Monday, October 11, 2010

Mass of Miracles

Man, this week was SOOO fun!

On Wednesday I went on an exchange to BELGIUM with Sister Powers for legality. The legality appointment took about 3 minutes total (I just had to sign 3 peices of paper) so we spent the rest of the day having fun. Soeur Powers is so much fun and we became good friends instantly. She was renewing her legality and she had served in Belgium before so she made sure that I got a perfect Belgium experience. We went to Grande Place and ate a Belgium Waffle. Then she wanted to go shopping for lace. Then we went to the fountain of the little boy peeing-which I guess is really famous but I had never heard of it before. Then we went to get Belgium frites. Then shopping for Belgium chocolates. OH MY HEAVENS!!!!! Belgium chocolate is literally the best thing in the entire world! We went to the Galler chocolate store and we both bought a lot. I wanted to send some home to you in the mail but since you said that it has been so hot I was afraid that it would melt. What do you think? Lately I have been giving a lot of chocolates to our amis and other missionaries.... and Soeur Brough and I have been eating a lot. I really am surprised that I haven't been gaining weight here. Maybe it is because we walk so much....maybe it's a blessing for my service here. Haha I'm definitely not complaining. Anyways I LOVE BELGIUM and can't wait to serve there. It is very different from France but in a way that I can't really explain. There is just this 'feeling' here in Europe and I love it. I really do feel like I have been sent to the greatest mission in the world- or greatest mission for me at least. The TGV(train to Belgium) was fun. It took about an hour and a half to get there and the ride there was absolutely beautiful. The northern France/ Belgium countryside is gorgeous. Yeah, I love it here!!!!!

Also, Soeur Brough and I found out that in a couple weeks we will be going to Belgium together for sister exchanges. We will be doing exchanges with the Liege soeurs. We are really excited! It's the farthest place we can go for exchanges. It's fun to get out of little Evry sometimes.

Also this week we went to a wedding where Soeur Brough played a musical number on the flute, accompanied by Elder Caussé- from the 70. Pretty cool huh!?!? The wedding was beautiful, but made us both a little love-trunky, and also a little terrified to get married. Haha

ALSO, we set a BAPTISMAL DATE with one of our amis. Her name is Nataly and she is 22. She used to be pretty unresponsive in our RDVs but ever since General Conference she has experienced a huge change of heart. She felt like God was talking to her in Conference and now she is like a completely different person. Her baptism will be on November 6th- Sarah's birthday!!! :) That will be a very special day. We also have a few other amis who we will hopefully set dates with this week. I LOVE this work!

This week we went to a ville named Etampes. It is absolutely gorgeous! We went there looking for a reference that we couldn't contact by phone. To make a long story short, we didn't find her but instead we found a older man and his wife. They instantly invited us in and they were trying to help us find our reference. They were SOOO kind to us. While I was sitting there in their apartment I thought to myself how as a missionary, complete strangers all of the sudden become friends. There are so many people here who love us and take care of us. People who I know you would be thankful for- I am sure that they are a result of your prayers and faith in Heavenly Father. He is taking care of us. Anyways, Maurice and Claire invited us back for dinner so we will hopefully see them again soon.

Some more French facts that I thought of this week:
- Milk here is very different. It doesn't have to be refrigerated until it is opened and it tastes really weird. Also, eggs here aren't refrigerated either.
- No one hugs here, only bisous.
- French people make this sound with their lips when they mean to say "I don't know" It's hard to explain in words. I guess I will have to show you someday.

OH!!! Another really cool story- Last night we went to Catholic Mass with the elders in the big pope-hat cathedral. It was very very different from mass at Notre Dame. This mass was very modern and African. After wards the woman sitting next to us started talking to us. I guess her son lives in Washington DC and is a member of our church. She said that she used to come to our church and misses it so much. She said that she still sings "The Spirit of God" almost everyday. She gave us here phone number and basically begged us to come teach her. She kept saying "Please come to my house and teach me! I really hope you come! I will be praying for it!" Wow! We have missionary experiences even in Catholic mass. Heavenly Father is always aware of where we are and He always places His prepared children in our way. At the end of mass we sang a song (while clapping) that went like this- "Ne rentrez pas chez vous comme avant" (Don't go home and be the same as before) I think that it a good message. We really shouldn't leave church and be the same person. We should always leave having learned and changed for the better, or else it was for nothing. I kind of feel the same way about my mission. I don't want to come home the same person I was before. Everything here is changing me- for the better. Of course I am still SOOO far from being perfect, but I am trying to be better than I was before.

