dog on vacation right now, that doesn't help much. I don't think I've really explained vacations season to you here yet. So... In America we get summer vacation for all the students. For everyone else, stores, pools, movie theatres, etc usually extend their hours. Not in France! In France, practically everything shuts down for about a month or more. If you've got clothes at the dry cleaner and you don't pick them up before they close for vacation...too bad. You'll just get it when they get back. Vacation is a big deal here. So, with all of our amis and a big chunk of our ward out of town for the next while, we've got a major change of gears in the works. Looks like we'll be doing a LOT of contacting this transfer. But, c'est la vie. =) There are still people here. We've just got to find them now.

We had our DMP meeting Thursday night. I told you (I think) we're in the same ward as the office elders. So we've got nine missionaries plus the mission president's family all in our ward. Oh heavens, I forgot how much I love missionaries. Valenciennes, love it with all my heart though I do, gets really lonely sometimes being the only missionaries in the middle of nowhere. Driving home with the elders was just hilarious. They recounted their story to us of chasing this pigeon out of their apartment. (They were all rather traumatized by it's surprise visit ha ha) At one point one of the elders showed us a picture of this "pigeon."'s a dove ha ha. They even tested it to see if it's a carrier pigeon (during one of it's many visits to their window sill.) One of the elders wrote (in French) "Hello. I see your bird often." on a little piece of paper. Signed it. And set it next to the dove. When their "pigeon" didn't take the paper, they decided it probably wasn't a carrier pigeon ha ha. Sister Moraga was dying in the back of the car laughing at them. I'm so happy to be around other missionaries again. =)

We had a rendez-vous with practically our only amis not on vacation yesterday. Wow. She's incredible. She and her husband are from Côte d'Ivoire. She's experiencing some major (and pretty scary) adversity as she's been and continues investigating the gospel. Satan is pulling out all the stops on this woman to scare her off. But when Sister Barros told her it was because Satan didn't want her to find the truth, she just very resolutely and more determined than I've ever seen many people be about anything, she just told us, "No. I'm going to find it. I'm going to find it. I'm going to find it." You can't help but stand in awe of her when you meet her. She's just incredible. With the spirit she already carries without the gospel, I can't even begin to imagine what she'll be little in the future. People like her just take your breath away. Yet again...I love Africans. ;)

We then finished off the night with a less active member from Columbia. She fed us dinner while Sister Moraga taught a Spanish. It was amazing to see with English and French in our pockets, how much of the lesson we were able to follow. I always love that, whether we understand all the words or not, the spirit is still the same. And even in that lesson, never having taken a Spanish lesson in my life, you can't help but know it's true. Gotta love days like that. =)

Well like I said, we've only got a couple minutes today. So I've got to run. I love you. Have an amazing week!

Kim with a couple that she worked with.  We didn't get the exact information on this picture.   

Kim and Sister Rowley caught in a major down pour.  They got soaked all the way through.

What to do in the rain?

Well...why not!!! So Kim danced in the rain.  You go girl=)

Kim and Sister Rowley decided to make smores by candlelight.  It doesn't take much to have a down right great time.

Yum!!! Smores in France

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Plumbing Adventure

Monday, July 11, 2011 10:14 AM

Message body

Yet again, what a week!

Okay, so the week started out fairly normal...and then Tuesday hit. Sometimes I feel it's appropriate to pray and ask for a more boring life ha ha. Tuesday was one of those days. (In fact it started a series of days like that.) During companionship study, it sounded like a cat was being strangled in our bathroom. Our washing machine is in the bathroom and we had it running. We figured something had happened to it/because of it to cause that noise. No such luck. When we finally went to see what happened, we wished it was just a dead cat. You know the good old "Ox in the mire" situation? Well, take that and times it by 1000! Instead of a strangled cat in our laundry, we've got a literal mire. Our plumbing spazzed out and our bathtub was full of sewer water! (and quite a bit of "not just sewer water") =P Holy gross!!!! But it gets "better." Our toilet was full of loveliness as well. No matter what we did, we couldn't get it to go back down. Through some weird phone calls -a couple to a doctor's office (on accident) we finally got out landlord to come look at things. Rather quickly assessing the situation (speed is essential to get out of that smell as fast as possible) he left with our number and said he's call someone. Next problem -that "someone" wouldn't call us until Thursday.  And this someone wasn't even a plumber. In France, apparently you can't just call a plumber. You first call someone who assesses the problem and then he calls and schedules the plumber. But at least someone was doing something. We really appreciated that.

