Monday, December 28, 2015

27 December 2015 - Week 8: Joyeux Noel! Bonne fete!

Bonjour everyone! 

I survived my first full week in New Cal! It was an interesting week because we didn't/couldn't do missionary work every day due to the holidays and people not wanting to talk to us. Plus, on Christmas, we had a party with all the missionaries in New Cal, which is about 30, but I'll get to that later. 

Soeur Tellus told me how to change the keyboard to be English, so I haven't had problems today--woo hooo. I don't think there are any free internet places in our area or even a library with computers. We might try to find one this week so we don't have to rely on the STLs [Sister Training Leaders]. We want to be independent!

We don't live in an apartment building. It's more like a house, but the upstairs is an apartment, then two downstairs, and one separated on the side. It's hard to explain. Laundry is at our apartment, but we just have a washer. We have a clothesline though, so it's cool. The washing machine is right outside our apartment—like outside outside, haha.

The view from my apartment--I think it looks like San Francisco but more island-y.

We get up at 6:30, exercise, eat, get ready, do our studies, then go out to teach and find! We have to be in at night at 6 o'clock because we're in the city, and people like to drink at night, haha... After 6 pm, we do more studies and plan and stuff.

We've been fed once at a member's home, and the sister drove us home because it was after 6. We're really not supposed to walk at night, but if someone can drive us, we can stay out later. We mostly feed ourselves. Soeur Tellus cooks for us, haha, but we mostly eat rice and bread and random meat.

There have been missionaries in Vallee de Colons for years. White-washing just means that both missionaries are new to the area. There is an area book from before, and we're going to try to contact old amis [investigators] this week. There are eight missionaries in our ward because there are four secteurs that fit into the Magenta Ward [congregation]. The five were just the new missionaries who hadn't already been in the ward before transfers. There are four sisters and four elders and that's also our district, the Magenta district. So the way it works is that we're in the South zone, in the Magenta district, in the Vallee de Colons secteur. 

We know our boundaries now because we got a map. In the past, missionaries in our area and in the Magenta area would be confused about the boundaries, so right now there's a small bit of our area that the Magenta sisters think is in their area. But we're just gonna let them have that part, haha. I don't think there are currently any people they're teaching in that bit of space. [The Mission] President has asked us to stay in our areas.

Mardi [Tuesday]: We had a zone conference (the South zone—there’s only two zones in New Cal, north and south) and we talked about working with members. We really do need to work with members in order to find people and we can also strengthen the members and their ties to the new converts if they're involved in missionary work. I shared my testimony in French with the zone, which was pretty cool! After our zone conference, we had a lesson with our ami [investigator] C--- where we got to know her and what her needs are. She wants to be baptized but doesn't feel ready. She's had the lessons multiple times so she knows a lot, but she needs to increase her faith and read the Book of Mormon. We'd love to see her get baptized because she needs the peace that the Gospel brings! That night we went to a member's home, the Leaokitu's. We sang a few Christmas hymns and they fed us some cookies and drinks. They're really sweet :)

Mercredi [Wednesday]: We tried to go see our ami S--- and teach her about the Plan of Salvation but she wouldn't open her door. Here in New Cal, there are fences around all the houses and you can't just open their gates and knock on their doors. You have to yell at the house and hope someone hears you and opens the door. So we yelled “Bonjour!” and waited and yelled again, but she didn't answer. She wouldn't answer her phone either, but we'll try again this week!

That night we went to the Tuahivaatotonohiti's home. They're all recent converts except the dad, who was inactive but started coming to church when the family started taking the lessons. They are an awesome family! We went to teach the two boys and the Papi [father] follow-up lessons. We taught about fasting. They whole family knows the Gospel really well, and they help each other live it. It's awesome! Then they fed us dinner. I don't know what it was called, but it was Tahitian and delicious :) 

Jeudi [Thursday]: We couldn't do much missionary work because no one wanted to have lessons because it was Christmas Eve. We knew no one would open their doors if we went porte a porte [door to door]. We did some grocery shopping and we made enchiladas, a fruit salad, and tiramisu to take to the mission Christmas party the next day.

Vendredi [Friday]/Noel! We had the mission Christmas party! We had a short spiritual meeting, then we got to change into P-day clothes and play sports. We played volleyball, soccer, and dodge ball. Then we changed back into our other clothes and watched the Polar Express in French. While we watched, we ate the food that the members made. They made so much food! When we were done, it didn't even look like we'd eaten anything! Then we did a "white elephant" but we didn't play a game with it, we just went up as companionships and picked random gifts. I got a tiny squishy soccer ball, so that's cool, haha. It was a good Christmas!

