Monday, December 26, 2011

oh, quel bonheur.

joyeux noel!
what fun it was to see your faces and talk to you on skype. the kids look so grown up! it was a perfect christmas present.
this week was a whirlwind. we had exchanges with the Nogent soeurs, Soeur Didier and Soeur Sabatino. Sister exchanges are super complicated in this mission.... It took a total of nearly ten hours of train time to get there and back and there and back again! It was such fun, though, to work with Soeur Didier for a day. We had a miracle happen our first night in Nogent:
Soeur Didier and Soeur Sabatino had received an online referral of a woman named Hilde. We took the hour-long bus ride out to pass by her house and meet her. She was home (miracle #1), she let us in (miracle #2), and she was really interested (miracle #3)! She told us about how she had met with Sister missionaries a few years ago, but then she moved and lost contact. She talked about how she had researched a whole bunch of Christian churches but was never satisfied. She said the first time she prayed with the Sister missionaries, an indescribable feeling swept over her, and she just felt so good. We gave her a "Joy to the World" dvd and fixed a return appointment. She said she would read some chapters in the Book of Mormon beforehand and prepare a list of questions to discuss. um, GOLDEN! Soeur Didier and I hopped and skipped away from the apartment building. Such a lovely Christmas exchange miracle.
Soeur Larsen and I had a picture-perfect missionary christmas. On Christmas Eve, we had dinner at Chris and Maria's house. Chris is from the Congo, so we had a full-on African dinner! (including fish with the heads still on them... I was horrified when he brought those out! he had fun teasing me and scaring me with them :) ) it was really fun, and so nice of them to invite us. Afterwards, we went home, put on our Christmas Eve pajamas, and made a little "couch fort". We read "A Christmas Dress for Ellen" (aka cried our eyes out) and then watched the Joseph Smith movie in our fort. I know, i know... a very missionary christmas!
Christmas day, we woke up, opened gifts, then headed to church for sacrament meeting. There were probably only 20 people there... it was really fun. Afterwards, we headed over to the Gatay family for lunch. This is what we ate:
Crackers & cheese with fake cocktails
shrimp and smoked salmon
(they were nice and let soeur larsen and i eat foie gras instead)
creamed ham and mushroom ramekin- things
(i don't know the name of it)
after all that, Frère Gatay informed us the appetizers were over.
oh boy.
roasted chicken with gravy,
potatoes, and green beans
and of course, a bûche de noel with fake champagne.
I felt like i was going to pass out... they fed us to the brim! They also gave us each a little pile of gifts. And then, of course, i got to talk to YOU! santa claus was very good to me this year.
a happy & joyful new year to all!
little mish.

Monday, December 19, 2011

a happy surprise.

Friday night was the Blois Branch Christmas Spectacle. Throughout the week, Soeur Larsen and I distributed 300 invitations in the neighborhoods surrounding our church building. The members all invited their nonmember friends and family. The night of the spectacle came, and there were 14 non-members there! That might sound like a small number, but it was huge to us. It was a smashing success! The young women/men and primary children put on a miniature version of "A Christmas Carol".... it was adorable. There was a buffet afterwards and we mingled and talked. Out of those 300 invitations we distributed, we had ONE woman come! Her name is Isabelle. She lives on the same street as the church, and has always been curious about us. She figured the spectacle was a perfect opportunity to come and check it out! The members took her right under their wing. She left with a Book of Mormon and an invitation to come to church.
Sunday rolled around, and she walked into Relief Society right at 9:00! It was a happy surprise. She stayed for all three hours and seemed very interested. She's a non-practicing Catholic (like usual), so when we had a sunday school lesson on how we were created in the image of God, meaning God has a body like us, she was a little confused. Other than that, she seemed really interested! Christmas miracle.
We went to see Alexandra and Kevin on Saturday night. We walked into their apartment, and they had a friend over. Alex turned to her and said, "ask the missionaries the questions you were asking me earlier. they can help you." So her friend started asking questions about who God is, where we go after we die, etc. At one point, we pulled out the Book of Mormon to read a scripture to her. Alex jumped up and grabbed her copy then said to her friend, "you're going to like this. whatever you have a problem with, this book can help you." We have the best investigators ever! When we got up to leave, the three of them were getting ready to read Alma 32 and 2 Nephi 4 together. I have never had an investigator who spends their Saturday night reading the Book of Mormon with their friends!
life is good.
christmas magic is in the air,
and miracles are happening in blois.
joyeux noel!
little mish.

with kevin, alex, and kyllian

the blois château

With Alexandra, Soeur Larsen, and Kyllian in the background

pretty cathedral.

the entrance to the christmas market

Monday, December 12, 2011

those women which laboured in the gospel.

