Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Le Fin - Que Sous des Arcs deTriomphe

Oh la la...I don't even know where to start this email because there is so much I'd love to tell you and so little time.  This last week has been full of so many things that I'll just do a quick summary...

*PPP-Ping-Pong, Pancakes and Pensace (Spiritual Thought)
We had our first PPP this week in Amiens and it went great.  We had 17 people there and everyone loved it.  At the end they asked, "When are we doing this again?"  There were even some people who got to try pancakes for first time ever!
PPP - Ping Pong, Pancakes and Pensace

*Answers to prayer-Tuesday on an exchange with Elder Wilson we had plans to go and visit a less active member.  We ended up taking stuff to the church and so we were later than planned.  As we rang his doorbell and waited he finally came down and said he had just finished a prayer asking what he should do with his life and what direction to go.  Before he had even finished we were knocking on his door.  So cool!  I know with all my heart that the Lord listens to us.  Don't ever hesitate to "ask", no matter whether super small or large, he listens and answers.  In Matthew 7:7-8 it says "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."

*Exchange and Baptismal Interview-I went on an exchange with Elder Jones in St. Quentin and man, was it great!  In the first few hours we were able to teach 4 groups of people - a couple, 3 college students, a man on a bench, and find an old ami through his brother that we were contacting.  After I got to do a baptismal interview with Thierry, who is so ready for baptism. His baptism was this weekend and went great!

*Trains on Strike, Paris and a Pickpocket - We got up early to take our train home from St. Quentin and found that the train was cancelled because of a strike.  The next one wouldn't get us home for 8 hours.  At the gare they said we could go to Paris and then to Amiens and be home by 11:00 a.m. (this was just an hour and a half later than planned) so we did that.  While we were in Paris someone pick-pocketed Elder Beck and took our phone.  More than anything it was an inconvenience but a good way to see how dependent we are upon technology.  (We have another phone now so all is well!)

St. Quentin

*French Food-Oh La La- We were able to eat with members this week and had such delicious food.  We also went to a creperie and got a salted crepe with ham, egg, cheese and mushrooms and then a sugar crepe with vanilla ice cream, pralines, vanilla cream and caramel in it.  To say the least it was awesome.  We also had a seafood pizza with scallops, lobster and shrimp and of course, multiple pastries.  I sure enjoy the food here!

iPad Mission Conference - Yesterday we meet with Elder Nelson and Elder Kearon from the seventies for training for the ipads.  Once again it was the whole mission in Versailles and it gave me a chance to see everyone and say "bye" to them.  So great!  Also, learned lots of great tips and advice for technology and missionary work!

Nancy and Epinol Crew at the conference

That's a short recap of my last week here and I just want everyone to know that I'm so grateful for every one of the weeks I've been in France as a missionary!  While our days might be the same in routine, the stories, miracles and people were not.  I'm so grateful for all the amazing experiences I've had and for everything I've learned here.  I know without a doubt this Church is true and the Gospel changes lives.  Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and our faith anything is possible.  In Philippians 4:13 it says, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."  Thank you all so much for your help and support over the last two years.  You've all been a part in making me who I am today.  It's a bitter sweet thing to say goodbye to the place I now call home but I can't wait to you see you all in two days.

Here is my last district photo!

To finish I want to end with a quote that President and Soeur Poznanski gave to us with a small "arc de triomphe" when we first started our missions.  "Vous ne rentrerez dans vos foyers que sous des aracs de triomphe" = You will not return home, except under triumphal arches (arc de triomphe)!  Tomorrow in Paris I'll get to do something I've waited to do for two years - walk underneath the Arc de Triomphe knowing, while I wasn't a perfect missionary, I did all I could and I'm going home with a "victory" of two great years working for the Lord!

