Lyon, France

Monday, March 25, 2013

"I Have Overcome the World"

Dearest family and friends,

I have so much to tell you and so little time.  Just kidding, they actually just changed the weekly e-mail time from 60 minutes to 90 minutes, so I have all the time in the world!

First I have a bit of sad news...  So this week Alexis moved back up to Paris.  He finished his last week of work last week and moved back up with his parents.  He will be working with his father until he finds a good job in Paris.  I got to meet his parents on Wednesday evening when we helped him to move.  They are wonderful, kind people, and Alexis said that he was going to do all in his power to bring them to come to church with him up in Paris!  His mom called me "Joshua" when I first met her, which really scared me.  Haha, apparently she read Elder Petek's blog.

Another bit of sad news...  Tracey's mother passed away this week.  She took it so well.  When we taught her on Thursday, she told us that her mom had fallen into a coma and was probably going to pass away.  She seemed like she was taking it well, but was nonetheless very sad.  We gave her a blessing of comfort, watched a really good Neil L. Anderson talk and talked about the Plan of Salvation with her.  The following day, she took a plane to Martinique to be with her family during this difficult time.  While she was on the plane, her mother passed away.  Something that she said really, really touched me.  She told me that she knew that the Lord had brought the Gospel light into her life before she had this trial, to easen the pain and to bring her great hope.  She said that she will be speaking at her mother's funeral, and she actually asked us for scriptures from the Book of Mormon that reveal the Plan of Salvation, that she could share in her talk.  She is a light and is going to be so for her family.  I am so thankful for all that the Savior has done to make it possible for us to be able to be with our loved ones again, even after death.  I know that the relationships that we tie with people in this life last even into the eternities.

So, I tried to make the sad news as light as possible.  But hey, THERE IS SO MUCH GOOD NEWS TO SHARE!  Ok, so I cannot WAIT to get this out... JHONNY'S FAMILY IS GETTING BAPTIZED!  Remember Jhonny, the one who Elder Petek and I found, taught once, passed, got baptized and is going to be the next bishop of Toulouse?  Well, he is divorced and his ex-wife came down to Toulouse from Lille (tippity top of France) to visit with two of his older children (15 and 14).  While here, he brought them to church, and invited the missionaries to come and visit, and teach them.  I was on an exchange when the other companionship went to teach, so I got to teach his wife, and my, oh, my was she ready for the message.  She is someone very faithful and believing already, but she was humbly look for the truth.  When we taught her, she even testified with us to her children.  We gave them all copies of the Book of Mormon and made SURE that they had the address to the church in Lille, and the coordonees of the missionaries.  Just yesterday Jhonny told me that they had been to church every week since they've been back, her and the kids had been diligently reading and praying about the Book of Mormon, knew that the message was true, and would be asking the missionaries if they could be baptized!  Miracles!  The Lord works in mysterious ways.
This week I did a little exchange in a little village called Cahors.  It looks like a village straight from Legend of Zelda.  We saw lots of success that day and found 8 people who wanted to learn more of Christ later!

Another cool miracle is that we taught a student on friday, who is the female version of Joseph Smith.  Her name is Sabrina.  I met her on thursday evening in the university area.  I was contacting on one side of the street, and my companion on the other.  When I saw her walking towards me, the Spirit told me... "You are going to teach this person, she has the light."  Even, my companion, watching from the other side of the street, said that he saw it and said that if I hadn't contacted her, he would have ran across the street to snag her.  Sure enough, we fixed a rendez-vous for the following day.  When we taught her, we found out quickly that she is a sincere seeker of truth.  She comes from Tunisia and has a background in the Islam religion, but is not at all practicing.  She said that since she's been in France, she goes into Catholic churches and prays like how she sees Christians do on the television.  She said that when she met missionaries who wanted to freely teach her more about Jesus Christ, she knew that it came straight from the heavens.  We taught her about the life of Christ, the restoration of his church, the Book of Mormon, the role of the Holy Spirit and prayer.  At the end, she prayed for the first time aloud in the name of Christ.  It was beautiful to watch.

