Monday, February 21, 2011

Week 19: Oy, the Time Flies!

Happy Monday everyone! It is funny how I look forward to Sundays and Mondays now, and Fridays and Saturdays are just like every other day. Yesterday was four months of being on a mission, and as of today I have been in the field more days than I was in the MTC. It is a little crazy to think that I only have 14 and a half months left! Time is such a strange thing, I think I start every email out like this but it just blows my mind. It is just barely starting to sink in that I am actually in Europe, you'd think that it would have hit me sooner considering I haven't understood anyone for 2 months, but there you go.

This has been a rockin' week. Tuesday and Wednesday we went to Brussels for training. It takes about an hour by train to get to Brussels from Liege. We got a ride on Tuesday morning from Brother and Sister Skousen, the Senior couple in charge of the Jeunes Adulte centers in Liege and Brussels. There was a bus and Metro strike so the traffic was terrible. But we got to the church at the same time as President Staheli so we weren't late. Tuesday's training focused on receiving and helping our amis receive revelation through prayer and scripture study. It is a little hard for me to describe but it was amazing how powerful the spirit was. There were talks and practice teaching and movie clips from the Preach My Gospel training DVD, and President Staheli talked a lot. He is an amazing man, and Soeur Staheli is wonderful too. After the training a group of us walked to Grand Place to get gaufres, the Belgian style. It was so good; I got one that had bananas, strawberries, whipped cream and chocolate sauce on it. Belgium is a truly wonderful country where even the chocolate sauce is equivalent to American gourmet chocolate. I took a picture but I forgot my camera cord, so, picture will come next week.

Wednesday we had to be in the train station at 6:40 am, so we could get to the church by 9:30. Wednesday we learned about receiving revelation by attending church, asking inspired questions, teaching people not lessons, and inviting amis to keep commitments. I love how simple the gospel of Jesus Christ really is. Praying, reading the scripture and going to church really are how we can know what God's plan for us is. They taught us something that we can do with amis to help them come to church, and it is something that will work for you every time if you sincerely try it. Write down a question on a card that you want the answer to and if you pay attention at church you will receive an answer. It is as simple as that, it can be any kind of question really. In one of the practice teaching sessions one of the missionaries said something I really like, He said "God has blessings waiting for you and He wants to give them to you, but you have to do what He asks or He can't give them to you." I love that idea, and it makes me want to do the best I can.

Friday there was a bus strike in Leige, the buses were running but not as many, and so to avoid the uncertainty we took the train to Vervier to do some pass-bys we did a lot of walking and no one was home, but it was a very beautiful city. We take turns as to who is in charge of the phone, keys, and map book. It was Soeur Williams day for the map book, she did a wonderful job, I felt a little bad for her though, because none of us knew where we were. We passed a really cool old house that had all the features of a haunted house in a movie, including crumbly stairs and chandeliers with candles, real candles, it was a little odd but really cool. I hope my feet get used to walking on cobblestones soon, because they were tired by the end of the day. We had English class but we weren't sure if anyone would come because the buses were so weird. We waited for 45 minutes for the bus that goes to the church. Luckily Rita came, she live close to the church, I think she was a little intimidated to have 3 teachers and only one of her. After English class we asked the Skousens to give us a ride home because we had no idea when the next bus would come, if there was another bus at all. They said yes, after institute, so we got to stay for institute. The lesson was on sexuality in eternal marriage. Quite the day for the sister missionaries to stop in. It was a good lesson and I learned a lot of new vocabulary that I probably won't be needing for a while. It is a bit odd but I think a mission is the best marriage prep class I could ever have, I have already learned so much about myself and relationships and love and trust and a whole bunch of other things, I am really grateful I have this time to figure things out first.

Saturday we had Samedi Sports at the church, my first ever. We decided to play soccer. It was a little weird to ride the bus in sweat pants, its the first time I've been in public in pants since I got to Europe that it wasn't dark outside. The only other time is the 6:30 running, and that doesn't happen as often as it ought. I played goalie for most of the game, even though we weren't keeping score I am pretty sure my team won. Though Elder Weber was by far the best player on either team. The next day at church we were all waddling around like old grandma ladies. I think everyone except Elder Weber was very sore.

