Monday, September 28, 2015

"Un poulet de cinq kilos, c'est une dinde"

So first off I think I forgot to mention this a couple letters ago, but high school French has been ridiculously useful! Merci merci merci to M. Cookson, Mme. Mosnot, Amar, Mme. Staropoli, and Mme. Coens! The other day I was at a member's house and I heard the dad use the term "petite chou-chou" which I remembered from either middle school or 9th grade. It's been awesome to recognize words or grammar principles that I remember learning way back in Portland :)

Here's how my week went! Wednesday, the day after I emailed last, we went back to Lyon. Holy cow. On the 2 hour train ride there I talked to a sister missionary from Montpellier and practiced French by asking her a bunch of new vocab words and practicing verb conjugation by telling stories from my brother's mission (for example, the snake in the toilet). It was fun, but hard to get all the verb tenses right. Il faut pratiquer! That night we went with about two zones (Geneva and Lausanne) plus some other missionaries to Master Tacos, it was awesome. I met some Tahitian missionaries too who know some of my Tahitian friends from BYUH! :D

Thursday was zone conference, mein very first one. It was really cool to see so many missionaries I hadn't met yet, including my (almost certainly) future companion Elder Bleak! He's really awesome, but had to take off right after the conference so we didn't get to talk much. The conference itself was 2-3 hours of hearing from Président and Sœur Brown and Elder and Sister Adler from the 3rd Quorum of the Seventy. They're from Germany and I believe are Area Presidents for Eastern Europe or something like that. I took good notes from the conference and will definitely be implementing some things I learned into my own life and continually trying to improve and grow. One thing I really liked was a promise from Elder Adler, that if we record our testimony in French (or Chinese as the case may be) and then bear our testimony every day, practicing to make it more natural and more powerful to help people feel the truth of the message we bring, at the end of 30 days we can re-record our testimony and we'll absolutely see that our testimony has grown. Definitely going to be doing that because that's something I've been thinking about lately; exactly how I can help testimony grow and become truly strong instead of just passable. Be letting you all know how that goes sometime next transfer :)

Friday: we stayed in Gex apartment Thursday night after the conference, so Friday we finally made it back to St. Genis after hardly being there at all for about 4 days. That day a member in the branch opened his mission call! He really really wanted to go to Montréal (French people loooove Canada, especially Québec), and he got called to the Canada Vancouver Mission, English speaking. He's super happy and excited and it's super close to chez moi! So if you live in that mission (you know who you are) watch out next year for an Elder Plug from France. Also Friday night I watched Elder Pien eat a whole rotisserie chicken all by his lonesome. We discussed the experience with a member which is where the title of this email came from.

Saturday was super ridiculously awesome! Friday night in our apartment we were planning and it hit us that we basically have no amis anymore and we felt really unproductive because we were gone from St. Genis for so long. We knelt and prayed earnestly that we could find someone to teach. The next day we started to go porting, but quit after about 30 seconds because we both felt that bussing would be way more productive. We started riding buses back and forth from St. Genis to Val-Thoiry (the mall) to CERN and talked to a bunch of people. Normally we'll have about 4 conversations a day with 7 or 8 being super awesome, and that day we had a whopping 22 conversations :D it was also Asian day in the neighborhood, I talked in French to a Malaysian woman and her half-French son, in English to an Indonesian woman and her mother, and in Chinese to a guy from Taiwan who works at CERN. However, the best part was the answer to our prayers! Elder Pien starting talking to a woman who turned around, recognized him as a missionary, and got really excited all of a sudden. Long story short, she started lessons months ago with the missionaries and then lost contact. We tried to find her a few weeks ago but couldn't and had decided to drop her because we couldn't find her, but then she showed up right in front of us on the bus and wanted to keep taking the lessons and come to church and holy cow it was so awesome!! We're definitely going to invite her to watch General Conference this weekend because the living prophets have the inspiration that we need for these days.

