Sheesh what a week it's been! We've spent most of the week NOT in Bayonne. We were in Lyon for three days, Bordeaux for one, and now we're just getting back and getting into the routine again. Our conferences last week were so encouraging--I came back knowing exactly where I wanted to throw my efforts these coming weeks:
GOAL 1. So I've been wanting to change my nature, you know, as is wont to happen when you immerse yourself in the holy writings and realize just what a crude being you are. I've still been thinking about that Yoda quote my dad sent me, and how the scriptures say we are children of "the father of lights." So here's what I've done: I've put a centime (penny) in my shoe everyday this week. And every time I feel it, I pray in my heart to be filled with light and with love, so that everyone who sees me can feel God's light and love for them. Oh WOW have crazy things started happening:
One day I as riding the bus and I was talking to a lady, but there were 4 other people standing nearby or sitting, just looking at me and smiling. One of them even tapped me on the leg and waved goodbye as he got off the bus.
Later that day, I smiled at two women with umbrellas as they got on the bus, and they smiled back, and then as they were walking to the back of the bus, they were still smiling at me and staring at me, and as they came to where I was sitting they sorta slowed down, and finally stopped and just stood there staring at me! And I'm like, good-naturedly smiling back at them...and finally I'm like, "...Bonjour..." and they kinda snap out of whatever trance they were in, and start giggling to one another, and I say, "You can sit here if you'd like!" And they both look at each other like, "I want to, but you can if you want to..." and there's this awkward moment where both of them want to sit there, and then they start laughing again, and thank me and walk giggling to the back of the bus.
Then there was a bus driver who I smiled at and talked with for a second when I got on the bus, and later that day we barely missed his bus on our way go back home--he drove right past us--and I don't know how he knew, but when we got to the next stop, he was there waiting for us...with the whole bus of people. Hahaha
Other favorite contacting moments where when I stopped a lady on the street and she was so nice and friendly, and then I said the word missionary and she jumped back a few inches, like she'd been shocked or something hahaha, best reaction ever. And I teased her about it and then we laughed together, and then we talked for a minute.
And also there was the man who was leaning out his window, watching all the cars go by on the busy street below, and I yelled up to him, and we had this really delightful conversation(yelling) over the noise of the street, about how his brother is a Catholic priest, and how we Mormons don't drink wine, and how that's how he knows it is not the Church for him!, and other such hilarities.
What all this means is that the universes are conspiring to bring cool people to us! People are wonderful, and everyday I love them more and more. It is terrifying to open your mouth, but you know what I've found the secret is to a good conversation, or to a good friendship? Just opening your mouth. Twenty seconds of bravery, as Soeur Pfost would always say. At the beginning of my mission, I thought I needed to have a perfectly thought-through approach, to fully express how wonderful the Church was and why I was wanting to talk to them and so on. Now I'm realizing all people really need as a reason is a smile and a genuine heart. So we're working on that, and laughing a lot on the way.
AND THUS MY CHALLENGE #1 FOR YOU ALL: Think of a character trait you'd like to develop. It can be anything. Then stick a penny in your shoe for a week (this is not a metaphor. A real penny. DOOO ITTTTT.) and every time you feel it, say a little prayer to be that trait. Magic will happen.
GOAL 2: Talk more to people. See above. The 20 seconds of courage. I'm learning that the people around me love talking. Give someone a reason to build a bridge, a friendship, and most often, they will take it. Usually the reason I give goes something like, "Have you had a good day?" I've met a lot of cool people this last week doing that.
GOAL 3: Be perfectly obedient to the mission rules. Any guesses on what I have a hard time with? Being in bed on time. Not true, actually. I'm always in bed on time, but typically the 4 minutes before bedtime are a lil crazy. Hahaha, I'll be sitting at the table writing in my journal, look up at realize it's 10:26, say, "Oh mince!" (how French people say "Shoot!"), run into the bathroom and floss (every night because I'm terrified of having to go to the dentist here), brush my teeth vite vite, and then jump in my bed. Yeah. So this week I'm reversing the order of those things and so far it's been really lovely. Also, I'm sleeping all night, for the first time so far on my mission, so that's a lil happy thing too.
AND NOW FOR THE FUNNIES:
Since we're just two new ("bleu") missionaries stuck with each other, we have no idea what's going on. There's something called the bleu card, you know, which means when you mess us, you can pull the bleu card. For instance, you go to a dinner with a family, and you say nothing the whole time, because you can't understand anything that's going on. Bleu card. And everyone understands because you're bleu. Well usually missionaries have a good 12 weeks to use this bleu card. Not so with us. We don't have older, more experienced training missionaries with us any longer to carry the weight. We're forced to carry conversation at dinner appointments and lessons and in Church. So since our bleu card time was cut 6 weeks short, we plan to use it every chance we get. For instance, we show up in Toulouse to spend the night with the other missionaries on our way to Lyon for our conference. We get to the train station, wait for the missionaries to pick us up to take us to their apartment, and no one comes, and no one comes. So I call the Toulouse missionaries and say, "Hey, this is the Bayonne soeurs...we're here in the Gare..." And they say (classic gentlemanly missionaries), "Oh super! We're so glad you made it! Now, why are you here, exactly?" Hahaha, turns out they had no idea we were coming, which means it also turns out that we were supposed to be the ones to notify them, not the mission office. Bleu card. Awesome.
And as for phone calls, yeah, they're just generally horrifying and terrible. This week we get a call from an unknown number, so I answer it, and it's this man asking to meet up with us to talk about our Church. And I'm thinking, 'Okay, who is this? He's acting like I know him, but I have no idea who this is..." So I finally decide the best thing to do is just to ask who it is. Ahem. I couldn't for the life of my figure out how to ask that: "Comment est-ce que c'est? Qui...est-ce que c'est? Vous etes qui?" And on and on, for probably a good 30 seconds, and he couldn't for the life of him figure out what I was trying to ask. Wow. So funny. (Turns out all you have to say is "C'est qui?")
Also, one evening, after a day full of talking to cool people, we walked home, and voila, a rainbow over the field by our house, and guess where the end of the rainbow was. I kid you not, it was right to our front door. That's what all week has felt like.