Bonjour ma famille et mes amis!!!!
Oh my goodness I have so much to tell y'all! So obviously, my P-day is on Tuesdays, and I'll be emailing around this time every week, and I get an hour. I'll also be writing y'all letters today as well. So look out for those! Thank you to everyone who sent me letters/emails this past week! Also, tell the Heberts thank you for the package they sent! I wish I had time to write everyone individually and thank them. My district gets discouraged because I have the highest mail average so they roll their eyes when they see something else addressed to me. haha
Where to start...so. The first day. WOW. That was probably the craziest day of my life thus far. When you get to the MTC, they literally drop you off and the next thing you know, you're going through like 10 different stations in the matter of 5 minutes. It was literally an obstacle course...they direct you all over to register and get your tag and your packet and all that stuff. Then your host takes you to your room, you drop off your stuff, and then you're off to class.
So, I got to class and my teacher, Frere Meyers, (he served in Paris) started spouting off to me in French. There were a couple of elders and one other sister in the room and luckily they directed me that he was trying to tell me to follow him to the computer lab to go watch an orientation. So I did that, and then I went back to the room and the sister that was in there, Soeur Bardsley, (one of the ones I had already befriended on facebook), was introduced to me as my companion.
The rest of the missionaries started trickling in the next 30 minutes or so. So our district consists of 3 pairs of elders, (2 pairs are going to Lyon, 1 pair to Paris) and 1 other pair of sisters (they're going to Paris). My companion is also going to Lyon.
My district is so great!! They are such hard workers, but they always keep everything entertaining as well. The crazy part is that every single missionary in my district has taken French in high school, except for one elder, bless his heart. So, the district has caught on to French really fast, myself included, since I took it in school too, even though it was a long time ago, it's all starting to come back. The real kicker is that my companion is half French-Canadian and lived in Montreal for a while. She's not quite fluent in French, but she is about at the level of a missionary who has been out for about 6-10 months probably. So, needless to say that was really humbling at first. Here I was sitting in class picking up on my teacher's words maybe once every minute or so, and she understood perfectly what he was saying. It's definitely been a great lesson in teaching me how to not compare myself to others and to appreciate others strengths and love them for it and not be jealous of them for it. She is very, very different from me, but I have so much fun getting to know her. She is exactly the kind of companion I needed.
So, the 4 of us sisters live together in our room which is actually really, really nice. We have plenty of room and I looooooovee these sisters. One is from Georgia (Soeur Tippett), so we have a good time talking about the South together. The other is from California (Soeur Hopkins). My companion is from Mapleton, but like I said she lived in Canada for a while. We all get along great.
So let's see. I'm going to look through my journal so I can remember what to write y'all. I'll tell you about the MTC itself. We get up at 6:30, (more like 6:20 because we need more time to get ready in the morning), then breakfast at 7:30ish, then personal study, companion study, language study, then lunch. Then we have 4 hours of class with our teacher. Then we have dinner at 4:30 (that takes some getting used to) and then we have more study time. Then we usually teach our "investigator", Bridgitt that evening. Then we go play sports outside, then at 9:15 we're back inside preparing for bed, writing in journals, and studying some more. Then at 10:30 it's lights out. I can't really explain it, because the days are long, yet somehow at the end of the day I'm like wow, that went fast. I can't believe tomorrow has already been 1 week. Yet somehow I feel like I've been here for a month already. We finally know our way around which is awesome, because we spent the first couple days getting very lost, which is nothing out of the ordinary for me as you well know. :) The food here is pretty good, there's lots of variety. But it's pretty dry and sometimes flavorless. I still eat it anyways though!
