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

Friday, August 13, 2010


Hello Family!

I absolutely love being a missionary! Everything about it is great! Even the hard things are great!

Well for starters- WE GOT OUR TRAVEL PLANS!!!! I fly directly to PARIS, FRANCE in 10 days. I will report to the MTC travel office one Monday August 16th at 1:30pm so that means that we will get to the airport about 2:30 or so, then my direct flight leaves Salt Lake at 4:50pm. should expect to get a phone call from me around 2:00pm your time or so. I am SO excited to talk to you all before I leave the country. I will land in the Chas De Gaulle airport on Tuesday August 17th at 11:25am. Words really can't describe how excited I am.

Yesterday my friend Elder Hales brought his Paris pictures to show me. I almost had a heart attack when I saw then. I don't know, it's just that when I saw them I thought to myself "Holy Cow!!!! Paris is a REAL place...with REAL people....who speak ONLY FRENCH....and I am going there in 10 days. Wow! Alright, so I only have a few minutes to write so this is this week in a nut-shell:

I bore my testimony in french during testimony meeting. It has really hit me how much french we "old" missionaries really know. I love hearing the new missionaries speak french, it helps me see how much I have grown. Really, it is all thanks to the Gift of Tongues! I couldn't have done this on my own, and honestly I still have a long way to go.

Our favorite progressive investigator, Triston, is INCREDIBLE! He will be "baptized" this Saturday. I can't wait to teach real people though.

This week it has been off and on rainy. I actually like it a lot. Well, the other day our teacher decided that we were going to go outside and take a walk. When we got to this specific place he stopped us and told us that we were going to do a special activity. We all had to pretend like we were busy, non-mormon, french people in a public place. The he chose one of us to be a missionary, who had to stand up on a table, get everyone's attention and teach them (Of course everyone was asking weird questions too). The first missionary he chose was Elder Bishop who is pretty quiet. I think that Elder Bishop did amazing, and he was actually really bold and powerful. Well then of course he chose ME to be the missionary. I'm not going to lie, I was praying in my heart that I wouldn't be picked, but apparently Heavenly Father felt otherwise. It was pretty much the most uncomfortable thing I have ever done, but afterwards I felt really good. I feel like if I could do that, I can do anything. At least in France I probably won't be standing on any tables to contact. But then again, you never know. Haha We'll see.

Well, that's about all I have time for today. I'm sorry this is short, but I will send a seperate email to mom and dad.

I love you all! As always, thank you for all of your love and support. Please know that I am well and very happy.

Eternally Yours,
Soeur Andrea McClaine


Goodbye USA, Hello France!
Friday, August 13, 2010 3:47 PM
"Andrea McClaine"
Add sender to Contacts
Hello Family!

I can't believe that my time at the MTC is almost done. In three days I will say goodbye to everything that is normal and comfortable to me and start new in FRANCE (or Belgium). I have absolutely loved the MTC! It is a very special place and I feel so lucky to have been here for the last eight and a half weeks. There is a lot that I will miss, but I feel prepared and ready to go to out to the mission field.

Well, first of all- Mom, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE DRESS YOU SENT ME! When I read your note I thought "Aw, sad-it's not going to fit" but then I got home that night and tried it on and it fits perfectly!!!! I was so impressed that you made that! I have showed practically everyone here and I am so proud to say that my mom made it for me! It is so beautiful and I feel so special when I wear it. (I'm wearing it today! :] ) I will take a picture of me wearing it when I am in France and I will make sure to send it to you! Thank you so much Mom! You are amazing.

I feel like I don't have that much more to say this week. We have just been doing the same thing that we have been the last 9 weeks. As always, every devotional and fireside we have is incredible! This week in Relief Society the Primary General President came and spoke to us. Of course Primary has a very special place in my heart and I felt like her coming was like a little special gift to me from Heavenly Father. After the meeting I went up and met her. She is lovely! For Devotional we had Elder Evans from the Quorum of the 70. He also gave a powerful talk about the importance of the Book of Mormon in our teaching. He taught us that it is extremely important to have our investigators read the Book of Mormon from the beginning to the end, and to give them large reading assignments each visit. He also encouraged us to invite others to be baptized the very first time that we meet with them. I am SOOOO grateful that I could hear that talk right before I leave for the mission field. I know that I will be a better missionary because of it.

I have some really sad news (it's not really about me, but it's still sad). There are 4 elders from my zone who have been temporarily reassigned because their Belgium visas haven't came through yet. I guess President Stahli really wants them to serve in Belgium first, so until they get there VISA they will be in the States. One of the elders is Elder Bishop! I know that we aren't supposed to have favorites but he is my favorite elder! We have become really good friends and I am sad that he won't be with us right when we go over. Until he gets his VISA he will be in San Jose, California. I told him that he is pretty special to be called to CA right now because of everything that is happening (Prop 8 stuff). I know that Heavenly Father is very conscious of things like that and I trust that he sends missionaries to specific locations for a very special purpose, even if it is temporary.