we taught Raphael this week. i believe i've talked about him before. he's about our age and he's VERY catholic. it's weird. hardly anyone around here is a practicing catholic, and if they are, they're usually older. he makes for a very interesting investigator! we started talking about prophets and commandments. he said he believes we don't need commandments because we have the Holy Ghost that tells us what we need to do. I had a strong impression come into my mind to talk about the Word of Wisdom, but he's a big talker and I couldn't get a word in. Out of the corner of my eye, i spotted Soeur Larsen fiddling with her scriptures. I looked over and she had opened to the Word of Wisdom section in the Doctrine and Covenants! Right then, Raphael paused and I started explaining that commandments, in addition to the holy ghost, are given to us for our protection. I explained that if you were drunk, you would not be able to feel or understand the Holy Ghost. That's one of the reasons we have the Word of Wisdom. He understood and told us he would keep reading the Book of Mormon to find his answer. Afterwards, Soeur Larsen and I talked about the little experience. She had had the same thought come into her head!
we also had our Christmas zone conference this week in Angers. The Assistants had called us two days beforehand and asked us to do the musical number. Pressure! We ended up doing "Breath of Heaven". I played and Soeur Larsen sang. It turned out pretty good! It was a really fun conference... they gave each companionship a stocking with a letter from home and a jar of nutella, president and soeur poznanski each spoke to us, then at the end we all had hot chocolate & cookies and exchanged white elephant gifts. I got a bag of M&Ms... Tasted like home :)
we taught Alexandra and Kévin this week as well. we love them. they have a long way to go (they live together and they both smoke), but the progress they've made is amazing. they both love the Book of Mormon (Kévin is in 1 Nephi 17... he told us he posted it as one of his favorite books on Facebook!) and the gospel principles manual. They have made leaps and bounds. We don't have to ask them to turn off the television anymore, and they never smoke around us. I love watching how the gospel changes people!
a few days ago, i was having a rough day. During my personal studies, I prayed and asked Heavenly Father to let me know He was there. I finished praying and "Philippians" came into my mind. I turned to Philippians, and i came across this verse :
 "And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life." ch. 4, v. 3.
Clement is the name of our baptismal date! I knew then that Heavenly Father was aware of us and our "labors in the gospel". I love the scriptures. 
 love from the loire.
little mish.

check out this fun video Lindsay sent:

when Alexandra and Kevin found out that Soeur Larsen and I had made a christmas tree out of paper and stuck it to our wall, they immediately gave us this little guy.

with Kyllian, Alexandra's son. we love him. 
(and no i didn't dye my hair... don't know why it looks so dark!)

my dieter drawing :) 
(sorry it's blurry... the camera WOULD NOT focus on it)

Monday, December 5, 2011

a beautiful perspective.

Blois is covered in twinkle lights.I thought our little town couldn't get any more charming, and then they go and get out the twinkle lights. It looks so magical at night time! And they're setting up the Marché de Noel (Christmas Market) in the square next to the library. Soeur Larsen and I made a Christmas tree out of paper and stuck it to our wall.... we're pretty proud of it. It is the most wonderful time of the year, isn't it?

{sorry this video is sideways... that's how she sent it and I don't know how to fix it!}

The work is going really well. Things are moving forward and progressing quite nicely! We had a rendez-vous with Clément this week to review the Plan of Salvation. I have a little Plan of Salvation chart I made in the MTC with all the steps that velcro on to a big sheet of paper. We took all the pieces off and mixed them up and had him put them back on in order. Like a little kid. Soeur Larsen, his wife, and I had fun watching him do it :) He did it perfectly! We talked about it afterwards and he kept saying that it is such a beautiful perspective to have. He's like every missionary's dream investigator. We love teaching him. He's getting excited for his baptism on January 7th!
Maria is doing good as well. We went to see her this week and she had dark circles under her eyes. She explained that her 4 month-old daughter has been mixing up her days and nights and hadn't slept for the past few nights, meaning Maria hadn't slept either. She has an 18 month-old son as well, so she just couldn't catch a break. We felt so terrible. We said a prayer with her and asked Heavenly Father to help her little girl sleep at night. Her baby has been sleeping through the night ever since! I love that Heavenly Father helps us with even the little things.
The other day, Soeur Larsen and I were on the bus. We were sitting apart from each other so we could talk to the people who sat next to us. The bus was empty except for the two of us... our plan was not working very well. I prayed that Heavenly Father would send someone nice to sit down next to me. A few minutes later, a woman got on the bus and sat herself down right next to me! We started talking about this and that. She told me a little bit of her life story and I told her about why I was in France. I ended up giving her a Book of Mormon before we parted ways, and she gave us her phone number. Prayer works!
love from the loire.
little mish.

