And I need to make the most of them.
Here I am. I am in France. This is it. The real thing.
Thank you everyone for your emails! I have more time now, so I finally got the chance to read all of them. You guys are all great.
So. The day after writing my most recent email, I got up (earlier than early) and drove to the aiport with my whole tiny district at my side. So sorry guys but I didn't get the chance to call you on the way out! It may just be a SLC airport thing.
So I got to Paris and met all the other arrivals from Provo (who can speak like no French at all, poor things) and then we got on the train to the mission office thing and our first assignment was to place a BoM on the train! We waste no time here I guess. So Elder Rivas and I got on the train with two other terrified little companionships, and immediately I spotted a lady alone on the other side. And I just told E. Rivas "Let's talk to her first" and we just went for it right away. I would not have been able to do that if I hadn't had those terrifying experiences proselyting in the park in Madrid. If I can do it in a language I don't speak, I can definitely do it in a language I do! I let E. Rivas do all the talking though haha. Anyway, she took the book! First contact in France, first Book of Mormon placed. Later, one of the other missionaries who had been on the same train car thanked me for showing him an example and helping get his confidence up. I actually felt better about that than anything else. I accidentally helped another missionary be able to be more confident in his future encounters with God's children. It turned out that E. Rivas was the only one of the bleus (new missionaries) to place a book on the train. BUT! I talked to two people on a train the next day and got a Book of Mormon to them.
I also bumped into my first TJ (the French acronym for Jehovah's Witness) on that first train ride. I don't want to bash any other churches right now, so...I won't talk about my conversation with this guy.
Oh! Cool story: Elder Rivas is actually from the part of Belgium that's in our mission boundaries, and guess what? His trainer is one of the missionaries who visited him while he was inactive and brought him back into the church! How cool would that be??
The very next day (Wednesday) I met my trainer and moved in to my first area! My trainer's name is Elder Wheatley, from Las Vegas. He's really great, super enthusiastic and likes to work hard, which is exactly what I wanted. He's also a singer, and when we sang our first hymn and he found out that I don't suck at singing, he got super excited and started making all these plans for when we can sing for people. He told me the two things he was most worried about were 1) helping his bleu with the language, and 2) having a tone-deaf companion, so he feels pretty lucky I guess! Haha. I still have a lot of learning to do though, both with the language and with the gospel. Not with my singing voice though. It's perfect. Obviously.
My first area is in Paris! An area called Antony. The ward is small but really great. I live with Elder Wheatley and our two Zone leaders. I visited Notre Dame with all the bleus on the first day, and today after I write this we're going to Sacré Coeur. Maybe the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe too, if we have time.
I'm going to be in Antony for the next six months, almost guaranteed. So I guess it's safe to say you can mail stuff to that address now haha. Here it is:
Elder Jordan Stanford
27 Rue de Fontenay
27 Rue de Fontenay
By the way, I just got your letter yesterday! Thanks so much! My wall was barren and now it has two beautiful pictures of the Savior and one beautiful picture of the beautiful Calgary Temple. You guys are the best.
So my first lesson ever was with two amis (meaning "ami de l’Église," which is someone investigating the church) named Andrea and Alex. And guess what I got to help teach for my very first real lesson ever? Yep. Law of Chastity. They're living together. Alex just proposed which is SO great but the date is in July. What?? So far! Alex wants to be baptized, he knows the church is true, but we gotta wait until they're married. We encouraged them to find a sooner date. I wasn't looking forward to any of that but they actually took it really well, especially Andrea. They know that we love them, and the Spirit was there. We're seeing them tonight so we'll see how everything's going!
Okay so. Coolest contacting story so far: We met a woman named Sylvette on the street. And she was so happy to be talking to us. The gospel is exactly what she needs in her life. She believes it's a sign from God that we crossed her path. She has about 4587 struggles and challenges in her life, including some friends recently passing away, which led her to ask herself questions like "What happens when we die" and "Why do so many bad things happen, even to good people?" Well Sylvette, LET ME TELL YOU! And we gave her a Book of Mormon, asked her to read 2 Nephi 2 later, and got a rendez-vous. Unfortunately, she couldn't come to church and may not be able to make it to the rendez-vous because of some health problems (which she will be getting surgery for soon). We've prayed and even fasted for her and I really hope we can meet to her soon!
The work here can be hard. One day all of our appointments fell through and we just did a bunch of contacting with very few noticeable results. (I say "noticeable" because I know that none of my labours go to waste! 1 Corinthians 15:58. One of my new favourite scriptures.) We got 0 in every single key indicator that day. But I don't care what anyone on the outside says, the work is progressing here! And I will help it along. There are people waiting for me and my message and you better believe I'll find them!
Thank you for your letters and emails and thoughts and prayers! Love you guys!