Lyon, France

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Alors là!

Dearest family and friends,

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!

Avec amour,


PS.  My new companion is radical!  He is younger than James, still 18!  But he an incredible missionary!  One love

Voilà Quoi!

Caught up with some friends at the train station!

Dearest family and friends,

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!

Avec amour,


GOODBYE Elder Taylor!  I love him.

Monday, April 7, 2014

ou le Prêcheur

Ecclesiastes 11:3

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!  

Avec amour,


Dear family and friends,

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 :)

Avec amour,


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!

Hâter l'oeuvre du Salut

Dearest family and friends,

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!

Avec amour,