Château de Cheverny.

Thanksgiving with the Elders.

being silly.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

food stories.

In light of the Thanksgiving season, I thought I'd share some funny food experiences we had this week.
On Thanksgiving night, we were invited to have dinner with our Branch President and his family. (they didn't know it was thanksgiving). So, we were all seated at the table, having a good time.... then she brought out the soup course. Soeur Larsen shares my dislike of fish, so the both of us were equally horrified when she told us it was scallop soup. I literally gulped it down, trying to swallow it fast before I could taste it. I thought that the worst was over. THEN. she brought out the main course: salmon quiche. Salmon quiche. I looked at it and thought, " okay. I can do this. there's probably more egg than there is salmon anyway." wrong. It was mostly salmon. I tried to tell myself it was chicken. I fought through that piece of quiche, trying not to visibly gag. The whole time, I was wishing my family could see me. But it is now official: I don't like salmon. That was pretty traumatic. :)
Yesterday made up for my fishy Thanksgiving dinner. We went to Orléans and spent the day with our district: Elder Hayden, Elder Pieper, Elder Harevaa, Elder Dykstra, Elder Bjerga, and Elder Gunter. We made a Thanksgiving dinner for lunch! The Elders brought five little rotisserie chickens (buying a turkey wasn't realistic. But the chickens were from a Turkish butcher, so that counts!), and we had mashed potatoes and stuffing. Soeur Larsen and I brought dessert. Canned pumpkin doesn't exist here, so we went to the Farmer's market and bought a real pumpkin! After being cooked and mashed, it made beautiful pumpkin pies. We served it with home made whipped cream... I thought Richard would be so proud :) Afterwards, we all went to a school soccer field and played some American football. It was a nice little taste of home.
Saturday night, we were invited to have dinner with a family in our branch. We got there, and literally half the branch was there! We all sat around a big, long table and talked and laughed. The family who had us over is from La Réunion (it's an island.... is it just called The Reunion in English?), so the food was crazy. At one point, he brought out a gigantic cast iron pot and set it in front of Soeur Larsen and I. We peered over the edge and saw it was full of shrimp. With their tentacles still attached. We looked at each other in terror. But then he brought out a different, non-fishy dish, so it was okay. They served spicy, piment-y fruit for dessert... weird! It was really fun though. This branch feels like my family. Soeur Larsen and I both sat back a little bit and watched everyone banter and laugh, and it was just the best. At the end, we shared a spiritual thought. We talked about how it was Thanksgiving last week in the States and how it's a special time of year for us. We then went around the table and had each person say something they were grateful for. Everyone said something different. When it came to Clément, our baptismal date, he talked about how grateful he was that he found the church. That's what every missionary wants to hear!
i am grateful for
family & friends
the book of mormon
my mission
our investigators
my companion
the gospel
our prophet
my life.
love from the loire.
little mish.

Monday, November 21, 2011

o how great the goodness of our God.


