Serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in northern France, southern Belgium and Luxembourg.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Worst apartment, best area.

It's about time I talked about the living situation here in southern Paris. It's about time I talked about the crazy lady living downstairs.
Our apartment is on the top floor of our building, up three flights of tiny creaky stairs. It is not a new building. The floors creak worse than anything I've ever heard. Everything is small. Our kitchen is just a hallway with enough room for one person to walk through at a time. Except it doesn't lead to another room. Just a tiny hallway lined with kitchen appliances (definitely no dishwasher though) that ends at a tiny window. I'll complain about the rest of the apartment another time...the important part is the creakly floors.
Now. We have a lady who lives directly underneath us. There were all sorts of stories going around about this lady, and I thought they were exaggerations. Not so. She is super sensitive about noise, and one of the angriest people I've ever met.

Madame C does not like when we:
- Move furniture
- Move while sitting in our rolling chairs
- Drop things
- Exercise
- Walk with shoes on
- Walk without shoes on
- Breathe
- Think too loudly
Almost every time we do something that is displeasing unto Madame C, you hear her door slam, and then she comes up the stairs, rings our doorbell until one of us answers, and yells at that person for a few minutes before leaving. Luckily, I've only had to personally face Madame C twice in my life. Oh, but I hear her yelling.
The first time, in an attempt to pacify her future rage, Elder Wheatley and I set aside some brownies we were making for our amis so we could give them to her. Elder Wheatley did all the talking, but it was terrifying. Like giving brownies to a dementor.
The second time was during an afternoon. She had come up the night before and asked us to be quiet, but Elder Tryon (one of the previous zone leaders) moved out that next morning so there was more noise than usual. We crossed paths that afternoon and I stopped her and just said "Hey Madame C, I just wanted to say I'm really sorry about the noise we must have made this morning, one of us was moving out." Wrong move. She just laid into me. I don't remember most of what she said, but it was one of the most cold and vicious responses I've ever heard to anything. It actually threw me off for the whole next hour. This lady has a gift.
Last night, she came up again, but nobody wanted to answer the door. So we didn't. We shut off the doorbell and just sat there petrified as she knocked and yelled at us from the hall. I think that was a bad idea, because it just made her more irritable for the next time. This morning, we're pretty sure we heard her go in and out of her apartment like 10 times, as though she were patrolling the hall and waiting for us to leave. When the time came to go shopping, we carefully timed it so that she wouldn't be in the hallway, said a prayer for protection, and then took off our shoes and crept down the stairs to escape. It was like a video game. Except the consequences of being caught would have been much worse than just dying. But we made it! More updates to follow.

Okay, time to talk about my week. This week was super super good, which you can tell because it went super super fast. We were always busy. Elder Wheatley said that, numbers-wise, it was the best week of his mission.
Lony is doing super well. He came to church again, and he said that he felt as though everything that was said was planned out for him. The questions of his soul were answered and he definitely felt the Spirit. His only problem is quitting smoking, but he has the biggest desire and the biggest faith and he'll totally get there. We've started him on a program from the church, taught him the Word of Wisdom, given him a blessing, and we'll be there for him the whole way.
Other things:
- Christian's mom didn't let him come to church this week. Maybe another letter is in order.
- We dropped a baptismal date on our ami Jean-Marie (April 18th, like Lony) and got a soft yes. We'll see with this guy. He's not ready yet and he knows it, but what he doesn't know is how quickly he can be.
- Andrea and Alex. We see them every Wednesday. She's super Catholic. He knows the church is true, but needs to work some stuff out before getting baptized. Like, he needs to marry Andrea, his pregnant fiancée who he lives with. They're getting September. Anyway, they came to church for the first time in months and months! Yay!
- Elder Rivas, my MTC comp, is now being trained by a different missionary, who was Elder Wheatley's MTC comp, and they are both district leader trainers. Which was just kind of cool.
- This week I saw something I've never seen before. There was this fist fight that almost broke out between two very angry groups of people...who were all speaking sign language to each other. Really interesting to watch. Whenever they wanted to shout they just did bigger motions with their hands.
- This week was the first time I've ever been let into someone's house while tracting. She had some ideas about religion I've never heard before. She believes in prophets, but she also thinks that since they're imperfect humans, they almost always misinterpret their revelations and end up screwing it up a bit and writing down the wrong thing. Next week's conversation will be interesting.

Spiritual thought time! I was reading in Ether chapter 6, which talks about the Jaredites and their barges as they crossed the ocean to the promised land.
 5 And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind.
 6 And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind.
 7 And it came to pass that when they were buried in the deep there was no water that could hurt them, their vessels being tight like unto a dish, and also they were tight like unto the ark of Noah; therefore when they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters.

Guys. This is an analogy for life. Storm = trials, water = sin and temptations, promised land = happiness, vessels = our standards and morals.
The Lord can send tempests and trials that guide us to where we need to be and where we will be the happiest. The way will not be easy, but if not for the tempest, we could not progress toward that state. Why were the tempests "great and terrible" and "fierce"? Because it would bring them there faster.
Sometimes, we will be submerged, or surrounded, by temptations and sin. We need our vessels (our morals) to be tight. We can't let any of that stuff in. ("Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord.” D+C 133:5.) It can drown us if we let it - if our standards aren't tight.
When the Jaredites were encompassed about by the waters, they called upon God, who brought them back up. When we are surrounded by sin and temptation, like them we often can't get out on our own. We need to cry unto God, and He will help us rise above it all.

Love you guys! Be good!

Elder Stanford

Remember this scene from Inception?

District photos, transfer 1 

We drew straws to see who would have to talk to Madame C.

No explanations for these ones. 

No explanation for this one either.

Cutest family ever!

Our ami board.
View from the Louvre

Tank in our neighborhood 

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