Lyon, France

Monday, July 29, 2013

Croitre.... Remplir la Terre

Dear family and friends,

I think that there are times in life (and especially during the mission) when things just come together and you're able to reflect, look back and see why things had to play out the way they did.

There are times on the mission where it is very difficult in the moment and it is hard, in the moment, to see what significance or meaning what is being done with the time accorded even has.  But then, after persevering for a few hours, days, weeks, or even months, you're able to see to what cause your efforts serve.  And sometimes you never see them.

This last week it was miserably hot during the day every single day. Then, out of almost nowhere, on Thursday night and again on Friday night, there were huge storms of lightning, thunder, rain, wind.  Trees were distroyed, debris could be found everywhere.  On friday, we had a rendez-vous with someone we met a month ago porting in Libourne.  She had to cancel because of the floods.  Mid-summer flood.

This morning we got to teach here.  We understand now why it needed to be this morning.  There is a member in our ward, our Elder's Quorum President, an amazing man (we spent our last p-day out at his home in the country).  He is a convert of 7 years to the church.  A former Catholic with a great Christian knowledge and a deep abiding testimony of and love for the Savior.  He just happened to be at the chapel this morning with his brother in law, nieces and nephews, playing ping pong.

The woman who came to the chapel this morning is named Colette.  She comes from Libourne (40 minutes from here in car).  She is Catholic with great faith in Jesus Christ.  She needed to hear the testimony of Brother Moulin.  Yes.  And Heavenly Father did the work to make it so that she would.  He answered her difficult questions better than we ever could have, he shared his conversion story and the steps leading up to him meeting the missionaries (pretty similar to the steps leading up to her meeting us).  It was just a perfect rendez-vous.  She reads from the Bible and she reads every morning.  She is going now to read the Book of Mormon.  She said the prayer at the close of the lesson and was very sincere with God.  She said something like "Thank you for allowing me to meet these people and feel of the warmth, joy, and peace that you have given them.  Help me to know if the things which they have brought to me are true."

Patience is a principle that we have to learn in this life.  God has a greater perspective than we do and we certainly must learn to follow his timetable and not our own.  One thing that I've learned from the experiences that I've lived in the last few months is that God really loves his children more than we can comprehend.  He's willing to go to great, great lengths for them.

Life is good.  Got to see some awesome people come unto Christ.  We conducted a few baptismal interviews in Talence and Perigueux (a ville that Elder Andersen worked in when he was a missionary here).  It was cool to get to see how the power of the Savior's sacrifice worked in their lives.

This is the last week of this transfer here with Elder Johnson.  You have no idea how fast they fly by.  I'm loving every minute of it.  I'm sorry family, but I don't think that I ever want to come home.  Muahaha