Well, We are off to Paris again for P-Day with the Elders. I hope you all have a wonderful week!

I love you!

Soeur Andrea McClaine

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Better than Christmas

Another great week this week. I am so happy here!

First of all, I LOVE GENERAL CONFERENCE!!!! It is the best as a missionary. I feel like all of my questions were answered, and that many of the talks were given just for me. I got to listen to most of it in English but there were a few that I had to listen to in French. I especially loved the first session each day because we got to watch it at the same time. It was fun to know that you were watching the same thing that I was and even singing the same songs at the same time that I was. What a blessing it is to have a living prophet! I just couldn't stop telling all of our amis how special it is and how lucky we are to listen to the prophet and apostles.

Our amis are all incredible! We had a mangez-vous with Fatilha and her family this week. I will send you a picture that we took. I don't know if I mentioned it before but they are Algerian and they fed us food from their country (some kind of food with lamb in it). It was good. I adore that family. You know how in the Doctrine and Covenants it says that when someone accepts you, they will feed you and take care of you, well that is them. They take care of us so well. At the end of the RDV we told them that we needed to go catch our bus and they said "You can stay and sleep over here at our house!" We told them that that isn't exactly allowed. Haha They are incredible and they are progressing so much in their knowledge and love for the gospel. In the picture that I send home you will notice that I look really silly- that is because the 8 year old boy Mecipsa kept decorating me with flowers and plants. I LOVE THEM!

Another miracle this week was Yue. She is 22 years old and Chinese. She is so much fun and full of energy. We taught her Friday night about the Plan of Salvation. When we told her that she can be baptized her eyes got really big and gasped. She was so excited and touched. But then she said "But I don't know how to swim." I love her. The next night we met her at the train station to bring her to General Conference. She had brought her best friend, Suphan, with her (also Chinese). Yue told us " She doesn't know anything about the Mormons but I know that Conference is only twice a year and I don't want her to miss this special experience." Yue is already a missionary, I love it! Both girls loved General Conference and now Suphan wants to start meeting with us. After Conference Suphan told us "I loved it! I felt so good. I think I want to continue becoming a Mormon." Haha Man! We have the BEST amis. I love them all so much!

Another miracles this week was Assaitou! She is 30 years old and again INCREDIBLE! She meet an LDS family in France(during their vacation) 7 years ago and they became good friends and kept in contact. Assaitou went to go visit them in Idaho just this August, and they taught her all about the gospel. She loves her friends dearly and was touched by the Spirit, so she decided to find the missionaries in France. We met with her Monday night and had the best RDV ever. During the RDV she said "Yeah, today I am a Muslim, but tomorrow I think I might be a Mormon." When we told her about baptism and invited her to be baptized she said "I really want to learn more first, so maybe not this time, but probably next time we meet?" We explained to her that we weren't going to baptize her that night but that we want to help her learn and gain her testimony first. She is very excited about the gospel!

There are so many miracles here. I know I say that a lot, but it is true. God lives and He is a God of miracles. I heard a quote in the MTC that says "If you have enough faith, God will not limit the amount of miracles you have." As I continue to strengthen my faith, God continues to bless Soeur Brough and I with miracles. I know the same goes for everything else in life. I think sometimes it is easy to get so caught up in the things that we can see. Some things may seem impossible to our human eyes, but with God all things are possible. Miracles are real! The atonement of Jesus Christ changes lives. All it takes is our faith first, then God won't limit that which we receive.

The first P-Day of every transfer is "Paris P-Day" and everyone in the Paris area goes up and plays football at Les Invalides, then eat lunch together and do something fun. Soeur Brough and I played football today with all of the elders and it was actually really fun!!! It was raining the whole time but it really was fun!

