Monday, January 31, 2011

Week 16: There and Back Again, A Transfer Tale

February second will be the last day of my first transfer, I cannot believe one is gone already. The older missionaries keep telling me that it only gets faster, which just blows my mind, I already feel like time is in hyperdrive mode.

Last p-day we had a rendez-vous with Annie and Nawang, I think there was a miscommunication about
the time because they said they had been waiting for us for a long time and we thought we were on time. Naawang wasn't there again but there was a Buddist monk there. After lunch of a noodle dish with beef and wavy mushrooms we tried to review the Godhead and continue on to the Plan of Salvation. The monk spoke very good English and we were excited because he translated the scripture we shared with them into Tibetan for Annie. But then he started talking and about how Buddah and Jesus were the same. I think he knew who we were and was a bit angry that we were talking to nuns. We were already unsure about continuing to teach them because we are pretty sure that while they like Jesus and his teachings they aren't going to give up Buddism, since they are nuns and there are a lot of things lost in translation. So, it was a bit of a dishartening meeting, and it ended a little awkwardly. After the rendez-vous we went shopping at the mall. I finally got me a pair of winter boots. I am a fan of Soldes, the boots were originally 99 Euros ans I got them for 50, woohoo. They are black and nice and warm.

Tuesday we went on exchanges. Sister exchanges are a little different than exchanges for the Elders, because there are so many fewer sometimes travel is involved. We were paired with the sisters in Liege, Belgium. So, Tuesday morning bright and early we went into Paris hopped on a train and headed to Belgium. It was my first real train ride ever, and it was so beautiful. It was still a bit foggy, so cute farms and French towns would appear suddenly, it was a bit magical. Everything you would imagine a French countryside to be. Except for a castle, I was hoping to see one but no such luck, ah well. Our train was having some sort of problem so we had to make a stop in Lille for half an hour to fix something, so we missed our connecting train from Brussels to Liege. It wasn't a problem except that our cell phone is country blocked, meaning it doesn't work at all in Belgium. So we borrowed a cell phone from a very nice man who was sitting next to us to call the sisters in Liege to tell them we were going to be late. When we finally got to Liege we dropped our things off in the apartment and went to get lunch, it only takes 2 and a half hours to get from Paris to Liege. We had bagette sandwiches and Belgian waffles.

I will now take a moment to try to derscribe to you the glory of a Liege gaufre. They look like the kind of Belgian waffle you find anywhere but when you take a bite you are transported to another world. They are warm, I got a chocolate one, meaning they stick little sticks of chocolate into the waffle and when you take a bite it is melty and crunchy and happiness. Soeur Pobst had three and I had two. She said that this was the only time that she had ever been sad she would never get to serve in Liege. The waffles would be worth it. We then went and bought Chocolate, real legit fancy Belgian chocolate. And Belgians like dark chocolate too. I wish  you all could experience it with me.

After this we split up.  I went with Soeur England and Soeur Pobst went with Soeur Williams. Soeur Williams was in  the MTC with me it was so fun to see her. Soeur England and  I went to a member's house, Christian, she called them earlier that day to say she had fallen down the stairs and that she wanted someone to stay with her until the doctor came. When we got there the doctor was already there and we ended up going to fill her prescription. It was an interesting visit. After Chris we met back up with the other two and went to a less active members house. However she was sick so we called the Elders to come and give her a blessing which they did and then we left so she could sleep. We went back to the apartment and they made us the most wonderful macaroni and cheese I have ever eaten and we just talked. Soeur Pobst and Soeur England were companions for one transfer so they had lots to talk about and Soeur Williams and I talked too. It was so good. The next morning we hopped on a train back to Paris.