Sunday was a lot of fun, there was a linger longer after church, and Sister Fonicello had wanted us to go to her house to eat but instead she brought food for us at the linger longer, then we went to her house for dessert. It was really good. We gave a short spiritual thought, well, Soeur England did. She gave everyone a random object and had them relate it to the gospel somehow, and then she read Alma 30:44, which says all things denote there is a God. Because God created this whole earth everything in it has His mark on it and proves that there is a God. It made me think about artists and how everyone has there own style, and the work that they create is unique to them and you can tell who painted or drew it just by looking, all artists put a little of their personality into the art they create. I think that is the same with us. There is a bit of God in each of us because we were created by him. I like that.

Today we went to a cool museum called Le Grand Curtius, We only went to see the temporary art exhibit because it was only 2 Euros and it is the end of the month and we don't have any money. My favorite part though was the section that was about the house that the museum was in. Jean de Corte, known as Curtius (1551-1628) lived in Liege. He owned coal mines and made gunpowder and artillery for the Spanish who were fighting in the Netherlands. He was really rich and built this really big house. He eventually moved to Spain to set up weaponry factories and he brought lots of workers from Liege with him, but he died before it got really successful. The fireplaces were my favorite part, they where huge and carved all cool like. They had some of his stuff in the museum including three tapestries, they were the first real ones I have ever seen, it was really cool. I also remembered why I like going to museums by myself, I am always the slowest person, and can spend all day looking at stuff. The others always had to wait for me, ah well. We will be off to FHE soon, thank you for your prayers and love!
Le Grand Curtius, courtesy 

all my love,

Soeur Gaelin Turney

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Week 18: So I Guess Endives are a Belgian Thing

Hello and Happy Valentines Day!!!

The birthday party was a huge success, I must say that I love the movie Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration. I thought it was a good movie before my mission but now it is one of my favorite movies, granted its is one of the few I can watch but it is a good one. Elder Weber is from Germany and we asked him what his favorite dessert was, he said apple strudel, which none of us knew how to make and were pretty sure we wouldn't be able to find. So we bought an apple tarte instead. It was good, but very different from apple pies in the US.

After the party we had Family Home Evening (FHE). It is held at the church and is supposed to be for the Young Adults but it is still new and so there are some not so young adults that come too. We were in charge of the lesson and we talked about tender mercies of the Lord, we read James 5:11, Psalms 145:8-9, and 1 Nephi1:20 and read some passages from Elder Bednar's talk. It was a good reminder to look for the tender mercies that are in my life every day. It is funny that when you look for them the more there are.
Wednesday night we had dinner with  Rita, she is so good to us. We ate endives, which I found out was the base of the soup she made us last week. This time,  there was an endive salad, uncooked endives in something that was probably mayonnaise, not my favorite, mashed potatoes, and another endive dish. If I understood her french correctly, you boil the endives, wrap them in sliced ham, pour a white sauce over it and cover it in cheese and put it in the oven. I liked it, though endives have a slightly bitter aftertaste I am not really fond of. I have been surprised by the food that the people here eat, I guess I've always thought of European food as bread and cheese and fruit, which is true, they do eat a lot of those. But they also eat a lot of dishes that are butter, cheese and meat, they taste good but are really heavy. It was definitely something I hadn't anticipated.
District meetings are on Thursday mornings, and I have to say that my district is amazing. Our lesson was on testimonies. Our district leader, Elder Hall, assigned a couple of us topics to share about. He asked me to talk about what it means to bare testimony. There is a phrase in true to the faith that sums it up really well, baring testimony is sharing the hope and assurance you have received from the Holy Ghost. We all shared our testimonies at the end. There is something amazing about missionary testimony meetings, that I don't think that you can find anywhere else, it is hard to explain but there is something different and wonderful about hearing missionaries testify.
After district meeting we went out for sushi because it was Elder Duarte's year mark, I like sushi.
Friday night is English Class, we usually teach Beauty before and Jacqueline after. Both are recent converts, Beauty is an African Young adult who is amazing, his name is pronounced bo-tee, and he got the priesthood last week and a calling this week. Jacueline is a middle age Belgian woman who loves Elvis and is really funny. Rita, Beauty and Jacquline were the only ones at English class. We taught about holidays and shared all of our favorite, Beauty likes Christmas as does Rita, Jacqueline said she doesn't like holidays and doesn't do anything for them. We asked her about Elvis' birthday and she decided that that was her favorite holiday.
This Sunday was a JA activity, that involved eating, a spiritual thought and a movie. All things that as a missionary I especially love. We volunteered to bring American cookies, Europeans love American cookies. We decided that in honor of Valentines's Day we would make sugar cookies. My wonderful sister Paige sent me a package that contained a heart shaped cookie cutter that inspired the operation. It is hard as a missionary  to plan in time to make cookies that need to be refrigerated for an hour, I discovered.We made the dough Friday, rolled, baked, and frosted them Saturday and took a huge tray of the finished product on the bus to church with us, it was quite and adventure. We watched The Best 2 Years. I see the movie differently now than I did before my mission, I can relate a lot more now, and it is a lot less far-fetched than I thought it was. It was a little weird because Belgium looks a lot like the Netherlands, and I could definitely relate to the train stations and stores. It was a lot of fun we have some pretty cool young single adults here.
And probably the coolest thing that happened was with Maurice, he is or only progressing investigator at the moment, and he finally came to church yesterday!! Maurice is from Camaroon and is a student and a soccer player, which is one of the reasons he has been having a hard time coming to church. But we had a lesson with him Saturday night about obedience and keeping the Sabbath day holy, and he said he would come, and he did. It was really cool because after the meeting Beauty and Amadu, another recent convert, talked with Maurice and we had a mini lesson in the foyer about prayer, and both Beauty and Amadu bore testimony about prayer and coming to church. It was so good.
Jacqueline made us food and brought it to church so we could eat it later, it turned out to be the same endive dish that Rita made us, uh...yay! It'll be good, there has just suddenly been a large influx of endives in my diet, and before a week and a half ago I didn't even know what an endive was.
Today we went and saw St. Paul's Cathedrale in downtown Liege. I really like Cathedrales, there was a group of art students drawing inside and it made me want draw too, I am going to have to comeback on a study abroad or during the summer and just draw, I have this internal conflict sometimes of wanting to draw and knowing I am supposed to be talking to people about the gospel. Ah well, c'est la vie. There was a huge painting of John the Baptist sprinkling Jesus with water, and both Soeur England and Soeur Williams didn't know what to think, they were incensed. It just made me laugh. I love how beautiful cathedrals are, but I always feel so loud when I move, I feel like I am stomping around. It did have some amazing stained glass windows.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Week 17: Liege is Lovely