gotta love the information age... My family found out about my week before I got to write my email about it! So funny. Anyway. yes, we had a major plumbing problem in our apartment this week.... I'll spare you the (disgusting) details. Let's just say we were without a toilet and a shower. We talked to President and he told us to pack our bags and head over to the Ferreiras, a couple in our Branch. They are the BEST. He is Portuguese, and she's half Portuguese, half French. He's paralyzed from the waist down, so he cruises around the house in a wheelchair. She is literally like four feet tall- just barely taller than him while seated in his chair. Thus, their house is miniature. Soeur Larsen and I are not at all what you would call tall, but we literally had to bend down to reach the handle to the front gate! We felt like we were in a little hobbit house. We stayed there for three nights, until finally a scary-looking plumber with a glass eye came and shot a power hose into our toilet. He came out and told us, with a satisfied smile on his face, that it was fixed. He left, and we went into the bathroom to check it out. He had left something black all over the toilet (enter: large quantities of bleach) but other than that, it worked! So there is the story of the homeless sister missionaries.
the work in Blois is going really well. Maria is getting closer and closer to fixing a baptismal date! we're so excited. I have never seen an investigator with so many experiences with prayer. She is amazing. Her faith is so simple and strong and childlike. Last week, her boyfriend/father of her children (we're working on getting them married) left for like three days and she had no idea where he went. She doesn't have a cell phone, so she couldn't call him. She was all alone at their apartment with their two little kids and did not know what to do. She went to her window and prayed that Heavenly Father would send her Carole, a member in the branch who is friends with Maria. Minutes later, Carole and her husband showed up, having no idea of Maria's plight. Carole's husband sent out a mass text to us and the branch council asking us to pray for Maria. 10 minutes after that text was sent out, the boyfriend came home.
Fastforward a few days. Maria was outside, on her way to go grocery shopping. She had her little baby in a snuggly and her toddler in a stroller. The elevator at their apartment building was broken, so she had to go down six flights of stairs carrying her two children and the stroller. She didn't know how she was going to get her two kids and the groceries back up the six flights of stairs, so she prayed as she walked that she would run into the missionaries. She looked up and saw Soeur Larsen and I in the distance. She called after us. Within minutes, we had a member there to drive her back and help her back up the stairs to her apartment. I love how prayer works! Another cool sidenote: Soeur Larsen and I were walking to district meeting. We had let the Elders go ahead to the church because we had to run to the store. We left the store and that's when Maria called after us. If it had been any other day, we wouldn't have been there. If we hadn't gone to the store, we wouldn't have been there. Miracle.
We had a rendez-vous with Maria on Saturday. We brought the Book of Mormon edition of the Liahona to show her. I had the idea to read one of the little stories in the back, so I flipped to one and we read it outloud together. I had just glanced at it, but it turned out to be the perfect story for her! It talked about a young mother, which, she said, spoke to her. After the story, she told us she had been hearing the word "baptism" everywhere the previous week. The story had mentioned it at the end. She's not ready to set a date yet, but she has been thinking about it! We are so excited for her. She is so sweet. We just need to get them married, then they'll be ready to get in the water!
Big things are happening in Blois. Soeur Larsen and I are in awe of all the tender mercies and miracles we have witnessed. As it says in the Book of Mormon,
"O how great the goodness of our God."
love from the loire.
little mish

Monday, November 14, 2011


what a week.
we went to paris on thursday for zone conference with Elder Kopischke and it was incredible. He is a powerhouse. And his wife is the German version of Soeur Staheli... She had us all stand and sing "I am a Child of God" as she conducted us with a big smile on her face. :) anyway. He talked about so many things and the spirit was so strong. At one point in the conference, he told us he wanted each companionship to go find a quiet place somewhere in the church building and pray and discuss a goal for the number of baptisms we want to have by the end of the year. As he was talking, a number popped into my head: 20. TWENTY. It freaked me out. Twenty?? I've only had three baptisms my whole mission! The number stuck in my head. Soeur Larsen and I went and discussed it. She said she had had a number come into her head too, but the number was big and that scared her. We told each other our numbers and they were within 3 of each other. We prayed and we really felt like that is the Lord's vision for Blois. We were in a daze the rest of the day, trying not to freak out about how in the world we are going to do this. We knew that we needed to set our sights higher, so we did. We told our branch about it and we got an outpouring of support. We have seen many little miracles since that day, like Kevin and Alexandra.
I don't know if I've mentioned them yet or not, but they are great. We've been teaching them for a few weeks now. He is from Guadeloupe, and she's French. They live together (we'll be taking care of that!) and she has a 6 year old son named Killian. They love us, they read the Book of Mormon, and they enjoy the lessons. But we have not been able to get them to come to church! They CANNOT get up on time. It's like, impossible for them. But, miracle of miracles, we got them to wake up and come yesterday! (it may or  may not have involved us ringing their doorbell a LOT at 8 in the morning....) It was so so good. They really liked it and participated in the lessons. We went and talked to Alex about it after church and she said she had never seen so many people with so much faith. We're so excited about them.
I know that maybe we won't get twenty baptisms. But it's been so cool to watch how things are changing around here because we caught a glimpse of the Lord's vision for Blois. It's going to be an exciting end to the year....
love from the loire.
little mish.

Monday, November 7, 2011

a very important date.

