Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy New Year!

Christmas lights by the Gare

Christmas Marche

Bonjour tout le monde!  I hope everyone had a great Christmas that was full of family, friends and maybe something French, you never know!  This week has been great.  Full of many things that I will always remember and a Christmas that I'll never forget!

The week was full of mangez-vous with members for Noel and Christmas contacting and porting.  We were able to go out and porte a lot at night and the new contacting method worked great

In our weekly letter to President Poznanski I explained an experience we had on Saturday night.  A woman answered the door and quickly said, "I don't believe anymore!"  As we started to testify and ask her questions, her heart was softened by the spirit and she became interested.  As we kept talking, the children came out and started to listen too.  We asked if we could pray and the children said, "Yes!"  It was amazing to see how the spirit could touch their hearts and then help them have the desire to learn more.  Also, we had the opportunity to sing last night for some families.  They even let us in.  The power of Christmas songs invites the spirit so fast!

We have been treated like kings during the holidays.  The members have fed us well.  Christmas Eve started out with lunch at a members named Aurelie.  I ate my first raclette, aka french cheeses melted on a burner with an array of meats, potatoes and other things that are good with cheese on it.   We had dinner with the Betrand family.  Brother Betrand is our Branch President and has an awesome family.  We had a spiritual thought, delicious food that started with an onion tarte appetizer, bacon wrapped green beans, lamb, cheese rounds and of course cakes and Buche de Noel.  Christmas day was no exception.  We ate another raclette, leg of lamb, sausage and more food than I can write about.  We were with the Bitanga's, Frere Augey and the Barnjack families.  They were all so nice and loaded us up with enough Ferrero Rocher's for the next month.  It definitely was different than any other Christmas I've had.  It gave us time to see what Christmas is really all about.  We all skyped and talked to our families and than, as missionaries, decided  that Christmas is all about family and how we are so thankful for the knowledge that families are together forever, even after this life.  I'm so grateful for all of you and want you to know how much I love and miss you.  You have helped me so much!  Thanks for your presents, letters, emails, and cards.  I was definitely spoiled this year. I'm so happy to be here in France and to be able to share the gospel and testify of the Birth of Christ.  That event has changed all of our lives so much!  I hope you all have a great week and a Happy New Year.

Bonne Annee...
The Betrand Family
Elder Player
Dinner on Christmas Eve at Aurelie's

The Bitanga Family
Can you pat your head and rub your stomach?
The Bitanga Family
Strombeek Crew
Christmas with Ezechias

The Barnjack Family

Christmas Morning

Monday, December 23, 2013

Joyeux Noel-Christmas Baptism

L to R...Me, Ezechias, Elder Cramer
and Souer Decaudin
After the baptism!

I hope the Spirit of Christmas has made its way into each of your homes.  I still can't believe that Christmas Eve is tomorrow.  It's definitely been a week of Christmas spirit and miracles here in Rouen!

We started the week off with a short hour and ten minute train ride to Paris.  We spent the day in Versailles at a Zone Conference.  We got to hear messages from President and Soeur Poznanski, have a Christmas feast and have a gift exchange.  President and Soeur Poznanski surprised us with letters from our families, an awesome object lesson about becoming the missionary the Lord wants us to be and a finally a little gift wrapped under our chairs.  As we opened it we saw a picture of the future temple in Paris with "France Paris Mission, written on it.  We quickly learned it was a temple recommend holder that has a quote by President Monson on it.  "Through your dedicated devotion at home or abroad, those souls whom you help to save may well be those whom you love the most."  President and Soeur Poznanski added, "We pray that you can find a day in the Paris Temple with these precious souls - we love you!"  That was an awesome present and I know that there is not one missionary that would not love to go to the temple with their amis! And for Elder Cramer and me that means with Ezechias, who was baptized this past Saturday and confirmed on Sunday!

Last week we were able to finish teaching all the commandments, have an interview and then the joyous day, Saturday, Ezechias baptism!  It was amazing.  We had over 20 members there and I've never seen someone so happy after he was baptized and confirmed.  Ezechias is awesome and I've decided our amis are like our children in a way.  We teach them everything we can and then it's up to them to make the best decisions with their free agency.  We are so grateful for how prepared, by the Lord, Ezechias was and for his decision to be baptized.  We know that one day we will go to the France Paris Temple together.  Ezechias was the answer to a prayer for us and for the Branch.  As Elder Ballard said in of his conference talk, "We are simply asking all members to pray, knowing that if every member, young and old, will reach out to just "one" between now and Christmas, millions will feel the love of the Lord Jesus Christ.  And what a wonderful gift to the Savior."

We received training at Zone Conference on a new way to contact during the Christmas season.  When contacting on the street we always bring up the birth of Christ and what it means to them.  If we are porting we ask if we can sing a song for them and then pray to invite the spirit of Christmas into their homes.  The French have always seen the movies of Americans who go around singing, but when two young men or women show up to do it they find it quite bizarre...but they like it!  It's amazing to see the miracles we've seen in just a few days using this new way for Christmas and it shows how Christmas does change people and opens them up.  Also, it's great for us because we both love to sing!

