Toulouse, France

Monday, August 28, 2017

Nous avons Facebook !

Salut tout le monde ! 
This week was crazy! We started off with an exchange here in Béziers with some new Elders whose comps were in Lyon for MLC. I got to hang out with Elder Weber all day, which was super fun. I don't know the ville very well so we definitely just got lost all day haha. We worked a bunch with the Klemasz couple in training members on their responsibilities as far as missionary work goes. 

Then on Thursday we went to Perpignan for our district meeting, which was awesome! Love my new district! The meeting went well - big news - we got Facebook! We're just supposed to use it for missionary purposes (posting spiritual thoughts and contacting amis), but it should be really cool! 

Then on Friday we organized an awesome branch activity where we played games with everyone (bowling, made people eat donuts off strings, etc) so we could invite amis and get to know the members and they all had an awesome time. I love my branch already! 

On Sunday Elder Shirley gave a killer talk, but none of our amis ended up showing... Hopefully next week though :) 

Today we got to spend time with the sœurs in Perpignan, who were here for their legality stuff, which was a blast! We checked out a sweet cathedral and got some lunch. 

Anywho, gotta go but I love y'all tons! 
Gros bisous ! 
Elder Suisse 

I forgot! Crazy story for the week! I had a freaky/ended-up-being-kind-of-cool thing happen the other day! There's this super odd older less active lady in our branch named Aimée, and she has tons of issues. Like, she texts us all the time saying she's being attacked by demons, and asks us for blessings like three times a week. So then the branch president told us she's actually on like eight different drugs and is supposed to be in a mental institution and that he doesn't feel comfortable with us seeing her until she gets some professional help. She seemed super nice, just kind of weird when we talked to her before, so we didn't really believe him. But when she texted us Friday to come visit, we didn't respond, and like two days later we got a text full of french cuss words and really vile, passive agressive stuff from her. So long story short we were super confused and mad, and were thinking about just going over to her house to confront her and get her to talk to the branch pres about her problems, but then we were praying about it, and in the middle of the prayer I suddenly realized that "Aimée" means "loved" in French, and I had this feeling like "whatever you do about the situation, remember she's loved by Someone." Anywho, we're still going to try to get her to a mental hospital, but it was a pretty cool experience. 

Okay love you guys have a good week!

Little French and Romanian kids eating donuts with their faces
Us eating donuts with our faces
Cool alley in Béziers with umbrellas hanging all of the place
Sick organ in the cathedral 
The sisters doing some door to door

Wake Up Béziers! 8/21/17

Salut tout le monde ! 
Hello from the Mediterranean! This week was fantastic and so fun and so spiritual! Also so hot! It's finally cooling down, but we still have five fans going full time around our apartment. We also have this giant bottle of water that we freeze and put in front of the fans during the night to get the room almost down to room temperature. So good (; 

Anywho, what all did we do this week? Good question! We've been so busy, it's all kind of a blur! We only had one Ami when I arrived, so we contacted a lot this week in this super cool park with all these awesome statues of famous people. Elder Shirley tells me it was made in the early 1800s, so that's cool. We've had one or two rendezvous with members, and I love these people already! I'll do a little sum up of our branch in just a sec. Oh yeah! We almost visited the Mediterranean the other day with the Klemasz couple. It's in our secteur, and we had a rendezvous less than five minutes from it, but there were so many people, and we didn't have time. Next time though :) we also had some elders come here to work on legal stuff, so we got to do an exchange, which was fun. Most of the time though, we have so many rendezvous we're rarely in our apartment! 

Sunday was so good! It was my first Sunday ever in a branch! So different than a ward, but so cool! Everyone was so nice and friendly! I got to give my testimony, and even though there were no more than thirty faces looking back at me, every one of them was smiling! 

Some of the members I've met so far:
Patrick - deaf guy and incredible cook who really should be translated by now. Literally so much faith. 
Steve - our DMB (branch mission leader) who comes from Haiti and speaks English and French and works as a radio announcer 
Carlito - cool guy who just got back this week from his mission in Tahiti. Super psyched to help us with lessons! 
Les familles Matai et Tomescu- Two Romanian families. French is hard to understand, but idk if I've ever felt so much love from one group of people. The Matais came in Sunday with their family of six, and every one of them hugged me when I tried to give them a handshake. Love them already! 
And so many babies! Like, it was kind of hard to focus in sacrament because they were so cute. There was one African baby and one French baby sitting in front of us just speaking gibberish to each other and laughing the whole time. 

