Lyon, France

Monday, September 23, 2013

Le Roi Perplexe

Dearest family and friends,
I have so much to tell you about and so little time to tell it!  En bref, the first week of the transfer was really good.  Like I told you about last week, we have quite a bit of potential at this point in time, but at this point we are kind of going through a weeding process.  We're trying to sort through or investigators so that we can focus our efforts on those who are truly sincere and are really going to progress.

Bruno is sincere.  He has a sincere desire to come unto Christ and to follow him for the remainder of his days.  He has a huge obstacle to overcome: cigarettes.  To him it is quite daunting, but he has already made a ton of progress.  When we first met him about a month and a half ago he was smoking about 200 grams on a daily basis, and now he is at about 60 grams.  He is stuggling though with the idea of just completely quitting.  So Elder Powell and I decided that we need to make a stand.  So we took some time yesterday evening to make a fake box of cigarettes with little colorful rolled up inspiring scriptures inside.  The packet has images of the Savior on it.  We are going to give him that to help him with the habit of having something between his fingers (which is apparently a difficult habit to overcome) and then we are going to lay out to him a week long plan that involves mouth wash and grapefruit juice that is designed to couteract the triggers of the tabacco temptation.  We hope that this will help him to get off cigarettes completely.  He really has the desire to be baptized next month and we know that it is possible.
Regis is slightly slipping. He is not putting the Book of Mormon or Jesus Christ as his major priority in his life at this time.  We might have to drop him this week, and give him some time to prepare a little bit more.  I know that he will be baptized someday, and I would love to be there for it, but he has quite a bit more preparation to do, and he isn't finding the time or the desire to do it right now.
Flora is someone really special.  She has had a lot of opposition.  She is in the middle of a nasty divorce.  Her mother, a traditional Catholic, told her false things about us and prohibited her from continuing to meet with us.  This is competely normal.  In France, whose culture is strongly influenced by tradition, it is difficult for family members to see their loved ones turn away from these traditions.  But Flora cannot deny the Spirit that she felt with us.  We haven't seen her since, but I've had some lengthy conversations on the phone with her and she has a great desire to read, ponder and pray.  We hope that some of the situations in her life will change so that she can start meeting with us more regularly and prepare for the baptism that she still has the desire to do.
Those are the people that we have been focusing our efforts on the last few weeks.  But I think one of my favorite things about being a missionary, and the things that I don't tell you enough about in my weekly emails are the little tender mercies of the Lord.  The times on the mission when you really really feel like the hands of the Lord and you get to act for him on a daily basis.  I do my best to record these experiences in my daily journal, but there are so many of them that it is difficult to always keep track.

For example, this last week my companion and I were just doing some contacting in downtown Dijon.  We met two English speakers, a Canadian boy and a Scottish girl who were backpacking across Europe. They had just come from Paris and they decided to stop in Dijon instead of Lyon because they were sick of the big city.  We were some of the first people they met here.  We explained who we are and got to know them a little bit.  They told us that they had taken this journey to Europe to meet people and to come to know themselves a little bit better.  We were able to leave them with 2 books of mormon in english and our testimonies.  I don't think I'll ever see what happens, but it gave me so much joy to just be a tiny tool in the hands of the Lord to help these two people in their spiritual progression. Radical!

I love you much, and I wish you the best!  Good courage, as the French would say.
Avec amour

Elder Kunzler le français

Monday, September 16, 2013

Et il n'y avait point de méchanceté parmi eux

Me and my pal Elder L'homel.

Dearest family and friends,
I have some good news and I have some even better news.  The good news is that we got our transfer calls and Elder Powell and I will be staying together in Dijon, at least until the end of October!  Dreams come true.  The better news.  Hm.  I didn't actually have anything in mind when I wrote that, it just sounds better than just saying you only have good news.
Young Ruffians (Elder L'homel and I)

The mission is changing!  About a year ago the prophet announced in general conference that missionaries would be able to leave at a younger age.  A year later, when we really see the effects of that, it is stunning!  Little James is now in the MTC preparing to serve the Lord with all his soul.  20 young men are coming into the mission tomorrow to serve the Lord with all their souls.  I am currently the District Leader in a district in which Elder Powell and I are the only Elders.  5 companionships of Sisters and 1 companionship of Elders.  We're feeling strongly outnumbered.  It is amazing to see how the Lord is hastening his work!  In other news, my last companion, Elder Johnson is going to be serving on the island of Corsica, the first American missionary there in ages... literally... years and years.