Yesterday, Sunday, after our meetings we had the Branch Christmas Party.  We had lots of delicious quiche, meats, cheeses, baguettes and of course Buche de Noel!  After, we all went caroling and were able to meet some awesome people.  We finished the night with the primary program and the little French kids are so awesome.  I must say I'm jealous of the 3 year olds and their capability to speak French.  We quickly became their best friends when they realized we had a bucket of candy a member had given us!  The members here are awesome and we will be well feed by the end of this week from all the food we eat over the next few days!
This picture was taken on the 20th of December!
Friends from the MTC

Elder Wood and me
It really has been one of the best weeks of my mission thus far.  Full of Christmas miracles and things that I well never forget.  I've heard about how cool it is to be a missionary during Christmas and now I can see why.  Between the members, our amis, and our leaders we could not have a better family, while we are thousands of miles away from our own.  I'm so grateful for the opportunity I have to be a missionary and to be a servant of the Lord who has given us so much.  I want to end with a scripture found in Matthew chapter 7 verses 9 through 11.

9.  Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask for bread, will he give him a stone?
10. Or is he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
11. If ye then know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

I hope we can all reflect on the "good gifts" our Father in Heaven has given us.  Especially at this time of Christmas may we realize the most precious gift he has given to us all, his only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who through him we can be saved and live for eternity with our families.  I pray that we can all see the importance in our lives of the birth of Jesus Christ and how it has changed each one of us and for the blessings He's given to us.  I'm so grateful for everyone of you and for all you do for me.  Thank you for your love and support and may you all have a Merry Christmas/Joyeux Noel!

Elder Player

Monday, December 16, 2013

Mangez-Vous et Rendez-Vous a Rouen!

Bonjour!  I hope you all are having a great day and enjoying the winter weather that it seems a lot of you are having.  In Rouen it's still just cold with the occasional rain, but no snow yet.  We're hoping to get some for Christmas!  Our week here has been awesome and I just want to share a few of the amazing miracles we've seen!

First category this week:  Mangez-vous!
This week we have been spoiled with mangez-vous!  On Monday we had a mangez-vous with a member in our branch.  I'd heard stories from my brother, Randy, about raw French meat and I got to experience that this week!  We had frites, and then steak hache, or a ground beef patty that was cooked for 30 seconds on each side, and I have to say it was good!  Oh dear!  We finished with a salad which he said was fruit, but we thought that was odd since it had carrots in it, but I took a big helping and then later found out it was fruits de la mer (fruits of the sea) but it was still delicious and so nice of him!
Our second mangez-vous was with a new amis.   He is a referral from the soeurs.  We had to take a train to a little ville called Pavilly.   The first train was canceled so we had to wait about an hour.  We went to his house and after the lesson he told us he had some great fish soup to start with.  After making it through the fish soup we had the next course of some sort of meat in a gelatin.  "Eat it with bread," he said.  So, we tried it and found out it was like a spam.  Finally, dessert...a buche de noel.  This is a three chocolate ice cream cake that was delicious and quickly left our plates!
Our third and final mangez-vous was with a family from our branch.  We arrived and sat down to appetizers. Sausages, nuts and bread.  Shortly after we had a salad, which was a pain de poisson, or fish with cucumbers and tomatoes.  It was delicious and the presentations was amazing.  We had the main course next which consisted of steamed squash and veggies and then a big roast stuffed with French cheeses and ham. Oh was amazing.  The next course was a first for me and made me feel like I was really in France. It was the cheese course, a large platter with 5 or 6 different types of French cheese and of course fresh bread. By this point we were both stuffed but then came the dessert.  An almond pear tart that was delicious and they let us take the rest home!  To say the least we have been taken good care of this week and I can hardly wait for Christmas with all the good food!!!

Second category:  Ezechias
Ezechias is amazing and the most prepared person I have ever met.  We taught him last Tuesday.  We had given him a Plan of Salvation brochure that he had read and answered all the extra study questions in the back.  He wanted to ask a couple more questions...Wow...OK!  Thursday we decided to teach the Evangile of Jesus Christ.  At the beginning of the lesson we asked if he had any questions and he asked, "How do you do your baptism in this church?"  As we started to explain he pulled out a sheet with references of baptism he had printed off  He wanted to read them together.  We did and than we moved to repentance, and then the sacrament.  He asked why we don't use wine.  We introduced the Word of Wisdom.  He told us that he and his brother had a father who was a drunk and so they promised they would never drink, smoke, or do drugs and they never have.  Oh man!!!  As we finished the lesson we opened up the baptismal font to show him.  He looked so happy and then walking back to our chairs, he said, "I have one more question.  How long does a person have to meet with you to be baptized?"  We told him that you are ready after a couple more lessons and we usually have baptisms on Saturdays.  He asked, "Will the 21st of December work?"  So this coming Saturday Ezechias will be baptized and on Sunday be confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints!  He described the experience to the members yesterday and to us again this morning.  He told us he has seen the truth come into his life with so much light and happiness.  His testimony is amazing to hear and I'm so thankful for him and how prepared by the Lord he is!

