Thursday, November 26, 2015


Chere famille,

We're allowed to send y'all a quick email on this wonderful Thanksgiving Day! It's pretty chilly here at the MTC but we are filled with gratitude and with the Spirit today. We just heard from Elder Dallin H. Oaks and his wife at the Thanksgiving Devotional. They gave wonderful messages about being grateful in all situations and for all things, but especially for Heavenly Father's plan of salvation, for our Savior, Jesus Christ, and His Atoning sacrifice for all of us, and for the Gospel, which brings us salvation. I am also grateful for you, my awesome family! I hope you're enjoying Thanksgiving even though we're all in different places and time zones. I hope you're all FaceTiming today and sharing the day with each other through the wonderful technology God has blessed us with. And I hope you take the time today to thank our Heavenly Father for His many blessings in your lives. I miss you all and I love you so much! 

I'm grateful for my testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and I want to share it with you in French. (Just btw, I don't know how to do accents on this computer, so it won't all be correct (plus I'm not perfect at French), but you can figure it out :))

Je sais que Dieu est notre Pere Celeste. Nous sommes ses enfants. Dieu nous aime beaucoup! Je sais que Jesus-Christ est le Sauveur du monde. Je sais qu'il est mon Sauveur personel. Je suis reconnaissante de l'Evangile de Jesus-Christ dans ma vie. Je sais qu'elle est le moyen seule pour nous retourner vers Dieu et pour nous devenir comme lui. Je suis reconnaissante pour vous, ma famille! Je sais que nous vivrons ensemble a jamais quand nous suivons l'Evangile et quand nous nous ameliorons chaque jour. 

[Translation: I know that God is our Heavenly Father. We are his children. God loves us so much! I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. I know He is my Savior. I am grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ in my life. I know it is the only way to return to God and become like him. I am grateful to you, my family! I know we will live together forever when we follow the gospel and when we improve ourselves every day.]

Je vous aime beaucoup!!! Bon Thanksgiving!!

Soeur Matheson

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Week 3: G-Money and the Congos

Soeur Matheson on the MTC grounds (photo taken by Soeur Vogel)
That's our district's band name. Coolest. Name. Ever. *mic drop*

This week was crazy and fun and awesome!

First of all, we got 30 new people in our zone and all but 2 of them are going to France! It's crazy to think about the timing of their calls and the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. People are going to be looking for the peace of the Gospel in their lives, and Heavenly Father is making his missionaries available for them to talk to! We just had two districts leave for France yesterday as well! God is definitely hastening the work!

Also, yesterday marks my district's MTC halfway point! And we are now the "oldest" district (along with the other one who came in the same day as us who are going to Montreal/Barbados) in our zone. Elders Rhodes and Watkins have been called as Zone Leaders and Sisters Casuga and Flake are the new Sister Training Leaders! Sister Vogel and I are going to help the sisters as much as we can because I know Casuga and Flake are a little overwhelmed at the moment. They had to interview all the sisters in the zone. But they're loving it, and they're the perfect companionship to have that responsibility! They're both really loving and selfless.

Soeurs Flake and Matheson
On Friday, Sister Flake's kneecap popped out during gym time (it's happened to her before) but the trainers were worried she tore a ligament. She's been on crutches all weekend and couldn't go to the doctor until Monday because it was closed. I went to the doctor with her on Monday morning (companionship exchange!) while Sister Casuga started the interviews and Sister Vogel would stay with the other sisters' companions during the interviews. I did a puzzle and listened to conference talks in the waiting room for like two hours... But the doctor said that Sister Flake should go to physical therapy at the BYU student health center down the street. Sister Vogel went with her, and I stayed with Sister Casuga while she continued the interviews. They were gone for a long time and Sister Casuga and I almost had to teach our investigator Leonard together without really planning anything, but then Sister Flake and Sister Vogel came back. Sister Flake is just bruised and swollen because her kneecap moved. She didn't tear any ligaments or anything. The physical therapy helped her a lot, and she can walk a lot more now than she could this weekend! So it was kind of scary for a few days because no one knew how bad it was and what would happen, but it's all good now, and she's healing!