Well, I don't have a whole lot more to say so I think I will just tell you some random french facts. I hope you enjoy:
-The snails here are pink and green. I'm not even kidding. They are actually really pretty.
-French dress suits are really cool! They are shinny and men wear then A LOT tighter than then men in America. Let's just say that they are very fitting and stylish.
-Missionaries do not at all look out of the ordinary here. It seems like everyone wears suits and skirts. All the time I think "Oh, there's the elders"... but it never is.
-The cars here have "park anywhere" lights. So you can put on those lights and literally stop anywhere and get out of your car. It's kind of ridiculous.
-Evry has the most beautiful clouds I have ever seen. It is beautiful!!!!!
-Public restrooms do not exist here.
-Bisous(hello kisses on both cheeks)are totally normal to me now- to the point that I have almost done them with missionaries. That would be bad news. Haha

Well I think that is about it for now. I love you all and hope that all is well in America.

Soeur Andrea McClaine

Monday, September 27, 2010

Good News Goose

Well I have officially finished my first transfer in France. I can't believe that I have been here for over a month now.

And next transfer...... I'M STAYING IN EVRY.....WITH SOEUR BROUGH!!!! We are thrilled to be staying here and to be staying together. (This is Soeur Brough's LAST transfer and her 5th transfer in Evry- so I guess it's kind of a big deal that we are staying together.)

Last week we continued to witness tons of miracles. We were contacted my several people, including families, who are truly searching for the truth and excited to invite us into their homes. Also, many of our amis are progressing wonderfully and we are helping them prepare for baptism. I know that Soeur Brough and I will have an incredible transfer together.

Well last Monday we went to Paris with Elder Coburn and Elder Riley (who is going home this week). It was SOOO much fun!!! We went all around Paris and basically saw everything. I will be sure to send pictures. We have a great district and have a lot of fun together.

Tuesday and Wednesday Soeur Brough and I were in Paris for a Leadership Training. (We were the only sisters there.) It was incredible and I learned so much. Some of the highlights of the training was- going to mass at Notre Dame (all 60 of us missionaries at the training- that was a sight), contacting in Paris, and seeing some of my MTC friends (before and after the training). It was great!!! And like I said it was blessing to be there. Soeur Brough and I are already putting into practice the things that we learned and we are already seeing a lot of improvement in our teaching and finding.

One of the things that we talked about was the difference between giving and getting. A lot of the time we focus on all of the things that we will get from doing something, but really it should be the other way around. As missionaries we should wake up every morning and get right to work- doing everything we can so that we can help others and most of all help Heavenly Father. The same goes for callings and church membership. Everything we have has been given to us by our Heavenly Father and we truly owe everything to Him. We show our love to Him by giving back. Having a "giving" mindset is helping me fulfill my purpose as a missionary, and I am already happier knowing that I have something to give. We all have something to give.

As I said before, we have had so many incredible RDVs this week. When we were teaching Wen-Lei (who I absolutely ADORE) the Plan of Salvation, Soeur Brough told her that we want to meet her in the Celestial Kingdom one day. It is a simple statement but it hit me SO strongly. I REALLY DO want to meet her in the Celestial Kingdom one day. I want her to be with Heavenly Father forever. I was deeply touched by how serious this work really is. When love is the base of the work here, it becomes much more than work.

Another tender mercy that I experienced was with our ami Nicholène. She is ready to be baptized but she has a few tiny concerns that we were talking about. She is concerned that tithing money is spent on temples, and that temples are a little too showy. We tried to explain to her that we make temples the best we can out of respect for God and Jesus Christ. She still had a hard time so we figured it would be best to just bear testimony and hope that the spirit will help her feel peace. I told her that if I were asked to, I would give all of my money to the building of temples. I told her that I wouldn't care what the temple looks like only of anything except the work that is done inside. I love the temple with all of me heart! The promises I have made in the temple have blessed my life more than I could ever say. To me, temples are the greatest proof that God really loves us and wants to be with us again, and for that I truly would give everything I have.

