Sunday, May 29, 2011

Caen is Gorgeous

May 23, 2011

Where has this month gone? Sister Williams and I did our weekly planing the other day and were shocked to realize we were planning for the fifth (of six) week of the transfer. What the what?! Where did all that time go?!

Philomene is doing just a wonderfully as always. =) T-6 days until her baptism!!! Initially we were going to have it combined with two baptisms from the other Paris ward, but this week the other missionaries told us they need to postpone that date. We were so excited to have the help of the other ward in planning the service and food, but...oh well. Sister Williams and I just get to figure it out together now. As part of that planning, we need to have Philomene try on and pick out the dress she wants to wear. All of the baptismal clothes are kept in a cabinet at the church, but when I went to check in a bit ago, it was locked. I tried every key we own. No luck. I called the elders to see if they had a key to the lock. No luck. But the other day, we went to the church to meet an amis for a lesson and one of the ward members was there. She's in charge of the genealogy room. Well, while waiting for our amis, we got to talking to her about the upcoming baptism. She made a comment about how we'd need keys to get into the cabinet. Then she went to her desk, unlocked a drawer, and pulled out a mountain of keys to different parts of the church! Ha ha ha She looked through all of them and told us the key wasn't there, but she probably took it home. Ha ha that makes sense. You're in charge of genealogy, therefore you have the baptismal clothing cabinet key in your home. We have since been entrusted with those keys until the baptism is completed. ha ha

We had exchanges this week. I LOVE Caen. Normandy is flipping beautiful!!! The sky was bright blue. There was a soft breeze coming off of the ocean. The apartment is nestled in an adorable bookstore. And the sisters live -literally- right down the street from the ruins of a castle. So...all in all it was a good day. =) We had a rendez-vous while I was out there with a less active woman who has to be one of the oldest, if not the oldest, women I've ever met in my life. When we walked in, she was slumped over in a chair in front of the TV. Sister Barros walked over, said hello, and when she didn't respond, said hello again. Again though, no response. Sister Barros, who was standing between me and the old woman, turned to me and said, "I promise she's not dead." I was fairly certain at the time that she had told me that to try and convince herself it was true. I found out later, I was right ha ha. That would have made for an interesting exchange -the very first person we try to see ends up dead. Pretty glad I didn't have to journal about that one. Luckily, Sister Barros was right. Old though she is, she's still alive and ticking. We finished the day, but walking through the ruins of the castle to get to the apartment. I LOVED IT! . The mote is full of rich green plants and purple flowers. Apparently they do theatre in the courtyard in the summer. Umm...pretty sure, I fully support that idea. It was just...wonderful! Words can't even explain.

Coming back from Caen, Sister Barros and I rode the train down with the whole Caen zone. We had leadership training in Paris that we all needed to be at. I love bonding with missionaries as is, but it was even better, we got put in a car on the train with, as they've been lovingly deemed, "Harry Potter rooms." (One of the cars with individual compartments of eight chairs.) Sounds like a minor experience, but we were highly entertained by it. AND it meant that we didn't have to sound over the chairs at each other, annoying everyone around us. I've definitely been sold on the idea. =)

Leadership training was wonderful. As always. I know I've said it before, but President Staheli is just amazing. That man is seriously inspired. There is no doubt about that in my mind.

As part of the training, we got to watch a semi-real world DVD. That was kind of weird. Momentarily, I didn't feel like a missionary any more. It was just so easy to loose myself in the story that it pulled me out of the world I live in. Maybe it's a REALLY good thing that we have as many rules as we do as missionaries. If it was that easy to loose focus, I can only imagine how bad it would be without the rules we have. They are definitely a blessing. This work would be impossible without them.