The Dijon gang
I don't recall how much I've told you all about Dijon, but I'm going to take this opportunity to tell you just a tad more about the place where I'm serving.  Dijon is the further north in the mission that you can get.  It is also currently the coldest and rainiest, which I don't mind at all.  It is technically in the Northeast of France, only 2 hours from Paris by train.  It is the cleanest and the best preserved of all the cities I've served in.  The people in the north are just a tad bit like their weather, a tiny bit colder, but they're great, like all French people.
What missionary work does to cheap French shoes!
This last week had its ups and its downs.  Elder Powell and I have been a little bit disappointed in our ami Regis.  He has so much potential.  He is really intelligent, asks excellent questions, has great faith and understanding, says he knows its true.  But he is not bringing forth the fruits.  He still has yet to come to church, even though he says that he is going to every time.  He used my bad handwriting as an excuse to not read the chapter that we gave him in the Book of Mormon.  We really want him to progress because we know the happiness that it will mean for him and his family, but in the end it is his choice, he has to but his foot forward.
Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland
Nevertheless (néanmoins), there was a pretty cool miracle that took place, resulting from our diligence in trying to help Regis come unto Christ.  On our way to Regis' apartment, Elder Powell and I contacted a woman who was with her kids, we talked to her for a minute about our message and did our best to help her feel the love of Christ.  She was very kind and said that we are doing is great, but didn't want to learn more or exchange numbers, so I just left her with a card with our number.  Then, in our appointment with Regis, she tried calling me twice, but I wasn't able to respond.  I tried calling after the rendezvous, but she didn't respond.  Then the following day, we were doing some missionary work with an excellent recent convert.  We had just passed by a lady who told us to come back, but she wasn't at home.  A little bit disappointed, the thought came into my mind that I needed to try calling that woman again.  I called and she answered.  She said that she had some questions that she would like to ask and that we could come over right away.  We went to her apartment with this member, and she immediately just started firing questions.  About the after-life, how she can better raise her children, how she can increase her faith, etc.  We had to tell her to hold the horses a little and we prayed and tried to get to know her situation a little bit better.  We found out that she had just gone through a tough divorce and that she had gone through a lot of suffering.  We didn't teach much, but we just testified and the member we were with was PERFECT.  She prayed at the end and felt the Spirit very strongly.  She said that she left like sa vide a été comblée, her emptiness had been filled.  She said that she wishes to be baptized and will be baptized at the end of next month.  She also said that she wants her daughter to get baptized next year when she turns 8. :)  We are very happy that we were able to be tools in the Lords hands that even to extend the comfort and peace of the Lord to this woman.  Her name is Flora and she is of Indian origin.
Bruno is progressing well and so is Roland.  I don't have the time to tell you about their progression, so you'll just have to believe me! :)
I love you more that dragons love the fire that comes out of their nostrils!  Have an excellent week and stay close to the Lord!  I know that He lives and that he loves all of His sheep!
Avec amour,

Elder Kunzler
Drinking from les Bains (the baths) muahaha

My planner cover with 2 Cor 12:7 written on it

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Avec Dieu, tout est possible

Mes chers,

This last week was the fastest week of my life. And I am totally convinced that this week will be even faster.  The mission flies by faster as you go on.  And whats more is that it is already the last week of the transfer!  It feels like I just arrived in Dijon.  Elder L'homel wrote me this morning, telling me that he's already started his studies in medicine up in Nancy, and it's unimaginable!  It feels like we were just together! Elder Powell and I hope to stay together for the next transfer.
The Lord blessed our efforts.  Even with a hurt foot, we were able to teach 10 lessons this last week, the most I've taught since Toulouse.  We are seem some really cool progress in our sector.  The ward here is excellent and we're started to feel a pretty cool missionary spirit. Yesterday, the stake president, a French-speaking Swiss German, came and talked about missionary work.  He taught from Preach My Gospel.  He reminded us abou the talks Elder Nelson has given the last two general conferences.  It was just what this ward needed.
Our investigators are progressing well.  This last week was a turning point in the conversion process of Bruno. We had decided to teach him in the home of a recent convert who has gone through some of the same difficulties as him.  This member had overcome cigarettes and bore a powerful testimony of the power of the Atonement.  Then on Saturday, he received a priesthood blessing from another wonderful brother in the ward.  He is very motivated and has already reduced a lot.  Our goal is to have him completely off cigarettes by the end of next week.  We moved his baptismal date to the Saturday after general conference and he is very determined.
Regis is doing well as well. He is very busy and it is difficult to see him and he didn't come to church yesterday because he got to bed really late.  We are praying that he will find more time to see us and that he will come to church this sunday.  We gave him a calendar with things to read and study on a daily basis, which should help him to progress even though we don't get to see him on a daily basis.  He has a lot of faith, had questions about blacks and the priesthood, but it didn't shake him at all.  He's already got a strong testimony.
I finally got to meet the Fèvre family (the one that I called and that got taught while I was confined to the apartment).  They are wonderful!  They have 3 little boys that are adorable.  They had tons of questions because they had read a pamphlet about the Restoration and the entire intro to the Book of Mormon.  Unfortunately, they had also looked on the internet to see the opinions of the enemies of the church, so they had questions about polygamy, tithing, prophets, etc.  But they are very open and very sincere.  We taught about the blessings that the gospel can bring to a family and how in God's plan, a family can be eternal.  The father said the prayer at the end of the lesson and I was very, very touched by his prayer.  He prayed that he would be able to fulfill his role in the family and that his family would be blessed.  Joy!
The work of the Lord is going on and no unhallowed hand is stopping it.  I'm not exactly sure what that means, does Satan have a hallow hand? In any case, Satan does all that he can to stop it.  But it is amazing to be able to be a represent Jesus Christ and do the same things that he did. I can testify of the power of prayer and the principle that faith plays.  Sometimes as a missionary you feel like you are on the frontlines with the Lord's battle against sin, evil and wickedness.  It can be difficult sometimes when you see how vast its influence is.  But I testify of the that light.  That light that came into the world and the world did not recognize it.  That light that shineth in the darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not.  That light is the infinite light of the Savior.  It is there.  It is real.  It is powerful.  I know it.
I love you family and wish you the best in whatever you are doing!  I love you so much!  May the Lord bless you in your school, studies, mission, etc.
Avec amour