And that just happens to be my invitation to you all as well! We're going to have 3 new apostles, which can be sad but you have to remember that God knows what He's doing! In trying times like these, we need the revelation that comes through prophets and apostles in behalf of the whole church, just like Moses, Peter, Paul, and other leaders had in olden days. We're so blessed to have these great people and I testify that you can trust them! Yes they're imperfect people like anyone else, but God will never let the prophets He's called lead the Church astray. So, go watch Conference! :D

Pics: Spaghetti pizza/pie, made by Elder Walters from Chicago :P

Pics: Frankenstein in Geneva! Throwback to Senior Inq with P&P :D

Having some fun on Preparation Day...

Pics: Random kangaroo Genevois, Gex cathedrale and centre ville

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

People here, people there, lots of people everywhere

So yep, I'm emailing on a Tuesday this week. Sunday afternoon Elder Pien and I left for Lyon (rather stressfully after being in Gex and having left important documents back in St. Genis) so I could do my legality. We were in Lyon for less than 24 hours and my legality went perfectly smoothly, so now I'm legal! I talked to a senior couple in the mission office who is serving their third mission now, having previously served in the Toulouse Mission and then the Paris Mission. France for days.

I went on exchanges in Gex and had a crazy experience! I was with Elder Loosle (loose-lee) from Utah, he's awesome. We did a lot of porting and had an unusual amount of success, but we ended with a straight-up miracle. We found a family of 4 from Spain who knew a little English and hardly any French, so we asked in English and broken Spanish if we could ask them some questions about family. They saw that we were Christian and invited one of the family members who was Christian to talk to us along with one daughter who knew English fairly well. We repeated the question and all of a sudden they all came out of the house and went to work straightening tables and chairs on the porch, wiping water off of stuff and grabbing cushions, all to the amazement of me and Elder Loosle. After everything was organized, we sat down with the family across from us and basically taught a whole lesson, albeit a scattered one. They said that they'd been to a Christian church once down the road but stopped because it was all in French and they didn't understand anything. We invited them to come to our church which was just down the road the other way, plus there are a number of people there that speak Spanish. They said they'd really like that, and then they actually came!! That doesn't happen too often, usually people say they might come and then don't. I didn't see them because Gex ward meets before St. Genis branch, but Elder Loosle and Elder Walters got to see them and apparently they liked church :D

On Tuesday we had dinner with an awesome family in the branch. The dad served his mission in La Réunion (island down by Madagascar) and his wife is from there, so she made us this delicious Réunionaise food with rice, vegetables, chicken, and peanut butter sauce. Little bit spicy and lotta bit awesome.

We keep trying to pass by less-actives and potential amis but they're rarely home. However, our old amis/potentials should be returning from their various travels now so we'll have people to talk to! We had district meeting in the Geneva Institute, it was fun to meet up with the district and the zone again and eat tartiflette :D

Transportation is nice usually but sometimes not. Sunday night, the train ride to Lyon which is normally less than 2 hours took close to 3 because of some weird stuff going on (honestly I don't know what it was), but I did learn a valuable lesson: don't ever ride trains on Sunday night! Every seat was filled and every aisleway was filled, there were sooooo many people on the train. It was kind of fun :) We had the same experience in the bus on the way back from the gare in Geneva to Gex, it was crammed full of people and reminded me of the Tube in London. I mentioned that to the woman next to me who was actually from London; she had questions about the church and about missionaries so I was able to help her out with that :) We also met some people from the Seychelles and Elder Loosle met a girl from Malta. Crazy.

I'm out of time and there are still things I want to say! Just know that the Church really is true and if you're having trials in your life, God knows what you need and He will always always help you. You are His child and He loves you more than you could ever know :)

En avant, en avant, en avant,

Monday, September 14, 2015

Invite Your Friends to Church!

Another summer gone, another first day of school finally arrived. That's great that Carter loves school! Let's just hope he keeps that attitude for another 12 years or so... I also was pretty sure that Kellie had started high school but what little part of my mind is still rational wouldn't let me believe it. However, I guess I just have to face the fact that people are still growing up in the real world, though my mental image of home is on pause right now. Good luck to you all and work hard, it pays off!

