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 :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

in a place like paris

another lovely week in my favorite city in the world. 

we saw Lou again this week. it's tricky to come up with lessons that will be interesting for an 11 year-old with a short attention span! We're still working on that. We had her make a list of things she talks to her best friend about, and it was gloriously girly: boys, fashion, movies, games. We then had her make a list of things she talks to Heavenly Father about. We talked about how we can tell Him anything we want... and then she drew hearts, flowers, and rainbows all over her lists. Like I said... eleven. She's fun to teach, though.

afterwards, we had our shift at the visitor's center. the visitor's center is fun when people come in. It's not super busy, but it's getting better. That day, we had one visitor. His name is Martin... he's about 21 and lives just outside of Paris. He told us he was at the tattoo & piercing shop across the street (literally. the church/visitor's center are in the middle of babylon.) and the sign with the church's name on it caught his eye, so he came over to check it out. He smelled like cigarettes and looked like kind of a punk. I asked him if he would like a tour, and he said yes. I went through the paintings with him, explaining the joseph smith story. He listened intently and didn't act weird when I got to the First Vision part like some people do. When we teach the First Vision, we recite it in Joseph's own words ("i saw a pillar of light..."). In the MTC, they trained us over and over to never break eye contact while reciting the first vision. that was running through my head as I started reciting it to him, so I just looked at him and started going. It's kind of weird to just look at someone and talk for that long without looking away, but i did it. and the spirit came instantly. it's amazing how that happens. He accepted a Book of Mormon and gave us all of his information and told us he would like to meet with the missionaries. AH! so cool. We passed his number straightaway to the Elders who live in his area. I hope it will continue on.

Every Friday, our district and the chinese district go contacting together. We decided to try something new this week: we rolled a chalkboard from the church across the street to the Georges Pompidou. We wrote "what is your favorite book?" on it in four languages, then invited people to come write their responses. We got some... interesting responses. the Pompidou, which is a museum of modern art, is known for being very controversial. It was pretty successful, though. We handed out something like 9 Book of Mormons in an hour! Whenever someone came and wrote a response, we would tell them about our favorite book and offer a copy of it to them :) clever, eh? It really caught people's attention. Most of them turned away when they saw our tags, but we talked to quite a few people! Even the security guard at the Pompidou took a Book of Mormon! I love district contacting.

Yesterday was Stake Conference at the Palais des Congrès in Versailles, literally right next door to the Château de Versailles. My mission is so cool.
The meeting was so good- literally EVERY talk was about the temple! We are getting so excited for General Conference... people here are praying more than ever that we will have a temple soon in Paris. We don't know if it will be this conference or in twenty conferences that they'll make the announcement, but I have a feeling it will be very soon. Please pray for a temple! It's amazing to watch the members here and the faith they have. They are working and praying and hoping so hard. The day there is a temple here will be a very happy one.

I am so happy here. If you couldn't tell. Soeur Smith and I were talking this morning and we decided our companionship is like a good French cheese: it just gets better with time. (we REALLY love each other). I think the same goes for the mission: the more time that passes, the more I love it and the more I learn and the more I am sad that someday soon, this will have to end. I suppose it's good that it will end sometime: it helps me make every day sweet. But, in a place like Paris, that isn't so hard.

avec amour,

la parisienne. 


 me & soeur smith with the chalkboard.

 a cathedral on one side, the pompidou on the other. it was a little crazy.

contacting at the pompidou :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

a moroni man.

well, it is officially september. leaves are changing, that lovely fall crisp is in the air, and, best of all: the tourists are leaving! we are in heaven. today we went to Napoleon's tomb and the army museum and we had the place to ourselves! the museum was SO cool. Soeur Smith and I are both history buffs, so we bounced around the place oohing and aahing over the helmet collections, the war propaganda posters, and the video archives of the french army marching through the Arc de Triomphe and down the Champs Elysées after the end of the war. Bliss! We are so well matched, she and I.

this week was a good week. we met with Lou, our 11 year-old ami, on wednesday. she is so cute and super smart. She lives with her grandma, who is a member of our ward. She wants to be baptized, but her dad, who is an atheist, won't let her. Grr! We keep teaching her and hoping for a miracle. This week we introduced personal progress to her. She's all over it!
After Lou, we had our last rendez-vous with Hana. She left for Taiwan the next day. It was so sad. We read Moroni 8:26 with her:

"And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God."

She read it outloud in Chinese. As she read, a big smile spread across her face. She said, "before coming here, when I was at the supermarket, I have question in my head- 'How I always keep Holy Ghost with me?' then I come here and you show me this scripture and I get my answer. How did you know??" It was so, as Soeur Smith would say, tender. I love that she always finds her answers in the Book of Mormon. We also helped her find the kind of man she wants to marry. :) The three of us made a pact to marry a "Moroni man" in the temple one day. She's so cute. She loved these verses about Captain Moroni:

"And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery.
Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people.
Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of his blood.
Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men."