PS.  News on the foot:  it did get infected, but aparently it is normal because there are surely tiny little pieces of wood still in the foot.  These foreign bodies will eventually find their way out of my system somehow.  I will be going to the doctors today to see if I need to get back on antibiotics.  Thanks for your prayers. :)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Me Voici, Envoie-Moi

Dearest family and friends,
The tides are turning.  There is a change in the wind.  There is wind in the air.  The seasons are changing.  Literally though.  The summer was really short in Dijon.
So I'm walking!  That's pretty miraculous!  At first I started walking like a zombie because the muscle in my foot was still torn apart and hadn't formed back together, but now I walk a little bit like Golem.  No, just kidding.  But I could really feel your prayers and spiritual strength and now I'm walking... BETTER than I was before (because I have a robot foot.)
So this last week was excellent!  I got to go to Switzerland for the first time.  We had interviews with President and since we are in a Swiss zone in Dijon, they were held in Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland.  It was very, very beautiful. They truly have the best chocolate and yogurt in the world.  The landscape reminded me a lot of the Willamette Valley, but it is much more hilly and there are many more cows.  And everyone dresses a lot more European.  And there are ton more banks everywhere in the cities.  It was good to be in tune with my Swiss roots.  I told everyone that I was pretty much Swiss and they honored that.
Our investigators are doing great.  Bruno has come to church twice now and will be coming to a big FHE at a recent convert's place this evening.  He has significantly reduced the amount of cigarettes that he smokes.  At the beginning, when we first met him, he was smoking about 20 a day. Now he has reduced to about 6 or less a day.  He has moved onto the electo cigarette things to help him quit.  It is not easy, but he is really motivated because he really wants to get baptized in September.
Regis (the old ami who I called up while I was in the apartment) is doing really well as well.  Unfortunately he wasn't able to go to church yesterday (which is unfortunate because we watched that old 80s church film about missionary work Labor of Love, in French.  Even the cheesy 80s songs were translated to French) because he was at a marriage in Paris. Our rendezvous with him was really good this last week.  He asks lots of sincere and deep questions like about authority, the Book of Mormon, why Joseph Smith, etc.  He is really searching for the truth.  He is willing to act and we know that he will get his answer soon.  His kids are SO adorable.  His little son came up and cuddled on his lap when God was testifying of His Son to Joseph Smith in the Restoration video.
Last week we got a coordonnée from the chruch.  When I first contacted him, he said that his sister had sent in his coordonnée and that he actually wasn't super interested.  I told him that we would love to teach him even if he was just curious to find out what our message is.  He said no thanks.  The next day he called me back and told me that he had thought about it and that he actually did want to find out what our message is.  We saw him at his home out in the country and taught him on his porch overlooking the vineyards.  He was probably the Frenchest man I've taught my whole mission.  His name is Remy, he was wearing a casquette the whole time, he is a non practicing Catholic and he worked in the vineyards for the 30 years.  He is now retired and divorced and he told us that he came to discover God just in the last year or so.  He told us that he is on the horizon of a new time in his life.  We told him, Of course you are.  You're listening to mormon missionaries right now.  He wasn't able to make it to church, but he is going to be seeing us more often, reading and praying.
Elder Powell is making lots of progress with his French!  He really likes contacting, which is also one of my favorite things about missionary work.  So we have tons of fun doing it and daring each other to do certain things in contacts.  Him and I have laughed a ton together and I really hope that we to stay together next transfer.
The work of the Lord is true and the Lord is all-powerful.  I'm glad to be in His vineyard.  I don't know how he said it in English but in French he said, Faites de toutes les nations de la terre des disciples.  I think that he mostly talks in French.  I love you family and I love him.  A quick shoutout to my little brother James who will be entering the MTC in a couple of days!  He is already a better missionary than I could ever be. I love you James, good luck, usurpist.
Avec amour,

