Monday, January 25, 2016

25 January 2016 - Week 12: Prayer and McDo

Bonjour ma famille et mes amis! 

Prayer and McDo... Here everyone calls McDonald's McDo. During Gospel Principles yesterday, the teacher, Frere Chevalier, compared ordering food at McDo to praying. You don't just order food and walk away, you wait for your food. With prayer, you don't just ask for things and then forget. You wait for the answers and recognize them. It was a good comparison and we got a good laugh out of that. 

We got the transfer call on Friday and I'm.... (drumroll).... staying in Vallee des Colons with Soeur Tellus! Haha, not a big surprise because I'm still being trained and we've only been here for one transfer. But my 4 MTC buddies in Mesa, Soeur Vogel, Elder Watkins, Elder Rhodes, and Elder Miner, are finally coming to New Cal for real and that's super exciting! I know who their companions will be and where they're all going before they do! Haha :) 

This week was a pretty good week! It flew by, though! That's so crazy! I had an exchange with Soeur Gauthier. She's from Tahiti, but she's also part French, part Spanish, and part Asian, so she doesn't really look Tahitian, haha. She's fun to be with, especially because she has a car and their apartment has la clime! Haha it's really the small things in life :) We didn't end up doing much because she has problems with her back and she needed to rest, but we got to visit an inactive member who's the aunt of one of our investigators in VDC and it was interesting to see how similar the two are in their mannerisms and the way they talk. She has a cute cat that we played with, too, so it was a good visit, haha. There are lots of cats and dogs here. Sometimes there's a dog in the street that will follow us a bit while we walk and it feels like they're our bodyguards from the other dogs :) 

We had a great day on Thursday because by the end of the day, we had a 1 in all of our key indicators except contacts taken. We even gave away a Book of Mormon! Our amis are progressing and one came to church on Sunday, and we didn't even get to see her this past week! That was really cool! 

Honestly, the days all blur together once I try to look back on the week. It's really hard to remember what we did when, haha. And I have a feeling that this week is going to go by super fast. Crazy! But things are great here and the work in our area is really progressing! Our mission president is pushing us to focus on our objective, which is baptizing our amis. I think that we had a great week because we were focusing on that and even though not all our amis accepted the invitation to be baptized or to pick a date, we still had that as our goal and we were blessed for our efforts. Also, prayer is an amazing thing and praying for our amis by name every day brings so many miracles! 

Je vous aime! 
Soeur Matheson 

Videos! (I hope it works!) This is Manu, the nephew of the Tuahivaatetonohiti family. He and his brother can do crazy tricks on their scooters. In New Cal, scooters are super cool for :)

Monday, January 18, 2016

18 January 2016 - Week 11: It feels like just yesterday...

Bonjour tout le monde!

It's weird to be emailing again so soon because I just emailed y'all 3 days ago... But it's officially P-Day now and we're trying to keep our normal schedule, haha. 

On Friday, we did some service at an ami's home in Magenta's secteur. She needs to clean out her house and organize everything because she's going to be moving out soon. She has SO MUCH STUFF in her house! The house was originally her grandparents' and then her parents' and now hers so there's things in there from everyone who's lived there and her siblings have also just left some of their stuff there over the years because it's a big house and it's just one person living there right now. Yeah... so we were trying to help her organize and decide what to keep, sell, or just throw away, but she was pretty scattered and overwhelmed with all the work she had to do that she would start a project or tell us to do something and then change her mind and start something else or tell us to do something else. Haha, there were four of us sisters there and three are native French speakers and even they were confused about what to do half the time. So I was completely lost and just kept asking, "What are we doing?" a billion times, haha. We got some stuff done, but it still needs a lot of work. 

On Saturday, we had a great day planned! We had 6 lessons planned, 5 of which were with amis and 4 of those were going to be member present lessons. Buuuuuutttttt, we only had 1 lesson because alllll of the rest cancelled... UGH. Sometimes people's free agency is the most annoying thing, haha! But that one lesson was really great, though! We taught the Draytons, an old Catholic couple. We've seen them four times now and this last time, we could see a change in both of them, but especially the papi, Gilbert. They'd started reading the Book of Mormon and we talked about their questions about it and the Restoration. But my favorite part was when we were talking about prayer. We said how God always answers our prayers and Gilbert said that he'd never heard that before. As a Catholic, he's prayed a lot, but never knew he could get answers directly for him. We invited them to pray and to say what they feel and to ask what they want to ask and they would get an answer. Irene, the mami, said the closing prayer. It was the first time she's ever prayed without saying a rote prayer and at first she was hesitant and kinda just practicing some phrases (actually at first I didn't even know she was praying....) but it was a really great prayer and I really can't wait to see if they've continued to pray when we see them this week! 

