Friday, April 29, 2011

April 25, 2011

April 25, 2011

Being a missionary and being sick shouldn't be allowed. Missionary work is just ridiculous to survive while trying to fight off the plague too. I'm not exactly a fan. And if I'm not better by Mother's Day, I will have been sick every single time I've spoken to you thus far. (I promise, I actually have had a few days of health over the past five months...I think. ;) Heaven knows I can't exactly remember those moments right now though.

Luckily I have a couple of weeks until then (Mother's Day) to get better. I've been extremely sick for about a week an a half now. And I don't feel great right now, but over the past couple days I've developed a killer cough. I know that doesn't sound good, but from the way my past couple of maladies have played out, that means I might finally be on the downhill slope now! =) So there is hope yet! I might actually survive and be able to be a normal missionary again! Hooray!

So Mom, you asked if I've been sleeping better yet. I started to adjust a bit, but then this plague caught a hold of me. Whether by Irish pubs, Latino dance clubs, or plagues, one way or another, the world is ever striving to keep me awake during the night ha ha. However, last night was totally different. The weather has been getting pretty warm pretty fast here. Last night we pulled down the two fans we have for our apartment. I don't know if it was just the addition of the "white noise" or slipping back into the many many summers I slept with a fan in my room, but I haven't slept that well since I was at home. So *fingers crossed* I might have found a solution for the moment! Here's hoping it wasn't just a one time thing.

I can hardly believe that this transfer is coming to a close. I feel like I just got here yesterday and started to attempt the ever present task of memorizing the ward, area, buses, metros and amis (much credit going to Soeur Rowley's every ready memory that I could pull from any moment of the day.) But now, it's my turn to help someone else do the same. Soeur Rowley is being transferred to Valenciennes this Wednesday. Some moments I feel like I might be able to handle this, but others...ha ha that's another story. I still feel like there is so much of this area that is still foreign to me. Oh well, Soeur Williams (my new comp as of Wednesday) and I will get to figure it out together should my memory/knowledge ever fail us. Hope she's up for the adventure! =)

I don't know if I've ever said anything to you about Soeur Williams. Soeur Williams was also in the MTC with me like Soeur Rowley. But, instead of just being in the room across the hall (like Soeur Rowley) Soeur Williams was one of the two other sisters that Soeur Woodruff and I lived with. So once again, we're pretty young in the mission, but I love her! She's just a doll! I would love to not be the one who's supposed to know the area (Soeur Rowley's just far better at it than I am - granted she's been here for three transfers now), but I know it's what needs to happen and things will work out just fine. Change always tends to be a bit stressful in some way, but it's a good thing. She's going to be great with our ward and amis. They're just going to love her! - Like I already do. =)

You asked if I've seen the Louvre yet. I have and I haven't. I've seen the outside plenty of times, and I walked around the grounds with Soeur Thompson, but I have yet to go inside. I figure I'll go in some day, but for right now, it's not the highest on my "things to do" list. The Paris Soeurs (that we live with) were planning on going today. We usually spend P-days together, but Soeur Rowley and I needed to get some other things taken care of before she takes off on Wednesday. So instead we've just been doing a bit of shopping today. So things we've accomplished instead of going to the Louvre today:
-bought matching Boubous (I realize you probably have no idea what those are, but suffice it to say, the first piece of clothing I bought in downtown Paris came from Africa =)
-Soeur Rowley is now the proud owner of the upgraded version of my current camera. Thus allowing her to take her own pictures after an entire transfer of suffering through a broken camera-Soeur Rowley is now the proud owner of the upgraded version of my current camera. Thus allowing her to take her own pictures after an entire transfer of suffering through a broken one;
-Our area book is almost ready for Soeur Williams to see;
-Soeur Rowley's desk has now been sorted into piles of books to be packed;
-We made cookies for the elders who will be moving copious amounts of luggages up and down our four flights of twisty, crooked stairs in a couple days;
-AND I bought a webcam (I'll explain in a minute why)