I love you much and wish you much joy this week,

Avec amour,


Monday, July 22, 2013

L'Agneau de Dieu

Family, friends, and fiends,
I am still living in France.  Right now I am in the countryside and there are little chickens that are in my line of visibility.  We are spending the day in the countryside.  It is very beautiful and green here and it reminds me a lot of Oregon.  Except here, instead of the blackberries growing in bushes, they grow on trees!
This week was wonderful.  Unfortunately I did not get to work much with my lovely companion Elder Johnson.  There is a companionship in our Zone in a ville called Mont-de-Marsan and there are is a lot of summer partying that is taking place there right now, so they came and spent most of the week up here in Bordeaux.  We got to do some great exchanges and I learned a lot from these younger missionaries (there are some who are coming out who are already 18! crazy!)  We saw some very cool miracles take place with them.
I do not recall telling you about Frere Siben.  Frere Siben is a less-active member who was baptized in a city called Nimes about 10 years ago.  Elder Emal and I knocked on the door of the mansion that he lives in nearly 2 months ago.  He explained to us that he was a member, but that he had decided to leave the church.  We talked to him for a good while there at the door, but he told us that he couldn't receive us.  He had an operation on his eyes this last month, and he told us that he would invite us to lunch with him and his mother when he got the doctors OK.  We went over there on Saturday.  As we walked through his garden and into his home, I turned and told my companion that it was probably the Frenchest place I'd ever been to on my mission.  He lived a large, French-style mansion, with a large living/dining room in the center and wings on either side, with a corridor and many rooms.  We lunched with him and his mother and had a very good conversation.  His mother is not a member, but she was taught by the missionaries in the past.  They are both very religious people, very intellectual and very French (he offered us wine, almost insisted on us tasting some, took his smoking break and we had to turn down their coffee ice cream at the end of the meal).  It was a pleasure to share our testimonies and principles of the Restored Gospel.  Frere Siben told us of a very spiritual experience that he lived with the missionaries who had taught him.  At the end, we asked him if he would like to come back to church.  He said he would.  We explained that in order for him to be able to renew his sacred baptismal covenants, he was going to have to make to major changes in his life.  We explained that it was not going to be easy, but that it would be very possible with the help of the Saviour.  He said that he would like to change.  In my opinion, I think that helping the Lord to bring back his sheep that have strayed is just as exciting as going out and finding new sheep.
We are teaching new people.  In Libourne, we found a woman after leaving Frere Siben's home, who we gave a Book of Mormon to, taught her about it and she invited us to come back.  We also will be teaching another woman who comes from Libourne on Friday (we want to start a branch in Libourne, there used to be one there, it is the largest city in our sector).  On my exchange with Elder Beyer of Mont-de-Marsan, we found a Portuguese student named Ludmila on Tuesday and taught her together on Wednesday morning.  She told us that she would read the Book of Mormon and pray about it.  We will be seeing her again tomorrow.  Yesterday evening, we had very little time before it was time to return to the apartment, we contacted someone in the middle of the road (there was a little island thing for pedestrian walkers).  We ended up talking to him for a good 20 minutes.  He told us that last week his wife had told him that she no longer wanted him, and that he had to move out.  He was living at a friends home and he told us that the only thing getting him through this trial was his faith in Jesus Christ.  We talked to him for an extended period of time about why the Lord gives us trials in life.  His name is Gregory and he is an extraordinary person.  We will also be seeing him and revealing more of the restored gospel to him this week!  The Lord is giving us lots of miracles.  Who would have thunk?  It is vacation time, and usually it is the most difficult part of the year for Europe missionaries to find people to teach.  It must be prayer. :)
Well family,  I love missionary work.  I secretly like doing what I'm doing now more than anything else I've ever done with my life.  I know that what I'm doing for mankind now is the greatest good that can be done.  And it is only because I am doing what Christ asked us to do.  He did it all.  He accomplished the plan of our salvation.  He fulfilled his role.  He has all power in heaven and in earth.  And he now leads his work there and here.  I can feel it every single day, sincerely.
I love you, truly and wish you a might fine week.
Avec amour,
Elder Kunzler

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Soyons courageux car nous avons Jesus-Christ


There is still not an unhallowed hand to be found that can stop the work of the Lord from going forth.

This week was full of some amazing miracles and some disappointments, but all affliction has been swallowed up in the joy of Christ!

Remember Rute and Daniel, the Portugese couple that Elder Emal and I found about a month ago?  Well, we had lost contact with them after Elder Emal went over to teach them on an exchange with a missionary in our Zone.  They had stopped answering our phone calls, replying to our text messages and even knocks on the door.  Well, at the beginning of this last week, we went over.  They answered the door, and immediately Rute (who speaks the better French) started spitting out reasons for why they had not been able to see us for the last few weeks.  They had been busy with work, they had been going to the beach, there was a scripture in the Book of Mormon that displeased her.  We responded calmly, trying to invite the Spirit into the conversation.  Eventually, she invited us in.  We sat down and started talking with her.  Eventually, after discussing, we had come to learn that the reason she had stopped her contact with us was that the missionary that Elder Emal brought over on the exchange did not impress her.  She said that when she asked why he had come on a mission and share his believes with the French, she felt like his replies were insincere and even lame.  Obviously, she should not judge this missionary, but I know that she has a great point.  Sincerity and goodness of intention is incredibly important in missionary work and the people sense it.  In any case, she was soothed over because we shared our testimonies and read from the Book of Mormon.  She wants to continue to see us.  We explained that we are going to help them to repent, to feel the joy of the Atonement.  They had questions about the Word of Wisdom, so we were able to teach them about that.  It is so excited to help people to change their life for the better!