Soeur Vogel and I are getting waayyyy better at teaching without our notes. We can go in there and just talk and discuss everything and answer our investigators' questions. It's so much easier and less scary to teach when you get to know your investigator and what their needs are because you start to love them and you can know what to say that will help them. 

We've had some really great lessons this week! Our investigator Guillaume didn't believe in God after his baby daughter was stillborn and he hasn't prayed for 6 years. After he told us that, we taught him about who God is and about eternal families and about the personal nature of prayer. In our last lesson, he prayed out loud with us! We were so happy for him and his faith! When you're in the lessons it feels so real because the Spirit is there testifying of everything and it's weird to walk out and remember that it's really just your teacher pretending to be someone else. 

We also had a good lesson with Leonard yesterday. We went in planning to talk about the nature of God and prayer, but we decided to ask him what his questions were before we started. He asked what happens after we die, and we had a really good discussion. He prayed with us as well. Sister Vogel and I walked out and then realized that we hadn't looked at any notes the whole time, and we'd been able to say what we needed to say in French. The Spirit did the rest! It's been so great to have these experiences and also to have made teaching and French mistakes here rather than in the field. After seeing the two districts leave yesterday, we're getting really anxious to get out of here and go to New Cal and start the real work!!

On Sunday, I taught Relief Society. Every Sunday there's a topic for the entire day, and this Sunday it was repentance. I love repentance and the Atonement because it means we can change! It's never too late! In my lesson I talked about how yes, repentance helps us overcome our sins and mistakes, but it also helps us overcome our natural selves and helps us become like God. Mom, I really like that quote from Sister Peschke's lesson that you sent me. I wish I'd had it for my lesson! I was talking about the exact same thing! Elder Bednar talked about grace and how it's an enabling and strengthening power for us to use to become better than we were before. During my lesson, I had the sisters look up some scriptures about Christlike attributes because as missionaries we're striving to represent Christ. A great way for us to improve ourselves and become like Christ is to emulate His example. Then I had them share what they learned and how they could use it as missionaries. I love having discussions like that during Relief Society because it means I don't have to teach for as long haha and also because I love learning from other peoples' thoughts and feelings. It turned out to be a really good lesson :)

Soeurs Matheson, Flake, Casuga, and Vogel
We went to the temple this morning and did an endowment session! It was so great! The temple is definitely the best place to be! And it's fun to be there with a whole bunch of missionaries!

Thursday is Thanksgiving!! The MTC DOES recognize it as a holiday (haha, mostly because all of the teachers wouldn't want to work because they're all BYU students.) We're going to have a devotional with a general authority. (I've heard rumors that it's Elder Oaks, but I don't know for sure.) We also get to do a service project. We're going to be assembling 320,000 meals for needy families! I'm excited! We don't have any class, and we get to have awesome devotionals and singing. I'm pretty sure they're planning on Thanksgiving-y food for lunch! It's gonna be nice because it'll be like another P-day, and it'll break up the second half of the week that usually tends to drag and blur together...

Our teacher Frere Keenan is getting married on Friday in Oregon. We've been having a countdown for it in class. I think we're more excited for it than he is hahah

We got to watch Meet the Mormons on Sunday night! I cried on the last story about the missionary mom.  TOO SOON! Even Sister Vogel cried and she NEVER cries!! She's always too happy to cry, haha. 

Soooo..... yeah! I'm great! Sister Vogel is awesome! I love her so much! She makes me laugh and she brightens my day every day! ALSO SHE'S SEEN SCROOGE!!!!! It's meant to be! :D

I love allllllllll of you so much! But I know I'm supposed to be here on a mission! Every day that knowledge gets stronger and stronger! 