favorite things that happened this week.
1. We set a baptismal date with Clément! It was so so good. We came into the rendez-vous and asked him if he remembered what we asked him to do last time. He said, "you asked me to think about a date for my baptism." My heart started beating fast. He said he had thought about it a lot, and the date he felt good about was the 7th of January. It's a little further away than we'd like, but we'll take it! He looked so happy and peaceful. We can't wait!
We then read the story of Jesus walking on water in the Bible. We related the story to him: Like Peter, if he doesn't keep his eyes on the Lord, he will start to sink. Beautiful image, isn't it? We just told him to keep his chin up and don't look down :)
2. Last night, we went over to the Liebard family's house. They are an AWESOME member family. We had crêpes with chestnut cream and talked about our amis with them. The Liebard's have two young sons, Victor and Augustin. Victor was just ordained a deacon yesterday and he is the only deacon in the branch. They are such sweet boys. Every time we see one of them, they ask us about the missionary work and whether or not we're going to have a baptism soon. So cute.
So last night, we asked those boys to help us. They were practically bouncing off the couch! We told them to pray with faith every day that we would be able to find a family to teach with boys their age. We promised we would do our part and work really hard, but we needed their help. They were SO excited to be a part of the missionary work! As we were leaving, I shook Victor's hand and he said, "We can do this. I have faith." I love the pure faith of little children.
3. We had a rendez-vous with Chris & Maria on Saturday night. They're so good. He's African and she's French-Italian. Their kids are gorgeous. Anyway, we talked about the Restoration and Priesthood authority. We both felt impressed to talk about baptism, so we read a scripture in 2 Nephi with them and invited them to be baptized. We don't have a date fixed yet with them, but the spirit was strong, and they came to church for all three hours the next day. I love little families!
4. Another ami of ours, Alexandra, had us over for lunch this week. Alex is from the "campagne"-- the countryside. She told us about growing up in a tiny French village.... it sounded so charming. Her "mami" would take her into the forest and teach her how to pick out good mushrooms, and they would take an oil lamp with them in case it got too dark. Seriously. France is just too dang cute.
love from the loire valley.
la petite missionnaire.

Monday, October 31, 2011

cast not away therefore your confidence.

bonjour from blois!
on wednesday, we had a rendez-vous with Clément. I don't know if I've talked about him yet, but he is awesome. He has been dating a member for two years and they just got married in August. He's been coming to church for most of those two years, but he isn't baptized yet. He knows the church is true, but he's the afraid-of-commitment type. He comes to church every week in a suit, white shirt, and tie. The first  time we saw him, we thought he was a member! And he doesn't look French at all. He's big and tall like a football player. He's sweet.
Anyway, Soeur Larsen and I have had him on our minds constantly, trying to figure out what we can do and say to help him get baptized. We came up with lots of illustrations of his situation. Our favorite: it's like he's at a feast, but he won't eat because he doesn't want to have to do the dishes. This man needs to be a member! We prayed a LOT before our rendez-vous with him. As I was doing my personal studies that day, I thought about the moment I decided to go on a mission. My mom looked at me and said, "Cast not away therefore your confidence." those words rang through my mind as I sat at my desk. I immediately opened my bible and flipped to the scripture. this is what I found:
Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
It was perfect for Clément! We had him read those verses during the rendez-vous and they hit him really hard. We both testified about doing the will of the Lord, even when we're scared or feel inadequate. We were bold and upfront and told him to think about a date he would like to fix for his baptism, and we would talk about it the next rendez-vous. He agreed. We're going to see him again on Wednesday!
We spent the day in Paris on Thursday; it was so lovely to be back. We had a fantastic training by Elder and Sister Gonzàlez. They were so cute and happy! It was weird to hear a training in English. He talked about the promise that was made to the members of the church in Europe that if we have a concentrated effort between members and missionaries, we can DOUBLE the membership here! We're so excited about that. That would just be amazing. It made us want to work that much harder! And yes, it was terrifying to play the hardest piano piece I've ever played in front of a general authority. But, I survived :)
Yesterday evening, we were walking home from a member's house. We started talking to an old woman who was standing on the sidewalk in front of her house. She was adorable. She told us she had been living in her house since 1946, back when that part of Blois was all fields. She showed us her house and her crazy detailed cross stitching she did when she was younger. We tried talking to her about church, but I don't think she understood. It was so fun to talk to someone who had been living in Blois for 70 years!
As we were leaving her house, we came across a dirt path that cut across a field. We decided to take the shortcut. As we were walking across the field with the rolling hills and forests spread out before us, and the sun setting on the horizon, casting a warm glow on the yellow leaves, I turned to Soeur Larsen and said, "shouldn't we be wearing empire-waist dresses right now?" we talked about whether Mr. Bingley would be at the ball until we got to the end of the pathway. It's nice to have a companion who will talk in british accents with me. Anyway. Moral of the story: I adore the French countryside.
i adore my mission.
little mish.

i adore blois!

cute Soeur Larsen and i...
we love being together again!

Monday, October 24, 2011

one year.

one year.
top ten moments of my first year as a missionary.

