Lyon, France

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Que La Terre Soit Dans L'allégresse

Nos cravates de Noel

Dearest family and friends,

I love Christmas.  I love it.  Yes, my favorite part is feeling the Spirit of Christ.  But I also love the lights, the trees, the smells, the stars, the gifts, the food, the family, the decor, the love!  The Christmas spirit is real!  Even French people can't deny it.  I love using that in contacting.  Even though the majority of the people here don't believe in God, they believe in the Spirit of Christmas and it's magic.  I think that it is very closely linked with the Spirit of Christ.

Good things are happening in Nice.  The theme of this transfer, I think, is charity.  The Lord is really trying to help me to understand at this point in my mission that the most important thing that I can do as his ambassador is to love all of his children... unconditionally.  I was actually talking about this with one of our new investigators this week.  How the only way that one can tell if they have this unconditional love is by putting it to the test.  God will sometimes send us trials to see if we will still love Him and have faith in Him.  We have experiences that test our loyalty to and unconditional love for our loved ones.  We are here on earth to learn how to develop charity, the pure love of Christ.  And I am grateful for the experiences that I have this transfer that are helping me to develop this Christlike quality.

We have an investigator named Moise (this is the French rendition of Moses... pretty epic).  He comes from La Martinique in the West Indies.  He is really faithful.  Sometimes he starts speaking and I literally cannot tell if he is really just Moise from La Martinique or the Moses who parted the red sea.  He has lived many experiences in his life that have truly formed his character and he has compelete confidence in God.  He showed up early to our first meeting and had read the chapter about the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we had invited him to read.  He came to church yesterday and loved it.  There was actually a pretty huge miracle in that he turns out to be really good friends with a recent convert of two weeks!  Moses plans on being baptized and he will be strong!  Might even lead the House of Israel out of bondage and be their Spritual leader in the desert for 40 years.

Another cool person that we have started teaching is Mina!  Mina is Chinese, but has lived in Nice for over a decade and speaks impecable French with a cute little Chinese accent.  She is also a very faithful person who has recently gained a strong testimony of the principal of forgiveness and it's liberating power.  She is currently going through a divorce and some family difficulties, but she faces these with a smile on her face.  We gave her a Book of Mormon in Chinese yesterday when she came to church with us and by the end of the meetings she had already read the introductory parts and gotten into 1 Nephi.  She even called me in the evening simply to thank us for the amazing experience that she had at church.  Such a good soul.

Wanna hear a pretty cool Christmas miracle?  So while we were waiting for Mina to show to her appointment, we were doing a bit of contacting and we gave a Book of Mormon to a cool young student and when I took his number, I accidentally dialed the wrong number.  Lucky he was right in front of me so he was able to correct it on the spot, and I got his right number.  Then, during the appointment with Mina, the person who I had accidentally called tried to call me back 3 times, left a message and even sent a text, desirous to know who had tried to contact him.  To be polite, I decided to call him and just tell him that I had dialed the wrong number.  He turned out to be this super nice guy who lives up in the north of France.  I explained to him that I was a full time Christian missionary and I asked him if he would be interested in hearing a wonderful Christian message, and he was just like, "Yeah, why not!".  So he will be taught by some missionaries up in the Paris mission.  Hopefully he will be baptized and confirmed and serve God for the rest of his days!  Only time can tell.

Family!  I love you!  I look forward to beholding your beaming faces this Christmas day.  Thank you for the Light of Christ that you radiate.  I know that Christ the Lord was truly born.  I am grateful for this testimony!  I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have to bare this testimony on a daily basis.  Let us spread Christmas cheer by singing loud for all to hear (and serving, loving, giving, cheering, warming the souls of God's children)!  Preach the gospel always and when necessary use words.  I love you much and wish you a JOYEUX NOEL§§§

Avec amour

C'est un Miracle de Noel!!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Voici Noel, Avec Ses Chants

Dearest family and friends,

My hands are freezing as I write to you from this computer screen in Grenoble, a French city lost in the middle of the French Alps.  We are here so that my companion, who just served here might finish his legality, which he started just before being transferred.  Its been a nice trip, but I'm really looking forward to being back to Nice, the warmth and the sun.

Did you know that Jesus Christ cried when things went wrong instead of getting frustrated or reacting otherwise?  Just a thought.

This week my companion and I met a Californian.  Her name is Elina and she lives in Nice for half of the year.  She likes to do good things for other people.  She is not that super into religion, but she does it out of good conscious.  For example, when she sells something to someone on eBay, she will stick some little candies into the package before sending it to the auction winner.  We met Elina on a street not to far from our apartment and talked to her for a good half hour.  She started getting emotional at the end of the conversation when she expressed how grateful she was to have made our acquintance.  We told her that she needed to come to our ward Christmas party in order to meet more happy and kind people like us.  She enthousiastically said that she wanted to.  She was so set that she wanted to go to the church beforehand just to make sure that she could find it.  We offered to give her a tour of the chapel and the following afternoon we found ourselves with her in the house of the Lord.

