Strange that this should be the last week that I write you. It has been an adventure. But the adventure is not over yet!
Elder Palmer and I have 20 projected lessons for this upcoming week, using the excuse "this is my last week in France" has been a good trick for getting people to accept lessons with us. The ones that I am looking forward the most to are those with Hermeline, we have 3 planned so far.
This last week was a turning point in the conversion process of Hermeline. Hermeline up to this point, has been very willing to meet with us, follow our teachings, pray, read brochures, etc. The only things that she was having difficulty committing herself to do were reading the Book of Mormon and coming to church, which are two of, if the not THE most important things. Everything changed however when Hermeline decided to come to a baptism. It was the baptism of an investigator of another ward in Lyon, his name was Alexis. The service was really powerful, President Roney spoke on baptism and the baptisée gave a powerful testimony after the ordonance. Most importantly was the spirit that Hermeline felt and the power of God that was manifested in this sacred ordonance. She was well welcomed by members of the congregation. One of the members, Mama Constance, a wonderful african member, gave her a warm welcome and talked to her about her conversion story. Then she suggested that Hermeline go with us to visit Papa Daniel. I'm not going to lie. I LOVE AFRICAN CULTURE. I feel like it is similar for africans all over the world. It reminds of like Song of the South or Lion King. There comes a point in every young hero's journey that he must visit the wise/jolly preacher, Papa Daniel (Mustafa). Papa Daniel is a former Evangelical Preacher literally. He was converted to the true church and kingdom of God through the power of the Holy Ghost combined with the Book of Mormon. Yes. Hermeline visited Papa with us this last week. That was the turning point. After shedding a few tears and feeling the Spirit powerfully, she committed herself to read the Book of Mormon. Then she came to church for the first time. Then last night she told us that she wanted us to meet her whole family. Little signs of conversion. God is good.
Now I'm going to tell you about the tender mercies of the Lord. God really is good. So 2 weeks ago, at the train station in central Lyon, Elder Palmer and I were getting train tickets when something caught my eye. It was LACROSSE GEAR. There was a guy decked out in straight up LAX shorts, a LAX hat, and a LAX hoody. I stopped him and started talking to him. Come to find out that he is from Zurich, Switzerland and that he is on one of the only lacrosse players in ALL OF FRANCE. There are 4 teams in the whole country and only 1 in THE WHOLE MISSION. And it is located in Lyon. He explained to me that there are about 6 or so players that get together twice a week and practice. We exchanged numbers, etc. I got permission from the mission president to take some time out of my P-Day and play around with them, non-contact. Can you imagine?! 6 lacrosse players in the entire mission and I ran into one of them! So this last wednesday, I got to pick a lacrosse stick back up and do what I love the most (after the gospel). The guys were really cool, half of them were french and half were international (Ukraine, Australia). The skills levels were really varied. The guy who organized it was really good actually. Anyway, I could go on about this for a long time, but I just wanted to show to you the GOD IS GOOD. It turned out to be a great missionary opportunity, actually. The Australian kid expressed some interest and we're planning on inviting all of them to church for my last sunday here in Lyon.
Papa and Hermeline
So I'd actually just like to spend a minute or two in this letter to bear my testimony to all of you. I've been a missionary for the Lord Jesus Christ since May 2012. In one week it will have been two years since I entered into the MTC to start learning French and missionary skills. These last two years have been the best two years of my life. I don't want to get too sentimental, but I can't help because my mission has meant so much to me! I love this work. I love the Lord. I love these people. I love the missionaries here. I love the missionary routine. I love the members. I love the Book of Mormon. I love French. I love cheese. I love teaching investigators. I love watching people coming unto Jesus Christ. I love this mission. I testify that in order for this work to advance in all corners of the word, the members and missionaries of this church need to exercise faith. That is the key. Ether 12:16, Yea, and even all they who wrought miracles wrought them by faith, even those who were before Christ and also those who were after. 18; And neither at any time hath any wrought miracles until after their faith; wherefore they first believed in the Son of God. I have been able to see miracles EVERY SINGLE DAY of my mission. I know that this is the Lord's work. HE personally leads this work. He is the most powerful being in the Universe. He loves all of us. He wants to bless us. He can when we exercise faith in Him.
I love you family and I look forward to seeing you again! It will be a joyous reunion. God be with you till we meet again!
It was such a pleasure to talk to you yesterday and to see (some of) your smiling faces! :) Happy Mother's Day encore!
So as I was telling some of you, we had a great week with a lot of fruit, but not exactly in the way that we expected. We were ratéd 15 times, my companion and I counted. This means that we had 15 planned lessons to which the investigator didn't show up or canceled last minute. This is not easy since teaching is the essence of missionary work, but we were able to focus our efforts in other areas as a result! We had some great less-active member visits and we re-motivated a less-active member to come to church yesterday! He is a great guy from the Ivory Coast and he is now preparing himself to receive the Melchisedek Priesthood. We will be having lunch with him and his non-member wife tomorrow, so this will be an excellent missionary opportunity as she doesn't know much about the church!