I was SO grateful for our district and zone leaders Wednesday night. We'd spent ALL day trying to fix this ever so charming problem to no avail. I talked to the zone leaders about it (just venting) when they called for some statistics. I then needed to talk to our district leaders for some reason - I can't remember why any more. They are just hilarious. They finally got Sister Rowley and I laughing at the whole situation. We were finally able to not just be stressing about it. It just got to that point where we couldn't do anything about it. So we might as well laugh. AND THEN by the time I was off the phone with them the zone leaders were calling back. They had called the assistants, who then called the president and things were being put into the works to help us out. I just love my district. They are just wonderful!

Oh on this ever so stressful day, Sister Rowley and I were at the church for a few minutes. As we went to walk home, which is a bit over 2 kilometers away, we found a burned cd sitting on the side of the road. I kicked it ahead of me. Then Sister Rowley did the same. We kicked that cd almost all the way home before it finally broke in half. ha ha Yup...We basically invented "kicking a rock 2.0" ha ha ;) (There you go. Most random experience of the week ha ha)
On Thursday, we had interviews and met our new president, his wife and their two daughter for the first time. I love the Poznanski's! Sister Poznanski is adorable, but very classy and dignified about it. They're just so sweet. They'll be great! It was rather interesting though having EVERYTHING in French. I'm just glad I wasn't bleu for that. I'm pretty sure I would have missed everything. And they did a great training. SO glad I know enough French to have been able to follow what they taught.

Only down side to interviews: our continuing lack of a shower situation. The first time we met our president and we couldn't even take a real shower first. Gross! Not okay with not even attempting to get cleaned up first, I took all the extra towels we have and spread them out on the floor of our study room, filled up three little pots (they were the biggest we have) with hot water and....took a "shower." We shaved and everything ha ha. We then washed our hair in the kitchen sink. The kitchen sink is a bit gross in its our way though. So we put a mixing bowl in the sink and washed our hair in that. Silly though it may have been at times, ha ha bless you Mom for so firmly cementing the idea of a spit bath in my head with your ritual "morning constitutional" at girls camp each year. I'll have you know, it works in France too! ;)

And God bless McDonalds for being the wonderful American institution that it is! Even in France where public bathrooms don't exist, McDonalds is too American not to have one. And with our apartment being only 97 steps (yes we counted) from our front door, it's been a life saver. But Sister Rowley has now picked up the habit of carrying toilet paper in her bag after McDonald's ran out and no one would refill it ha ha.

I can't help but wonder, if our missions prepare us for the rest of our lives, are Sister Rowley and I being trained to be homeless?

Friday brought good news: the plumbers finally came! Bad news: they looked in our bathroom for about half a second, then went into the basement, came straight back up, told us there's a problem with the building, not just the apartment and they'd have to call someone. As they walked out we asked for a time idea.

We then trekked across town to take a shower at a member's home. I'm grateful she let us do that, but I feel so much like I'm stepping on toes showing up at someone's home to use their shower...

Later than afternoon we got a call from our land lord. He said someone will be out to try and fix it on Tuesday at 8:30 (almost a week later!) He was absolutely insistent that we be there. He we SO worried we wouldn't be. ha ha Come on Frère, we don't have a toilet or a shower AND our apartment smells like a sewer treatment plant. Pretty sure we want this problem cleared up more than you do. ha ha We'll be there! ;)

I called up the office elders and -being wonderful as they are- they went right to work to find us a hotel. We had multiple rendez-vous the rest of night, but I had to get this worked out with them. So as we were watching "The Testaments" with Christian and Maëva, I had to keep leaving the talk to the elders as they looked at google earth trying to describe the locations of multiple hotels and I did my best to figure out the cardinal directions in this city in my head ha ha. Oh dear. But great news: at about 11 that night we finally got to check into the hotel! And now we have a toilet AND a shower! Hooray!!! I never realized how blessed you can feel to just have those two things ha ha. Saturday, with nothing nearly as dramatic or stressful as Philomene's baptism occurring, (thank heavens!) Christian and Maëva got baptized!!! This ward is just stellar. They just are so wonderful. There were quite a few people who, despite the length of the drive, came to the chapel in Lille (we don't have a font in our ward house) to support the two of them. And they were all so very willing to help with food, talks, prayers, etc. And for all intents and purposes, it went VERY smoothly. =)

Sunday was a fantastic day. Because of the awkward location of our hotel in relation to the church and our apartment, we got permission to eat breakfast at the hotel. Holy cow! French hotels may be lacking ion a lot of little extras that we have in American hotels, but they destroy our continental breakfast! That was the most impressive hotel breakfast spread I have ever seen! Well done France.