Samedi [Saturday]: I got to Skype my family that morning from the DMP's (ward mission leader) house. Then we went to eat lunch at this party that the Wallisian committee was having to celebrate the New Year. Here in New Cal, the Church has set up committees to help investigators learn how to keep their cultural traditions and live the gospel. They have a Wallisian one and a Kanak one. The Wallisian committee is fun, and we ate really well! You always eat well when the members make food! Then we were supposed to have two lessons that afternoon but neither of them worked out, so we just stayed at the party. 

Dimanche [Sunday]: We went to chapelle (church) and three of our amis [investigators] were there! Plus, our recent converts were there! I was so happy! Plus, I was able to understand the talks and the lessons more this week--my comprehension of French is improving! The Gospel Principles lesson was also really good. The teacher taught simply but clearly and answered all the questions. I even learned new things, and I don't even really speak the language! That's how good of a teacher he is, haha! After church, we had a short lesson with our ami W--, and we committed him to be baptized on January 16. He was supposed to be baptized on Saturday, but he hasn't been taught all the lessons yet... But now we have three weeks to help him prepare, and I'm really excited for him!!

Our zone's goal is for each companionship to have two baptisms this transfer and I think we might we able to do it if W-- and C--- can be ready! Yay for baptisms!

This morning, we cleaned the kitchen in our apartment--like deep cleaning: washing ALL the dishes and wiping the insides of the cabinets and cleaning the counters and the sink and the stove. We found that the sink might be leaking, so we're going to call the Guerreras, the senior missionary couple here who help us out with pretty much everything because the mission president is about 700 miles away, haha. But yeah, we'll see!

I'm doing great! The work is starting to pick up and my French is slowly getting better. I hope all of you had a great Christmas and that you will have a great start to 2016!!

Je vous aime!
Soeur Matheson

Sunday, December 20, 2015

20 December 2015 - Week 7: Finally in NEW CAL!!!

20 December 2015

Mom: We have been waiting for your email all day!
So have I! we were going to email earlier but the internet place was closed. island lyfeeee... they close their stores and stuff whenever they feel like it.

Mom: Was your Christmas package there???
YES! I can't wait to open it!

Hello everybody! I'm not dead!! Haha, I'm safe and sound on my little island :)

First of all, these French keyboards really don't make ANY sense... Just so you know, if I throw a "q" in randomly just know that it's supposed to be an "a." There will probably be a lot of mistakes in here...

So let me think back to this whole process... It feels like I was in the MTC a billion years ago! We finally left the MTC on Monday afternoon and our flight left SLC at 5ish. Funny and super awesome story: we were waiting at our gate and people start coming off the plane from LAX. Guess who was getting off the plane! Four missionaries coming home from New Caledonia! Elder Ellingson, Sisters Giles, White, and Taylor. It was so cool and fun to see them!! 

In LA, the whole process of getting on our flight to New Zealand was a mess... I don't like how you have to leave the airport to get into the international terminal because you have to go through security again... But when we were waiting in line to get in at the Air New Zealand desk, we met some Mormons, so that was cool. But then one of the Sisters with us was from Belize and the Church didn't tell her/didn't realize that she needed a transit visa or whatever to get through New Zealand. So we were trying to call Church travel and figure it out and they told her to stay behind in LA and the mission office there would get her and they'd send her out later (she did come out on Sunday.) Soeur Casuga did not end up staying in LA and flying the next day because church travel made her get on our flight. So we headed to NZ! I slept most of the time on the plane... The food was pretty good though!

We had a long layover in New Zealand--I think 6 hours. We kinda just wandered around. Then two sisters from the NZ MTC came. They came to Vanuatu with us and one of them, Soeur Snow from Tahiti, is in New Cal (she's in my district actually!) There was some confusion about our luggage--it got stopped in NZ so they had to quickly find it all and make sure it all got on our plane to Vanuatu. All of my stuff made it but not everyone's... haha.

Then we flew to VANUATU! They gave us sandwiches on the plane, which was very nice because I was starving by that time. They also gave us water in sealed containers--like yogurt or jello but water inside haha. As we were landing in Vanuatu, everything was so GREEN. It looked like a fishtank that needs to be cleaned because it's covered in algae (think Finding Nemo!) And it was instantly hot and humid when we stepped off the plane. We went through customs and then met President and Sister Granger! Yes, they're very Australian :) There were also the APs there to help with our luggage and drive us to the mission office. People in Vanuatu drive CRAZY (there aren't any stop signs or lights or anything) and the elders drove super crazy too (one of them ran over a dog the second night we were there...) They have trucks and vans and here in New Cal there are vans and Jukes. There are also many Kia Sorentos and it makes me happy to see them :) We hung out in the mission office and hqve root beer floats :) I think there ended up being probably 20 new missionaries. Two of them were New Cal visa waiters--so to Vogel, Rhodes, Watkins, and Miner: yours WILL come!! :) That night we stayed with some sisters in their apartment. Having spent those nights in Vanu with them really helps me appreciate what I have here in New Cal.