Je vous aime beaucoup!!!
Soeur Matheson

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Week 2: "Je n'ai pas parfait!"

Photo credit: Soeur Vogel
[Notice that everyone else is wearing jackets or sweaters, but not Laura!]
Sometimes learning a language is hilarious :) Soeurs Casuga and Flake were "teaching" Soeur Vogel in front of the class to practice teaching leading up to inviting to baptism. Soeur Vogel was saying that she didn't want to get baptized because she's not a perfect person and didn't know what would happen if she sinned after baptism. She said "Je n'ai pas parfait" which means that she doesn't have a parfait... She was trying to say "Je ne suis pas parfait," which means "I'm not perfect." But the other sisters were like "Je n'ai pas parfait aussi" haha! So she couldn't get baptized because she didn't have yogurt, and the sisters apparently didn't either. I was laughing during the whole lesson. I felt bad because I knew they were trying really hard, but it was impossible not to laugh. Even Frere Nollet was laughing haha :) So yeah, French is BON.
Il a neige! It snowed! Whenever it snows, our class likes to yell "Il neige!" Yesterday it was snowing pretty much all day. This morning on the way to the temple we were freeeeeeezing. The MTC has put up all of these Christmas lights on the trees and on the sides of the walkways and stuff but they haven't turned them on yet. I don't know what they're waiting for, but Elder Watkins jokes that there isn't enough funding to turn them on every night. I can't wait for them to turn them on!

This week Frere Keenan challenged us to memorize notre objectif et la premier vision en francais. He said that if we did, he'd tell us one of his funniest mission stories and also how he proposed to his girlfriend (he's getting married the day after Thanksgiving.) The sisters were definitely motivated to memorize them, and we made sure the elders did, because we wanted to hear that story! I memorized it pretty fast and ended up being the representative to say the first vision for him to check. Frere Keenan told us the stories and they were worth it, haha! 

Oh yeah, on Sundays and Wednesdays we get BYU Creamery ice cream. Last Sunday I was looking at the flavors and I wasn't really interested in any of them. (I really just wanted Graham Canyon.) Then one of the MTC Cafeteria workers came up and was like "I want Graham Canyon" and I was like "I do too! I love it so much!" and she was like "I'll go see if we have some and I'll bring you a bowl!" I was so happy!! and she was so nice! She brought me a big bowl of Graham Canyon!! Tender mercies! ;)
This week our Zone is getting 29 new missionaries: 16 sisters and 13 elders. I'm pretty sure most of them are going to France. Oh yeah, we've heard about the attacks in Paris and the amazing outpouring of love and support for France and how they've closed their borders. There's a district that's supposed to leave next week for the Paris and Lyon missions, but we'll have to see if they can actually go or not! They might have to wait somewhere in the U.S. until France opens up again. So pray for that! 

This morning at 1 am, two people bust into our room with luggage and a very bright flashlight. I woke up but wasn't comprehending what was happening... Apparently there is a new sister from Switzerland who flew in last night and who was supposed to stay in our room last night and tonight until the rest of the new missionaries come tomorrow. But nobody told us about it, and we were so confused about what was going on. But the new sister, Soeur Filbrandt, is very nice. She came to the temple with us this morning because it's P-Day and the Sister Training Leaders (who are supposed to be in charge of people like this) were already at the temple. So we did initiatories and ate breakfast at the temple, then we took Soeur Filbrandt to the travel office and helped her get her information. She's with the STLs right now, but we don't really know what schedule she's supposed to follow tonight and tomorrow morning or who her companion is... Yeah, we'll see.

Once the districts going to Paris/Lyon leave next week, my district and the other district who came in on the 4th will the "oldest" districts in the zone, which is crazy to think about because I still feel like I don't know what I'm doing hahaha. They'll have to call new Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders from our two districts. C'est bizarre!

