Tuesday, August 27, 2013

End of the World Conference

This week has been another great week here in Brussels.  We had some fun and interesting things happen.

Last Monday after emailing and shopping we made our way to the Atonium.  It's so close and we wanted to get some pictures.  We had our usual frites (fries) and got patches at the Grand Place.  A lot of missionaries get patches in each of their areas they serve in.

Tuesday we had our usual couple of "no shows" but we had a great district meeting.  During the meeting a family we ported on exchanges a couple of weeks ago called and asked if we could meet with them later that evening.  They are the Sonal family and have 2 children.  They are interested in finding a church that is family friendly.  I think we fit into that category.  We learned that Henri, the dad, has a PhD in BioChem and works in Chicago doing research.  He is here in Brussels most of the time and they all speak French, Dutch and English.  We are hoping to teach them again this week and they said they would read in the Book of Mormon's we gave them.  After that we went and taught another family we met just walking to the metro last week.  They have 2 children that are super cute and are from Romania.  They speak French but were so excited when we said we could get them a Book of Mormon in Romanian.  They seem super interested and were awesome to teach.  Their children are 3 and 8 months old.  We taught them again on Saturday and they had us skype his dad who lives in the Ukraine because he liked Moroni 10:3-5 so much.

   Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.  And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.  And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

I love that scripture!  we finished the night by teaching Kingsley and Marsella.  We got to know them better and found out that Kingsley is actually a prince because his father is a king in Africa.  We asked him how many people he was a king over and he said about 100,000.  Pretty impressive!  We came home and baked a cake out of a cake mix that Elder Davis was sent for his birthday.  We made frosting out of nutella, speculos and chocolate frosting.  Not very healthy but delicious.

Wednesday we decided to try something different to reach people.  We put on our street clothes and offered to do service.  We knocked on doors and said, "We are here as missionaries for our church and are here to give service."  We explained it was free.  We thought people would jump on that, but not so many.  One lady, named Jozey, took us up on it.  She was older and a widow.  She had started to paint the back of her patio but never finished it.  We spent three hours and finished it up.  She was so happy.  She didn't even know our names but hopefully she will look at the contact card we left on the table.  You never know.  After a day of "knocking and talking" we had dinner with the Curtis family.  They have such smart children and it's so fun to be around a young family.  Best of all, we ate well!

Thursday was a bit tough but we made it fun.  During lunch we had a balloon from Elder Davis' birthday box. We made a big water balloon.  It was great and, don't worry, nobody was injured!  After a long day we had a miracle.  I called Nosa to check up on him and he told us he has a baptismal date for next Sunday!!!  We were so happy and left that night to do street contacting with a lot of energy.

Friday we went to lunch with Frere Fracken again.  We had tons of food...salad, main course, dessert and a drink.  He insists and always has good stories to share.  He even gave us advice on marriage.  We had a lesson that night with a family in the ward that is preparing to go to the temple.  We did a family home evening with them and made chocolate chip cookies.  We talked a bout temples and sang.  It was super fun and I've never seen two dozen cookies disappear so fast!  I cut my own hair again (something I said I would never do) and I didn't butcher it, phew!

The weekend was good and quite entertaining.  Saturday we were invited to a conference for the "end of the world" by a friend.  Hoping he'd come to church we went to his conference.  It was at a very nice hotel.  Upon arrival they escorted us up to the front.  10 priests from different countries spoke and took questions at the end.  We were the only two white people there.  During intermission they asked up to speak about what our church believed.  They loved that we came to their conference.  On Sunday, the Sylvestre family came to church and Kingsley and Marsella.  It was a great meeting and after, Sylvestre asked if we could teach them again really soon!  He brought his nephew that is 22 and we are going to start teaching him too. We had dinner with the Glover family.  It is always fun to hear their stories about their missions and how they met.  He's an accountant at Deloitte so I had fun asking questions about that.

This week we have our zone conference.  Tonight we have interviews with President and Soeur Poznanski with zone conference on Tuesday.  It should be a great week with vacances (vacations) ending and our new families we are teaching.  I know we will see more miracles happen.  I'm so grateful for all you and all that you do for me.  Thanks for your example and support.  I hope you all have a great week, whether at Snowbird, school or at work!