Speaking of buying a webcam and camera today, I love that our ward clerk is American. I called him today to get his advice on where to go. Such a blessing that he's here. He sent us to this little street that we never would have gone to otherwise loaded with cheap tech shops. This sounds like a lame story, but I have a point. Point being: people are the same everywhere you go! (In a non racist way) the Africans here, 99% of the time, listen to the same music and watch the same MTV-ish channels. Teenage girls are all the same. AND Asians run the tech shops! ha ha Soeur Rowley and I couldn't help but laugh when we got there. =)

Fun news we just got: Soeur Rowley and I get to mother tomorrow! Again, I know that means nothing to you, but when the new missionaries show up, they go to the visitor center/Paris ward house area and go around with another missionary (like Soeur Rowley or me) and get to try out their first bit of contacting. Yay for new missionaries! And I'll get to see Sister Worsham on her first (very jet lagged) day in Paris! =)

More transfer news, of the four of us that live in the apartment, I am the only one staying. I'm going to miss those girls so much! Soeur Nielson is going home, Soeur Rowley we figured would probably be transferred, but we were shocked that Soeur Murray is going too. Oh well. Like I said, I love Soeur Williams already. I've heard Soeur Pearce is wonderful, and she'll be training one of the new sisters. So, it should be a blast all the same.

Oh heavens, on Saturday we went and played soccer with some of the elders. To choose the team captains we played a game called "Tomato." I'm sure we looked absolutely ridiculous to everyone else in the park ha ha. The Europeans (all of the elders) acted totally normal about it, but the Americans (the four sisters) couldn't get over how funny it was. I'll do my best to explain it. We stood in a circle with out legs spread apart touching the feet of the person next to us with our feet. Then bent over (yes, all of us have out butts sticking straight up in the air) and we hit the ball back and forth in the circle with our hands trying to keep it from going through our legs. If the ball made it through your legs, you could only use one hand to guard your "goal." If the ball went through again, you'd have to turn around and look between you legs to try and see into the circle - continuing to try and keep the ball from going through your legs. If the ball went through your legs two more times, you were out. And that madness continues until you only have two people left alive - the team captains. Ridiculous though it sounds, it was actually really amusing! =)

Sorry, I realize I've just told you a lot of really random thoughts/stories that don't tell you much about what's happened this week. But they're more exciting for the moment than just the monotony of the week. However, we did have a cool little miracle. I think my second day here, Soeur Rowley and I had a rendez-vous with a Muslim woman who was super cool, very into what we had to offer, and extremely engaged in the lesson. But since that night, we haven't been able to see her. Either she's not been home, she's been in the hospital, or she just hasn't returned/answered our calls. But we called her the other day out of the blue and she was really happy to hear from us and asked us to come over. We were finally able to see her, and she asked us to keep coming back! =) She may be a bit difficult to teach (we've got a LOT of ground to cover) but just that we get to see her is a blessing.

Also, I love Indians! We ended up contacting (or rather they contacted us) five different Indians this weeks. Reason I love them: they speak English. They love the church. And one referral that I called, told us she was busy, but had been waiting for our call, and referred us to her friend that wants to join the church. Why can't all amis be that easy?! ;)

Most exciting news of the week: Soeur Rowley and I got contacted by the TJs!!! Ha ha They taught us their version of the plan of salvation and handed us a pamphlet. We told them we'd take it if they took ours. (Which they did) I've got to say, it was kind of fun to be on the other side of a street contact. This week has just been full of all kinds of random stories unimportant ha ha.

Again, I love you. Have a good week (full of random stories! ;) Those are the best!)
We've had to readjust out P-day schedule again for our amis. So, I've got to go and try and make is back to the apartment before we're out too late.

Have an awesome week. I love you!


April 19, 2011

April 19, 2011

Okay, let's try this again, but for real this time. I know I say this ever week, but this week was packed.

For starters, as I mentioned last week, we ran off to the Eiffel Tower last P-day. Some days I'm still weirded out that I live in Paris, and along the same lines it's just weird to me that last week I was standing on the Eiffel Tower! Now of course, if we were going to the tower, we HAD to climb it. (None of this wimpy elevator business ;) ) Over 700 stairs latter...that elevator started to look really good ha ha. But we did it! Wow, it was incredible!

