Monday, 7 March 2016

January and February Adventures in France!

Nate is still serving as an Assistant to the Mission President in Versailles, France.  As part of those responsibilities every 6 weeks they work with the Mission President on moving missionaries around to different area’s (transfers).  He is also involved in picking up and welcoming new missionaries who are arriving in France and providing them with some initial orientation and training.  He then helps with those missionaries finishing their service and takes them to the airport.  He also works with the Mission President and Zone Leaders to set up and provide training to the 220 missionaries in 7 Zones throughout northern France and Belgium.  He is also busy continuing to teach people in the Versailles area and has less than 5 months to go and is loving it!

Jan 4th
We spent 10 hours in the office of our President today to finalize the vision of what we would like our mission to become in the new year. Touching on notable subjects my head is almost ready to explode!  I couldn't be more thankful for it though. I wake up absolutely exhausted everyday but I'm happy and it's worth it.
I have grown enormously in the past 12 months and I am extremely grateful for that. I don't imagine a much greater change taking place in my life, than the one, I have seen unfold in serving a mission. The knowledge of the gospel is too precious to not be shared with everyone.  I would encourage you all during this new year to find out why. To research this special blessings in your life and make the changes that the lord would have you make to be happy.

Jan 11th

We have to do a lot in the office preparing. One of my responsibilities is to buy all the transportation tickets. Almost everyone will come to Paris or pass through on the way to their new city as part of their transfer. I have to coordinate all the people, times and where and when they will meet.  A lot of time and energy go into it behind the scenes and I buy all the tickets online.

On Tuesday we went to get the new missionaries at the airport and took 5 cars between the President, his wife , ourselves and senior missionaries. We had a group of 19 coming in and had to use our giant van to transport all of their suitcases. When they arrive at the airport we give them a pain de chocolat which is a classic French pastry.  Still remember my first one when I got to France. Then we bring them back to our mission office in Versailles where they have interviews with the President and his wife. While they wait we have missionaries that live in Paris come and take them out contacting for their first missionary experience. They have so much fun speaking to French people for the first time and it's amazing to see how much excitement, energy and desire they have to share the gospel. They usually end up seeing some really cool miracles. The interviews end at about 6:00 pm. After we take them out for dinner and after the restaurant we take them to a hotel for the night.

Dinner with departing Missionaries, their last night in France

On Wednesday morning we go and pick them up around 7:30 am and we walk with them to the ReR metro stop where we live. We take all the new missionaries to a place we call consecration hill. It's a lookout at the edge of Paris where you can see the seine river, the commercial center, a vineyard, a castle and long metal barrier railing over the edge of the lookout. We take some time to explain that the hill that they are standing on was where missionary work was consecrated in France. 

Then we give them some time to write in their journal about how they are going to consecrate themselves over the period of their mission.
To share that moment with them is something so refreshing and enjoying. After we are done there we head in to Paris where the program starts for the day. A series of trainings directed towards trainers and new missionaries. They meet their trainers and then head off to their cities. After that we head back to the office and facilitate people getting their going home interview with President Babin and then have a testimony meeting and dinner at our favorite Chinese restaurant.

New Group of Missionaries, Consecration Hill

Thursday we had the day to prepare for Friday. Our mission leadership council. A 4 hour informative spiritual goal setting meeting in which we establish a theme for the mission, in this specific case for the year and transfer.

Transfer week is long but worth it!

Jan 18th
This week we had to organize two conferences. The first of which took place on Wednesday and the second on Thursday. We split the mission half and half. We ordered train tickets and sleepovers for everyone just to make sure all went well.

The Area President Elder Kearon was here and for the Thursday conference, talks given by President and Sister Babin followed by Elder Kearon who addressed us for about 2 hours. I was conducting, something I have gotten used to. It was all in English though which was more difficult.

President and sister Babin talked about the culture of our mission. And how we thrive off obedience, faith and working hard. These three things are represented on the three colors of the French flag.  Elder Kearon spoke for about 2 hours and he was a convert to the church at the age of 26. Contacted by missionaries on the street in London. He took lessons for a while and had decided to get baptized. He married an American women and has a family now and lives in Germany.

It would be too hard to summarize all he talked about. Some of the most common words that he used was attack, real intent, be the message, invite, act, love them, simplify, be yourself, hard work, get out of comfort zone, weird awkward, obedience, stretch. He basically told us that we were not exactly producing the results that we should be giving the reasons by which we need to change. Of course in a loving way. The amount of love he has for everyone is amazing. In working with him throughout the week I was overwhelmed by his capacity to love .

I think I really felt this during the 20 min or so interview I had with him. A moment I will never forget. He asked me every possible question. How is your family? What did you study? Did you have a girlfriend? Where do you see the mission going? How are you going to do that? I was really thrown back by his interest in my life. He gave me a couple very specific pieces of council.  He said an overwhelming humble prayer at the end. I was blown away by his love and meekness. More than his knowledge or spirituality what hit me the most what his Christ-like abilities. He was truly a representative of Jesus Christ and that was felt.

"A View that never gets old!"
Jan 25th
Elder Stolk and I had  an hour one night to go out and knock doors. I had strongly felt that we should go to a neighborhood we drive by quite often so we headed over to the neighborhood. We parked the van on the side of the road and prayed asking specifically what direction we needed to go and we both felt we should go down the street on the right. So we did. About the 4 door we knocked on an African lady answered and we introduced ourselves as missionaries telling her why we had knocked on her door. She let us in and we meet her two daughters and taught them about prayer and left a blessing in their home. They wanted to pray in a big circle holding hands to so that was fun and I really felt the spirit being able to share that moment with them. We went back on Friday and learned more about this Famille.  They are from Kenya and they moved to France because the father is the chief ambassador and the embassy and they speak English and Swahili which is cool. Anyway we taught them the restoration. It was a great lesson.  We knelt down and the end of the lesson with them in humble prayer. They had a real desire to know the truth and they could feel that they were getting closer to it.  It’s unbelievable how God can lead you to people and if you have faith and can handle it he will place people in your path. When someone needs to be found he will help us.

Moving Crew to New Apartment and Elder Martin's Birthday

Feb 1st
Elder Martin and I had 2 more exchanges that were done here in Versailles. We decided to take advantage of the fact that we are in the center of the mission to have all the Zone Leaders come to us. We do all the exchange in Versailles. We have developed a certain attitude about doing exchanges. We work the closest to President Babin so we take the time to discuss points of confusion and inform them of different changes and updates. We take time to talk about all the missionaries in their zone and their progression. They give us valuable insights and we exchange ideas and opinions on these things.

We also work HARD.  Elder Martin has a pretty good grasp on that, from his two years in the US Naval Academy. We start with our exercises at 6:00. We run to the park and pick up assorted heavy materials that we have found such as tires and logs. I have to admit, it's a lot more fun than doing sit ups and push-ups in the apartment. After that we work hard and try to find and teach as many people as we can. The other day we managed to teach about 17 lessons in a day. The Lord prepares people to meet us and you realize that more than ever when you put the effort forth to go and find them. So overall the exchanges were a lot of fun and super successful. We have two more this week to look forward to.