Third category:  Henri
It was the 31st of July, 2013 when I was on an exchange with Elder Wilson.  While on the tram we saw a new development and felt like we should go port there.  At the first door we met the Sonan Family.  Henri, Caroline, Yanik and Julie.  Henri had just gotten home from Chicago and was jet lagged.  Elder Daivs and I came back a week later.  We learned that he had just become a US Citizen, was a professor for BioChem research at the University in Chicago and was flying back and forth to work and be with his family.  As we taught them they were interested and had seen something about the MTC on the TV and wanted to learn more.  After three lessons with them Henri told us he had to go back to Chicago for the semester and would return in December.  We asked if missionaries could come and see him in Chicago and he said, "Yes."  We took all his information and sent it the the missionaries there.
I called Elder Eldredge to see if my Belge license had come yet.  He said, "No, but I have to tell you this. Last Sunday we had just come out of DMP meeting and we saw a man standing there.  He came up and asked for Elder Davis and Elder Player.  Elder Eldredge explained that we had left but they were the missionaries there now.  He said, "I'm Henri!"  Elder Eldredge thought for a minute and then remembered passing by to see Caroline and the kids and see if they wanted to come to church.  Henri was now back in Belgium and explained, "I just wanted to show these pictures to Elder Davis and Elder Player of my baptism and thank them for introducing me to the gospel."  Holy Cow!!!  Coolest thing I've ever heard.  He is now baptized and an active member.  His family is probably moving to Chicago with him soon.  His wife is being taught up in Belgium right now!  I was in shock and so excited to email him today and see the pictures of his baptism.

Fourth and Final Category:  Miracles and Misc.
We got to teach some amazing people the gospel this week including:
Fatumada, who said she can feel peace and let her problems go when she is able to talk about the gospel and read the Book of Mormon with us.
Christonvie who we made the 1 hour journey by bus to Neuf Chatel to teach him.  We had an awesome lesson and he wants to be baptized but needs to talk to his parents first...understandable.
Thereza and Augusto.  When we taught Thereza we left a Book of Mormon.  When Augusto saw his mom's Book of Mormon he asked if  he could have one and then stayed and participated in the lesson and offered a prayer when we were finished...awesome!
Last door last night we got in to teach Quentin.  He is 25 and a graphic designer.  He was never taught about God growing up and has been searching for a knowledge lately.  He loved talking with us and we are going back this week.  (To get to his apartment you enter a gate, climb up all these stairs, go through several reminded us of waiting to get on a ride in Disneyland!)
Also, we got to run to catch trains and then find out they were canceled, sing Christmas songs with the Soeurs (We have a new soeur, Soeur Castillo from Canada...she's great) and of course got to serve and see more of Rouen!

It has been a great week with miracles happening in Rouen.  Tomorrow we are off to Paris for the day for Zone Conference.  It's with 80 missionaries from 4 zones!  It will be awesome to get to see people from the MTC and Strombeek..  I hope you all have a great week, especially my dad!  Happy Birthday tomorrow, Dad! Thanks for all of your love and support and I hope you are all ready for Christmas next week!!!

Love you all-Bisous!
Elder Player
Elder Cramer and me at the place we email each week!

Monday, December 9, 2013

I'll be in Rouen for Christmas & the miracle of Ezecias

Another transfer has come and gone and I'll be staying here in Rouen with Elder Cramer!  I'm so glad I'll be spending Christmas here...It will be great!  This last week in Rouen has been awesome and we have seen some amazing miracles with some amazing people.

It's Tuesday morning and we've changed our district meeting in Mantes from 11 to 1 so we can teach a lesson to our two amis, Richmond and Harietta, at the church.  On Monday night we called a member to be there to help give a tour of the church and teach with us.  Everything was perfect.  While on the metro to the church we realized that the Soeurs had the key to the church so we called them and asked if they could meet us there but, sadly, they were already in Le Havre.  Next we called the member who was coming to bring his key.  As he answered we were disconnected before we could ask him to bring his key.  We got to the church about 10 minutes early and waited while watching our breath in the cold.  A man walked by and kinda stopped, then continued but then stopped again and looked at the church.  We went up and asked if he needed help finding anything.  He said no.  We went on to explain that we were the missionaries for the church here and would he like to come in for a tour, even though we had no keys.  He quickly replied yes! We started to walk to the door with him in tow and right behind him walked up our member, Tarolin, who was early and had a key.  We gave him the tour and during it received a call from Harietta saying they would have to change the rendezvous for another day.  That meant we had time to teach him.  As we talked to Ezechias we learned that somebody from America had told him about the church and he was wanting to check it out and we were there!  He had already read all of Moses and Abraham online and loved it.  He had notes about our church and we gave him a Book of Mormon in French and English because he's from Sweden and speaks English.  We set up a rendez vous for Thursday.  Tarolin told us after he got the call from us he felt he needed to hurry to the church and bring his key.  This was a miracle...two missionaries were standing outside the chapel when Ezechias walked by, a key came at the exact moment we invited him to have a tour, his friend had told him about the church the day before and our other rendez vous fell through. It was the strongest example I've seen of how the Lord is always involved in the work and he places people in our path at times when they are ready.