On Sunday, our devotion was given by the head of the missionary media department. He showed us the Church's new Christmas initiative and the videos. It's going to be #asaviorisborn and the video is of a bunch of kids from around the world saying the scriptures that talk about the good news and glad tidings of the Savior. It's so great! We're all super excited. I think the coolest thing that the Church is doing is that they bought 4 of the big static boards in NY Times Square and a few of the video boards and also a ton of taxi toppers. That's a big deal! Millions of people are going to see it! God truly is hastening his work! (D&C 88:73) The speaker also told us how the numbers of people visiting for the first time has grown exponentially. I don't remember the numbers, but it was a BIG number. So amazing!

As for me, I've been great! The French is coming more easily. Soeur Vogel and I are more comfortable in our lessons and we've been weaning ourselves off our scripts. Last night we had a lesson with our new investigator Guillaume and we just had a few questions written down that we wanted to ask and we just got to know him and his story. It was cool because I can understand a lot more of spoken French than I could before. We didn't even end up teaching our actual lesson but it was a great meeting and now we know what we can talk about with him next time! 

Sundays at the MTC are really chill :) We still get up at 6:30 and eat breakfast at 7:00-7:30. Then we have a few hours of personal study time. We had a great sisters meeting this Sunday about being more converted in order to share the gospel better. That sentence doesn't do it justice, but it was a really good devotional. After that we go to Relief Society for like 50 minutes. I'm actually going to teach next Sunday! We're going to have 3 separate relief societies though so I'm not teaching all like 40+ sisters in our zone, just like 10ish haha. Then we go to lunch, and then we have Sacrament meeting. Sacrament Meeting is all in French and they pick 2 missionaries to speak for like 5 minutes in French every week but they only tell you when they announce who's speaking, so you want to have something prepared every week! So far they've been having people from the districts who are leaving speak, so I've been safe haha. But once those French districts leave, my district and the other one will be the main targets. After Sacrament we have district meetings, then temple walk, then dinner, then choir (the director is so funny and likes to tell us stories, so we only sing for like half the time) and then Sunday devotional. After that we get to watch various Church movies/talks/devotionals. This week we watched The Testaments and had a great time :) Whenever the main guy and girl would kiss we'd be like "Don't watch!!" haha a roomful of missionaries seeing people kissing for the first time in weeks is hilarious.

P-days go by waaay too fast!! I did get to take a nap already today, so I feel good! 

Please keep sending me Dear Elders and emails! Getting mail in the MTC is so great and so fun! We only get to read our mail at the end of the day and it's nice to have something to read when you get to the residence. 

I love all of you!! 
Je vous aime!
Me lovem youfella! (that's Bislama!)
Soeur Matheson
Companion stash - Laura says "Don't send me food!"

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Week 1: Don't Pray Like a Frog

Bonjour ma famille!!

It's P-Day here at the MTC! Well, at least it is or our zone, which is all of the French speakers. We have French speakers going to Paris, Lyon, Montreal, Barbados, New York (actually Haitian Creole speaking) and NEW CAL!! 

There are 8 people in my district and we're all going to New Cal. There are also two Elders in our class who are going to Congo but they're actually their own district of two. The people in my district are me, Soeur Vogel, Soeur Flake, Soeur Casuga, Elder Watkins, Elder Rhodes, Elder Miner, and Elder Graham. 

We all get along really well so far! Soeur Vogel and I complement each other well. She's very outgoing and fun and goes around almost-shouting "BONJOUR!" to everyone haha. But when we teach she's just super friendly and enthusiastic. I'm more quiet and listen more so then I hear more of what the investigator is saying (it's hard sometimes though...) I'm probably not explaining it too well, but trust me, she's the best!
After you dropped me off, I was whisked alllllll around campus and had my books shoved at me and then I was left in my classroom and then we just got started! It's crazy how fast my French has come back. The gift of tongues is a real thing!! 

