Lyon, France

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.

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