Soccer in the Park

Feb 8th
Another week in the books with a lot of progress. We finished our last two exchanges this week with the Zone Leaders and we focused a lot on finding people with faith and intensity.  Missionaries sometimes don't have enough faith to suffice when finding and if you decide you will be successful you will usually find miracles and success. We taught 50 lessons and found 13 new people to teach.  We were very blessed and thankful that we got to connect with that many people but I wanted to two lessons and people that we got to teach.

Mall in Paris

Feb 15th
President & Sister Babin asked us if we could teach one of our Ami’s at their house this week and they wanted to do a family home evening with them. Convenient enough we have a friend that lives in the same neighborhood as the mission home. His name is William and has been taking the missionary lessons for quite some time. He started a spiritual search out of curiosity but has now found a real source of peace and joy in his life. He is about to finish the Book of Mormon and has the desire to be baptized. We helped him understand that absolute truth exists and that it is manifested though the spirit. He has already felt it but we talked a lot about how this feels and happens. It was highly beneficial to have President & Sister Babin with us. They are both French and understand educational and institutional differences that helped us relate to him. We had a little meal, talked and laughed together. It was great. William was very impressed and had a lot of fun as well.

We got the chance to participate in a Book of Mormon activity we do in the heart of Paris. Bring together 15 or so missionaries and put up a giant Book of Mormon in a public square. We contact and hand out cards and teach people about this special aspect of our religion. This weekend it rained a ton so we pulled an audible.  We went street and metro singing and handed out cards for the visitors center. It was a lot of fun. And you run in to all sorts of different people especially contacting in the most flamboyant streets in France. Lots of fun. Not exactly successful but met a lot of cool people.

Art Museum Paris

Feb 22nd
It was our transfer week so on Tuesday we picked up the new missionaries at the airport. Took them out for their first day. We get them to a little contacting and experience the work. Then we have dinner at the mission home. On Wednesday we bring them into Paris and they met up with their trainer and we give them a training and some necessary tools like their iPad. It's a long process for them because they are very jet lagged and I totally remember those first couple weeks when I arrived here I was so tired.

On Friday we had our transfer mission leadership council where we get together and share the theme of the transfer which was finding. We presented with President Babin our vision of finding which is the hardest aspect of the work. But you never have anyone to teach if you don't find so it’s very essential and sometimes discouraging.

In other news we found a new family and set a baptismal date with a girl named Angel. We taught her with her mom and her sister and she was literally just waiting for us to invite her to be baptized. We had a really spiritual discussion with them and it's fun meeting new people and being able to touch them with the spirit.

We played soccer and tennis today at this rec center close to our house and I miss getting outside and playing sports. Over all we had a great week and a lot of progress in our sector and as well in the mission. We are trying to be the best examples possible and we are seeing the difference it makes. Loving life. We also taught primary his week!

Loved teaching these guys!

Feb 29th
This week we had two exchanges with the Zone Leaders in Paris and in Bruxelles.  Lots of travel and fun memories with some really cool people. Just wanted to share a couple cool experiences.

Elder Empey and I were in Brussels and they had fixed a rdv for that evening we arrived in Belgium. So we went to teach this man his name is Sylvian. A Belgian man who is about 45 years old and his family was killed in a car accident. He developed a spiritual sensitivity in his life and searches continually for a greater light. He took lessons about a year ago with my trainer when he served in Brussels but he stopped for a while. The Zone Leaders just started to return to teach the lessons to him. We taught him about Joseph Smith and how he received an answer from God. We felt the spirit and had a really good lesson. At the end he offered us a couple pairs of boots and we accepted them and ask how we could thank him. He said not to worry about it. I saw a Guitar in the corner of the room and ask if we could play a song for him in return. We sang blackbird by the Beatles then Elder Empey played this really cool song which was so good at the end of the song Sylvian asked for the guitar back, took a sharpie and wrote on it "from a friend to a friend" . He gave us this handmade guitar made in Canada. So cool. We were over whelmed. He said "Elder Empey you can play that better than I could ever so you take it. Never stop playing". Pretty cool experience and a simple act of kindness and charity.

The next experience that stood out was on wed morning we were on the subway home to our house from Paris. We sat down and then a stop after us a girl sat down in our little section. She started to cry. She was 22 and her name was Marie and we asked if we could do something for her because she was obviously upset and stressed. She went on to tell us that something terrible had happened in her life and she opened up and broke down crying.  We testified of simple truth that she has a loving Heavenly Father and that she has extreme potential in this life and in the future, and that the principle of forgiveness is true and best understood through the atonement of Jesus Christ. She was very happy we had taken the time to talk to her and she expressed that it made her feel a lot better. That is something you walk away from smiling and thanking God for the people he puts in our path.

This week was full of fun. We had lunch in Brussels, Thai dinner in Paris. Acted as a missionary moving crew. I was the truck driver. Not easy moving in Paris. Especially on tiny little streets. Had Stake Conference at the Palace of Congress in Versailles. Pretty much sums up life right now. Not to shabby!

Usual Transfer Picture, Only 4 more to go!

March 7th
Hi friends. I had a really good week . Lots of events and travel. We had our first week of zone conferences which was fun. The format for those is  a training given by the Sister training leaders  as well the Zone Leaders, followed by us and then President Babin. It's fun to be able to see all of the different missionaries and visit and talk with them. You learn a lot more by being out there with them. We gave our training on finding as in missionary work you can't teach until you find. The first fundamental aspect of the work. So we shared that at the conference in Paris Sud and in Rennes.

Our teaching pool in increasing with a lot of Amis taking the steps towards baptism. We have been praying a lot about how we can help them and have seen numerous miracles in working with members. We have a women named Peirrette who is really trying her best to say her prayers and read. She doesn't have a strong education background but an enormous amount of faith and love for the savior. Things are looking up not only in our sector but in the mission. We have seen a lot of progress in the success we have had over the past month so we are extremely happy.

Train Station

Oh we played some soccer today and timed each other running for no reason at all haha. We try to amuse ourselves ...

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Nate's past 6 months in France!

We wanted to catch you up on Nate’s adventures and experiences over the past 5 months!  He has been really busy and has covered a lot of geography and different responsibilities in France. Nate has moved from Nantes, to Tours and Antony and is now serving as an Assistant in Versailles

As of early September Nate had been serving for 5 months in Nantes which is described as “A city on the Loire River in the Upper Brittany region of Western France, has a long history as a port and industrial center. It's home to the restored, 15th-century Château des Ducs de Bretagne, where the Dukes of Brittany once lived. The castle is now a local history museum with multimedia exhibits, and visitors can walk among its turrets.