Our mission president has challenged us to invite ALL of our amis to be baptized THIS WEEK. WHOA. And he wants us to have a baptism THIS MONTH. We have two amis with baptismal dates in February and we want to ask them to move it up (because honestly both of them are ready) but they both cancelled their lessons on Saturday... The plan was to ask them to change their dates on Saturday and get them both to have baptismal interviews yesterday, but that didn't happen. There are definitely forces at work against missionary work and it's frustrating. BUT, I know that if we have faith, things will work out. Maybe not everything and probably not completely the way we want it to, but something great WILL happen :) President has a vision for our mission and it's centered around baptizing. He's really pushing us to have baptisms because that's really our purpose as missionaries. We just have to have the faith and do the work! Soeur Tellus and I are going to do our best to meet those goals! 

I hope y'all passent une bonne semaine! Je vous aime beaucoup! 
Soeur Matheson
Picture: Last week we put on clay masks.
Picture: This is our relationship... haha JK we love each other!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

14 January 2016 - Week 10: CYCLONE ALERT!!

Hello everyone!!

Sorry I didn't email earlier! Mom, don't worry, I'm totally fine! We had a cyclone alert during P-day this week so we weren't allowed to go too far from our apartment just in case the cyclone decided to hit us. It was mostly in Vanuatu, I think, but we got some pretty good rain here! 

Last week and this week have been pretty good! We've been teaching a lot more! We have three new amis, and we'll have another once we get to teach him on Saturday. And we finally got to see Sabrina, an ami that we've been trying to see since we got here! So we have 8 amis and we also have 2 convertis recents we go see each week (one of which is the Tuahivaatetonohiti family and they're awesome!) and we try to see some inactifs, most of whom are old mamis who can't/don't want to come to church. We've been pretty busy the past couple of days with lessons. We've been trying to schedule our lessons for earlier in the week so that if people cancel we can move them to Friday and Saturday. We've also been working with the members more, especially Soeur Bayon. She loves bringing people to church and she's a member present in a lot of our lessons, so that's cool. We're trying to get other members to come to our lessons too to have some variety and plus Soeur Bayon can't do everything even if she wants to, haha. Plus, we need members in our lessons with William, Lucien, and David parce que [because of] missionary rules, haha. And our two amis with baptismal dates are doing really well! And we're going to invite Lucien and the Draytons, an elderly couple we've started teaching, to be baptized. We think they could be ready! At church, Soeur Tellus and I have been sitting apart from each other so we can sit with more of our amis. It's really cool to do that even though it's hard to have a conversation with who I'm sitting with without Soeur Tellus, haha. 

We've been doing this thing called La Promesse de 21 Jours where we wrote a list of amis, convertis recents, and inactifs that we wanted to focus on and every day we pray for them by name morning and night and read a scripture about missionary work and faith. We're nearing the end of the 21 days and we're seeing the results! Our amis are doing so well and we've been able to have contact with the people that we hadn't been able to see yet, like Sabrina. It's amazing to see and it's been a testimony to me that if we have faith, miracles will happen! We've been trying to have more faith in the work and it's been helping a lot! I'm actually sad that the 21 days is almost over, but I know that if we continue to pray in faith for our investigators and do all we can, miracles will happen. 

Random thought: yesterday we were in Centre Ville after a lesson and we were sitting on a bench in the Place de Cocotiers, the main plaza where everone hangs out because there's shade and nice places to sit. We saw a lot of tourists from a cruise ship and you can pick them out really easily just based on their clothes and some have their ship cards on lanyards around their necks haha. It makes me wonder how touristy Dad and I look when we're on our cruises... Awkward! haha but now I want to take a cruise.... :)

Also, we've been taking the bus more because it's a long walk from our apartment to Centre Ville (our secteur is huge.....) and it's fun because on the bus they like to play popular music but it's usually really cool remixes of American songs. It's hard to not sing along, haha! Also, the bus has the clime (A/C) so we really enjoy that :) It's been really hot here because it's the middle of summer. The rain cooled it down a bit, but it's been getting hotter and hotter. I sweat a lot and I haven't worn makeup since I stepped off the plane in Vanuatu, and my hair is usually in a bun or a braid. We have fans in our apartment and we have them on full blast all the time! We just got a new one because one we had broke and the new one is really powerful and awesome. The senior missionary couple, the Guerrera's, who take care stuff like buying things for the apartments and the cars and the carte de sejours [permission to stay] (btw, I went to do mine last week and now I just have to wait for it to be made and then I'll be official!) they only buy the best for the missionaries :) 

I've been great! My comprehension of French is actually getting a lot better, even with all the different accents. One of the hard things is that people here speak quietly even if you're outside and it's noisy or it's during a meeting in a big room. Half the problem with comprehension here is just even being able to hear people speak, haha. My other problem is that it takes me waaaaayyy too long to form sentences when I speak French because everyone speaks so fast and doesn't really give a lot of time to respond before they keep talking, haha. But I'll keep trying! :)