This past week has had some experiences like any missionary's week should, so here we go! Last Monday was that crazy hike up the Juras, and the next day after doing necessary stuff in the apartment we had very little time to actually go out and work. In the evening we walked through a field and a small forest to visit some people we thought were Hispanic but soon discovered were actually Togolese. The person we wanted to see is in Togo right now, but her sister was there and after a fun conversation with her (Africans are awesome) she suggested we come back in a week or two. We had to get home after that so we walked back through the small forest and the field in the dark, which was uhh fun.

Wednesday morning we had something going on but I don't remember what it was. In the afternoon we went back over to a member's house and helped him tear down wallpaper for the 3rd week in a row, and we're going back again this week. It's a small room, but stubborn papier peint. We had a mangez-vous that night with a couple in the ward and their grandson who is probably about 3 years old. He's funny. We had juice made of fruit from the member's backyard which we'd picked about two minutes before, it was potent stuff but really good. Also we tried some Italian soda stuff that kind of tastes like bitter Dr. Pepper and I didn't entirely dislike it. I was told you can't find it in France though, sad face :( We had fresh croque-monsieurs and various kinds of cheese as an appetizer (that's one stereotype that is actually true, these people eat cheese all the time, it's incredible). Travel tip: If you're planning to visit this part of France, get used to many kinds of cheeses and shrimp!

Thursday we had zone training, which was cool. That day was some Geneva-based holiday that we knew nothing about (called Young Genevan or something like that?) so all the bus times were messed up. Therefore, we walked from our apartment to the CERN tram stop in Switzerland and still got there before the next bus would have come. On the way we saw a potential ami from French Guyana who is super cool but almost impossible to find waiting at another bus stop. We were really excited to see him and waved from across the street, but we had literally no time to stop and talk because we had to get to Geneva for zone training. It was sad, hopefully we can find him again this week. We got to zone training the very moment that it started, so I guess slow and steady does win the race. It was cool to see the new people in our zone that have only been here for two weeks now, including several like Elder Strong and Elder Lapointe that I had heard of in blogs I read before the mission, but never met. Now I've met them! Our zone is super cool, I'll be sad to leave it when that time comes. Oh also the Assistants came, which was a surprise but cool to have them there. In the evening we taught English class and a lesson on the temple to exactly one person, a 28 year old woman from Japan whose husband works at CERN. Her English is already really good, which is convenient because her French isn't amazing yet and we don't speak Japanese. The sad news is that she's leaving for Japan this week and will be there for a month! Really a bummer, but I hope she's still interested when she comes back. Also that night for dinner I ate a whole pizza by myself, don't worry about it.

I'm running out of time but Friday was great! We went to Collonges which is a petite ville way down in the south of our sector, it's essentially deserted and a little creepy in the middle of the day but in the evening when work and school finish it's a little more lively and fun to be in. We did some porting, had no success, and then realized we hadn't said a prayer. We prayed to be able to find someone to talk to and almost immediately knocked on the door of a woman who had attended the baptism of the son of a woman in the branch, really loved it, and actually met with the missionaries before even though we'd never heard about her. We had a nice conversation with her until she had to go answer the phone, and then a few minutes later we ran into that member in the branch (her son was baptized last year and we found out that he, a little 8 year old kid, had invited all his friends and schoolteachers to his baptism. Despite the snow and long commute, 100 people showed up!! Talk about member missionary work!). We didn't even know she lived in Collonges, but she knows about everyone in town and has quite the list of people she thinks we could teach. There's definitely work to do there :D

Saturday we met with a part-member family and tried to extend some invitations, but it didn't go as well as we'd hoped. Despite trials and plans that fall through, it's important to remember that we always work on the Lord's time. We shouldn't think we know what's best for people because we don't! Only God knows people's hearts and minds perfectly and He will guide us to do His will if we're willing to do it.

D&C 58:27,

Monday, September 7, 2015

Pics: Hiking in the Juras mountains

We hiked all the way up to the top of the Juras which are the mountains next to our house. It was crazy steep and hard, walking up directly underneath the télécabine from Crozet.

From the top of the Juras mountains, we had an amazing view of the Alps, Salève, and the whole Pays de Gex from the hills by Annecy to the other side of Lac Léman including Lausanne and Montreux.