1. the paris temple announcement
2. Anbu's baptism
3. Zdravko's franglish prayers
4. the moment i realized i could carry on a conversation in french
5. teaching Beauty about temples with Soeur England
6. Philomene's baptism
7. Christiane's english ("i love you, me too, too much!")
and her adorable kids
8. having to gulp down really gross food-
not funny in the moment, but funny afterwards.
9. really good food-
it's the reward for all the really gross food.
10. putting my tag on everyday
and talking to strangers about the gospel.
of course, there are thousands and thousands more of moments and experiences over the past year that have been defining, amazing, and life-changing. It would be impossible to write them all down. it has been an incredible year!
sometimes mission life is so crazy, all you can do is laugh. on tuesday, soeur larsen and i made the trip to paris for my doctor appointment. the doctor gave me a shot in my ankle and told me to try not to walk. we got back to Blois that night and started the 15 minute walk from the train station to our apartment. I was walking like a 90 year-old woman.... VERYslowly. we were limping along our merry way when a torrential downpour of rain descended upon us...we were soaked through in minutes. Of course the only day it has rained since we arrived here was the day I could barely walk! we laughed at the irony as we got wetter and wetter walking at a snail's pace back to the apartment.
this week has been awesome. on saturday we went to see Chris and Maria, a young married couple. they have two kids: Axel is 17 months and Exaucée is 3 months. The rendez-vous was a little crazy with the little kids, but the spirit was so strong. Chris is familiar with the church.. he was taught by the missionaries about a year ago. They were both so humble and open and accepting. We are so excited about them! Maria came to church yesterday with her little baby girl and the whole branch just fawned over them. I love having such a rockstar branch :)
life is good.
love from blois
little mish.

Monday, October 17, 2011

heaven is a tiny french village.

10 little things that make me terribly happy:
blois edition.

1. to get to the train station from our apartment, you walk down our street and turn right at the castle.
not kidding.
2. the mailmen deliver the mail on yellow bikes.
3. trees and fall leaves everywhere.
4. the twinkle lights strung between the trees in the little town park
5. the boulangerie on the corner called "the golden croissant"
6. there is a shoe cobbler shop on our street.
7. they play an audiobook in the park on sunday nights
8. our little branch of 50 members
9. the accent. their "r"s are much more round here than in paris. love.
10. if i had a basket with a book in it, i would totally feel like Belle everyday.

yes, Blois is exactly as ideal as it sounds. after a less-than-ideal arrival (we had to switch trains in the middle of our journey and the Big Strong Elder who helped us load our luggage on the train was not there anymore. We had literally 5 minutes to take our 6 suitcases that weighed 5,000 lbs each down two flights of stairs and up two flights of stairs. We could only lift one at a time. We were literally throwing suitcases on the train as the conductor blew the whistle, but we made it!)  anyway. Blois is tiny, which has been an adjustment. my mission has turned me into a city girl! I adjusted quite quickly, though. how can you not when you live in a perfect French village? Seriously. This is a dream. There are trees everywhere, hilly cobblestone streets, and the beautiful Loire river. Everyone says "bonjour" to us.... so friendly! It's lovely.
Not only is the town beautiful, but the branch is AMAZING. we are the first Soeurs in Blois for over 10 years, so we got a hero's welcome into the branch :) The members are so excited to have us. It's nice to feel so loved! Yesterday in sacrament meeting they asked Soeur Larsen and I to "present ourselves". pretty sure both of us got up there and cried about how much we love French people. I'm ridiculous. I just can't seem to get over how much I love it here. I love the people so much. The branch is super small, about 50 members all together. It's like a family.... all of the members know our investigators and are like, best friends with them. It's every missionary's dream.
Speaking of investigators, we are so excited about them! We have one, Clément, who is on the brink of baptism. He is what we missionaries call a "solid ami". He's about 25 and he's newly married to a member. We had heard all about him, so we were excited to see him. We had our branch mission leader point him out to us yesterday and we could not believe our eyes. He was in a suit, white shirt, and tie! He commented on the missionary minute! He looked like a member! We are so excited for him. He knows the church is true, knows the doctrine backward and forward, reads the Book of Mormon everyday, but he's afraid to commit. We can't wait to work with him. There are so many exciting things happening here, and Soeur Larsen and I get to witness them firsthand! It really is incredible.
Love from the Loire valley.
little mish.

Monday, October 10, 2011

we'll always have paris.

My time with Paris is winding down. Come wednesday afternoon, I will
be on a train to Blois as Paris gets smaller and smaller in the
distance. I'm happy I get to leave Paris on a train... it's kind of a
romantic, Casablanca-ish way to say goodbye to the lovliest city in
the world. I love Paris. And, as Rick says in Casablanca, "we'll
always have Paris." and it's true. I'll always have it.

That being said, leaving Paris for the Loire Valley (famous for its
billions of castles) is not a bad tradeoff. I'm excited to try out the
French village life. I'm sure there are many adventures and stories
yet to be had. I can't wait!

