Monday, July 25, 2011

victor hugo, a bulgarian, and a translator.

talk about a perfect first week of the transfer.
saying goodbye to soeur pearce was hard, but soeur smith and i are so excited for the transfer ahead and we are having so much fun already. we had a perfect p day today... we went to the Panthéon and Luxembourg gardens with the évry soeurs. There are really creepy crypts beneath the Panthéon- we saw the tombs of Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, and Marie Curie. Upstairs, there's a 200 year-old pendulum swinging from the ceiling that proves the earth rotates. (Richard, I thought of you when I saw it!) After the évry soeurs left, Soeur Smith and I got a scoop of ice cream and sat on a bench looking over Luxembourg gardens. I know I've quoted this before, but I just can't help myself:

is there any felicity in the world comparable to this?
no, there is not. paris is perfect. 

the best part of our first week together, however, is a man named Zdravko. He is from Bulgaria has been taking the lessons for three weeks, and on saturday he was baptized! we had an amazing week with him. There just happened to be a member who served his mission in Ukraine in town for the week, so he came and taught Zdravko with us on Thursday. He bore his testimony about the Book of Mormon in Russian and the Spirit just flooded the room. Soeur Smith and I were seriously open-mouthed in awe. Zdravko replied to his testimony by saying, "Everyday I go to work and I lift heavy beams and cement. But it feels like nothing because I know I am meeting with the missionaries that night." our lessons are very interesting language-wise. He speaks "Franglais", which is so entertaining. Teaching him reminds me a little of teaching Anbu, in that the lessons have to be SO simple so he understands. Zdravko is much more of an extrovert than Anbu, however. He has a big tuft of spiral ringlet hair, a booming santa claus laugh, and absolutely no guile. It's so endearing. I honestly don't think I can explain how hilarious he is and do it justice. Suffice it to say that his baptism was the most epic dunk I have ever seen. He did a colossal back bend, slammed into the water (spraying the cute little girls who were standing in front watching) and then popped right back up, wagging his lion-like mane of hair and smiling from ear to ear. After he dried off, he bore his testimony to the congregation. He said something to the effect of, "I don't know how old I am. Before today, I was 32, maybe 33. Now I think I am maybe 20 minutes old." He really felt like a new person. it was so sweet. And a wonderful way to start out the transfer! we are really lucky soeurs. 

Sunday was interesting. We walked into Relief Society, which I was scared for because every week, I will have to translate in RS. I hold a microphone and translate the lesson into english. my voice is broadcasted into headsets in the congregation. Terrifying! I did okay. It was so weird though. There are three sunday schools: english, french, and chinese. At the end of the summer, they are going to add one in spanish. Sacrament meeting is given in english, then missionaries and members translate into english and chinese. It's such an international ward- lots of americans and a growing amount of chinese! It's really fun. And the church building itself is so gorgeous. I'm in heaven. (except for the translating part... THAT will take some getting used to!)

despite the silly ankle situation, life is wonderful. i love my mish life. i wouldn't have it any other way, even with this slight health hiccup. thank you for your prayers and concern.

avec tout mon amour,

little mish.

 in front of the Panthéon with Rick :)

this pretty much sums us up.

just outside the Panthéon with a lovely view of the eiffel tower. 
like i said, felicity. 

Luxembourg Gardens. pretty.

luxembourg ice cream :)

the luxembourg gardens beehives. i just about died. 
they have a honey festival in september and you can buy a jar of it! 
be still my heart.

Zdravko's baptism day!

Soeur Pearce was able to come to the baptism before 
leaving for home... it was so great!

last day with soeur didier! love her.