The Paris sisters had exchanges this week too. Poor Sister Smith has been SO worried about not having Sister Pearce with her for the day. We've been promising her for weeks that it would be just fine. Exchanges aren't as scary as you think. Nothing would go wrong, etc. Well, I think we cursed her. After having one of her longest most stressful days in the field, they made it back home exhausted, just in time to make a few phone calls. She called a recent convert to check on them, just to find out, they were suicidal. She took the phone in the bathroom to talk for a bit (none of us knowing what was going on.) The other three of us were just talking, when we heard Sister Smith, having just hung up, scream and come running out of the bathroom asking us what she's supposed to do with a suicidal member. She did a wonderful job talking to her and got her to meet them at the church house. Despite the fact that they'd be home late, they had more pressing matters to worry about. So after a long day, Sister Smith and Sister Edgerly (her comp for exchanges) headed back out the door to go see this member at the church.

The next morning, Sister Williams and I got a phone call from the senior couple that works at the church asking us what we'd done with the church keys. We explained we hadn't even been there the day before, but the Paris sister had. We passed them the phone. Sister Smith explained that they'd met up with someone the night before, but locked the church and put the keys away in the locked compartment where they are always stored. This couple was very worried that someone had stolen the keys though, and/or gotten the code to the compartment where we store them, since they weren't there when they went to get them in the morning. After getting off the phone with us, they proceeded to call all of the missionaries in Paris. All of the zone leaders were tasked with calling their zone to try and locate these lost keys. Knowing she'd put them away, but just wanting to make certain again at this point, Sister Smith checked her purse. She pulled out a set of keys and said, "Okay, so these are the keys to our apartment." After a momentary pause, Sister Williams and I busted up laughing. They were the church keys! Upon hearing that, Sister Smith screamed and through the keys on the floor like they were hot coals. As if she wasn't embarrassed enough for taking them home as it was, now all three Paris zones were in an uproar searching for the missing keys. Oh dear ha ha, poor girl. Everything that could go wrong, that we'd promised her wouldn't happen...happened. She's never look forward to exchanges again at this rate.

Friday was Sister Williams seven month mark! We were able to meet up with some friends from her home ward who took us out for Italian. Which was so sweet of them. They really seem to be wonderful people. Marking her seven month mark though, made me realize, this coming week will be Reuben's year mark. And then the week following will be my six month mark. in the world did that happen?! I'm almost 100% certain I was just barely home, and it feels like Reuben left yesterday. Flip, time is just slipping through my fingers. Craziness! Does it feel like it's been that long to you or is it just something about actually being the one that's gone?

It finally happened. I had to give a talk in church yesterday. That was not an experience I was looking forward to. But, somehow, I made it through. =) But if I ever needed a reason to not spend the rest of my life in a country where the main language is something other than English, having the constant possibility of being asked to speak in church is plenty and enough of an excuse! ha ha I don't think I've had to try so hard nor been so nervous about any other talk in my life. ha ha

We met with Edinton and Anbu yesterday after church. Just when we thought they couldn't get any cooler, they invited ANOTHER friend to church! In our rendez-vous we asked if they'd read from the Book of Mormon. They said they had and opened the book. We had given them 3 Nephi 11 to read, but Edinton opened to Alma 18. Rather confused as to why he went there, we questioned him a little bit. Turns out, rather than reading 3 Nephi 11, he just started at the beginning...and is in Alma 18! That's over 320 pages in Tamil!!! In one week! At this rate they'll be done with the whole book well before they're baptised. Oh! And that's the other exciting news about them! They've now got baptismal dates for the 19th of June! =)

This is kind of random, but I found it cool. We had an elder here, Elder Horne, who just got deported for not doing his legality while he was here. President was really hoping he'd get reassigned to Canada or Washington DC so that he could continue to use French. But, no such luck. Denver Colorado. I've heard Denver is lovely, but to go from Paris to Denver...he wasn't terribly thrilled. However, we just got the word that he's teaching a family there now that is from Africa and only speaks French. Proof again, that as always, God knows what he's doing. Had Elder Horne not gone to Denver, none of the missionaries there every would have been able to help this family.

I have repeatedly forgotten to tell you, I've discovered one of my top top top favorite French pastries. And, apparently they have it at that French bakery that Lisha told us about in Salt Lake City. It's called a Kouing Amann. If you ever stop by, you have to try it and let me know what you think. The shop is caled Les Madeleines. I could be totally wrong, but if I remember correctly LIsha said it was on 300 east and 300 south (if that's the same shop), but you could ask her to be certain.