On Thursday we taught two lessons one with Nicolyn and the other with Fatilha. We brought Marianne Mcgee, one of the most amazing sisters I have ever met, and the lesson was good except that Nicolyn isn't ready to change her life. She wants answers but isn't prepared to follow the ones she gets. It is hard to see, and I hope we will be able to help her. The lesson with Fatilha went well also, I think. Ines is Fatilha's 14 month old daughter who is very distracting, so, Soeur Pobst taught the lesson I and distracted Ines. So I didn't catch most of what was going on, but it was so great because the whole family, mom dad and son were reading the Book of Mormon together and talking about it. It made me so happy to see them like that. I want them to realise how good their life can be! So, I don't know if they got anything out of the lesson but I did, it makes me want to work even harder to help families find the happiness that I have with mine.

Saturday morning the transfer email came out telling everyone where everyone is going for the next transfer. Normally as a new missionary you stay in the same area with the same trainer for 2 transfers. Soeur Pobst and I had at first had a hard time and thought that a second transfer together wouldn't be the best, but since exchanges things between us have changed. I think we were both really excited to do a second transfer together, especially as it is Soeur Pobst's last one. But as we looked at the list my  name wasn't next to hers, Soeur Edgerly's was. So then we searched for my name. We found it, I am moving to Liege Belgium to be in a threesome with Soeur England and Soeur Williams. Soeur Pobst was rather distressed and she actually called President Staheli because they had talked a few days earlier and she had thought that we would be staying together. He told her that it is because there are so many sisters that are going home in the next 2 transfers that he is preparing for when they are gone. All the sisters that are training right now will be "dying" this next transfer. So, in March, in my third transfer, I will be co-companions with Soeur Williams and we will be in charge of Liege together. I am slightly terrified, but excited for the adventure. It will definitely be a learning experience.

I am a little overwhelmed but very excited, I have learned a lot here in Evry and  I will be sad to leave, but new adventures and people await me Belgium so off I go! I am already finding ways that being a missionary is changing me for the better and changing my future. This truly is a marvelous work and a wonder.

Love always,
Soeur Gaelin Turney

Monday, January 24, 2011

Week 15: I am Legal Now, Woo Hoo!

Howdy everybody,

So the craziness never ends, I don't think I realised before I left all the unexpected things that happen to missionaries. Surprise! It is hard to believe that I am in the last week of my first transfer and that I have been in France for a month and three days, oy, time flies.

Anyway, last Monday wasn't terribly exciting as far as sightseeing goes, Soeur Pobst had a doctor's appointment at the infamous American Hospital. It is where missionaries go to get medical treatment and while it is a terrifying experience it is supposedly better than French Hospitals. Soeur Pobst was diagnosed with, and I quote "pain" and given pain killers. She was not pleased, but the medicine is working, and her back is feeling better. 

We had two Visitor's Center shifts this week the first was really good the second was ridiculous and I am still not really sure what happened. We covered the Paris sister's shift because Soeur Rowly was sick on Tuesday. We had a girl come whose brother was baptized a year ago. She said that she has seen a huge change in him and that he is so happy. She was visiting Paris and her brother told her to go see the missionary who baptized him. He went to institute and she came into the center to wait for him. She said wants to meet with the missionaries and learn more. She hadn't before because there are only Elders in her city and she wasn't sure if she could meet with them. She and Soeur Pobst talked for about and hour, there was a member that came in that I talked to for a bit but it was really good. 

