Bonne Année!

Bonjour tout le monde!

I hope everyone’s Christmas was wonderful!
Christmas here in Chalon-sur-Saône was definitely an adventure!
On Christmas Eve, we had dinner at our branch mission leader’s home. We ate all kinds of weirdy fishy Frenchy food. Including caviar. Which is not my fave.
The Landrés (and Sebastian).
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I also got to eat chestnuts for the first time. So, my “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” dream was made true. Turkey and chestnuts is the traditional Christmas dish in France.
We also had a bûche cake. (It’s a Christmas log cake which is also a traditional French Christmas dish.
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Oops. You can’t see the actual cake. That’s because Soeur Landré LOVES whipped cream.
We shared a Christmas thought about light and Christ and then returned home, where we had an extended curfew of 11:00 (but we actually went to bed at 10 because we were tired). BUT we did all open our one Christmas Eve present (I opened my PJ’s).
Christmas day, we got to sleep in until 8:30. This was probably the best part of the day. Kidding… kind of. Then we got up and opened all of our packages around our tiny Christmas tree.
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I felt so loved and SO spoiled as I opened all of my gifts from family and friends back home. A big MERCI to  mom and dad (duh) and the kiddos, Big Momma and Big Daddy, Debbie and Helmut, Jonah and Josie, the Taylor family, the Wilders, and the young men and young women of Cypress, Texas. You are all the best! Thanks for thinking of me!
We even got super sweet matching mission watches from Président and Soeur Roney!
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It has the pictures of the French and Swiss flags on it and says “La Mission Française de Lyon, WATCH us baptize” HA.
We had Christmas lunch at the DuCoeur’s home. Turkey and chestnuts!
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Joyeux Noël!!!
Then, we went to the Millers to Skype our families. This really was the best part of Christmas! I loved getting to talk to the fam! I loved getting to see everyone and hear about their lives! SO fun! I can’t wait to do it again on Mother’s Day!
We finished off our Christmas week by spending Friday at a zone training conference in Lyon and Saturday, we went on exchanges with the other equipe in Chalon.

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It was REALLY windy.
I can’t believe this transfer is already halfway over! Time is FLYING!
I also can’t believe it’s going to be 2014 in just a few days. Like… two. SO weird.
I hope everyone enjoys celebrating the New Year! We are having a little New Year’s Party with some members. They’ve promised us fake bubbly. So. We’ve got that to look forward to!
I love and miss you all!
Avec amour,
Soeur Jones

 

 

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20

Bonjour tout le monde!

Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes! This week was so great!
On Wednesday, we had our Christmas conference in Lyon. I was able to see a lot of missionaries that I love, including my missionary mom Soeur Hills who I haven’t seen since I’ve been in Chalon! Président and Soeur Roney gave really good talks and the senior couples put together a really great Christmas lunch for us all. During lunch, the office Elders dressed up as Santa and passed out everyone’s Christmas packages.The one you sent mom, was the biggest one in the whole conference. When they pulled that one out from behind the stage everyone was like, “WHOA.” HAHA. I also received packages from Debbie and Helmut, Big Momma and Big Daddy, and Jonah and Josie. So by the end of the conference, everyone was like, “Wow Soeur Jones, you must’ve been really good this year.” I have tried to be really good this year, but I think it’s not so much that as it is that I have a really rockin’ family! I am so grateful for such a wonderful family who loves and supports me so much, especially now, during Christmas when it’s very easy to get homesick. 
When I got home on Wednesday night, I opened the giant Christmas package from my parents (they told me to, don’t worry). There were a bunch of wrapped presents as well as a little Christmas tree and ornaments, which I quickly set up and decorated and put everyone’s Christmas packages under. As I was decorating my little tree, I totally got all teary-eyed because it made the whole “not with your family for Christmas” thing a lot worse. Then I remembered what Président Roney had told us earlier that day. He said that Christmas time is the time when most missionaries get sad and feel bad for themselves and miss their families. He said it’s okay if we miss our families, it’s actually preferred, but he would rather that we, instead of being sad, chose to make this Christmas a time where we can strengthen our family relationships and testimonies. So, really the only way I can think of to do that from so far away is to share my testimony in email form with you.
Someone that I love once told me that they loved Christmas because they liked how we take the darkest, gloomiest, coldest time of the year and brighten it up with twinkling lights and hot chocolate and gingerbread. I love that too. When I walk down the FREEZING streets of Chalon at night, it doesn’t seem so sad and cold when you see red and green lights strung from all the balconies. These tiny lights can brighten up a whole night. 
We always talk about Jesus Christ being the light of the world. As a missionary, I’ve seen very clearly how the light of the gospel can illuminate an entire person’s life. You can always tell when things click because a little light comes on in the investigator’s eyes that changes their entire countenance. I know that is what Christ does for people. He lifts us up, he brightens our lives. 
 