As Thursday arrived we planned to teach the Plan of Salvation helping him with the three questions of Where did I come from, Why am I here and Where am I going after this life?  As we started the lesson we asked if he had read any of the Book of Mormon since Tuesday.  He had read quite a bit in fact.  As we continued he explained he was trying to find the origin of where our church was from and he started showing us the index in the Book of Mormon that shows lineage, etc.  We decided to switch to the Restoration and we are sure glad we did.  The lesson went great and as we described Joseph Smith and his questions of what church he should join he said he had that same question and had tried different churches but none were right for him. We continued to explain what happened with the first vision and then Tarolin started bearing his testimony and told his conversion story.  It was so powerful.  At the end the spirit was super strong and we asked if he found out that these things were true would he be baptized.  He responded with a yes!  We talked about the family and how they can be together forever.  He was so happy to hear that and said it offered him so much peace.  We invited him to church on Sunday and fixed a rendez vous for tomorrow and this Thursday too!

On Sunday, December 8th, we had an event that we've been planning for a long time.  The members were to invite a friend to come learn more about our church.  All the lessons and talks were especially prepared about the Living Christ, the Family Proclamation and conversion stories.  It was amazing!  Promptly at 9:30 Ezechias showed up in a suit and tie and boy was he ready.  During the lessons he took notes, participated and when they used a Book of Mormon scripture he'd pull out his and look it up.  After the meetings We asked how it was and what he felt.  He said that it was glorious and loved it.  He then asked if he could come back next week...Sweet!  He continued to talk to members for the next hour and when we checked on him he was talking to a member about the construction of the church.  It used to be part of the cathedral but was renovated and the font was put up by the pulpit under the floor.  (You have to pull up the floor in a few spots and then it's in the ground.  Ezechias said, "So that's where I'll be baptized!"  Music to our ears!  I can't wait to teach him again tomorrow!

This for me has been one of the biggest miracles I've seen on my mission.  He's so prepared and it's obvious to me the Lord is helping to make this all possible.  I know the Lord prepares people to receive his gospel at certain times and I'm so thankful that I get to be a missionary and see how the Lord does it and how much he loves us all!  This was just one of the many experiences this week but I wanted to share this one!

That's about a wrap here!  I hope you all have a great week and enjoy the winter weather wherever you may be!  Thanks for all your prayers and support!  They are felt!
Love you all
Elder Player

Other things that happened during the week:
-We sang outside the church with the Soeurs and members, -a man was listening and we asked if he needed anything.  He responded, "No, I just want to listen to the music cause there's not much left in the world that's spiritual but I can feel the spirit from the music"  Music can touch the hearts of people and bring the spirit always!
-Had an amis bring a friend to a lesson who told us her brother in law is a mormon and she was interested to learn more!
-Did service for a lady named Thereza by cleaning her balcony.  She showed us pictures from the bombing here in 1944 when she was 20 in which her parents died.  Crazy to see the devastation!
-Had an American couple from Tremonton, Utah attend church yesterday!
-Taught Beatrice, an 85 year old widow and sang Silent night with her.  Made our night!
-Last Monday for P-Day we saw the huge cathedral here and toured the place where Joan of Arc was held captive during her trial!
District Meeting with number of transfers

The huge cathedral here in Rouen.  Monet did some
of the art work!
The Christmas Market

Another view of the Cathedral

Beatrice who is 85!

Thereza who we did service for!

The room where Joan of Arc was
held captive during her trial

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving in France and It's Already December!

This is our Thanksgiving Food Table!
Thanksgiving in Rouen!
Bonjour!  I hope you have all had a great week and been able to eat lots of turkey, good food, do lots of Black Friday shopping and get ready for the best time of the year....Christmas!  We've had a great week here in Rouen and with an exchange and Thanksgiving it flew by.  It's crazy that it's December already. There are still tons of leaves on the trees and they are just starting to fall off.

This week started with some contacting.  On Tuesday we met two awesome woman, Richmond and Hairietta.  They were super interested and loved the Book of Mormon when we showed them it.  We are teaching them and their families tomorrow morning at the church and I can't wait.  We took off for our exchange after that.  It was in Mantes again and was on Tuesday and Wednesday so our whole district was in one apartment.  (Six of us)  I was with Elder Guymon this time and he's awesome.  He's been out about 18 months.  We ended up missing our train so that gave us a little more time to get to know each other better.  We did some porting and then turned around and took a train back to Rouen.

We were given a food assignment for Thanksgiving, which was meat and potatoes, so we were looking for ta whole turkey.  We went to quite a few boucherie's (meat markets) and a grocery store.  When we asked for whole turkeys they looked at us like we were crazy.  Finally, we found a place that would order them for Christmas but they cost 75 euros, so we decided that turkey wasn't going to happen.  We started looking for a ham, but the same problem, honey hams don't exist and whole hams were about 70 euros.  So, no ham either.  Finally, we found some "bone in" pieces of pork for about 20 euros and decided we would make a glaze.  So on Thursday morning we started cooking.  We got the meat going, made the glaze, peeled a ton of potatoes and even had an apartment inspection by 10:30 a.m.  We left the apartment with large pots of potatoes, gravy, meat and hot pads and took off for the metro.  To say the least we got some weird looks but one person did say, "Happy Thanksgiving and Bon Appetit!"  We made it to the church, had our district meeting and then had a wonderful feast.  There were 14 of us there.  We had 2 tables of food and it was so delicious and fun to all be together.  We played games and ate until 6:00 p.m.  After we had the church cleaned up, we walked out and all the Christmas lights had been turned on and the Christkindle Markt was open in front of the Cathedral.  Every street in Rouen has tons of Christmas lights, crepes, and chestnut stands are all over.  It will be a great place to be for Christmas!  We finished the night by visiting a member and giving a spiritual thought and contacting on the way back.  It was a great day!