It is a blessing to teach the gospel all day, everyday. It is by teaching that I continue to learn, and it is by bearing testimony that my own testimony is strengthened. I love being a missionary!!!! There is nothing else I would rather be doing with my life right now.

On a lighter note- it is FREEZING in France already. I don't know what happened but the leaves are colorful and the air is cold.

Alright well I hope you are all happy at home! I love you all!

Soeur Andrea

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Hello Family!!

First of all I want you to know that I am feeling SOOO much better today. I was really really sick all last week, but today it seems as if I woke up healthy. Don't ask me how that happened, I have to give all credit to Priesthood blessings, prayers from all of you, and miracles. As I woke up healthy, Soeur Brough has developed a sinus infection. Poor thing! I am doing everything I can to take care of her, like she did for me the entire last week.

Well, this last week was definitely the most uneventful week of my mission. I literally slept all day and all night for the last week and a half. Soeur Brough would wake me up for meals and hospital visits, and sometimes just because she was lonely and wanted to talk. Poor Soeur Brough was going insane all week. She did lots of calls to our amis, area book work, reading, writing letters etc. Finally on Saturday our Zone leaders brought us a portable DVD player and since then we have been watching church movies a lot. It is amazing how a movie really does help distract from pain.

When I was awake I felt exhausted still, extremely nauseous, and my head was killing me. It was not fun and by far unlike anything I have ever had before. The doctors took blood tests and couldn't find anything wrong. So President Staheli had a German LDS doctor call me. I sent him my lab results and he said that he thinks it is just a really bad virus. When he calls me again today I can hand over the phone to Soeur Brough. She could even take my doctors appointment tomorrow too. Haha

Although our week was extremely unproductive, a lot of good things came from it. We didn't get to teach any lessons, but our amis grew to miss us more than before. They called a lot to tell us how much they miss us. It will be great to meet with them again soon. Also, Soeur Brough and I are definitely closer than ever. We were already extremely close, but then add in 1. Being in a TINY apartment together all day every day for an entire week 2. Serving each other with a genuine love, care and concern (food, reading me scriptures, making each others beds etc.) and 3. STORY TIMES- when ever I was awake we would just scratch each others back or play with each others hair and talk. We basically know everything about each others lives now. Haha It is an incredible blessing to be companions with Soeur Brough right now!

Some random fun facts about this week:

I am officially legal in France now. Elder Coburn and I had our medical and legal visits this Thursday. Everything was fine. While we were in line for the appointment we all played "Would you rather?" We were all laughing so hard we cried. They took and X-Ray of my lungs and I got to keep it. For some reason I thought it was really cool so I taped it up in our window. Haha

Also, whenever Soeur Brough and I would leave the apartment for a hospital visit or emails or anything we would pray to have a missionary experience. As always, the Lord grants us missionary experiences, even when we are sick. It seems as if we were contacted more than ever this week. My favorite experience was a man who came up to us when we were walking off the train. He was right in my face, speaking very loud about our name tags and Jesus Christ. It is hard for me to recognize when people are saying good things or bad things when they are in my face and loud, so I smiled and pretended to know what he was saying. Luckily Soeur Brough saved me and started talking to him. I guess that he said how happy he was that we have Jesus Christ on our shoulders. He then told us a little of his very spiritual conversion story and agreed to meet with the elders. I love being a missionary!

Most of the other people who "contacted" us this week were perhaps more interested in US then the gospel. (which is funny because we sure did NOT look our best- especially me!) One man stopped us and he was very friendly. He talked to us for a little bit then invited us to his house for cakes. We politely declined. He asked where we live, for our number, and how he can see us again. We explained that as missionaries we don't meet with men. He told us that he wants to learn English so we gave him a flier for our English classes. I obviously didn't go to English class this week but the elders came over that night and told us how the man came to English class and I guess he kept saying "Where is Soeur MacClaine? Soeur Maclaine!" over and over. The elders laughed and told him that I couldn't come this week and I guess he said " Oh well I think I will start English classes next week then. Can you giver her these cakes?" So that night the elders brought me the "cakes" he made me. We all got a really good laugh at that one.