Yesterday we had a particular experience after my companion and I finished chatting with you all. We received a call from Olivier, a recent convert who was just baptized a few weeks back. He called and told us that he was going to leave the church, that it was a great experience getting baptized, etc. but that he no longer wanted to be a member. We told him that it would be better to talk in person so we met up with him right away. We brought a strong brother in the ward to join us. We talked for a long time and came to find out that he had never been reading the Book of Mormon, didn't have a testimony of it's truthfulness, thus not having a testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith and the Restoration. And he also still had some problems with the Word of Wisdom that kept him from being 100% attentive to the spirit. We had a great meeting with him and talked about all of these things openly. It was really edifying. The member's testimony shined! We engaged him to truly begin to read the Book of Mormon, to apply Moroni's promise and to fully live the Word of Wisdom. He accepted! He's a good man, but he just hadn't understood certain things and he still kept one foot in the world while trying to have a pure and spiritual life and it wasn't working.
Hermeline, remember, the young student from Congo? She is AWESOME! She is really attentive to the spirit and very pure. She reminds me a ton of Utile, someone that I taught in Toulouse. We met with her on Saturday and had a really constructive appointment. Unfortunately she was not able to come to church yesterday because she had other family obligations, but she promised this sunday that she could make it. We finished teaching her about the message of the Restoration and she grasped the magnitude of it very quickly. She opened up to us a lot and told us about her family situation, some of her worries and concerns. She's beginning to build a trusting relationship with us and it is a real privilege to be able to teach her!
This week we will be teaching a really cool couple! It's actually a pretty funny experience, the way that we found them. We were in an outer town, visiting our ward mission leader for our weekly meeting with him. After eating dinner with them, we left a little early before catching the bus in order to do a bit of work in their neighborhood. His wife didn't have the best attitude and she told us that we were going to have a hard time in their neighborhood. The first people who we talked to when we left their home was a super nice couple who invited us to come back to teach them! We called up his wife to share this miracle with her and she couldn't believe it! Hehe. You gotta have faith.
Many more miracles to share, and so little time! I love you all and I wish you the happiest of happy weeks! Never let a day go by where you don't do a special act of kindness!
This is truly the work of the Lord! Every single day Elder Palmer and I are eye-witnesses. I hope that in this e-mail I am able to portray how some of the amazing experiences that we are having are showing this to us.
I don't know where to start! Maybe I'll start with Boyang, one of our progressing investigators. Boyang is Chinese and does not have a Christian background, so teaching him about the restored gospel has been on a little bit slower pace. Just this last week, we finished teaching him all of the principles from the First Lesson, the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was fun teaching this to a Chinese man who will be receiving his Doctorate in Computer Science at the end of this year. He tried to tie all of the principles into some kind of formula or algorithm, we had to explain to him that there were certain things that you could mathematically explain, but in the end that "God's thoughts are higher than our thoughts" no matter how high or great our thoughts might be. He accepted. His prayers are very sincere and heartfelt. He is progressing in his faith in God.
In France, Labor Day, which is at the end of summer in the states, falls on May 1st. As a result, of no one working, the entire public transportation system and all of civilization as one might know it came to a stop. It was like in that Zombie movie with Will Smith, except there were no Zombies, only mormon missionaries. We decided to spend a good majority of the day doing some long put-off Area Book work. We called some old potential investigator sheets and made some great contacts! One of the people who I called is named Hermeline. She is from the Congo and came here to study to be a laboratory scientist (not evil). She is really sharp and spiritual. We met with her on Sunday and taught her about the Restoration. She had such great questions! She committed herself to reading the Book of Mormon and praying to know if it is true. She had the biggest smile on her face after she said the closing prayer. I think that is the best part of any lesson. Yesterday afternoon she gave me a call. She had remembered that we had told her about Family Home Evenings at the institute center on mondays and she wanted to know more. It is funny because Family Home Evening in French is translated to Soirée Familiale, which is ironic because Soirée is more like a formal evening with a dance, etc. while Familiale, is like familial or casual. So when she showed up last night, she came in a beautiful gown that might be worn to a Prom dance. All the guys at the activity were jaw-dropped because she is really pretty! HAHA. There was this one really solid Young Adult recent convert from the Congo who we had called beforehand to ask him if he would welcome her and integrate her at the activity. He sounded really confident and assuring on the phone but then when he saw her, he was really nervous to talk to her! Haha, we thought it was funny.
Another cool thing that happened on Labor (Zombie) Day was that we were able to call, or rather attempt to call, every less-active member in the area. Since we are both relatively new here, we both had an excuse. We had some cool results! One of the people that we called came to church on sunday! Three of them fixed appointments with us for this week! My companion called someone from Nigeria named Bright Prince Kennedy. YES. He came to find out that he had moved into the boundaries to another ward in Lyon, so we passed his coordonnées to some other missionaries in the city. These missionaries later told us that they had been able to see him and had also began teaching his wife! They told us that Bright Prince, on the last day of April, had begun a 24hr fast and prayer session to have guidance from God in his life. At the end of the fast and prayer session on Labor Day is when Elder Palmer called him. Miracle? Methinks YES.