Remember Edwige and Antoinette?  They are really cool.  Antoinette read the chapter that we left her to read, 3 Nephi 11.  This is My Beloved Son.  Hear Ye Him.  And then we showed them a film depicting the First Vision, which depicts the father saying basically the same thing to Joseph Smith.  Wow, the Spirit was strong.  We had an amazing member there to testify with us and share his testimony of the Book of Mormon.  Whoa!  It is fun to be a missionary.  These women take seriously their opportunity to study the restored gospel with us (I apologize.  I feel like I'm writing this whole letter with French grammar.)  They take notes and ask excellent questions.  We will be seeing them again tomorrow!

I know that the most important thing in whatever we choose to spend our time in life doing is simply to believe.  If we choose to be a Mormon missionary, we must believe that the message we share with everyone is going to really change their life.  We have to believe that the Savior is truly right there on our side with his angels.  I really believe that.  I love the Savior.  I know Him.  I really do.  And it makes my soul sing.  Whoa.

I love you and invite you to bear your testimony to someone who has NEVER heard it this week.  That will be radical.  And it will make you and Heavenly Father happy.

Avec amour,

Elder Kunzler (celui qui travaille en France, parmi les arbres, les champignons, les couchons, et les francais glorieux)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

J'irai ou tu veux que je sois

Hello, family!

It is really hot in France.  REALLY HOT.  It's nice though, because it makes you appreciate ANY kind of breeze, air conditioning, fan, or drink of water. :)

Elder Johnson and I had a fun time being Mormon missionaries this week.  We didn't get to spend a whole lot of time in our area.  Monday and Tuesday, we spent in Lyon for a leadership council.  Thursday and Friday we spent in a city called Tarbes in our zone.  We went to help this companionship out because they were newly arrived in the area.  We did double exchanges and found a LOT of people to teach.  My companion worked with the District Leader, Elder Tromeur, an Italian.  And I worked with Elder Castillo, a brand new missionary, fresh out of 6 weeks in the MTC.  He comes from Salt Lake City, Utah.  We had much fun together!

On Thursday, Elder Castillo and I were planning on going to a city called Lourdes (a holy city for Catholics) to teach a lesson to a family that is being taught there.  We took our study time in the morning to plan out a beautiful lesson on the Plan of Salvation. We had it all practiced, with beautiful scriptures picked out and everything, when we found out that this family would not be able to see us that day.  We changed our plans and decided to stay in the city of Tarbes.  When we went outside after an Italian lunch, the third person who we saw on the street asked us, "Vous etes missionnaires Mormons?"  "Are you mormon missionaries?"  Yes!  We started talking to her and we came to discover that she had read parts of the Book of Mormon with a friend who owns it in another city.  She told us that she was actually a former professor of French and Greek and that she is a practicing Protestant.  We ended up talking to her for a while in a nearby park.  She had many questions about the Book of Mormon, and we were able to read some passages and the Introduction together.  The talked about the wonderful message of the Restoration and she was very, very interested.  She asked us how much it cost to purchase a Book of Mormon.  We told her that it is just the price of printing, one dime.  Mehehe, no just kidding.  She was happy to recieve it for free.  She explained that she wouldn't be able to come to church on sundays because every weekend she visits her mother in Bordeaux.  I asked her what part of Bordeaux, and it ended up being a place in our area!  I explained that I was just there for a few days, but that normally I work in Bordeaux and she said that she would come visit our chapel in Lormont on sundays!  It was a pretty miraculous experience.  What are the chances?  There aren't any.

The other days that Elder Johnson and I got to work in our sector were pretty miracle filled as well.  Yesterday, we were able to teach two new amies.  We had a good lesson, and a fun time bearing our testimonies.  "Bear testimony" is such a weird expression in English.