Bonjour from Belgium!

This week has been so long and crazy I have a hard time remembering what happened last Monday, it seems forever ago. Oy! Anyway, my last p-day in Paris was also Soeur Flood's last P-day ever as she went home this last Thursday, so we had a party for/with her at the Eiffel Tower. Soeur Pobst and I met up with the Melun Soeurs (Soeurs Flood, McClain, and Thompson) at 2:30 so that Soeur Flood and I could go up the Eiffel tower, everyone else has already been and missionaries are cheap and 11 Euros is too much to pay more than once to see one of the most famous monuments in the world. However when we got there it was closed! There were some technical problems and they weren't letting anyone up. So we waited and talked at the base for an hour and waited for the others that were coming to arrive. When they did we drank Champomy, the French version of Martinelli’s that is I imagine as close to drinking champagne as I will ever get. It was a lot of fun, but it was freezing, I haven't been that cold in a long time, and of course we were out for several hours and drinking cold drinks, not the brightest but still fun.

Soeurs Turney and Pobst at the Eiffel Tower
Wednesday was transfer day, being a sister I am supposed to have help moving my luggage. But as usual things go crazy and there is a lack of communication and the planned schedule is blown to pieces. I was told to be ready to go at 8 o clock sharp. And I was, at 8:10 we received a call telling us that they were behind and would be picking me up later. I was supposed to be the first stop, so I don't know how one can get behind when you haven't started yet, but that is neither here nor there. I decided to make brownies while we waited, which I did, they were very tasty. At about 10 we got a call saying they were on their way to get me, at about 11:15 they showed up, and we were off. We were then supposed to go to the mission home to pick up the luggage of the new missionaries and take them to the train station but just as we were getting the mission  home we got a call saying the missionaries had already left with all their luggage. This was problematic as I was supposed to meet up with them, because they were going to Brussels and I go through Brussels to get to Liege. So, we race to the train station by the mission home and we find them. It is decided that I will go with them and that we all will go by train with our luggage to the big train station Paris Gare Du Nord at catch our train to Belguim. We were quite the spectacle; 7 missionaries all with at least 1 suitcase and bag. My train ticket was purchased later than the rest of the missionaries so I was at the very end of the train, it was so nice to have a little time by myself. I was very glad to have made the trip only the week before I  would have been freaking out a lot more. I realized I had about 12 minutes from the time our train got into Brussels until my train left for Liege, it was rather stressful but I made it in plenty of time after dragging both suitcases up a flight and a half of stairs to get to the right platform. It is about a 50 minute train ride from Brussels to Liege, on this particular train I was on the area with the seats is separated from the doors were you get on the train there wasn't room to put my luggage next to me in the seat area, so I sat on my big suitcase in the outer area. There I was completely alone, it was so nice, I didn't realize how much I like being alone, and how much I missed it.