Well, that's about it for the week. It's been a rather busy one -as always, but it's been good. Have a wonderful week. I love you.


A view from Caen, France

The moat of the castle in Caen
more of the moat in Caen, France
Kim with Sister Barros in Caen
A view of a bit of the castle ruins in Caen
Another view of the castle ruins in Caen

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pictures from Paris

Kim's lunch at Angelina's.  Looks fabulous!
Dessert from the lunch Kim had at Angelina's. YUM!!

Kimberly with 3 other sister missionaries eating lunch with a sweet American sister who took them to lunch at Angelina's.  A very fancy restaurant across the street from the Lourve. The lunch for all of them cost over 300 Euro!!!

Kimberly with Sister Williams, her companion
Gelato is AWESOME!!!!=)

April 16, 2011

Bonjour ma chère famille!

This week has been one for the books. Literally. I'm 100% sure I've written more in my journal this week than I have any other time since the MTC. It's been out of control. So naturally, I forgot to look through it to remember everything I wanted to tell you, which means, you might be getting further details next week.

It may be different on your side of the ocean, but I feel like I haven't talked to you in months. There is no way that Mother's Day was only a week ago!

Philomene is doing so great! We met with her the other day and now we finally have the official baptismal date!!! =) She'll be getting baptized (unless something really dramatic changes things - and it would have to be REALLY dramatic) on the 29th of May! However it was a bit of a struggle getting to that appointment to set the date.

We had our rendez-vous scheduled with her for 5:00 and we needed to be at the other church (which is half an hour away) at 6:00 to teach English class. 5:00 was the only day and time she could see us, but it was going to make us potentially late for English class.

After calling to confirm with Philomene she told us she was coming, but was running  late. Even more worried at that news, we called the elders that we teach with to ask them if they could cover until we could get there. Well, both sets of elders were going to be late, leaving us to be the ones that had to be there on time. We were really frustrated though because we didn't know how we were going to be able to manage both, but couldn't justify (nor feel right about) cancelling on Philomene.

So, with no idea how we could do what we needed to do, we decided to just pray it would work, she'd be on time, and we'd make it to English class. With no reason to believe we could do it other than fully faith based hope, we headed out the door as soon as we finished praying (a good bit earlier than we "needed" to leave the apartment.) And then the miracles began.

 We got to our first metro stop just as the train was pulling in. So we didn't have to wait a second at the station. Then, at our second station where we changed trains to get to the church, the second train was just pulling in. Again, not a second of time lost. We made it to our final metro stop faster than normal and about fifteen minutes early for out rendez-vous. And as we were climbing the escalator, I saw Philomene heading around the corner the leave the station and head to the church (where we teach her.) We ran after her, caught up and walked to the church together.

So, let me pause and interpret the miracles thus far in the story. Had we not caught both trains just as we did, it easily could have taken five to ten minutes longer to get to Porte des Lilas (the metro stop by the church.) Had that happened, we wouldn't have caught up with Philomene. Had we not caught up with her, she would have made it to the church, the doors would have been locked and she would have left. (She can't call us. She can only accept calls. So she would have had no way to tell us she was there.) But because everything worked perfectly, we made it there on time to see her AND she was 15 minutes early despite telling us she'd be late. Giving us enough time to teach her and make it to English class. See the perfect orchestration that had nothing to do with us? We couldn't have even planned it that well if we tried.

After the lesson, we hopped back on the metro to head to the other church. -Again, the train was just pulling in when we got there. I'm serious, that NEVER happens. It's like hitting only green lights while driving, but times ten! We hadn't made it even one stop yet when the train shut down due to an emergency in the tunnels. After waiting a couple moments to be given the go ahead to start driving again, our driver announced that there had been a severe accident at Porte des Lilas -the metro stop we had just barely left. Over the next few announcements we heard, we gathered that there had been a suicide there. And it had happened right after we left. Had we not caught the train when we had, we would have most likely witnessed that and been stuck with no way to get to the church on time. But again, next miracle of the night, we had made it onto the right train that kept us away from that mess and could still get us to the church without anything worse that a momentary delay.