Elder Player
The Grand Place
The Atonium

Elder Wilson and Elder Wood with our
birthday balloon!
End of the World Conference
Our Amis and a Priest

Monday, August 19, 2013

Week 14 - Vacance, Members and 3 Month Mark

Bonjour Toute le Monde...

Another week in Bruxelles and my 3 month mark.  We heard a lot of, "We'll be back in a couple of weeks?" but it's still great to be a missionary!

After shopping last Monday we went to a row of high end shops.  Tiffany's, Louis Vuitton, Hugo Boss, etc. It was crazy, since we couldn't afford any of it, but they treated us like we could, which was fun.  We grabbed a Kebap on our way home with some frites and were off teaching for the night.  We taught the Johnson family.  Once again he had food for us, even though we know they can't afford it.  He had been in the hospital earlier that day but was still taking care of us.  Amazing!  With our durums and soda we were off to our next lesson with Kingsley and Marsella.  We used a story from the Ensign about going forward with faith even when you might not receive an answer.  Heavenly Father will always step in and guide us when we most need it.  They liked it and realized that they need to move forward with faith and do their part.  That was great to hear.

Tuesday we had a lesson with Bithos, who has a book that is coming out in a few weeks, titled, "Le Dieu de Mon Pere".  (The God of my father)  He was really interested and has 3 children who are on vacation.  He took a Book of Mormon and when we talked to him later this week he said he'd read a lot of it and had questions.  Hopefully, we'll talk to him more this week!  We had the usual tombes vour, or fall through appointments, but we had dinner with the Hatch Family that made up for it.  Brother Hatch works for Nato and is the controller for the national missile defense sector for America - Ya, crazy!  As we were driving from the metro to his house he asked, "Have you been here before?"  We replied, "No."  He told us he lived in a chateaux.  It was amazing!  It has a lake, private road and lots of property.  The government owns it and they live in it.  Sounds like a good deal to me!

Wednesday we received a call and were asked to go give a blessing to Brother Johnson.  He still wasn't feeling good and they were leaving for Switzerland that night.  I gave my first blessing and it was awesome! I'm so thankful for the priesthood and the power it has.  After that, we went contacting with a priest in the ward.  His name is Raphael Wendo and he is 16.  Both of our appointments had fallen through so we knocked on doors.  Kurt, another priest went out with us this week too.  The priests here are awesome and we hope we can help them want to serve missions.  Who knows how many lives these 2 missionaries will change.

Thursday was quite uneventful and everything fell through.  People here go on vacance until the middle of September so it's hard to catch them home.  We had an awesome district meeting about acting on promptings of the spirit.  Never question if you get a feeling to talk to someone.  We've been working on that this week!  On our way home, the bus got stuck in traffic because of a car accident.  We ended up walking back and it took about an hour.  Thank heavens it wasn't raining.

Friday was our first time with Frere Fracken.  Frere Fracken is a member and a retired Belgian marine.  He lost his arm in a helicopter accident.  He's taking us out to lunch every week and always has some great stories to tell.  The rest of the day was contacting and then a lesson with Kingsley and Marsella.

Saturday and Sunday involved a church tour, dinner with a member family and two referrals from them for family in Paris and London.  We gave a Book of Mormon to her.  They fed us a great dinner of fried rice with squid, fish and something else I couldn't identify.  It was amazing.  Church was great and I've come to realize what an awesome ward we have.  It's different, having two plus languages, but everyone is great and the families are so fun to be around.

Elder Davis and I have watched people carefully this week and have asked, "Do these people look happy?"
It's sad to see that many of them do not.  I know the gospel can give you that happiness and light in your eyes.  The gospel is so amazing and I'm so grateful to have it in my life!

Today we are off to see the Royal Palace and next week we are planning on going to a chocolate factory. Thanks you all for your letters and emails.  I love hearing what's going on in your lives.

Some quick facts...
$5.06 for a gallon of gas
We can shop for a week for four of us on 80 Euros ($107)
McDonalds and Quick are the only fast food places here

Till next week...