Wednesday started out with shining promise. Soeur Pobst had a really good contact on the way into Paris for our shift of Visitor's Center. We go out contacting for the first 2 hours, we've never really done any contacting so we had a good talk about contacting and did some practices and one actual contact. It sounds kind of lame as I write it, but it was a really good experience. I also had my first patisserie, it was called a joyeux, translated it is called "Joy", and it did in fact bring joy to my soul. I forgot my camera but I will hopefully have a picture next week. It was chocolaty and delicious. Then we went back to the visitor's center and and the day exploded. Let it suffice it to say that there were several very loud and angry exchanges between one of the other sisters and a member in the center and one with an ami which if Soeur Pobst had not intervened would probably ended up with the Sister punching the kid, who was 17 and trying to apologize for an earlier argument. The other sisters went home, and things were starting to not be tense when an old man with 7 teeth a Russian hat and what looked like grandma Mop's fur coat came into the center and started talking to the Christ statue. We approached cautiously and he smiled at us and said "Incroyable! Premiere droite, duexieme à gauche." He told us that a voice had told him to take the first right and the second left and there was the visitor center and the Jesus statue. He looked at a couple paintings and we played the sound track that reads a couple of scriptures with Christ talking. He smiled and nodded a lot. Then he crossed himself touched the foot of the Jesus statue and left, saying "Premiere droite deuxieme à gauche incroyable!" Soeur Pobst and I just looked at each other speechless. It was one of the bizarre-est hours of my life. But our wonderful zone leaders, who have the shift after ours, brought us McFlurries, and that comforted our souls a good deal. 

I had my French legality appointment this last Friday. It was in a city called Creteil which from Evry is 2 RER train rides and 2 bus rides, and would take at least 2 hours. My appointment was scheduled for 8:30 am and we were not excited about the trip. So, we arranged to stay in the Paris Sisters' apartment, and by so doing cut out about an hours worth of travel. There are 4 sisters living there already so it was a bit squishy but fun. I was in the MTC with 2 of them, so it was nice to catch up and see familiar faces. The appointment was really a medical visit to make sure I am not bring any diseases into the country or some such nonsense. I now have an x-ray of my chest, which I  am tempted to hang on the wall, but won't, maybe when I get home... They weighed measured took my blood checked my vision and my breathing and said that there was nothing seriously wrong with me and sent me out to the receptionist. To pay for the appointment you have to have bought a special kind of stamp, I am not really sure about them, but they look about the same as normal postage stamps, except they were worth 340 Euros. They then pasted a yellow thing inside my passport that means I have been deemed fit to stay in the country and can now get into museums and monuments for freeeee! I am excited.

On Friday night we had a good lesson with Yué. We sang Souvien-Toi, it is a hymn that is only in the French hymn book and it is so beautiful. It is like Heavenly Father is talking to us about remembering our relationship and returning back to him. The last line says something along the lines of "remember that we promised through love and faith we will be reunited again on day." We talked about faith and the things that we promised to do, like going to church, that will help is keep that promise we made to our Heavenly Father. It was so good, and she committed to read and pray and make a greater effort to come to church, yay! 

We have exchanges this week, we are going to Liege, Belgium for our exchange, I am so excited. We are leaving tomorrow morning and will be back Wednesday afternoon. Everyone says Leige is one of the most beautiful parts of the mission and they have the best waffles, I can hardly wait. 

Much love always,

Soeur Gaelin Turney

Monday, January 17, 2011

Week 14: I Know Where Nicholas Flamel Lives!

am not really sure where to begin this week was crazy!! I suppose starting at the beginning would be the most logical...

So, last Monday we went to Paris to celebrate Soeur Pobst's birthday. A group of 9 missionaries went to Angelina's for hot chocolate and patisseries. It was rather expensive so Souer McClaine and I shared, she bought the hot chocolate and I bought an Afrique Chocolat; I am not entirely sure what it was, but it tasted good; It was almost like dark chocolate truffle filling covered in a ganache.  Then we all went to the Arc de Triomphe, on the way we stopped at McDo (also know as McDonalds) to use the bathroom and because tiny pastries weren't sufficient for several members of the group. The Arc de Triomphe is a lot bigger than I thought it was. I got to sit down and draw a little bit, it was so nice. I realized later that the only picture I took with my camera was a weird side one of the statues I was drawing... I figure I can get a postcard that will have a real picture on it. 

