Wednesday, October 19, 2011


OCTOBER 15,2011

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

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

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

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

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

I love you. Have a wonderful week. =)


Saturday, October 8, 2011


Message body

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

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

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

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

I love you. Have a wonderful week!