Another miracle. Someone to whom I gave a Book of Mormon about 2 months ago when I first arrived in Lyon was finally taught! Her and I had stayed in contact and she had been pretty busy, so we hadn't been able to see her till now. But she had been researching on the church's website and been reading in the Book of Mormon. I was surprised at how much she knew about the church without ever having been taught! We taught her with the sisters in a different ward in Lyon, because she lives in the boundaries of a different ward. It was a smooth transition. She accepted to be baptized once she receives an answer of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Miracle! Another one happened as we were leaving this lesson. We were closing and locking the institute center where we had taught. As we were locking, a girl came up and said that she was there to meet with some missionaries. She couldn't remember the names of the missionaries who were supposed to come to meet her, so we opened the institute center back up, let her in, and began phoning all the missionaries in Lyon to try to find out who it was. We explained to her that we would have to wait outside because we couldn't be in there alone with her. None of the missionaries were answering their phones and we started getting desperate. Then my companion had the idea to just contact people on the street who were walking by and try to drag another man into the institute center so that we could enter and teach her and him together. So as I continued calling missionaries, he contacted and NO JOKE, one of the first people that he contacted accepted to come for 30 minutes to learn more about Jesus Christ! Two new investigators were made and both accepted to come to church! We got super blessed for being obedient!
Well, those are all the miracles that I will have time for today. I love you so much family! I look forward to seeing you on Mother's Day! Elder Palmer and I arranged with an American couple living here to skype at 5:00 PM. I'm not sure if that comes out to 8:00 or 9:00 AM in Oregon. I trust that you will find out and be ready at whatever time it is on sunday morning! Have an excellent week and we'll see you then!
PS I just found out that I was awarded full-tuition scholarships for both Fall and Winter semesters at BYU! :)
For whosever will save his life shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall find it.
The gospel helps us to be happier and to do what the Lord wants us to do!
Elder Palmer and I have lived some excellent experiences this last week.
1. Remember Marie? She was one of the first people that I got into contact with when I came into this sector. She was an old investigator who was discouraged with herself because of her addictions to tobacco, coffee and tea. Well some epic news! Her and I have been in contact and this last week she gives me a call and says that she wants to chat. We talked on the phone for about half an hour and she told me that she had finally read the chapter in the Book of Mormon, which I had given her to read a while back. It was Mosiah 27 about the conversion of Alma the Younger, and she wanted to talk about it. We talked, mostly about the Atonement. She told me that she wanted to change, that she knew that smoking was bad for her, but she told me frankly that she doesn't have the desire to quit. I think it is because she knows how difficult it will be. I invited her to pray morning and night to have this desire. She said that she would. We will be seeing her tomorrow and finally get to start teaching her again. She is full of fears and worries, but she is exercising faith, little by little, in her Savior Jesus Christ, who is going to do miracles in her life. She will be full of joy, peace and light!
2. Remember Jean-Noel? He is doing well. Even though he is very busy with his studies and work, he is setting his priorities straight. We had a great lesson about the Plan of Salvation this week. I am so grateful for this knowledge, I think that this is probably my favorite lesson to teach! I love it when I people start to understand bit by bit the magnitude of God's love for us and Christ's amazing gift of the Atonement. It is really "Because of Him" that the plan of happiness is made possible. Another cool little side note, we found out that one of his professors in his Business School is actually a member in our ward! We had it set up for him to teach with us last week, but it didn't end up working out... but it will soon!
3. After teaching Jean Noel about the Plan of Salvation, we walked him out of the chapel, where he hopped onto the bus. When he got on the bus, he actually ran into one of his friends who saw that he had met with us and just left our church. Her friend, Manon, had lots of questions and Jean Noel talked to her about some of the things he's been learning and feeling. The next day, as I was making some phone calls, I remembered this very nice girl that I had talked to on a bus a few weeks earlier. I remember her being really cool because the bus driver started yelling at me for contacting people on the bus, but she told him that we were having a conversation and to leave me alone. Epic. I ended up getting her phone number, and called her a few days later, but she explained that she would be busy with studies,etc. Then, when I was making those phone calls last week, I felt like I should call her. It was Manon! She explained that she had seen me at the church with Jean Noel and that she was good friends with Jean Noel. She said that she would be gone for vacation for a few weeks, but that when she gets back she would love to meet with us and learn more about our message! The Lord works in mysterious and amazing ways!
I testify that I see the hand of the Lord everyday. I will do my best to keep as many of these experiences down in my journal so that I can share them with you when I have the opportunity! This is the Lord's work and it is wonderful to know that I work for him. Best boss in the universe! I love you all and I wish you an excellent week! Try to share this video with someone who isn't a member of the church!
First of all, HAPPY EASTER! Yesterday was the best Easter of my life! As a missionary, I have loved the Christmas' and Easters that I have experienced, but yesterday I felt more gratitude for what he has done than ever. Easter is the celebration of the culmination of his sacrifice. It is the glorious victory over the forces of death and sin. It happened 2000 years ago, but today it still gives us the greatest hope imaginable. I have never felt his hands or his feet or thrust my hand into his side, but I know that the Savior lives! The Sacrament has such powerful meaning on easter! Especially for us, who hadn't been able to take the Sacrament in 3 weeks. He gave his body for us. He lived it all. All that a human body can take, suffer, endure. And then he let it go. He let life leave his body, even though he didn't have to. But wasn't the end! As the angel reminded those searching for his body, he did what he said he was going to do, HE IS RISEN! Isn't this the most remarkable event in human history? I grateful to have a spiritual knowledge of these things and to be able to share that with people.