On Wednesday, Soeur Thompson was on exchange and was working in the Paris Visitor Center. Oh my gosh, I love that girl! I can't even tell you how amazing it was to be able to see her before she heads home (next week!) 

Mom, you asked about the two girls. I'm assuming you meant the Mongolians. We didn't get to finally meet them until Sunday afternoon, but they are so cute! I love them already. They're going to take some serious work as far as the gospel goes, but that's just because they have virtually no religious background. But they're willing to keep meeting with us and have been reading the Book of Mormon. So there's hope. =)

We had kind of a funny/random experience in meeting up with them though. We were meeting them at a park/metro station. When we got out of the metro stop, we couldn't cross the street to get to the park because the road was full of literally hundreds of roller bladers! I didn't have my camera, but Sister Rowley went and talked to some random kid who we saw take a picture and asked him to email it to us. The picture turned out a little doubled and was just at the end of the group, but works all the same. Most of the time I wish rollerblading was a kosher in America as it is here. EVERYONE either has roller blades, roller skates, or a scooter. I'm still surprised every time I see some very nicely dressed businessman or woman happily racing down the sidewalk on a scooter. It's completely normal here.

On Sunday, we initially were going to have up to four English speakers at church. Our church doesn't translate like they do in the Paris ward or in Brussels. So Sister Rowley and I were going to have to translate. Knowing that, we ended up taking all of our French and English scriptures, plus each pamphlet in both languages. At the last minute none of our four English speakers could come, but we had five Americans walk in! With a quick change of gears, Sister Rowley stayed in Relief Society with Philomene (our amis with the baptismal date) and the woman from California, and I went to Primary to translate for the ten year old girl from Idaho who is here with her mom and aunt. And after church we had an impromptu lesson with Philomene. So we weren't able to go home before our appointment with the two Mongolian girls. So while we were at first disappointed that none of our four amis made it, and kind of frustrated that we had to lug around very heavy bags all day, it turned out to be a blessing. Had we not planned on the first four coming, we never would have taken our English books, which would have made translating a nightmare! Once again proof that God knows what he's doing. We just have to go with the flow and the blessings will show themselves to us.

As for Philomene, I flipping LOVE her! She's just adorable and the ward is being fantastic about fellow shipping her. She works cleaning hotel rooms after guests leave. So tourist season isn't exactly her slowest time of year. So she hasn't been able to come to our ward until last Sunday. She stood up in Relief Society and told everyone that she's coming now though because she's going to be a member of the church and this ward. She's just cute. And like I said, the ward already loves her and they are taking such good care of her. Our bishop is from Congo (like Philomene) and so they started bonding over that connection. After a few minutes he said that he knows the bishop and stake president down there and could send them her children's information directly to get the ward/missionaries working with them. They went into his office for a bit so she could give him the info. They ended up being in there for over half an hour. But when they finally came out, the two of them ran up to us practically giddy and talking over the top of each other. Bishop Hitoto not only took the info, but called Congo right there. They spoke to either the stake president or bishop (we couldn't tell which - they were talking far too fast in their excitement) and he knows Philomene's daughter! Philomene was absolutely ecstatic! =)

Other happy news of the week: we've got another baptismal date!!! =) It's not until May 29th, but she's going out of town for three weeks. So we couldn't set it any sooner. But by the 29th we should be in great shape. Now Soeur Rowley and I are just both really hoping that we can both stay here another transfer to see the baptisms through.

If I remember right, I told you about that man in Brussels telling me that I'm Polish, becuase "no Americans have hair like that." Well, I got a new nationality this week: Swiss. Go figure. Tons of people read my tag and label me as either Swedish or Dutch, my hair makes me Polish, and my bag makes me Swiss. Ha ha Once people hear my accent they generally know I'm either American or British, but...not that time apparently. ;)

Guess what Mom, we finally went to the cemetery! Oh my flip you would LOVE it!  We went yesturday for a couple of hours before we had to leave for our rendez-vous. The cemetery in Brussels was absolutely caked with moss (which I loved - everything was SO green.) This one has a totally different feel to it, but is still incredible. Pictures can't even show how cool it was. We're probably heading back next week too to try and see a couple more graves than we missed yesturday. If you ever visit Paris, it's a must!