8th Transfer

A few experiences in Nantes, France

At about 8:55 just before we were going to walk home I saw two young guys who were walking down the Main Street and they were walking at a decent pace. All of a sudden they stopped completely and turned down the street where we were which usually is not a great sign. That is not exactly what you want at 9:00 pm as it looked like two young kids looking for trouble. I said to myself oh well here we go what are they going to say this time. To our surprise one of them blurted out "Hey Elders!". We said hello and asked exactly how he knew who we were. He then preceded to tell us that he was a member of the church that he just recently moved to Nantes and the other guy that was with him was his soon to be brother and law. They had all just moved here with his fiance. They were so excited to see us and even the non-member knew exactly who we were. He was giving us huge high fives and was so excited! We asked them what their names were and they told us.  We started walking and I was thinking about their names. Then I remembered the day before the senior couple in charge of referrals had told us there was a member that was moving to Nantes with his sister and her boyfriend. That the sister and boyfriend had taken the missionary lessons and were planning to get baptized before they moved. In that moment I asked what their names were again and confirmed it was the same people!  In that moment I was astonished.  How in the world did we find these people? Somehow in this little street at 9:00 pm, we ran into these two individuals among 100,000 people that live in Nantes. We got their phone number and set up to go by their house this week. Valuable lesson in following the promptings of the spirit and being obedient.

Nantes - Castle

This little family had been taught by some the Elders in the small city of St. Nazaire just on the ocean. So on Thursday I got to go to talk with them. It was two Little girls and their mom. The one little girl was 8 years old and the other one 10 years old. An interview is a special experience both for myself and the candidate because we both have the moment to testify. Firstly me of the choice that they have made. Secondly for them to testify of what they have learned from the missionaries. As I talked with these little girls I was amazed by the light and happiness that was contained within them. They were so excited to be baptized. As I asked them about certain principles it was amazing to listen to how they explained these gospel truths. The one little girl actually went on a about the importance of the sacrament and what that signifies for her. I was a little blown away. I then spoke to the mother and we talked about the decision she had made bringing her family into the gospel and what joy and harmony she will have in her life. At the end of the interview I just took a moment to congratulate her and bear my testimony. We all find great joy in helping others achieve this same goal we continue to strive for in the plan of salvation. There is something special about giving service. I read an interesting quotation this week that sums this up:

 “Service to others deepens and sweetens this life while we are
preparing to live in a better world. … When we are engaged in the
service of our fellowmen, not only do our deeds assist them, but we
put our own problems in a fresher perspective. When we concern
ourselves more with others, there is less time to be concerned with
ourselves! In the midst of the miracle of serving, there is the
promise of Jesus that by losing ourselves, we find ourselves! [
Matthew 10:39.]

“Not only do we ‘find’ ourselves in terms of acknowledging divine
guidance in our lives, but the more we serve our fellowmen in
appropriate ways, the more substance there is to our souls. … We
become more substantive as we serve others--indeed, it is easier to
‘find’ ourselves because there is so much more of us to find!”

Moving to Tours, France 
At the end of September Nate was notified he would be transferring to the city of Tours to work as a Zone Leader.  He and his companion would be responsible for the missionaries in the areas of Tours, Alencon, Le Mans, Blois, Bourges and Orleans.  Tours is southwest of Paris and is described as: “A lively university town between France's Loire and Cher rivers. At the doorstep of Loire Valley chateaux, it’s the traditional base for exploring the region. The city's long history includes Gallic-Roman settlements and a role as the 15th-century French capital and seat of kings. It was heavily bombed in World War II, and its atmospheric center is now surrounded with modern towers.” 
Cathedral in Tours

A few experiences in Tours

We had quite the busy one traveling all over and preparing the theme for this transfer which is to look and live. Forgetting about yourself and actively doing things out of the love you  continue to acquire for him. Sometimes we have success in thoroughly understanding the love that God and his son have for us. The more difficult aspect is applying this into action. Casting out fear and forgetting about yourself. 

Anyway in arriving here in Tours this week Elder Beck and I had the chance to witness some pretty cool miracles. This week we taught one of our investigators Max. He has studied the church for over six years. He knows everything, like EVERYTHING but has a really hard time committing to be baptized.  He has a ton of friends that are Mormon and over the years missionaries have continually taught him lessons not addressing this issue of why he is not baptized. This week we went into the lesson with not a whole lot prepared and talked to him like a friend. Asking questions and understanding his ideas and opinions. These moments are when you know that you are guided by the spirit saying things that you are supposed to say.  We talked with him for an hour and a half like two friends that loved him and wanted the best for him. God helped us understand his needs and desires. At the end of the lesson he miraculously agreed to pray to know if he should be baptized on the 10 Oct. This was huge considering where we started. So we are hoping that he will find himself, that this day is the one for him. 

Transfer #9
This week we met one of the most interesting people I have met thus far on my mission. His name is Sebastian. He is a man that had studied the church for years as well. He met the missionaries and received the Book of Mormon. He read it multiple times trying to find a testimony. He approached us this week telling us that he is ready. That he has been praying to know if he needs to be baptized. He told us this week that he is ready. He wants to be baptized. That he is praying for us continually. Today he actually texted us saying he wants to get baptized on Tuesday. So we are looking forward to making that happen in the next 2 weeks. God continues to work miracles every day. Sometimes it is overwhelming how you see his hands direct our work and comfort the people that have a contrite spirit and a broken heart. A quote I really like says "Do not be ashamed of Christ or His gospel, and be willing to lay down cherished things, cherished relationships, and even life itself for Him. But while you live, let your life be an offering. Take up His cross  each day in obedience and service. These are the implications and the fruits of our faith" I really like that. It should be a fun week coming up. Lots of traveling and exchanges!

Another project that I have been working on a lot this week is a presentation I have to give at the next multi zone conference in Paris on mission dress and appearance. The goal is help missionaries understand the importance of appearance and the principle of physical communication. There is a lot of variety in dressing but President would like every missionary to be informed on this subject outlining appropriate clothes that we can wear and how important it is that we carry ourselves in a professional manner. It should be fun. Get to add in a little personal touch with style do’s and don'ts.  I made a pretty cool presentation showing how being obedient and dressing within the guidelines can be fun.

Zone Conference Presentation
We finished eating and started back to the train station. Our train was the last one of the day. We got there and it said the train was canceled. It was about 740 pm around this time. So we were in a little bit of a pickle with no trains and 4 sisters + 2 elders (Us) and nowhere to spend the night. We had only the material that was with us. We called president to inform him of the situation. We checked multiple ways of resolving the problem. It was impossible to do anything else but to book a hotel. So we headed to a hotel with us and the 4 sisters. Luckily they had space we bunked up for the night. One of the weirdest days ever. Staying in a hotel for the first time in a year. We all headed out the next morning around 7 am and it was all good beside the sisters not having their makeup haha.