Yesterday we taught someone who knew next to nothing about the Savior. He comes from China and he walked into the church on his own will... out of curiousity. As we explained who Jesus Christ was to him, I felt really really confident. I felt like what this person was learning about at that moment in time was the most valuable piece of knowledge that he would ever be able to acquire in this life. We showed a film in Chinese that has images of the Savior doing miracles, blessing people, loving, and then suffering for no apparent reason at all. Then the miraculous resurrection was portrayed. Still the confidence was there. When the film was finished our friend was crying and his soul was crying within him, telling him that he NEEDED to attach to that being that he had just observed. He verbally expressed his desire to know more about Jesus Christ. Then, when he prayed for the first time in his life, when his spirit communicated with God for the first time in a long time, he asked God "How can I know more about you?" I felt so confident that I am a representative of Jesus Christ. That I have been commissioned by Him to help people to know Him. I felt confident because I am His advocate. I am not advertising a collection of just any information or philosophy or belief. I am teaching people about the Creator, Savior and Redeemer of the universe and he has asked me to do it! I think that this deserves a bit of confidence.
Jean NOEL! The blood of his fathers is crying out from the ground. This is a new investigator who has Israelite blood in him. His mother is Columbian and his father is French. We started teaching him this week, but he has been in preparation for these teachings for a long time. He is a Master student at a business school here in Lyon, but he told us that his greatest priority from here on out will be to get close to God. He is humble, meek and loving. He loves the Savior and recognizes Him in his life. It is epic teaching him about an ancient record kept by his ancestors in the goal of convincing him to come unto the Holy One of Israel. I haven't really had that opportunity on my mission. Jean Noel accepted that he will be baptized next month on the condition that he receive a spiritual confirmation that the Book of Mormon is true. He has already received small testimonies, but our invitation from our last lesson was for him to apply Moroni's promise and to pray! We'll see him tomorrow and FOLLOW UP with him.
I'm LITERALLY out of time.
You know I love you and that I pray for you! God be with you till we meet again!
PS. My new companion is radical! He is younger than James, still 18! But he an incredible missionary! One love
I guess there was a bit of a historical event for the church in France that took place in Lyon just yesterday. The boundaries for all the preexisting wards in Lyon were changed and a fourth ward was created! It was a bittersweet occasion for the members and missionaries of Lyon as they said goodbye to some of the leaders and members to whom they were habituated. The Ecully ward, which I am in, moved from being the strongest, possibly largest ward in the mission to being an average French size ward of 80-100 members. It's still an epic ward, though! I will be finishing my mission in this ward. In about an hour I will head to the train station to pick up my new companion who will serve with me to the end! His name is Elder Palmer, he is from Utah and he is in the same group as Elder Powell, so he's been out on his mission for just a bit longer than Elder Kunzler in New York. Voilà quoi!
This last week of the transfer had some really cool experiences! First of all, Elder Taylor and I meet a lot of Chinese students here in Ecully because most of them go to the IM Lyon Business school, which is recognized as one of the best business schools in all of Europe. Early this last week, we met a really kind and intelligent Chinese student on a bus. We had a really interesting conversation about God and Jesus Christ. She told us that she was too "scientific" for religion. But apparently she felt something in the conversation that we had, because the following day she took us up for our invitation to have a tour of the church and to learn a little more. We gave her a quick tour of the chapel and then talked more about God and prayer. She prayed for the first time in her life. I think that I've said it before, but I think that this is my favorite experience in the mission, to hear someone communicate with God for the time. It's kind of like the scene in the Truman Show when he meets with his father again. Except that was fake. And this is real. She said a very sincere prayer and is opening her heart up to faith in a supreme and loving creator. Oh, the joy that he will bring to her life! Radical.
Then there is Margaux. This is actually a pretty funny story. I don't have a ton of time to tell all in detail, but I'll do my best. So it actually begins back in the beginning of the week. We spent some time with the old ward list, going and visiting some less-active members that we had NO information about. One of the last ones that we visited actually didn't turn out to be a less-active member, but a student whose records were in the Ecully ward, but who actually goes home every weekend and goes to church in her homeward in the Paris mission. We didn't know this. So you can imagine that it was a little awkward when we show up at her student residence, expecting a less-active member. She is way cool though, and didn't make it awkward! She was actually with a non-member friend who was studying with her and we ended up sharing a spiritual thought with the both of them and answered some of her friends questions. But this is not the miracle that I wanted to share with you! Just a couple days after having met her, we actually ran into her on the street! We got to know her a little bit better and then find out that she wants to go on a mission. After chatting with her, we did some contacting in the area and met a really cool girl, about her same age and very similar to her in personality! French people! We ended up teaching this girl, Margaux, on Saturday with the member, Jessica! They hit it off and it was one of the best lessons I've had in a long time! It was a tiny little tender mercy that the Lord was willing to send us the perfect member to teach with just before meeting the person that the Lord had prepared. Epic.
I am out of time! I love you all! The Lord loves us more than we can imagine. Literally!
IF the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.
Not much time today.
The weather in France is beautiful! The mission is beautiful!
General Conference was epic! I loved especially the messages of Elder Ballard (by the way, I'll be quizzing you all on your knowledge of Preach My Gospel here very shortly), Elder Andersen and Elder Zwick. I love how every general conference, I appreciate it a little bit more. I hope that that will always continue like that! Don't sleep through the Restoration!
This week was full of splendor! My companion and I got to teach a really wonderful French woman. Her name is Patricia and she brought along her two kids! Taught the message that the gospel of Jesus Christ is a blessing for families. She said a beautiful prayer to terminate the lesson in which she thanked God for having met us and for bringing her into His church. Radical!