Friday we had a great lesson with Orion and a member went with us.  Tarolin shared his conversion story and his testimony.  The spirit was really strong as we talked about Faith, Repentance and Baptism.  We asked if she'd be baptized on the 21st of December.  She said she wasn't ready but she'd pray about it to see if it was right.  Tarolin asked if we could stop by a friend who lived close by.  We did and gave her a Book of Mormon and will try to see her again this week.  We would love to teach her and her family.  We had our weekly planning and turned our door and windows, that lead out to the balcony, into a giant white board.  We listed all of our amis and marked when we taught them and the progress they are making.  It was awesome to the the progress we have made in the 5 weeks we have been together.  We had PEC with the branch and then called it a day.

Saturday and Sunday were great!  We had set seven rendez vous (untypical) but only 2 happened. (typical) We taught a young man that we met a month ago, Christonvie, and he really loved the restoration.  He accepted a soft baptismal invite.  That means after he prays and knows it's true he will be baptized...sweet! Later that night we taught Michael and his husband, Franck, yes you read that right.  It was different but turned out pretty good and we'll be going back this week.  Some of the highlights of this lesson were, a Dalmation, who was jumping all over us, a tortoise cage in the living room and a a bird that started flying laps around us and than landed on my freaked me out to say the least!  Church on Sunday was great and I'm loving the branch here.  There are 50 members that come every week and I've finally got most of their names down.  Luckily, you can always say, "Frere or Souer" if you need to.  Last night we had DMB and our branch mission leader talked about one of amis that the sisters are teaching.  She is about 85 and not really progressing but he said something that I really loved.  It's not just success if an ami makes it to baptism but you need to remember the work you're doing will have an eternal impact.  By bearing testimony to these people you are preparing them to receive the gospel.
Our White Board
Some of the meat & potatoes we fixed!
Our Senior Couple - Bro. & Sis. Piepgrass
Our Thanksgiving Pies!

The Souers and me!
 If not now then in the spirit world.  All this from bearing your testimony.  It was awesome and we are so lucky to have him work with us!

Overall, it was an awesome week.  The work is progressing and our amis are amazing and being prepared to accept the gospel.  Acceptance might come now or later but the testimony and spirit they feel will always stay with them.  Thanks for all of your love and prayers.  I love and miss you all and still can't believe it's December.  Have a great week!

Elder Player

Monday, November 25, 2013

Trains and Winter Rains

Bonjour!  I hope you are all having a great day.  This has been a great week in Rouen.  Full of great experiences and lots of talking to the people of France.

Last week after P-Day we went and taught a referral named Baptiste.  He's 21 years old and was referred to us by the Branch President.  We talked about the Book of Mormon and he asked us how the book had impacted our lives.  He is looking for peace in his life and we testified that is exactly what it's done for us. He took the book and promised to read it.  We are going back to talk to him tonight and I can't wait to see what he thinks.  We meet a women at the bus stop and had a 10 minute lesson, then got onto the bus to finish talking to her.  We are hoping to pass by this week and see her and her three kids.

Tuesday we took a train to Mantes la Jolie for our district meeting.  It takes about an hour each way but we made it back by 4 o'clock that evening.  On the way home we were sitting behind a young woman who turned around quickly and asked if we were Americans.  She is living with a host family and teaching English in the Junior High School.  She doesn't have very many English friends and she doesn't speak much French. The English kids she knows drink a ton and she doesn't do that.  We thought of a girl in our ward from America doing the same thing and asked if we could take her number so she could call.  They are going to hang out this week!  What a perfect way to introduce the gospel.  We had a crazy call form a woman named Manon who asked if we did baptisms.  "Yes, Yes!" we said.  She asked if she could set a date.  "Sure, we need to meet with you and teach you a little first but then we can set a date!"  We asked if it was for her and she said no it was for her daughter, Mince.  We asked how old she was and she said two!  Umm...we explained that we don't baptize until they are eight and asked if we could meet and talk more about that.  So, we are hoping to see Manon this week, also.

Wednesday we taught a less active.  It was awesome and we were able to give him a blessing and we read Elder Uchtdorf's talk, "Come Join with Us."  We'be been asked to always have this talk with us and share it with people, especially less actives.  I love it and would recommend it to all!  Then we taught an awesome lesson to Kalid who we met last Sunday.  He's a Muslim from Morocco but we taught him at the church and gave him a church tour.  We are meeting with him again this week!

Thursday we had no lessons or meetings so we decided to go porting.  The weather here is about 34 degrees F with high humidity so it feels a lot colder than home.  We spent 3 hours out porting and decided we'd do one more and then hop on the bus to head home.  The last door was opened by a women named Beatrice.  She is about 85 years old and she only opened the door about two inches with the security chain on.  We explained why we were there and started talking.  It came up that here husband had died 4 months ago.  They had been married for 65 years and she was awfully lonely.  We started talking about the Plan of Salvation and told her that she will see him again and they can be together again because of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Her eyes lit up!  As we continued to talk she told us to hold on and then came out a window by the front door onto the porch to hear more.  We talked for about 25 minutes.  We gave her a Book of Mormon to start reading and she was so happy to have one.  She said she had just finished a book so this was perfect.  We left her with a prayer and said we'd pray for her again that night.  She said, "Nobody has ever asked to pray for me.  Thank you!"  It was awesome to see the hope and the joy come into her eyes to hear that she and her husband can be together forever!  I'm so grateful for the Plan of Salvation, for eternal families and temples.