I would just like to tell you all that I love you so much.  I can feel your prayers and your support.  I know that in this life on the earth, we will have tribulations, difficulties, trials, and we will encounter much evil.  But I know more than I'm sure about anything, that we don't have to fear or worry for one moment.  Because our divine brother has come into the world and he has overcome the world.  He has showed us the way and done everything that was necessary to make it possible for us to overcome it as well.  I love Him.

Have a good week!  Good luck, James!  Come to France, there are too many miracles happening here for you not to be a part of them! :)

Avec amour,

Elder Kunzler
You guys aren't going to believe this, but I've learned to cook on my mission (thanks Elder Petek) doesn't the food look delicious, and don't I look cool in an apron?

Viens et Suis-Moi

Mon, Mar 11, 2013 at 11:33 AM
Dearest family and friends,

I would like to start this letter by wishing my lovely mother the happiest of birthdays!  She is the most incredible I know and I hope that tomorrow is a very happy day!  I love you, Mom!

I would also like to congratulate my little brother James, who might be the biggest stud on the planet, for sending in his mission papers and getting recruited to BYU Lacrosse in the same week.  You're the man! Love you!

My week here in France was simply incredible.  Saturday was the most joyful day of my mission.  It was the day in which I got to watch Tracey, one of our Heavenly Father's precious daughters, follow the example of the Savior and be baptized.  It was a very, very special moment for all who were present. The Spirit was felt very strong in the chapel, and the members who came to support her were very touched by this Spirit.  She was able to bear her testimony and she talked about her past a lot.  She shared with us the fact that before, she was a Catholic, but very non-practicing.  In fact, she said that she didn't even like to go to church, she would find herself sleeping rather than listening to the priests.  But she always felt like she had a close relationship with the Lord.  She said that she was going through a difficult time in here life when she met me on the road at Jean Jaures.  She knew that the Lord knew her and was listening to her prayers, and responded just at the perfect time by sending the missionaries.  She bore testimony of what the restored gospel has brought to her life: peace and the pure love of Christ.  She bore testimony of the Lord's modern day servants: Joseph Smith and Thomas S. Monson.  She bore testimony of the Book of Mormon.  It was a very touching testimony.  When our awesome bishop (Will Ferrell) welcomed her into the ward, he talked about miracles.  How every time he sees someone humbly follow the Savior or here's a pure testimony or conversion story, it completely shatters the notion held by many that miracles have ceased in our day.  God is a God of miracles.  Tracey is a miracle.  After the evening, I went back into my missionary journal to look up the day that I met Tracey in January.  It wasn't a long entry.  I said that it rained A TON that day, and that when I came in in the evening, I came in completely SOAKED (I remember that).  I said in the middle of the entry that Elder Petek and I did some "metro boogyin' " (a form of contacting that him and I invented) and that we met a cool art student from Martinique at Jean Jaures.  It was a little miracle that occured that day.  The Lord truly placed in our path one of the Lord's elect daughters.
Tracey on her special day!  There were angels there celebrating with us.

The musical event took place right after the baptism service.  The Spirit of the baptism really resided in the chapel for the remainder of the evening.  The event was a huge success.  The musicians were incredible.  It was really cool to see all the hard work and effort pay off and to see it really turn out.  Members invited friends, and what a cool first encounter with the church, not a single soul that left was not touched!  Utile (who mentioned to me yesterday that she's been thinking a lot lately about serving a MISSION!!!!!!!) and I did a groovy version of Come Thou Fount together, the missionaries sang "Nearer My God to Thee", the Tahitian young adults did a cool song about mission work, an incredible pianist in our ward did a beautiful rendition of "I Believe in Christ".  To finish it all off, we showed a film of Savior, Redeemer of My Soul performed by some incredible musicians in Utah, that she had prepared with subtitles in French.  It was very touching.  I don't know if I've felt the Spirit and Love of Christ so much as I did that night.  Even those who weren't members said that they felt very moved and unified in the faith.  "It was a night to be remembered."  -Bilbo (or was that Gandalf?)
Utile, her bros, the sisters and us.  Fun peeps.