Je vous aime! Bonne semaine!!
Soeur Matheson

1. A failed attempt at taking a zone picture... We were trying to use the timers and there were about 12 cameras and not everyone was ready when they went off..... 
2. There was a dog and her puppy waiting at the bus stop with us yesterday. There are a lot of dogs here. Another one was a small chihuahua, and he followed us while we were walking. He was really happy haha
3. For Mom, our laundry "room" haha. It's outside.
4. Soeur Tellus with our new DVD player! We didn't have one, so we couldn't watch any of the training videos (or any of the church videos... sometimes you just want to watch a movie, haha) She's really happy about it :)

Monday, January 4, 2016

4 January 2016 - Week 9: "Are they shooting dogs?!" "Yeah, then they eat 'em!"

Bonjour ma famille et mes amis!!

Haha, that quote [above] is from New Year's Eve. We were in our apartment, and then we got a visit from this senior couple from the Solomon Islands (they were just visiting) and our zone leaders, Elder Stubbs and Elder Similai. We were just talking (we think their visit was to make sure we were in our apartment and that we were safe) when some fireworks started going off (it was 9pm) and a bunch of dogs start barking. The senior elder was like "Are they shooting dogs?" haha but that's actually something that could happen in this mission... But Elder Stubbs just goes along with it and was like, "Yeah, then they eat 'em!" I got a good laugh out of that.

But the dogs weren't being shot, the fireworks were just really loud and sounded like gunshots. On New Year's Eve and I think the night after, people set off fireworks, but it was on the two streets on either side of our apartment. But it felt like they were in our apartment because they were so loud! That night we didn't get too much sleep because then at midnight of course they set off tons. We just got up and tried to watch what we could see [but] there are buildings on both sides of our apartment that were blocking our view.

We had a good week despite the fact that on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day and even on the 2nd, there was literally no one outside and none of the stores were open. We tried to go out on the 1st an hour before our lesson with Ch-- and her daughters, but there was literally no one outside except a few Kanakis here and there. Side note: Kanakis have weird style. They just like to wear whatever clothes and do their hair all crazy, but they can pull it off because they're Kanakis. But yeah... There was no one outside and even on the 2nd we went downtown to see a less active sister and even all the stores downtown were closed still! I'm just excited that the holidays are over so we can actually do some really missionary work!

The members here in New Cal plan to go to the New Zealand temple this month-- they're actually leaving today! So it's cool that the members get to have that experience, and I'm excited to hear about it when they come back. But then it's hard for us missionaries because we're trying to get to know the members and work with them, but now a lot of them are leaving... Haha but we'll do our best!

This week we taught Ch-- twice. Two of her daughters were baptized in 2014, so when we teach her, her daughters are there and we have member present lessons! Woo hoo! Christine knows a lot already and she likes the gospel, but she doesn't want to get baptized not at the same time as her "boyfriend" (they've been living together and have had kids together but aren't married) but he isn't interested in the church... So we'll have to see how that goes. I think if we talk to them about eternal families maybe he'll get more interested. On verra!

Our ami W-- is also progressing! We taught him about the Word of Wisdom, but he's already following is and he's already been seeing the blessings of health and energy that come from following it. He started following it because L--, a recent convert who is our member present in his lessons (and who I'm pretty sure he's dating), told him about it. It's awesome because she helps him and encourages him. He's getting ready to be baptized, but wants to be sure, so we're going to help him as much as possible!

We have a lot of lessons set up for this coming week, and I'm excited to feel like I'm actually doing missionary work every day! President and Sister Granger came yesterday and we had a fireside with them last night. He told us to work with members and to FIND. He said that the goal for the New Cal region of the mission is to get 75 convert baptisms in both zones this year, so that's 150 baptisms. There were 55 total last year, so we're going to work to triple that. The goal for the entire mission is 1000 baptisms but most of those are going to come from Vanuatu because people tend to be more receptive there. And our goal is to have two baptisms per companionship every transfer! We're working on that!

Funny story: we were supposed to have a lesson with Co-- on Wednesday, but she was late. We called her and she said she was on her way, but then still wasn't showing up. Soeur Tellus was ready to give up and I was like, "You have no faith!" and lo and behold, right when I said that Co-- pulled into the parking lot! Haha faith is a real power!! Soeur Tellus is really awesome, though! She and I are pretty similar, but we still learn from each other. She's nearing the end of the mission (she only has 4 months left) and sometimes she tends to be really realistic just based on her experiences, but because I'm new and naive, I can help her be more positive. We're excited to work and find and teach and feel like missionaries! The past two weeks have been a little hard because of the holidays, but now that they're over, we can get to work and people don't have any real excuses not to talk to us! :)

Have a wonderful week!! 
Je vous aime!!
Soeur Matheson

Soeur Tellus cooking
Pacific francs

Vanuatu money