Love you all...
Elder Player

This picture was my planner cover for my last transfer and then all my villes were
on the back as train tickets!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Lost but Found

Contacting with Elder Orton in Arras

Bonjour tout le monde.  Once again it's Monday and I can't believe how fast the Mondays come around!  I'm not sure if time is going faster or what but that sure seems to be the case.  This week in Amiens has been great and we have really been able to see the Lord's hand in the work, answers to our prayers and miracles after what seemed like not much was happening.  To start off I want to talk about our exchange.  I was with Elder Orton in Arras.  It's so beautiful there! as we went out we started talking to people and at a crossroad we went to a little park and meet a man sitting on a bench, M. Rousseau.  He is a recently retired French Banker who has met with missionaries a few years ago but didn't really know that much about the church.  Before long we were sitting with him on the bench and teaching him the Plan of Salvation.  He asked about the churches beliefs with money and how they "raised" money.  So then we taught him about tithing.  I don't remember another street contact where I did that but he was totally in agreement with it and after we prayed he said he'd love to have us over to his home again and talk more about the Plan of Salvation...SO COOL!

Later in the week we hadn't had breakfast or lunch so we were pretty hungry and decided we'd go and contact our way to a friterie and get some fries to hold us over until dinner.  On the way there we passed a less active members' home.  Elder Barber and I had passed by frequently but had never found her home.  A thought came to mind to stop and see if she was there...Hmmm...fries or stop by someone's home who hasn't been there the last 5 times we had stopped by.  This time at the door someone let us in so we went up and found out that the member had moved and the family that lives there now wasn't interested.  As we left the 7th floor, made our way back down, and were on the way to the friterie again a Madame in the crosswalk said, "Bonjour."  We started talking to her and she said, "You're Mormons!"  We asked how she knew us and found out that many years ago she worked at the city hall and received a request from the church for Birth Certificates for temple work.  She was in charge of getting all the records.  We asked if we could pray with her and she was so excited and invited us in to have a drink and a prayer.  When she prayed there was no mistake she was talking to God and the spirit was present.  It was so amazing and we were able to give her a Restoration brochure and she asked if she could have us over for dinner sometime and talk more.  Guess what floor she lived on?  The 7th floor right where we had just been!  We felt like we had been led by the spirit for sure!

Yesterday we were trying to get to a park but were guided instead towards Christoph.  When we first met Christoph he was not open at all and said prayer didn't work.  But today, after talking for a while we learned that his son was in the hospital, close to death.  We were able to talk about eternal families and offer to pray for his family.  After the prayer his heart was softened and we were able to get a rendez-vous with his family at his home this week.  Such a miracle!

Last, but not least, we needed haircuts so we made an appointment that would be during emails.  So we went early to do emails and while we were there a man came in and after a few minutes asked if we were Latter-Day Saints.  We said yes and he told us he is too!  He was baptized three years ago in Ghana and has been here for 3 months but has not found the church here.  We exchanged phone numbers and are going to see him on Wednesday and show him the church so he can come next Sunday!

As you can see, it's been a great week and on top of all that we have had fun with members, ate wonderful pastries, and had many other adventures here in Amiens that will have to be saved for another time.  Thank you for all your support.  I hope you have a great day and week and FYI, next week I will be doing emails on Tuesday because of a mission conference.  Love you all!


Monday, April 13, 2015

Il Fait Beau!

Elder Nord in St. Omer
Bonjour a tous!  This week has been a crazy, busy week!  So many great things have happened and I'm not really sure where to start...

So...after our district meeting and an awesome mangez-vous with Fanja and Bruno we went to St. Omer to have exchanges.  Elder Beck was with Elder Gaule from London and I was with Elder Nord from Oregon.  Elder Nord is in his first transfer and it was super fun to be together and see miracles.  We were able to find a mother and her daughter in the park who listened to us and we were able to have a prayer with them and set up another time to see them again and talk about families and how the gospel strengthens them.  Also, we saw a woman's heart change from "I'm not interested" to being interested when we told here that there is still a prophet and 12 apostles on the earth today.  Elder Nord and Elder Gaule will be going back again this week to see her!  To finish our exchange we did the St. Omer Kepbap challenge.  That includes tons of fries and a foot and a half long kebap that needs to be eaten in under 11 minutes to beat the record.  Sadly, Elder Gaule did not beat the record but it was fun watching him try!

Later in the week we were able to teach a man, Pierrot, who we met last week and had an awesome rendez-vous with him.  He is so open to the gospel!  We learned about his past and how he's grown up in a war zone and is now studying banking to get his masters.  He told us how religion has helped him so much and he couldn't wait to start reading the Book of Mormon and learn more.

