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!