At church Christian "bore his testimony" in sacrament meeting. He was so nervous. He'd written out what he wanted to say. It was like an acceptance speech mixed with a prayer. ha ha But he did a good job all the same. And Maëva got confirmed. Next will be her mom in two weeks! =)

AND Anbu (back in Paris Lilas) got baptized yesterday!!!!!! I'm sad I couldn't be there, but I'm SO happy for him. I talked to Sister Williams about it. It sounds like it was just wonderful. The whole service was in English. Anbu asked Sister Williams to give one of the talks. She told us a bit about it. She said, "Anbu, I remember when I first met you and I asked you how you felt about Jesus, and you said three words I'll never forget, 'I know Jesus.'" She continued telling him that if he stays on this path he's chosen, one day when he returns home, Jesus will take him in His arms and say, "I know you too." Isn't that beautiful?! It's really sounds like everything was just great and he was super happy. =)

But it gets even better. While they were taking pictures Philomene said she needed a picture with him, because, since he got baptized after her, he is her brother now. Ha ha I love Africans' idea of family. (That and I love Philomene. ha ha)

Also yesterday was "America Day" in Valenciennes! They had a set up near our church with tee pees, a horse and buggy set up, and they even had red checkered table clothes! ha ha Apparently in Valenciennes, their idea of America is deeply founded in the old west ha ha.

Well, sorry for quite easily the grosses email I've sent home ha ha, but...that's been our week. ha ha Good news is, the work keeps progressing. We were even able to have three rendez-vous over the phone the day the plumbing died and we couldn't leave the apartment!

Have a wonderful week! I love you!


Sunday, July 10, 2011

July 4, 2011

July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July! =) In France or not, we're still celebrating. For companionship study this morning, we sang through all the "Partiotic" hymns we have in our English hymnbooks. But...without access to fireworks or anything else super American, that will have to tide us over until next year. We did get talking with a couple of french kids our age today on the bus. When they found out we were American, what question do they immediately pose? "Have you eaten a hamburger? Or a hot dog?" Umm....friend, you're French. Have you eaten a baguette? ha ha For some reason, they were absolutely fascinated with the fact that we really do eat that food. Little do they know, 90% of the country will be eating them today =).

This week has just flown by, but I'm not exactly sure why. It's just been one of those inexplicably fast weeks. To be honestly, it's been an inexplicably fast transfer! We are on week five of six now! Time seems to literally be slipping through my fingers the longer I'm here.

Alright, like I told you last P-day, summer hit. And holy cow, Sister Rowley and I were absolutely disgusting by the end of the day. No one should be that sweaty while trying to talk about Jesus. One word: GROSS!

After finishing up with our emails, we headed over to the ward house for the ward family home evening. Oh my heavens. They are absolutely hysterical! We played their version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" but they called it "Qui Veut Gagner Des Bénédictions?" ("Who wants to gain blessings?") The bishop and his wife ran the show and she was the host. They had clearly put a lot of effort into this night. They had all the sound effects from the show, individual slide on a power point for each question, and pictures for each as well. They split the room into two teams to answer the questions about the Book of Mormon, or random questions about Mexico/South American (like "Which of the following ingredients is not in guacamole?") At first their was a bit of an uproar when Sister Rowley and I were assigned to the same team =). The other team felt very shafted for not having one of the Americans -after all it's an American game. So despite the fact that everything was in French -clearly- Sister Rowley and I had an advantage. Gross and sticky though we were, the night we just SO fun. AND we had a good handful of amis show up. And if there was ever an activity to make new comers feel welcomed to the ward, it was that one. =) All in all, it was a good day.

Tuesday night we had a rendez-vous with the Charles family. I'm not sure if I've told you about this, but if so, the repetition will tell you how much it has impressed me. We're told to teach by the Spirit and cover the Preach My Gospel lessons in what ever order or way we feel our amis need. But all the same, the first lesson starts with "God is our loving Heavenly Father." After that we talk about "The Gospel Blesses Families." I had never thought about the true impact of that second section that had seemed so logical, but slightly unnecessary to teach about. But wow! I wish you could see the change that I've seen this family go through. All because they have let the gospel into their lives. It's absolutely a night and day difference. They seem happy together now rather than the endless tear filled fight that used to occur. They laugh together. They sit together. The parents are united now in their goals for their children and how they want to approach them. The list just goes on and on. It's absolutely amazing! I am SO happy for them!

