Hi! So first of all. I am still in heaven from talking to you on Christmas! It was SO much fun to get to gush about Europe with you. :)
second of all.... typing on a french keyboard is WEIRD. good thing i have two hours to email you! it's taking me forever to figure this thing out. I keep accidentally hitting the z key, which is actually quite french. "i keep 'itting ze z key!" anyway.
I'm going to start my story in the salt lake airport. after waiting at the MTC all day, not even sure if we were going to get to go (the missionaries going to switzerland in our zone had already been delayed indefinitely because of the weather) we were all SO excited to finally leave! it was hard to leave all the other missionaries though. we all had "goodbye journals" that we wrote in for each other, kind of like yearbooks. here are a few excerpts from mine...
Elder Blank: (READ THIS, amie)
Oh, dear Soeur Williams, have you heard the news? We are all lost, you for Paris and I for Montréal. I am so sad. You have been such an awesome influence in this district and for me as well! I am so grateful that you were here for us. And who will I quote Jane Austen with now that you are gone?
And Pride & Prejudice/Sense & Sensibility.... It shall be awesome, or shall I say "Capital, capital!"
You better keep in touch, i want to hear your stories.
Elder Ryan Blank
ps. "Let us not say farewell, but as the French have it, au revoir!"
I did not forget that you said, "if you come to utah, i'll teach you to play piano. we have a piano in our basement." so don't be surprise my sister when I show up one day and ask you to teach me play like Mozart :) (he was AUSTRIAN!)
Really sister in these last weeks you helped me a lot, in order to keep focused and you helped us to do our best and also to find out our eternal potential, even hidden talents, things we didn't know we could do. Just one example (he drew an arrow to a picture he drew for me) whenever you are down look at this picture and see what you made me become. you are a miracle and you'll be a blessing to many people just as you have been a blessing to me.
And this one is for Lyric... Elder Ormond:
Alright listen here Soeur! you my friend are awesome! keep that vibrant smile you have now all throughout your mission. It always made my days wonderful even on the most wonderful days.
I'm glad you liked my jokes! i like it when i say something and i'm not the only one that laughs :) dinner was always the best when you and soeur larsen were near. The food definitely did not make it good.
That is wicked cool that you know of Wendell! You are the coolest missionary in my book on this fact alone, not even considering all your great flower headbands and wicked sweet drawings!
Keep parle-ing in French... that is going to help you out so much in France :) I think it is their language? I'm pretty sure it is, actually! Good luck :)
Elder Nathan Ormond
That was probably boring for you, but i just love all the elders! i wish you could meet them all. back to my story:
we arrived at the airport only to find out our flight had been delayed an hour and a half. it actually turned out to be a blessing... more time to talk on the phone :) it was so great to not only talk on an actual phone, but to talk to my family on the phone was just heaven!
the flight was long, but it didn't feel long. Lindsay the champion sleeper was out like a light for almost the entire flight. all the other missionaries could not sleep, but i was out in the first half hour. it was GREAT.
when we landed in Paris, it was absolutely covered in fog and we couldn't see a thing out of the airplane windows. we were still all struck with overwhelming euphoria... that special kind of euphoria that is reserved for Paris :) we were met by Président Staheli and the APs. after a few minutes of greetings, Président Staheli left. The APs handed each of us a bottle of Evian, a pain au chocolat (a croissant filled with chocolate) and a passalong card. We all swooned and sighed as we devoured the pastries-- our first real food in two months!