The weekend was pretty busy.  There was a baptism for one of the children in the branch.  We filled up the font and I was able to give a talk on the Holy Ghost.  His smile after the baptism was priceless.  Next we were able to do some service for Elisabeth and help her with more wall papering in her apartment.  Then we had another rendez-vous.  Yesterday was a day of finding with great weather.  The sun was out and people were open!  We found 3 awesome people that we were able to teach.  One of them and another amis came to church yesterday.  They both have siblings who are members and have talked with them about the church.  One of them is from Las Vegas!  (Small world!)  We will see them again this week.  On Sunday, at the last minute, we taught a primary class!  It was fun and turned out pretty good.  I love children and their ability to learn the gospel.

I continue to see people here that are ready for the gospel and I'm able to see how the gospel blesses them with a happiness that can't be found any where else.  I'm so grateful to share this happiness with others.  My time here in France is going so fast - only two weeks left - and I want to make the most of them.  Thanks for your continued support!  We're off to Family Home Evening now but I hope you all have a great week...

Love, Elder Player

At the sea in Calais

Teaching primary

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Power of a Prophet's VoiceEl

Good morning everybody!  I hope you have had a great week that has been spiritually charging like ours and that you had a Happy Easter.  It is still Easter here in France.  They celebrate it on Sunday and Monday so the fun continues.  This has been a busy week with a Zone Conference in Bruxelles, my first area I served in, exchanges, running for trains and buses and of course General Conference.

To start last week off we woke up at 4am on Tuesday to get ready to catch our train to Bruxelles. When we arrived in Bruxelles we took the tram up to the church.  It was cool to remember the stops on the metro and trams where we had taught people and to think of how the time, 18 months since I was there, has gone so fast!  When we arrived at the church, the place where I gave my first testimony as a "real" missionary, I was able to give my "last" testimony there too.  I started and got to finish in the same place!  We had a great Zone Conference with President and Soeur Babin and it was a great start to a week of hearing from our leaders.  The train going home was late so our layover was cut short which always makes for fun.   On top of that we were on exchanges.  I was with Elder Wilson and Elder Beck was with Elder Orton.  We made our connecting train but they didn't.  Of course we had the two phones and they had the keys to the apartment.  #Missionary Life

The next day we were still on exchanges and met a cool guy on the train who was interested and so we referred him to the missionaries in Valenciennes.   We taught Fidelia, who insisted that we stop by her African store on Friday where she gave Elder Beck and I a ton of food, for free, since we are all brothers and sisters and we are doing the Lord's work.  People are so genuinely kind.  After a great exchange we were able to teach Natan, Fidelia, Jean-Francois, who is doing his genealogy, and Elisabeth who we helped wallpaper her house on Saturday!

Then of course it was time for General Conference.  What a great weekend where we were spiritually fed and prepared again for the next six months!  It's always amazing to me how there seems to be a clear theme each conference.  It testifies to me of how it's the Lord's message being shared and not just the ideas of wise men.  We had an ami come on Saturday, Matthew, and he loved it.  We decided to show him the baptismal font and talk about baptism and he said, "Yes, I need to do that!"  He then asked when he could be ready to be baptized.  It shows how powerful the testimony of the Prophet and apostles are.  How they can bring lost sheep in who are lost after having been found, or who are discovering the sweetness of the Gospel for the first time.

I'm out of time but I am so grateful for all we were able to do this week.  Have a great week and remember I love you all!

Till next week...Elder Player
Deja-Vu Strombeek Chapel with Elder Godfrey

President and Soeur Babin and moi

Waiting at the Gare with other missionareis

The Grand Place

Monday, March 30, 2015

Power of the Restoration

Bonjour tout le monde!  I hope you are having a great week as you read this!  It's been such a busy week here.  We've been traveling all over northern France but it's been great!  I'm going to keep this one short because we've got quite a few things to get done for our trip to Bruxelles tomorrow.

This week we were in St. Quentin, Lille and Arras for district meetings and had the opportunity to meet lots of awesome missionaries.  Tuesday after district meeting we rushed to our train making it on as the doors were closing!  When we got back to Amiens we had an exchange with Elder Hall and Elder Lam.  I was with Elder Hall and we had a great time together.  We changed our plans to passby a less active member's home.  He doesn't live there anymore but we were able to get his contact information.  Then we went porting close to his home and found a few people who expressed interest including a man who met us downtown over a year ago and was excited to see us and invited us to come back another time.

