Sorry about not emailing last week, we were in Montauban (I'll explain) and had zero time to write all week. Basically the last to weeks were the most insanely busy and crazy of my entire life!! Aka apologies for the novel, I'll try to remember everything!
Tuesday, Nov 7 - We took the departing missionaries to the airport. I knew these guys better than most, so it was pretty hard to say goodbye. So grateful for the chance to get to know them though! After that, we picked up eleven new bleus, and all the trunkiness from the four departing missionaries went away real quick. We got to go contacting with them for a bit during some down time, and we found five new amis in 20 minutes!
Thursday, Nov 9 - We went to IKEA to prepare for our Montauban trip and spent like six hours trying to find our way out of that maze. We also dropped more than a thousand euros on furniture, which was exciting.
Friday, Nov 10 - This is where the crazy starts. We took the bleus to do their legal papers and stuff, and when we got to our appointment, we realized that we didn't have the necessary x-rays! So Elder Ruben and I ran and took the metro accross Lyon to get them and get back before they kicked us out for taking too long. It was a lot more chaotic than it sounds, I promise. Then we started our trip to Montauban! Turns out it was going to take longer to get there than we thought, and it got really dark really fast and started pouring rain, and we were getting freaked out and didn't know what we were going to do, when all of a sudden we remember that Carcassone had just switched from Sisters to Elders just four days previous. So we were able to stop in Carcassone for the night and park the Chunk (full of luggage and furniture) in the nicely sheltered church parking lot by their house. BUT THEN as we were getting ready for bed, Elder Ruben and I realize that we'd FORGOTTEN THE KEYS to the old Montauban apartment (which were essential). We were freaking out until I realized that, due to some random circumstances with the trains, the new Montauban sisters were in Lyon and would be coming to Montauban the following morning, so they were able to stop by the office before they left and grab the keys! Huge miracle!
Saturday, Nov 11 - We drove from Carcassone to Montauban and started moving furniture out of the old apartment and into the new. Montauban is so beautiful! Tons of bridges and rivers and mountainy things. Then we drove to Toulouse and slept there.
Sunday, Nov 12 - We came back and went to church in Montauban. It had been like five months since Montauban has had missionaries, and they were so nice and so excited to see us! Then we had lunch with the branch and got to attend a baptism there, after which we drove back to Toulouse for the night.
Monday, Nov 13 - We finished all the moving, made a few trips to the déchetterie (the dump), and cleaned up. We got done around 7ish, then drove to Pau and got there around 10 pm.
Tuesday, Nov 14 - Elder Ruben had to do his legality in Pau, which went super quick. Once that was done we drove 40 minutes to Oloron and stopped at (wait for it, this is the best part of my whole week...) the Lindt chocolate factory! Turns out it's the only one in France and it was so coooool and such a good way to end a really stressful week! We drove up and got out of the car and even the parking lot smelled like chocolate, and we knew everything would be okay. Needless to say, we bought so much chocolate (like 10 kilos total), which was nice, because then we had a seven hour drive home. For some reason the GPS took us through Bordeaux? Basically we drove for like 14 hours total and saw all of our mission except Switzerland and Corsica. Road trip! Anywho, we ended up getting home around 11 pm and went straight to sleep.
Thursday, Nov 16 - We had an awesome district meeting, and I spent hours buying planning and buying train tickets to get 190+ missionaries from two countries into Lyon and Toulouse for our giant zone conferences coming up in a bit (more on that later, super psyched).
Saturday, Nov 18 - Today! We visited the Fourvière Basilique for P-day and it was super cool! Lots of marble and statues of Mary. Good times.
Anywho, all in all the craziest week ever, but I learned a ton! First off, God is there! There is no way in the world that this week should have worked out like it did! We left the keys on the other side of the country for heaven's sake! I can't tell you how many times we got stressed or couldn't find a parking spot, and said a prayer, and all of a sudden it worked out. I realized that if God wants something to happen, and we do all we can, anything is possible. I'm so grateful for a Heavenly Father who listens to us and is aware of us 24/7. I promise He's there and He loves us!!
