Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Week 41: Brussels, Baby, Brussels!!!

Well, I am all settled in Brussels or Bruxelles, if you are French. Our apartment is on the 3rd story  and there isn't an elevator so our wonderful Zone Leaders carried my two ridiculously heavy suitcases up the stairs. My companion's name is Soeur McClaine, she is tall and beautiful and has Princess Aurora hair. We laugh a lot and it is a bit strange because we are kind of the same person, she even randomly hiccups like I do. She is older in the mission than I am, she is going home at the end of November. I actually have a senior companion, which is a change, it isn't much different than being co-companions actually but I was kind of excited to be a junior companion. Our apartment is so cute and homey. I think I'm gonna like it here!
There are two wards in Brussels, I am in Brussels 2, there are so many missionaries in our ward. There are the zone Leaders Elder Helvey and Elder Anderson, the District Leader Elder Canonica and his companion Elder Harivaa (They are Spanish and French speaking missionaries) There are two senior sister missionaries, they are both from Germany and are so cute. And there is the senior couple in charge of the Young adult center, the Halls. That's ten missionaries!! We see a lot more of them that's for sure, I love seeing missionaries around. Sometimes when I see missionaries I'm like, "Wow! Cool! Missionaries!" and then I remember that I am a missionary too. There are so many different cultures and languages and people here. Our ward is a French/English ward, so they give announcements and have different Sunday Schools for both languages. But there are also a group that speaks Russian and another that peaks Portuguese and another that speaks Spanish  Church was really nice but I had no idea what language to talk to people in, so I mostly smiled and nodded and said "Hello...Bonjour...uh, hi?" Everyone was very nice though. Our Bishop is Portuguese but he kind of reminds me of Cristiano Pina. Just nice and kind and European.

So many things happened this week that it is hard to remember them all. Thursday the 21st was the Belgian Independence Day, we went to see the military parade. We got some really nice spots right next to the street, there were lots of soldiers and police people hanging around. About the time the parade started it started raining and being the prepared people we were none of us brought umbrellas, so we got really wet. It was however worth it. We got to see the king of Belgium (Yes, Belgium has a king still). He is pretty old but he was stoically waving to everyone in the rain. There were lots of cool armored vehicles and big guns. They had airplanes fly over and I think some of them were from World War II, they were so cool, they sounded different than modern planes, I liked the old sound better. It of course stopped raining a little bit after the parade was over. It was a fun day, there were also some fireworks that woke us up at about midnight. I am glad that even though I missed Bastille Day in France I at least got to celebrate the Belgian National Holiday in Belgium. 

Before parade picture
Belgian soldiers have cool hats

After parade picture
We had some good rendez-vous this week, I am still figuring out who everyone is. Atanasu is Romainian and a very nice middle aged man. He is a semiprofessional chess player and is so humble and is looking for a change and some friends, and he came to church!! Ndaboli is African and has been prepared to talk to us, it was only the second rendez-vous he's had with us and he asked, "So I've read and prayed but I haven't gotten an answer yet, what is your advice?" We told him to keep at it because these things happen in the Lord's time and that it is when we are consistently reading an praying that the answers come. Rusty is from Eastern Europe too, I think. He is about 30 and really cool, he is studying all kinds of spiritual things and Christian Mysticism, I think is what he called it. I asked him who God was for him. His answer was interesting and there were a lot of similarities to what we believe, we gave him a Plan of Salvation pamphlet to read before our next lesson. He is fascinating to me. In the past five days I have met people that think so differently than I do, I think it is so wonderful. They have such a different way of seeing the world, and they have thoughts and ideas that never in a million years would come into my head. I think that is one reason this work is so wonderful, you get to meet and learn about and learn from so many different kinds of people. And Brussels is the perfect place to meet any kind of person you could hope for. I am really excited to be here. 
I love you all so very much!!
Soeur Gaelin Turney
P.S. Wednesday was my half way mark, I am on the downward slope, crazy!! 

Frère Lallemand. He is basically Tom in 30 years -- he wore that to Jean Baptiste's baptism.

Jean-Baptiste's baptism!!!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Week 40: I'm moving!

Well, I am leaving Liège, but I am not going far, my new area is in Brussels, I am in the Louise ward. My new companion will be Soeur McClaine, it is going to be strange to move, I've been in Liège for five and a half months. Another crazy thing, on Wednesday I will be halfway done with my mission, that is so weird. I feel like I just got here.  I am an old missionary now, it is so strange. 