Ibouni is progressing but very busy, he doesn't have a Christian background so we take it slowly and simply with him. He is beginning to understand the power of the Atonement. We hope to see him more often.
Had a big genealogy activity with all the missionaries in Lyon. Saw great succes! We had some computers set up in the institute center downtown with refreshments. We advertised it to people on the street by asking them what their ancestry was. Most people here are FRENCH! Haha.
We're finding lots of great people in this sector! More miracles are surely to follow :)
The church is true! I love you! Study and apply Preach My Gospel!
I'm going to start out this letter by giving a shout-out to Jonah, my little brother who loves beautiful cars! Yesterday, on our way home to the apartment from the church we were crossed a bridge that went over the freeway and we heard an engine roaring like a lion in the distance. We look and see this Ferrari approaching top speed, switching lanes and zooming around other cars, showing off it's utter power. Not very legal, but it was epic! Love you Jonah!
This last week was stellar. I was able to live some very humbling experiences that have strengthened my testimony in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
I'd actually like to start by talking about a pretty unique experience. So this last week I was able to do an exchange with a missionary working in St. Etienne. This is a little town in France named after the early Christian martyr Stephen, who saw in vision Christ on the right hand of God the Father just before being stoned to death. This city carries it's name very well. Many mormon missionaries have been stoned in the past in this city. Haha, no just kidding. But actually, recently there was a terrible accident in which a 5 year old boy in the ward there was playing out the street, didn't see a car approach and was actually hit by the car and was run over under the tire in the groin area. On my visit to St. Etienne, I had the opportunity to go to visit this boy and give him a blessing. I think that he has been in the clinic for over a month. What was incredible and impressive to me in this experience was this little boy's attitude. Even in his unfortunate state, he never stopped smiling, laughing and goofing with us. He has seen amazing progress, at first they weren't sure if he was ever going to be able to use his legs again, but now he has total control over the left and the right is being restored to use! Members and missionaries have been keeping him in their prayers and they've been working! It was very humbling to see how someone so small could go through such a tragic accident or trial and keep a smile on their face. He's a very good example.
Something else radical that happened was that I got to see Alex L'Homel, formerly Elder L'Homel. A good friend who I served with in Dijon, where he finished his missionary service. On Saturday there was a Mega Saturday activity for the Young Adults in the region and he showed up! We were there for the Spiritual Thought with an investigator and it was insane to see him again, in non-missionary form. He got called to High Council in his stake right after finishing his mission. Haha. A little tendre miséricorde to see him.
We have some really cool investigators right now. People here in Lyon are awesome. The ward here is celestial, the missionary work here is on fire. There are baptisms in Lyon just about every other week! France is honestly the next Brazil or Chile.
One of our new investigators is actually someone who was passed to us from other companionship on the other side of the river in Lyon, he's been taught 4 or 5 times, but he lives in our sector. His name is Réginal and he comes from Haiti. He is an epic person. He is ultra smiley and really enthusiastic about LIFE. Really a pleasure to teach him the restored gospel. When we taught him, we asked him how his reading of the Book of Mormon was going and he recounted to us 1 Nephi 3-6, about Nephi getting the brass plates, but from an epic Réginal perspective. He LOVED it. He knows that the Book of Mormon is true, he has already received an answer. He said that he would be baptized once he knows more about the church. No doubt that he will do so!
Oh, and also a cool little miracle! This last week I found out that someone who Elder Emal and I taught in Bordeaux last summer was baptized here in Lyon! He was in Bordeaux visiting some family and we got to meet and teach him, then we passed his information to the missionaries here at the time. He'd already received the Book of Mormon and when he came back to Lyon, he continued to meet with the missionaries and eventually entered into the waters of baptism! And now he is preparing to serve a mission! Another tender mercy :)
I could keep adding to this list, but I will not have the time. As the wise Gandalf once said, "All we must do is decide what to do with the time that is given us." Indeed.
Family. Friends. Je vous aime. I love you. Enjoy General Conference. Go in with a question! Have a great week! God bless you :)
PS I'm including an old picture that was taken amongst the olives trees in the hills of Nice. It was sent to me by a member this week. One love!
It is cool to see that we work under inspiration from the Lord. Being able to be so close to the mission president has allowed to see how truly inspired of a man he is.
At the beginning of this transfer, President Roney gathered all of the Lyon missionaries together into a bit of a council. He was going to use all of us as his guinea pigs in a magical experiment. He explained to us that on his mission, he would use a little questionnaire of four questions in his contacts in order to get people to open up. He gave us all little questionnaires and invited us to try it out and then we would get back to him about how it went. IT IS MAGIC. French people love to be asked their opinion on things, and even though they aren't too keen on religion, the questionnaire provides for a very neutral question and answer session that can open people up and allow for missionaries to testify of certain aspects of the restored gospel! It works so well!
In our Zone Training meeting last week, the questionnaire was implemented throughout the entire mission, and it's been awesome to see the impact that it has already made. This week I was on an exchange with Elder Kiser from Sherwood, OR and we were doing some door to door tracting (porte à porte) in a pretty chic neighborhood near Grenoble. On the first person to open up to us, we used the questionnaire and began to have a conversation with this woman. We come to find out that she is a very believing Catholic and that she is very curious to know more about what we know. Eventually she invited us to come in, but we explained to her that we couldn't go in to teach her alone, and she told us that her husband was up working on the roof. "Fiddling" with the roof :) Ha. We continued our conversation on the porch, but not too long afterwards he came down and we were able to go inside and teach them the message of the Restoration. They were very attentive and they asked some great questions. At the end we gave them the Book of Mormon and bore our testimonies, inviting them to apply Moroni's Promise! It was the first time I've ever been able to teach a first lesson on the first person to open up! For Elder Kiser it was the first time he had ever been let in! And that is only one of the many miracles we've seen with this questionnaire in our zone this last week!
