Monday, September 23, 2013

First email from France (Katie Mulhouse)

Hello family!

Okay, before I say anything, I just have to say, I'm typing on a French keyboard, but it's changed to English, so no accents. Don't judge.

Oh my goodness HI!!!!! Wow. This is so weird. I'm in France...and it is so so so beautiful here! I guess I should start from the beginning. On my last day in the MTC (I had to report at 11:30 so I got to go to my first class for most of it) we were doing a finding activity with the other district and my district and Brother Smith and their teacher, but I had to go, and so I got up. Gathered my stuff together. Tried hard not to cry (for some reason I felt SO sad that I was leaving all of these wonderful people...) and went around the room shaking everyone's hand. I was the only Sister, except for Sister Siilata who was my temporary companion from the other district. Then I said goodbye to Brother Smith, and Sister Siilata and I went and got my stuff and went to the travel office.

My district. I love them so much.

 From there it was like everything was in slow motion, but at the same time at the speed of light. A blur. A slow blur, if that makes any sense. The flight was a little over 9 hours, and I took the melatonin right after getting off of the phone with you and was OUT in a half hour. Didn't even feel the plane lift off (tender mercy). I slept for like 3 hours, but couldn't go back to sleep after that. AND THEN I GOT TO FRANCE.

I met President and Soeur Poznanski, and they are incroyable (incredible). With such adorable French accents they asked how we were and explained some things and gave us pain au chocolats (chocolate croissants). YUMMY. Then we went to St. Merri's (which is the main church--and the second most expensive building owned by the church--in Paris where we hold conferences and mutations (transfers) and stuff) and got to see Notre Dame.

At Notre Dame. The Elder next to to me is Elder Kahne

After that, we went to a place called Consecration Hill where we pledged to be missionaries and set goals for our mission. It was SUCH neat experience! Also, I met an Elder who's name is Elder Kahne (pronounced "can") from Toulouse who is going to the California Sacramento Mission!!!!! So watch out for him! He is waiting for his visa, so he's in the Paris Mission temporarily. Anyways, at Consecration Hill, we can see all of Paris (only half of the Tour Eiffel though...haven't even seen that yet...) and the Elders who were taking us everywhere explained that we relate it to Lehi's dream in 1 Nephi 8. There's a large city set apart, and in front of it is the Seine river, one of the dirtiest rivers in Europe. Our job is to hold fast to the iron rod, and to help as many people as possible catch on from that city. To help them find their way. I loved that and it made me so excited and enthusiastic that I'm finally a missionary!!

THEN I met Sr. Hafen! She is awesome. She is so spiritual and so fun and absolutely adorable. She's 5'8", so we're basically the same height (nice and tall!) and we like a lot of the same things (like food, we both really love food). And yes I remembered her name, but could not figure out where it was from until she remembered that we went to EFY together in Provo! Also, she's the oldest of 8 children. And no, I did not make that up. The youngest is a girl and she's 8 years old. She has 6 sisters and only 1 brother! Crazy right?? Ah I love her so much already. And she's doing such a fabulous job as a trainer. She helps me with things when I need it, but she also pushes me so that I have to step out of my comfort zone and learn. One of her favorite quotes (and now mine as well) is "There is no learning in comfort and there is no comfort in learning." SO GOOD. Also, she's from American Fork, Utah (I don't know if you knew this or not, but I was actually born there) and the Pattersons are in her ward! You know, Caleb Patterson? Yeah! Her mom emailed her saying that Caleb said he knew me and my younger brother was one of his best friends! Cool right? Basically, this companionship is inspired.

Us eating none other than...duh duh duh...actually guess. It's a disney movie set in Paris. (hint hint it has a rat that can cook in it.)

Ah, Mulhouse.  It's pronounced "mew-looz" and oh my goodness I'm in love with it already. It was like a 3 hour train ride here, and it's one of the bigger cities actually. There are two equipes (companionships) here. There is an Elder equipe and us, and the area covers the small villes around Mulhouse as well. The first day, Mercredi (Wednesday), we got here at like 7:00ish, and then dropped my stuff off, stopped at a little patisserie shop and I chose to try a pain au raisin, just for you, Mom. LOVED IT.

Pain au raisin

So good....and then we rushed over to Mirjana's house (one of our amis) who is actually German. Oh! One thing about Mulhouse is it has about a billion different nationalities. Everyone speaks at least 3 or 4 languages, and sometimes they speak English! Mirjana speaks better English than French, so we taught her in English which was nice because I don't speak French. ;) But yeah, the missionaries here give out LdMs (French acronym for Book of Mormon) in all different languages. She has a German one. But she is so sweet! She has two little boys, Leon and Tommy and when we went that night she told us she was pregnant with another baby! Malheureusement (unfortunately), she told us on Saturday when we went that she has miscarried. It was SO sad. And her little boy Leon (probably 9 or so?) just got beat up really badly at school and so a member from the ward came over and gave him a blessing. And her husband doesn't want to listen to anything we have to say (on Saturday when we came over he was hungover...). She's had a tough week, so keep her in your prayers.

J'aime etre une missionaire.(I love being a missionary.) SO MUCH. That was one of the first phrases I wanted to know how to say and so I asked Sr. Hafen and she told me! And I say it all the time. Because it's so true. I already know that this is going to be hard, not because we aren't going to see baptisms or because the Spirit won't be there, but because people are hard to teach. Especially for me right now. I love to talk (I don't know if you knew that) and I can't very much in lessons. I can testify, and I am learning, but it's hard. I had my first church service in French yesterday and I could hardly understand anything...I can understand American French, but some of their accents are so French! And they speak so fast! But Sr.(abbreviation for Soeur which means Sister) Hafen told me that by my 5th Sunday, I should be able to understand almost everything. So I guess we'll see! I absolutely know that I am meant to be here. The food is amazing. The people are amazing. The country is amazing. But that's not why I'm here. I'm here because I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior. We've gone porting a couple of times, and sometimes that's how we start. Bonjour Monsieur/Madame, je m'appelle Soeur Pettingill et moi et ma collegue venons des Etats-Unis parce que nous savons que Jesus-Christ est notre Sauveur. Et je sais qu'il est mort pour nous. Avez-vous quelques croyances? (Hello Sir/Madam, my name is Sister Pettingill and me and my colleague come from the United States because we know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. And I know that he died for us.  Do you have any beliefs?)  And most of the time, they say they're Muslim, or Catholic, or Protestant, or some other religion, or yes but non pratiquant (non-practicing) but GUESS WHAT. I've seen miracles already. People have let us in. I've seen the desire to know Christ and to have une relation personelle avec Dieu (a personal relationship with God). And I love it. J'aime etre une missionaire.

Je vous aime!! I'm sorry I don't have time to answer all of your questions! I'm so glad the family is doing great, and I'll make sure to keep you in my prayers! Good luck with the soccer games and watch out for some postcards! You are the best family in the whole entire world. I love you.

Bisous (those French cheek kisses they give),

Soeur Pettingill

P.S. If you have time, look up the talk "His Grace is Sufficient" by Brad Wilcox. It was in the Liahona once, and I loved it. Also, Moroni 10:32. Mon objectif (my goal) :)

(Here is a link to the talk by Brad Wilcox.)

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