Tuesday we had our manger-vous (a little missionary play on words, "manger" is "to eat" and so a rendez-vous were the people feed you is a manger-vous, oh yeah!)  We got there and Annie and Nawang were still cooking, so Souer Pobst and I sat in their living room and talked while they finished, because in France it is sort of offensive if you offer to help, still getting used to that. For appetizers we had tea, in large quantities, peanuts, chips, and some very tasty chocolate. We then had a mushroom spinach egg drop soup that was really good, then we had a lot of salad and momo, a traditional Tibetan food that are very similar to potstickers. They were delicious, but they made about 60 of them for the 4 of us, and kept piling them on our plates no matter how slowly we ate. Then for dessert we were given a half of a canned peach with a cherry in the pit indentation. Annie told us how it is good luck and will help us have children. Which we were grateful for but felt it a little preemptive. Nawang had to leave for work before we started the lesson, but we had a good lesson with Annie. We taught her about the Godhead and that there are many different churches that belong to the "Jesus traditional" but that we all believe slightly different things. She really liked our understanding of the Holy Ghost. Annie knows a lot of Catholic people, some of which I think are nuns, and  I think that she was confused about the Trinity and how Jesus could be inside her. So, when we explained that Jesus has a body and that it is the Holy Ghost that she is feeling, she liked that and it made sense to her. Tomorrow we are going to teach the Plan of Salvation. Towards the end of our lesson, we asked how she and Nawang had met, because she said that they weren't sisters. She said they met in a convent in Tibet and have lived together in India as well. Soeur Pobst asked, "Annie, are you a nun?" The reply was yes, both she and Nawang are Buddhist nuns. Soeur Pobst and I looked at each other and the question that crossed both our minds was, are we allowed to teach nuns? As far as we can tell there aren't any rules about it and they are really excited to learn more, so we are going to keep teaching them. 

Wednesday we had our shift at the Visitor’s Center. I can't remember if I have said anything about it, so a brief summary: the Visitor’s Center is the first small Visitor’s Center ever that is not at a temple or historic site but serves the same purpose, a place to let people know more about our beliefs. All the missionaries around the Paris area have weekly shifts, ours is on Wednesdays from 12-4. The Visitor’s Center is in Paris in the same place as the chapel and institute. End of commentary. So, we had our Visitor’s Center shift in which no one at all came in, except 2 gypsy girls who wanted money. Half the shift is spent in the center and half is spent outside contacting. In our wanderings during our contacting we stumbled upon the Rue Nicolas d Flamel. So, cool, Harry Potter is real!!  Afterwards we went to the city of Melun to do and exchange with the sisters there. They are in a threesome and Souer McClaine was really sick and they had some rendez-vous they did not want to cancel. Soeur Pobst's back is still bad so she stayed in and I went out with them. When we got back we realized that there weren’t any more trains that would take us back to Evry, so we had a sleep over in Melun. Which we really aren't supposed to do, and that we had been joking about earlier in the day and then it really happened, very ironic. We then had to go to district meeting in the same smelly clothes we wore the day before, but we survived. Lunch at district meeting was crepes, I like crepes a lot. 

The last exciting thing that happened this week is that I gave a talk in church this last Sunday, as did Elder Livingston, the other new missionary. The meeting was as follows: a 7 year old girl gave the first talk, then I gave my garbled message, the primary sang a song, Elder Livingston gave his talk, Soeur Pobst was supposed to give a talk too, but as she got up to the stand the Bishop pulled her aside and asked that she just bear her testimony so the High Councilman could have a full 15 minutes for his talk. When I planned my talk it had a point, but when I gave it I have no idea where I was going, I hope everyone will write it off as poor language skills as opposed to a lack of preparation on my part. At least I won't have to do it again for a while and I can improve my French in the meantime. Side note: stake conference is March 13th and the Teixeiras are coming, he is one of the Area Seventies for France cool, huh! 

Thank you for your letters and prayers! Much love,

Soeur Gaelin Turney

Monday, January 10, 2011

Week 13: So, Does Anyone Know Tibetan?

