Friday, 8 May 2015

9 Months!

March 30

Thank you for all your emails this week! I had a good week with many great experiences! I just want to share a couple because I don’t have a ton of time.

We were out contacting people in a park close to our house, the weather was not very good, lots of rain and wind. We had been out for about an hour and a half when we decided that we would head back in for lunch. While we were walking back through the park we saw this women, I am guessing she was maybe 24-25 standing on a hill with her hood up. We said hello and as she turned around we could tell she was in some kind of distress. We told her that we are missionaries and that God loves her and that he has created a perfect plan for her to be happy. She didn’t really say much but was just sobbing. We simply asked if there was anything we could do for her or help her?  She started crying as she explained things that happened in her life. We taught her that there is a way for us to overcome the trials and hard things in life. She took our card and told us that she would call us. She walked away not crying but with a smile. She has not called us and she probably won’t. But she felt something and walked away knowing a lot more and feeling a lot better. Everyday is made up of little special experiences like this, which make it all worth it.


Another cool experience that we had was with one of our Ami’s. She came to church yesterday and loved it. She said that she felt something good and different at church. She has been reading her Book of Mormon and loves it and has expressed many times that she knows it is true.  Yesterday we went over to her place to teach her a lesson that went really well. At the end before she said the closing prayer she told us "You know what, I know what you are teaching me is true, I know your church is true, I trust you and I don’t know exactly why I do as I never trust people, I don’t even trust my good friends, it bugs me! “ (She said that in a funny way). ”There is something different about you and I feel it when I am with you or at church, I want to get baptized sooner".  We are just as excited as she is for that and should be a really special day. We explained that it’s the spirit that she is feeling; it is Gods love for her that put us in her path.  She was overwhelmed by the spirit; I have never seen someone feel the spirit so strongly.  She just couldn’t speak, I can’t really describe how cool it is to experience things like this, makes you just feel happy.

 April 6th

I don't really know where to start with all that has happened this week, so I will share some experiences that were the most vivid. 

All of our Amis are doing really well. We saw the student from China, the student from France and the mother from Haiti along with lots of others. They are all progressing really well. The 2 students watched General Conference and loved it.  We started teaching a new student this week after knocking on her door.  She is a devoted catholic and actually is considering becoming a Nun and devoting her life to God in a little different way. You will often see as you are walking down the street in the morning, women who look like Maria from the Sound of Music on their bike’s heading down to the Abbey. She was really interested in why we have a “spark” and how and why we share that with others. She invited us back because she felt something different.  

Cathedral in Nantes
We taught a Russian guy this week half in English and half in French. He is the coolest Russian in the world. He lived near some missionaries in Moscow. He is young and his family owns a bunch of real estate in Moscow but moves around a lot. He has been the first person I could talk to ON MY WHOLE MISSION ABOUT HOCKEY. It tested my memory of Russian superstars present and from the past.   He was so excited when I told him that I have actually met Ovechkin!  He was all up in arms, “WHAT REALLY”? In his thick Russian accent.  After that we ended up having a really cool spiritual conversation and he is totally ready to learn about the Gospel! 

 Samedi Sports at the Church with the Young Adults
This week we started something called “Samedi Sports.” It is where all the youth and young adults come and play soccer with all our Amis. It’s a great opportunity for the members to bring their friends as well.  We had a great turn out and got to meet a lot of new people. It was interesting calling for the ball in French, haven’t done that before.   We are hoping to have some new people to teach as a result of the activity. The young adults are so awesome in this ward; they come teach with us all the time as we are teaching a lot of young people.  When the young members bear their testimony, the students we teach can really relate as they struggle with many of the same things. This allows them to connect in a way that we can’t.

Reading a little French History in Chateau Duke de Bretagne -  Nantes
So I also wrote down some random events from this week that you might find interesting to illustrate the diversity here in France. In the span of one day I talked to a French Diplomat who hated France, a hipster bus driver who had a really cool beard and whose sister lives in San Francisco, an Environmental Politician that wanted to move to Canada, a Russian student, an American student, and a young family from Africa. Never dull here! Additionally we got sworn at from and window of a house which was just weird because it was in English. I have not heard those words in a long time.  Anyway it was a really cool week, always physically tiring but never tired of seeing how the Lord works his miracles! 

I also wanted to share a quote that I found very inspiring at this time of year celebrating Easter. This is something I have come to know is true with all my heart. 

"A cause de lui la culpabilité devient la paix , le regret devient relief, le désespoir devient espoir. Grâce à lui, nous avons une seconde chance, ardoises propres, de nouveaux commencements. Il ya pas de fin à cause de lui".

