*note: From this point onward the writers of entries will be identified by either
M=Elder Geddes or C=Sœur Geddes.
(M) We have really jumped into a completely new life. The past two weeks have been nothing like anything we have previously know, and it is both challenging and exciting! But to be honest, I kind of like to stir things up.
Our week in the MTC was an intensive dive into the "Preach My Gospel" program that all missionaries study. I have to admit that I was a little skeptical about the "roll playing" I had heard about before leaving home. Volunteers from the Provo area come to the MTC and do 45 minute practice sessions or "roll plays" with the new missionaries. Anyone who knows me knows that this just isn't my thing! But I was really amazed at how real these meeting were and this old skeptic has to admit that I really ended up enjoying the MTC, including these meetings. It was especially fun to have meals with the young missionaries and take the opportunity to just talk with them as they prepare to go all over the world.
Our second week of training was on the 26th floor of the Church Office Building where we and five other senior couples were trained specifically on our Self Reliance callings. The other couples were going to places like Fiji, Australia, Brazil, Guyana and of course France. It was very revealing to learn that the Self Reliance Initiative, unlike so many other Church programs, was first started outside of North America about three years ago and is only now starting in the US and Canada. In fact, when we first received the call or told others what our calling is we got lots of rather confused looks. All of you back home will soon be hearing about Self Reliance in your home wards and stakes so get ready.
Finally the time to fly to our mission arrived. We were so happy to see that we were booked on Delta #88 that goes directly from SLC to Paris and then just a simple one-hour connection to Lyon. What could be easier? Well having to wear a tie did complicate it a bit. Ties and airplanes just do not belong together! As it turned out the tie was the least of our problems. Our flight to Paris took off late and then had to follow a more northern route due to weather conditions and we arrived in Paris about the same time that our connection departed. There was another flight to Lyon later that day but from the Orly airport on the south of Paris and we were at DeGaulle on the north. So rather than try to shuttle between airports with a massive amount of carry-on luggage including a guitar, we opted for a flight from DeGaulle to Toulouse and then an EasyJet flight (easy in name only) from Toulouse to Lyon. So rather than arriving in Lyon at 1:00 pm we got there after dark...with no luggage! Fortunately we were able to make contact with the mission home to let them know that we were delayed. And by the next evening our luggage arrived.
Today we went to the Lyon Confluence Ward. People could not have been more welcoming. When we were set apart as missionaries before leaving home I was so grateful that the blessing I received through President Hunt included a gift of language. When we entered the ward we were offered headsets for English translation and Chris of course didn't need it and I decided to go without. I probably got more out of this Sacrament Meeting that I typically do because I had to stay focused and work at listening. But I understood virtually everything.
After Sacrament Meeting we spent the next two hours with Momo Djmai, our self-reliance manager and President Léporé, president of the Lyon Stake where we discussed their vision of Self Reliance and what some of our duties might be. This wasn't as easy to understand, but it wasn't just because of the language. There is so much flexibility and so many different kinds of needs out there that we will have to discover the specifics as we go. As they told us in the Church Office training, we are building an airplane and flying it at the same time!