Monday, July 18, 2011

i am like a new person in a new world.

we kind of tried to ignore the fact that it was the last week of the transfer this week. it went by too fast.

it started out with exchanges: Soeur Turney and Soeur Cope came down from Liège! It was fun to see them again. It was really ideal timing- Soeur Turney and Soeur Didier went out and hit the pavement while Soeur Cope and I went to my physical therapy appointment and our Visitor's Center shift (we taught two lessons and gave out three Book of Mormons!), so it all worked out really good. That night I made what Soeur Didier likes to call "Le Sandwich de Soeur Williams" (grilled cheese- it's her favorite thing ever) and we all chatted and caught up. It was crazy having six sisters in our apartment for the night, but fun!

thursday was "la fete nationale" of France- Bastille Day. It also happened to be our transfer cleaning day: once a transfer we are asked to take a day and deep clean our apartments. That morning during studies, Soeur Didier taught us the French national anthem.

La Marseillaise.
Allons enfants de la patrie
le jour de gloire est arrivé
contre nous de la tyrannie
l'étandard sanglant est levé.
l'étandard sanglant est levé.
entendez-vous dans les campagnes
mugir ces féroces soldats
qui viennent jusque dans nos bras
egorger vos fils et vos compagnes.
aux armes, citoyens,
formez vos bataillons,
marchons, marchons,
qu'un sang impur
abreuve nos sillons.

let's go, children of the motherland,
the day of glory has arrived.
the blood-covered flag of tyranny
is raised against us.
is raised against us.
do you hear these ferocious soldiers
howling in the countryside
they're coming nearly into our grasp
to slit the throats of your sons and your women.
grab your weapons, citizens,
form your batallions,
we march, we march,
so that their impure blood
will fill our trenches.

whoa, right? bloody. The best part is the happy tune. It's so funny to have such a bouncy melody when you're singing about slitting throats. I'll sing it for you when I get home! (do you know it, Roland? If so, you'll be singing along with me :) ) vive la France!

on saturday, we did a little exchange with the paris soeurs. Soeur Smith and Soeur Didier went out to teach a couple lessons and I went to sit with Soeur Pearce at the church while she typed a talk she had to give in church on sunday. (talks in french are stressful!) anyway. It was an absolute DOWNPOUR (we're talking shower) on the way home, so we got completely soaked through. hence the drenched photos. :)

Anbu was confirmed yesterday! Elder Weed did a great job. Anbu was so happy. I asked him how he felt afterwards and he said "I am like a new person in a new world." I love him. Afterwards, he and his friend surprised the missionaries and a few members with a full-on Indian lunch! It was so good.... curry chicken. mmm. It was so much fun. I loved watching how much the members love Anbu. He's part of the family. It brought so much joy to see him so happy and at home. It was heartbreaking, however, to tell him I got transferred. He said, "when you come see me again?" and before he left he asked me three times if i have his phone number in my "diary". So sweet. I'm just glad I'll still be in paris so I can see him from time to time!

je vous aime, tous.

la parisienne.


exchange day! 
Soeur Didier, Soeur Turney, me, Soeur Cope crossing the Seine. 
(notre dame is in the background)

me and the comp. :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

i know you too.

i think this week i will be sending more pictures than words. not a whole lot happened this week.... lots of being stuck in the apartment. but one big thing did happen:
anbu was baptized!
it was such a perfect day. He was glowing in his white baptismal outfit. Soeur Cornet, a member of the ward who has taught Anbu with us from the beginning, gave a lovely testimony on baptism. She talked about her own conversion and how grateful she is to have been a small part in his conversion. At the end, she told him he will always be our brother. It's true. Anbu asked me to give a testimony on the Holy Ghost... i basically got up to the podium and cried. I managed to give my testimony too, though. :) I talked about how the first time I met him, I asked him what he knew about Jesus. He replied with a simple three word answer that I have never forgotten: "I know Jesus." I told him that if he keeps his covenants and the commandments, then one day Jesus will take him into his arms and say, "I know you too." He was smiling at me from the front row the whole time. I am just in awe of him. He is so happy and so full of faith. Elder Berrett baptized him- and only had to do it once! (Philomene had to be dunked five times :) ) the spirit was so strong. I feel so honored to have been able to teach him. Honestly though, I think he has taught me more than I ever taught him. He is such an example. It was a wonderful day.

