Lyon, France

Monday, February 25, 2013

Sacrifice Brings forth the Blessings of Heaven

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 at 11:01 AM
Dearest Family and Friends,

I don't know if you know this already, but it was announced that there will be 58 new missions in the world beginning this July.  One of them is the Oregon Salem mission.  James, prepare well, you might be getting called to serve in your own city!

It is snowing in Toulouse and has been for the last 24 hours.  All is white and cold and there are not very many people out wandering around.  It is vacation time for the students and all is tranquil in Toulouse.  And the work continues to role forth!  I am now serving here with Elder Uluave, who comes from South Jordan, Utah and is 1/8th Tongan (but looks more than that).  He is an excellent missionary, has been a leader nearly his entire mission (served as ZL in Montpellier with Elder Petek just before he was put with me) and has an incredible desire to serve the Lord and God's children here in France.  He is also probably the funniest missionary I have ever met.  Ever since we've been together it's been non-stop laughter.  I honestly cannot contact people with him, because he will make me laugh too hard.  We're really looking forward to our next month together.

The baptism of Tracey has been delayed once again for the 9th of March.  She very much wants as many members to be there as possible to support her, and the past and upcoming Saturdays have been difficult for the members to be there, because of activities and events.  Elder Uluave and I have been having a difficult time thinking of things to help her to progress in her faith.  We thought it would be good to go over the Plan of Salvation with her once more.  She knew it like the back of her hand, understanding the importance of each principle and part, and even pulling out scriptures from the Book of Mormon for the principles.  Yesterday at church there was a woman there for her first time and she asked a question about the state of Adam and Eve before their transgress and she decided to respond, talking about the need of opposition in all things, the innocent state of Adam and Eve and the necessity of the fall.  She's also taken the habit, that at the beginning of each lesson that we have with her, she writes the chapter that she read from the Book of Mormon up on the board and then a little theme that she found for the chapter.  She then shares with us a few of her favorite scriptures from the chapter.  Needless to say, she is progressing very well on her own.  She is very excited for her baptism, but even moreso for what she has afterwards, all the blessings and opportunities of the Restored Gospel.  She is thinking a lot lately about missionary work. ;)

It was a very good week in missionary work.  I am so grateful for this opportunity that I have to serve the Lord with all of my time and with all of my energy.  I am so grateful for the blessings that I see from it every day.  It is so, so true that if we "lose ourselves" for His cause, we truly "find ourselves".  I can truly say that I am the happiest that I've ever felt in my life. I know that the Lord gives me these feelings to show me that what I am doing pleases him.  Then when I see young men and women in the ward in which I serve prepare to serve the Lord full time, I can't help but grab them by the shoulders, shake them and tell them to get ready for the most incredible journey of your life.  It is the most illogical thing in the world that the Lord sends 18 and 19 year old boys and girls to go into the world and do his work, the most important work in the world.  It is so illogical that it must be inspired.  I know that this is the Lord's work.  He looks after and takes care of his servants.  And as we learn to become just that, servants, we are changed forever.  It changes our life.  I am so greatful for the opportunity that the restored church gives to it's members to draw closer to the Savior by serving him.

I would like to tell you all that I love you much.  I wish you an excellent week.  Have a happy Dr. Seuss' day (or is that next week).  I hope that everyone's heart grows 3x in size!  The only way to do so is through the Atonement ;).  Take care and stay warm!


