Monday, February 24, 2014

One Year.

This year I...

became an aunt

spent a few hours in London, a few days in Switzerland, 2 minutes in Spain, and many many moons in Fraaaaance

learned to sorta speak French

turned 27

learned that teaching literature is one thing, and teaching English to non-native speakers is something TOTALLY DIFFERENT.

graduated with a Master's degree. oh yeah, forgot about that thing.

ATE: pain au chocolat, beignets, eclairs, mille feuille, religieuses, crepes, and various others patisseries.

ATE: frog legs, foie gras, escargot, and caviar.

ATE: lots and lots of baguette sandwiches.

was on a worldwide broadcast to hundreds of thousands of people. cool.

talked to over 13,440 people.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Let's not think like Pharisees.

1. Happy Valentine's Day last week everyone!

2. Happy Year Mark this week myself! Stay tuned next week when I will present the numbers...

3. Pictures of our life in Lyon:

--running to catch busses

--finishing one exchange, praying with the sisters before they leave...and then having 30 minutes before the next equipe shows up to start their exchange. it's a busy life this.

--coming out of the study room to find Sister Hutchins standing by herself in the hallway, still wearing her coat, halfway through eating a Milky Way chocolate bar in silence. this is what happens after a week of exchanges. we have a panic drawer in one of the desks--it's stocked with chocolate. hahaha, we panic a lot. but we pray a lot too. so it's okay.

4. I read Luke 7:39 this week and I keep thinking about it. 

36 ¶And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat.

 37 And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment,

 38 And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.

 39 Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.

I think we all get confronted with these moments daily-- whern we can either choose to reject things of faith and of love because they don't fit into our concept of "the way things work," or we can doubt our doubts, accept that maybe our idea of "the way things work" may be just a little sliver of the Truth. If we open ourselves up to believing and to faith and to love, then our understanding can be enlarged.


This is my friend. This is a Nigerian outfit he's wearing. Cool huh.

This is a castle. Yep, still livin in France.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Gaspar the Ferret


We write our emails in an Algerian internet cafe where they play 90s girl band music and every Monday from 10:30-2:00 the place is wall to wall missionaries writing their emails home. The man who owns it knows us by name and often doesn't make us pay full price when we print things. Nice.
Today on the way out of our apartment, we ran into a man on the landing who had a flashlight and a badge and was walking down the stairs with his flashlight touching the walls. We didn't think anything of it, and then we realized how bizarre it was, and we've been laughing about it ever since. He was just going around touching the walls real quick as he went down the staircase. I feel like nonsensical things like that happen a lot. A lot a lot a lot.
Last P-day we went bowling...and Soeur Hutchins and I being the super-bowling Americans we are invented challenge rounds like bowling on one leg and bowling in partners and bowling with your left hand and bowling with your eyes closed. The last one was incredible and dangerous. No one got hurt. Best part: Sr Hutchins and I got the same final score. 69. Not super impressive. But for bowling with our eyes closed, I mean...can't really expect much more.

It was warm outside after and we found watermelon at one of the tiny gas-station sized grocery shops in the city and we bought it and ate it, then ran off to catch our train to Clermont-Ferrand. Clermont-Ferrand is famous for it's black cathedrals. It's a town with lots of volcanic rock apparently...and what does one do with excessive amounts of black volcanic rock? Why, build cathedrals of course.
We're in the process of composing a list of things in French that we say all the time that don't translate into English at all. Like "Mince quoi." It essentially means "Shoot!" but translates to "Skinny what."
We had the LUCK to eat patisseries twice this week: once because we said "we are in FRANCE let's get a patisserie" (raspberry tart? chocolate chocolate chocolate cake) and once because it was an Elder's birthday so our zone leaders got us patisseries and we ate them in a park together in the sunshine and sang happy birthday.