I love the story of the Resurrected Savior inviting his discouraged disciples to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. Sometimes the Lord asks us to exercise our faith and to adjust the way that we are doing things and if we obey, we can see incredible results! I love having the assurance that this missionary effort is being led and guided by prophets and apostles as well as mission presidents who are called and qualified of the Lord! This week in Zone Conference in Geneva, we will have the visit of Elder Lund of the 5th Quorum of the Seventy. He came to our ward yesterday and it was a pleasure to shake his hand and hear his testimony in Sacrament Meeting.
In our sector this last week, Elder Taylor and I saw some really cool things happen. We are focusing our efforts on working well with members. We are both relatively new here and we want to take advantage of being in such a large ward (for France) which is very unified and missionary work-oriented.
We also met a great new investigator. His name is Ibouni and he comes from some islands off the coast of Southeastern Africa, I believe they are called the Comoro Islands in english. He is a very smart guy, here studying economic principles. We had a great lesson with him and he said that he is on a quest for the truth and is willing to commit himself to live by it if he finds it! We'll see him again tomorrow.
Also, remember Marie? The woman that I told you about last week? Well, we had a great conversation on the phone this week. She told me that she has regrets in her life and some things that she wants to overcome/forget from her past. I asked her how she could do it and her response was baptism. We talked much about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. She asked some excellent questions and we had a great conversation. We engaged her to read of the conversion of Alma the Younger. She is progressing, but very slowly. I have confidence that she is going to decide to follow the Savior.
Many other radical experiences (dérouled) this last week! Kinda like how all the books in the world couldn't contain all of the things that the Savior did, all the books in the world (or maybe just a large number of big volumes) couldn't contain all of the wonders that are seen on a mission. The Lord truly guides this work, I can testify of it! I love you all! Till next week!
I would like to thank you all for the plethora of birthday wishes that I have received in the last week! You are awesome! It was great to turn 21, even if in France it does not have the same significance, since the drinking age here is 18. It was a wonderful day! In the morning, my radical companion wouldn't let me into the kitchen, he was making french crêpes! We were out of nutella so we melted a bar of chocolate to cover these delights with sugary sweetness. I remember I used to hate having my birthday on sundays because it meant that I couldn't go hang out with friends and go to the Enchanted Florist on my birthday, but on mission I couldn't have asked for a better day to have my birthday! Being relatively new here I don't yet know the members as well as I got to know them in Nice, but they were super nice and we were invented to have dinner with a great family in the ward. In the evening, I got more crêpes! But they didn't have any nutella either, so we melted more chocolate! Haha, it was a great sunday. Olivier was confirmed and received the Holy Ghost and he radiated happiness. It was hilarious, after the meeting he cried "I'm a Mormon!!" Indeed.
There is a scripture in the Book of Mormon that has been a bit of a theme for me these last couple of weeks. It is 2 Nephi 27:23 "For behold, I am God, and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith." I love that the Lord gives a reason for why people might consider that he doesn't act, work or have influence in the world today. It is only because of a lack of faith. God is bound when we act on faith, this is how he exercises his power. This is a principle that Jesus Christ went to desperate lengths to try to drill into the minds of his disciples. I have been trying to exercise my faith, to do things that might force me to go a bit outside of my comfort zone, so that I might be able to access this divine power. I've come to realize that the more faith we have, the more the Lord will require from us. Faith is a principle of action.
About 6 months ago, when I was serving in the city of Dijon, I came here to this area, to do an exchange and to teach an investigator who was preparing for baptism. Her name was Marie and she was having a problem with smoking. She was determined to quit, but still had a long way to go. When I got to this area, I wanted to find out what happened to her. I came to find out that she never ended up getting baptized, she asked that the missionaries stop contacting her, for she wanted to have nothing more to do with the Mormon church. This made me a little sad, because I had been able to teach her and I knew that she had a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon. I decided to give her a call. I talked to her on the phone a few times, she remembered me and she agreed to meet with us. So, we saw her last weekend. Her apartment reeked of cigarettes and she did not look happy. We could tell that she was a bit apprehensive, so we tried our best to help her feel at ease. We talked about expecations, etc. and eventually we got on the topic of the Word of Wisdom. I asked why she thought that the Lord had revealed to us the Word of Wisdom. She gave the perfect answer, "To draw us nearer to Christ." She knows it is true, but she could not pull her life into conformity with her spiritual witness of it's truthfulness... so she gave up. She even admitted to us that she had turned to other philosophies frankly because it was easier and didn't require her changing her mode of life. So at this point we taught her about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the changing power that it can have. She was very hesitant to commit herself to doing anything that she wouldn't be able to, but we gave the engagement to begin praying on a daily basis, and she accepted. It is going to be a long road, but with God, all is possible. I know that God loves her so much and that she has incredible potential in His Kingdom here on earth.