Soeur Smith and I had a perfect last week together. There seriously
could not have been a better way to close our Paris chapter. The most
exciting part was two new amis! The first one is Dou Dou. She is 26,
Chinese, and here in Paris getting her Masters degree. She is very
sweet and eager to learn. She didn't have any religious background
whatsoever, so we're starting from the ground up with her. Our first
rendez-vous, we gave her a Book of Mormon in English (she wanted to
read in English to practice) she was hesitant when we committed her to
read some verses in Alma 32 that night, telling us she had too much
studying to do. The next day, she came to our rendez-vous and said,
"I'm really sorry, I only read a little bit because I didn't have much
time." Then she opened the book of mormon and it was seriously FULL of
notes and definitions and underlinings. Gotta love that Asian study
ethic! She was all ashamed of it because she thought she didn't study
enough. So cute. She read Moroni's promise and said she would read and
pray every day. We're excited about her!

New investigator number two is Arman. Last week, our mission office
sent us a referral from Arman had gone on the site and
asked for missionary lessons..... THREE times! He was really excited
to finally meet with us. He is Armenian, speaks Russian, very little
english, and no french. Luckily (and randomly) we have a Tahitian YSA
in our ward who speaks Russian. So between the four of us, we got
through some lessons! It was quite the adventure. It reminded us of
the Zdravko days :) We watched the Restoration with him in Russian. At
the First Vision part, Arman said, "he got an answer to his question!"
He was riveted. He is very humble and very eager. We were super double
ultra blessed this week!

Last night was our missionary concert. It was all about Joseph Smith
and it went so good! We have been preparing and practicing for weeks.
Along with our full-time missionary work, it has been tiring! But
after last night, it was so worth it. We had a packed-to-overflowing
chapel and overflow room. It was a hit, mostly because we have some
VERY talented Elders and members. By the end, there wasn't a dry eye
in the house! It was fun to get to go out with a bang :)

I would write more, but like I said, my time in Paris is rapidly
winding down. I'm going to go soak up the beautiful, chaotic paris

until next week...

little mish.

 soeur didier and i with philomene at the concert

 last day with our favorite tower...


Monday, October 3, 2011

i love to see the temple.

10 little things that make me terribly happy:the best-weekend-ever edition.

1. the temple!
 when President Monson got up to announce the temples, my heart was literally pounding out of my chest. we had been waiting and waiting and waiting all week for that moment, like it was Christmas. he went through the list, and for a split second, i thought he wasn't going to announce it. Then, he said it! We were in a room full of missionaries watching it in English and the entire room erupted into cheers. It was literally one of the best moments of my life.
2. it was absolutely euphoric.
after the temple was announced, we asked Elder Rak, a french elder, how he felt. He said, "those screams reminded me of the screams when we got our mission calls." that was a perfect way to describe it. I thought  back to when I opened mine and um.... screamed... a lot. hearing the temple announcement gave me the same feeling. 
3. President forget-me-not Uchtdorf
4. Remember the amazing discussion I had with the doctor during the exam?
 I had never been able to get a hold of him, but we didn't give up hope. Last week, I called and left a message with his secretary, and on thursday night, he called me! He said he hadn't started reading the Book of Mormon yet. I told him I would really like to know his opinion of it. He said, "Okay, this is what we'll do. I have a conference for the next two weeks. Give me that time, call me in mid-October, and I will give you my opinion." he then asked me how my ankle was doing and we said goodbye. He was so sweet! I can't believe he remembered everything. It was a miracle.
5. making fluffy apple pancake, 
finding out we didn't have the right pan, and baking it in a rice cooker bowl. ah, mission life.
6. riding the train back from Normandy (exchanges)
 and having a nice long chat with Soeur Smith while the beautiful French countryside rolled alongside us out the window.
7. President Monson being silly. 
8. the temple in Kinshasa, Congo. 
that is where Philomene is from!
9. Watching all the Elders taking notes on how to raise their daughters and be good dads
 during Sister Dalton's talk. So sweet.
10. mission life. 
it is the best kind of life there is.

-Soeur Williams

Monday, September 26, 2011

hallas, c'est fini!


Ni Hao.
yesterday in sacrament meeting, our bishop said that at last count, we have 27 nationalities in our ward! I'm learning lots of ways to say hello. :)

we had interviews with President on tuesday. It was so good, as always. President told us a cute story about their daughter. When she was a little girl, she went through a phase of having nightmares every night. They told her that if she prayed to Heavenly Father, He would help the nightmares to go away. One night, President and Soeur Poznanski passed by their daughter's room and she was kneeling on her bed, arms folded and head bowed, saying over and over, "Je sais que tu peux" ("I know you can.") He counselled us to have that same attitude and faith towards our missionary work.
Soeur Poznanski talked about one of my favorite French hymns, "Souviens-toi". She read us this verse:

puis un jour, dans la joie
nous avons choisi
d'accepter du Seigneur
le grand plan de vie.
ce soir-là, mon enfant,
nous avons promis
par l'amour, par la foi,
d'être réunis.
this hymn doesn't exist in English, but it translates to: "then one day, with joy, we chose to accept the great plan of life from the Lord. That night, my child, we promised, through love and faith, to be reunited." The hymn talks about a mother and a child in the premortal existence, but she related it to us missionaries and the people we teach. She said in the pre-existence, we were friends with the people we have taught or will teach on our missions. We knew each other, and, just like the hymn says, promised to be reunited on earth. we promised we would bring them the gospel. It made us want to work that much harder to keep that promise.