So one of the most wonderful parts of our beautiful Béziers is the Klemasz couple! They're our awesome missionary couple who live here and with whom we work almost every day. They've been here for one transfer but we're gone for most of it, so they're about as new as me. They're from Australia and are both converts to the church. Their job is to train the leadership here and to help us with the work. They definitely spoil us. They had things to do in Switzerland the other week, and they brought us back so much Swiss chocolate! Soeur Klemasz is basically my second mom or grandma or something. She's an awesome cook who speaks a tiny bit of French, and so nice. Elder Klemasz is the coolest dude! He used to fish for sharks all the time, and was a stake president in Australia before coming out here on a mission. He provides an awesome mixture of spiritual wisdom and super lame dad jokes. Example: today Soeur Klemasz said something and Elder K yelled "surely you can't be serious!" and elbowed Elder Shirley in the side (get it? Shirley, surely?) Anywho, naturally we're best friends. Neither of them really speak French, so lately we've been going over there about once a day to help translate for branch members they're training. 

So we have an alarm on our phone that's just this dude singing "wake up Béziers!" Sister Klemasz heard it and thought it was super funny, so now every time there's a miracle (which is often if you just keep your eyes open), all four of us shout "wake up Béziers" and wave our hands in the air. Honestly, I'm so excited and happy to be here and to help wake up Béziers. I've also started to realize how essential faith is! This week we've found two new amis, and I know if we keep giving God the chance to work through us, we'll see miracles! Keep up the prayers you guys, we need them :) 

Anywho, what else is new?
-I bought a couple new short sleeve shirts for this weather, and I'm happy to say the initial sunburn has finally faded! I'm finally starting to tan! 
-We don't have a car, and I definitely miss that. Thankfully the Klemasz couple does, so we did groceries with them today. Hallelujah!
-I haven't had to pull out Google translate since I got here!
-I solved a Rubik's cube for the first time ever!
-Elder Shirley has been teaching me to play the guitar. Goal is to be tan and able to play a couple songs on the guitar in a couple transfers. Well see how that goes.
- The Klemasz couple has rubbed off on me. I've started saying "rubbish" in place of "garbage" and "chips" instead of "fries"

Anyways, awesome week, it's awesome here. Spiritual thought for the week comes from a picture that someone gave me (I think it was Elder Laney? I can't remember, sorry Papa Laney). Anywho, I'll send it with this email. I made it the background on my tablet. It's a painting of the Savior reaching down into the water towards us, with a smile on his face. This week I've thought a lot about my Savior and how he can reach us NO MATTER how far we've sunk. He's sunk lower than us all. I love him with all my heart and I'm so grateful for everything he did and does for me and my family. I also realized that, as members, or job is to reach down and help our brothers and sisters rise. That's why we're here as missionaries! We help people realize there's a way out of that water, and the look on their face when they realize how sweet that air tastes is the most wonderful thing. I'm so glad for the opportunity I have for the next two years to be the representative of my Savior, ready to grasp someone's hand and guide them out of that water. I can't help but draw a parallel to baptism. I love being a missionary. It's hard sometimes. People can be really really mean, and it's definitely not always fun. But it's so worth it to find that one! Christ did everything for us and would do it again in a heartbeat. It's the least we can do to open our mouths :) 

Love you all so much
Gros bisous ! 
Elder Suisse 

Christ reaching for Peter 
Cool super-old fountain thing in a park
Freaky statue. I think it's the devil? Idk, it's weird. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Bienvenue à Béziers! Welcome to Beziers!

Salut !
Holy cow, crazy week ! First off, we got transfer calls on Friday! I'm currently writing this from our wonderful little chapel here in Béziers! It's in the south of France, right next to the Mediterranean Sea. The south is so crazy! It's really really hot and humid, and the accent is not at all what I'm used to. Imagine moving from Washington down to somewhere sketchy in Southern California. That's pretty much what happened. I love it so much though! I really miss Dijon, but I'm so excited to see what the Lord has planned for me here in Béziers! 

I'll run over everything that happened real quick:
This week was filled with awesome rendezvous with members and some pretty cool miracles. We went to Besançon for one last exchange with Elder Moss (he's officially finished his mission!) which was a blast. 
I gave a talk Sunday (first one totally in French) with the subject "j'irai où tu veux" (I'll go where you want me to go), which was especially appropriate considering our transfer calls had been that Friday! Anywho, after church I had to say goodbye to all of the Dijon members I love so much. So very grateful for everything they've taught me the last six months. I'll love them forever :) I love my bleuville! 

Monday morning I drove myself and Elder Moss with all of our bags to Lyon, where I dropped him off and picked up Elder Trapani (awesome Italian guy who I think I've mentioned in past emails? He was moving from Renens, Switzerland to Limoges, France) and we drove three hours to Montpellier. It was crazy to see the landscape change as we went further south! And so nice to see the sea! In Montpellier we gave the car to some other elders (Au revoir, ma belle voiture. Six months and over 17,000 kilometers...) and I met my new comp, Elder Shirley ! We served right next to each other when he was in Besançon, so we're actually really good friends already - so excited to serve with him!

Anywho, we took a train from Montpellier to Béziers, and I had my first real encounter with a southerner! This shirtless drunk man started yelling at us in French to stop speaking American and start speaking French "ou Arab. C'est meilleur." He was too out of it to be a real problem and he definitely wasn't the first person to shout at me on the mish. Best part was when we were trying to get all my bags off the train. This nice lady, who'd been trying not to laugh the whole time he was shouting at us, smiles and says "bienvenue quand même," and laughs and gets off the train. Bienvenue à Béziers ! 