This week we were back in Paris for our stake conference. We are in the Paris south stake so we spent the weekend in meetings and sessions. President Babin asked the zone leaders for the stake and the assistants to attend a ward mission leader training meeting. It was interesting participating in these kind of meeting as a missionary. President ran the meeting and really clarified the needs and action plans for our stake. During a question and answer session he made references to one of my favorite gospel truths. He said " there is a difference in-between what you know you need to do, and what you really do why?" Such a fundamental principle in the gospel but also in managing a professional organization. We can think about whatever we want, we can have all the faith in the world or the best intentions but that means nothing if it is not acted upon.

During this conference we received teachings from the assistants, President and Sister Babin and then respective zone leaders. One thing I found interesting was what the  assistants shared with us. They talked about learning by faith. As we exercise our faith we see the characteristics of real conversion take place. That is how we know it is real conversion. The critical piece in this equation is the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is the motivation force that pushes people to act on the faith and the spirit they feel.

Monday is P-day and it just so happened that I had a doctors appt in Paris on Tuesday morning. We left Monday around 12 on a train to spend P-day in Paris. We visited the Sacrée Cœur in Paris one of the oldest biggest churches on top of a giant hill looking over Paris. It was really fun. A ton of tourists getting money stolen and gypsy’s outsmarting people and stealing their wallets. Then police running down illegal African immigrants for selling little Effiel towers and Louis V and Channel bags, good old Paris. That night we paired up with the zone leaders in Torcy (Elder Johnson and Elder Martin) suburb in the north east of Paris to work.  Elder Martin is one of the few fully French and mandarin elders. Called to speak both languages. Serves most of his mission in Paris due to the high Chinese population. So Elder Martin and I had a lesson at a recent converts house. We were teaching a woman and her family. She had been baptized a couple months before but her two sons and husband were not members. They arrived from China just 10 months ago. Their French and English were not very good so I listened to a lot of Chinese. We ate with them and their family. My chopsticks skills held up well so all that practice at PF Changs paid off! It was very good traditional food. After which we taught the wife a lesson. The rest of the family were not completely interested. I never really understood how hard it is to support yourself as a single member of the church. She expressed to us that it is not easy. Living in a culture and house where religion is not logical. We shared a little message explaining how faith in Jesus Christ is the passport to peace after all the hardships and difficulties in this life. It is a role of each of us to continually grow this faith to have the right to utilize the power inside of it.

Last highlight here in Tours was that we did a cool Zone activity as a reward for the hard work of the Zone this transfer. This transfer we focused on three things through the 6 weeks. The physical, spiritual well-being of missionaries and their capacity to speak the language. So we had themes every week as well as little tasks. Week 2 was Spiritual,  had to write down how you saw the hand of God every day. On p-day write to the people you are most grateful for.  Week 3 was language, memorize three useful scripture mastery scriptures in French. Week 4 was Health, with a focus on buying healthy food and to go running every other day. Week 5 was to clean and make sure you keep a clean apartment the whole week. A place where the spirit can dwell. Week 6 was the surprise. This was the zone activity in Tours. We all went bowling and handed out prizes. It was super fun.  Pretty cool looking around and seeing all the missionaries smiling and have fun. That's what it's all about.

Overlooking Tours

Moving to Antony
Nate only spent 6 weeks in Tours as they made some changes in the mission.  The mission comprises of 14 area’s or Zones and there was a change where they will be making larger Zones and condensing to 7.  Nate was transferred to Antony as a Zone Leader in the Paris South Zone.  Antony is a French commune in the southern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located 11.3 km from the center of Paris.  He served there with one of his good friends, Elder Wilson.  There will be 35+ missionaries in the Zone and a lot of work to do.  Nate was excited to go to Paris with one of his good friends.

A few experiences in Antony:

We left from Tours to Paris early Wed morning with 5 suitcases between us and had to get on and off trains through metros and crossing the oldest most complex train station in Paris.  A lot of fun!  We made it to this place in the very center of Paris where you come to pick up your new companion. So I said my goodbyes to Elder Beck because he was actually heading home. His parents were picking him up the next day. Soon after I found my new comp Elder Wilson, we were in the MTC together and are great friends. We share a lot of the same vision and desire and this week came to find out that was still true. So we got out navigos, which just means a huge metro and ReR train pass that basically lets us go anywhere in Paris and we headed back to the apartment.  We live a 20 min subway ride away from the center of Paris. The sector in which we work covers a lot of southern Paris including the Tower of Mont Parnasse and a pretty spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower. Pretty cool.

The Louvre 
At the beginning of every transfer we have mission council. An afternoon of meetings held in Paris in which the transfer goals and theme are presented by the President and his Assistants to the Zone Leaders. We take this information and present it to the district leaders to use as the core of their training for this transfer. We talked a lot about a couple questions that President asked us, this helps prepare us to train the District Leaders.

We had some other interesting new experiences this week as well. A really unique experience we had involved working shifts in a church visitors center in the center of Paris. The church's 2nd most expensive property in the world, the chapel St. Merri is attached to the visitors center. We go Tuesday afternoon and Friday nights with the doors open inviting people for tours off the street. Elder Wilson sits at the piano while I greet people at the door. It's so cool to see people come in and talk. People from all of the world come in and want to learn. Really unique experience. I taught an Asian women a French guy and a man from Tunisia who said he is coming to church. All in a day's work. Couldn't feel more thankful right now. I have an amazing companion. We have fun every day. Feels good to wake up with a smile and to get out on the street. The mission is awesome. Paris is beautiful.

Mission Council
This week was the most hectic of the transfer for Elder Wilson and I. We had been asked to attend all of the district meetings in the zone . So we went to all 4. The first two were held in Paris at the Marias. The other ones were held in the cities of Orleans and Le Mans both south of Paris. We also stopped in the various cities of Evry, Melun and Tours for meetings and exchanges. It was a lot of traveling but a lot of fun. To interact and hangout with different missionary's as well as doing exchanges with them.

On Saturday night I had an experience I will not forget. We got invited over to eat by a recent convert in the ward. He was baptized maybe 5 months ago. His name is Christian and he is about 50. He was born in the Paris region and had grown up there his whole life. He had kindly prepared one of the most elegant French meals I have ever tasted. First we started with some chips, olives and nuts washed down with some sparking lemonade, grenadine juice and sparking water. Then we moved on to the baguettes, duck pate and endive salad.  Then came the main course, an oven roasted chicken with traditional potato French fries with some spicy Dijon mustard. Then came the cheese and more bread. For desert we finished with chocolate mousse and a traditional flaky creamy apple tart.  I can't tell you how good this was. To make it better in the ambiance of Edif Phiaf (which he insisted we listen to haha). I could glance over to my left out the window I could see the sparkly large Eiffel tower followed by countless buildings. Somewhat of a spectacular scene. So cliché but "la vie est belle". It was a great night spent with some amazing people. Elder Wilson and I walked out of the apartment in a trance.  Among the smell, people, rain and transportation there is something magic about this city that's hard to explain.