We told briefly and simply about the mission of Jesus Christ.  Then we taught her about the Great Apostasy.  Then we taught her about Joseph Smith, who prayed aloud in the grove.  She felt the Spirit strong and said that she would be baptized when she knows it is true.  When she has a testimony.

God gives us the testimony after la mise à l'épreuve de notre foi (the put into test of our faith).  She did not exercise her faith after this.  She did not show up to the activity nor to church like she said she would.  Actually, after the activity, we saw her on the same street that we met her on.  She was on a brand new pink and purple skateboard.  In the conversation that we had with her on the street, we talked about how there is a void in our soul that we all try to fill.  Some with drugs, some with fornication, some with overeating.  She shared with us that she loves shopping and buying unnecessary things.  I found ironic, then, that we saw on the street at that time.

The void can only truly be filled by the love of God.

I think that I learned an important lesson through this experience. It is that even though we may have extraordinary experiences, like Laman and Lemuel getting rebuked by an angel or the Jews being literally in the presence of the Son of God, it does not guarantee that this will change us.  The change comes, like Alma the Younger said, "after praying and fasting for many days", or in other words, after exercising our faith.  The change comes when we receive a testimony after the trial of our faith, which will push us to continue on our road to conversion.  I do not mean to compare Elina to Laman or the Jews.  She is an excellent soul.  I think that she will except the Restored Gospel someday. At her time and place.  But God is not going to force anything upon her.  She has her free agency, complete and pure.

Missionary work is beautiful.  It is like offering 100 dollars to every single person.  Even if people say "No, thank you", it is still 100 dollars that is going to buy someone either 100 little cheeseburgers, or like 2 video games, or an iPhone if you could find it cheap on eBay.

One of the coolest experiences of this last week was being able to do some Christmas caroling in the hills of Nice with the other missionaries here in Nice!  One of my favorite carols is "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" or "Voici Noel, Avec Ses Chants" in French.  The message is powerful.  I invite all of you to read/sing it this Christmas season.

I testify that God manifested His love for us in sending His Son.  Let us "Hear Him"  this Christmas season!


Avec amour

Elder Kunzler

PS.  The 25th I will be on skype at 4:30 PM Nice time, which equates to 8:30 AM pacific time.  I look forward to seeing all of you!  I will have 30 minutes with mom and 30 minutes for dad.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Buon Natale!

Dearest family and friends,
Do you feel that Christmas spirit?  Can you feel it now?
To me Christmas is a testimony strengthening time of year.  It is a time when the Spirit can be felt be everyone... because they live more closely the teachings of the Savior, even without knowing it.  They are kinder, they give more service, they give more gifts, they spend more time with their family, they sing hymns of praise, etc.  It is definitely the best season to do missionary work.  It falls shortly after the harvest season, but really the harvest season is just beginning!
So I titled this message in Italian in celebration of the city of Nice's italian influence as well as the fact that Elder Smith and I went to Monaco this last week and age a huge Italian meal with a wonderful, joyful and wealthy Italian family!  It was so beautiful in Monaco during Christmas time.  It is already a perfectly clean and high-end place, but the lights and trees added a Christmas charm to the Lamborghinis and palaces.  There will be a big ward Christmas activity this friday and we worked with this family to get some of their friends invited to this activity.  It may or may not be the best Christmas activity of all time: 1.  Because the entire ward is going to be involved in the missionary effort this Christmas and will be inviting their friends and family to enjoy the celebration of the Savior's birth with us! 2.  Because there is a member in our ward who has a voice of gold who will be singing in the concert which will be put on that evening.  Celine Dion.  3.  Because it is Nice.  No pun intended.
This last week was the last week of the transfer.  Elder Smith is GONE!  He went to serve in Bordeaux, which is probably the next best place.  He will love it.  It was truly a pleaser to serve with him.  He is an incredible example to me.  A true disciple of Christ.  We shall be lifelong friends.  My new companion is Elder Behling.  He comes from an obscure island in the South Pacific where the only thing that they can feed on it turantula and fried muskrats.  Just kidding, he is from a small town in Utah.  He is a really great guy and we will have a fun time together this transfer.  He is about halfway through his mission and this is his first time being a Zone Leader, so I'll get to train him a bit in that way.
Our zone is doing really well.  Very young missionaries!  That is easy for me to say, being one of the mission sages now, but is weird in any case being older in age than the majority of sister missionaries!  About half of the newer Elders in the zone are 18 and there will be two new Elders being trained in Toulon and Cannes!  Exciting times.
SO!  Remember Pierre, the 83 year old man who said that he wanted to be a Mormon?  Well he came to church yesterday and he's been reading the Book of Mormon!  Remember Elisette, the Portuguese girl whose sister served a mission?  She was at church... with her brother!  He just got his degree in Medical Science in London and will be moving to Nice in January!  We might be able to teach him when he comes!  Cool things are happening here!

