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!!