June 7, 2015
My first big outing on my own was going to church, which was AMAZING! It was by far the best thing I’ve done here. I wish I didn’t have to wait an entire week to go back. I found a cheap train (transportation is really expensive here), and got there really easily, thanks to the help of technology. It was so exciting to spot the building as I walked down the street, and when I walked up the steps, there were a few people standing outside, and they all greeted me. When I walked inside, everyone shook my hand and kissed me (3 kisses in France). Relief Society (meeting with the women together) was first, and everyone introduced themselves, and all were excited to meet me. I felt so loved! I wish church could feel this welcoming for everyone every time. I understood most of the meeting (just got lost a few times during the lesson, when I zoned out). The best moment was when someone I had been talking to asked me why I am here. I said I’m here to learn French, and she said, “Oh no, you already speak French! You can say you’re here to better your French.” They really helped boost my confidence. Why does Sunday have to come only once a week? And I wish it weren’t so far away.
June 15, 2015
I just went to church for the second time today. I still love it so so much. The people are just so warm and welcoming. I may walk in alone, but I’m never alone for a minute once I’m there. It was my second week and it’s like I’ve already been going for months. They all kiss me and check in to see how I’m doing. I found someone in my town to give me a ride, an older man who is really nice. I think it makes him feel really great to be able to come pick me up. He kept telling everyone I have a chauffeur now. The train costs about $25 to take and the bus isn’t very direct and doesn’t pass very often, especially during the summer, and especially on Sundays.
Anyway, today was stake conference (a regional conference). I’m in the Toulouse Stake! It’s so big. This was the first conference they started to broadcast the meetings, so the members were very excited to be able to meet in our building. It’s very expensive and very time consuming to be able to go to Toulouse (3 hrs & 75 euros each way on a speed train). One of the members today was telling me that only the most dedicated and well-off could go. How sad! He also told me that Ales used to have its own branch, with about 30 members, and that Nimes used to have a really big ward. I asked what happened, and he said he didn’t know, really. I guess a good amount of people have moved, and slowly stopped going. I was so bummed! I would have loved to be part of a little branch here.
But, back to conference. It was so good. Three recently returned missionaries spoke about their experiences. One went to SLC temple square, another to Montreal Canada (speaking Spanish and English!), and I can’t remember where the third one went… But they were so cute. One of them mentioned Miitt Romney. He served his mission in France, so they LOVE him! The mission president and his wife both spoke too, and said their goodbyes because they’re going home in a few days. The president served his mission as a young man in Toulouse also, so he talked about how there was also a stake conference going on in Lyon, which is where they live, but they chose to travel to Toulouse so this mission could end where his last one had 38 years earlier. The stake president closed, and also told a lot of mission stories. He served in Belgium.