"Because of him guilt becomes peace, regret becomes relief, despair becomes hope. Because of him we have second chances, clean slates, and new beginnings. There is no end because of him"

Love you guys, have a great week.

April 13th

Hi! Thanks for all your emails this week. I had a great week here in Nantes. The sun actually came out so that was great. It has been sunny and hot here almost all week. I thought I would just share a couple of the special experiences I had this week.

Taking in the sites on a sunny day. Top of Nantes

We have been working on the way we contact people on the street right now. It is not always easy just to stop people and talk to them on the spot. They are usually smart or rude about it or just don't have time. So I have tried to have fun with that in a loving way of course. I have thought of comebacks before I go out to combat this a little. It kind of reminds me of I used to “trash talk” when I used to play hockey, but this is just a lot more friendly of course.   When you are bold and funny people will listen here. We actually had this history professor stop and talk with us. She initially was very defensive on the subject and idea of religion. Anyway she started going off about random ideas saying that she knows everything about our church. She had been shutting out spiritual experiences for years looking for materials in books or theories that proved religion wrong. After our discussion she said “You know what I think your right! “ She said that she was going to a council of Professor’s and that she was going to bring this up to them that in life balance is important. We need to have a healthy open perspective.  French people can be abrupt on the outside, more often then not, they are nice and open after you get through the “thicker skin”.  Seems after you make a smart comment or show a quick whit they respect you. This is not to say everyday is not absolutely humbling!

Oh Nate ( his Mom)

We also had the chance to teach our friend from China this week. Just to fill you in when we started he didn’t know who God was. He knew nothing about religion because he is from controlled China. We have made a ton of progress.  He now knows who God is, he is praying, understanding our message and feels a change in himself, “It just feels good.” It is an amazing feeling when you are feeling it and so is the Ami, really cool experience. He actually came to church the next day and had a great experience.  He has gone from a guy who was completely non-believing in EVERYWAY to the opposite. Funny how the spirit changes people.

Cool Art in Park - Nantes
So the work is going really well as is the time. Been out for almost 8 months, wow. Love all you guys have a good week!

April 20th

Hello Everyone! Hope you all had a great week!

This week I will start off sharing some experiences I had from an exchange with another Elder here in Nantes, Elder Young from New Hampshire. He is a super cool guy and we get along really well. He did 2 years at BYU prior to the mission and has been in the field for 6 weeks. We didn't have a ton planned for the day so we made some goals and headed out to find some people. The day started on a weird note as a drunk guy offered Elder Young a Bra, he didn't really understand what was going on so that was pretty funny (we tend to attract unique people). Throughout the day we contacted a lot of people. We started talking to this older Catholic lady and she would not stop to talk, so we ended up walking 7 blocks with her. She enjoyed talking with us, said we made her afternoon, and made her little afternoon walk spiritual.  Fun even though she didn't walk very quickly.
We ended up contacting 5 people and found two new families to start teaching. So that was really amazing, doesn’t happen everyday!

Chateau Duke de Bretagne Nantes

We had another really cool experience on our way to the church as we had a lesson there. We were almost there when I made eye contact with this 25 yr. old guy just hanging out on the street. Almost naturally I just said hello like we had met before. (That happens a lot when you talk to so many people a day, they just come up to you and say hi and you have no idea who they are). He took his headphones off and said hello. He said he was waiting for us as he had seen us before, kind of interesting. He is Muslim, he said he feels a little lost and doesn’t really know where to put his faith. We taught him a little bit right there about us and our church. He was super interested. We have met with him couple of times now.  He has taken it all in and loved it.  This all was because of the little prompting I had to just say hi and stop. It’s the little things that count. In a nutshell that is the mission, it’s 2 years of tiny decisions.

Inside the Chateau
Other than that we taught our 2 Amis, the students who are progressing well. We finished the lessons with the French student and we are preparing her to be baptized May 2nd. She came to the Samedi sports activity where we played Basketball and Ultimate Frisbee at the church.

"On Top of the World" - I love France!!

I just wanted to share two other funny experiences I had this week. The first one was on Thursday. Sounds funny but we are trying to increase the number of Young University girls we contact to build up the young adults and young women’s. My comp dared me to talk to these two girls that were super preppy and snotty sitting on the tram. I had no idea why but one of them had a shirt that said Dallas on it. So I thought, ok easy in for the conversation. So after I worked up the courage... She shut me down (tout de suite) which means like right away like completely. She just laughed and looked out the window. Then looked at me like I was a crazy guy with a badge on! I laughed it off. Let’s just say she was not ready for the gospel. The other experience I had was also on the tram. We were going to the church and I was sitting across from these two French ladies that are probably like 60 years old. They were whispering about me quietly but I could still hear. They starting saying that I was a Jehovah’s Witness or something because they are all over here. I leaned over slowing and just whispered "It’s actually Mormon which is little different". They were totally startled and embarrassed that I could hear them.  The first thing one said was "Oh wow you can hear well" They actually started to ask me questions because it would have been awkward if they hadn’t.  So yeah never a dull moment here, literally never!