I shall share one Christmas miracle with you.  I was on an exchange and there was not a lot of time before a rendez vous that we had.  We decided to go contacting on a road near our apartment for about 20 minutes before heading to the appointment.  One of the first people we talked to was a woman who got really excited when we told her that we were Mormons (not a normal reaction here).  She explained to us that her brother had stayed with a Mormon family when he had done a study abroad in the United States.  She knew a little bit about the church.  She must have felt the Spirit in the contact because she decided that she wanted to introduce to her family... right then and there!  She even called her 14 year old son on the way to the apartment to till him that she was going to bring friends back.  We didn't have much time, but we got to meet the family and talk to them for a second about who we are and what we do.  They want us back this week.  They said that they would try to come to the ward Christmas activity! Radical.
I love you all family and friends!  Let's remember this Christmas season that the reason that Christmas season is the hap-hap-happiest time of year is because of the Savior of the world.  Maybe he wasn't really born on the 25th of december, year 0, but as we turn our thoughts to him, we feel his Spirit.  He himself said, "and if ye always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you." 3 Nephi 18:11.  So, as we turn our thoughts to his birth, let us also remember his teachings, his meeknes, his love, his obedience, his kindness and especially his Atonement.  He is the Prince of Peace.  I love Him!
Merry Christmas one and all! Joyeux Noel à tous et à toutes!
Avec amour,


Friday, December 6, 2013

Merry Christmas / Joyeux Noel!

Hello dear friends from America!

Merry Christmas!

I love this time to celebrate the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ.

I just wanted to shed a bit of Christmas cheer!  I feel like this time of year is the best time to tell your best friends that you love them, even though we ought to do that more often.  So... I love you!

I invite you to spread a little Christmas cheer by seeing loud for all to hear.  Or just by doing something really nice for someone.  Or for several people.

The best thing that we can give back to the Savior after all that he has given us is just to treat others the way that he would treat them.

So let's remember him this Christmas and spread his LIGHT!

Much love, 

Elder Josh Kunzler

Nice, France

Bonjour, mes chers amis de la France!

Joyeux Noel!

J'aime cette saison que nous avons de célébrer la naissance de notre sauveur, Jésus-Christ.

Je voulais juste répandre un peu de joie de Noel!  Je pense que cette saison est idéelle pour dire à ses amis qu'on les aime, même si on doit le dire plus souvent que ça.  Donc... je vous aime!

Je vous invite à répandre un peu de joie de Noel en chantant fort pour que tout le monde l'entende :) ou bien, faites quelque chose de gentil pour quelqu'un. Ou pour plusieures personnes.

La meilleure chose qu'on peut redonner au Sauveur après tout ce qu'il nous a donné, c'est de traiter les autres comme il les traiterait.

Donc, souvenons-nous de lui ce Noel et répandons sa LUMIERE!

Avec amour,


Nice, France

Il leur délia la langue

Dearest family and friends,

There is a quality of Jesus Christ that I would like to address in this letter.  I don't what to call this quality, but I will do my best to describe it.  The quality is that he gets joy and pleasure in helping others in their spiritual progression.  He does nothing for himself, but all that he does is it for others.  In 3 Nephi 26:14, He loosed the tongues of children, so that they did speak great and marvelous things unto their fathers.  Why did he do that?  Because he was unselfish, he rejoiced in seeing others do the things that he could have easily done himself.  He wanted to see others excel, to see others reach their potential, rather than do everything himself.  I love this quality of the Savior, but I feel that it is one that is very difficult to develop as a natural man.

In that spirit, I would like to share some of the amazing things that are happening in our zone here in the French Riviera.

In the city of Saint Raphael, the Elders are teaching a German student named Simonet.  She was found right after Elder Grant and I got off of a train to start an exchange there.  We actually went to the apartment really fast to drop off our bags and then met back up with her to teach her on the beach.  She has been taught twice, received a Book of Mormon in German since then and has the desire to be baptized next after Christmas vacation.  She plans on sharing the gospel with her mother when she goes back to Munich for Christmas.

