Rain, rain, rain, rain

Bonjour tout le monde!

 
This first week in Toulouse has been really busy and really great! Also…. really rainy. It has rained EVERY day since I’ve been here. I don’t mind the rain normally, but not when we have to do three hours of street contacting in it. Somehow, people are less disposed to stop and talk to you when you’re standing in the rain. 
 
My new companion is great! She’s from the Ukraine, so she speaks Russian and Ukrainian. Cool huh? 
Also, our roommates are awesome! There are two wards here in Toulouse, and the sisters from the other ward live with us. Soeur Hills (my trainer) is here, and we’ve just had the best time catching up and reminiscing on all of our memories of being in Lyon together. Everytime I do something like, talk to someone in French on the phone, she laughs and says, “Remember when you COULD NOT do that? Makes a momma proud.” So. Official evidence that I have progressed as a French speaker and as a missionary. 
Soeur Hills is training this transfer a new sister names Sister Jensen and she’s super great! She’s 28 and has a masters in violin performance. Cool huh? 
So, needless to say, we laugh a lot and have lots of fun in our apartment.
 
Here’s a pic of the four Toulouse sisters, Soeur Jensen, Soeur Hills, Soeur Brimhall and I! 
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My first Sunday was great! It’s so nice to have a first Sunday somewhere when I already speak French. It makes it a lot easier to make friends. The Concorde ward is super great! There are about 80 active members and TONS of really cool families!
We had a missionary themed sacrament meeting where the ward mission leader and ward missionaries gave talks. All the missionaries (there are 8 of us, 6 Elders and 2 Sisters) sang two songs, and the new missionaries bore their testimonies. 
Bearing my testimony reminded me of my very first Sunday in France. I had to bear my testimony and I didn’t know ANYTHING, so I just said, “I love Jesus Christ and the church is true.” I did a little better this time. Anyways, I was getting real sentimental about how much time has passed since then and how much I’ve changed. It’s crazy! Missions speed up mental, behavioral, and spiritual development like times 5. 
After church, we set up a little table and we had made cookies for all the members. French people LOVE American cookies (they don’t exist here). And we made thank you cards for everyone to express our appreciation for them. And they LOVED it. It was super great!
 
We have some really great things planned for this transfer, so I’m really excited! Toulouse is a GREAT ville!
 
This week, we will be traveling to Talence, near Bordeaux for an exchange with the sister training leaders, and I get to go on exchange with Soeur Stevens! We are VERY excited! 
 
Lastly, I wanted to share a JR Holland quote that I read this week and really liked, “The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead and remember that faith is always pointed toward the future.”
I loved that! I have had so many wonderful experiences on my mission thus far. Many companions, members, and amis that I have loved and learned from. And I can’t wait to continue working here in Toulouse! Faith is always pointed towards the future!
 
Have a great week everyone!
 
Avec Amour, 
 
Soeur Jones
 
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TOULOUSE!

OKAY OKAY. I MOVED. I’M IN TOULOUSE!!!!!!
And yes. I’m freaking out.

We got our calls on Friday and President said, ” Soeur Jones, you’re moving. To Concorde (one of the sectors in Toulouse) you’ll be a LOT warmer this winter, so you’re welcome.” And since then I’ve been freaking out and stressing out and trying to fit EVERYTHING into my suitcases to travel ACROSS the country of France. I’ve moved from the very north-east of the mission to the very south-west.

My new companion is Soeur Brimhall. We are the same age in the mission! We are also living with two other sisters, one of which is my trainer Soeur Hills! Also, Soeur Stevens is my new sister training leader! So, we’re all reunited which is really fun!
I was totally DEVASTATED to leave Chalon. I LOVE the people and the branch and everything about Chalon so much, but I’m excited for my new adventure!

Sorry that I’m using so much capitalization. I’m REALLY tired and feeling especially dramatic.

But my last week in Chalon was wonderful. We spent the week getting Laurent prepped to receive the Holy Ghost, which he did this last Sunday! He also was interviewed to receive the Aaronic Priesthood next week!

We also found a really cool new ami last week! His name is Paolo. He’s 25 and Portugese. He has a Catholic background, but decided to meet with us because he is looking for something more. We taught him with our new member, Laurent, and Laurent testified like a champ. We could tell that Paolo really felt the spirit.

On Friday, after receiving transfer calls, I called all of my favorite people in Chalon and made sure to set up appointments with them. I served almost five months in Chalon, long enough for me to get very attached to the area!
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We had lunch with the DuCoeur family (and Laurent who has been living with them) on Saturday afternoon.
On Saturday evening, we had a branch activity that the missionaries planned. A karaoke dance party! It was SUCH a blast! The perfect ending to my time in Chalon. All the members and amis that I love were there. One of  the members bought a subscription to a french/english karaoke website and we ran it through the TV. It was SO good. Especially since most French people can’t sing:)

Then, it was my last Sunday. It was so sad!
We had dinner at the Landré’s house. And yes. I held their snakes again. And Soeur Landré made my favorite dessert, peach tart with one can of whipped cream on it:)
My parting gift from Frère Landré was a wine tasting cup with the Bourgonion seal on it.
Vive Chalon.

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Then, we went to the Millers and had root beer floats with REAL American rootbeer from the American store in Lyon. We also played the whipped cream game. It’s the one where you put a dollop of whipped cream in your palm, then hit your arm with your other hand to make the whipped cream fly into the air and try to catch it in your mouth. It’s a traditional game of the France Lyon mission. I’m getting really good. I get it like 4 times out of 5.