This is interesting though because last Sunday we got out the new mission map and we all guessed where our first area would be. Everyone (including me) guessed that my first area would be Charleroi, Belgium (I may have spelled that wrong). I really thought that my first area would be Belgium...I don't know, maybe just because that was my original mission call. That means that either 1. My first area will be in France or 2. I already have my VISA. I guess we will find out soon though huh?!?! :]

I am very excited to talk to you soon! It might be weird for me though- missionaries get SOOO involved in the work that we almost forget our life away from the mission. Not really of course, but I think you know that I mean. I think Heavenly Father helps us keep our mind on the work so that we don't get homesick or distracted. But, I will be excited to talk to you again!!!! Remember!!! Monday sometime between 1 and 4 in the afternoon everyone MUST be home by the phone! :] (including the boys!)

You know, one of my teachers said this week that our parents have a mission, but that WE are their investigators. That really touched me because neither of you served a mission by the church's standards, but you did serve a mission! And I am very thankful for all of your service, teaching, prayers, and love. Thank you for bringing ME unto Christ, I hope that I can follow your example to the people in France and Belgium!

I love you all!!! Remember, no more DearElders! They don't come on Sat, Sun, or Mon. From now on you can email me (family) or send letters.

Eternally Yours!!!!!
Soeur Andrea McClaine

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hello Family!

As always, I am wonderful and loving every second of being a missionary.

Soeur Strunk and I grow closer and closer every day. As I mentioned last week, we teach ALL THE TIME! Well, it's been our goal to become more unified and follow the Spirit when we teach. This week I feel we have seen the fruits of our labors. Our lessons have been incredible (not because of anything we do specifically, but because we follow the Spirit). At the MTC you can have "Progressive Investigators"-teachers who play the role of someone they taught on their mission. This gives us a chance to help and teach people throughout our time at the MTC. Well, Soeur Strunk and I have been teaching a boy named Triston (our favorite P.I.). He is amazing, and so fun! We have come to become good friends with him and we love him so much, the only thing is that he hasn't been very good at keeping his commitments. Well this week everything changed, and yesterday I got to extend my first baptismal invitation!!! I can't even explain the joy I feel when I get to help others change in their life. I can't wait to teach real people! I love being a missionary.

This week the Provo temple opened again, and we had the opportunity to go to the temple today. I love the temple so much! I learn something new every single time I go. It was special to be in the temple with our elders. It helped me realize that the work we are involved in is eternal and essential.

Almost 600 new missionaries came into the MTC this week-the largest group of 2010 so far. And 63 of them were for our zone (they asked some of the missionaries to delay coming in for a few weeks). Now we have almost 100 missionaries in our zone. It is incredible! We had the opportunity to "Host" for the new missionaries. It was fun to get to know some of the new sisters and help them settle in. Some sisters were crying, some were completely nervous, and some were just full of excitement. It reminded me of how I felt just a few weeks ago, leaving my family for 18 months, knowing that my entire life was changing from that point on. I am so happy that I am serving the Lord as a full-time missionary. I am confident that I will NEVER regret this decision. I am especially grateful for everyone who helped me make the decision to serve....especially you Mom! :] Thank you!

We have 5 new sisters in my Zone. They are from Bulgaria, Texas, Utah, California, and England. They will be serving in Canada(2), Toulouse France, and Madagascar. (Guess what!?!?! The sister who didn't come a few months ago, she is coming on Monday! I am so happy for her!) Since there are 5 of them and only 4 empty beds in our room, they are down the hall. That means that Soeur Strunk and I have our own room! I'm not going to lie, it's REALLY nice. Haha

Well, we haven't received our travel plans yet, but they will probably get here tonight. I'll let you know next week. :]

Know that I'm doing well! I am happy! I am working hard and staying focused! I am learning and growing every second!

I love you all!!!! You are always in my prayers!

Love Eternally,
Soeur Andrea McClaine
Hello Family!

I have now been in the MTC for over 5 weeks. AND next week, one week from today, I should receive my travel plans to leave for PARIS!!! (Travel plans usually come 2 weeks before you leave). We'll see what happens. :]

I was happy to hear that Joy's sealing was beautiful and that everything went well. I wish I could have been there with all of you, but the Lord wants me here right now. I look forward to seeing pictures though.

Well, Soeur Stackhouse (the solo sister-companion/roommate) left for Tahiti this week. I will miss her a lot, but I am thrilled that she is finally in Tahiti, and I have no doubt that she is enjoying herself there. This week Soeur Strunk and I are the ONLY sister missionaries in our zone, but next week we will hopefully receive LOTS of new sisters. This Wednesday there are 68 new french speaking missionaries coming to the MTC. We are all extremely humbled at the fact that they will look to us to be there examples, but we have been preparing and have lots of goals to help us become the missionaries that Heavenly Father wants us to be. I am very excited to have new sisters come! I love sister missionaries, not that I'm biased or anything (Haha), but I think that they bring something very special to the mission. :]

My district has been asked to help "host" the new missionaries this Wednesday. I will keep my eye out for the Rowley family-Truman will be entering the MTC that day.