I thank you all for the birthday wishes.  It is true that I will be turning 20 on Saturday.  I don't know what we'll be doing quite yet.  I know that my birthday is shared with a member, so we'll be taking her a cake and munching on it together.  Maybe I'll shave my hair off or buy a spiffy French suit or something.  My companion said that if I can beat him in basketball this afternoon he'll get me sushi.  We'll see.  In any case, thanks so much for the love!  I love you all so much and wish you a fantastic week!

Avec amour,
Elder Kunzler

Monday, March 18, 2013

Mosiah 15:28. L'histoire de la princess d'Inde.

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 at 1:14 PM
Dearest family and friends,

Thanks again so much for the joyous outpouring of love and prayers that I received this last week for my birthday.  The best present anyone could ask for.  Yes, it is official, I am 20 years old, no longer a missionary, and as old as my mom when she got married... WEIRD.  No, I feel like a man, though.
Gildas, a cool bro, I got to know him a bit from the interview I conducted with him

It was a joyous week and a joyous birthday.  There was a baptism in Toulouse here on my birthday, so I got to spend it in the best way, watching someone come unto Christ.  His name is Gildas and he comes from Central Africa.  He was only here for 3 MONTHS on an internship and will be returning home in just a few short weeks.  He met the sister missionaries on his first day here and, as he met with him, gained a powerful spiritual witness of the restored church and of the Book of Mormon.  It was very special being able to support him on this special day and listen to his amazing testimony.  After the service, the sisters through a little surprise party for me.  It was better than any of the ones that you tried throwing me, mom, just because none of the members or missionaries spoiled it (Sarah).  I walked into a dark room and there was Gildas with a chocolate cake and six candles in it.  They were those trick candles that relight even after you blow them (they're really popular in France) so I had to put them out with my fingers.  There was a joyous little buffet and great company.  It was a very fun birthday!!!  I love the members here with all my heart!!!
The process of the birthday cake, being surprised, trying to blow it out, failing and picking them out, SUCCESS!

This week was also full of some very special experiences!  We have began teaching one of the Young Adult's girlfriend.  She is Christian, really cool and really ready for the gospel.  She expressed to us that she really has the desire to change and to find out the truth for herself.  Her name is Nelly.  She even said that she wants to be baptized when she feels ready!  We've only taught her twice!  Elder Uluave and I have seen a lot of miracles in focusing our efforts around the members.  I'm so convinced that that is where he places his elect, in their entourage.

We also began teaching a really cool student from China named Xenia.  She was converted to Christianity less than a year ago in Paris and moved down here for an internship with Airbus.  We've only taught her once, and then we'll be passing her to the Chinese elders here, but she came to the baptism and even celebrated at my birthday party!  She is really cool and very, very interested in our unique message.  I'm sure you'll be hearing more about her later.