We cried, we hugged, we prayed. We love her so. Teaching her has been life-changing, even though it was only for a week and a half. That is how amazing she is! I miss her already.

"I wish we can lock our hearts together."

On Friday we did some district contacting with Elders Gubbay, Tauhiro, Walker, and Dick. We didn't find any "golden" contacts, but it was fun anyway. We contacted a chinese college student who told us to go give the Book of Mormon to someone who really needed it... great. Then we saw a cute little old man shuffling along the sidewalk, so we started talking to him. Turns out he didn't speak English or French... he was Colombian. I somehow motioned and smiled enough to get him to follow us-- I felt like such a creeper! Props to him for not running away. We brought him to Elder Gubbay, who is fluent in Spanish. The man turned out to not be interested, but it was a good try!

This week Soeur Smith and I have been studying a lot about Joseph Smith for an upcoming activity in our ward. It has been a really neat experience. On Saturday, we had a rendez-vous with a less-active, Christine. It has been really hard to get through to her... She doesn't remember anything we teach her! We end up teaching her the same lessons over and over. She keeps asking why our church is different from other churches and why our church is the only true church. Just talking and reading out of the scriptures wasn't seeming to help her, so on saturday, we watched "Joseph Smith: the Prophet of the Restoration" with her. As I watched, the reality of the Restoration just washed over me. Joseph Smith's story felt so real. I know it happened. Afterwards, Soeur Smith and I gushed about how cool it was to watch that film after having studied Joseph Smith all week. And the best part: Christine loved it. She said the film was very touching and it helped her understand so much. We were so happy we finally got through to her!

autumn is in the air, the work is good, and i am happy. 

avec tout mon amour,
little mish. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

you can't buy this kind of love.

yesterday was so good. i love sundays in the mission field. wait, i love everything in the mission field. President Poznanski came to our ward and bore his testimony- he told a really cute story about his newly married son and daughter in-law. After settling in to their new house, they went to Ikea to buy a plant to make it more homey. They found a beautiful one and took great care to water it every week. It was so beautiful that they decided to go buy another one. They went back to Ikea and found another one exactly the same as the first. They then realized they were in the artificial plant aisle. :)
He said sometimes missionary work is like that- we feel as if we're watering an artificial plant. we put so much effort into it, then nothing grows. the Lord will never leave us alone with our artificial plants, though. The miracles WILL come! This week has kind of been an "artificial plant" week- we had lots of promising referrals fall through, lots of people not answering their phones anymore, lots of people not home. There was one bright spot of sunshine, though:


Hana is Taiwanese. Her mom died when she was 11 years old, leaving her dad alone with three daughters. She has been a carefree party-er her whole life- she was into smoking, drinking, pills, you name it. She came to Paris alone for two months of vacation. About a month ago, one month into her trip, she wandered into the church one sunday looking for a place to pray. the chinese elders started teaching her, she quit smoking and drinking, completely changed her life, and was baptized three weeks later! She is so amazing. We have been teaching her the recent convert lessons this week and we LOVE her! It feels like we have known her so much longer than a week. She goes back to Taiwan on Thursday and we are so sad, but it's happy at the same time... she can't wait to bring her papa and her sisters to church. :) She has such a light in her eyes and such a sweet spirit about her- she really has become a completely different person. She always talks about how she was always angry before she found the church. She said getting the gift of the Holy Ghost has made her more "tender". So cute! I love to see how happy the church makes her. She is seriously one of my favorite people i have taught on my mission. She is sweet and guileless and humble. She has embraced the gospel with her whole heart. And her broken english makes her even more lovable!

hana quotes.

"I feel lucky to be mormon woman. Our Father make us beautiful and smart. Smarter than men, but they don't know that."

"I only marry mormon boy."

"I listen to same song over and over today- 'I am a Child of God'. I go to supermarket and I singing and smiling and people think I crazy!"

"I think Alma is a lovely guy."

"You like best salesmen for our Father. But you don't sell cars, you sell God's story. for FREE!"

We had a rendez-vous with her on Friday... we read Alma 29 together. She said, "I want to be angel too. I want to tell everyone!" She is almost giddy with love for the gospel. After our lesson, we gave her her a card I drew for her. she said, "You can't buy this kind of love." It's true. Soeur Smith and I feel pretty lucky to have been able to teach her for a little while.

sending lots of love across the ocean.

soeur williams. 

 well said. 

 at the "hôtel de sully" a really old and really pretty mansion. 

me & soeur smith with our favorite book :)

 with hana.

the card I drew for Hana- the chinese on the side means "we love you". 

 welcome to Europe, where the elevators are TINY.