I'm here! And I've been here for over a week!? Woah. C'est bizarre. I know it's cliché, but I love being a missionary. And I mean really, really love being a missionary. I loved the MTC, but this is a completely different kind of love. Where to begin? Unfortunately there's much more than I have time to recount, but I'll try to give you a little taste.
I spent my first night here was spent in the mission home, with President and Sister Patrick and four of their nine (maybe 8?) children. They were incredibly kind and welcoming. And, though it may sound a little conceited, I know they really love me . We ate dinner with them and spent the next morning being interviewed and eating Sister Patrick's exquisite Belgium waffle creations (pearl sugar is magic!). We sang a hymn with the new missionaries - overlooking the entire city (tourists asked if we were a choir) and headed to meet our trainers. Before we arrived, I had asked one of my MTC companions to guess where we would be serving, or at least which language we would be speaking for our first transfer (she has something of a gift for such things. For example, when we guess about which General Authority was going to come speak to us, she was ALWAYS right. It was a little weird). Aaaanyway, she said she couldn't guess where we'd be serving, but she felt that I would be speaking French only, Soeur Garcia would speak Spanish and she, Souer Terron -- even though she'd rather speak Spanish -- would be serving in English. Well, she was right! I'm in an area called Rive Sud, which, as it's name suggests, is just across the river (to the South) of the island of Montréal. The area is called Longueuil, and I'm serving in the Lemoyne ward. People here speak French. But in my area, they speak mostly real French (not Quebecois!). It looks like a slightly more Germanic, Canadian, French version of the nice parts of Arvada, CO. My companion is super cool. She was a convert - she joined the church maybe 5 years ago? She's originally from Haiti, but she's lived in the US since she was 11. She was called to serve in Spanish, and learned Spanish in the MTC, but has been serving in French for her entire mission. She's a baby trainer (this is her 4th transfer), but she's an awesome missionary.
The congregation here is really healthy. There are 200+ members in church every Sunday, and they just moved two other sets of missionaries into the ward. So Soeur Jean-Louis (my companion) and I are working with another set of sisters and a set of elders. The members feed us - which is both a blessing and a curse. On my first day in the field, we had a dinner engagement with a single lady. She was really kind and served us salad and vegetables, and rice and chicken. Because there was so much other food, I just didn't serve myself chicken and explained (after being asked) that I get sick when I eat meat. She was a little confused, but didn't seem to mind and gave us mille feuille (I have no idea how to spell that) for dessert. The next day was a little trickier. The family who fed us spoke zero English, and dished out our food before we got there. Everything was meat, except for a tiny bit of rice. And there were maybe 6 different kinds of meat. This is a testament to my love of missionary work: I ate chicken. I realized there was no gracious way around it, so I started by eating the fried chicken thing on the side of my plate. It wasn't exactly bad, but a little bit of my soul died in that moment. My companion was looking at me like I was insane, and as I chewed this thing which had once been a happy little animal, I realized that, even though I had made a Herculean effort to swallow, there was still a lot more meat. And, I tried....but I couldn't really handle it. It. Was. Awful. Not because it was bad food, but because I was eating flesh and because I was starting to feel pretty sick. And then they brought out chocolate cake and Krispy Kreme donuts, and I thought I was going to pass out. But I didn't - I mumbled something about not being used to eating meat and how it was just so delicious -- my trainer was so proud! Except...except I threw up a lot that night. So, here's the thing: I wasn't sure if the whole not eating meat thing was really a medical thing, but it is now, so I told the woman who handles the calendar on Sunday, and she announced it in Relief Society. And the sister who fed us looked so confused and I felt so bad. Oh bother.
Love you toooooo much!!!