Monday, July 29, 2013

Paris, Pouring Rain and Preaching - Week 11

Cathedral de Notre Dame in Brussels
Reading the Book of Mormon
Chris and me at the 4 hour BBQ
Preaching the "good news" from the top of a catholic church
4 good-looking Elders in Belgium
Good Graffiti
The Basilique - 3rd largest church in the world?
View from our Apartment
This week has been crazy and very busy but another great week with so much that I've learned.

Last Monday we went sight seeing and saw three huge churches.  We went to the top of the Basilique by our house and saw the Belgique style Arc de Triomphe.  There is a really cool car museum that we would like to see on another P-day,

Tuesday we had an amazing district meeting.  We read a journal entry by Scott Anderson.  He poses the questions, "Do we really know what we have with the gospel?"  The gospel blesses our lives more than we can comprehend and there are so many people that are longing to find it.  After I read the article it made me think and realize how often we take the gospel for granted!  We had another rendezvous with Bogaert and his cleaning lady that went very well.  Bogaert even made us hot cocoa and fresh bread!

Thursday was a big day.  After making invitations for Nosa's baptism and going over the interview questions and teaching him everything, it was obvious he was ready.  We talked to the Zone Leaders and they gave us the OK.  Nosa was moving an hour away by train (out of area) and was super stressed.  His wife is pregnant and being induced today (Monday) and so we decided to pray about the decision to baptize him now or wait for him to be baptized in his new area.  We prayed, slept on it and decided Thursday morning that it didn't matter what we wanted but we needed to do what was best for him and his family.  After talking to him we decided that it would be better for his wife to finish all the lessons and better for him to get moved and be baptized there in the new area.  It was no easy decision but we instantly felt peace after we made it and called the other Elders in Hasselt.  We went and taught the family that night and they are so excited and ready.  So, hopefully in a few weeks I'll get a picture from the other Elders at their baptism and send it your way.  It was like saying goodbye to our kids.  I know that they will be sealed in the temple one day and I know it was the right decision.  After making that hard decision that morning we went out contacting.  We saw a man and contacted him.  He gave us his number and then another lady did the same thing.  Later that night, after a lesson, we were approached by a Bulgarian and slowly all his friends joined us and wanted to hear more.  We went through all our pamphlets fast!  They offered to take us to Bulgaria and told us everyone there would love to hear this message!

Friday we were on our way to Paris.  We were up at 5:30 a.m. to catch the train.  It only takes an hour and 22 minutes to get there by high speed train.  We had training from the AP's and President and Soeur Poznanski and it was great to see Elders and Sisters newly arrived from the MTC.  At OFII all the rumors of an awful in depth physical were false and so it wasn't so bad.  As they went to stamp my passport I noticed the numbers were wrong so I have to go back next week to pick up the stamp.  Maybe I can see the Eiffel Tower while I'm there.  I haven't seen much of Paris but I sure love it!  On the train ride home we were delayed.  A tree was hit by lightening and took down the high speed line.  So it took us 4.5 hours to get home.  It was about 10:30 p.m. by the time we arrived in Brussels.  Long day!

Saturday we woke up to pouring rain, lightning and thunder that continued to go on for most of the day and night.  At least it was cool.  We taught the man we ran into Thursday morning.  His name is Manuel and he's so prepared!  He had researched the church and said he wanted three things.  A church that was a lifestyle church...check!  A church centered on Jesus Christ...check!  A church with the power that the apostles of old had...check!  Amazing lesson and we hope to teach him again this week.

Sunday we had 4 amis at church!  Awesome!  Out of the  4 we had 3 different languages - English, Spanish and French.  Crazy!  We had dinner with a member family and they served us American BACON!  So delicious!  I've learned how great America really is and how blessed as a nation we are!