we all made our way to the train station and boarded. we spread ourselves out on the train so we wouldn't freak people out (23 of us!) as it got close to our stop in Le Vesinet (where the mission home is) an elderly couple got on and sat opposite Soeur Rowley and I. We started chatting with them- it was way more comfortable than i expected. I understood everything they said, they understood everything I said! When the inevitable "d'ou venez-vous?" (where are you from?) came up, they told us we didn't have an American accent at all! That is the MOST wonderful compliment anyone could give me, even if it's completely untrue (still working on my accent... it's getting there) so of course, we started talking religion with them. they said they were born Catholic and now Atheist. (that's a very common response around here) they were very nice about our religion, but basically shot us down. the cnversation drifted to art- they had just come from a Monet exhibit. I swooned over the pictures in his little pamphlet. The man gave it to me to keep, so I gave him a passalong card :)
we finally arrived in Le Vesinet and were led through a pitch black muddy forest. The entire time we were all thinking, "is this some sort of initiation??" I was sure a man with w chainsaw was going to jump out at any moment. We finally arrived at the mission home. Président and Soeur Staheli were standing on the porch greeting us, and a lovely cottage glow was pouring out through the open doors (that was for you, rico) it was so nice to be in a real home. we were served a delicious home cooked meal of salad, lasagna, baguette, green beans, and buche de noel for dessert. We then had a little testimony meeting in french and went to bed. For me, I didn't so much go to bed as i fell into bed... international travel is TIRING.
The next morning after breakfast, we were assigned areas and companions. we were all dying to find out! Soeur Larsen was assigned to Versailles (yes. THAT Versailles.) She was so very excited, even though it was hard to say goodbye to each other. I was assigned to go to Liège, Belgium. I was so so happy and excited. My trainer is Soeur England from Centerville. She's really chill and laid back, and we work hard and laugh a lot! She is such a blessing, for reals.
I just can't believe I'm in Europe! my desk in our "appartement" is in front of a big window overlooking the city. I look up now and then during my studies, and seriously I pinch myself every time. Serving the Lord in Europe is my dream come true.
Anyway, after we got our assignments, we went up to what Président Staheli likes to call Consecration Hill. It's the ruins of the castle where Louis XVI was born, set high up on a hill overlooking Paris. You can probably imagine my reaction to THAT view. If you can't, imagine someone having a mild seizure and you'd be pretty darn close. He calls it Consecration Hill because he found you can kind of see components of Lehi's vision from the top. There's a big tree, a straight path with an iron handrail running along one side, the muddy Seine below, and the big city on the other side of the river. He asked us to take a few minutes and write in our journals some thoughts and goals for our mission. I chose a particularly lovely bit of the iron gate and leaned against it and began to gush in my journal. I am just SO blessed! A few times a day I'll stop and tell Soeur England "wait. we are in EUROPE." she says she still has those moments too after being out a year. It's seriously a fairytale being here!
After Consecration Hill, I met Soeur England at the mission home and we drove to Paris to get on a train to Belgium. We drove through a huge tunnel and suddenly there was the Arc de Triomphe! love it. We got to the train station and all that was left for our train were first class tickets. So, we sat ourselves down in red velvet armchairs and little ladies in hats offered us pear tarts in soothing voices. HEAVEN! trains are just magical. gosh, i must sound like such a weirdo going on about trains and ruins. But this is my thing! i love ALL of it. Even when we're trudging through deep snow with wind-burned faces. even when we're standing on the side of the road waiting to cross and a car drives by, splashing us with cold, muddy puddle water. even when people slam their doors. It's a dream come true, every single minute of it.
SO we got to Liège and were met at the gare (train station) by our zone leaders. Elder Weber is from Germany and Elder Duarte is from Portugal. They're AWESOME. we dropped my stuff off at our apartment and the rest is history! I love it here. It's absolutely freezing (around 5 degrees) but the people are so nice and sweet. Church was cancelled yesterday because of the weather (boo) and i seriously can't wait to go this sunday to meet everyone!
On Christmas Eve we went out contacting and we placed my first Book of Mormon with a man named Julian. He seemed really lonely... I hope we can help him out. We're calling him today I think to follow up... I'll let you know how it goes!
We went to the Lapagne's for Christmas Eve dinner. Jean Pierre Lapagne is the Branch President of Liège 2 (we're in Liège 1). It was SO much fun. They are so very kind and hilarious. His wife, Joélle, is the fastest talker I've ever heard. I understood some of what she said :) They have four kids: Bastian, Loic, Laeticia, and Maxime. They served us some sort of meat (Richard guessed game hen... i have NO idea) and lucky us, we got the innards. Oh my gosh, it's a miracle I didn't barf. The rest of the meal was really good: potatoes, spiced miniature plums (they were yellow!) chestnut sauce, cranberry sauce, a cheese plate with baguette, and buche de noel for dessert. It was really good, minus the puréed hen liver or whatever that was.
we start teaching lessons tomorrow... The buses were shut down for days, so we haven't been able to teach at all. I'm so excited to meet our amis!
