One of the unique things about my mission is that we have a lot of different languages going on - all the time. My area is "French" but there are also Spanish and English missionaries called in the exact same area, but who serve in different congregations. It's really interesting. And it means that we do things a little differently. For example, my trainer was called in Spanish and learned Spanish in the MTC. But her first area was French, French, French. And while she grew up speaking French in Haiti, she moved to the U.S. when she was 10 and hadn't spoken French since arriving (she's 26 now). Furthermore, she was a convert, so the unique Gospel vocabulary was not something which she could just "remember". Every morning we have personal study followed by companionship study. We read our scriptures and plan and prepare for the people we'll be teaching that day. We routinely pray in Spanish, French, English, and Haitian Creole. And when we read things out-loud together, I read in French and she reads in Spanish. It's a little intense, but it's also kind of cool. Especially because we teach lots of different types of people, some who prefer to read in French, pray in Spanish, and speak in English - others who switch between the three languages constantly. Again, a little much at times, but also really cool.
Another cool thing about my area is that everyone in our congregation is related. It kind of reminds me of Capitol Hill and our family, but to an even greater extent. The bishop is one of 6 and most of his siblings - as well as their spouses - live in the ward. His youngest brother is the ward mission leader, and it just makes me happy to think of Zen at 30 serving as the ward mission leader in a ward where Shiloh is Bishop, surrounded by his 4 adorable babies and crazy-pretty French-Canadian wife. It is a good idea.
OK. The leaves here are absolutely beautiful! I have never appreciated fall so much! It's really magical. And painful, because I desperately want to bake pumpkin pie and braid leaf garlands with all of you. And I can't. But.....Eeeep. I just can't think about that right now. OK. Moving on -
There is a family here. The mother is single - she's really pretty, and looks about 32, but she has 4 of her own children and also cares for the son of an ex-boyfriend. Yesterday between sessions of conference we walked over to teach him a lesson. The whole family gathered around and we talked about the attributes of Christ. It was really uplifting. Everyone - from the mother, to her 17 year old son, to the 2 year old baby - participated. When we got up to leave, it was pouring. We had walked from church, so the boys ran to give us their rain coats to put over our fall jackets (we looked awesome), the mother wrapped our book bags in plastic bags, and we set out. After conference we returned to drop of the rain coats and bags, and the mother asked us where we were eating that night. "Chez-nous [our house]!" we replied, and she insisted on feeding us instead.
Gathering the family to listen to our lesson may have seemed like a little thing. Giving us rain jackets - as well as taking the time to wrap up our book bags - was also a small act of kindness. Feeding us leftovers may have seemed simple to some people, but coming from this single mother of 5, it was incredibly kind and generous. As I munched on plantain pancakes in their kitchen, I knew that they were living in the way that Christ would have wanted them to live. They were being sensitive and generous enough to recognize what they could do to make someone else's journey a little better and brighter. And I know this isn't very well written - it hasn't even been proof-read, and it won't be because I'm out of time on the computer. But what I want to say is that we are all capable of magnifying the love shown to us through the way we live each day. We can (and should) take the time to smile at the people we see on the street. We can (and should) hold open the door for the person behind us. And if we can, which most of us can, we can and should buy that homeless person a sandwich - because heaven knows that's what Christ would do. And isn't that what we're all trying to do anyway? To be just a little kinder, gentler, more thoughtful, loving - in a word, more Christlike?
Je vous aime!