So this week was actually insane. Imma try to get all my thoughts straight, so sorry if it's a little chaotic!
First off, it's November! Happy Halloween last week! It's starting to get pretty cold here, so thank heavens for a climate controlled office! I've ended every day this week with a hot chocolate, and life is good.
I got a new companion! Elder Ruben is from Murray Utah and he's awesome! We've been a trio for the last week and a half so Elder Walton can train him in the ways of office work. We'll probably be comps for the next three transfers (4.5 months), so I'm super excited! Elder Walton is being transferred to Nimes on Monday, so I'm really crossing my fingers that I picked up on everything I needed to, cuz I'm now the senior office elder (yikes).
Pretty much the whole week has been planning for transfers next week and trying to hectically learn everything we can before Elder Walton leaves. We had our transfer planning meeting with President and the assistants, and we finished buying all the train tickets today, so hopefully it all works out!
In other news, our mission has this giant monster of a vehicle that we've named "The Chunk", which we use when we need to move huge amounts of people or luggage or whatever, and guess who's now the designated driver? Me. Like, you have to pull the emergency break when you shift from reverse to drive on a hill, or it'll roll backwards. And we have a huge moving trip coming up next week (Lyon to Montauban to Pau and back to Lyon - approx 18 hours of driving), so keep us in your prayers y'all!
Today was P-day and we got to go to a castle with the Mustard couple! Le Château Flechere - like forty minutes to Lyon. Coolest p-day so far - pics included!
Sunday was stake conference and holy cow, definitely one of the most uplifting meetings I've ever been to! Elder De Feo in the Europe area presidency spoke about the story of Jairus and Christ, where Jairus's daughter is dying and the Christ heals the lady with the blood issue. He made a couple comments that I looooved! He invited us to imagine what Jairus must have been thinking when the Cure to his daughter's eminent death stopped to heal someone else! Elder De Feo made the comment that perhaps this was the moment when Jairus's simple hope was tempered into real faith. Then the people come to tell him that it's too late, his daughter was dead and there was no need to bother the Master. But then Christ delivers the most powerful sermon in just one sentance - « Ne crains pas, crois seulement » - "Be not afraid, only believe". So often we are tempted to feel that all hope is lost, that it's too late, we've messed up, or maybe that God doesn't notice someone as insignificant as us, that He has bigger things to worry about. Well that just isn't true! He loves us infinitely and He can indeed cure all ills - physical, emotional and spiritual. We need only to persevere and keep our faith. I am so grateful for the chance I have to serve here in France. I love my mission, I love my family and my friends and I love my Savior. I understand that life is hard and will keep being hard, but I really believe that nothing negative is permanent with Christ.
Thanks for all the support, je vous aime!
P.S. Also! Idk if you remember Roc Durrand and Kellis Ndugu, from my emails back in Béziers, but they were some amis that Elder Shirley and I worked with, and they got BAPTIZED last week! I'm a little sad I didn't get to see it, but I'm so so happy that they made the decision to come nearer to God!
A bunch of pictures of the Château and the gardens around it
Elders Ruben, Walton and myself treating ourselves to some Halloween patisseries
This week was awesome! Pretty much just normal crazy office stuff until zone conference yesterday! I bought a bunch of train tickets, emailed some of my new proprietaire bros and did some other office-y type stuff. Pretty normal week :)
Zone conference was so goooooood!!! I had a super cool interview with president, followed by the greatest presentations! President talked about a lot of really interesting ideas about goal setting and planning, and he bore testimony on the power and reality of miracles. Then Sister Mustard sang a musical number and the Spirit was so strong. Then President took the zone to the backyard of the church and pulled out his giant bow and some arrows and started shooting these water bottles on the other side of the yard (representing how we need to really aim for our goals if we want to see progression)! He let a few other people try and it was literally so cool! We also got to play human sized hungry hippos with balloons (thanks Soeur Brown's object lesson on opening our mouths). All in all, super spiritual and really fun.
