Lyon, France

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

C'est qu'ils te connaissent, Toi, le Seul Vrai Dieu

21 or nothin

Dearest family and friends,

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.

Il rugit commes des lionceaux, il gronde et saisit sa proie

Baptism of Isabelle and Olivier!

Dearest family and friends,

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!

Avec amour,

I love this little man.

Monday, March 3, 2014


Allée 9, 1 Chemin de Vernique
69130 Ecully

one love.  un amour.
Dearest family and friends,

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 experiences.

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 testimony.

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.

God speed!

Avec amour,