Well like always, I don't have loads of time. So, have an awesome week! I love you!


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Isn't General Conference Awesome!!!

April 4, 2011

Don't you just LOVE conference?! =) I realized something this weekend that I had never considered to be a "blessing" before. I can't even tell you how happy I am that I speak English. It is such a blessing to be able to literally "listen to a prophet's voice" rather than a translation. It's definitely something I had never thought of before, but I can't imagine having grown up with voice over translations and jokes and references that didn't make sense. (Like in the "Fundamentals of our Faith" talk by Elder Oaks in the January Ensign, he said that many Americans believe that Joan of Arch was Noah's wife. In French that doesn't make any sense - "Arch" in her name and the arch that Noah built aren't the same word at all. Just in English.) I'm also extremely glad that the church that we watched the transmission of Conference in had a French room as well as an English room! Listening to all six hours (we didn't get to see the Sunday afternoon session) in French would have been very headache inducing ha ha. The one semi negative bit about conference: nothing has made me more trunky than watching conference. I love Salt Lake. And all the shots of
Temple Square
, the Conference Center, and just Conference in general just scream "home" for me. But it was still kind of cool to know that we were seeing or listening to the exact same thing at the exact same time. =)

And I loved Elder Bednar's talk! He gave a talk in the MTC that my district watched the recording of that literally could have come from the exact same outline as the one he gave yesterday. Sister Call repeatedly talked about how she wished he would give it in conference. Well Soeur got you wish! (However, I think I still prefer the MTC version, but yesterday's was SUPER close.) I'm just thrilled he gave that talk so I can have it in writing now.
We had a pretty...difficult rendez-vous this past week. We went to see an inactive sister that we meet with regularly. She's a smoker and asked us to help her quite. We gave her a copy of the program we have in our area book to help people stop smoking. But she said she wants to really understand it before she starts. So she asked for nine days to study it before starting. We told her that was fine, but we'd still like to meet with her in the mean time to try and help her understand it ever better. She agreed. So we had a rendez-vous on Friday night. We felt like we should go over the Word of Wisdom with her (she said she didn't remember even hearing of it before.) We asked her to read a couple verses - she ended up reading the whole thing. Afterwards, we talked about what the section (D&C 89) says, commands, and promises. We then said, "Will you live the Word of Wisdom?" She said yes. We then said, "So will you stop smoking and drinking alcohol?" She said the smoking she can't quite cold turkey yet (since she hasn't started the program yet) but she'll work on it. However, she won't give up wine "because {she} drinks wine to remember Jesus." She told us that Christ drank wine. Thus wine isn't bad. She also showed us a gold goblet that she has and explained that she puts it on her coffee table next to bread and her bible and then more or less blesses and takes her own sacrament -"since Christ told us to do so." I asked her if she remembered coming to sacrament meeting and taking the sacrament. She did. I explained that that is how we follow the "do this in remembrance of me" commandment. But she just said, "No that doesn't work because the Mormons use water. Jesus' blood is red." She went on to say that she knows that it's red because she's seen him. She had a vision while praying in some church. She was engulfed by a pillar of light. And in the light, dead and bleeding on the cross, Jesus was spinning over her head with Mary crying at his feet.  We also found out that when she was baptized she was still smoking and drinking. She just told the other missionaries that she didn't do either. (Not trying to lie; She just didn't consider herself to be a smoker or drinker.) We talked and talked and talked, but it feels like it's a loosing battle. She just doesn't get it and we have NO idea how to help her. So...needless to say, kind of a frustrating situation unfortunately. But, we're going to keep trying. We just don't know quite how yet.

Happy news: we've got a baptismal date!!! =) The Paris soeurs (that I live with) passed us an amis on Monday. She's wonderful! I absolutely love her! =) She's only met with the missionaries three time (including us) but already loves the church, Book of Mormon, and -as of yesterday- general conference. She's amazing! Amis like her don't come every day. She's such a miracle. We're SO happy to be able to work with her.