Friday and Saturday consisted of an exchange with the Elders in Manes la Jolie.  I spent the time with Elder Piere from Tahiti.  It was great and a good learning experience.  We helped another member move too.  We are getting pretty good at moving washers and dryers up narrow European stairs.

Sunday was our primary program.  It was awesome with our 12 children in the Branch.  There is no better way to feel the spirit than have young children talk and sing about Christ.  We had a less active come with her son.  Annabel and Daniel, who's 8.  We did some wallpapering for her a while ago.  They loved the program!

I can't believe that it's Thanksgiving this week and on Sunday it will be the 1st of December.  Be sure to tell me about your turkey dinners and Black Friday shopping experiences.  I miss you all, love hearing from you every week.  Everything is going great here.  Thanks for all your support.  It makes a huge difference.

Love you all...
Elder Player
Exchange with Elder Piere from Tahiti

Pain au chocolat aux mandes...Delicious

Another Moving Day!

Not a normal lunch but yummy
homemade steak and frites!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday, Miracles & Moving Day

The Seine....Brrr it's cold!
Bonjour!  It's hard to believe it's already Monday again.  I love reading how you are doing and sharing with you the work that is going on here in Rouen.  It's been a great week and we've seen the hand of the Lord in the work!

Last Monday evening we made our way to the church to have a rendez vous with Aboubacry.  We had met him contacting a few days earlier and given him a Book of Mormon.  We couldn't exchange numbers because he didn't have a phone so we set a time to meet at the church.  We had to meet the sister missionaries to get the key to the church because we only have one key between the four of us.  When we arrived they were a little bummed because one of their amis, with a baptismal date, had sent a text saying she didn't want to see them anymore.  So, while we were waiting for Aboubacry we got some hymn books and started to sing Christmas Carols outside the church.  Our church is right in centre-ville next to all the shopping so there are always people there.  One lady walked by and then circled around and came by again.  She stopped and crossed herself (Catholic Cross) so the sisters decided to go and talk to her.  We continued to sing.  The lady asked if we did this every night and suggested we should.  She loved it and could feel something.  The sisters asked if they could talk some more to her and tell her about what we believe.  She said, "Yes, and please come soon!"  To us it was a miracle.  Aboubacry didn't show up so we went to the metro to contact people on the way back.  While we waited for the metro Elder Cramer started talking to a women.  When the metro arrived we got on and a guy stopped me and asked if I could explain more about the book that I was holding - The Book of Mormon.  we sat down and talked about how it's helped me and how it gives me hope and faith in Jesus Christ.  He really liked what I was saying and asked if he could have or buy one.  So of course, I gave him one and set up a rendez vous for later in the week.  On the way home we found an artificial Christmas Tree in a garbage can so we took it back to our apartment. So, our Christmas tree is up...I'm taking it to a new level of early this year!!!

Tuesday we went to do a passback at a batiment.  Madame Dupont let us in to talk and we had an awesome lesson on the Plan of Salvation.  She'll be an awesome amis to give to the sisters!  Later we went out and did some porting.  All the buildings here have a box with buttons.  You push a button and see if someone will talk to you and they buzz you in.  We pushed a button, explained who we were and a lady buzzed us in.  We went up to the top to talk to her but when she opened the door she was shocked and said she couldn't hear us and she wasn't interested because was an atheist.  We asked some questions and nothing seemed to be working.  We got this prompting to ask if she'd had anyone recently who'd passed away.  She said, "Everyone in my family and I'm the only one left" and started to tear up.  We asked if we could pray and she said, "No, "I'm not ready." So we showed here and gave her a Plan of Salvation brochure and left.  That was a testimony of how important it is to follow the Spirit and what can happen.  I don't know if she'll read the brochure but I know she heard our testimonies and that's what she needed at that moment.  The Spirit is an amazing tool.  We try everyday to have it with us because people don't learn from us but only by the Spirit they can feel.

Wednesday and Thursday we gave service to a member, the Terreaux Family, who was moving.  We had to take the bus for 30 minutes and then it was a 25 km drive from there.  It was in the country and was absolutely gorgeous.  All the leaves are staring to change here.  We were in the mountains with cool old homes.  Something everyone should see when they come to France.  Over the next two days we made many trips, moving large dressers up and down tiny, steep, European stairs.  We stacked boxes in the attic, and evenhad a European pizza with delicious Normandy cheeses, like Coeur de Lion!  The highlight of the move was the large van he'd borrowed.  It was super old and the door wouldn't even shut because the hinges were rusted.  It worked, but late Thursday night the old van ran out of gas.  We pushed the van into a parking spot and got another car.  On our way home we were bummed because we'd missed our rendez vous with Bojaarden but guess who was in front of our apartment when we got there?  None other then Bojaarden and another man who we had contacted.  We set up a rendez vous for this week and he really likes what he's been reading. Another miracle!!!