Another cool teaching experience was with a Chinese genius. He is here in Lyon studying computer science and complete his Master's Degree before he goes out into the world to be one of those Asians that puts the world one step closer into the future in the technology realm. When he was explaining some of the projects that he's working on, I literally understood less than half of it, even though he was speaking in my native tongue. Even though he has so much knowledge, he is someone who is very spiritually thirsty. He had met with the Jehovah's Witnesses in the past just because the message of the Bible and of Jesus Christ intrigued him so much. When we gave him the Book of Mormon in Chinese and a brief introduction of our message, he was so, so thankful! In the closing prayer that we taught him how to do at the end, he said, "Thank you for my new friends and for this wonderful introduction that they have made for me today!" Gratitude is awesome! I think that God really loves a grateful heart. As a missionary, it makes me really happy when people are thankful for the teachings that we give them, and it's not even my Gospel that I'm preaching!
We got some pretty exciting news this last week! It is that the sunday after general conference, which is actually the last day of the transfer, all three wards in Lyon will gather together and there will be an official change of borders and a new fourth ward in Lyon will be created! It is amazing because just 50 years ago, Lyon had only a small branch of 20 or so members. And the work of the Lord in this part of the world is still just beginning! It's exciting to be a part of the development of the work of the Lord here! I don't know if I will be finishing my mission here in Lyon, but it will be super epic to see what happens.
I love you family and friends and I wish you a happy St. Patrick's Day and a wonderful week!
In memory of the gigantuan rat that Garth found nibbling on his blanket.
Lyon is the BEST. At first it was difficult to not see the palm trees and the ocean, but Lyon is the BEST. It is a huge city, by far the largest city that I have ever worked in. The ward is huge, by far the biggest ward I've ever served in (over 200 members, mostly families). The work here is killer, it is a big area, one of three in Lyon and it includes mostly the western and northwestern parts of the city. There are lots of families and just lots of students, and just lots of people in general.
There were two baptisms here in our ward just yesterday. The assistants baptized a french woman named Isabelle, who is very kind. My companion and I, who are the ZLs here in Lyon, baptized an african man named Olivier. Olivier was taught for a long time before deciding to be baptized. He met the missionaries over 6 months ago and received all the lessons before baptism. Then, the missionaries stopped teaching him for a while. He kept coming to church every week, however. Then just a few sundays ago there was a baptism that he attended here. He was very touched by the spirit that was felt at the service and he decided that he was ready to get baptized himself. In his testimony after the ordinance yesterday, he said that he knew that it was the right time because it was then that he was ready, that the decision came from himself and from no one else. He also bore his testimony of the truthfulness of the restored gospel and the sacred nature of the covenant that he chose to contract with Heavenly Father. It was a very great service!
The man whose baptism Olivier attended was a name named Calif. Calif was baptized just before I arrived and he has a pretty incredible story that I'd like to share with you. Calif comes from Congo in Africa, where he was a devout Catholic. He left his family for a certain time to come to France and find some work. One day he walked past the Mormon chapel here in Lyon and, being curious, wanted to take a look inside. Finding it locked up, he decided to leave his name and phone number on a piece of paper that he attached to the building door. Later, he got a call from the missionaries, began meeting with them, accepted the restored gospel without hesitation and has been faithful to it ever since. It's amazing to see how truly prepared some of God's children are to receive the fulness of the gospel truthes. These truthseekers always seem to be people who already have a deep love for God and for his word. Just the other day, my companion and I were talking to an evangelical pastor, someone with a sincere love for our Savior Jesus Christ. He was actually at the church for a marriage that took place there this week. He wanted to know what kind of a church it was and when we told him that it was a Mormon church, he immediately began blasting us with questions about the Book of Mormon. I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon and for the proof it is of the Restoration and the Divinity of this work. We were able to give him he Book of Mormon and invite him to meet the missionaries where he was from in Sens.
Another pretty amazing miracle took place this last week! We found a family to teach!! Just last week we got a call from the mission office who had a referral for us. It came from a member in another ward near Switzerland. The referral was for this woman's daughter, who was pregnant and having some health problems, she wanted us to give her a blessing. So we gave her a call and she agreed to meet with us at the chapel with her husband. We gave them a tour of the chapel and then got to share a little lesson with them. It was a wonderful french family. The father is a very kind and humble Catholic man and the wife knows the church very well, but has never been baptized. She has even read the Book of Mormon twice and followed all of the missionary lessons several times. She said that she just wasn't ready and had not yet received the confirmation from God that it was all true. However, she LOVES the church and very much supports her mothers membership. We engaged the family to pray together and read a brochure on the Restoration. We will be meeting with them this week to follow up and they also agreed to come to church this upcoming sunday. We then gave her a priesthood blessing and the Spirit was very strong. I have high hopes for this family! I think that the fact that they are starting a family together might help them to see that the restored gospel is a blessing for families!
Some cool things on the horizon and I'm feeling very happy! I would like to share with you a little scripture that I discovered on my mission. It is found in Matthew 19, verse 29. Jesus says, "Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life." I feel like I've already received the hundredfold in spiritual blessings. I've learned things here that I will be able to take with me through the rest of this life and even hereafter. Radical!
I love you family and friends! Passez une bonne semaine et sachez que je vous aime!