Besides the heat and the insane accent (example:
-English: Do you want some bread? 
No thank you, it's good
-Normal French: Vous voulez du pain ? 
No merci, c'est bien
-Southern French: Vous voulez du PANG ? 
No merci, c'est BEEANG) 
, I love this place. The apartment is nice, the city is beautiful, Elder Shirley is the greatest, and we have a senior couple here who we work with (Elder and Sister Klemasz. They're Australian.) Right now is "La Feria," a Spanish-influenced fair with bull fights, dancing and parties. All things we can't go to as missionaries. It started on Thursday, ends tonight, goes til like 4 am every morning, and means we are advised to stay out of centre-ville due to large crowds and large amounts of alcohol, so I've been mostly unpacking and stuff. I haven't met any amis yet and only one member, but I've heard lots of good things and I'm super excited to see what the Lord has planned for me here! 

Okay, I think that's everything for now! 
Love you guys! 
Gros bisous ! 
Elder Suisse 

Zone Conference two weeks ago
Me and the crew (Elder Moss, Elder trapani and Soeur Yee On- My favorite people!) 
An insanely expensive watch
Our "How to use Facebook" fireside 
Me with the Nizets
One last pic with Poe and Tatiana 
La Famille Serrano 
La Famille Casagrande 
Pics part 2:
Frere Bassi
Me and Trapani - Road trip
Palm trees - We're not in Dijon anymore
The sea
A cool mall
La Famille Gaillard
Our new chapel - a remodeled home

Monday, August 7, 2017

Zone Conference and S'mores!

This week was pretty great! I remembered to bring my journal with me today, so I should be able to remember a few things this week! 
First off, I love Dijon! It's starting to sink in that transfer calls are this Friday, and I'll probably be leaving my wonderful bleu-ville! I just love the members here so much, and the ville is beautiful, and it's just so awesome! But I'm also super excited to see some more of France or Switzerland, and meet some new people, so it's chill. 
Highlights of this week included:
Two awesome rendezvous with our new ami, Katinia. She's the almost-nine-year-old daughter of a less-active Samoan family, and we're hoping her progression has a good effect on them! Every time we teach a lesson, her job is to teach it to her family for family night, and it's honestly the awesomest thing! We also had a great rendezvous with our other new ami, Gloire! He's from the Congo and speaks French and Lingala (idk how to spell it), and he's super chill. Hopefully he keeps progressing this week. 
We ate s'mores on Tuesday with a family in our ward. I have not been able to find marshmallows ANYWHERE, but apparently Haribo makes them, so that was good to know. Not exactly the same as the U.S., but a good effort and a nice reminder of home. Speaking of food, I decided I wanted to eat healthier (I'm worried that all the cheese and chocolate will start adding up), so today when we were shopping, I bought a bunch of fruits and stuff, and I was going to buy cucumbers and stuff, but guess what?! Ranch dressing is not a thing here! So that was a big disappointment. On the bright side, pistachios are super cheap, so that was nice to find out. 
We've had pretty crazy weather this week. It's either like 40° C and humid and awful, or it's pouring rain and lightning, so that's been cool. I'm still counting my blessings that I got to serve up north during the summer!
On Friday we had zone conference! Always so much fun! President brought this giant sword for part of his presentation on how Facebook will be a double-edged weapon, helpful but potentially dangerous, so that was interesting. We also got to hear the departing testimonies from three of our awesome missionaries, including Elder Moss, who's been in Besançon since I entered the mission. I literally love our zone so much! Everyone is so great! Go Lausanne! 
Today we decided to do the full official tour of Dijon for my possibly last p-day here. We stopped in a couple of museums and got very sunburned walking around. I'm gonna miss this place, but I'm excited :)
Spiritual thought this week comes from some thoughts shared by our awesome members this fast and testimony meeting. First off was a couple with a daughter out on a mission who talked about missionary work and how they are happy to make the sacrifice of not having their child with them for a while, because they've seen the joy that the gospel brings to their life, and know it has to be shared. Then an older sister gave an awesome testimony about the Atonement. She made the observation that, as hard as the physical pain involved was, the mental and emotional agony had to have been worse. A perfect Being willingly took sin, something totally opposite to everything he was, upon himself for us. So grateful for Him and everything He's done for me. I get to live with my family forever, and all it takes is my best effort, as imperfect as that is. I love this gospel you guys. We are so blessed! Love you all, thank you for your prayers and keep being great!

Je vous aime!
Elder Suisse

A cow in one of the paintings at the museum. Couldn't resist taking a picture.
Awesome sunset in Besançon
Cool buildings in centre ville
Giant swords in one of the museums. Literally taller than me.
More cool buildings. Dijon might not have an ocean, or mountains, or any cool hikes, or even a Burger King, but we have a lot of cool buildings.