The gospel, like the christmas lights can take the darkest, gloomiest, coldest times in our lives and brighten them up. I am so grateful for my Heavenly Father and my Savior, and for all the light they bring to my life. I know that Jesus Christ died so that we can live. I know that He atoned for our sins so that we can have joy and peace. And that is what Christmas is about: joy and peace. So, I guess my Christmas wish for everyone who reads this blog it that we take a minute on Christmas day, in between all the present opening and picture taking and eating and think about where all that joy and peace comes from. It comes from Christ. I know that. I leave that with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 
Anyways, so Friday was my birthday! I’m 20! OLDDDD! I got up in the morning and opened my birthday presents from my family, which I LOVED. I loved the cute book of talks and the sweaters and 40 pairs of gloves and the necklace most of all:)  Here’s an awkward selfie of myself with my birthday sweater and necklace on: 
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Look at me. All old and 20. 
I had birthday lunch at a British couple’s home (the Croguennecs) in the branch with the Millers: 
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Then, in the evening, the DuCoeur family and our investigator Laurent threw me a surprise birthday party at the church! 
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Tout le monde. Laurent made my favorite french meal for dinner: tartiflette (potatoes and cheese and bacon) LOL. 
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Frère DuCoeur made me a birthday cake (their cakes are very different here). 
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I’m 20!!!
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Soeur Hutchins, Grandpa DuCoeur, me, Anne Fleur DuCoeur, and Grandma DuCoeur. HA. 
So, it was a super great night! Everyone gave me presents: mostly chocolate and french cookbooks. And peanut butter. 🙂
Well, the rest of the week really wasn’t very interesting because I woke up in the middle of the night Friday night with the stomach flu. So… I had to stay home all day Saturday and Sunday and I’m mostly on bed rest today with the exception of emails. On the plus side, I’ve lost about 8 kilos since Friday! 
Merry Christmas everyone! Or, I should say Joyeux Noël!!!
I love and miss you all and hope your Christmas is WONDERFUL!
Avec amour, 
Soeur Jones

I’M OLD.

So, this week was very, very crazy.

Last Monday I picked up my new companion! Soeur Howden is South African, but lived in Utah most of her life, so she doesn’t have a cool accent that I can imitate. Bummer. 
 
Also last Monday, before I picked up my new companion, I was temporary companions with Soeur Hutchins who shares my obsessive love for everything made out of potatoes. So, for our p-day activity, we went to this restaurant in Chalon where everything is made out of potatoes. Needless to say, it was a really good day. 
 
Our branch Christmas party was on Saturday. It was a talent show and TOTALLY hilarious. 
The missionaries and our investigator Laurent did a skit narrated by a Soeur in the branch and it was SUPER funny. I wish I had pictures of it, but unfortunately I don’t because I was in it. I played the part of an old grandma. (WHICH I PRACTICALLY AM!)
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Elder and Soeur Miller were total champions and sang Silent Night in English and French. 
Then all the missionaries sang Angels We Have Heard on High (which is our mission song).
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Our DMB dressed up as Papa NoËl and brought gifts to all the primary children (all one of them:).
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Our investigator Adidja came and did an African dance with a bunch of hymn books on her head.
 
I played a piano piece to fill in some empty space. It was a SUPER great activity:) And we all ate dinner together afterwards! 
My favorite part of dinner was when Soeur DuCoeur came up to me and said, “I tried to make that thing that all American Mormons make.”  And I was like “What thing?” And she said, “You know those potatoes that you put cornflakes on?” And I was like, “OH  Funeral potatoes!” 
Then, about five minutes later, I sit down at the table across from an older man in the branch who was poking at his funeral potatoes and saying, “Americans are so weird. They put cereal on EVERYTHING.”  
So. There you go. We put cereal on everything. Spoken by a French man. 
 
Our investigators are progressing well. The work is slow during the holidays with many people leaving on vacation for somewhere warm, but we’re working hard and trying to bring some Christmas cheer to these grumpy Frenchies:) (Just kidding, they’re not grumpy… mostly).
 
Christmas is coming soon! We have a big Christmas conference in Lyon this Wednesday! I’m super excited for it! Also, this Friday I turn twenty. TWENTY. That means that I am OLD.
We already have a ton of things planned for the week of Christmas. Everyone in the branch wants to feed us frog legs and escargot and oysters (the Christmas delicacies here). YIKES!
 
I am missing everyone like crazy this Christmas season, but I am so grateful to be here and to have the chance to serve the people of Chalon:) 
 
I miss and love you all!
 
Soeur Jones
 
JOYEUX NOËL:) 

A very Chalon Christmas

YES. I am still in Chalon! I will be receiving a new companion here! Her name is Soeur Howden and she’s from South Africa! Cool huh? I’m really happy to be staying in Chalon this transfer and getting to spend Christmas here! The people of Chalon-sur-Saone LOVE them some Christmas. They just finished installing speakers along all of the main roads, so there is Christmas music playing CONSTANTLY all throughout Chalon. It’s the best! Also, we were walking around last night and saw this giant group of people dressed like Santa dancing in the middle of the road. I love France.