Love, Elder Player
The Hatch Family Chateau
BMW of Brussels

Frere Fracken and me - he takes us to lunch every week!
Raphel, Elder Davis and me with our BOM's.
He's a 16 year old priest in our ward

Monday, August 12, 2013

Bruxelles, Eiffel Tower and Lessons in a Day!

Last Monday we went to see Auto World.  It was awesome and had cars from the beginning of time, including the chariot that took Napoleon to his wedding, to current day Lamborghinis.  As we were leaving the car show we heard someone yell, "Elders!"  We turned around and it was a couple from Canada doing a European Tour.  They were in Brussels for the day and were members and wanted to talk to us.  We had a nice visit and said goodbye.  After we started to walk away he called again and said. "Go buy something on us today!"  He gave us a 50 euro note.  That made our day and is honestly a miracle over here from what we've heard!  We had a nice lunch at a cafe, it paid for the car show and bought us lunch in Paris on Friday.  Sweet!!!!
Our 50 Euro note from the Canadian Couple

Arc de Trimophe

Eiffel Tower in Paris

The Seine River

Tuesday we decided to try some new finding ways so we went hospital hopping.  We went around to different hospitals to see if we could put our name on a list for someone who wanted a blessing or religious help.  I guess nobody does that here but it was still a good experience and now we know where the nice hospitals are!  We came upon the Royal Palace while traveling and the "5th Avenue of Brussels" so that's what we'll check out next Monday.  That night we had 3 lessons and a dinner appointment with the Vulz family from Germany.  It was delicious!  Our last appointment was with Tereza, who cleans Bogaerts house, and we got to meet her husband!  They live in a very nice place and her husband, Vincent, is a policeman here.  We left them with the Book of Mormon and said we'd come back and talk more about how we received this book.  They said yes that they would start reading and to come back Saturday night for dinner.  Oh ya, we jumped at that!

Wednesday was raining all day.  We've learned that when that happens people don't go outside except us. All of our African investigators go into hibernation and cancel appointments too.  Not sure why but it happens every time it rains.  We had an awesome lesson that night with a man who we talked to on the Metro.  Emmanuel is married with 3 kids.  The discussion was going great and then while talking about the role of Jesus Christ  I thought I was saying, "he was born for us"  but I guess I said "Jesus was naked for us!" Quite embarrassing but we all laughed and moved on quickly.

Thursday was DMP meeting and we met with Kingsley and Marsella.  They're great but just aren't doing anything to get married or find an apartment.  It's disappointing because we can't keep teaching them if they stop progressing.  We're praying for them every day!

Friday was very exciting!  We had to go back to Paris to get the correct stamp to validate my Visa.  We weren't sure how long it would take so we got tickets to get there about 9:30 and come back to Brussels at 4:30.  We woke up and had our run around the park and then were off.  We made excellent time and were done by 11:00 with the Visa so we had time to see the Eiffel Tower and some of Paris.  First we went to the Eiffel Tower, which did not disappoint, and I was super excited to see!  It is so big!  We left right before the bomb threat, when they had to evacuate everyone, so we were lucky!  We made our way to the Royal Palais that is by the big opera and has views of the Eiffel Tower.  We walked down the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe.  They have an eight lane roundabout that was crazy - it's an accident waiting to happen.  The Champs Elysees has some of the biggest brand names in the world so we did some window shopping.  It was awesome and Elder Davis even got some cologne for his birthday.  We made our way back to the train station.  We got a sandwich and chocolate croissant and headed for home.  That night we had a lesson with Nicholas and Patience and their daughter.  They had lots of questions but laughed at the Joseph Smith story.  It broke our hearts but we bore our testimony's and I think it's the strongest testimony I've ever born.  I said simply, "If you read this book you can know it's true!"  They accepted to read and I really think they will receive an answer.  It was great!  So in 16 hours we were in two countries, I became legal, we saw some of Paris and taught a lesson.  Great Day!

