Tuesday, June 21, 2011


June 20, 2011

For starters, I think I told you last week how much I love trains. Well, it's a dang good thing. In just the last week alone, we've spent over ten hours on trains! (I sure hope this doesn't get old. I love trains too much to get tired of them here...) As much as I love them, holy cow they can be exhausting. Mom, I think it's kind of like how when you sit down for a second you get super tired. Well, same rule applies here. Best we can figure, we're just running all the time. So when we finally sit down -and for that long- our brains suddenly decide that they get to relax for the first time in months. Bah...that's taking some major time to adjust to.

Highlight of the week: we had zone conference! I LOVE zone conference. You know how there are some weeks where you just can't wait for Sunday to roll around to give you that spiritual charge to make it through the week? Well, zone conference is SO like that! (it just needs to last for six weeks instead of one.) The Spirit there is just amazing. =) And we learn so much, so fast! And one of the great things about having President and Sister Staheli around is that we almost always get first hand stories about MoTab or President Hinckley. (And that's NEVER a bad thing.)

President Staheli has some of the greatest stories. I could listen to him for hours and never get board. One of the many that he told us that we all got a good laugh out of came while he was working in the church office building. One day as President Staheli was waiting for the elevator, President Kimball walked over with the first presidency and a few other apostles. Of course, when an elevator arrived on the floor, everyone waiting to get on, let President Kimball get on with the other apostles instead. As President Kimball was walking past President Staheli, he grabbed his arm and said, "Will you come?" With a quick, "Yes sir." President Staheli followed them onto the elevator. He then taught us several things from that experience, (like looking directly into President Kimball's eyes and only being able to describe it at "liquid love." And what a prophet of the Lord really means when they say "Will you come?") But, like normal for President, we also get the funny side of the moment. As the elevator was descending, it stopped on one floor (now since the car is already full, no one would be getting on. They'd just end up with a quick glance at these amazing men, and then see the doors shut and wait for the next car.) Well, the doors opened. There was a young man standing in a suit. After a moment of amazement at who he was seeing, he blurted our very loudly and quickly, "I just got off of my mission." and...the doors shut ha ha. Maybe that's exactly what he wanted to tell them, but I feel like if I were that kid, as soon as the doors shut, I'd have thought "Seriously! Did you really just say that?! That's all you could think to say!" ha ha (Maybe you had to be there to hear President Staheli tell the story, but we all very much enjoyed it.)

So as I said, I love Zone Conference. The only problem is that this one ended on a really sad note. It was President and Sister Staheli's last Zone Conference with us. They'll be turning over the keys next week to President and Sister Poznanski. We're excited for the growth that we'll experience under the Poznanski's, and I've only heard great things about them, but we will certainly miss the Staheli's a lot. It's amazing the love that radiates from the two of them. It's crazy to think how little we really do see them, and yet we all love them more than even words can say. After they bore their dying testimonies, we all went in a circle and hugged and/or shook their hand, and then standing, sang "God Be With You Till We Meet Again." And, with the room plenty full of tears of love and gratitude, the two of them said goodbye one last time and left the chapel.

Sister Staheli made the comment in her testimony that she believes that we were all in the preexistence together and said, "Hey! 2011. France Paris Mission. Be there!"  Silly though that seems in a way, I totally believe it. We were all put together for a reason. I don't know how I ever got lucky enough to know and serve under them, but it really has been a huge blessing. Like one of the senior sisters said, "How often do you get the opportunity to serve under a man who was personally tutored by the hand of a prophet? And then you have Sister Staheli with her ever ready smile."

The love in that room was just incredible. I don't know how they managed so perfectly to get over 150 missionaries to love them with all of their hearts, and then to do the exact same back to us. (This may sound a little cheesy, but it's what hit me in that moment.) If we were able to feel that kind of extreme love here, I can't even imagine what the Celestial Kingdom must be like.

Okay, moving on, kind of. For lunch at Zone Conference, we usually have pizza. And by usually I mean always. But this time, they got individually wrapped black styrofoam plates of little potato wedges and chicken thighs. As she was pealing back the plastic wrap, one of the sisters standing next to me said, "Wow! This is so fancy!!!" After a moment of discussing that comment, we couldn't help but laugh. I love mission life: where KFC type dinner plates are the fanciest thing you've eaten on since entering the field and even the sight of such a meal is practically startling. ha ha

Epic discovery of the week! They have vending machines here for bread! Seriously! We found this machine than just distributes different kinds of baguettes! The lady restocking the machines thought we were rather strange as she watched us taking pictures of it.She thought we were even more strange when she found out we were Americans. She told us that the machine is made in American. So it doesn't make sense that we don't have them there. Apparently she doesn't realize that American bread is nothing like a French baguette.