The other companionship in Saint Raphael is currently teaching a family that will be baptized just before Christmas.  The mother works at the grocery store where the Elders do their grocery shopping.  She knew the church in New Caledonia, where she is from and eventually the Elders invited to share a message with her and she accepted.  She has come to church every week since meeting with them.  She brings her teenage daughter and her daughters friend, who will both be baptized with her.

My companion and I are currently teaching an 83 year old man named Pierre and his wife.  He is a former ambassador and speaks perfect English.  My companion had contacted him last transfer and the second time we contacted him he accepted to have us come to teach him.  The lesson yesterday afternoon went very well.  Him and his wife have a lot of potential.

Early last week our ward had a music activity which turned out to be a huge success.  87 people attended, of which 17 were not members.  To give you an idea of how awesome the members here are, there was a member from Recife Brazil who used to teach a Portuguese family with the Elders about a year ago.  She remembered this family and invited them to the activity.  The son came and brought a friend, got back into contact with the missionaries and we will be going over there this afternoon to teach the entire family!  Other members are setting Christmas goals to share the gospel with friends before Christmas!  Tonight we will be going over to a family's home to share a Christmas message... they invited their neighbors to join and to meet us.  Missionary work runs in this wards veins.

Merry Christmas!  I think that in Spanish that means... MORE CHRIST!  But I'm not sure.  I love you all and I love Christ.  Let us be like Him this Christmas and do super unselfish things!  Let's loose some tongues!

Avec amour,


Joyeux Zanksgeeving!

Dearest family and friends,

In the words of that song on that Christmas CD that mom plays every year, "It's the holiday season, the holiday season, so whoop-dee-doo, a-hippity-hop... blah blah blah blah around the clock!"

I love Christmas in France.  It's kind of weird being in Nice for the holidays because it is not that cold and there are no chestnuts to roast on an open fire.  Maybe palm tree and oranges will work.

So there is something that Moroni is trying to teach us when he says "dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith."  So in the spirit of thanksgiving, I will like to say that I am grateful for trials.  But especially I am grateful for the witness that comes after the trial of our faith.  I think that these have been the most joyful parts of my mission, the times when my companion and I realize just how many things had to happen in the perfect time and place in order for the miracle to take place.  Usually it involves a lot joyful yells and hugging.

So get this...  We do a lot of exchanges.  I let for an exchange in Cannes, but I had to leave my companion at the chapel in Nice to go and catch the train because we were supposed to teach a lesson that evening.  Luckily the other companionship of Elders was there and I was able to do a mini-split and get escorted to the gare.  This is going to get complicated.  God works in mysterious ways.  Don't get confused.  Ok, so the missionary who my companion was on the mini-split staying at the lesson with is actually in Saint Raphael, and was only there because they also were on an exchange.  They taught a good lesson, and our investigator actually invited a friend to come, but they weren't able to get this persons information or number or anything at the end of the lesson.  We haven't been able to get ahold of our investigator in a few weeks.  But this last week, after interviews with the mission president, I left to go on an exchange with an Elder in Toulon and we were with the Elders of Saint Raphael in the bus to go to the train station.  WE BARELY CAUGHT THIS BUS.  Literally, I was running in the middle of the street with a suitcase to get the bus drivers attention.  We caught it though.  We needed to catch that bus.  You want to know why?  Because the girl that my companion and the Elder from Saint Raphael contacted was ON IT.  What are the chances????  I never would have recognized her, because I had never seen her before!  But the Elder from Saint Raph was there and together we were able to contact this person and she had TONS of questions.  You could tell that she had reflected a ton after the lesson.  I got her number and we will be teaching her next weekend because she in England for a while.  What are the chances?!  When the Elder I was with and I talked about how many tiny little things needed to fall into place for this miracle to happen, we were freaking out.  We had such a gospel fire on that exchange that we gave out 8 Book of Mormons.

The church is true.  Too many supremely radical things happen in it for it not to be.  No coincidences.  Only tender mercies.  Being is a missionary is the most fun that anyone could ever have.  And the cool thing is that as members of the church, it is not only two years that we get to do it, but for the rest of our LIVES!  and even after that.  Sure it can be scary, but it is the most rewarding thing that heavenly father can offer to us.  Just this last week, my companion and I went to eat at an american style burger joint with a Young Adult in our ward, we gave Book of Mormons to the cook and the two servers, whom she is friends with!  It was a really cool experience, and not at all weird, because we were sincere.  Perfect love casteth out all fear.  L'amour parfait bannit toute crainte!  I testify that the Lord will give us all missionary experiences if we pray for them and seek after them.  The Lord will be your side and his angels will be there to bear you up!

Happy thanksgiving one and all!  Have an excellent week,

Avec amour,