Friday we had Zone Conference and had interviews with President Poznanski.  He is awesome and we are so lucky to have such an amazing mission president and mission mom.  Sadly, Soeur Poznanski could not make it this week.  We found another family with three kids and taught them.  We are hoping to have a family home evening with them this week!

Finally, on Sunday we had church and Orion said she'd come to church.   When sacrament meeting started there was no sign of Orion but right before the sacrament song she walked in.  It was the first time in 2 1/2 months the Elders have had someone here at church.  She loved it and hopefully will bring the girls next week.  The members were awesome and she even stayed after and sang in the choir for the Christmas program coming up.  It's been an awesome week and I can hardly wait to see what happens this coming week.  Also, I found out that Una, who Elder Eldredge and I found in Strombeek, was baptized this weekend.  That was awesome news.  I hope you all have a great week.  I love and miss you and love hearing how you're all doing.

Elder Player

Random Things from the Week:

Took a train to see Orion because we thought it'd be reality we learned high speed rail was slower because our train had a problem and was delayed.

Had my first religieuse pastry this week...was delicious!
French countryside - absolutely gorgeous!
Cool bridge for trains in Pavilly
Religieuse pastry...Delicious!
Elder Cramer and our Christmas Tree!
This is Una who was baptized this week!
Moving day - running out of gas!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Rouen, Rain, and Pastries!

Bonjour!  I hope you've all had a good week.  It's been another great week here in Rouen.  We've had a lot of awesome experiences.  Today is Armistice Day and so everything in France is closed.  Luckily, we found a little place to do emails that's close and was open.

Tuesday we had district meeting.  On week 2 it is a zone training with the Zone Leaders and AP's so they came up and talked to us.  It was all about having members be involved in missionary work and about being bold!  In Moroni 8:16 we learn what it means to be bold - to speak with perfect love for people and casteth out fear.  I know for me it can often be scary to contact someone or to follow a prompting but when you think about everything Christ has done for us out of love it makes you want to go forth with love for the people we teach -  knowing the blessings that can come from this gospel.  It was a great district meeting and our district, which is 6 Elders, will be awesome.  Later we had an appointment with a member.  We left a spiritual message and asked if there was anything we could do  for him.  He asked if we could give him a blessing to be guided on how to be a better missionary.  We asked who he wanted to give the blessing and he asked me.  I said yes.  Seriously, I have never had an experience like this before.  During the blessing I felt so much love for this man who I had just met earlier that week.  I could feel the love that Christ has for all of us.  It was a miracle that the blessing was coming out in French too!  I think one of the biggest things I've learned so far is that no matter what you do, no matter where you are, we are all God's children and he loves us!  To me that is amazing and gives me so much comfort.  He is always there for us and I know that if we pray and ask for something he will always give us an answer!

Wednesday we had a funny experience while contacting.  We met a man who said, "You won't find any success at this house but then're the mormons?"  We replied, "Yes".  He announced that he had seen us on "South Park" and was so excited to finally meet mormons in France at his house!  He asked if there was anywhere we needed to go and when we said the other side of the mountain he said he would give us a ride.  He was super nice and loved asking us questions.  He took a card to give to his friend and drove off.  We finished the night contacting and had dinner with a member family, the Fontaines.  It was super good!  On our way home we contacted two men.  They both asked  many questions.  So, Elder Cramer talked to one and I talked to the other.  I asked him if he liked to read...he said yes.  I asked if he liked history...he said yes and then I said, "I have the perfect book for you and pulled out the Book of Mormon. He said, "I've read that!"  Shocked I replied, "You've read the Livre de Mormon?"  He then told me that he had found a copy in the garbage can at the metro station about 4 years ago and read a lot of it and liked it! WOW!  So, we got his information and hope to talk to him more this week.  It's another example of a seed being planted years ago and hopefully seeing it bear fruit now.

Thursday and Friday we had lots of rain.  This is a normal daily occurrence.  I now have a nice large meter wide umbrella that keeps me nice and dry.  Elder Cramer has one too and we look pretty official when walking in the rain.  Thursday we gave service and did wallpaper again.  The women, who is less active, said she's coming to church next week.  She can see that people care and are good to her.  She has a son 8 years old too.  I had my first two pastries in Rouen and all I can say is "delicious!"  Pain au Chocolat aux mandes is one of the most delicious things I have ever had.  I highly recommend to all of you to try one.  It won't be the same in America but still good.  We had our Branch Counsel and Missionary Counsel meetings.  This branch is so excited and involved in missionary's amazing!

Saturday we did a ton of contacting.  We taught a few lessons on the street and even talked to a professor of theology, who is a lawyer and a Muslim....interesting to say the least.  Orion invited us to Marie-Orlande's 8th birthday party.  So, of course we went and a had a great time talking to Orion, the children and even talked with a lot of the people there and got some awesome contacts.  we are hoping to set a baptismal date this week.  I can't wait!  We met a Jehovah's Witness, who didn't want to argue, and he invited us to come back. That doesn't happen every day.

Sunday was great.  I'm finally understanding most of the French that is spoken here.  The people speak faster and different than they did in Belgium.  We finished the day with 4.5 hours of street contacting and met some cool people.  We taught on the street and gave out several Book of Mormons too.  With all of the contacting last week we've got an awesome week set up this week.  I'm sure we'll find more people who are prepared to receive the gospel!