after interviews, Soeur Smith and I went contacting. we looked at the metro map and the stop "Saint Sulpice" popped out at me. Turns out Saint Sulpice is a giant catholic cathedral, so we didn't have much success. After that, we decided to pass by an old ami that we felt might be interested again. She wasn't there. On the metro, a woman came and sat across from us with her little girl. I smiled and waved at the little girl, who giggled. The woman smiled at me, caught sight of my tag, and asked which church I belonged to. She said she had just come from church... at Saint Sulpice. Crazy! she wanted to know where ours is, so we gave her a card. She looked at it, then asked for more to give to her friends.We exchanged numbers, and she seemed interested.

we went contacting again on thursday afternoon. We picked a random metro stop in the north of paris, pretty far away from where the church is. The neighborhood looked a little less-than-promising as we exited the metro, but we gave it a go anyway. we had one promising contact, a woman named Pierredte. She seemed really interested... she's very Christian. We exchanged numbers, and she said she would like to meet with us. Fastforward to Saturday night. I was making calls, so I tried her number. She remembered our names (first good sign) and sounded happy to hear from us. I asked if we could set up a rendez-vous, which we did for this coming Wednesday. She then said, "I told my family all about you!" I silently FREAKED out... We have been praying to find a family! We'll see if it works out, but it looks really promising and we are super excited. She is really busy looking for a new apartment and she seriously had 30 free minutes this entire week. At first she said, "I don't know if we'll be able to meet... I have a meeting wednesday afternoon at the Bastille." (the Bastille is on the opposite side of the city from where we met her and also WHERE WE LIVE!) so perfect. The stars aligned! Tender mercy! I'll let you know how the rendez-vous went next week!

Thursday night, we went to the church for a district meal. Cheriff, Elder Walker and Elder Dick's Egyptian ami, cooked an Egyptian dinner for us. He wanted to do something special to commemorate the day the Angel Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith in September 1823 (not kidding. Cheriff is awesome.) It was gooooood! I have eaten some WEIRD food on my mission, so we were a little apprehensive when an Egyptian man offered to cook for us. But it was yummy! Cheriff is hilarious. He speaks Franglais (lovely mash-up of french and english) with some Arabic thrown in. When dinner was done, he said, "Hallas, c'est fini!" Hah. so funny.

I don't know if I've mentioned this in my past emails, but Soeur Smith and I have been planning a missionary activity for our ward for the past couple months. the activity was yesterday after church and it went so good! We worked really hard on it to make sure every last detail was perfect. It definitely wasn't perfect, but we were satisfied! we called it "m&m: members and missionaries". We had three stations: a role play, a recent convert panel, then a clip from a conference talk by Elder Nelson. We split everyone into three groups and they rotated through each station. The role play turned out to be a hit. It was so cute to watch! it was kind of a "reverse" roleplay in that the members had to be "missionaries" in real life situations. The missionaries were their co-worker or friend. At one point, a darling little 9 year old girl named Lovely volunteered to go up. Elder Vallecalle pretended to be her friend and asked her how her weekend was. She very sweetly replied, "It was very good. We went to church on Sunday and took the sacrament and listened to testimonies." It was so cute. What a good little missionary!
The recent convert panel was also very cool. We had two recent converts who each shared their conversion story and how members helped them in their conversion. One of them, a 20 year-old girl named Amalcay, is half Venezuelan and half Polish, so she shared her story in Spanish and one of the Elders translated it into French. I understood her spanish though! It's very similar to French. Anyway. At the end of the activity, we handed out slips of paper to everyone so they could "set a date" with the missionaries by which they will have a friend to present to us. It was really fun! We are kind of relieved that it's over with though... it was a lot of work!

so, to recap:
life is good.
paris is lovely.
i love being a missionary.
and most of all,

i love you.

avec amour,

little mish. 

District picture with Cheriff. Left to right: Elder Dick, Cheriff, Elder Wood, Elder Rakotondrainibe, and Elder Walker. sorry it's a little fuzzy :)