Elder Kunzler

Monday, February 18, 2013

Goodbye, Elder Petek : ' (

Pont Neuf bridge in Toulouse.  Elder Petek doesn't look to happy (because he has to leave Toulouse)

Mon, Feb 18, 2013 at 10:44 AM
Dear family and friends,

Yes.  Sadly, as the title of this e-mail implies, my dear friend Elder Petek will be leaving Toulouse this afternoon.  He will go to Lyon to lead their zone with my friend Elder Frandsen.  I will miss him dearly.  I have spent a good 4 months of my mission, and he is one of the most inspiring men I have ever met.  He taught me something every single day that I spent with him and he truly has become one of the best friends I've made in this life.  As the French say, he will lack me (that's how you say I will miss him).  My new companion will be Elder Uluave, who was actually Elder Petek's companion when he was ZL back in Montpellier.  I know Elder Uluave, he is very joyful, an awesome missionary and absolutely hilarious.  I really look forward to serving with him.
Our AWESOME zone.  I will miss about half of them (transfers) very dearly.

The highlight of this last week with Elder Petek, of course, was the baptism of Alexis.  It was a very special day.  He was baptized by our ward mission leader, someone who'd been able to get to know over his conversion process and really come to love and respect.  It was actually a duo baptism, there was an 8 year old boy in the ward who was baptized, so there was a very good turn out of people there to support these to people contract an alliance with our Heavenly Father.  The boy, Yanis, had a lot of family there to support him.  The bishop, in his welcoming testimony, said something very touching.  He turned first to Yanis, and asked him to turn around and look at all the family that was there to support him.  He told him that they were all there because they loved him so much.  Then, when he addressed Alexis, he asked him if he had any family there that day.  Alexis said he hadn't.  Then, the bishop, with a lot of emotion and love, said that we were his family that day.  We are his new family, that he has been adopted into.  He then shared the story of his father's baptism, which he said reminded him of Alexis', a day when he had no family there to support him, but when he felt a lot of love from the members.  Alexis was very touched.  He expressed that his baptism is something that he was never going to forget.  Yesterday, when he was confirmed by Elder Williams, a senior missionary here in Toulouse, he was told that he would be used as an instrument in the hands of the Lord to build his kingdom here in France.  He was told that he would have great opportunities to serve others in the church.  I know that this is true.  The Lord is really building Alexis up and preparing him for great things.  It has been amazing to be able to help to become truly converted.
Alexis was baptized by our ward mission leader, Fr. Mayer.  Very special day.

Tracey came to the baptism with a lot of questions.  After the service, she approached Alexis and just started firing question after question: How did you feel?  What did it change?  Was the water cold?  She is very much anticipating her own baptism.  We actually pushed her date back to the 2nd of March, just because the bishop and all of the Young Adult friends that she has made won't be able to make it on the 23rd.  She eagerly awaits that day.  She has already been taught and accepted everything.  EVERYTHING. She has a testimony of EVERTHING.  She is the first person I've taught on my mission who wanted to pay tithing before they were baptized and we had to explain that it is a priviledge for those who are members of the church.  When I gave her a tithing envelope, she said that she would bring it to turn in the day of her baptism.  She says that she has received so much from the Lord and that she is ready to just give back everything and serve Him for the rest of her days.  It was very touching.  She said something that really touched me.  She said that the day that I came and talked to her in central Toulouse was a time in her life when she was feeling very, very down and lost.  But she had kept praying and tried her best to stay close to the Lord.  And because of that she was able to know the LDS church, which has brought great peace and happiness into her life and helped her to feel even closer to the Lord.
Tracey and Alexis.  Two people who we have been able to help come unto Christ.  I will never forget them.

Well, my dear family and friends, my screen has started flashing red, that means it's time to go.  But know that I love you with all my heart. Know that I am in the hands of the Lord here in Toulouse, France and I've found more joy in serving Him than in any other time in my life.  Have an awesome week and take care!


Elder Kunzler
Elder Rae, me and our bishop who is the French Will Ferrell.  ROFL.
Sebastian is doing awesome, he now teaches the 8-11 year olds.  Loves his calling.  Thriving.
Utile is the best.  She was able to help teach Alexis with us and came to support him the day of his baptism.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Le Livre de Mormon: Un Autre Temoinage de Jesus-Christ

Mon, Feb 11, 2013 at 11:19 AM
Dearest family members and friends,

I would like to start this letter by turning my thoughts towards my father and wishing him "Un Joyeux Anniversaire!".  Today, February 11th, 2013, he is 48 years old and he still hasn't run a marathon with me.  But I love him to death!  I will be celebrating with you here on the other side of the world.  I love you, dad!