So now it's time to tell you about what the title signifies.  It happened last night.  It was probably the most insane thing that has happened on my mission.  So this story starts a while ago.  When Elder Petek and I were together, we contacted this group of Indian internship students who all spoke flawless english.  Both times they said that they were super interested, but that they had no time to see us.  Then on my birthday, saturday night, my companion and I contacted one of them, and she recognized me.  We asked if she was interested in meeting with us now and she said, yes absolutely, tomorrow night.  So we saw her last night and we taught her with Elder Williams, who is a senior missionary here who watches over the institute center.  The lesson went really, really well and she was super interested and very attentive.  We told her about Christ and the unique message that we share of the restoration of his church.  It was a very good lesson in our native tongue.  At the end, we explained the Book of Mormon, the Holy Ghost and prayer.  She prayed for the first time in her life, and it was beautiful, natural prayer that went straight to the heavens.  After the prayer, we asked her if she would prefer the Book of Mormon in english or hindi, we had both out. She said english, but my companion opened the hindi one and asked if she would at least be willing to read for us in it, so that we could hear. After she read, I asked her what it meant.  She said that it meant that "God would spread his word that it would reach every nation, language and people."  My companion and I looked at each other with dropped jaws.  Some angels might've been playing a trick on us or something.  It was super cool.  We found out afterwards that it was probably Mosiah 15:28, a prophecy of Abinadi.  Cool stuff.  I know that it's true that this prophecy is being fulfilled NOW in our day and time.  God has not ceased to be a God of miracles.  He acts according to our faith and he works miracles through us.  Another cool little fact:  we found out afterwards that she was royal blood.  Yep, we taught an Indian princess this week.

The church is true.  Christ lives.  Faith is the only path.  I love you and wish you all a wonderful week!  Thanks, above all for the prayers!

Avec amour,
Elder Kunzler

PS.  Congrats Garth on your mission call!  You're going to beast it out there!

We got presents?!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Prenez Mon Joug

Mon, Mar 4, 2013 at 4:24 PM
Hello, there, one and all!

I hope that you are all profiting well from the sun that has appeared in the European skies!  I don't know if it is residing on your side of the world, but it is a joy to behold for us winter chilled missionaries here in Toulouse!  It is a little windy, but BEAUTIFUL today here in southern France.

Elder Uluave and I have passed a joyful week with some interesting experiences, but a great climax.  At the beginging of the week, we took a little adventure to the big city of Lyon to have a council with the leaders from all corners of the mission.  Since the mission will nearly be doubling in the coming months, the number of the leaders has already nearly doubled.  The mission is preparing quickly for the 22 sisters who will be entering the mission at the beginning of next month and all of the changes that will follow!  It was a pleasure to learn at the foot of our inspired mission president. It was good to be with all of my old collegues (see included picture).  Unfortunately, upon our return from Lyon, I fell quite sick and had to stay in bed to recover for a bit.  But the end of our week was full of some pretty spiritually experiences.

My awesome companions are all ZLs! (ET in Nice EP in Lyon)
Tracey is very much ready for this Saturday, the day of her baptism.  She has been awaiting this day for nearly five weeks now since we have begun meeting with and teaching her.  She is really well prepared and well integrated.  This weekend we fasted together that she might have a special baptism and then we had the opportunity to close the fast together at a member's home.  We ate a yummy French meal and then had our own little testimony meeting in the comfort of this family's beautiful home.  It was a pleasure to hear someone who have grown very close to and grown to love very much testify of Christ and of his Restored gospel and church.  She also bore testimony of praying to God and being able to find her cat.  haha.  It was a very special, evening, one that I'll likely never forget.  I am grateful for wonderful members who open up their spirit-filled homes to our friends and show them so much love and such a good example.  It was a delight.

Alexis, Elsa and David are doing joyously as well.  Alexis passed a good week in Paris, and found some really good success in his interviews up there.  We know that the Lord is blessing him as he turns towards him and that He is leading him where he wants him to go.  David said the closing prayer yesterday in sacrament meeting for the first time EVER!  He did a good job!  Haha he is the man.

I finished the Book of Mormon in French this week on the way home from Lyon!  Its just as good as it is in English.
As I told you a little bit over skype on Christmas, we are doing a lot of member work, trying to help the members to do missionary work with us.  To speed up this process, we have planned a musical activity that will take place just after Tracey's baptism on Saturday. This will give us a good opportunity to meet some of the members friends and to help them feel the Spirit!  I will be singing a little something-something... maybe even with Utile.  I'll try to get it on film so that I can send it to you all!

Know that I love you with a lot of heart and I wish you a "bonne semaine!"  

Avec amour

Elder Kunzler
Me and a naked guy carrying a horse in Montpellier.