Anyway, We had exchanges this week with Paris Lilas. Both Soeur Cope and I went down to Paris, I got to work with Soeur Didier. She is from southern France and is so cute. She still doesn't know English very well, it is so fun speaking French with her because her accent is so pretty. We did a lot of good work, I must say Métros are an amazing thing. I am excited that Brussels has some, you can get so much done when it doesn't take 40 minutes to get from one rendez-vous
to the next. 
It is cool because the Paris sister apartment is right by the Bastille, and the 14 is Bastille day (the French national holiday) We were there Tuesday and Wednesday so we didn't get to see any parades but I took some pictures of the Bastille and when we got back to Liège I made a Bastille cake for district meeting. I of course forgot my camera cord again so next week there will be lots of pictures. 

We had a really good rendez-vous with Paul on Wednesday. We talked more about the Book of Mormon, I think he was still confused about why it was so important. We read a chapter together and talked about it. Then he said, the Book of Mormon is good, but can we use the Bible in our next lesson? We went on to try and explain why the Book of Mormon is so important and talked about Christ coming to visit the Nephites. We read a lot of scriptures from 3 Nephi with him, I think it finally clicked that the Book of Mormon is more of the teachings of Jesus, and that it is like the Bible. He said at the end that he wanted to read it, Yes!!! We have another Rendez-vous with him tomorrow. I am excited.

Jean-Baptiste's baptism was on Friday, and it was so wonderful. He brought a couple of friends and I think they all have potential to become amis. There were a lot of members there so it was good too, and there was a party for the Skousens afterwards so there was a lot of food and socializing. Jean-Baptiste's friend Joseph had a really good time, and all of them talked to people so I have high hopes. He was confirmed on Sunday, an it was really good. I felt so happy when he was baptised and confirmed; it is true that your joy is great when you bring souls unto God.This is truly a marvelous work and good tidings of great joy. 

Sunday at church was a little different, there was a family from the dutch speaking part of Belgium that was here, and the kids (three of them 7,5,and 2) didn't know French but they did know English so, we went to primary to translate for them. It has been a long time since I've been to Primary, we learned about temples and I got to color a picture about how I love to see the temple. Then after sharing time, they sent me with the two year old to nursery. The two year old didn't understand English any better than he did French but they wanted me there so I went. It was fun, we played with blocks mostly. Small children are so interesting to watch play, there is so much goodness in them and there is no guile, I love how open they are to new things. I can understand why we need to become like little children. They are so full of love and forgiveness and laughter. 

I love you all!

Soeur Gaelin Turney

The new Paris France mission boundaries (click for a more detailed view)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Week 39: President, yes. Marriage, not for a while.

Hello everybody! Happy July! 

So, funny story, I got proposed to on Tuesday. We were waiting at the bus stop to catch the 17 and this skinny African guy comes up and looks at the bus schedule, he asks if we are waiting for the 17 and we say "oui" He sits down next to me on the bench and starts talking about the weather, He asks if I am Belgian, I say no in fact I am not, I am actually an American. He says he has a brother who lives in Washington that he is going to go see in September and he asks how long i will be in Belgium. I say "9 months." He asks how long i have been in Belgium. "Nine months." HE then asks, "so, how do i be your friend?" I explain I am a missionary and I teach people about the gospel, He asks if I have an email address. I give him our card and say "This is the address of our church and the phone number, I will be at church this Sunday if you want to talk to me then." He then asks if because I am a Sister I can't get married. At this point the little red sirens in my head are going off and I had a feeling the conversation was going to get awkward real fast. I said that my mission was only 18 months long and that after I could finish my studies and get married if I wanted to. He was then like "So, after you are done, you me get married?" Aaaaaahaha, NONONONO is what my brain was saying but there was a temporary disconnect between mouth and brain, and I think I just gaped at him for a couple minutes. I kind of just mumbled something about we'll see...uh...hmmm...uh. Finally he said, "Can I give you my number so that when you are done you can call me?" I was like, "If you really want to." I ask, "What's your name? " The response? "Yaya." AAAAAAAARRGH!!!!! For those who don't remember, I have had another run in with an African named Yaya who wanted to get to know me better. It was very ironic. I am not sure what it is about Africans named Yaya but they seem to have a thing for me. Luckily the bus came right then and we were able to run away, but it threw me off for a second. 

I met my new mission president this week. His name is President Poznanski, I am still unsure of the pronunciation. But he is very nice, he is French and actually lived in the mission boundaries before he was called. His wife is super cute, she is french too and she served a mission in the Paris France Mission too. They have two daughters still living at home, and we got to meet them too. Previously trainings and interviews have been in English, now they are going to be in French, I am excited. They are emphasizing learning the language and working with members. I am excited to see what happens while he is President because he knows the problems and the culture and the people that we are working with and he can help us overcome them. I feel like big changes are coming. 