This week I have been especially impressed with the power of music in inviting the Spirit. In almost all meetings at the MTC we sing and if it is a big enough meeting there is a musical number. In Relief Society, one sister sang the song "My kindness will never leave thee". I had never heard that song before and I was deeply touched by it. I felt the Spirit testify to me that Heavenly Father will always be there to help me, because He loves me. He loves all of His children in a very personal way. He wants us to be happy. Then later Sunday night, during our Fireside, a boy sang "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing". I have always loved that song, but this specific arrangement was absolutely incredible! He sang with such humility and you could tell that he meant every word that he sang. I love music! As a result of that those musical numbers I suggested to Soeur Strunk that we start singing in our "Rendez-Vous" (lessons with progressive investigators). One Monday we sang "I am a child of God" to our Atheist investigator and the Spirit was almost tangible! He cried and admitted that he felt something different when we sang. We testified that he was feeling the Spirit. Singing in our Rendez-Vous have changed everything. I am thankful for music.

To be completely honest, this week was a very humbling week! We had several of our progressive investigators not show up to our appointments, the language has been tough, and honestly I feel a great weight of the work that I have been called to do. Although it has been tough, I am grateful for my calling to serve the Lord as a missionary. I am learning to completely rely on the Spirit to teach through me, and help me become a better person and missionary.

I love the gospel! I know it is true!

I love you all! Thank you for your letters, prayers, and support.

Love Eternally,
Soeur Andrea McClaine


Bonjour ma famille!

As always, I feel like I have a lot to say, but not very much time to write. The weeks go by faster and faster, but the days are still pretty long, which is okay because I have SO MUCH to do and still not enough time to do it.

Well, I am officially half way done with my MTC experience and 1/18 of the way done with my mission. It is crazy how fast time goes.

Thank you SOOOOO much for the package you sent me this week. I loved everything in it. I didn't want to gain more weight so I did just what you said and I shared everything with the elders in my district. Of course they all loved it too! Thank you! I especially loved the pearl bracelet and necklace. I wore them the very next day and I felt so special. I honestly can't thank you enough. I also loved the little picture of mom and dad! I showed everyone and then hung it up right next to my bed. The great love from my family helps me better understand Heavenly Father's love for me, and His gifts to me everyday. I also showed everyone the pictures of the boys. I can't believe how much they have grown since I have left, especially David. I miss those boys!

Alright, well this week has been pretty intense because I have stopped speaking English. From this point on, I will only speak french. I have done it for a couple days so far. It is REALLY hard, but I know that Heavenly Father will help me in my efforts to improve in the language. I have heard that the first week is the hardest and that after that it is a lot easier. I sure hope that that is true! Haha There is another elder who is speaking only french as well and he is a great example to me. When it gets hard I just think of him and I stay strong. Please pray for me!!! I can use all of the help I can get.

Because I am only speaking french, Soeur Strunk and I have been teaching all of our lessons in french, which is also REALLY hard! This week in the TRC (When community members come in and pretend to be investigators) we taught the Word of Wisdom and the second lesson to a boy. It was difficult because he spoke very fast and with a large vocabulary. There were a lot of times when I had to say "Je ne comprend pas, Desolee!" but then he would just say the same thing, just as fast. I learned the importance of letting the spirit teach. He said that he didn't know if he could follow the word of wisdom because it is too hard. I told him that speaking french is very hard for me, but I know that Heavenly Father will help me if I try. I promised him blessings if he tried as well. The spirit was there. After the lesson our teacher came up to us and said "That was amazing! Did you know that he isn't a member?!?!?!? " I almost had a heart-attack. I sure hope that he felt the spirit!

Soeur Strunk and I have actually been teaching A TON of lessons lately. We have tons of "Progressive Investigators" and we teach all the time. It is hard now that we teach in french, but it is really good practice. I am learning and growing so much!

I had a special tender mercy this week. I was having a rough time one day and while I was looking through my box of letters to find an address I found a letter from dad that I had somehow not read. When I read the letter it said exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you Dad for your words of love and encouragement. I know that Heavenly Father knew that I would need that letter, just not at the time Dad sent it. Heavenly Father really looks out for His children.

This week, Jenny Oaks Baker (Dallin H. Oaks daughter) came and spoke to us at devotional. She is a famous violin player and she preformed a lot of songs during her talk. Elder Oaks was there too.

I think Mom asked about my schedule and cloths here at the MTC. To answer your question, The schedule is very busy! I wake up at 5:30am everyday to shower and get ready. Then we have class, personal study, companionship study, language study, teaching time, devotionals, gym, and now I have meetings for Coordinating sisters. We are busy all day and then I go to bed at 10:30pm. It is great to be so productive, but also exhausting.

And I actually love my cloths. I feel comfortable in everything and I like my cloths more than most of the others sisters cloths. Haha

Well, again I am out of time. I love you all and always love hearing from you during the week.

Have fun at Joy's sealing and please tell her how much I love her and wish I could be there.

I know that I have the best family in the world!

Love Eternally,
Soeur Andrea McClaine