Nate and Elder Wilson

Another one of our amis is Sophie. She is about 45 and the Elders have been teaching her for 2 years.  When Elder Wilson and I arrived we had no idea how to help her. We quickly realized that we needed to be taking a different approach. So we started making appointments fun and spiritual. Slowly she has been committing to make bigger steps in becoming a member. She even brought a friend to church and explained to us exactly how God had responded to her prayer. I am really hoping that all will go well. That we can really help her. You develop a love for the people you teach besides the problems and difficulties that arise. You want the best for them and are willing to spend so much time and effort to make them happy.  Had a good day at Roland Garros. Nothing Better than Autumn in Paris...

Terror Attacks in Paris
Elder Wilson and I had a pretty normal day.  We went out and did some contacting and had a rdv in the afternoon. In the evening just so happens that we had a shift at the visitors center that night. We arrived around 5pm and our shift was till 8pm. We finished our shift at 8 but had to finish something on the computer. We finished it fairly quickly and felt like we needed to head straight home. So we got on the ReR train and headed home. The area of the visitors center was attacked about 45 minutes later. There was a restaurant shooting about a 5 min walk away from where we were. Elder Wilson and I had no idea of what happened.  We went to bed sleeping well. We actually kept our phone on silent but woke up to about 17 missed calls and maybe 10 text messages. We had no idea what had gone on. We called some other Paris zone leaders and they filled us in. Soon after we confirmed with them that all the missionaries were safe and accounted for. Which they were.  There were actually missionaries living in the parts of Paris that were attacked.

Last week in Antony – Moving to Versailles
President gave us a call around 8:30 Saturday morning to confirm that everyone was accounted for and safe. We confirmed with him that all was good. He said he was going to call an emergency conference call at 10:00 to go over the precautions. We were not allowed to go out Saturday and Sunday just to be safe. President then asked  if I would come to the office in Versailles and serve as an assistant.  I was a little shocked I said I would gladly accept. The next transfer starts in a week and a half but I had to leave right away to get the necessary training from elder Amaya who I would be replacing and to participate in the transfer decision meetings. I was a little shocked by all the changes, after that....lets just say I wasn't very hungry the rest of the day. Interesting time to be called when France is in a state of crisis. I feel pretty blessed and thankful for the chance to serve, learn and grow alongside President Babin and his wife. My new companion is Elder Lattin who is from DC.  We get along really well and will have fun over the next transfer.
Transfer #10

Versailles is a city in the Yvelines département in Île-de-France region, renowned worldwide for its château, the Château de Versailles and the gardens of Versailles, designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  Nate has been serving in Versailles since the end of November as an Assistant to the Mission President.  His companion just went home this week and will now has a new companion. 

Versailles Gardens
Few updates from Versailles
Had a lot of work to do leading up to the transfers and changes in the mission as well as all the precautions of safety we have to take concerning the three countries in our mission and the missionaries that live there. Belgium is still a complicated situation and we have been talking with the zone leaders often as well as president to insure the missionaries safety.

Besides that this week on Wednesday and Thursday we had quite intensive meetings for transfers. Fasting and praying to know exactly at what point we needed to change people and move cities. We actually on Wednesday had a meeting that was almost 7 hours long. You start to really care and worry for missionaries. In the last week and a half I have really thought a lot about success and the satisfaction of fulfilling our purpose as missionaries to invite others to come unto Christ. At this moment serving as an assistant our purpose is a little different. I am very grateful to have the chance to serve and help other missionaries. Charity is most certainly a characteristic I have come to better understand. Really forgetting yourself and serving others is when we find the most joy. Spending time buying over 250 online train tickets and staring at a computer for hours on end, you find a joy when you are serving others. The couples that we work with in the office are great example of that. There are about 5 that work here with us. It's nice hanging out with wise old people.

Quick Trip to Utah
Nate had to get back to Utah to take care of some immigration work so he would be able to get back into the US when he finishes his mission.  So he had some time back on US soil and less than a week later was back in France.

Nate at the Versailles Gardens

Back in Versailles 
Well. Where to start with this week. Full of new adventures and lack of sleep.  We had our mission conference call held from Versailles then we had a couple meetings after. This transfer we have a lot of missionaries going home early for Christmas so we had to make plans to accommodate their post in the mission wherever they might have been serving. We then headed in to Paris, a short 30 min metro ride to the biggest corporate  business sector called La Defense. Also happens to be where the only Chipotle is! We had a district burrito lunch and then headed back to the office. That night we had a family home evening as the bishops house with a less active man in the ward. The ward mission leader had been encouraging us to leave a "personal touch"  with the members when we go by their houses. Helping them to remember who we are and to make our personalities known. So that day I had actually printed off some larger photos from a store and had them in my bag. There was a really cool black and white photo that I had taken of the Arc de Triomphe.  We kind of forgot until we got there that we had to leave them with  a personal touch so we got out the photo and wrote a nice note on the back thanking them for having us over and letting us teach the gospel in their beautiful country then left it on the front table.  They saw it as we left and thanked us enormously for the gift. They said for sure it would go up in their house. We thought that was kind of cool. The membership in the ward is so great and are so friendly. We have 2 Canadian families and 6 American families. The rest are French and Latin based. Makesfor a really cool dynamic.  On Tuesday we had an exchange with some zone leaders and in Amiens. A decent sized French city in the north of Paris. We actually drove the car instead of taking the train which was nice. The French countryside is beautiful minus the crazy tricky toll roads. It was nice because we could work and talk in the car. We wish we could do that more often but we would be driving 3-6 hours to get places. The trains go 300 km/h so it gets us there a lot quicker. The exchange was really good. Elder Smith and I got some good teaching opportunities.
When exchanges are done right it is a really good chance to learn from others. There is no one right way to do missionary work. Watching others missionaries helps you to become better and develop new ideas.

On Wednesday we started early at 4:00 in the morning. The day before was the same up early.  We went and retrieved two sisters at the train station in Paris.  Then brought them to the office to have their parting interviews. So at 4:00 the next day we went to pick them up at the mission home and we started off to our third home outside of our apartment and the office, the airport Charles de Gaulle. We help them to check in and then headed back to our apartment. It's about 1 hour drive across Paris. A lot of good bonding time for Elder Lattin and I. Later that day we had another exchange with the zone leaders in Paris. We worked a lot that day on showing the new Christmas video "un sauver est né". We got to share the special spirit of Christmas with multiple people inviting them to the huge Christmas concert that we are having in our ward on Sunday for the whole Paris stake. It was really fun to share something that everyone can relate to in one way or another, not the getting but the giving, loving, spiritual feelings of Christmas.