The next day (Thursday) we had some orientation and hung around the office. Then we went to get lunch at this fast food place that serves burgers and chicken and seafood that's really cheap and also right next to the ocean :) I got a quarter chicken meal with fries and fanta. Then we walked around the little market area--lots of fruits and veggies and also the usually trinket-y things you see at all the tourist areas (like in Mexico-dresses, jewelry, handcrafted things.) We also sat in a park and watched some families play. Everyone in Vanu is super nice and says hi to you :)

That night we went to the mission home for dinner and more orientation. They have a beautiful view! We had tacos/burritos and for dessert we had fruit--pineapple, passionfruit, watermelon, bananas. 

The next morning, Friday, we got up super early to be at the airport in time for our 6:30 flight which ended up leaving half a hour later than scheduled... Island time... But we got on the plane, which was super small and awesome--it had propellers! (Also, in the Vanu airport you walk on the tarmac and up the stairs into the plane--so cool!

Mom: Have you felt motion sick?
motion sickness = yes :(
Not on the planes, but Elder -- drove so crazy the morning we flew to New Caledonia that I actually barfed right before we boarded... But I'm glad I did so I could enjoy the flight and not be sick when we got here.

We got to New Cal FINALLY!! It's so much cooler and less humid than Vanu and there's pretty much a constant breeze. It's also rained at least a little bit everyday I've been here. And it's definitely more civilized here than in Vanu. At least in Noumea it is...

We were picked up from the airport in Tontouta (it says you fly to Noumea but you really fly to Tontouta... there is an airport in Noumea but it's tiny and actually right next to the Magenta chapel! You can hear/see the planes fly during church meetings!) We went to the Magenta chapel, which is where the mission office here is. We had a tiny transfer meeting--there's only like 20 something missionaries here. 

Ma collegue [companion] is Soeur Tellus! She's from France but she's part Martinique-ian so she's brown haha. She only has four months left so I'll probably be her last companion. Our area is Vallee de Colons, which is THE city in Noumea. It actually reminds me a lot of San Fran with the hills and lots of houses with the fences... haha Yeah every house has a fence so "porte a porte"/contacting is really just yelling at houses. We haven't done that yet but that's what I've heard. You really have to get to know the members and get them to help you find people or you won't find anyone. The work is pretty slow here but we hope to change that! We're both new to the secteur so we've just been trying to figure out what the boundries are and who the amis are and which members will help and who the less actives and recent converts are. 

A lot of the people and missionaries here are Tahitian, so they speak very different French and mix Tahitian in with their French. Honestly, I really can't understand most of what people say.... :(   But Soeur Tellus speaks lots of English, and I can understand her French way better because it's Frenchy French :) Also, we never use "vous" or "nous". We use "tu" and "on" because it's easier and faster and the people here are lazy hahaha :) People have complimented my French (I bore my testimony in sacrament meeting) so I have that going for me! But yeah... comprehension is a big challenge. I've been just going around not knowing most of what's been going on. Church and our meeting with the DMP (ward mission leader) were rough though. But once the kids know you speak English, they're in love with you haha and try to speak English to you. One girl at church told me that I speak English well, so I have that going for me, too! :)

We've been eating a lot of rice. We bought a baguette from the store by our house and I eat it with peanut butter and Nutella :) I think we have an appointment with a recent convert family this week and they're going to feed us, so then I can tell you what people eat!

We are walking [in our area], but the STLs [Sister Training Leaders] have been showing us the area in their car. Hills + TONS of roundabouts = sicky me. We might take the bus sometimes.

Our plans for Christmas: Zone partayyy, haha [A zone is a group of elders and sisters]

So yeah, I'm safe and sound! We're just starting the work this week for real, so I can tell you more about how that is next week!

I LOVE Y'ALL!!!!!!!
Soeur Matheson (no one can say my last name here--they say something more like mattison...)

Let me know what your questions are!


1. The view in Vanuatu while eating lunch

2. "Seaview"--the place where we had lunch

3. The view from the mission home

4. Me, Casuga, and Flake!!

5. V for Victory! our mission theme :)

6. Our apartment (tiny and no A/C but it's still nice)

7. My bed haha

8. Soeur Tellus!!