Thursday we took off to Saint Quentin and did an exchange with the 2 Elders there.  I was with Elder Bigelow from Syracuse, Utah and we had a great exchange which included teaching a woman named Shakira, (not the singer) contacted a less active member, got drenched in a rainstorm (Still rainy and cold up here in the North) and last but not least we had an awesome lesson with Thierry, who's one of their amis.

We taught Thierry the Restoration and it went so good!  The spirit was strong and he came to church yesterday and wants to be baptized!  During the lesson I noticed how every time we talk about the Restoration, Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon the spirit is so strong.  It is a continuous testimony to me of the truth of this message and how sharing it has changed my life!  I know this weekend we are going to hear about the first vision and the Restoration and how we can feel the confirmation of it's truthfulness again if we listen with real intent and desire.  We got to see a cool experience with the power of prayer this week with a less active that we've been working with who wonders if God loves him.  We invited him to pray with real desire, on his knees, and we promised him that he'd feel a confirmation.  The spirit was super strong and than a few days after this lesson we got a phone call from him and he said, "I got an answer, God does love me and I know it for certain!"  It was so cool and another building block for my testimony of the power of prayer!

That doesn't take in much of what we did this week but for now it will have to do!  Have a great week and watch conference this weekend so that you can have the spirit for the next six months.  I know that all the missionaries are super excited here.  Also, Happy Easter on Sunday!

Elder Player

Elder Bigelow on Exchanges in St. Quentin

Elder Jones

Monday, March 23, 2015


"Goodbye" Elder Barber
At the Gare

Fanja treating us to Fish and Chips
at Papa Bagel

Bonjour a tous!  Today is a nice day with the sun shining, which is a welcome change after several days of rain.  This week has been great with lots of changes and some awesome training that we've received. Early in the week Elder Barber was able to say goodbye to some of the members at FHE and we were able to eat with a few members and pass by their houses before we were off for Paris on Wednesday morning.  With the suitcases ready Fanja came and picked them up and then we were off to the gare! Jean Francois met us there to say goodbye as well - so nice!  

While waiting to pick up my new companion, Elder Beck, I saw Elder Cramer, Elder Eldredge and many of the people who I've become close to!  That was great!  After lunch at McDonalds we made our way back to catch our train to Amiens and so starts the companionship of Beck and Player.  

On Wednesday night we had 3 lessons with Nathan, Souer Bourdet and Tristelle that went great.  On Thursday we were able to do some contacting in the ville and Elder Beck was able to see Amiens.  We met some cool people and focused on Easter and Genealogy.  If you're looking for a way to share the gospel help someone get to know where they are from in this life and you'll see it's a great way to start. One man we contacted, Lobert, started with us talking about genealogy but before we knew it we were talking about the Plan of Salvation and he had a Book of Mormon in his hands and now we have a rendez-vous with him this week.  We then went and saw Linda and Elisabeth and it went great!

On Friday we were off to Paris for mission Council.  It was a great mission council!  President Babin talked about real success and the difference in being a manager and a leader.  The main message was about being ourselves.  Each one of us was called to this mission for a specific reason and unless we are ourselves we cannot accomplish this.  Above all, if we are ourselves we are happier and the rest will follow in terms of success!  It was a great day and I was able to see many friends/missionaries, including Elder Velazquez and others from Nancy!

On Saturday we were busy with a meeting with other missionaries from other villes and then we had quite a few rendez-vous.  The day ended with Branch Council with the Stake Presidency.  We focused on the members doing FHE's with us each week and with us inviting our amis to their houses or the members inviting their friends where we can give a spiritual thought to them.  If you know anyone you could do that with I know the missionaries in you area would love to come over and do a spiritual thought.  You just have to provide the home and maybe a treat at the end.  

On Sunday Nathan and Tristelle came to church.  So great! We found out that Nathan is only 17 but a future missionary for sure.  Later we had a FHE with Elisabeth, Lucas and Brian.  Oh man, I love these people so much.  They are moving to Paris but I'm so grateful to have met them.