Arc de Triomphe

So this week we wrapped up all the Christmas activities with our last zone Christmas conferences. We had the last two this week. On Tuesday we had the zones of Paris and East Paris. It was really good. I played the guitar with some sisters for this Spanish children's song. It was fun. Sounded really cool too. Besides that the majority of the conference was done by the senior couples that we work with in the office. They presented different topics or presentations. It was really good.  All the Zones were able to come into Paris and there were a number of great musical numbers.  We also received our Christmas packages and letters from our families.

Two Zones at the Christmas Party - Nate is in the front row
On Christmas Eve we were invited to a members home and had a very French traditional dinner. The appetizer was 8 giant oysters and they were so good followed with different seafood dishes. Then the main course was duck, cooked in the only acceptable French manner which was very pink. Something I have come to like more and more. We ate that with potatoes and salad. It was so good. They had a little evening program while we were there. I played the guitar and we both sang a White Christmas. Lots of kids and energy. We had to be home by 10:30 that night because that was the special exception for Christmas and we had a present on behalf of the mission that we had to deliver to President and Sister Babin before Christmas morning. So we texted President before we went to our dinner appointment and ask if we could come by that night around 10:25. Just enough time to get home. His response was "actually we will be at Bishop Gerald Causée house so if you just want to stop by his place around 10:30 that would be perfect". We were a little shocked at the invitation but we said hey why not. So we got out of our dinner appointment about 10:00 and headed over to his house. We rang the doorbell and his wife let us in the gate. We walked into the house to find the Presiding Bishop of the church sitting at the piano giving a Christmas spiritual thought to about 40 members of his family including our mission president and his wife who are in-laws.  We arrived found our chairs and got to listen for 10 or 15 minutes.  Then at the conclusion of the spiritual thought we were asked to introduce ourselves. We did just that and then gave the present to Sister and President Babin. After which the family proposed that they sing us a song because we as missionaries sing all the time for people which is somewhat true. So Bishop Causée turned around to the piano and started playing, after which the family started in unison singing one of the coolest touching French Christmas songs I have ever heard. Elder Lattin and myself were a little star struck.  They finished the song and we talked for a while. They have an extremely warm loving family. I don't think I will ever forget the spirit of Christmas, but more importantly the spirit of Christ that I felt in their home this season.  Over this Christmas season  I feel especially grateful for the all the blessings that I have received for myself and my family. When we serve him and love him we see more clearly his hand in our life. Over this past year I have learned an enormous amount of things about myself and our savior. Wouldn't take any of it back.

11th Transfer (16th is when you go home)

Monday, 17 August 2015

The one year mark from Nantes, France!

Visit to the Cathedral in Nantes, France

It has been a few months since we have updated Nate’s blog and have captured some highlights below.  Nate is now at his one year mark where he was in Belgium for the first half of the year and has been in Nantes, France on the west coast for the past 5 months.  He continues to enjoy and embrace the experience serving others.

8th Transfer = 1 year!

Early in the week we fixed an appointment with this really nice guy whose name is Happy in English. He told us to meet him in the center of the city around 10am.  We soon came to realize that he is working,  handing out flyers and free little sim cards on the street. So he told us "Quick I am working so we have to go somewhere were my boss won’t find me.”  He is one of those guys who is everyone’s friend. He takes us on this little maze of streets and alleys until we get to this barber shop. It’s really an African hangout!  It was packed and we couldn't get in the door. It was kind of crazy with big wigs and people yelling and laughing and there we are, two little white kids. Side note -  we were also a crowd favorite because we had a tag on that said Jesus Christ. So we eventually are outside on the street and started teaching him when his boss walks down the street. We got out the prayer and like two sentences and he had to get back to work.  The bright side is we got like 3 phone numbers from other People while we were sitting there. We actually saw a member too. We got up after and left. We said goodbye 35 min later. Interesting start to the day. Just a little day in the life of a missionary!

We have been working hard this week looking at different ways to find people. I actually contacted three or four people this week by looking at them and smiling when we are waiting on the street for appts. They look at me so then I talk to them!  I bet they regret looking at me but I’ll talk to them if they do and a lot of people look at us.  On the metros we are looked at all of the time and it’s actually the best place to find people because they can’t go anywhere. One day this week we took our dinner break just contacting people on the trams because we weren't hungry. It’s interesting how mentality I have changed on my mission. At the beginning I motivated myself to find the will to talk to people all the time. But the more I have fun the more I want to do it and sometimes I wish we just worked on P-Day as well, you stay focused all the time. 

German built submarine bunker in the Harbor - Nantes, France

We had the opportunity to meet with this young adult in the ward. He is the only member in his family and is a convert of 5 years. He is seriously considering going on a we were mission. So we said we would meet with him and help him prepare. It was a cool realization while talking to him about how my mission has changed me. How I have grown closer to Heavenly Father and his gospel.  The decision of serving a mission was the best I had ever made in my life.  Getting rid of the distractions of the world helps you to focus on the important blessings you have as well as how you can help others have this same happiness. It was pretty hard to summarize the magnitude and effect a mission has had on me but it was a super cool time we had to talk with him and we are going to start meeting with him once a week to study preach my gospel and start his papers. 

I had the cool experience of going on an exchange with my trainer Elder Bailey. He is actually my zone leader now and he came to a district meeting in Nantes. He ended up just staying for the day and working with me in Nantes. It was such a cool experience to work with him again because we lived and worked together for 5 months. You have a special relationship with your trainer. It was amazing to see how much we had both have grown and talked about how we were thankful to be together and all the things that we learned from each other.

I had a couple really cool experiences in the past two weeks. One of them was while we were out on the coast. We prepared all our stuff in the morning to go and headed out and I got a bunch of Book of Mormons and stuff that we needed and we left. For some reason I brought an English Book of Mormon and I never do that.  We visited less actives and members and taught lessons on the street all day and was a really amazing. I got to give out two Books of Mormons which does not happen too often and by the end of the day we were so tired. I still had this English book with me and wasn’t sure why I had it. Then on the metro we were contacting and almost at home and I started talking to this guy who ended up speaking English. He was so cool and super interested. BY CHANCE he wanted a Book of Mormon after I taught him about it and I had one to give!  I didn’t find out until  9 o’clock why I had it. Pretty cool little Miracle and funny enough I finished the book the same week. It was reaffirming to my testimony of how this book that has changed my life.

Cathedral - Nantes
We also found a new Family this week! A small family from Ghana. Moses and his wife and three little kids. It was so cool. We taught the restoration to them and they understood it really well. We teach that so much and I never get tired of it. Reciting the first vision is so refreshing. I thought about if I was repeating a couple sentences normally over and over and over how boring it would be. When you recite the first vision there is power in the words, we recite it a lot. The words invoke the spirit and something special in you and others. It is special. I feel the confirmation of this so often and I know that the people that we teach feel it because it is a promise of the spirit. It will always bear testimony of the truth.
We are having a lot of fun and a lot of success here in Nantes the Lord is really blessing us and helping us in every aspect of our work. Although we did get approached/yelled at like 15 times in one day. I think that was a record, one drunk homeless men tried to take my badge this week. Had to give him a little nudge. All in the life.