I haven't told you about Sister Adema yet.  Sister Adema is one of my favorite people that I've met on my mission.  She is a semi-less-active member here in our ward.  She doesn't always come to church mostly because of health problems and also because her husband is not a member.  Imagine a European woman who is pretty well off, loves her garden, loves to talk and talk and talk, own really nice things, loves the missionaries and loves Heavenly Father.  This is Sister Adema.  Family, when you come to France, we'll stay at her home.  Elder Johnson and I and the other companionship her visited.  Elder Petersen and I made her an American BBQ.  She loved it.  Her husband (not a member) said the opening prayer!  Yesterday we took her the sacrament and he sang a hymn with us.  He is just a jolly old man and he is going to accept the restored gospel while I'm still here in Bordeaux.  I love them.

I love my mission lots.  James, I know that you're going to love your mission lots. Matt, I'm sure you loved you mission lots.  If anyone is reading this who is thinking about possibly serving a full-time Mormon mission.  DO IT.  You'll never, ever regret it.

I love you all lots!

Avec amour,

Elder Kunzler

Monday, July 1, 2013

Que votre coeur ne se trouble point.

Dearest family, friends and strangers,

I love you!  And I love the Lord and being in His service!

I'm sorry that I have not been able to go into much detail in my emails and write any personal emails in the last few weeks, we've been really busy on Pdays (and it's not going to be much different today, I have to leave soon to catch a flight for the leadership council in Lyon).  But know that my missionary experiences here in France are bringing me much joy!

Yes, we were able to watch the "Work of Salvation" transmission this last weekend and were very excited about the great news and the incredible motivating spirit that was felt (it was also cool to see Sister Sorensen in a room with an apostle).  It's true that we live in a very quickly changing world and we need to adapt as members and as missionaries to be able to hasten the Lord's work as the world hastens it's pace.  I don't think that I want a facebook, though. ;)

This last week was full of some miracle-making with my delightful new companion, Elder Johnson.  I guess that I could start by telling you about Shadrack, Meeshack and Abindigo.  A few weeks ago, I contacted a Protestant student on the tram and we talked about religion.  He had a great knowledge and a great confidence in his testimony, but he was someone that would question EVERYTHING that was not known to him in the Bible.  For example, he questioned my missionary clothing, the Book of Mormon, etc.  I simply bore a humble testimony of the Book of Mormon and of the promise that it contains.  He told me that he wanted to see me again.  So this last week, we sat down with him, and his two Protestant friends.  We thought at first that they were just going to be arguing with us, but it turned out they were really sincere, humble and they all started asking honest questions like, "Why is the Book of Mormon important to you?  How does one become a Mormon?  Why do you baptize for the dead?"  We were able to answer most of their questions, read passages from the Book of Mormon together and feel the Spirit.  I felt the Spirit very strong as I testified of something that Paul said in Ephesians, that God wants us all to be unified in our faith.  It was a special experience to able to feel edified together with these Christian brethern.  We gave them all Book of Mormons with 2 Nephi 33 and they said they would read and pray.  They will also be coming to church this weekend to feel the Spirit and learn there.  If they get baptized, they would all make excellent missionaries!

Another cool little experience took place as we were waiting to catch a bus. Somebody in a car waved at us as they were driving by and we decided to go and talk to them.  We asked if they were members of our church and they said no.  They explained to us that they were old investigators and that they were taught by the missionaries about 40 years ago here in Bordeaux... by an Elder Romney!  Whoa!  They told us a little bit about what this experience was like.  Haha, the wife told us that she didn't like him.  Cool.

I should probably get going so that I can catch my flight.  I would like to just tell you that I know one thing for sure:  that the Book of Mormon is true.  It's promises are true.  It's Spirit is true.  It is a witness of the truth.  This truth is that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of Israel.  If we read this book and pray with sincerity, real intention and faith, we can know these things are true.  And, oh, how that will make us HAPPY!  I invite you to read from this amazing book EVERY DAY!

I love you and wish you joy in you lives this week.


Elder Kunzler