Saturday included teaching Bogaert and watching the restoration  on his Big Screen TV, that was huge and had surround sound.  It really got the point across!  That night we had our dinner appointment with Tereza and Vincent.  They had a relative over, Marsel, who is 93 years old, hard of hearing and reminded me of, my friend, Sue Smith.  I loved talking to her and it was good practice for my French.  Tereza made us a delicious meal with chicken and mushrooms, rice, stuffed tomatoes, potato and bacon mini quiches and chocolate mouse for dessert.  We talked with them and found out they had started reading the Book of Mormon.  We set up another appointment and I can hardly wait to talk to them again.  We had a party for Elder Davis that included light, glow sticks and delicious cake.  Elder Davis turned 20 - he's getting up there!
He's an awesome companion and we get along great.  We are going to make the most of this transfer because who knows what will happen next transfer.

I love and miss you all and hope you have a great week!  The church is true and remember - You can always count on the Lord!
The Champs Elysees

Till next week...
Love, Elder Player

Monday, August 5, 2013

Week 12...Porting, Exchanges and Transfers start NOW!

Hope you've had a good week back in Salt Lake and other places around the world!  It's been a good week here in Belgium.  Today marks the beginning of transfer day so everybody here is on the the computers waiting to get the new list of changes.  I'm pretty sure I'll be staying here unless something crazy happens.  I'll let you know!

After emailing last Monday we went grocery shopping.  It was like a game show.  Two of the Elders were out of money and the other two had about 30 Euros between them.  We got out our calculator and added up every single item as we put it in the cart.  We almost spent the exact amount we had to the centimes.  It was actually quite fun and definitely made you realize you are poor when there is a 5th Monday in the month. After we went shopping, I got a short sleeve shirt for a great price,  we went to Leonidas for chocolate. They wear white gloves and wrap it up and everything.  If you are ever in Belgium be sure to come to Leonidas.  Be sure to ask for chocolate with no coffee or alcohol because that's pretty common here.

Tuesday we had district meeting and since we had a few extra minutes we watched a Mormon Message called, "Mountains to Climb".  Pretty amazing.  Take a minute and watch it.  It shows how the Gospel helps us in times of trial and is always there when we need help!  After district meeting we went porting.  It was a rainy day and we were hoping some kind soul would invite us in but sadly that didn't happen.  We taught Kingsley and Marsella and they are great as usual.  Then, that night the first exchange started.  I was with Elder Wilson for all of Wednesday and it was great!  All of our appointments fell through but we had fun contacting.  Since it was  "my day" I got to set the pace.  On the tram to a passback I saw some houses and said I wanted to go there after passback.  Not sure why, but I did.  After the passback we stopped there and the first door we knocked on was a family.  Dad from Chicago, Mom from Belgium and two kids. Sweet!  We are hoping to see them this week and teach them because they were super excited and had seen stuff on TV about us.  It was almost time to go but I saw a door with some Christmas stuff in the window.  I thought it'd be a family so I said, "We've got to go to that door!"  It wan't a family but a sweet older lady named Madame Dubois.  She has been asking herself questions that relate to the Plan of Salvation so that was awesome!

Thursday we had another exchange and this time I was with Elder Wood.  We met some cool people and did lots of contacting.  I love to see how other missionaries work and you get to know other missionaries too so it's great!

Friday, Elder Davis and I were back together as an equipe.  It was a pretty normal day.  We taught Emerson and Nosa called to tell us his wife had her baby and was doing well.  He should have a baptismal date in the next month!

Saturday and Sunday involved lots of contacting and porting but you never know who you'll meet or talk to. We were grateful yesterday was fast Sunday, not only to fast, but because we were out of food.  We had 87 contacts that we've talked to with potentials so our goal was to get 13 more on Sunday.  That was a lot, but we did it with finding four numbers we hadn't put in the phone yet.  We met some really awesome people to teach his week too.  I'll be going to Paris this week to get my stamp so hopefully I'll get to take an Eiffel Tower picture.

The work here is going great and I love being here and learning from others.  It's Elder Davis' birthday next Sunday we we're going to have quite the party Sunday night.  Today we're going to the car expo to see Lamborghini's and probably some frites (fries) and a gaufre (waffle).  I love to hear from you and know what's going on there so keep writing!!  Thanks for all your love and support!

Till next week...

This is our district.  The numbers indicate how many transfers!
There are a total of 16 transfer days during your mission!