I love Belgium and the people here are so amazing and so prepared to hear the gospel.  I hope you all have a great week and reflect on how blessed we are with the gospel in our lives!
Nosa and his family with me
Belgium's Arc de Triomphe

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

BBQ's, BMW's and a Baptism

Our Zone with the Okelberries
Sunset at Basilique
We are holding up our fingers to signify how many transfers we have had
Elder Davis, me and Papy
Weird to be wearing "normal clothes" .  We were cleaning a sisters home!
July 22, 2013

Last Monday was a very productive Soldes day (shopping).  It included 4 new skinny ties and a new small bag.  I'm going European!

This week has been filled with lots of porting (knocking on doors) and lessons that fell through.  But none the less it has been a great week!

On Tuesday we had a lesson with Bogaert.  He's the older gentleman who learned all his English from American movies.  He said he's not really interested but if we ever want to talk or need a drink to be sure to come by.  He loves us!  He said the young lady who cleans his house every Tuesday saw our card and pamphlet that we gave to him and she wanted to know if we could get her a Book of Mormon in her language-Portuguese.  There are so many languages here it is crazy!  We were lucky to go the Wells family for dinner.  We had some delicious pulled pork sandwiches and had chocolate fondue for desert.  They gave us root beer, peanut butter and jam to take home.  They have access to the US Base and these are things that we can't get.  Delicious!!!

Wednesday we had another lesson with Nosa (used to be Mosa).  He's moving out of our area and mission. We left pretty sad that the baptism probably won't happen for us but we still had hope.  We also taught Kingsley and Marsella on the Law of Chastity.  Then they brought up tithing and the Word of Wisdom so it was quite a lesson.  They agreed with it all and they want to get married.  So, our next plan is to figure out what is needed to get them married.  Here in Europe you can't have the bishop marry people, only the government can do it and it can be pretty expensive and difficult.  Hopefully, we can have a wedding so that they can be baptized.  They want to be baptized so bad and they said to us, "The best thing we could have at our wedding would be you two!"  We always leave their home with a smile.  The Smith family had us to dinner and they had tacos, fruit and homemade lemon ice cream. The members here are so awesome and I've decided they run the world.  Most of them work for NATO, the European Union and other private companies.  Brother Smith makes sensors for iphones and photo finishes for horse races.  It's awesome to get to know them and hear how they got to where they are.  This week our awesome senior couple left too. The Okelberry's were great and have done so much for us here!

On Thursday and Friday we went to clean an older sister's home.   All 6 of us ifromStrombeek went and helped.  When we were done it was soooo clean.

Friday we had one of the Sisters call asking us for a blessing.  She wanted to feel peace in their new home and life. The blessing was really good and the spirit was strong.  She said she instantly was filled with warmth and felt better.  The Priesthood is amazing!  We went to the park, by our apartment, and saw some of our "amis" and they called us over.  Papy and Toto had told us if anyone ever gives us trouble they have our backs.  Papy had an artist come out and draw a picture of us with him and then he gave it to us as a present.

On Saturday the Sisters had a baptism for Doris!  We took Kingsley and Marsella to it and they loved it. After we went to a rendez-vous at the park.  The guy didn't show so we called him and he invited us to a BBQ.  When the table and grill weren't even put together yet we knew it was going to be a long BBQ.  We put it together and got to know them and their friends.  We had fish, shrimp, chicken, lots of African food and some Algerian cake.  It lasted for 4 hours.  We are going to visit them this week and one of the friends had a 3 year old who absolutely loved us.  His name is Chris.

Sunday, Doris received the Holy Ghost and I got to be in the circle.  That was awesome and Nosa came to church with a friend.  We taught him and his friend about the Word of Wisdom.  We called the Zone Leaders when we got home to refer Nosa to the other mission but they said we could do the baptism if we moved it up a day.  So, Nosa is being baptized this coming Saturday and confirmed on Sunday!!!  Talk about being super excited.  We were going crazy!  In 5 weeks we have met Nosa, taught him and now he'll be baptized.  He's amazing and so ready.

I've learned this week there are three things that can make you happy no matter what happens or how many lessons fall through.  LOVE!  Love where you are.  Love what you're doing and love the people around you.
You'll always be happy if you do those 3 things.  I'm super excited for this week and I love Belgium and my mission.