To be honest with you, I cannot believe that it is already the middle of February.  It feels like just yesterday that I arrived here in Toulouse with Elder Petek back in the middle of October.  This week is the last week of my 5th transfer here in France, and to be honest, I would be prepared to stay here in Toulouse and serve these people, "perhaps until the day I die".  I love my companion, I love my area and, above all, I love the people here in Toulouse, France.

This week was packed full of experiences which have allowed to feel and to see the Light of Our Savior.  He is truly there right next to us his servants, and him and his angels are working, just as hard or harder, for the salvation of our brothers and sisters.  It is such an incredible blessing to be able to be a part of this team.

Alexis.  My, this is a changed man.  He told us that when we met him, he was going through a difficult time in his life, a difficult transition period.  He was honest with us in telling us that he did not have a lot of happiness in his life.  If you say him now, you would not guess it.  He tells us that his life is now filled with so much hope and happiness.  That, as he continues in prayer and studty, he is truly able to have the presence of God, the Holy Ghost with him all the time.  We are so pleased that he is recognizing it.  He expressed to us that he knows that this church is the church of God, he is disappointed that France views us a sect, or cult, because of miseducation and media, that this church has brought him nothing but peace and happiness and he knows that it comes from God.  He will be making his first covenant with God this Saturday, when he will be entering into the waters of baptism.  He has come such a long way, but he is not prepared to stop it there.  Yesterday, we had a little meeting with him just before church and he told us that the previous day he had been praying and he got the impression that he needed to finish the Book of Mormon... before he is baptized.  Now, he is motivated and determined to finish this (rather thick) testament of Jesus Christ in less than 7 days (he is in 1 Nephi 8 :) ).  We know that he can do it, and he will be in our prayers.  Whatta guy!

Tracey is doing "formidable", as the French would say.  She has accepted all of the commandments that we have taught her thus far.  She has got into the habit of testifying of each one once we have finished teaching them (she was pretty much already living the gospel before we even met her).  Yesterday we taught the Word of Wisdom and at the end of the lesson, she was like, "No, I don't have any questions, but I would just like to bear my testimony on this commandment.." then she talked about how her father was a former smoker and that subjecting your body to dependancies is not being a steward with the beautiful physical body that God has given us.  Yesterday evening, I called a member up on the phone and thanked her for being so kind and sitting next to our investigator in Sacrament meeting.  Then she was like, "Wait, she is an investigator?!  I was convinced that she was just another one of the Young Adult Women in our ward!" Tracey truly has a special spirit to her, and it is such a pleasure to help her spirit come into contact with truths that she was so prepared for.

Some other really cool things happened this week that I won't be able to go into much detail about, but just know that they were awesome.  For example, we taught Iris, she is really starting to get some answers, progressing very slowly, we still just need to get her to church!  Interviews with president was a pleasure.  My  comp and I got to visit the beautiful village of Albi, in our zone (I've attached some photos).  Elsa and David continue to progress very well in the gospel.  We get to teach them once a week with their new home teachers and it is such a pleasure.  Also, Utile, Sebastian and Jhonny are doing very well as well!  Jhonny blessed the sacrament for the first time yesterday and we will be seeing Alexis with Utile tomorrow!  They're the best.

I wish you all a fantasic week!  Don't let the moment escape you, you only have the week of Feb. 11, 2013 once in your life, use it to it's max.  I feel like I need to quote one of my father's wise sayings to honor him on his birthday.  Something that he says that inspires me is, "Enjoy the moment."