There we so many more details that are just hard to convey in words. The night was just...amazing. And Philomene is just great. She told us that her son, in Congo, found the church and is meeting with the missionaries. She was SO happy to tell us. She was just giddy that he finally made it. It was adorable. Along with fixing a new date, we taught her the word of wisdom. She agreed with all of it, but didn't love the idea of quiting coffee. However, she explained to us that, essentially, commandments are commandments. Therefore, she was willing to follow it. And on Sunday at church, we gave her  can of Caro and a box of herbal to tea to help replace her coffee.  She got all excited over them and told me that if she can have those, she has no need for coffee. "And from this point forward, my coffee drinking is finished!"

The cutest moment of the night though was after we finished our lesson and  we were walking back to the metro with her, she told us, "I've finally found my church. My search is over. I've found it and I'll never leave." =) I SO wish you could meet her -not that you'd be able to understand her or speak to her- you'd love her! I certainly do!

We saw Edinton and Anbu (the Indian men we're teaching) on Sunday. Anbu came last week, but Edinton couldn't make it. We watched the Restoration DVD last time with Anbu and apparently he's been telling Edinton about it all week long. When we finished the lesson this week, Edinton told me he had been waiting all week to see the movie.

Anbu just loved it. But apparently, his favorite part was seeing a christian baptism in the film. (He's Hindi and had never seen one before.) Luckily, there was a baptismal service after church though that we invited the two of the them. So as Edinton was explaining his having waited all week to see it, he said "but this is better. I wanted to see the film of a baptism, but now I get to see one in person." After a few more minutes, without any prompting from us, they told us that they want to be baptized and soon. Sister Williams and I had planned on bringing it up with them soon, but didn't have the opportunity yet and were a little leery of the date we felt was right, but thought they might think it was too soon. Turns out, they want to be baptized even faster than the two of us had been looking at! We'll still need a bit of time to get through all of the lessons with them, but a miracle none the less! =)

As I said we had a baptismal service after Church yesterday, actually, four of them. How crazy is that?! The St. Merri missionaries (St. Merri is the other Church in Paris) had three Chinese baptisms and one french guy all in one day! That ward will have NINE baptisms this month! They are just on fire right now! The baptisms yesterday were wonderful. It was Elder Liao's first! They were just so fantastic. And we had Anbu, Edinton and Philomene all there. The spirit at baptisms and the joy there is just indescribable.

The Egyptian woman I told you about on the phone that we're teaching...oh my heavens. I love her. (I say that a lot I realize, but it's true.) She told us this week that we're like her daughters now and will be the rest of our lives. Cute, huh? She even introduced us as her daughters to the man she rents her room from. She's just the sweetest lady. =)

I went back up to Brussels on Friday to do my legality. I LOVE Brussels -even if I was only there for the day. I can't explain why, I just love it there. We didn't have a ton of time due to a pretty major delay in train times and then in the actual legality office, but wonderful all the same. Spending copious amounts of time in the legality office, we got to looking around and couldn't help but laugh/be very confused by one poster we saw. It had the word "violence" written in all caps at the top, a picture right beneath than, and then several paragraphs on reporting violence. The picture was the confusing/funny part. It showed a couple of potted plants in what seems like a hallway leading to a bathroom with the door slightly ajar. So the whole picture was composed of three plants/flowers and an open door partially hiding the toilet inside. Um..."violence"? ha ha We didn't quite see the vision behind that one.

So P-day today, we went on a scavenger hunt around Paris with the Paris elders. We had a list of random things and places we needed to get pictures of and two hours to get as many as possible. We are exhausted now after running (literally) ALL OVER THE CITY today ha ha, but it really was fun. =)

I'll have to fill you in on all the other stuff I've forgotten next week, but for now, I love you! Have a wonderful week!