To answer Mom's questions: I'm on the bottom bunk, the bed is nice enough (not too hard haha) and weirdly enough it still takes me a while to fall asleep even though I've been awake all day. Last night I didn't fall asleep until after 1 am... But I've had enough energy to get through the day so far! It's only the four sisters in my district in our room, so we have extra space. :)
My departure date in my address is the 15th but I got my mission debit card and that info says the 13th. Our district thinks we're leaving the 13th because there were three Elders going to New Cal who left right before we came and they left on Sunday. But they also had like three days of travel due to layovers between flights. So that's what we're expecting. We'll know for sure when we get our travel itineries.

Dad: Thanks for the Dear Elder package. The chips and salsa/queso will be yummy but you know most of that candy is mint/cinnamon, right? ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME??? HAHAHA JKJKJK it's the thought that counts and plus I won't get as fat. Sadly, we're not allowed to eat in our classroom, but I can keep it in my residence and snack at night if I want. It'll probably take all 6 weeks to eat it though.

Kyle: I have eaten a lot of salads and fruit. We had Chick-fil-a last night! That was fun!

The most awkward thing that happened this week was during our first lesson with our investigator, Raymond (who's really just our teacher Frere Keenan acting like one of his investigators from his mission.) We were talking about prayer and at the end we wanted to kneel and pray. The verb "to kneel" is s'agenouiller. He thought we said grenouille, which means frog. So he was confused for a moment, but then got it haha. But yeah, it was pretty much like we were asking him to act like a frog in order to pray... We laugh about that a lot. Other things we have to be careful about is sins v. peaches. The words for those are exactly the same but the accents and pronunciation are different. I can't figure out how to do accents on here and I don't have time to, so yeah..... Also Soeur Vogel called me a hip yesterday haha. She was trying to say that I'm hip, as in cool. But she looked up hip and didn't really think about how it was really the word for the body part. Yeah, so I'm a hip.

Rachel: CHARLOTTE IS ALREADY SO MUCH BIGGER!! She can jump!! And her hair is so long and cute! Tell her Auntie Laura loves her! And tell Callie that I love her, too :)

So cousin Bret's nursing student Soeur Echols is one of my teachers. I also got to see Megan Warr a couple times before she left this morning. We took a picture together but it was on her iPad so she'll have to send it. Yeah, she gets an iPad! I'm jealous! I've also seen Sandra Thomas and Carly Mitchell from the Round Rock Stake. And also John Kraphol, one of my FHE brothers from BYU. It's been fun seeing people I know!

Megan: Happy birthday!!! Enjoy your Happy Sumo sushi and feelin' 22!! I hope your tap dance thing was fun!

Our gym time is at night which is nice because afterwards we can just shower and go right to bed. Soeur Vogel and I have run/walked two miles and we like to stretch. She's a dancer, too, so we both do dancer stretches haha.

There are two sisters in our Zone from Vanuatu who are going to Tahiti. They're so nice! They've spoken some Bislama (pronounced bishlama) to us and taught us to say "me lovem youfella" which means I love y'all haha. I got some pictures of them so look for them! Soeur Jimmy et Soeur Saroni.

The MTC is a weird place, haha. We sit in class for like 11 hours a day, have three 30-45 minute meals, and have gym time every night except Sundays and Tuesdays because of devotionals. I'm learning a lot but I still need to learn more. We're going to start getting more focused on French and learning the grammar and such, which I've been WAITING for. In lessons, I could teach and say everything I want to in English but I just don't have the vocab to say it in French. Our lesson yesterday was rough because we knew what we wanted to ask our investigator to make the lesson more personal, but we didn't know all of the words. But I've also learned that saying what you do know in French, even if it's broken, feels better than reading off a written script. And testimony will ALWAYS bring the Spirit even if your French stinks haha. 

So... I'm alive and well and growing a LOT. I know that I'm supposed to be on a mission and I'm excited to learn more and prepare to serve in New Cal!

Soeur Matheson