Elder Kunzler

Monday, February 4, 2013

Les Miracles Commencent

Mon, Feb 4, 2013 at 11:38 AM
Dearest Family and Friends (and blog-viewers ;)

I trust that your week was a special one.  Can you believe that it is already February?  I can't.  I think that January 2013 was officially the fastest passing 31 days of my life.  But very special days.  Days that I'm never going to forget in my life.

This week some amazing things happened in our efforts in spreading the good news here in Toulouse, France.  Before I tell you a couple miracles, maybe I'll just fill you in very quickly on our progressing amis.

Alexis spent the weekend up in Paris with his family for his 28th birthday, but we were able to see him twice before he departed.  He is still progressing well and we trust that he will be well-prepared for his baptism next week.  He has been taught and accepted all of the commandments.  When we taught him about baptism and confirmation in the church, we asked him how he felt in regards to that, and he told us very sincerely that he feels mentally prepared, but he wishes to spiritually progress before, so that he can be truly ready.  He understands the significance of this sacred covenant, and does not take it lightly.  So we decided, to give him a little more time to prepare, to push his date back one week, so now it falls on the 16th of February.  This will give him more time to read the Book of Mormon and continue in his prayers.  He is the man.

Tracey is special.  She will be baptized on the 23rd this month (we pushed the date forward and now it falls on her birthday!)  At church yesterday, she ATE IT UP.  It was fast and testimony meeting and a returned sister missionary who served in Paris bore a very powerful testimony of the miracles that are seen in the France missions every single day.  Afterwards, she asked us what missionary work is like and how one can go on one.  We want to push her to go on one!  She will be the greatest missionary.  Progressing very well in the restored gospel.

Iris is progressing.  She had a lot of doubts, a lot of fears, a lot of opposition, but we think that now she is ready.  She prayed at the end of our last lesson to have more of a real intention and to have a truer desire to know if the Book of Mormon is true.  I talked to her on the phone yesterday and she told me that she had finally started to read!  Just the fact that she is now opening the Book is a real miracle.  We are certain that she will start getting the answers to her questions very soon.  We'll be seeing her tomorrow, and our next step is just getting her to church!

So, first miracle.  Leila.  I don't know if the name rings any bells, but she is someone who Elder Petek and I met on Halloween night, over 3 months ago when we first arrived in Toulouse.  We taught her once and it was the most incredible lesson that I have taught on my mission.  In that the first lesson with her about the restoration of Christ's church, she expressed to us, through tears, that she felt like she "was coming home" and that she finally thought that she found the answer to so many of her questions before. Well, we had lost contact with her.  She never answered calls, responded to texts, we weren't even sure if we had the right number, because we had never contacted her before our first meeting with her.  We had never given up hope though! She had always kind of stayed in the back of our minds and we prayed a lot that we would be able to find her again. Then on Saturday night, I was working on some papers, when I heard my collegue say "Hello, is this Leila?"  At first I thought he was joking with me.  Then, I heard her voice on the other line.  They started talking, she said that she was in Spain on vacation and will be back at the end of this week.  My companion asked her if she would be interested in learning more about the message that we shared with her back in November.  There was a pause on the phone and then "Yes."  We will be seeing her soon, and that's a tender mercy.  We know that she needs this message more than anything.

Don't have a whole lot of time to tell you my other miracle, but know that my companion and I were able to use our priesthood to do some really amazing things one day.  Heal the spiritually wounded and the physically sick.  Ask me to tell you the story in June 2014.  Hehe.

I know that the priesthood is on the earth today.  God speaks in our day.  The heavens are not sealed.  The Lord is accomplishing his purposes right now, with or without us.  He wants us to be happy, and he knows that the only way to do so is to see to the happiness of others.  He calls us unto Him.  Those who were once with Him and those who have never know Him yet in this life.  He calls young fisherman to find them and he tells them where to cast their nets.  This is His work, it always has been and it always will be.  I love Him.

I love you, too.

Elder Kunzler