*some mission vocab:
Ami de L'église (friend of the church) = investigator. most of the time, it's shortened to just "ami"
Bleu = greenie. I have no idea why it's a different color in France. So i'm a bleu, not a greenie.
um... that's all i can think of right now. I'm sure I'll be adding to it.
whew. that was the longest email of my life. I'm going to try to figure out how to email pictures now... i LOVE all of you! keep writing letters, i can write whenever i want now, not just for two seconds on friday afternoons :)
who now lives in Belgium.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
I was curious to see what Liege looks like, so here are a few pictures that I found online... Lindsay will be emailing on Mondays, so watch for her first email from Belgium this Monday!!
Is she completely lucky, or what??
Merry Christmas from Belgium!
Posted by Sue at 12:06 PM
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
BONJOUR, ma famille!
first off. Oh. My. Goodness. I'm basically freaking out. I'm leaving on MONDAY!!!! Paris! Ah! Can't wait.
In true Lindsay fashion, a list.
Top Ten Things I Will Miss About the MTC:
10. The Tongan elders singing hymns to our classroom from across the hall
9. the elders saying the funniest things, like all the time. we have so many jokes. I would type one of them out, but they probably wouldn't be funny to you.
8. the little bird who lived in the cafeteria for like 5 weeks. We named her Gertrude. She would tweet a song as I ate my bagel in the mornings :)
7. temple walks every week, even when it's about 6 degrees outside. we will brave all sorts of weather in order to get outside the MTC walls for a little while!
6. singin' in the choir
5. my teachers, frere welch and soeur gabriel. she is an absolute angel and he is hilarious.
4. apostles coming practically every other day!
3. learning to parlez francais and teach the gospel
2. nightly parties with my darling soeurs
1. my district-- believe it or not, i will miss spending ALL day EVERY day in a tiny classroom with ten 19 year-old boys... love 'em!
this will give you some perspective: we have the largest district in the zone (there's 12 of us). the average has 6-8, maybe ten. our classrooms are all the same size. there is about an arm's-width space in between all of our desks. we are CRAMMED in there! it's fun though.
The MTC has been just amazing. I'm so very excited to go to Paris, but I'll miss the MTC too! Mostly, I'll miss my district, my soeurs, my zone, and soeur larsen. we're all super duper close, and I love them. It's going to be hard to say goodbye! But we're going to keep in touch, and I'm so excited to see the huge impact they're all going to have in their missions.
I love you all so very much. Thank you for your support of my mission! The church is TRUE :)
avec tout mon amour,
Posted by Sue at 10:30 PM
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
Bonjour, ma famille! 10 DAYS! Can you believe it?? I sure can't. we got our travel plans yesterday-- that made it so real! So here's what i know so far:
There's a group of 20 of us going to Paris, and we're all on the same flight, which is going to be a blast :) We leave the MTC monday the 20th at 1:30 PM. Our flight leaves SLC at 5 PM and we arrive at Charles de Gaulle at 11:25 AM the next day. Direct flight=happiness. The Montreal, Geneva, and Toulouse missionaries are SO jealous of us.
As far as talking on the phone at the airport, it will probably be in the 3:00-4:30 range and from what I've heard, we only get like 5 minutes to talk. Does Katie remember how long she got? I'm sure I'll have more info for you next Friday.
It's been a good week this week. We're all starting to realize how little time we have left, which makes things a little more stressful! I have SO much to do still. Like, a lot. And our district/zone is so, so very sad to be splitting up-- we're all super close. But we're all really excited too! There was a lot of freaking out going on when we got our travel plans :) Can you believe it's been 8 weeks already? The MTC is just the weirdest place. I feel like I've only been here 2 weeks and at the same time I feel like I've been here FOREVER. I'm so excited to get my mission started! I don't think there are words for how excited I am.