I'm grateful that here in Evry Soeur Brough and I only teach women!

Yesterday Elder Paya from the 70 was at our ward. He spoke to us about missionary work. It was incredible! He told us that although China is not open to missionaries yet, it is really close and that it won't be too long before that happens. He said that once that happens most of the missionaries will be sent there and that means that church members will be responsible for the missionary work here in France. It was a treat to have him at church.

Our ward us actually really excited about missionary work. The 1st counselor in the bishopric pulled the missionaries aside yesterday and told us about the new ward mission plan to have 80 new members in the next 6 months. It is possible and I can't wait to be a part of all of it.

One last thing that I forgot to mention a long time ago is that they have officially changed the dress code for sister missionaries. I was in the big meeting in the MTC when they made the announcement. Sister missionaries do not have to wear nylons anymore and their skirts only have to go to the knee now. (That would have been nice to know a few months ago huh?!?! Haha) I will continue to wear nylons though because I am weird and love them. Haha

Actually it is already starting to get colder here. Today Soeur Brough and I are going to go shopping and buy winter coats and boots.

Well that is my week in a nutshell. I'm sorry I don't have a ton of fun news but at least I am well now. Thank you all for your prayers and love. I can feel them all the way from Little Africa.

Also, I really wasn't thinking and before I left the MTC I sent home a big box of all the mail I received in the MTC... so by doing that I lost all of the addresses that I had. So that is why I haven't been very good at sending letters.

Well, Please pray for Soeur Broughers (my new nickname for her) and hopefully we can get out and back to work very soon!

Love Eternally,
Soeur Andrea MAC-Claine :)


Hello family!!!

This week was a little crazy.

For starters, we knew that it wasn't going to be a normal week because we had zone conference on Wednesday then the sisters meeting on Friday, so we had a lot less time then usual for teaching. I'll just tell you about the week:

MONDAY after emails Soeur Brough and I went to Fontainebleau, a really old chateau not far from us. It was absolutely breath-taking!!! I love going and seeing castles. They are so beautiful and full of history. I will send you some pictures. It was a gorgeous day and it was a really fun adventure.

Also Monday night we had our first mangez-vous. I was really excited at first until we got there and then all of the sudden I was scared. Haha Although the French were absolutely GENIUS about some things like chocolates, breads, and patisseries some of their meals are not so fantastic. For some reason they eat a lot of raw meats and other weird arrangements. This mangez-vous however wasn't bad at all. We ate pork and green beans... and of course baguettes and cheese. Not bad at all.

TUESDAY was just hilarious for some reason. Soeur Brough and I were running ALL DAY after trains and buses and it seemed like just everything feel into pieces. But we were laughing NON-STOP through it all. I seriously LOVE Soeur Brough; we have such a good time together. One extra funny thing that happened that you might appreciate hearing about is that we were at one of the train stations trying to catch our next train. The train was already there so we were running FAST all the way across the gare. So when we were running up the stairs to get to the train Soeur Brough tripped and fell down the stairs. I immediately started laughing and then I tripped and fell down the stairs right next to her. It was SO funny. We were laughing about that one for a really long time. Both of us were fine, I just got an ugly bruise on my knee. And two little side notes about that one- there were tons of people around who saw and laughed AND we still missed our train. HAHA It might sound silly but I think that times like that make me love the mission even more- I am making some pretty good memories.

Later that day, we were walking home and a stick got stuck to the bottom of Soeur Brough's skirt and it dragged on the ground for a really long time. For some reason that too was hilarious to us. I guess that being a missionary we are just really easily amused.

WEDNESDAY we went to Paris for my first Zone Conference. Downtown Paris was especially busy and exciting. (I love being able to go there so frequently.) I LOVE ZONE CONFERENCE! It was like being in the MTC again- you get this spiritual boost that gets you so excited for the work and so grateful for the opportunity we have to be the Lord's missionaries. We talked a lot about miracles and faith. I absolutely know that I was called to be a part of the Paris France Mission for many specific reasons (President Staheli, the culture, the people here, the other missionaries I am serving with...). I love being here!