Have a great week and know that I love and miss you all.  Belgium is great and the Church is true!

Chicken and Shrimp at the BBQ

Monday, July 15, 2013

Week 9, 2 month Mark & a Baptismal Date

Looking at the park, down the street, from our apartment
The Biggest Church in Belgium

Elder Wilson and me

It's been another great week in Brussels.

Last Monday we went shopping and got our Father and Son ties.  My trainer is my Father (missionary lingo) and now we have matching ties from Celio.  We went to Fnac, which is like a Best Buy and Barnes and Noble in one, and then went to teach Adalbert.  It feel through so we called Boni to see if we could teach him.  The lesson didn't go well.  we found out he is a Jehovah's witness and a firm believer.  He wanted to Bible bash, which kills the spirit instantly and you accomplish nothing.

Tuesday we had District meeting and then our amis Andrew was supposed to meet us in the park but was a "no show".  We had a lesson with Mosa and Emerson that evening.  The spirit was strong as we taught.  We asked them both for baptismal dates but they wouldn't commit.  Mosa said he had to find a place for his family to live but said he would think about it.  We taught the Antonio Family - a husband, wife and 8 year old son.  It went well but they are on vacation till today.  We'll try to follow up again this week with them.  They were going to read the Book of Mormon that night.  On the way home we went a different way and ran into Andrew.  We were able to teach him right there!  It's amazing how the Lord puts people in your path!.

Wednesday we did tons of area book work and taught Kingsley and Marsella again.  We found out as we were asking about baptism that they aren't legally married.  They are planning that in a couple of years.  Maybe we will become wedding planners and help it happen sooner.

Thursday we had a few lessons fall through, which is frustrating, but we got to teach Mosa.  Our prayers were answered and he had found an apartment and so with the spirit very strong we asked if he'd accept a baptismal date.  HE DID!  July 28th!!  So exciting.   We were giddy and happy.

On Friday we met a man named Bogart who learned English and wanted to talk.  He invited us in and gave us energy drinks since he was out of Coke.  Elder Davis had never had one and he was pretty wired - pretty funny!

Saturday we cleaned out an old Elders apartment which was on the 5th floor.  We carried tons of stuff, even washers and dryers, down narrow European Stairs. Then we helped the Sisters move into their new apartment, which had an elevator - YAY!  We treated ourselves to McDonalds and it was the best Big Mac, Coke and Fries I've ever had!  We have a senior couple here and they are so awesome.  They help us a ton.  They are from Twinfalls and own a potato farm.  Sadly, they are leaving next week to go back home.

Sunday was great.  We had Mosa and his wife (who's 8 1/2 months pregnant) and their daughter come to church.  We picked up Marsella, who only speaks Spanish.  It was an interesting train ride with lot of "Si" and "Buenos".  Luckily a member translated for us at church and she loved it!

Hope you all have a great week.  Love you all!  Here is my quote for the week:  "We live at a time in the world's history when there are many challenges but also great opportunities and reasons for rejoicing.  There are, of course, those times when we experience disappointments, heartaches and even tragedies in our lives,  However, if we put our trust in the Lord, He will help us through our difficulties, whatever they may be."
President Thomas S. Monson
Waiting for the Metro

Monday, July 8, 2013

Week 8 - Miracles in Brussels!

This week has been another great week.  Since there is no celebration in Belgium for the 4th of July we had our own.  We "pledged Allegiance" to the flag and ate on American Flag plates.  During our pledging we heard water running and went into the kitchen to check it out.  The whole kitchen was flooded because the sink backed up.  We spent most of the morning mopping, cleaning up the mess and getting a plumber in to fix it.