Rouen is more beautiful every day.  I'm super lucky to get to serve here in an amazing place, with great members and so much potential for growth.  I hope you all have a great week and know that I miss you all! Thanks for all of your prayers and support.  I know the Lord hears them and blesses all the missionaries so thank you again!

Love...Elder Player
It's fall on the Seine River
Marie-Orlande making a birthday wish!

Looking at the fair across the
Seine River - which runs through the city
Rainy days with our new

Huge cathedral by our church

Monday, November 4, 2013

Bienvenue a Rouen!

Welcome to Rouen
Sunny day in Rouen
Centre Ville de Rouen
In memory of Joan of Arc
My new companion - Elder Cramer
Joan of Arc Cathedral

This is where Joan of Arc
was burnt at the stake
Last Tuesday was a tough day in Brussels.  After packing and getting ready for my transfer the next day we went to say goodbye to Kingsley and Marsella.  Marsella wasn't there but I left a picture and explained that I was leaving for a new area.  They were pretty shocked, since I've been there so long, but I know that Elder Eldredge and his new companion will take good care of them.  Then we went to see Sylvestre and Elana.  As we walked in the door Sylvestre asked right away, "What's the news?"  I replied, "I'm off to Rouen!"  He asked why they take us away so fast and was not happy about the news.  Eleana fixed us a delicious dinner and then I said my goodbyes...not too fun.  I told them we'll stay in contact for sure.

Wednesday was the big day....Transfer day!  We woke up early to catch our train to Paris at 7:13.  We made our way to Saint Marie and I waited for my new companion.  I got to see tons of people from my group at the MTC.  It has been months since I've seen them and it was fun to catch up with them and talk to the new missionaries, who were waiting to see who their trainer was!  Finally, I met Elder Cramer.  He is awesome, from Sandy, Utah and went to Brighton High School.  I'm excited to work with him for the next little while.  We talked for a bit, grabbed a delicious French baguette for lunch and then we were off to Rouen.  We arrived in Rouen and went straight to Frere Andersons house for a Young Men's Activity.  I still had my luggage with me and I can tell you my luggage was super heavy!  After the activity we made our way to our apartment and I must say it is quite the change from our apartment in Strombeek.   We finished the night by doing a little tour of the city and contacting.  I'm in one of the prettiest places ever!  France is sure different from Belgium.  It is full of awesome old architecture, cathedrals and lots of pastries everywhere!

Thursday was the first full day here and we were off to work.  During the afternoon we went and did service for a less active amis and pulled wall paper down and then put new wall paper back up.  It turned out pretty good!  We did some porting to finish the day and talked to a lot of people.  But no one really seemed interested.

Friday and Saturday that changed a lot!  On Friday I met our Branch Mission Leader and he is awesome! We skyped with the Branch President and had a great meeting.  They are so excited and involved in the work here in Rouen.  It is awesome!  I know with the help of them we can find a family before Christmas to be baptized.  Even more!  When I first got here Elder Cramer said, "We will be doing a  lot of finding because they really haven't had very many amis or potentials.  First thing on Saturday morning we were out contacting in Centre-Ville and we met some amazing people.  The first lady we contacted was Noticia.  She has two girls, age l1 and 12.  We asked if she would talk to us for 5 or 10 minutes and she said yes!  We looked at each other in shock and said, "We'll be right over.  We taught a lot of the restoration and gave them all Book of Mormons.  As she read the intro you could see that it was touching her.  We finished by asking if one of them would say a closing prayer.  One of the girls asked, "What is a prayer?"  We explained to her about prayer and then she said a very simple first prayer.  You could see how happy she was after that!  I'm excited to teach them again tonight and see how they are doing on their reading.  As the day continued we continued to have more success.  We found two other families and in the next 3 hours set up some rendez-vous for the weekend and this week.  Elder Cramer and I agreed it was one of the best days of our mission so far!

Yesterday was my first Sunday here.  It was all in French.  In Brussels there was always English of some sort but now, "no games".  Rouen is a branch with about 50-60 members.  But with all the people who are ready to hear the gospel that won't last for long.  Church was filled with introductions, talking with people and singing in the choir.  During the second hour, Sunday School, the Branch President taught.  The lesson was about our goal to find and baptize a family before Christmas and the member are going to find a family too. It was cool to see how involved they are and how much they want for us to succeed!  After church we went contacting and had an awesome lesson with one of the families we met on Friday.  We taught her the next day, Saturday, and she had already researched everything about us. by Sunday.  She was asking questions about the Word of Wisdom, Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon and even Chastity.  It was so amazing.  After watching the restoration video we were about to bring up the Book of Mormon and bam!  She said, "Is there someway I can get that book?"  We pulled one out of our bag and gave it to her.  She has been searching for a church for years but has never found one.  I think she has now and I can't wait to continue teaching her and her children.  Marvine is is 14 and Marie-Orlande will be 8 on November 9th.

Today we were able to go see where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, do some grocery shopping in Centre-Ville and grab a pastry.  Now we're off to teach Noticia and her girls.  I'm so excited to be here in Rouen and to see the miracles come.  There are people here waiting for the gospel and I know we are here to find them and bring them to Christ.  Thanks for all your support and love from back home.  I hope you all have a great week!

Love - Elder Player

Bedroom in Rouen
Work space in Rouen

Kitchen in Rouen