Streets of Nantes

We were at a metro stop with a less active member that we were walking home from church with. He is from Togo but when he was 18 he came to Europe to play for the professional Berlin soccer team. He played for 15 years and was amazing and all of a sudden he had a stroke and half of his body got paralyzed. Long story short he ended up in France, Nantes more specifically. He met the missionaries here and got baptized. He walks really slow with a cane and that is why we were walking him home. We were just doing a simple act of service. So like I said, we were at this stop and this women walks up to us and says hello. It ended up that is was a girl that lived in the same building as Koffi. She saw us and our badges and asked who we were. She ended up being Christian and said she was looking for a church. Without even asking her she said. Ok I will come to church and pray with you guys on Sunday. I will pick up my neighbor Koffi and bring him. So sure enough this lady has come to church two weeks in a row and she loves it. It was after 5 weeks of not having someone there that you get a blessing like that which is pretty special. We just happened to be doing the right thing at the right time. I know and have learned if we do that we will be blessed. We have now had like 3 people there the past week or two!

The second experience I had is somewhat similar. This week was an amazing week. I had received news that a Boy that I taught for the first 6 months of my mission got baptized. We put in so much time, effort and love into this family. Going there twice or three times a week. This family was inactive for 30 YEARS and had lost hope. The problems that they had to overcome were immense and they felt like there was no possibility of changing. I prayed every day for this family as well for myself to see them as Heavenly Father sees them and the potential they have and how cherished they are. The joy is so unexplainable to see how through the atonement of Jesus-Christ they changed. They are new people. They have started fresh in working to be an eternal family forever, the greatest gift that our Heavenly Father has given us. I love these people because I care about them. They are so amazing and I will never forget the special experiences I had with them. These people have changed who I am and I am eternally grateful for that. I know that this joy did not come right away but as we continued to do what we knew the Lord would have us do we were blessed and so was this family! Love you guys hope you have an amazing week!
The second day we had it we deciding to do some contacting in the park. A really nice park in a nice part of Nantes. We saw this maybe 70 year old lady sitting on a bench. We approached her and asked if we could sit down and show her a video about a man that had changed our lives. We showed her a video about Jesus Christ called "Because of him" the impact was amazing  We got to sit down for 20 minutes and talk to this women that would of normally not of been too interested. We testified of our Savior and his atoning sacrifice. How much the Lord loves us, giving his son so that we can return and live with him after this life. This lady was blown away and was so happy she had the chance to talk with us. She was touched and really respected us for what we do and how we try to help people. For me it was a little experience and miracle of how the lord prepares both people and the world we live in for great things to come to pass. This happened several times this week. I feel extremely lucky and blessed to be able to use this extraordinary tool in missionary work. 

Elder Carson and Elder McBride

I would like to share a modern-day parable that I will call “The Parable of the Oranges.” As you listen, consider what this story teaches you about the power of real intent.

There was a young man who had ambitions to work for a company because it paid very well and was very prestigious. He prepared his résumé and had several interviews. Eventually, he was given an entry-level position. Then he turned his ambition to his next goal—a supervisor position that would afford him even greater prestige and more pay. So he completed the tasks he was given. He came in early some mornings and stayed late so the boss would see him putting in long hours.
After five years a supervisor position became available. But, to the young man’s great dismay, another employee, who had only worked for the company for six months, was given the promotion. The young man was very angry, and he went to his boss and demanded an explanation.
The wise boss said, “Before I answer your questions, would you do a favor for me?”
“Yes, sure,” said the employee.
“Would you go to the store and buy some oranges? My wife needs them.”
The young man agreed and went to the store. When he returned, the boss asked, “What kind of oranges did you buy?”
“I don’t know,” the young man answered. “You just said to buy oranges, and these are oranges. Here they are.”
“How much did they cost?” the boss asked.
“Well, I’m not sure,” was the reply. “You gave me $30. Here is your receipt, and here is your change.”
“Thank you,” said the boss. “Now, please have a seat and pay careful attention.”
Then the boss called in the employee who had received the promotion and asked him to do the same job. He readily agreed and went to the store.
When he returned, the boss asked, “What kind of oranges did you buy?”
“Well,” he replied, “the store had many varieties—there were navel oranges, Valencia oranges, blood oranges, tangerines, and many others, and I didn’t know which kind to buy. But I remembered you said your wife needed the oranges, so I called her. She said she was having a party and that she was going to make orange juice. So I asked the grocer which of all these oranges would make the best orange juice. He said the Valencia orange was full of very sweet juice, so that’s what I bought. I dropped them by your home on my way back to the office. Your wife was very pleased.”
“How much did they cost?” the boss asked.
“Well, that was another problem. I didn’t know how many to buy, so I once again called your wife and asked her how many guests she was expecting. She said 20. I asked the grocer how many oranges would be needed to make juice for 20 people, and it was a lot. So, I asked the grocer if he could give me a quantity discount, and he did! These oranges normally cost 75 cents each, but I paid only 50 cents. Here is your change and the receipt.”
The boss smiled and said, “Thank you; you may go.”
He looked over at the young man who had been watching. The young man stood up, slumped his shoulders and said, “I see what you mean,” as he walked dejectedly out of the office.
What was the difference between these two young men? They were both asked to buy oranges, and they did. You might say that one went the extra mile, or one was more efficient, or one paid more attention to detail. But the most important difference had to do with real intent rather than just going through the motions. The first young man was motivated by money, position, and prestige. The second young man was driven by an intense desire to please his employer and an inner commitment to be the best employee he could possibly be—and the outcome was obvious.

How can you apply this parable in your lives? How might your efforts in your family, at school, at work, and in the Church be different if you always sought to please God and do His will, motivated by your love for Him?"

Elder Carson and I had some interesting experiences this week. We were trying our hardest to find and teach people. We were getting yelled at and stared at all day and getting rejected. All the appointments we had were falling through. We really didn't know what to do. So after dinner we had 2 hours to work and I was praying all day that it would turn around. We decided that we were going to go and knock on some houses and we had no idea where to go so we offered a prayer and simply asked for help. Ten minutes later in the first building we went into, a young Muslim family lets us in and we taught them about Christ and testified of his realness and divinity as the son of God and it was a special moment in which, I felt the spirit very strongly.  So we moved on with the night to another building and got let in and taught some African men. Then we contacted some people on the way home that were interested. We found 4 new people and taught 3 lessons in the span of 2 hours. An testimony of the Lord’s hand leading and guiding our work.