Hello all and happy Monday,

So, last P-day we went to Paris and visited the Church of the Madeline, it was so beautiful and peaceful there. The woodwork and skill that went into making the walls and the hand rails and everything is so amazing, I think it was the first Cathedral that I have ever really been in. I could see the love for God that went into building the church but as I walked through it it made me sad because there was very little reference to Christ at all. I only saw three tiny Jesus statues in the whole Cathedral. The building was beautiful but they miss the point. I am so glad for the knowledge I have of Jesus Christ and that  I can have a relationship with him and that he is my friend.

After going to the Church of the Madeline we wandered around Paris, we ended up in the really posh part of town, where the Dior and Chanel and Prada stores are, it was strange to look through the windows at clothing that probably cost more than I have ever made in my whole life total. We also walked down the Champs-Élysées, it was so pretty with all the Christmas lights. I love Paris, it seems like every time I turn around there is something else old and famous to see.

Wednesday we had a lesson with Nawang, she is from Tibet and speaks a little English and even less French, but seems very interested in learning more about the Jesus book. It was our second lesson, the first was held in a train station due to a miscommunication. But this one was at her house, she lives with another Tibetan woman, Annie. Annie speaks French pretty well as well as English so it is good that she is there. Our lesson was about Jesus Christ and his life, the goal was to help them understand that difference between Jesus Christ and Buddha, I am not sure it was really understood. They are really open and seem to really want to learn. Annie said that she likes Buddha, but that the Jesus tradition is more international than Buddha. Most of the things we taught about Jesus they related back to Buddha and the Dali Lama. We shall see, I think it is going to be a very slow process with them, but I am excited to have new people to teach. We are going back Tuesday and they are feeding us a traditional Tibetan meal, I am excited and a bit nervous, I have seen enough foreign films to know that it could be dangerous, but that there will probably be rice.

Soeur Pobst's birthday was this last Friday, on Thursday we had our first district meeting and had raclette and cheesecake to celebrate. Elder Han, our district leader's birthday was Wednesday so it was a party. Raclette is tasty but very heavy, I suggest not eating cheesecake right after eating Raclette. Raclette: a French dish involving potatoes and cheese and meat. There are little dishes that you melt special raclette cheese on a raclette machine, there is a griddle thing on top that you cook thin pieces of meat on. you pour the cheese and meat over potatoes and eat. Soeur Pobst has been sick this week, so we have been staying in so she can get better.  

Sometime in the afternoon our water heater started leaking. We called Elder Haas the Greffier (the title of the elder put in charge of the housing for the mission)  He arranged for a repairman to come the next day. So, we went to a lesson at Yue's house, she is so cute I love her. We taught about repentance and used the story of the Prodigal son to illustrate the steps, it was so good. However on our return to the apartment we found water streaming from our water heater and our kitchen half flooded. Now, our kitchen isn't that big, but it was still a good amount of water on the floor. I went into flood prevention and clean up mode and Soeur Pobst started making phone calls. The amount of water coming out was about the same as a slow faucet. We ended up turning off the water heater and turning on all the faucets in our house. The leak slowed to a drip by the time Elder Haas decided it was necessary for him to come out to our apartment to fix everything.They showed up about 10:30pm and were there until about 11. He found the problem which was good, a hose had come loose that the water passed through so instead of going through the hose it was pouring out onto our microwave. It was quite an adventure.

So, a little sad news, Nathaly told us Saturday that this next Friday she is moving to the north of France, to Lille. We are sad because she is our only amie that comes to church, and she is just starting to read the book of Mormon. Souer Pobst has served in Lille and knows the wards and the Elders there and so Nathaly will be in good hands. And it might be just what Nathaly needs to motivate her to get baptized.

Soeur Pobst is feeling better and we are both excited to get out and work hard this week, we have a lot planned and it will be good. We are going to Paris today to Angelina's Chocloate Place to have a birthday celebration, hot chocolate and pastries, Hooray!!!!