I'm trying to develop the reflex of following the Spirit faster. All the time I have little ideas like "say this to that lady" or "apologize" or "give him a card." And you know what the natural man does with that? S/he says "Nah, ___(insert logical reason why I shouldn't do that thing)___" and then s/he doesn't do it. LAME. I realize how often there's this little kid voice inside of me that wants to just go around without inhibitions, helping people and saying funny things and being without care and without concern, just with joy and purity. So I'm trying to trust those little ideas more and dissolve the obstacle course of my logic between those good thoughts and my actions, so that someday I am brave and pure enough to just do everything that little child voice says.
For example, there was a lady on a bench one day and we were about to walk past but the little push said "Talk to her!" so I did and it turns out she just recently decided to be Christian. She decided to believe in Christ she said. Cool. We're teaching her this week. And then a couple of hours later, the same thing happened, the prodding to talk to a lady at the bus stop. She also decided to believe in Christ recently. Neither of them are practicing, but they said they have chosen to believe in Christ (CHOSEN. powerful word right there. That is courage, that is faith, that is logic beyond our own.). So it turns out that little prodding voice works. I want to get to the point where following it is a natural reflex, the way kicking your leg up is a natural reflex to having your knee hit by the doctor.
A few nights later we were walking around the streets of Lyon trying to find some referrals when that little feeling came again, to stop and talk to someone. He was an older man (90 to be exact) who was strapping a baguette to the back of his bicycle, and who very jovially proclaimed he neither believes in God nor the devil, just in himself and even that's a little sketchy at times :) But we kept talking and he told me that he was raised Protestant, but met his wife and she was Catholic and all her family too, so he converted to Catholicism for her. I asked if he loves his life a lot, and he said, "Yes, but she is in the cemetery now." He said that his wife died this year, and that they were married for some 70 years and she is magnificent and he visits her in the cemetery often. In between his stories about the wars he fought in and his grandkids, we testified a little about how God has a plan for the families that makes it so we can be together forever. We went back on Sunday to see him again. He is magnificent. Truly. He opened the door and had combed hair and was wearing a blue suit and pants with a full paisley vest underneath and a checkered shirt and a polka dot tie. The man has class. He also has an albino ferret named Gaspar who snuck up on Sr Hutchins and bit her during the lesson and we couldn't stop laughing.
Crazy English class is finally starting to bear fruit. We had a short lesson last week about how families can be together forever. No sooner had we said "families are important to God" than one of the students started asking if everyone will be resurrected and where we go when we die and why Jesus Christ matters and who will judge us in the end and how will be judged. (Our faces: blank stares...smiles...) "We want to answer all of your questions. Would you like to meet with us on Saturday night?" Yep. All FOUR of them. So Saturday night we had a group lesson about the Restoration and it was AWESOME and all three of them had questions and got them answered and now they're all reading the Book of Mormon and are coming again this week to learn about the Plan of Salvation. Cool!
This morning I was reading about when the Savior came to the Americas. I want to highlight a few verses that show how much He loves us (from 3 Ne 23-26). Look at what He does when He's with them:

31 And it came to pass that he went again a little way off and prayed unto the Father;

32 And tongue cannot speak the words which he prayed, neither can be written by man the words which he prayed.

33 And the multitude did hear and do bear record; and their hearts were open and they did understand in their hearts the words which he prayed.

14 And now it came to pass that when Jesus had expounded all the scriptures in one, which they had written, he commanded them that they should teach the things which he had expounded unto them.

1 And it came to pass that he commanded them that they should write the words which the Father had given unto Malachi, which he should tell unto them. And it came to pass that after they were written he expounded them. And these are the words which he did tell unto them, saying: Thus said the Father unto Malachi—Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in; behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts.

1 And now it came to pass that when Jesus had told these things he expounded them unto the multitude; and he did expound all things unto them, both great and small.

2 And he saith: These scriptures, which ye had not with you, the Father commanded that I should give unto you; for it was wisdom in him that they should be given unto future generations.

3 And he did expound all things, even from the beginning until the time that he should come in his glory—yea, even all things which should come upon the face of the earth, even until the elements should melt with fervent heat, and the earth should be wrapt together as a scroll, and the heavens and the earth should pass away;

6 And now there cannot be written in this book even a hundredth part of the things which Jesus did truly teach unto the people;

13 Therefore, I would that ye should behold that the Lord truly did teach the people, for the space of three days; and after that he did show himself unto them oft, and did break bread oft, and bless it, and give it unto them.

14 And it came to pass that he did teach and minister unto the children of the multitude of whom hath been spoken, and he did loose their tongues, and they did speak unto their fathers great and marvelous things, even greater than he had revealed unto the people; and he loosed their tongues that they could utter.

15 And it came to pass that after he had ascended into heaven—the second time that he showed himself unto them, and had gone unto the Father, after having healed all their sick, and their lame, and opened the eyes of their blind and unstopped the ears of the deaf, and even had done all manner of cures among them, and raised a man from the dead, and had shown forth his power unto them, and had ascended unto the Father—

He prays for them and with them and teaches them so they can understand things and he blesses them and heals all of them and lets them be part of something "great and marvelous." This is the kind of experience that changes you forever. The kind of experience you walk away from smiling and shaking your head because what you just were part of was incredible and magical.

Oh this mission. I know I'm going to ache inside for this life, when it's over. The roads and the people and my missionary friends and the sisters I work with. It's the ephemerality of it all that makes it so sweet. I was talking to another sister about it this week and I had to stop because I was starting to cry. It is a precious, precious time.

Monday, February 3, 2014

On Waiting for Your Hair to Dry and Other Miracles

Last P-day we went to a big park/zoo. The zoo got boring fast, so we found a big field and a huge sign that said ONLYLYON. We have limited resources for entertaining ourselves as missionaries so we brought our frisbee and our exercises bands that we got at the MTC and played frisbee. Then had a three-legged race with the exercise bands. Then played three-legged frisbee. Then launched the frisbee with the exercise band.
And then it started raining and voila, a rainbow over ONLYLYON. We be real happy here. This P-day we're going bowling. Soeur Hutchins and I are going to win. Because we're American and we know how to bowl.
rainbows attend us everywhere we go
Just kidding about the American thing though. Because we really lost really bad at frisbee and the three-legged race and the three-legged frisbeeing. But it's okay. We've challenged our whole zone to a jumproping competition at the end of the transfer and Soeur Hutchins and I are training like Rocky every morning. 