Not a ton of time today, so sorry for the shortish email! Just know that I know that this church is true! Miracles exist and happen a lot more often than we realize! J'aime mon Sauveur, son Évangile et ma chére famille!
Love you guys!
Hungry hippo game in the parking garage. I love our mission.
President Brown being awesome
Our washer's been out of action for week (I've been doing laundry in the apartment next to the office for a while now), and we do laundry for the huge amount of missionaries that pass through our apartment, which has been adding up. Finally got it fixed today though, so all is well!
This week was pretty great! I don't have a lot of time today, but I'll try to get everything!
Monday we drove to Gex, on the border of Switzerland, for a bunch of legal stuff, which was super fun! Road trips and Suisse chocolate? Sign me up! I also got to teach the retab while sitting in the prefecture to a guy we met. I've definitely been missing that, so it was a really nice refresher.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were super chaotic, but not to out of the ordinary. We also had district meeting, which was a blast! Our zone leaders promised that if our zone reached a certain number of new amis, we'd all get to shove pie in their face, and it happened, so that was a nice stress relief (; Then we had dinner with all the seniors, which was also awesome.
Friday morning, all the senior couples left for their conference on Corsica (basically a big vacation), so Elder Walton and I were the only ones in the office all day. Thankfully nothing went horribly wrong, and it was pretty chill.
Today the plan is to send off this email, then we get to go to the baptism of one of the Assistants' amis, which should be really cool!
I realized this week, while driving to Gex, that we live in a pretty incredible place! Our mission alone has everything from the ocean to grape vineyards to the Alps to Corsica and big cities like Lyon! This world is such a testament to me of the reality of God! I know He lives and that He created all of this for us! Maybe the most incredible part is that He knows us personally! This huge earth with billions of people, not to mention every other one of God's creations, and He knows and loves each of us personally! I'm so grateful for this world we live in, for my family, and for a Savior who made it possible for me to be with them for eternity! Il est là, et Il nous aime infiniment! Je vous aime! Merci pour le soutien!
District meeting! Featuring Elder Lutu, my old comp, now my district leader!
Road trip with the Chinese Elders, Walton and Nurse Kemp!
So this week totally flew by! Like, super busy 24/7 but nothing too crazy... We took "the Chunk" (our giant van that we use on transfer days) in to get repaired, I wrote a bunch of letters to tax agencies (Nothing feels more official then getting to sign documents and use an official France Lyon Mission stamp. Class.) and called a whole bunch of missionaries and assorted utilities people, which was chill. Oh, then yesterday we got invited to eat at a member's house with the other missionaries in our ward, which was awesome! As office elders, we don't really get to work a lot with members outside of church on Sunday, so I've really been missing it. We had an awesome fall-appropriate dinner with potatoes and veggies and a homemade pumpkin pie!
In other news, it's October! I realize we're already halfway through, but it didn't really hit me til today. Elder Walton and I got to go check out a couple small parks by the office for p-day today, and all the leaves were red and orange and it was so great! Plus it's not hot outside anymore!
Okay, that's about all I've got. Just want to make sure y'all know that this gospel is true! It's really hard to live sometimes, and never easy to apply, but it's always worth it! So excited to keep serving the Lord! Et je suis infiniment reconnaissant pour notre Sauveur! Grâce à Lui, tout est possible! La vie aprés la mort, le repentir, et les familles eternelle! C'est magnifique!
Je vous aime!
Elder Mustard, one of the office couple elders. Love this guy.
Our washing machine broke! Funny story actually - we realized yesterday that it was October, Friday the 13th, and we were like "wow, nothing bad happened all day!" and then all of the sudden we hear this huge banging noise from the kitchen, and it turns out the washing machine's messed up, so that was what we worked on for most of p-day today haha.
The headset is probably my favorite part of being an office elder.
Cloudy shot with some buildings that look cool, but that I haven't seen up close yet.