I love you all, thank you for all the prayers and encouragement and letters,

Soeur Gaelin Turney

Monday, January 3, 2011

Week 12: A Bonne Annee

Bonne Annee everyone!

This week was full of great adventures. We were going to go to the Louvre last week but realized we did not have any money at all, plus once I get my legality papers the Louvre is free, so why spened money I don't have right. So instead my companion agreed to wander around Paris with me. We walked around Notre Dame, but as it is the Christmas Holidays it was full of tourists so we didn't stay long. Down the road a ways and across the street was a crammed bookstore that we wandered into, it was perfect. Exactly what a bookstore ought to be, it used to be a house of some kind I think and every crevice posssible was filled with books most of which were old, it smelled wonderful. I also had my first real crepe from a street vendor, nutella filled goodness. It was hot and gooey and heavenly.

The chapel in Paris is also the Institute building and now a visitors center. We decided to take out amie Nathaly to the Institute Family Home Evening, it was fun to see how young single adult activites are pretty much the same here as they are at BYU. We are trying to get Nathaly to make friends with members her age because she is kind of clingy to the missionaries. So, we shall see, yesterday at church the mother of Brother Camille, the British family we had Christmas with, told Nathaly that she just needed to pick a date to be baptised and do it and that she doesn't need to know everything. I am not sure how Nathaly felt about that, but it is true. She is really hesitant because she wants to know for sure that the church is true, we are working with her to find faith to move forward.

On Wednesday morning  we had a first lesson with Nawang a Tibetan lady that speaks a little bit of English and a tiny bit of French, she said she wants to hear more and that she really likes Jesus, which is great. But she also related everything we said back to Buddah, so it will be interesting to see how things go. We are planning on teaching Jesus Christ as our Savior to her next. 

I met one of the less active sisters we meet with for the first time this week. Orlane is single and smokes and may or may not be on drugs at the moment. She is interesting because she knows everything that she needs to do and she knows that she is happier and her life is better when she lives the gospel, she just isn't. It was kind of amazing because from the moment we met her on Thursday I was filled with this love for her, I don't know much about her, and she has a lot of problems, but I love her. And I think that is the best place to start from.

New Years was very uneventful, starting at 6 on Friday until 6 on Saturday we had a P-day. I have a bit of a cold and so I did a lot of sleeping to try and keep it in check. We did go into Paris Saturday morning to go to a Marché (an outdoors market) but it wasn't going on, so really we spent three hours riding trains, which really is fine by me, I like looking out the window. 

I saved the best story for last. So, about Tuesday Yue, our Chinese amie who is the only one who is really progressing and working, called us and said that due to finals that are starting Today and her crazy schedule she couldn't meet with us anymore until about February, and thet she would call us when we had time. We were so sad, Soeur Pobst especially. Friday we had Zone Inverviews which involve training from President Staheli and the Assistants to the President and interviews with President and Sister Staheli. We also have lunch fed to us, this time's lunch was a bit odd, there were Boutsa Balls, which are a chinese rice bun with an unknown meat filling, shish-kabobs, clementines, potato chips, leechie fruits, and soda. Tasty but odd. Anywhat, there were a ton of the boutsa balls left over and Soeur Pobst asked if we could take them to one of our amis and they said yes. We dropped them off on the way home, Yue wasn't there but her roommate Sufang was and she was really touched that we would bring them boutsa. Yue called us Saturday and was so grateful for the boutsa. She hasn't had bousta since she has been in France, which has been about 2 years, so she was really excited. She said that she was just really stressed and that is was bad scheduling on her part, but she still wanted to meet with us and could we come tomorrow (Sunday) to see her. It was so wonderful, and huge that she  wanted to see us the day before exams started, she's Chinese, they just don't do that kind of thing! She said that when she meets with us she is happy. I am so glad that she is still going to see us. 

I love you all very much, I promise I will send pictures next time. We have a busy week planned and I am so excited! 

Soeur Gaelin Turney