We had kind of an awkward (and "kind of awkward" in this sense translates to "the most awkward I've experienced my whole mission") rendez-vous this week. It was with that father and daughter we set baptismal dates with. But this time it was in their home and his wife was there. She was shocked when she found out they were getting baptized. He hadn't said a word about it! Well, after clearing that up, we went on teaching our lesson. We made it through Joseph's words describing the first vision, and then...things changed. Somehow the topic flipped upside down and his wife started telling him that she decided the week before that she was leaving him. They have some pretty difficult family situations to deal with, and she feels like she's handling them without his help. Of course, there's all kinds of other factors involved, but...all the same...Spirit gone. Our member we had with us, got up and held this woman's hand and was just wonderful in calming her down. I don't know what Soeur Rowley and I would have done without this other wonderful sister there with us. But for a good half hour while that was going on, Sister Rowley and I just had to sit silently on the couch across from her husband who didn't seem even slightly bothered by what was going on. Oh heavens! Never fight with your spouse in front of sister missionaries. It's terribly awkward and not a situation anyone should feel comfortable with!

We didn't see them at church yesterday and when we called them last night, he told us that she's leaving him for sure, but she doesn't work or have a phone. She really likes the church and likes the missionaries, but we have no idea how we're going to track her down. We're just praying that we'll be able to catch her before she's officially moves out and that we'll still be able to work with her. I am SO not a fan of situations like this. =/ It's never fun when families are torn apart, but there's only so much we can do to stop it unfortunately.

On a much happier note, we had a really fun rendez-vous earlier in the week. The sisters a few months ago were just going door-to-door, and contacted this lady. I found her in the area book and decided to call her. Guess what. She's our bishop's mom! What are the chances! She's just a hoot. I love her! And she has a one eyed cat! (Bonus!) Her cat is incredibly Toulouse-ish. As we were sitting at her kitchen table, he clearly thought we weren't paying enough attention to him, even though I'd been petting him the entire time. So...he jumped up on the table and laid down on top of my open Book of Mormon that I was reading out of. The other bonus of that lesson, we had Michèl with us. Michèl is our other amis with a baptismal date. He's always had members at the lessons when missionaries taught him, so he asked if he could teach with us too. How great is that! You've got to love amis that are that excited to play the role of a member even before they are baptized!

One last quick story before I take off. Again, back to zone conference. Zone conference always gets me SO jazzed to go out and be the best missionary I can be. This one was no different. That evening I decided I wanted to be better about recognizing the people that I need to talk to in places or at time when I normally wouldn't. I just prayed and asked God to "shout" at me if necessary and I would listen. Well..."ask and ye shall receive" right? I then had a dream that Sister Rowley and I were on a train and I saw a guy across the aisle from us. That was it. That was the whole dream. And considering the amount of time we spend on trains, I thought nothing of it. Until...we were headed up to Mons the next day to get the car from the elders. Sitting on the train, I was heavily engrossed in my scriptures. I looked up for a moment at Sister Rowley and the dream came flooding back to me. We spend a lot a time on trains, but this one was totally different in design and color. I hadn't ever been on one like it before, but I remembered in that second that I'd seen this scene perfectly just a few hours before in my dream. I looked across the aisle. There was a man in the seat that I had seen in my dream, but...it wasn't him. So I got slightly confused. However, at the next station, that guy got off and was replaced by the guy I'd seen in my dream. I even recognized his clothing. It was him! I'd never met him before in my life, but I knew I had seen him. Now came the tricky part...I had to talk to him. I can talk to tons of people on the street all day long, and not be even kind of bothered by it. That just doesn't really stress me any more, but man I was having a hard time with this guy. There were some major forces battling in my head to stop me from talking to him, but...I couldn't ignore that "shout" that I'd asked for. So for no logical reason (other than the major discouraging thoughts from some not so friendly foes) I was more stressed about making that contact than virtually any other that I've done. However, success! No major miracle (that I know of) came from talking to him thus far, but I did my part. I can't even tell you what a relief that was. It's so not worth walking away from promptings. You feel guilty about them for what feels like eternity. I'm just so happy that the ball is in his court now and that I am able to say I did my part. (I should know by now what happens when you ask for "growth opportunities" like that ha ha ha)

Well, I've got to go read the Book of Mormon, sitting on a bench, over the phone with an amis now. So, I'll talk to you next week. I love you!