Other happy news: We went up to Lille this week for my medical appointment and...I'm legal in France now! =) So looks like I'll get to stick around a bit longer. ;) I had to have a chest x-ray as part of the appointment. After they developed it, the guy was looking at it and talking to me and very happily pointed out to me that I am in deed not a smoker. ha ha Good to know French Medical Man.

We also met with an another amis this week that we've had a little bit of a hard time with. She's seemed like she was only letting us come over to be nice, but didn't really care or know why we were there. We didn't know what we wanted to teach her though. The more we thought and talked and thought some more we were drawing complete blanks. It seemed the more we tried to figure out what to teach, the more lost we got. We finally settle on something, but not because it seemed "right". It just seemed the least "wrong." However when we got there she told us that she hadn't had time to read the chapter we left her. (We could not remember AT ALL having left her a chapter to read.) So she went and grabbed her Book of Mormon and the note with the chapter written on it. Since she hadn't read before we got there, she wanted to read it with us. So we read 3 Nephi 11 with her and it was perfect! The Spirit was so strong and fully directed the lesson. And she let us in on SO much of her life and beliefs. She's been SO prepared for the gospel. Now it's just a matter of time and her agency. That lesson was a real miracle. Had we remember leaving that chapter, I'm absolutely certain it would have affected our plans for the lesson. But instead, because we "just happened" to forget all together, the spirit was able to lead the lesson in the EXACT direction it needed to go.

Mom two things. 1) I think I got all the pictures now. =) and 2) you're not the only person I've met who can burn spaghetti noddles in water! We made a MOUNTAIN of noodles for district meeting this week, and a whole lot of them got burned and stuck to the bottom of the pan ha ha.

Have an amazing week!


The picture I attached is of that "submarine" I told you about last week, but this time the guy is actually inside of there! You can see his head and one hand poking out. (It's not a good picture, but you get the idea. I had to take it really quickly and from a distance. He was shouting at me and that was the only second that there weren't people in the shot)

Want to see a submarine?

March 28, 2011

I really don't understand English speaking Parisian hobos. On the way to do emails today, we passed this guy who hurriedly stood up from his sitting spot against a building, rushed over to us, and invited me to go "see the submarine." The submarine in this case is a mountain of random stuff piled on to some kind of wheel system. Yup...I passed up that opportunity.

This week has been full of "little" miracles. On Tuesday we got to see one of those "proof that exact obedience brings blessings" moments. We wanted to leave the apartment right at 10:30 so that we wouldn't lose a minute of that day. Normally we're out pretty quickly, but it's usually ten to fifteen minutes later. We hopped on a metro and just started talking. After a moment, the men sitting across from us leaned over and asked us something. We absolutely had no idea what they said. ha ha We had them repeat the question a couple times, but our comprehension wasn't getting any better. Finally Sister Rowley realized they were asking if we were Jehovah Witnesses. Turns out, we weren't understanding their French because they were speaking English ha ha ha! We of course told them we weren't but explained a bit about who we are. One of the men was not at all interested, but the other got off the train and talked to us for about half an hour. He's from Ghana and is living in Paris with his sister. The two of them are here working to send money home to the rest of their family in Africa. He's SO dang cool. We set up a rendez-vous with him for Friday. He's easily one of the nicest people I've ever met in my life. And he has been so prepared to learn about the gospel. We met with him on Friday and had an awesome lesson with him. To make it even better: the lesson was in a park. (The weather has been unbelievably beautiful this week!!!) We found out that he is actually barely out of our area - which was kind of heart breaking. We really didn't want to give him up. But we explained the situation to him and told him that other missionaries would be teaching him. We asked him if we could give them his information so that they could get in contact with him. He was totally fine with that idea, but only if he could have their number too, because "If they don't call me by Sunday, and I don't meet them at church, I need to call them Sunday night." He repeatedly explained that he REALLY wants to meet with the missionaries as often as he can "because you bring a good thing. I need this." He just rocks! =) And none of that would have happened if we'd left a minute later and caught a different train.