It's been a great week and I know that each week I'm able to learn and grow in the gospel.  What a blessing.  We can always improve and grow and one day become as God knows we can be.  To end Elder Oaks said,  "In contrast to the institutions of the world, which teach us to know something, the gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something."

I hope you have a great week and always remember how much I love you!

Elder Player

Elisabeth, Luca and Brian

 Mission Council

Mission Council with missionaries
from Nancy

Monday, March 16, 2015

When Plan A turns into Plan Z

My District with each of us
holding the number of transfers
we've been out!
Bonjour a tous.  This week has been absolutely crazy and than on top of that it's transfers this week.  I'll be staying in Amiens and Elder Barber will be leaving.  That totally surprised me.  My new companion will be Elder Beck from American Fork, Utah.  I'm excited to served with Elder Beck and I know that he's a great missionary.  I'm sad to see Elder Barber go.  He will be serving in Bretagne in the city of Vannes.  (There is a beach there...yipee!)

So, what is the plan?  According to the dictionary a plan is: a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something; an intention or decision about what one is going to do; to decide on and make arrangements in advance; design or make a plan of (something to be built).  So now we know what a plan is and as missionaries that is one thing we do a lot...make plans!  Nightly planning, weekly planning, and many other times we are planning.  This week none of our plans went as planned!   We received a phone call on Tuesday night from President Babin informing Elder Barber his father had passed away.  In the next 24 hours, after much prayer, Elder Barber decided it would be best to go home for the funeral service.  He felt like he needed to speak at it.  The problem was the funeral was on Friday and now it was late Wednesday afternoon and there were authorizations needed, an 11 hour flight, and getting to Paris to catch the plane which made it all seem near impossible.  With prayer and a continuous confirmation that it was what he needed to do we put it in the Lord's hands.  Everything worked out, but with a few hiccups. On Thursday morning when the authorizations came through he had already missed the direct flight to Salt Lake.  His mom who works for Delta found another way for him to get home.  The Piepgrass couple, who was doing renovations on our apartment, took us to the Gare but the train was not there and the next train would be too late to make his flight.  Elder Barber called the Piepgrass' and asked for other ideas and within 5 minutes they were back and drove us the hour and half to the airport.  We are so grateful to them because without their help it would not have been possible.  We got to the airport, checked him in and and he was off.  I was alone at the airport, which was weird, but in just a short while I was picked up by some missionaries and they dropped me off at the new mission office.  I spent the next 4 days and saw a different side of missionary work...especially during transfer preparations and moving into the new office the day before.

I worked with the office Elders, the Assistants and spent time with the Office couples, who are awesome. I unpacked boxes of supplies, did exchanges with quite a few missionaries and during one of the exchanges I even taught a Chinese lesson.  (I felt like a bleu/greenie all over again - not understanding anything)  I did learn to say "Hello" in Chinese pretty good!  Haha  I got to be a member for a lesson with the AP's, go to dinner with one of the couples and had a cool experience with a woman, Maria de Grace while we were contacting. When we talked to her she said she was staying Catholic and that was that!  We were walking in the same direction as her and at a cross walk Elder Lam asked, "So, do you live around here?"  It was like she had forgotten she didn't want to speak with us because over the next 20 minutes we had an awesome lesson with her and prayed with her.  She gave us her phone number so that we can give her an Easter message in the next week or two.  Super cool experience!

Yesterday, since I was in Versailles, I had a few minutes and was able to see the Chateau de Versailles.  I also saw members from Rouen that were there for Stake Conference and it was awesome to see them for the first time in about a year.  It got me so excited to go back and see them all again.   Then it was time to pick up Elder Barber from the airport.  We caught our train back to Amiens and made it home and oh, how nice it was to be home last night.  I can't wait to see the members tonight at FHE.

Elder Barber is doing great too.  He said the funeral went great and he knew that was where he needed to be.  So even though our week went differently than we planned it was still a great week and brought us closer to the Lord.  Sometimes life takes unexpected turns but whether from plan A to B or even to Plan Z, remember it is up to you to decide what to make of it.  I saw Elder Barber make the best of this week and he was a great example to me.

I hope you all have a great week.  Our week will be busy with transfers, mission council, and branch conference so I'm sure it will fly by.  I love all of you so much and hope that you know that!  Till next week...

Elder Player