This morning, the DuCoeurs came and picked me up to drive Soeur Hutchins and I to the gare (Soeur Hutchins is moving to Lyon) and both the DuCoeurs and Laurent cried cried cried. It was very emotional. They made me promise to write and come back one day and visit them.
The mission is so great in that you meet so many amazing people and come to love them. It’s also the worst because you always have to say goodbye.
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MAIS TOULOUSE! A big city with a big(ger) ward! I’ve been told that the Concorde ward has about 70 active members and a huge youth program! I’m excited to get to work here!

Have a great week everyone! Pray for my companion and I here in Toulouse!

Avec Amour,

Soeur Jones

LAURENT IS MORMON.

So. I’m probably going to tell you about this week backwards because the most exciting thing happened yesterday! LAURENT GOT BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!

The whole branch traveled up to Dijon after church and the program was great! I gave the talk about the Holy Ghost, and Laurent bore his testimony and did a great job!
After the baptism, he sent us a text message that said, “JE SUIS MORMOOOOON!!!!” (I am Mormon). 
Now I will put 1,000,000 pictures on here. 
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Soeur Howden and Laurent and I. 
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CHALON missionaries with Laurent! 
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That kid is baptized.
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Baptisms are the best! 
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Laurent with his best member friend, Frère DuCoeur
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Laurent with one of my favorite members, Soeur Perrin. Yes. She is four feet tall. 
 
Anyways, so everyone in the branch was just super happy and excited to get a young’un. It was a super great day! 
 
The rest of the week was relatively boring. Except for the day of Epiphany. Which is a huge holiday in France, because almost everyone is Catholic. It’s to celebrate the day the wise men came to Jesus. We have a member who LOVES jokes, so we decided to help her celebrate the Epiphany. 
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Yes. We dressed up like men. Wise men. And went to her house bearing gifts. And we made beards and moustaches out of our own hair. Vive la France. 
 
We also ate a LOT of King’s cake this week. The French eat it to celebrate the Epiphany and Galette de Roi is SOOOO good. I found the baby Jesus once and got to be the Reine. (Queen).
 
But anyways, as you can see, last week was a really great week. This week is the last week of the transfer!!! Can you believe that? I’m going to be starting transfer 6, which is HALFWAY!! Where has the time gone? 
We will also spend this week planning our branch karaoke/dance party for this saturday:)
 
Love you all! Have a great week!
 
Avec amour, 
 
Soeur Jones
 

Bonne Annee!!

2014. Weird. 

 
This week was super great! And super weird. At the same time.
 
Last Monday, the six Chalon missionaries went to a maison de retraite (nursing home) and sang songs. Von Trapp family style. We brought a little keyboard and I played, and Soeur Hutchins played the guitar and we sang various hymns and primary songs. Those Frenchies LOVED it. They were clapping their hands and dancing. It was so great! The director of the home said it was the first time they’d ever done anything like that, and they hope to do it again soon! So. There you go. We’re spreading the love to the elderly Frenchies. We had family home evening at the Miller’s home, and we had TONS of people come! We did a short lesson on goal setting and then had an activity and cake. It went super well! We had about 5 amis there and they loved it! 
 
On Tuesday night, because it was New Year’s Eve, we had a raclette party at the church. All the people from the branch who don’t have families were invited. We had three raclette grills going and TONS of potatoes and cheese and bacon. It was a SUPER fun time! We even drank some sparkling apple juice at 9:00 to celebrate the new year. 
 
On New Year’s Day, we traveled out to le Creusot to have lunch with a member couple there. We had the traditional French holiday foods, ie. caviar, mussels, roast turkey, and a bûche cake. Then, because we were feeling in a musical mood, we taught the family the Restoration lesson in song! The wife of the family is less active and gets sort of uncomfortable when we talk about spiritual things, but she LOVES music. So, the four of us sisters picked hymns and children’s songs that corresponded to every point of the first missionary lesson and we sang and had little blurbs in between the songs. And everyone loved it! The husband is in the branch presidency and he talked to the branch president and we are performing it in sacrament meeting next week! I’ll let you know how it goes! 
Speaking of next Sunday, LAURENT IS GETTING BAPTIZED NEXT SUNDAY!!!! We are SO excited and so is he! The branch is traveling up to Dijon after church next Sunday for the baptism. It’s going to be so great! 
 
On Thursday, we traveled to Dijon for a district meeting. We talked a lot about teaching families, since that is our mission focus for the year 2014. Our goal is for every missionary to baptize a family of four this year. That’ll be a challenge, but everyone is really excited about it because we know that the church in France is in dire need of families. After district meeting, I went on an exchange with Soeur Hutchins and we traveled to a town called Beaune to teach an ami there. It’s a beautiful little ville! 
 
On Friday, we traveled to Lyon and spent Saturday on exchange with the sister training leaders. I always love getting to go back to Lyon. The exchange was really great and so much fun! Except the end… we got the the gare in Lyon at about 8:00 at night. Our train was supposed to leave at 8:20. Except… our train got canceled. Bummer. So the next train out didn’t get us home until 12:00am and the next train after that didn’t get us home until after church the next day. So we had to take the late train. We didn’t get home until SUPER late. So that was kind of the worst. 
 
Church yesterday was great! It was the first Sunday of three hour church!  We had a great fast and testimony meeting and then the branch break the fast after church (which is always SUPER yummy). Everyone brought a King’s cake for dessert and we had fun crowning the kings and queens that found the baby Jesus in their piece of cake. 
Then… I sprained my ankle. In the church building. It’s a really lame story, so I’m not going to even bother telling it. But just know that I’m fine. And I can walk. Slowly. So, no worries! 
 
Sorry I have no pictures this week. I’m the worst. I promise to take some and send them next week! 
 
Have a great week back to school everyone!
 
avec amour,
 
Soeur Jones