After emailing last Monday we were off the see the city and do some shopping.  I had my first Belgian Waffle covered in Nutella - Yum!  We went and saw the Grand Place and Manican Piss - suppossedly a huge it.  There is a huge mall here and everything is on sale for summer soldes!  They only listen to Amerian music so it felt like I was shopping in America with European clothes.  (They have skinny ties here so I had to get a couple to blend in!)  After, we had a lesson with Adalbert.  It took us an hour to get there and on our way we had a man stop us and say, "I want to talk to you".  We told him we would call him later.  Adalbert gave us cokes and the whole shebang and than we started talking.  We had given him a Book of Mormon and challenged him to read the intro.  He had read the intro and all the testimonies and highlighted it.  He had questions that we tried to answer as best we could.  So cool!  We taught about the restoration and how the Church has been restored in these latter days.  I did the first vision for the first time in France and it was so amazing and the spirit was so strong.  Adalbert's nephew came in later and listened too and said he knew that what we were saying was true because we were the proof and he could feel something.  Adalbert walked us to the bus stop, which was different than the one we had used to get there, but we still made it home eventually.  We called the man, Mosa, who stopped us on the way to Adalbert's and he said he knew we were messengers of God and he needed to make time for us because this was a great  opportunity for him. I've heard stories like this but had no idea it would happen to me.  People are truly being prepared!

Tuesday we had dinner with an American Family.  They are the Curtis family and are related to people in my ward back in SLC, Utah.  Small world!  We had pizza hut - delicious!  After dinner our appointment fell through and we only had an hour so we said a little prayer and asked where we should go.  I felt like we should check on one of our "amis", Phillipe, and see how he was doing.  After two rings nobody answered but than somebody in the same apartment, who lives with Phillipe, said, "come on up".  We met Kingsley and Marsella, a married couple from Nigeria and Spain.  Phillipe had told them about us and they wanted to talk to us.  We gave them a Book of Mormon and taught them three times during the week.  They both said they have felt the spirit and know that Joseph Smith is a prophet and know that this is true.  They want to be baptized but need time to get ready.  Last night we challenged them to not smoke for three days and they both accepted.  He speaks English and she only speaks Spanish so we are teaching in 3 languages now.  The crazy thing is we can understand her quite a bit.  I'm telling you the gift of tongues is true.

On Wednesday we had a district meeting and a mini-Zone conference.  On Thursday we celebrated a little for the fourth and then went and met with Mosa again.  He had invited a friend, Emerson, and than the next lesson he invited another friend, Cedarik.  He's already a good missionary.  Mosa even came to church this week and loved it.  He wants to come again next week and bring his daughter.  They all accepted a baptismal date, meaning if they receive an answer they will be baptized.  Mosa speaks English and Emerson and Cedarik speak French.  So Mosa said, "Elder Player you teach me.  Elder Davis you teach them."  So,we teach in opposite corners.  Amazing!

I love it here and it still shocks me when I think, "Wow!  I'm on a mission - in Belgium."  All those stories of people being prepared or miracles happening are really true.  I know it will all my heart.  Christ and God live and  my testimony is growing stronger every day.  The people here have extreme faith in the Lord.  Have a great week and remember I love hearing from you and love you all so much.  Here are a few quotes I found this week.

"Though the expanse of continents or oceans may separate us, hearts are as one."  President Thomas S. Monson

"It is true intelligence for a man to take a subject that is mysterious and great in itself, and to unfold and simplify it so that a child can understand it."  President John Taylor

PS...Yesterday at testimony meeting a young boy said, "I know God said no smoking because it kills you, Amen.
My first Belgium Waffle - Yum!
The Grand Place - Beautiful!
Shopping - Summer Soldes
Our Apartment
Our Batahroom
Pizza Pate
Elder Davis and me
Pledging Allegiance to the Flag on the 4th of July

Manican Piss

Monday, July 1, 2013

Oui Je Suis Dans Belgium! Semaine 7 (Yes, I am in Belgium! Week 7)

The Mission President, His Wife and me!
Eating Chinese Food in Paris! Crazy!
Finding out my new companion, Elder Davis
Hey everyone!  I made it to Paris and now Belgium!

Monday and Tuesday were days full of traveling.  Plane food was not so great but the 10 hour flight wasn't bad at all.  People thought I was funny using the face mask and earplugs but it helped me get a couple of hours of sleep!

