So far as I understand this is the last email I'll be able to send until the next Monday-- after I've spent a week there in France. I'm equal extremes nervous and excited. Happy New Year! I hope everyone stayed up late and had fun and set some good goals. They gave me a little mini p day here right before I depart so I won't be sending out a big group email this time. I'm grateful for all the love and support you've shown me. I included some photos. one I took just now as I email this, and another from our last day with one of my teachers and dear friends, Frere Kellet.
Au revoir! Avec beaucoup d'amour,
Elder Alex Hacker
|Alex and his companion and Frere Kellet, one of their teachers|
|Alex and his companion in the laundry room sending his last emails from the MTC|
|Alex's district enjoying a sack lunch in their classroom|
|Alex and his companion with Junichi Maeda who would roleplay as an investigator so they could practice their teaching|
Alex left the MTC and flew to France today, Monday, January 4. He had a direct flight from Salt Lake into Paris.
Alex got to call and talk to us from the airport for about 45 minutes before his flight left. It was great hearing his voice again, even though it hadn't been too long since Christmas. We had plenty of questions to ask him about the MTC and about going to France, and here are some of the thing he shared with us.
He was able to get everything packed well, and had no problems with getting his luggage underweight and checked in. He said that it was strange being in the airport, with so many different people all around, and that everyone was very friendly towards him and the other missionaries.
He told us that he had continued to do some tie trading, and that there had been a particularly successful session of tie trading last week, where he had broken the "trade embargo" that an English elder had in place (that elder had previously come close to, but had never actually traded any ties before--Alex got him to finally trade one time). Alex said that although he had fun trading ties, he never traded any of the ties that were gifts or that had other sentimental value for him, and he thought that he had a great set of ties to have in the mission field.
We talked about the "secret stash" that had been found--turns out it was in an adjacent room and that the room he was in didn't have any secret stash in the vent--so he and the other elders in his room decided to start one up. Among the treasures they left behind for the next set of elders to find was a small penguin that poops candy.
He told us that at the MTC for the phone call, there were lots of missionaries in the room all simultaneously talking on phones. There was someone there helping out by watching to see if any missionaries got too sad, and if so, that person would go over and try to offer some support/comfort. We told him that at least he didn't seem too sad during our call, but he told us that he was just doing a good job hiding it.
Alex got a chance to talk to all of individually and we got to say our goodbyes to him. Alex said he was equal parts excited and nervous about leaving for France. We made him promise to keep emailing us.
In France, the P-Day (the day that Alex can write emails) for missionaries is on Monday (France time). This means we probably won't hear anything directly from him until Monday, Jan 11th. Alex's email hasn't changed (and will remain the same for his whole mission).
UPDATE on 1/6/16:
Alex's flight arrived in Paris at 10:52 am local time (2:52 am our time), so it was about a 10 hour flight.
The Misson's facebook page posted these pictures of the group that arrived in France:
Additionally, we received this email message from the Mission President:
To the Family of Elder Hacker
Sister Babin and I were delighted to welcome your son , Elder Alex Patrick Hacker , into the France Paris Mission on 05 Jan 2016. He and his MTC companions were enthusiastic and all arrived in good health. He spent his first day eating some good food, visiting with me, contacting non-members in the heart of Paris, and sharing testimonies. We enjoyed his spirit.
The next morning, after a mission orientation, Elder Hacker left for his first assignment to work in the Caen 4* Area with Elder Jackson, who will be his trainer. Their apartment address is:
80 rue Caponière
Any packages or letters you would like to send will reach your missionary at this address.
Please do not send packages or mail to the mission home at Onze Novembre. Instead you may send them to the Mission Bureau at: 131 Boulevard Carnot, 78110 Le Vesinet, FRANCE
We feel very privileged to work with your son . We also realize the responsibility we share with you to help him continue to grow spiritually as he faithfully performs his duties. May the Lord inspire us all to sustain him in this challenging and exciting assignment. We hope you will join Sister Babin and me in praying each day for your son , his companion, investigators, and all of us serving in the France Paris Mission.
A positive, supportive letter from home every week does wonders to sustain a missionary’s morale. Proverbs 25:25 states: As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country. If you have any questions, or if we can assist you in any way, please contact us at our office (001-331-3480-0483) or home (001-331-3976-8402).
Frédéric Jean Babin
President, France Paris Mission
There were also these instructions for sending packages:
As you know, the missionaries cherish the letters and packages that they receive from their families and we are well aware of the time, effort and sometimes even sacrifices that these packages are for you.
To be sure they arrive in a timely manner and in the best conditions, please follow these recommendations:
1 - Make sure your shipment is properly stamped and paid for.
2 - Verify that the address of the sender and the recipient are written legibly. Write clearly:
Les Missionnaires Elder … or Sister …
3 - On the customs declaration write: Missionary Personal Supplies
4 - Do not forget to write the country of destination and of origin.
5 - Make sure your package is securely packed.
6 - Never send cash by post. It is prohibited under French law.
7 - Remember that the bigger the package, the greater the risk of it being damaged.
8 - Send the package to the address of the apartment of your missionary and not to the mission office. Packages sent to the mission office will not be forwarded to the missionaries by mail.
9 – Don’t send packages within the 15 days before a transfer. Transfers are every 6 weeks. Ask your missionary to keep you informed of transfer dates.
10 - Remember to send Christmas, Easter, and birthday packages at least 3 weeks early.
11 - If you can, it would be very nice to include in your package something for your missionary's son companion. In fact, some of our missionaries receive no support or packages from their loved ones and this could be a support for them, as well as very beneficial to their relationship with their companion.