Thursday was composed of a lot of driving. I felt like I had never driven so much in all my life as I did in that one day. But, the good side of it: the French countryside is gorgeous! It's for sure worth driving through. Down side: we almost died! I spent a good bit of time driving down little tiny dirt roads that only one car fits on, but that doesn't mean another car won't be coming from the other direction. AND there are walls of plant covered hills blocking the sides of the road like blinders on a horse. All of that coupled with a 90 km/hr speed limit, and endless twists and turns that don't allow you see more than a few meters ahead of where the car is going, makes for an interesting ride. I may or may not have actually screamed when a tractor came barreling around the corner. I slammed on the breaks, and with literally NO room for us to get past each other, I had to back up all the way off the road to let by. For sure...NOT an experience I'd like to repeat. I think I may have developed a firm fear of tractors that day. But, all is well in Zion. =) We continued driving a few more hours from rendez-vous to rendez-vous and eventually made it home safely.

One of the rendez-vous we had that day was with a solid member. She's been through the temple and everything, but she can't come to church, because there's no one who can take her, she can't drive, and there aren't any trains that can get her to church. So when ever we have the car, we go check up on her. She owns a yellow lab. Wow. I understand now. After years and years of people coming over to our house and saying "Wow your dog is HUGE!" I finally get it. I've spent seven months seeing about a million yorkies and a number of other dogs about their same size, but it's been a long time since I've seen a "big" dog. He came over and greeted us. His head/eyes/mouth/teeth were massive! And he's only a yellow lab! They aren't that big. It's for sure going to be a bit of a shock going home to the polar bear that we live with =).

We had another rendez-vous that day where we went to go see another member who has difficulty getting to church. When we we trying to figure out what to teach her during companionship study, we decided to flip through the conference talks. We ended up choosing to share the "LDS women are incredible" talk with her. We didn't have any major impressions that we needed to use it, but with what we know of her and thinking about what she may need, we felt it was appropriate. Well, we went through with those plans. We took turns reading it, and discussed it at the end. A story that was told in the talk, related to her perfectly. We had no idea. But one of the people he talked about shared an almost identical story to this sister than we went to see. She in turn unloaded on us, told us her conversion story, bore her testimony, etc.The Spirit was so strong! It was exactly what we needed to do with her. It was really one of those moments where as we walked away and back to the car, we realized yet again, Elder Bednar's promise he gave in the MTC come to fruition. He basically told us to do the best we could, and we'd end up exactly where we need to be, when we need to be there, talking to just the right people, with just the right words, and often wouldn't even know how we got there. It's always nice to have those gentle reminders that we are still on tract, doing what we should be doing, and that we're still lead by the spirit. -Not an epic spiritual story, but it really hit us as we were talking about it driving away.

Friday miracle: it's official. We have a baptismal date for Dorothée!!!! So her husband and daughter are getting baptized this Saturday (the 9th) and then she'll follow suit just a couple weeks later!!!! =)

Sister Rowley and I did exchanges this week with Evry. Currently serving in Evry: Sister Woodruff and Sister Worsham. Wow were the trains a pain that day! First we missed our train out of Valenciennes by just about a minute. So instead of going to Paris, we had to go to Lille, get on the metro, go to another gare, and then get on a train to go to Paris. The train out of Lille was actually made up of two trains. During a certain point in the trip, they'd separate and one would go to Paris, the other to Bordeaux. At first we boarded the half going to Bordeaux. Thank heavens we got to our correct car before pulling out. That would have been a fun phone call to make! "Umm...Hi President. This is Sister Jorgensen. We haven't met yet, but I'm in your mission. But my companion and I have got a little problem...We've in Bordeaux!" ha ha SO glad that got straightened out ahead of time. Because we missed our first train out of Valenciennes, we couldn't get to Paris before our return train would leave. So, once we got there I had to exchange the tickets for a later time. Taking the earliest train, we were still stuck in Paris for about four hours! Oh heavens. I love trains, but that day really tried my love for them. Anyway, as for exchanges, Sister Rowley went and worked in Evry for the day with Sister Woodruff and Sister Worsham and I worked in Valenciennes. I can't even begin to tell you how excited I was to work with Sister Worsham! I just love her! It was a little trippy though. It was really weird to keep remembering that we're missionaries and live in France...and that that's totally normal for us, when it felt so much like we were back in highschool. It was such a throw back. But, at the same time, I LOVED it! I would be absolutely ecstatic to serve with her. I don't care where, when, or for how long. I would just be thrilled to be able to do it! But if that never happens, at least we got to work together for exchange. I'll take it. =)

I'm leaving out SO many details this week. I'm sorry. I feel like I could write for hours and hours, but I only have so much time. So hopefully that makes sense and I'm not leaving out anything you're dying to know about. But over all, that's been my week in a nutshell.

Have a wonderful week. I love you!