Jean-Baptiste had his baptismal interview this week and he is ready to go. His baptism will be Friday the 15 at 6:00pm. I am so excited and he is too. He is so ready. 

I gave a talk in Sacrament meeting, on missionary work, I think it want rather well all things considered. I only got confused as to what I was trying to say once.:) I ended my talk with this idea, The gospel is our life. Greater love hath no man than this, than he gives his life for his friends. Let us not only love our friends that we give our life for them but that we also give our life to them. 

We also had a cool thing happen at church. There was a guy that came in all alone and sat in the chapel, I had never seen him before and no one was talking to him, so I went over and asked how he was and what his name is. He said his name is Guy and that his friend told him to come to this church. We asked who his friend was, and it was one of the Elder's amis who came to church last week. Cool, huh! We had a lesson with him after church and he seemed to have liked it, he took the Book of Mormon and have another with him next week after church, which he said he was coming to also. Yay!!! 

I hope all is well for you this week, Thursday is Bastille Day so play a little Les Miserables or eat cheese something Frenchy like that. I might be in Belgium but we will be celebrating it anyway!

Love always and forever,

Soeur Gaelin Turney

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Week 38: Today just isn't the same without explosions


FHE last week was a bit crazy. There were thirteen people there for the lesson and the game and just as we were sitting down for the meal two girls came that Soeur Cope and I had contacted at last week at the bus stop. They are some kind of Evangelist I think, in the contact we talked about Joseph Smith but didn't get to the part about the Book of Mormon. So, we started talking about it, and they were not at all okay with having something besides the bible. There was a lot of talking over each other and about five people speaking all at once. We ended up giving each of them a Book of Mormon and telling them that it is either true or it is not and the only way to know it to read it and pray about it, because discussing and auguring will never convince anyone. Only God can give you the answer. The spirit wasn't there, and we haven't been able to see them since, so I am  sad that we couldn't talk in a more calm setting. 

The senior Missionary couple, the Skousens, will be finishing their mission in two and a half weeks, so the young single adults threw them a surprise farewell party. They planned it under the context of the young adult council meeting. It was a lot of fun, I love secrets so it made my week. The Skousens ended up being late because of a traffic jam but they got there eventually. 

We had a really good rendez-vous with Jean Baptiste about baptism and about revelation. We talked about the requirements for baptism and he said that he felt ready for baptism and he that he is praying for it every day, we set a date for the 16th of July and asked him to pray to know if it was the right date. We told him that I would probably be leaving on the 20th and he was very sad. He said the closing prayer and thanked Heavenly Father for sending me and that I always have the answer to his questions. So, even if I am Moses with the stick I answer his questions. 

Saturday we helped a family in the other branch move, the Relief Society president asked us and we couldn't pass up an excuse to wear pants so we said yes. We went to the new house and cleaned the kitchen and unpacked boxes as they arrived. I hope that they are able to find things, there were lots of gadgets that I had never seen before and had no idea what they would be used for. But we did our best. Then we had a lunch break and went over to the other house with the Skousens and cleaned the kitchen there. It was tiring but really good. I love service projects, there is something wonderful about making someone else's life just a little easier. 

Sunday was really good as well, the lessons were just what Jean-Baptiste needed. In our rendez-vous after he talked about how he feels his life changing and how he realises that he has a long road ahead of him and that he is waiting for his baptism. Our lesson was about Prophets and Jean Baptiste, I think, has a testimony of President Monson just as strong if not stronger than mine, and he knows so much about Joseph Smith and he understands so well why we need prophets today. It was incredible, and it made me so happy. 

After church we had a mangez-vous at Fifi's house. It was the first time I have ever had real African food, it was slightly terrifying. But it tasted good and I didn't get sick so it was worth it. There were 2 kinds of fish and some chicken, Fufu, which is a thick potato substance that has the consistency of dry  rubber cement. There was a mayonnaise salad and plantains. Beignets and a green mush that I think was a plant at one point. Elder Smith and Elder Pouli were there too and it was Elder Smith's first experience too, he kept making horrified faces at me across the table. It was a good meal, very greasy but good. We did the dishes afterwards and I think Fifi was grateful. 

Today to celebrate the fourth of July we made hamburgers and listened to the the Mormon tabernacle choir rendition of "God Bless America" very loudly. 

Much love and i hope that there are lots of lovely fireworks for the watching,

Soeur Gaelin Turney

Christiane and Soeur Turney

Rita and Gaelin