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So, Thursday, we had the music program in Dijon. It was really super great! There were four Elders, one singer, one pianist, and two violinists. They basically taught one of the missionary discussions in song. They did a really great job! Our investigator Laurent was able to come and he felt the spirit very strongly. 

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Elders Heck, Peilstick, Carre, and Leduc

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Then all the missionaries sang a song. Child’s Prayer in French. 
 
Saturday, we had two huge miracles! One: Laurent told us he is looking for another apartment (so he can move out of the one he lives in with his girlfriend). He told us he wants to get baptized in January, so he’s working hard to find a better job and a new apartment. Two: Charlene remade contact with us! Charlene is our investigator who had a baptismal date and then dropped off the face of the planet. She told us that she lost her phone in the South of France somewhere while she was on vacation, and she was just able to get a new one. She wants to start taking the lessons again! Miracles, miracles, miracles. It was a really good way for Soeur Christensen and I to end our transfer together. We worked hard for three months without a ton of visible success, and now everything is falling into place because we never stopped. Heavenly Father is the greatest. 
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I will miss Soeur Christensen, but I am excited for this new transfer! Alsoo, those lights behind us spell out chalon sur saone. I’ll try to get a better picture this week!
Yesterday, we had a baptism in the Chalon branch! The first baptism in this branch in a year! The other sisters’ investigator Yves got baptized in Dijon yesterday. The whole branch drove up after church and Yves was so happy and everyone was just thrilled out of their minds about it all. 
 
This week wasn’t really that interesting, so sorry that this email is so boring. But really, after the story about getting slapped by an Asian, this email was going to be relatively boring anyways. 
 
I love and miss you all!
 
Avec amour, 
 
Soeur Jones

Slapped!

So, this week started out SUPER great! We had our branch Thanksgiving dinner on Monday night! It went SO well. Those Frenchies love them some Thanksgiving. Everyone brought something to share. It was very…. not American. The Millers brought a turkey and mashed potatoes and gravy and everyone kept asking me what the gravy was. I was like, “THIS IS GRAVY PEOPLE!!!! YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU’RE MISSING OUT ON!!!!!” They all affirmed afterwards that gravy is heavenly. We had about 11 amis total show up and they all loved it! We made a big paper turkey and everyone wrote on the feathers the things they were grateful for. It was SO much fun! 

 
On Wednesday, we went with the Millers out to see a less active couple. This is one of the sights we drove by on the way:
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Typical french countryside site. No big deal or anything.
 
Thursday, we had ANOTHER Thanksgiving! This time it was entirely American, because it was at our district meeting! The missionaries from Dijon and Besancon came down to Chalon and we had a Thanksgiving lunch. The Millers made a turkey and mashed potatoes and gravy again. Someone else brought sweet potatoes, we made apple pie. It was just good times all around. I probably ate enough mashed potatoes and gravy for 58 people. 

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The spread. Well about half of it. 

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The Elders got the wishbone. 

Now to get to the story that explains the subject of my email:
 
On Friday morning, we went streetboarding, like we do every week. We were in the middle of contacting and this teeny tiny asian man with a cane, a beanie, and women’s sunglasses on walks up to me. I LOVE asians, so of course, I say hi.It went like this:
 
Me: Bonjour!
TAM (tiny asian man): BONYOUR. (He’s yelling at me in french with a thick Chinese accent)
Me: ça va?
TAM: ka va.     I LUHHH YOU. *SLAP* 
 
And he slapped me right in the face. Hard. It was hurty. I didn’t know what to do, but my companion had seen it and came running over. 
He turned around to her and said, 
 
TAM: I want to see you again!   *SLAP* 
 
Slapped my companion. In the face. 
Then, he grabbed her hand and pulled her towards him and said, pointing to his cheek, 
 
“BEE-YOOH” Which I think was supposed to mean Bisou. And she said, 
“Je peux pas, je suis missionnaire.” (I can’t kiss you, I’m a missionary). 
*SLAP* 
 
Slapped her right in the face AGAIN.
 
Then he turns around and  *SLAP* backhands me.
 
Then he walked away. As he’s walking away he says, “Vous êtes jolies et beautéful” A very strange mix between english and french to say that we are very pretty. 
 
We got slapped by a tiny asian man. Twice. 
 
In other news, the ville of Chalon just built a giant ice skating rink right in the middle of it! It’s so fun! 
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Too bad we are specifically prohibited to participate in any “winter sports”. 
 
Our investigator Laurent is doing REALLY well! He’s progressing so quickly! Here’s a pic:
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That’s our favorite member, Frère DuCoeur. HA. 
 
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There we go. Not so photo-bomb-y. 
 
Oh also, at fast and testimony meeting at church, one of the members got up and told everyone over the pulpit that I was his favorite missionary in the branch. HA. He’s like an old french grandpa. He said, “J’aime toutes les missionnaires que nous avons ici dans notre branche. Surtout ma petite Texan.” (I love all the missionaries that we have here in the branch, mostly my little Texan.)
 
Vive la France. 
 
LOVE YOU ALL!!!!
 
Soeur Jones