On Tuesday we had our magic meeting of the transfer (aka Leadership Council). You leave that meeting feeling like you've been with angels. My favorite moment of every transfer is when at the end of that meeting, we all stand and sing "Les Anges Dans Nos Campagnes" and the walls reverberate with our singing, and apparently the people below complain every time. Oh quel bonheur. Angels are there when we sing that. After the meeting Sister Moderzitski (who is from Alpine) came up and said something about how I only have 3 transfers left after this one, and I FREAKED OUT. My heart stopped and I started shaking. I thought I had 4 transfers left after this one! (Then we figured out that indeed I do have 4 after this one, she'd counted wrong.) But wow, I didn't expect to have that kind of reaction to my mission coming to an end. I'm hitting the one-year mark in a couple weeks. There have been so many moments when I've thought it was never going to end (moment of honesty here), and lots and lots of time spent just feeling like this is normal life, but that is punctuated by these really deep beautiful moments when the significance of being a missionary and of this little moment in time in France pierce me to my very heart. And those are the earnest that this will be a blessing for all my eternity. I am so grateful to a patient Heavenly Father who gave me this year and a half to learn and to cry and the strive and to push and to laugh and to love and to be left totally alone and to be with Him constantly.

And there are lots of France moments I will miss. That is for sure. Like the muesli cereal, and being able to walk out the apartment at any moment and speak French to anyone I come across, and the patisseries on every corner, and people saying things like "up!" and "tak" as their noises they make (instead of "oops" "there we go"). Oh France.

We had an exchange in Valence this week. On the train ride there, we were in a train compartment like on Harry Potter with 6 other people and Sister Hutchins was sewing up her purse and I was sewing up my coat pocket and we were laughing about how we're totally reinforcing France's stereotypes of Mormons--that we don't use electricity and that we're Amish. Yep. Handsewing up our very well-used vetements.

a pretty door in Valence

And our joke of the week is that we have way way way too many things to do for the amount of minutes we have each day. But we teach our ami every night at 7:30, so whenever we think of something else we have to do, we've started saying "Well, we'll just do ________ while we're teaching our ami!" Need to call all our 22 sisters and follow-up on them? Great, I can do it while Soeur Hutchins teaches our ami. Need to make cookies for the fireside on Sunday? No problem, we'll do it while we're teaching our ami. That's also when we'll type out the report for the genealogy activity we had, prepare English class, practice the piano for the musical number we're doing, and oh yeah teach all the rest of our amis! Haha we laugh a lot at how stressed we are. And the laughing helps alot. Soeur Hutchins helps a lot. We bear this burden well together. And by burden I mean joy. We think the same things at the same times too, so we're going going going all the time. It is near seamless wih her. Having fun, trying to make some miracles here in ONLYLYON.

Also we had an ami text us this week that he couldn't come to church because he had to wait 2 hours for his hair to dry and hence, couldn't make it. WE LOVE THESE PEOPLE SO MUCH. funny funny funny

A miracle for the week:

We took a train out to a little town called Bourgoin Jallieu to visit a family. We ran to catch it, and another girl ran right behind us to catch it too. We had a presentation to prepare for our zone training meeting the next day, and we only had the 20 minutes on the train that were free for the day. So we started in on our preparations, spread all our materials out on the train compartment table. And then the Spirit, that wonderful persistent Spirit, started pushing me to talk to the girl who'd ran to catch the train and sat down by us. After a couple more good pushes from the Spirit, I finally said something to her, and we started talking. And without us saying anything, she started asking all kinds of questions about faith v. logic. Which was perfect because that was the very thing we were preparing our presentation about. So we taught her from the scriptures we'd spread out all over the train compartment table. I've been studying a lot about faith lately, and what I'm learning is that the whole point of faith is to believe in things that seem impossible! Like that a man can heal sicknesses. Like that He could walk on water. Like if we follow Him, we'll be happy. Like that He has the power to resurrect. Everything Jesus does with his disciples in the Bible is to help them build their faith. So often He asks them to do impossible things (or at very least illogical things), like in Luke 5, when he asks Peter who is an experienced fisherman and has been fishing all night with no succes to throw his nets in one more time. And laying aside logic and pride and fear, Peter does it. He just lets go and trusts and does it. And they pull in so many fish their nets break and so they call over the other boat to help them out, and they pull in so many fish that BOTH boats start sinking. The whole POINT of faith is that you can't see the proof. It's to believe in things you don't know yet, things you can't prove, at least not by our limited brain's logic and understanding of the laws of the universe. There is something magic about undying faith. It isn't weak, but it is a mark of the strongest men and women the world has ever seen. Faith demands miracles come. So believe in God, believe He loves you, believe He has a plan, even and especially when it requires you to believe in things not yet seen or not yet fully understood. Study Hebrews 11. Then read these verses, because herein lies all of the Gospel of Jesus Christ:

Hebrews 4:

14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

More on faith later. I love you all! Happy week!

my companion has basketball scriptures