THURSDAY we had a busy day planned out, full of rendez-vous but that didn't exactly end up happening.

Let me fill you in on some of our Paris France Mission lingo- there is a drink called a Frugi and when you drink it, it is sweet at first but then it gets bitter. Every time that an ami doesn't show up to a rendez-vous we call it a "Frugi" or "getting Frujed". Well, we were frujed A LOT this week.

Well, Soeur Brough and I made some really good goals to teach more lessons with members there so on Sunday we talked to a bunch of members and set up tons of lessons for them to join us in. And I am not really sure how it happened but every single one canceled on us. It was frustrating at first but then we realized that it was out of our control so there is no use in stressing about it. We are doing everything we can to make it work, and if it still doesn't, it's okay. I think that is when it becomes funny. Like a "Are you for real?!?!" kind of funny.

FRIDAY was a special day. We went up to Paris to the mission home and had a special Sister's Meeting with President and Sister Staheli. All of the sisters from the mission were there. There are 27 of us right now. I guess that President hasn't done this before but felt really inspired to have this sister meeting. He and Sister Staheli talked to us about the different between DOING and BEING. They are both really important but that often times BEING is a lot more important. For example- we can DO missionary work or we can BE missionaries (true disciples of Christ). They talked to us about not comparing ourselves to others and the importance of our own personal worth. It was a perfect meeting.

SATURDAY was a lot like Thursday. Lots of Frugies. But it ended up being a GREAT blessing.

On Wednesday I started feeling REALLY nauseous and getting strong head aches, but I thought it was just because of all of the public transportation. Then starting Friday I started being insanely exhausted! So every time we got fruged I would sleep and I would sleep all day and never not be tired. Then my throat started feeling swollen and then my ears started hurting.Now I'm really achy. Long story short, I don't know what is wrong but whatever I have it is NOT fun! Don't worry about me though!!!! The Lord looks after His missionaries. I called President and spoke with him and Sister Staheli. They both told me to sleep as much as I can- which is literally all day (I'm always exhausted-WAY more than normal). Sister Staheli also had a doctor from Germany call me. They told me to go to the doctor today so Soeur Brough and I went this morning. We have to go back tomorrow for some blood tests, then back to meet with the doctor again on Friday. I also have a medical visit this Thursday for my legality. But really, don't worry about me! I will be fine!

It was hard yesterday though- I just wished that I had mom to hold me and take care of me and dad to give me a blessing. I might sound like a little baby when I say that but I guess that is just part of growing up.

One of my MTC friends, Elder Coburn is serving in Evry too and that has been a blessing. It is nice to have someone to really understand about being a little homesick once in a while and missing family and not being able to communicate.

Well, Please keep me in your prayers. I don't want to be in bed sleeping all day. I would really prefer being out and teaching. Again, don't worry about me. I will be fine.

I love you all!!

Sister Andrea McClaine

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Hello Family!!

Thanks for the emails this week! I love hearing from all of you.

Well, Soeur Brough and I have had an incredible week here in Evry. We would have taught about 20 lessons this week, but a few people had to reschedule their rendez-vous so we ended up teaching 12 rendez-vous. That is really good for us here in France. We have INCREDIBLE amis! (here in France we call our investigators amis de l'église- "friends of the church") And we continue to find new amis everyday. I love being a missionary. One of my favorite things that I have learned from Soeur Brough is to be real and just yourself and then missionary experiences seriously just come to you. I love Soeur Brough so much!

Soeur Brough and I have been talking a lot about miracles lately. Miracles are everywhere, and it seems like they are everyday as a missionary. Our mission is absolutely INCREDIBLE! I know that every missionary would say this in a heart beat, but this is the best mission in the world! I feel like the Lord sent the strongest missionaries here to France/Belgium right now, and there are truly miracles happening here!!!! In December, Pres. Stahli told the mission that one night the Spirits of deceased people came to him and told him that the the missionary work needs to go forth in France. President Stahli recognized that he has the keys to missionary work here and that he had the power to turn the key and love the work forward. He had a revelation that there was going to be a great miracle in France in 2010. The mission made a goal to have 300 baptisms this year (more than tripling the last year)... and it is happening! There is a miracle happening here RIGHT NOW! I feel so incredibly blessed to be a part of this miracle! I can't express the joy I have here serving my Savior and the people of France. Basically everyone who ever said "Aw, I'm sure that your mission will be beautiful, but you probably won't teach or baptize much..." they are VERY wrong! God is a God of miracles!