So, I finally got into  Liege at about 6:00 pm. My new companions Soeur England and Soeur Williams met me and we dropped my luggage off at the apartment and then hurried to a rendez-vous. Rita is a less active member that we see every week, and she feeds us dinner. We had a really good creamy soup and a potato string bean bacon vinegar dish that were both really good, for dessert we had crepes. Rita is so sweet and very funny, she also comes to English class, which we hold on Fridays. Though every time I hear her name I think "Lovely Rita met-ah maid," I hope it stops soon, I am not going to take myself seriously if I don't.

Soeurs Williams and Turney eating gaufres

We have district meetings on Thursdays and I got to meet all of the amazing people in our district. Our district leader is Elder Hall, he is amazing and is training this transfer, I hung out in the Paris train station with him and his blue, Elder Anderus. I am excited to not be the youngest in the mission anymore. Our zone leaders, Elder Duarte and Elder Weber, are so cool and are also in our district, they are serving in the other half of Liege and are in the Liege 2 branch, we are the Liege 1 branch. Elder Duarte is from Portugal and Elder Weber is from Germany. We also have a senior couple in our district, the Skousens. They are in charge of the young single adult centers in Brussels and Liege, they are like having grandparents around all the time.

After District meeting we went and did pass bys, we have a list of less active J.A. [(Jeunes Adultes) young single adults] We also stopped by a grocery store to try and find pop corn, it is a tradition for Soeur England and Soeur Williams to have pop corn during the Sunday weekly planning session, and the store they normally go to stopped carrying it, but we found some so all is well. We then went back to the church for the weekly JA meeting, Soeur England wasn't feeling well so after we gave our information we were going to go home so she could rest, but as we left the building Soeur Williams wasn't paying attention and fell down the two steps in front of the church and rehurt the ankle she sprained this last July. So we went back into the meeting and Elder Skousen gave us a ride home. We were told by the mission doctor to stay inside and rest, so we did on Friday, we had to cancel English class. Saturday, we probably should have stayed in, but Soeur England and mainly Soeur Williams refused to stay in any longer and we went to a Celia's a recent convert we are teaching, who is 11 and super cute. She made us bracelets. There was also a baptism for a boy named Noah in the Branch. It was so fun to go, I got to meet a lot of the  branch. I haven't been to a baptism since Caeleb got baptized, I forgot how cool they are and the amazing spirit that is there. I had my first real taste of African food, they had bignettes (fried dough that is kinda sweet) chicken wings, little flat egg roll things, quiche, and pizza with the crust cut off. It was all very good greasy kinds of food. Some how all the missionaries ended up at the end of the food table talking so I don't know how many of the little egg roll things I ate but it was too many. After the Baptism we had a rendez-vous with our ami Maurice, he is a JA from Camaroon and plays soccer. We watched The Testaments with him, and then talked about how just as Christ appeared to the Nephites, he will come again. He said he felt something.  It was pretty cool.

When we woke up Sunday, Soeur Williams was sick and Soeur England hadn't slept at all, so we didn't got to church so they both could get more sleep, So far I have been okay, but it has been quite the start to the transfer. They are both feeling better this morning, but they both still sound terrible, I keep trying to get them to take it easy, but they are both stubborn and keep insisting they are "fine." I am beginning to not like that word.

Leige is a beautiful city, I feel so lucky to get to serve here. It is the only sisterville that has hills. I am glad, I was getting tired of flatness. I didn't think I would miss mountains that much, but I do. So it is nice to have some elevation. It was Elder Weber's birthday yesterday so we are having a party for him today and are going to watch Joseph Smith Prophet of the Restoration. It is gonna be good. Though I have the feeling that p-days in Liege are going to be a lot simpler than P-days in Paris. I am glad, hopefully I can get some good drawing time in.

Much love,

Soeur Gaelin Turney