Lyon, France

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,


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