Sunday was my last fast sunday here. I bore my testimony in French in sacrament meeting-- first time! It felt oh, so good. I just got up there and said exactly what I wanted so say, which is a hard thing for me to do in French. But i did it! It was a big accomplisment for me. It's a powerful thing, learning a language in the MTC. I've learned so much so quickly. How very blessed I am.
On Tuesday, we had our devotional and none other than Elder Craig Zwick came! It was so cool. He reminds me so much of Connie, it's crazy. The meeting went way over because he talked so much. It was good though... He talked about serving in South America in the late 60's, and some of his stories reminded me of dad's mission stories :)
Thank you everyone for your support and love! I love and miss you! Keep the letters coming :)
Posted by Sue at 9:13 AM
Sunday, December 5, 2010
The following is a letter that Lindsay sent to us last week. It was so wonderful that I thought I would add it to the blog. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Hi! Can you believe that Elder Holland came for Thanksgiving?? It was so amazing. Such a great surprise. His talk was mind-blowing and incredible, as usual. He talked about three things:
1. "The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost know us individually by name. It is important for us as missionaries to know we are not collective - we are individual. He knows us by our name - by our first name. Think of the significance of names in our church. "One of them spake unto me, calling me by name..." If that doesn't make your mission personal, who knows what will. "All things are present before mine eyes. Mine eyes are upon you. I am in the midst of you. Behold, the kingdom is yours." This is a personal mission.
2. "The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost have always had compassion for the poor. We retain a remission of our sins by being conscious of the poor. We must have compassion. We live in the most abundant, blessed time in the history of all mankind. Today, let us all remember where it came from."
3. "The Father sent His son to perform the Atonement alone. The most important event in the entire world was accomplished alone. One by one, the people left the Savior - All the disciples forsook Him and fled. Jesus knew this would happen. He knew it had to be done alone. He did know, however, His Father would never leave him. He was alone, but not alone. "I do nothing of myself... He that sent me is with me." He was left utterly alone on the cross and there uttered the most painful cry in human history: "Oh God, why hast thou forsaken me?" It is almost impossible to comprehend the cost that came from the Father as He had to watch His child hurting and for some divine reason, not be able to respond. Jesus had to to do it alone. He saved our souls. He gave us eternal families. But there is an obligation that comes with that price - if we compromise His expectations, His example, His love - then we are utterly alone. "In all their affliction, He was afflicted. The angel of His presence saved them. "The reason we serve a mission is so He doesn't have to keep doing this alone."
WOW, right? So powerful. I wish you could have been there with me! I absolutely loved when he said: "He that sent me is with me." Gah! So perfect. Anytime I feel alone or discouraged on the mission, I will think of that. I love it so much. I feel so very lucky to have seen so many apostles! The MTC is the best. I just love it here - it's going by so fast! I'm so excited to go to Paris and get to work. It's coming up quick!
On Wednesday, Soeur Larsen and I taught at the TRC in French for the first time. It was so great! We are really good at teaching together now. It's a tricky thing to get used to, but we definitely have the hang of it now. The "investigator" we taught served her mission in Montreal. After we finished teaching and she could stop being an actress, she told us we both have beautiful French and we taught very well! It was such a good feeling. I am so ready!
Every week in Relief Society, a sister talks for a few minutes and shares her conversion story. It's so cool to hear how the gospel touches everyone so individually. Last week, a sister from Pakistan shared her story. Pakistan! It's so amazing. She's going to temple Square, of course. There's another sister, Sister Burns, who is also going to Temple Square. She's from Tahiti and her French is gorgeous! You should go find her in a few weeks:) She is darling. She speaks cute broken english.
The other day, Soeur Larsen and I decided to watch a talk during MDT (Missionary Directed Time). We watched the talk Pres. Uchtdorf gave at the April 2010 Young Women Meeting - "Your Happily Ever After". You have to promise me you'll watch it! It's the cutest thing ever. Don't read it... watch it, for obvious reasons:) I love to go back and watch general conference talks. Sometimes we go watch mormon messages too - we love to watch the nie nie one:)Also "Lessons I learned as a Boy" and "Your True Identity". Oh, goodness. haha. My life has become very small.