I feel like each of our amis is a miracle in and of themselves. I love every single one SO MUCH! I wish I had time to tell you all of the miracles that I experience, but I just don't have enough time.

Soeur Brough and I were talking the other day how we really do have the life right now. All we do is make TONS of friends, teach them the gospel, help them come to Christ, eat heavenly food, go to pretty places, and just have FUN! Seriously missions are a BLAST! I thought it would be a lot more work and that it would be hard, but I was wrong. I love the gospel and the people here, so it doesn't at all feel like work. Of course we're exhausted all the time but that is because we are so busy helping our friends. I have the best life right now and I am having so much fun!

We have our first "mangez-vous" (dinner appointment) tonight and I am SO excited. Several of our amis have fed us but not for a whole meal. Here in France meals are a really big deal and they feed you several courses and incredible food. I can't wait!

While I am talking about food, let me just tell you- Patisseries literally are heaven on earth! I will have to send you some pictures, but you will have to just come to France and try them yourself sometime to really understand.

Okay, another thing about France is that no one can say our last name right. They all pronounce it like "mac-klen". I don't mind, I just think it is funny. After all, I can't pronounce most of their words right. Haha

You asked about the language- well, I can understand almost everything that people say (unless they have a strong African accent-which is often) but it is still really hard for me to speak. That is probably the hardest thing about being on a mission right now- I just wish I could say more. But I made a goal before I came out that I would love every step of the mission, so I have been focusing on what good comes from not being able to communicate yet. I have less responsibility so it is a little more relaxing. People are very kind and try to help me a lot. And it is a humbling learning experience. I know that the language will come with more time, so for now I'm doing everything I can to improve and rely on the Lord for the rest.

I am glad to hear that President Stahli sent you my apartment address. If you send mail to the mission home I will only get it like once a transfer. If you send it to my apartment I should get it within about 5-10 days. BUT make sure to write it exactly like this

Les Soeurs Missionaires
Soeur Andrea McClaine
11, Allée Boissy D'Anglas
91000 Evry FRANCE

Also, I've heard that in the past some packages have been opened and things have been stolen in the mail, so be careful.

If you have sent anything to the mission home I havn't recieved it yet. I will be in Paris this Wednesday for Zone conference so I will get it then. We are also going to Paris this Friday for a special Sisters Retreat. I am VERY excited! We have an insanely busy week, but I know it will be wonderful.

Well, I think that Soeur Brough and I are going to go castle seeing today. I will try to send some pictures soon. By the way, I found out that anyone can email me, but I can only write them back by letter. Also, feel free to email photos.

I love you all. I am happy to hear that Heavenly Father is taking care of all of you at home.

Eternally Yours,
Soeur Andrea McClaine

Monday, August 23, 2010

"Andrea McClaine"

Bonjour tout le monde!

First, I must warn you that the keyboards here in France are weird and different and so it is REALLY hard to type. I am sorry if there are a lot of typos.

I'm in France! It was so good to talk to you on the phone last week. I'm sorry it was short, but we got to the airport late and they boarded they plane early, so there wasn't much time to talk. I am happy to hear that everyone and everything is well in the USA, and not too much has changed.

Our flight was long but great! I sat by a kind, old, french woman. We spoke for a long time but it was really hard to understand her french because she speaks really fast. I had prayed to have a missionary experience on the flight and I did! We spoke a lot about religion and beliefs. I told her about the gospel and why I decided to serve a mission. I offered her a Book of Mormon, but she politely declined it. She did accept a pass-along card though. Other than that, I slept well on the plane and the food was actually really good.