After we arrived we picked up our luggage, exchanged our currency and then met our Mission President on the curb.  With fresh "Pain au chocolate" we found out we would be going to the metro, which is 100 times crazier than any subway in New York, and started contacting.  Elder Rigsby and I contacted a man on the subway and had a 40 minute conversation with him as we made our way into the city.  He took our card but was shocked there were missionaries in France and asked us if we knew the history of France?

We then made our way to the church in central Paris known as Saint Mary. (picture of us in front of the church in blog last week)  It is the 2nd most expensive property the church owns in the world!  It has secret passages, chains in the basement and is used as a chapel and visitor center.   We all so tired and tried hard not to fall asleep as they told us about the church.

Next we had interviews, chinese food and then the Soeurs went to the mission home and the Elders went to a hotel to sleep.  I was asleep in minutes!

Wednesday we work up and had some fresh baguettes and pastries at the hotel and then made our way to Consecration Hill, or Saint Germaine, where you commit yourself to the "work" and set your goals,  It looks over the city of Paris and was absolutely gorgeous.  We made our way back to Saint Mary to find out where we were going and who our new companion would be.  We had a little extra time so we stopped at Notre Dame - oh the perks of being in Paris!

My new companion and trainer is Elder Davis from Seattle, Washington.  He's been out since December and will be great.  We get along and he'll be a great companion to get started.  We found our area is Strombeek or Brussels, Belgium!  We are opening a new companionship here so we have not investigators, no lessons and an empty area book.  On top of that I'm a bleu (or greenie).  We are living in a brand new apartment with 2 other Elders - 1 is the District Leader.  They were putting together furniture as we arrived.  It's a great apartment, known as the mansion, and right by a park..  That night we scavenged for food and had 30 minutes to get to the know the area before we were due back.  We ran into a man, Zack, and he was interested and so we taught him a lesson right there on the street.  We got a "follow up" so that was cool!

Thursday, Friday and Saturday consisted of lots of contacting since we didn't have any appointments.  There are lots of African-Americans here and I love them!  They are so believing and as soon as you mention Jesus they love you too!  We found 11 people on Thursday - all African-Americans.  The French just put up there hand and say, "I don't believe", or "I don't have time" or walk by without saying anything.

On Friday we had another "8:55" miracle with a man named Phillipe.  After lots of rain, bible bashing, and Muslims that we can't really talk to it was amazing how the Lord put Phillipe in our path.  I know as we work hard and are obedient we will be lead to those people that want to hear the gospel.

Saturday we taught two lessons in peoples homes.  It's amazing how small their places are and how humble they are.  Finally, after hours of contacting I decided I needed a coke and a "Pain au Chocolate".  It was the most delicious coke I have ever had!

Sunday are different here.  Belgium is known as "the melting pot of the world" for languages.  Most people speak English, which makes learning French hard, but is cool to be able to participate more.  I'd say its about 50% French and 50% English.  Our ward is full of people who work for the European Union and NATO.  For 3 hours I introduced myself first in English and then in French.  The church is a real church building, which is rare, and is really nice.  There were probably 80 to 100 people at church.  We also taught Phillipe again too!

Today is PDay.  We had studies, cleaning and went shopping for groceries.  We are going to go eat at the Grand Complace after shopping.  It's "Soldes" here right now so everything is a killer deal - 10 ties for 15 euros, sweet!  We had 2 missed calles fom Amis today.  Adalbert, who asked for a Book of Mormon and then called and said, "Me and my family will be home tonight and want you to come teach us the word of God."

It's been a busy few days but I can already see miracles and feel the spirit.  Can't wait for the weeks ahead!  I hope you all have a great 4th of July - we'll be celebrating here too!  Love hearing from all of you.  Here is my address in Belgium:

Les Missionaires
Elder Chase Player
11, Ave des Gloires Nationales
1081 Koekelberg

Supposedly it takes about 7 days for something to get here.  Thanks for all of your love and support!  Till next week...

Elder Player

Notre Dame