Every six weeks there
comes something in missionary life that we call transfers. Transfers,
depending on what happens, can be a very bittersweet experience. I was
called to serve in Lyon, in the Ecully ward with Elder Taylor. The
bitter part is having to say goodbye to all of the investigators,
members and missionaries that I have grown to know and love. The sweet
part is that I get to discover a new city, meet awesome new french
members and learn from a new mission companion. I just arrived in Lyon,
and I'm loving it so far. My companion is a stud from Bountiful, Utah.
He's a lacrosse player, and we've beening hit it off so far. He also
served with Elder Uluave, one of my favorite comps.
Saying goodbye to Nice was tough. The French
Riviera was paradise. The ward was epic. The work was stellar. Elder
Behling and I spent the majority of this last weekend with some of the
members that I got especially close to. We also had some great teaching
One of the coolest miracles happened exactly a week
ago. It being the final P-Day of the transfer, and my companion and I
not having gone to visit Monaco together, we decided to take an
afternoon tour of Monaco. In the principality of Monaco, no proselyting
is allowed and we actually have to take off our plaques when we get
into the country. After walking along the port with the yacht clubs, we
were heading up the hill towards the Casino Royale, we ran into a
familiar face! It was Stella! Remember the German woman to whom we
gave the German Book of Mormon for Christmas?! We had lost contact with
her and hadn't seen her in forever! It was really a miracle. We come
to find out that she is living in Monaco and that she is filthy rich.
We ended up spending the next couple hours with her, as she gave us a
tour of the Casino, the Opera House, the Hotel de Paris, the park and
mall. She had known that she was going to run into us again and to her,
it was a sign from the heavens. We took the opportunity to teach her a
little bit more about the church and the Book of Mormon, which she had
been reading a bit from. It was an amazing experience. I don't know
when the circumstances of her life will be right for her to accept the
fulness of the gospel, but I know that it will happen one day.
Saying goodbye to Kisky was difficult. He was
honestly one of the most amazing people that I have been able to teach
on my mission. I will always remember some of the experiences that we
have had together. Our last few lessons were powerful ones. In the
final lesson with him, we did a bit of review on the Great Apostasy and
the Restoration of the Priesthood Authority. Towards the end of the
lesson, I had the impression that we needed to show him a clip from the
Doctrine and Covenants films of the church which talks about the
conversion story of Wilford Woodruff. There wasn't a whole lot of time
left in the lesson and Kisky said that we would have time to watch it
next time. I told him that I felt impressed to show it then. We
watched it and it was PERFECT. It included some of the scriptures that
we had been discussing in the lesson and the story of Wilford was very
similar to Kisky's in many ways. I know that Kisky will be baptized one
day. He fears making the covenant of baptism and then finding out
about something in the church that he doesn't agree with and having to
go back to the drawing board. But I know that God will show him that
the Book of Mormon and church are true. He already has an excellent
Many other amazing experiences took place this last
week and it feels a bit weird talking about what took place in Nice from
Lyon, I feel like it was forever ago. But NO, it wasn't.
The mission is the best. The Lord sends us where he knows he
needs us. He watches over all of his sheep (including his
missionaries) with diligence. I look forward to serving in Lyon and to
the experiences that await here.
I feel really happy. Last night I re-read a talk given by Elder Scott in October General Conference. At the end of the talk he suggests that building a spritually fortified life requires being service-centered. May I also suggest that an incredibly happy life must be a service-centered life.
For he that will love life, and see good days...let him eschew evil and do good. Let him seek peace and ensue it. 1 Peter 3:10-11
The mission is the best opportunity to eschew (and even combat) evil and do good. To seek peace and ensue it. And then to breath it. This week I we had some excellent teaching opportunities.
Last week on a rainy day in Nice, my companion contacted a woman. Later on when we taught this woman, she told us that the reason that she stopped to listen to my companion was because of his smile, which had a powerful effect on her. We shared the message of the Book of Mormon with her, which is a message of peace and happiness. The Spirit can be strongly present when we testify of these truthes. The woman, named Cecilia, accepted to see us more often.
Kisky accepted the Law of Tithing and the Law of Chastity. He understood pretty well these are really huge Laws full of blessings. We are running out of things to teach him. He has started reading the Book of Mormon from the beginning. He has no doubt that it is true. Yet, he still claims that he has not yet received an answer. I think he has. This week we are going to be inviting him to exercise his faith in either asking for a different shift on Saturday nights or seeking a new job that will allow him to come to church on sunday. We are also planning
on inviting him to accept a new baptismal date. We hope that his faith is sufficiently large to make the leap.
Bros in some Roman Ruins
George is progressing. He was pretty sick this last week so we weren't able to see him as often as we would have liked, but he is reading and praying. We got to cover the Gospel of Jesus Christ with him and he is pretty engaged to be baptized. He understands quite well the committment that it is and wants his life to be in order before he makes this commitment. The Word of Wisdom will help him to prepare.
We have a number of other investigators that we were able to have radical teaching experiences with this last week, but time does not permit me to tell them to you on this occasion.
Know that miracles happen according to faith! Miracles are even happening in France because members and missionaries are exercising faith! This morning I found out that the sisters just got set up with an investigator, a friend of a member, to whom the member had given the film "Finding Faith in Christ". Although this person, who had never really understood why Christ was significant, or never had any faith in him, cried during the film. The reason why, they could not explain.
I love you all and wish you a happy week!
The same little bridge that Gandolf fell off of... YOU SHALL NOT PASS