When we got to Paris, it was slightly overcast. We got our luggage and met President Stahli. He is INCREDIBLE!!! Then we put our bags in the van and took the train to downtown Paris for contacting. Paris is truly like a dream!!! Everything here in France is so beautiful, beyond description. There is so much history here. And I think that one of the things that surprised me the most is how kind everyone is here. Honestly, don't believe the stereotypes you hear about the french. I have not met a single person who has deliberately been mean to us. Everyone has been extremely kind and helpful. I think it's just the way you treat them. If you are nice and respectful to them, they will be the same to you. Also, they are very willing to listen to you when you talk to them. Of course they don't always accept the message, but they are very kind and I appreciate that.

Anyways, contacting was great and I got a few phone numbers for the Paris missionaries. After that, they showed us the church in Paris... which is incredibly old, but beautiful. Since I'm the only new Soeur, everyone kept telling me that they know who my trainer is and my first area. They didn't tell me anything except that I will be in good hands in a place that is having a lot of success. I was very excited!

Next we went to President Stahli's house and we got to relax a bit. Some of my friends and I took a walk around the area and it is like a fairytale! Then later that night we had a wonderful dinner that Sister Stahli made us. Then we had a testimony meeting and went to bed early.

The next morning President Stahli took us to an old castle on top of a hill, overlooking all of Paris, where there is actually a lot of gospel symbolism. We talked about our purpose and the importance of this work. It was amazingly spiritual! After that we went back to his house where he gave us our first assignment and told us who our companion will be. My trainer is Soeur Brough, from Orem UT, and we are serving in Evry (évry). When he told me about my first area he said "Well, Soeur McClaine, you will be leaving France and going to Little Africa". Let me tell you a little bit about Evry. It is a new city, built in 1980. Basically everything is brick or concrete. And everyone is African!!! There are actually a few Asians, but for the most part, everyone here is from Africa-Cameroon, Congo, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Egypt; Etc. You can ask everyone here where they are from and it is always somewhere other than France. I kind of stick out becuse I am a tall, white girl, who has blond hair and speaks English. It is great though!! Another interesting fact about Evry is that it is the poorest city in France. The people are very humble and there are some rough places here but we always feel safe and protected by the Spirit. You have absolutely no need to worry about me here. Also, another fun fact about Evry is that we have the newest Catholic Cathedral here in France.... and it is made of red bricks and it is in the shape of the Pope's hat. We actually live right next to it. I'm not going to lie, I love it!!!! It makes me laugh everytime I see it. And really, you can't find a cathedral like that anywhere else in the world.

Another thing that President told me is that the work in Evry is amazing! And IT IS!!!!! Soeur Brough and I NEVER go porting (tracting) because we have rendez-vous after rendez-vous and when we are on our way to and from rendez-vous people contact us!!!! Whenever we are on the train or bus (which is constantly) people will see our nametags and start asking questions or talk about Jesus. We are teaching all the time! We are very busy here, and I love every second!!!! To be completely honest I was a little bummed to hear that I wouldn't be in a place with houndreds of years of beautiful history, but I LOVE SERVING HERE IN EVRY! This is even better than I could have dreamed. I know that Heavenly Father wants me here right now, and it is a blessing to serve here.

So.... Soeur Brough is INCREDIBLE!!!!!! I can't say enough about her! We are pretty much the same person, except that she is 5'2 and very petite. She is adorable! She is ALWAYS smiling and happy. She is kind to everyone and we have like the same sense of humor. I honestly couldn't have dreamed of a more perfect companion and trainer.

She is doing a wonderful job helping me with french and introducing me to all of the best french foods! I LOVE FRENCH FOOD! Everything here just tastes better. But somehow I've lost weight here. Wow! Life is good!

We are busy, we are having a blast, and we are loving every second here.

Today is Paris P-Day, when all of the Paris missionaries go to Downtown Paris and have fun. By the way Evry is just a little bit south of Paris but we are tecnically still in Paris area.

I'm sorry I don't have more time to write. We need to catch a train. I love you all and I will send photos next Monday. Remember it is a 9 hour time difference so I will be writing in the middle of your night.

I love you all!!!

Soeur Andrea McClaine