French has been coming along. At the end of the day, I just have a constant slew of French running through my brain. The gift of tongues is quite amazing. So like I mentioned earlier, we have a mock investigator named Bridgitt. She's French. So we practice teaching her the lessons just how we would in the field. The first time we did it was on Friday night. WOW. I walked out of that room like a deer in the headlights, because I hardly knew what we being said. Thankfully Soeur Bardsley was able to communicate with her. I stuck to my notes the whole time basically. Then we taught her again on Saturday night, and I looked at my notes a little less, but it was still hard. Then Sunday came. Sundays here are AWESOME! My companion and I had to go to some early morning meetings because we're the Sister Training Leaders for our zone, but after that we had a Mission Conference with the entire MTC. They do that only on fast Sundays. That was incredible, and for me, that's when my mission really started. The speakers said so many poignant things and I finally realized the real purpose of being a missionary I think. One speaker said, "You have 18 months to serve your mission, but eternity to remember it. Have no regrets." That hit me so hard. I realized that everything I do in the next 18 months will be with me forever. I was like...ok, it's go time. I had a whole new perception of the work after that. Before then, I had just been kind of going through the motions. But I decided I wanted to dedicate every second to somehow becoming a better missionary. I think it also helped that I was fasting. It was a 24-hour fast, which I was really dreading at first. The awesome part though, is that I literally did not feel hungry once until literally the minute that the 24 hour mark hit. That was really awesome.
So, after that I really started to work my butt of. And it paid off, because last night as my companion and I taught Bridgitt, we had an amazing experience. We made it our goal to prepare enough throughout the day so that we wouldn't have to use our notes during the lesson. So, we did just that. My companion also wanted me to do most of the talking. So, I pretty much gave the lesson, except for a few parts which my companion gave. It was incredible though because it was the first time we had the spirit in our lesson. We weren't scrambling through our notes, we weren't stressing about remembering words, we weren't trying to deliver memorized words, we plainly were trying to teach from the spirit. So, I don't know how, but somehow I bore my testimony to Bridgitt and taught her about the Atonement. I told her that God loves her and she's His daughter. At that moment she started crying, like actually sincerely crying. Then my companion started crying, so then I started crying. haha. My companion just looked at me and she gave me the "I knew you could do it" look. We both soon realized what had been missing from our lessons, and realized the true importance of having the spirit in the lesson. I understood most of what Bridgitt said back, but my companion did still have to translate quite a bit. It was incredible though because as I looked into Bridgitt's eyes and told her that God loves her, I felt so much love for her. And then I felt so much love for the people I'll meet in France. A huge rush of love and excitement washed over me and I literally can't imagine a better feeling then telling my friends in France what I told Bridgitt. It filled me with so much happiness, a kind I had never felt before.
Ok, time for the funny stuff. So in French, there are a lot of words that are very close to each other. So, I was trying to role play with Soeur Bardsley and tell her that God forgives us of our sins--peche. (it has an accent on the e's but I can't figure out how to do it on this computer). However, I told her that God forgives us of our peaches (peche without the inflections from the accent). We had a good laugh.
The second thing was that when I was teaching Bridgitt about baptism, she said she was raised Catholic and already was baptized as a baby. We hadn't prepared for this answer, but a scripture came to mind in Moroni chapter 8. I directed her to that and the first line said how infant baptism was a perverse abomination to God. I forgot how bold that scripture was...so Bridgitt just bursted out laughing and was like WOW! No need to sugar coat it! haha. She was a good sport.
The next thing is that now that the ages of elders and sisters is very close, there is soooo much flirting that goes on here. I've had a few elders ask for my e-mail address here, and I'm like elders, your'e on a mission! haha.
So, side-note stuff. Tell Jacqueline I said Happy 19th Birthday!!! I hope her and Liesel are having fun preparing, and tell them there is NOTHING to be nervous about. It's great and they'll love it and I'm so excited for them. Also, tell Dana and Dwain I met an Elder Anderson here that knows them. I also saw Tyler on Sunday, we accidentally almost hugged. haha Also, my companion left to San Francisco today to do the visa stuff, so I'm in a trio right now, and I don't know when I'll do my visa stuff. Also dad, we have a scale here to weigh suitcases, so I'll work on lightening the load.
I'm going to try to send y'all pics, but I'm going to have to go try on another computer, it doesn't work on this one.
I love you all so much! Thank you for your prayers, I really do feel so much strength from them. I love this work and I'm so grateful that I'm here. Talk to you next week!