This week we had a couple special experiences with a kid who's name is Dejince who is 11 years old. His family is less active but the few times we have talked to him at church he has expressed a large desire to be baptized. So we went to his house to teach him this week and we taught him the plan of salvation with this little puzzle. There is nothing more priceless when an 11 year old kid bears his testimony of the desire he has to go to the celestial kingdom with his family. He said that he just wants to be happy and feel the spirit but he doesn't know how. He has such a desire to know God but is a little bit lost. We taught him how he can pray and receive an answer from the spirit. He was so thrilled knowing that its possible. He kept on saying “OH OH I REALLY WANT GOD TO RESPOND I HOPE HE DOES!” So funny. The spiritual light and motivation in this kid has is unbelievable. He knows that God has created a plan for him and he is going to do anything he can fulfill it. His circumstances are not the easiest with 4 little brothers that he has to babysit a lot because his parents work. I have a ton of faith that he will be an amazing disciple of Christ. His will is so strong.

Coast of France
Rarely people find this spiritual light from God waiting in the darkness. It takes an act of faith for us to arise and act on whatever little sign God is giving us. He often nurtures the questioning soul giving them what he knows they need. It was so refreshing being able to teach this wonderful kid this week because a lot of the people here don't see the darkness around them. They don't know that they are in need of the necessary rescue and relief that comes from the Savior. I have come to love the people here in France and have realized that our biggest mission is finding these prepared souls who have acted on a small particle of faith. That's the goal every week!

We had a lesson with a man Named Sergi this week who is Muslim and most days we talk with more Muslim people than Christians. They are very difficult to teach as they are very firm in what they believe.  We had been meeting with him for a couple months on and off and this RDV we taught the gospel of Jesus Christ with the key point of Jesus being the Son of God accomplishing the atonement (they don’t believe that). I was able to testify of the special nature of Jesus Christ and that his atoning sacrifice was real. That he is the only person that can forgive when others can’t. That I know that his love and pardon is real, and that we all have the possibility to change and become someone better through him. That he lives today. That this was not something I was born with. It was something that I asked God to know. That if I didn't know it was true with all my heart I wouldn't be here. Why would I waste my time? Leaving everything I have for two years. He was taken back and thinking about what I said and the spirit that was touching him which I felt the spirit overwhelmingly during the lesson. The way the spirit works is that is just doesn't come for the sake of comforting myself or my companion but testifies of the truth to our investigator. We are just there and so happen to be lucky to feel it as well. He then went on explaining that during the last lessons including this most recent he was asking himself questions like what if this is true? What does that change?  Already this is monumental for him to be thinking like that. It is not an option to convert to another religion if you are Muslim.  We boldly invited him to ask God to show him the truth because if he does we know that he will receive an answer. He accepted for the first time in weeks and I was pretty surprised but very happy and will see what happens. Side note: the love that you acquire for the people you teach is immense. As well as sharing and celebrating the small victories in France. 

We met a younger mother with 2 little boys this week and she is so nice. We met on the street a couple weeks ago but never had the time to fix another appt. So this week finally got to go over with this other oung adult in the ward and teach them. It was such an amazing lesson and we felt like we should teach the Plan of salvation so we did. She opened up about how she had a lot of trials in her life with an abusive husband and having to flee to the other side of France to get away. She was so loving and grateful for what she has and also had a really hard life growing up in West Africa. She knows that it is all thanks to God that she is where she is right now with her family and she loved the Plan of Salvation and found it so much clearer than other teachings. After the lesson she explained more about her son’s birthday on Monday and that because her husband goes out and spends all their money on beer and other terrible things she has nothing to give him. I thought for a second about how lucky I was. How there are little kids on their birthday that wake up with nothing. I was devastated. How could that be fair? Earlier today I went to this soccer store and picked up a soccer ball. Something as small as that, I am sure will make him smile. This 6 year old kid that has nothing. It is amazing the different ways that you can feel the love of our Heavenly Father for you and for all of his children. How he cares for every single one of us.  We are going to work over in their Cartier and drop that off tonight. Should be fun! 

Last week we had an appt that was pretty far away and the guy confirmed and said it was good but long story short he never came. So we were kind of bummed and we ended up contacting as we were already there. We contacted  3 people because that is all we had the time for and one of them was this African lady sitting in the park with one of her kids sleeping on her shoulder. We talked with her and took her number and headed home. We called her this week and were lucky to meet with her. Personally I really had no idea what to expect, where she lived, what she was like or what we were even going to talk about. We started talking about how she believes in God and how she has seen his hand in her life. Immediately following she went on talking about how she know God. She explained that she grew up in central Africa. She experienced things in her life growing up in this country that others could not even imagine. She regularly saw dead bodies in her neighborhood, people sick and hungry. She then explained that when she was younger that a mob/army raided her village and her sister was killed in front of her. She saw and experienced things unbelievably difficult and lost everything as well as her family. Right now she has two kids and a husband, a small little amazing family given to her by God. She knows that by his grace she is still alive. She expressed that she didn’t know why she was still here on earth and what her purpose was. We then taught her the plan of salvation, the perfect plan that gives us the chance to know why? Why this? Why that? Why now?  It answers all possible questions and she loved it and said she would love to come to church. I am so thankful that I have the ability to meet all kinds of God's children. It is amazing the vast extents of this world that God has created for us. Often we don’t understand why jobs and countries and freedoms vary so much. That is why it is so crucially essential to know that God loves you and has created a perfect plan for you; That he gave his only begotten son as a gift and the steps to return and live with him after we are done in this crazy life. 

Nate and his trainer Elder Bailey who was his Zone Leader at this time

 After church we went with the sisters to pass over an ami that we had found and taught a couple times. She had a very interesting story scattered with unbelievable trials as well.  It was the second time we taught her and we were going to finish the Plan of Salvation. We started the lesson with a hymn which is never a bad idea when you teach with sisters ha-ha. We went on with the prayer and taught the lesson and she took everything really well and was very intrigued. Near the end of the lesson we had a puzzle of the plan out on the table and we got to the celestial kingdom explaining that this is the only place that we can live with our family for eternity, in a state of never ending happiness. She thought about that and started to break down and cry. She explained there was no greater desire than to live with her family together forever. She said that she knew without a doubt that the plan was true and that it had a familiar ring to it. Like she already knew that it was right even though it was the first time(in this life). Funny how people say that. Like they already excepted the plan or something?  She said that she would like to be baptized after she has learned all that she needs to. So that was a big step. 

Right after that appt the sisters said there was an older less active women that lived nearby. We decided that we should go and sing for her. She was there and opened up the door. let us In and we began to sing. We sang Scattered Sunshine which is 10 times better in French and she said that it literally healed her soul. As we were leaving almost out the door I told her if there is anything she ever needs from us to call us. She all of a sudden broke down and thanked us for what we do. She asked for a blessing so I gave her a blessing. She was so thankful that we were able to fill her home with the spirit and as we left she couldn't contain her smile. Plus she gave us a cold juice box on the way out. Bonus. Older Ladies are so nice. 

6th Transfer!