On Wednesday, we had interviews with President and Sister Staheli. I absolutely love them. They really are amazing people. =) And Sister Staheli and I had the coolest conversation about how time changes everything. She talked about how eighteen months seems like forever, until about six months in and then it just slips through your fingers -all because just a little time has passed. About how missions are about 10% of an elder's life thus far, but because of their age difference, the three years that she and President Staheli have served for is only 20% of their lives. About how the age difference between parent's and their children completely changes the perspective they (the parent and the child) have about almost everything. And then on the grand scale of our time in existence to that of Heavenly Father's and the amazingly increased perspective he has for us. It's kind of a hard conversation to explain in words here, but it was =)

We teach English class Wednesday nights. This week somehow they started asking us about how we get around in America. Everyone was completely shocked that Sister Rowley and I both drive and have cars. One of the guys asked me how many cars my family members own in total. When I told him that in my family, we each have our own car, he again freaked out and asked how we ever had room to park them. So I explained briefly how we all fit in our drive way. He was even further shocked by that, imagining how big our house must be then. Sometimes I forget how different "real" life here must be. I think I disconnect from it because I'm just in missionary mode and don't view this as "real" all of the time. (If that makes any sense to you.) I can't even imagine what it would be like to grow up here. We are SO crazy spoiled in America in ways we never even realize (like having "big" driveways ha ha)

Lessons I learned on Saturday:

1) Everyone in Paris has an umbrella. I don't have any idea where they all came from. Saturday was a really nice sunny day and then a minute later, it was pouring! But everyone had an umbrella instantly. We saw all of these women who weren't even carrying purses, suddenly whip umbrellas out of no where! I don't understand how they all did that, but I was pretty impressed ha ha.

And 2) French people who don't have the "hidden umbrella magic trip" up their sleeves are terrified of the rain. Seriously, the second it started raining, the roads/sidewalks cleared. Everyone just stood under store awnings or huddled in the hallways of the metro next to the exits waiting for the rain to stop. No one was willing to move without an umbrella until the rain stopped. Ha ha ha The French are just funny some days. (Okay, so I guess lesson #1 is negated by #2. Not everyone had an umbrella, get the point.)

My favorite moment of that day came after the rain had basically turned into a quite drizzle. We we on our way to a rendez-vous when we saw this little girl who was probably about two-years-old, in an adorable French rain coat, cute pink rain boots, holding a purple plaid umbrella, spinning, skipping, and twirling in the rain. She was SO cute! Sister Rowley and I would have both been more than happy to take her home as a souvenir. ;)

Paris is covered in flowers right now. I love it! I wish you could see it. We ended up with a weird situation on Friday and had Sister Reeves with us for the day. We had to leave the apartment pretty early and didn't get to do companion study before we picked her up at the train station. But we didn't have time to go back to the apartment and study before our shift volunteering at the Red Cross. So instead we had comp study in a park, near the Red Cross, surrounded by flowers. It was a good day.=)

Have an awesome week! I love you!


Missionaries in Paris with Kim and Sister Rowley

Irish Pub across the street from Kim's apartment on St. Patrick's Day.  It was an all nighter.
Kim with Sister Rowley in a Park in Paris

The flowers are amazing.

The homeless man in his "submarine".

How do you burn spaghetti in water?  It takes real talent=).

It's spring time in Paris.  Kim with Sister Rowley

You can't find any more beautiful girls than these sweet sisters.
Elder Alan Schwind and Kim at the Zone Conference right before Alan came home.

Belgium Police on roller blades with Sister Thompson looking in amazement

Real Belgium waffles.  YUM!!! No calories, right?

Valentine heart made from smashed beer cans.

Sister Thompsen and Kim in Belgium

Schaerbeek, Belgium at night fall on the street where Kim's apartment was.

Belgium missionaries on P-Day.  There a happy lot=).

The group of God's Army in Belgium.

From left to right: Sister Woodruff's companion, Sister Thompsen, Kim and Sister Woodruff.