other than that, nothing much happened this week! hopefully the plethora of pictures will make up for my lack of writing.
i love you all dearly. thank you for your support and prayers.

little mish.

photos from the last few weeks:

Anbu's baptism!! It was so wonderful. I cried like a baby. He is just the sweetest man ever.
Philomene insisted on taking a picture with Anbu, even though that was the first time they had met each other. She said Anbu is like her brother now, since he was baptized after her. :)
this is how bored i got in the apartment this week: I drew the four of us as disney princesses. 
the soeurs LOVED it :)
me & soeur didier at the visitors center
i love her!
with Marie, an investigator, at the visitor's center.
we walked past the Arc de Triomphe the other day and Soeur Didier snapped this pic. 
I promise I'm not that squinty all the time.
at the Arc de Triomphe with Soeur Pearce and Soeur Smith... 
we got rained on :)
at the Louvre. back row: Elders Weed, Liao, Berrett, and Vallecalle. front row: Soeur Pearce, me, Soeurs Smith & Didier. (That's Rick Steves' Paris in the background, the best guidebook ever. We love Rick.)
the Louvre pyramid. 
we went and got Falafel (is that how you spell it?) in the Jewish Quarter. THAT was a culinary experience. 
{Just  a note - these pictures were all taken about 4-5 weeks ago, before Lindsay 
started having problems with her foot... she has not been able to get out much 
for the last 3 weeks. Please keep her in your prayers!}

Monday, July 4, 2011

my new nickname in our apartment is gimpy.

other than the whole limping-when-i-walk thing, this week has been pretty good.
we have a new mission president, and oh boy is he great. he is very sweet and humble and funny. and his wife is like the french version of my mom, so pretty sure i loved her instantly! here is how interviews work: one companion goes in with the president, the other with the president's wife, and then they switch. I went in with President Poznanski first. The interview was in french! It went wonderfully well. After meeting with and talking to him, I could really feel that the mantle of president had been passed on. He is the perfect man for the job!
After interviews, we had a little training all together in the chapel... it was also in french. Usually those things are done in english, so at the beginning Soeur Poznanski explained that they had really felt impressed that they needed to do everything they possibly could in french in order to help us learn it. It was so cool. The experienced missionaries sat next to the newer ones and translated so everyone understood. Soeur Poznanski gave a really cool training:

An event in Europe's history in which Americans participated in is of course, WWII. At the end of the war, in 1947, English and American forces were occupying a part of Germany to protect the country from the dominion of the Soviet regime. A virtual line was created by the Soviets to separate East Germany, who became the German Democratic Republic, and West Germany, the German Federal Republic. It was a splitting of the city of Berlin in a symbolic way, causing the separation of families and loved ones. East Germans began to run away from the Soviet regime because life was so hard. To stop this from happening, in 1961 Soviets decided to build a wall 155 km long and 3.5 m tall that passed through the city. Families were then definitively separated. A lot of Germans tried to pass the wall, losing their lives in the process.
Nearly 40 years after, the world had its eyes fixed on the misfortunes caused by this wall, also called "the wall of shame". The Soviets decided to allow a controlled access to West Germany, but soon enough the guards lost control and the people began to break down the wall. It fell on November 9, 1989. It was a cheerful event celebrated throughout the world.
At this moment, two sets of people relized that one had continued to evolve economically and the other, under the communist regime, had stagnated and stayed at the same economical level of 40 years before.
In the scriptures, there is a similar situation where a wall was stopping the people of Israel to enter in the city of Jericho. Lead by the prophet Joshua, who was the successor of Moses to lead the people of Israel to the promised land, the army used a particular strategy to make this wall fall. The Lord commanded Joshua to walk with his army around the city every day for 6 days blowing trumpets whild being silent. The seventh day, he asked them to do the same thing seven times and then to shout. The wall then fell.
There is something else that was essential that the Lord asked Joshua to do: the Arch of the Covenant had to be carried in front of the army. It was a symbol that the Lord was among them, that they had to put Him first in their actions and lives.
Let's come back to us, missionaries of the France Paris Mission. What is our purpose? For what reason did you accept to leave everything behind you during these 18 or 24 months? To bring the gospel to the children of our Heavenly Father. I'm sure that after receiving your call to this mission you heard things like, "France is so beautiful! But the people have closed hearts and are too rooted in their catholic faith." Did you start building a virtual wall in your mind around this country? In fact, numbers show today and for years that it's hard to bring French, Belgians, and Luxembourgish to baptism. But these people need the gospel desperately! By nourishing and accepting this idea that we won't baptize a whole lot in these countries, we're doing the work of the adversary. We are continuing to solidify this wall, which is not what our Heavenly Father wants.
In East Germany the people, filled with hope, fought against the wall of anger for 40 years. The people of Israel took 40 years before entering in the Promised Land. Today, West Germany has a temple. Twelve years ago, President Hinckley promised a temple in France and we are sure that our Heavenly Father doesn't want to wait for 40 years to see that temple. It depends on our good will to qualify ourselves for that huge privilege. For that, we need more members today. Our Father needs to see that the gospel can come forth a little bit more in France, Belgium, and Luxembourg. We can't succeed alone: we are about 170 missionaries, but there are almost 20,000 members in our mision and we need their strength to unify our shouts so that this work can vanquish.
You are the army of Israel who has to pace up and down the streets of France, Belgium, and Luxembourg with obedience, perseverance, and unfailing faith. President Poznanski is your Joshua who receives inspiration for the France Paris mission and who will know, like every single mission president before him, how to lead you to break open the cracks in this wall. "Preach my Gospel" is your trumpet that you use daily as the tool of success. Our Heavenly Father says to our army, "Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest." He is your Arch of the Covenant. He walks among you and before you and if together we follow Him, the walls around the cities of this mission, around the hearts of the people, and in these countries will fall and the gospel will be spread. We have faith that we are now in the seventh day and that we are about to start the seventh turn in this conquest.

As I pondered on this, I realized how big of a deal it really is that we have a French mission president. It really is incredible. Soeur Didier and I were talking about it and we both got the impression that this is a sign that the flood gates are about to be opened. As Elder Perry said, this is the last harvest in Europe. I really believe that having the Poznanskis here is a huge step towards a temple in France. This is such an exciting time to be serving here!

Apart from the training and meeting the Poznanskis, not a lot happened this week. I was confined to my apartment for most of the time with my foot elevated. No fun! We did get to see Anbu at church yesterday... he had his baptismal interview with the zone leaders. He passed with flying colors! He is so excited for his baptism on sunday. He said he's excited to join the church family :) Edinton is kind of in danger right now, so we're not sure if he will be able to be baptized with Anbu. He can't be in contact with us for the moment because he doesn't want to put us in danger. He wants to be baptized so very badly... please keep him in your prayers!

The missionaries in the other Paris ward put on a concert on Friday night and Anbu came with us. The theme was "Mon ame chante" (then sings my soul) and it was beautiful. The concert was open to everyone-- a few people wandered in from the street, and one of them is going to start taking the lessons! It was such a cool evening. I set up a table with Book of Mormons, passalong cards, and pamphlets in French, English, and Chinese. We have some really musically talented missionaries, like Elder Dick, who is an opera singer, and Elder Rakotondrainibe, who is a concert pianist. Soeur Pearce sang too! Elder Dick brought down the house with the closing number, "His Hands". Holy cow. It was a really great experience for Anbu too! He got a haircut for the occasion :)

as Miranda Priestly would say, that's all.

i love you all so much. thank you for your prayers this week- they have been much needed!

avec amour,

little mish.

with Anbu at the concert. He refuses to smile in pictures!
the display table at the missionary concert. I used your relief society lesson trick, mom :)
sweet soeur didier made me a heart pizza.