A Members Beautiful Garden

So we had a pretty good week. A lot of fun here in Nantes.

April 28th

Well another week down. This week I had a lot of firsts, or really special experiences. The first was on our way to a conference in Versailles with the entire mission which is 230 missionaries. We left Nantes on a train at 5:55 AM and arrived in Paris at about 8:00 AM. We traveled as a zone of about 20 missionaries. We got to the station and got on the metros to get across Paris to the chapel. We had to run because we would of missed our Metro out to Versailles. So we got in the Metro, the loud, busy, stinky, tiny cars filled with people who don't look happy. It is always so packed that we can’t even move. So we were all there and had about 10 stops to go and all of a sudden a couple of us made eye contact and came up with the idea that we should sing a song. Scattered all over the metro car we started singing "Je Suis Enfant de Dieu" which is "I am A Child of God". We also sang "A Child's Prayer" in two parts with the sisters. Last we sang "Army of Helaman". This was one of the most interesting special experiences I have had on my mission. Looking around seeing people pausing their music and removing their headphones to listen. In the middle of the city on this metro I felt the spirit so strong and so did the people around us. It was amazing. It just made people happy to see these young kids in suits and dresses being so passionate and caring for a cause. People were pretty taken back. I would have to say for me I came to a full realization in that moment more than ever before that I don’t care what people think of me. I believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, restored through Joseph Smith and people can take me as I am or deal with it. And yeah I am going to sing I am a child of God in your ear on the way to work Mr. French Business Man. It was a priceless experience to say the least.

Traveling with the Zone - Mission Conference
At the conference they talked about iPads and how we can use them effectively in our teaching. It was really good. I really enjoyed Elder Kearon’s talk very inspiring. Always great to see other missionaries that are serving in other areas.

Elders I served with in Belgium - Great to see them at Conference

The last cool little experience that I had this week was regarding our ami, the 22 year old student who is getting baptized on Saturday. She is ready and excited for that day. We had a baptism in our ward last week and she attended and loved it. It was really good for her to see all how that works. The week prior to this baptism we had asked her to consider who she would like to baptize her?  As we were talking after the baptism she was saying that she knew who she wanted to baptize her, “Will you baptize me?"  Naturally I said I would love too! I am super excited for her baptism Saturday. It should be a great day!

Oh Happy Day!
Those were a couple experiences and my week in a nutshell. Oh and I found a real hockey stick this week. THEY EXIST. I need to get those hands back in shape. Love you all thank you for the support!

May 4th

Well Hello everyone thanks for your emails this week. They are greatly appreciated. 

Well where to start? I had quite the interesting week. Our Pday was on Tuesday and we visited a really nice castle that is usually closed Mondays so that was a score. Then on Wednesday I left Nantes to go to Paris to pick up my new companion because my old one finished. I met Elder Carson and we headed back to Nantes. We had a really busy few days leading up to the baptism we had scheduled for Saturday.

Had too!
She was super excited. She even invited some of her friends. Saturday came around and everything was great. We had a ton of members support her throughout her investigating as well as at her baptism. She overcame a tremendous amount of difficulties to be prepared. But she did it. The service was so good. The talks and music were great. I could tell she was pretty nervous and well it’s hard to say that I wasn't nervous as well. It was a big day. But the one thing that hit me was the peace. The minute the service started I just felt this overwhelming comfort and peace. I felt so blessed to have been able to have the chance to help her, a daughter of God come one step closer to her Heavenly Father. It was a moment I won’t ever forget. Then the smile, she couldn't stop smiling after. I have come to know that the light and happiness the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings into peoples lives is not anything of this world. It stretches much farther than this life. Sometimes we are satisfied with the world. When you make this realization however, your life changes.  Pretty powerful.

Anyway it just happened to be that in the mist of the pouring rain walking home from that we walked by a man who was standing in a little alley. We walked by and both came to the conclusion that we need to go back and talk to this man after walking 10 feet. This doesn't happen often especially soaking wet in a suit.  We went back and talked to him taught him the Restoration in the rain soaking wet, said a prayer and he accepted to meet with us tomorrow, pretty cool. Oh and his name is God in French.  The mission is two years of tiny decisions that change people’s lives everyday.