So, there's an elder in my district, Elder Blank. I swear he is the 19 year old version of Richard. He's a total germophobe - it's so funny. He has absolutely perfect table manners, he has a matching pocket square and cuff links for all of his ties, and he loves Pride and Predjudice. But best of all, he is a food snob! He laments over the cafeteria food with me and says things like, "What would I give for some good chocolate right now" or, "Soeur Williams, what's your favorite variety of cheese? I love a good gorgonzola". It is hilarious. I told him he's invited for Sunday dinner when he gets home and I'm pretty sure he is counting down the days:)
Our whole district is planning a little post-mish reunion... we're already sad that half of us are going to Paris and the other half Montreal. I hope we are all still best friends when we get home. I want you to meet them! I especially want you to meet all the Soeurs (have I mentioned that yet?:)
I'm sitting on the floor in my room watching Soeur Baxter pack. She leaves for Figi tomorrow and I am so sad. I love her so much. She is seriously amazing and she is tailor-made for Figi. It's so amazing how the Lord knows each of us so well. I'm so grateful for that.
The first time I went to the Temple here, Soeur Larsen and I did a session. As I passed through the veil and into the celestial room, there was a gigantic portrait of the Savior right in front of me, His hands outstretched. I immediately felt this wave of overwhelming love wash over me. I sat on the couch and started crying. I have never felt the Savior's love for me as strongly as I did then. He loves each one of us so very much. A Book of Mormon lay next to me on the couch. I picked it up and opened it right to this verse:
"And blessed be he that shall bring this ling to light, according to the word of God; yea, it shall be brought out of the earth, and it shall shine forth out of darkness, and come into the knowledge of the people; and it shall be done by the power of God." Mormon 8:16
That's why I'm here: to bring the gospel to light. As I've been at the MTC, I've come to know more and more that I had my mission call long before June 1st. The Lord called me to be a missionary in the pre-existence and I accepted... it just took a little while to figure that out:) But I am oh, so grateful I did! My mission has already changed my life. I can't imagine what the impact is going to be after a year and a half! This is the best decision I've ever made.
My heart feels as if it's going to burst at the seams... my testimony and my desire to serve the Lord grow with every passing day. I can see His hand in my life, guiding me along the way. I'm just so happy! In fact, my roommates said I was giggling in my sleep the other night. That's how happy I am:)
Favorite scripture of the week: Alma 32:34-35
"...for ye know that the word hath swelled in your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand.
O then, is it not real? I say unto you, yea, because it is light; and whatsoever is light, is good, because it is discernable, therefore, ye must know that it is good."
Well, sure do love you and miss you! Thank you so much for your support. I can't wait to call you from the airport on the 20th!
love, love, love,
your little mish
Posted by Sue at 3:48 PM
Friday, December 3, 2010
Hello, family and friends!
It's been a very eventful week. I can't believe I go to Paris in 2 and a half weeks!!! i'm so beyond excited.
So first off, on Tuesday Sister Beck came for our devotional! It was awesome. Such a great surprise. They just keep spoiling us! And mom. she was wearing the cutest green 60's swing jacket and oversized pearls. you would have died. She was SO good, as usual. I just love her! She talked a lot about how the church is exploding in Brazil, and I kept thinking, someday she's going to be talking about how the church is exploding in France :)
It sounds like you had a great Thanksgiving! I'm sure it was just divine as always. And YAY YAY YAY for Amie and Roland! I'm so excited you guys finally got your tickets! I knew you would. That will be so much fun.
I have a funny little story... yesterday I was walking to my table at the cafeteria, and this sister (don't remember her name) stopped me and said, "I know this is going to sound totally creepy, but are you going to paris on your mission?" I said yes, and she said she had found my mission blog a couple weeks ago. She was like, "I just think you are darling and I love nie nie too!" Hah! It was so random. and funny.
Oh, goodness. I'm already running out of time. I'm sorry it's so short this week! I wrote lots of letters this morning, and I'll be sending another big one home too :) Get ready for TRC stories and notes from devotionals. so exciting.
I love and miss you!
the little mish
Posted by Sue at 10:31 AM