Monday, July 1, 2013

baby girl

When I was in fourth grade, we did Idaho History Month where we learned about the trappers and the golddiggers and the mountain men. We learned how to stretch a bear skin tight and then comb it thin until it turns into vellum. This week I was that bear skin. A little stretched and little combed into transparency.

First I left my English scriptures on the train. It goes like this: I spent two days traveling from Bayonne to Lyon to pick up my new companion (more on this later), and then two days traveling back. Four trains, two floods, a fire, two unplanned buses, and one set of train robbers (not kidding*) later, we pull into Toulouse where we're spending the night. There were eight of us missionaries on that train (half of which were bleus) so there was a lot a lot a lot of suitcases. We all sort of tumbled out of the train with all the suitcases and our packages and backpacks and scriptures and fell into a big heap on the train platform just before the train left. (A little shoutout to the elders: were it not for them and their gentlemanly help in getting us sisters with all our luggage everywhere we'd be in dire straits. There'd probably be a lot of sister missionaries stuck at train platforms all across Europe because our suitcases are too heavy for us to carry up and down the Gare stairs (dear France: they invented something called elevators a few years ago. Google it.)**).
So we're in this big heap of missionaries and suitcases and DVD players and packages from home on the platform when one of the sisters realizes she's missing a suitcase. Me and a missionary next to me shake our heads in pity..."Wow, that's rough. I don't know what I'd do if I lost a suitcase. Or worse, if I lost my camera...or worse, my journal or scriptures." Lalala we all descend the Gare stairs, we all take the metro into town, and there, halfway up the Metro elevator (Toulouse is advanced in terms of Gare standards) I realize: I left my scriptures on the train. Worst. Feeling. Ever.
It's especially bad because I'm training this transfer, which means I'm gonna be bear-skin-vellum stretched and I'm going to need every word in those sweet sweet books to anchor my soul and my heart when things start getting crazy.

So I've prayed a lot this week. At first it was that they'll find my scriptures (I'm going to Bordeaux on Thursday so I can check the Gare then), but then my prayers turned different, because I think I realized that maybe I was starting to rely more on the scriptures than on God. Huh. Now there's an interesting thought. I love the words in them and I love the things the scriptures inspire me to do, and I know they are the words of God, but I also know that they're meant to help bring you to God, not to be a god in themselves. It's almost as if all my lifelines really are going to be taken away until all I have left is just me and Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Spirit. And the four of us can figure out how to read the scriptures in French, and how to use those scriptures to help others, how to teach simply, how to be kind and loving and faithful, and not merely scripturally academic. I love those scriptures, but I love God more, and this experience is teaching me how to do that better.

I played the organ again on Sunday. Similarly disastrous.

Now, because I spent so much time in transit this week, I wanted to write about that. Like I said, I went to Lyon this week to get the sister missionary that I'll be training. My whole first two transfers I was flooded with ideas of things I wanted to do if ever I was a trainer, and luckily I wrote them down, thinking they might be preparation for things to come. Good thing! So all the trainers met up in Lyon, went to McDonalds (a Big Mac and fries and Fanta and a Peanut M&M McFlurry never tasted so good. Ha and my parents were worried I wouldn't keep my weight up), slept in a fancy shmancy (not really) hotel in Lyon, and met our new missionaries the next morning! My new companion's name is Soeur Swenson. She's from Utah, she's the youngest of seven kids (2 boys, 5 girls), did ballet a bunch, has a really close family that likes doing things like playing games and being silly and eating dinner together, and I am so so so grateful to have her with me. She waves and says hi to everyone we pass on the streets, she is always open and candid and inquisitive, and she's already jumping in to speak French as much as she can. And I feel super protective of her and super concerned for her and just want her to feel happy and comfortable and proud of herself every second. In the mission, they have all kinds of weird lingo for training--for example, I'm Soeur Swenson's mom, I birthed her, she's my baby, blah blah blah. All of it creeps me out and I try not to use any of it, but then when I've had her this week, her eyes big with wonder and anticipation and joy for all the things she's learning and all the things she hopes to do in her mission...well, I can see the metaphor. She is absolutely delightful and all I want to do is help her be happy.
On Saturday we cleaned the church with the whole ward. One lady had brought us a big cake and a big salad and when we thanked her, she said "C'est normal" and then explained tha tfor her, we represent the Savior. Oh how those words sank deep in my chest. Everytime someone here opens up to me about their fears and their worries and their hopes and desires, I think about this--that I'm not here as me listening to this, but I am here as a representative of the Savior. Oh the things I would want to say if I had Him here to comfort me and listen to me. So I try to listen like He would and comfort like He would and inspire and love and bless like He would.

In all the stretching and the pulling and the long days of French I don't speak and people I don't know and the constant affrontment with all the things I am not yet good enough at, I am grateful for the quiet and sometimes few and far between moments where the wind or the cobblestone or the night air reminds me how old my soul is and how much I have done and how much I have become and how deep and urgent the promises of the Lord are. I know the Lord is with each of us, and that in a future day we'll understand just what that really means.

 End Notes.

*We always have train delays. This week, as I said, we had delays for fires, for floods, for robbers who stole the train cables... I'm hoping for pirates next. Deep down I think that none of these reasons are actually legitimate. I think the train conductors probably just get bored of explaining that sometimes trains are slow, or sometimes they want to eat a sandwich before continuing on, and so they make up dangerous and fascinating reason why the trains are delayed. I like this way of living. Constant intrigue.

**As for other inventions that are surprisingly unseen here, this week were in a meeting and a man in the ward asked for a sheet of paper. I handed him my perforated notebook and he gasped and said, "Wow! Would you look at that! Those Americans are just always ahead of us in innovations!" Hahaha, I think I looked at him like, "Seriously?"
The pictures are me at McDonalds and Toulouse.

No comments:

Post a Comment