Une écharde dans la chair

Dearest family and friends,

So, I've got some good news and I've got some bad news.  The bad news is that they had to amputate the foot.  The good news is that they actually replaced with a robotic foot that is stronger and has more stamina than a foot of flesh and bones.  It will allow me to serve the Lord at a higher capacity.

No, the foot is doing well.  On Saturday the took out the wire drains and the stitches and cleaned it up a little bit.  The nurse was a little bit worried because the place where the splinter entered into my foot had not completely healed and still revealed my flesh.  So she bandaged it up and said to start walking, but very lightly and that she would come back on monday to check on it.  This morning after I took my shower the wound started spitting out some thick orange liquid.  When the nurse came by, she told me that it was normal.  She also said that if there are any mini splinters or pieces of wood remaining in my foot that they will eventually just find their way out.  This is comforting information.  I talked to President Roney this morning and we got to laugh about it.  He told me to be easy on it.  My companion hates walking next to me on the street because I have this cane and I look like I might be incompetent both physically and mentally.  The foot is healing!

So, I think that after this last week I can testify with conviction that the Lord works in mysterious ways. Ses voies sont mystèrieuses.  The last 3 weeks we have been living with Elder L'homel (French) and Elder Dieduksman (Dutch).  It was the last week of their missions this last week and they left yesterday because they will be starting their studies next week.  So between the 3 of them, they switched off to have someone always in the apartment looking after me while the other two went out and worked.  At the beginning of the week one of the Zone Leaders had called me and asked what I was going to do in the apartment to be a productive missionary.  He proposed reading the entire Book of Mormon in French (which I have already done).  So I started that, and got through the Testimony of Joseph Smith.  I also cleaned the apartment.  I organized.  Eventually I felt like I need to find something to do to feel like I was a productive missionary.  So I started looking through the Area Book.  I have never been one to work a ton out of the Area Book on my mission.  Ling Liu, who Elder Tulley and I baptized at the beginning of my mission was found in the Area Book, but since then I haven't done a whole lot of Area Book work on my mission.

I started to look through some of the old investigators.  I read probably 30 or 40 sheets.  I decided to take the phone and call all of them.  I just started from the beginning and called every single person, explaining that we were the new missionaries of Dijon and asking if they would be interested in learning more about our message.  For all those who did not answer, I left a message.  Once I got through the old investigator sheets I started on the potential investigators sheets, calling every phone number that wasn't crossed out.  I started feeling like a missionary again!  We say some pretty cool miracles out of this.  One of the old investigators, a man named Regis who was taught back in May, who was actually a referral from the church, accepted to meet with us.  Elder Powell and Elder Dieduksman taught him and he accepted to be baptised in October, we will be teaching him twice a week and he plans on coming to church this Sunday.  He was on a sincere search for the truth.  Another number that I called was just a woman who was contacted on the street in the spring of 2012.  She hadn't been called once since the missionaries contacted her and got her number.  It was actually her husband who answered.  I explained who I was and asked if their family would be interested in hearing a Christian message for the family.  He said yes, but that he wanted to talk to his wife before setting up a RDV.  He told me he would call me back.  This made me a little nervous because when people say that they're going to call you back, it's pretty rare that they do.  Two hours later he called me back asking if Saturday at 11 would work.  Elder L'homel and Elder Powell taught the entire family, husband, wife, and three boys (9,3 and 1).  They're a great Catholic family that was not at all practicing, but wanted religion in their life.  The husband said the prayer at the end and apparently it was very sincere and came from the heart.  We will be teaching them again tomorrow and they plan on coming to church this sunday.  I have a testimony of Area Book work.

It was hard to say goodbye to Elder L'homel and Elder Dieduksman yesterday, they are good friends.  Elder L'homel and I were Zone Leaders together so we say each other all the time and after the mission I'm going to visit him and his family in Nancy (just two hours north of here).  It's crazy how fast the mission flies by.

I love you my dear family!  Thank you for your prayers and care.  My foot will heal fast and soon I'll be out there calling the French people unto repentance. ;)  Have an excellent week and find joy in the journey!

Avec amour,

Elder Kunzler

PS.  I got to eat frogs legs for the first time on my mission!  They have the texture of crab but taste like chicken!  YUM!