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