Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Week 80 - Surprises, "Death" of the Sisters, and Wow (May 29, 2017)

Hello to everyone!

I hope this finds you all well. I just realized this would be the 80th
email I've written if I'd been reliable enough to write every week!
Which is crazy. For any loyal people who don't immediately delete what
is not too far from a corny spam letter every week, I truly do thank
you :)

Thanks to the mission I have been able to discover the validity of the
fact that Mohammed really is the most common first name in the world-- I think
I've talked to a million of them at this point.

Wednesday involved a lot of standing in a train station. It's more fun
than you think though not as fun as I wanted it to be. As missionaries
come drop of their old companions and wait for their new ones you end
up with a morphing amoeba mass of suitcases and missionaries coming
and going. It's socially pretty fun! I ran into a number of people I
recognize and hadn't seen in ages! After 3 hours the magic wore off a
bit and I was regrettably less smiling and happy to be there.

I received a number of the sweetest and most entirely unexpected gifts
of my mission this last Monday that I thought to wax poetic about! We
had a large conference where the entirety of the mission all came
together in one place for the first time I can ever recall. I was too
busy rambling about stained glass during the last email to share
anything concrete, alors:

1) My so called son e.g. The missionary I trained, showed up with a
Christmas present from his mother that was a little bit late. It was
an apron with a wee sticky note-- equal parts sass and gratitude! I'll
attach a photo. I can't believe how thoughtful some mother I've never
met could be. Would I be that kind of a mother?

2) A missionary who was about to go home gave me a letter. It was
probably one of the letters I've been most excited to open: behind my
mission call letter and above ACT scores/college acceptance stuff.
That was very, very sweet.

3) Another missionary who I've seen 4 times (maybe?) had taken the
time to print off a photo he'd taken of us and write a quick little
message on the back. It was very unexpected and meant a lot given the
small amount of time I'd spent with him.

4) Another person who really is like a sister to me gave me a photo
with a few kind words scratched on the back. My heart was like *warm
Hershey's* that day. And maybe this whole week really!

*Note that warm Hershey's is not entirely a good thing and is meant to
connote the innate goodness of Hershey's mixed with the inconvenience
of trying to eat melts chocolate-- it was both a good and inconvenient
feeling this week*

Tuesday was highlighted by going "mothering". Missionary jargon for
taking newly arrived missionaries (a literal hour or two after they
got off the plane) to go out and talk to people for the first time. I
was so deeply in love with this whole experience! I swear you can
practically see the mix of apprehension, excitement, sheer-horror,
awe, wonder, exhaustion in their eyes and actions. The rude transition
from from Utah to France shakes people up in such a way that you can
really see how they are, what they are feeling, and maybe most
noticeably, how good and noble their intentions be! To them everything
is so French! The trashcans, the quiche featured in the little brunch
bar, the language they don't understand, the dirty river by which
Elder Rosette (the one I mothered!) was dying to get a picture! And
they make such an effort to speak in French. Ego-feeding and adorable.
It really feels remarkably similar to what watching little kids learn
how to do things is like. Or when my little brother picked up some
skill. Or when my niece figured out how to walk. It's not too too far
from that. Maybe mothering isn't such a silly term after all.?

--!!!Other breaking news!!!--

In that freshly mothered group of missionaries there is one destined
to eclipse and surpass me in every way! There is now a Sœur Hacker who
will be doing the same thing I've been doing for 18 months but in
female. Likely with more love, patience, and hopefully success. The
namesake will live on.

Sœur-tain of the missionaries I know are now home! They all hopped on
planes, along with ol' Elder Jackson, this Thursday. (See attached

I don't think heaven is so much a place where one might end up after
dying so much as it is a direction that you go in. It's not the place
we go if you were well behaved during the sometimes random number of
years whiled away on some space rock. One of our dear friends Caroline
had a bit of a rough week-- her uncle is very ill with advanced cancer
and so she asked a lot of questions about why she was here and why
life was so short and assorted other things! And she asked, in her
roundabout introspective Caroline-way, what does this whole live lead
up to and why did we sign up for it anyways. If I'm just going to lose
my uncle and he's just going to peace out one day why did we want to
do this? And just end up chilling in clouds if we did enough good
things? She was frustrated and emotional. And it makes perfect sense
that she be.

The thing with Caroline is the way she says "wow." It's pure wonder.
It's more wonder than children. She says wow when something really
clicks. When she finds some truth or thought or idea that dramatically
changes what she plans on doing and how she thinks about the world.
It's an expression unfortunately lost today. I regret how often I say
or feel, "wow."

I think heaven is a lot more of a direction that a destination. It's
can be as much a state of character and being that we work towards in
this life. And I think all things are actually pointed towards it. All
hardships, departures, injustices... as well as all friendships, good
things, awesome puns, education, etc... can push us in a better
direction and shape us towards becoming better people. Little tiny
steps towards personal heaven and happiness, and bigger- sometimes
unfair steps, teach us to love fairness and give us the desire to see
it realized here in the world. Caroline said "wow" as she started to
believe and love the idea and the life isn't only the beautiful and
great human experience with requisite ups and downs, but that it's a
continuous progression towards a 'heaven'. We sprinkled that lovely
park where we met this Thursday with just a few drops of salt water.

...Look at that! I actually talked about an event from this week for once.

Anywho, I love you guys and appreciate so much what you all go about
doing day to day. Stay yourselves! I wish you all a great week!

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