Monday, October 28, 2013

It all starts with one seed and I'm off to Rouen

Bonjour everyone!  I hope you all had a great week.  It was a great week here in Bruxelles and I just found out this morning that it was my last.
So, where am I going?....drum roll...Rouen, France.  Don't know much about the new ville but I do know that my next companion is Elder Cramer.  Rouen is in the Northern part of France and that's about all I know.  More to come next week.

This last week in Brussels has been amazing and I'm so excited for things to come with some new people we found and awesome lessons we had with our other amis!

Last Tuesday after our district meeting, Elder Eldredge and I went to finish getting our "legality" in Belgium. (I know...just in time to leave)  After getting our legality cards I was asked to start papers for my Belgium Drivers License.  The cool thing about the Belge License is it is good for your entire life in all of the European Union.  That's sweet!!!  We had a mangez vous with the Volz family, a member family, and had a great discussion about missionary work and the members we are working with in the ward.  Their son, Yaro, just got back from his mission to Switzerland so it was fun to talk to him about what it was like there.  The meal was awesome too.  After that we headed straight to Kingsley and Marsellas and shared a great talk from the July 2011 Ensign called, "Start Moving".  (I recommend it to everyone!)  We expressed to them the need to move forward with faith.

On Wednesday we were off for our first rendez vous with Mireille.  We found her porting last Sunday.  She had already been taught by the sisters until they were pulled from here in February 2012.  We had an awesome rendez vous and talked about the restoration.  She had lots of questions and was worried because she works every weekend.  We scheduled another rendez vous for this Wednesday but just before we left we asked if she'd want to come to a member's home for a Family Home Evening on Monday.  She checked her planner and said, "why not!"  So, tonight we have a Family Home Evening with her, her husband, two children and the Curtis Family.  I'm super excited!  After that we proceeded through our day but all our other rendez vous fell through.  As we were on our way back at about 8 p.m. we got off the metro at a stop to do 1 last hour of finding.  We started walking and then stopped at a house and decided to try it.  This one had a button that said Congo/Cisse.  We pushed the button and asked if we could come pray with the family and they invited us in.  Wow!  That was a miracle!  We gave them Book of Mormons and prayed with them. They set up a follow rendez vous for this week.  I can't wait to go and see them tomorrow.  This was another example of the Lord putting people in our path.

Thursday and Friday were great days with an exchange with Elder Wood, some delicious Alfredo Pasta, a lesson with the Johnson family about going to the temple for baptisms for the dead and even seeing Slyvestre, who is back from his trip to the Ukraine.  One of the highlights was with Elder Wood.  We missed our stop because we were talking to someone so he had to wait for the metro to go back.  A drunk man asked us for money for a prescription for his back.  Luckily he didn't get off at our stop.  On a tram to a rendeaz vous an elderly Muslim lady started talking to us.  She complemented us for being "Jesus people" and said we are good guys.  She talked to us for 15 minutes until she had to get off.

Saturday we had another miracle.  While walking to do a passback we decided to stop at this building and push the sonars and see if anyone was interested.  The first button we pushed a lady answered and asked us to come in.  Once again, it was another person who had a seed planted by missionaries in 2006.  She had a Book of Mormon, Hymn Book and said she'd love to talk to us more.  It just shows that even if a person isn't ready the first time you leave a Book of Mormon, a pamphlet or even just a pass along card the seed has been planted!

Yesterday at church we got a call from Gentil.  He was at the Tram Stop and wanted us to come and walk with him to church.  Gentil is a young man that Elder Davis and I met about two months ago.  Nothing happened until we called him this past Monday.  We set up a rendez vous for Friday, which went great and then he came to Church without a reminder call or anything.  He loved church.  It was such a great Sacrament meeting and I know the Spirit was able to touch him.  We had dinner with the Hatch family in the Chateaux, taught Francis so he can start his geneology for his family and take their names to the temple. Last, but not least, Elder Eldredge got a call to be a trainer.  He'll be awesome and his bleu will have the best ville, in my opinion.  Once that happened I knew I was leaving.  I can't wait to go to Rouen and meet the people and see miracles there!  The next few days will be full of "goodbyes" and lots of exciting changes.  Have a great Halloween and thanks for all your love and support.  It means the world to me.

Elder Player

Here's my new address in Rouen:
Les Missionnaires
Elder Chase Player
137 Rue Meridienne, Windsor
76100 Rouen

Random Highlights:
Got invited to teach 150 people at a Protestant church yesterday...sadly our church schedules were at the same time...phew!
Rouen is in Normandy and is where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake.
The main course for district meeting was Ritzy Chicken and Almond was delicious!
They have Dominos Pizza here with a 5 Euro pizza of course we had to have some!
The Johnson Family who is
preparing to go to the temple!
District Meeting Meal
Ritzy Chicken and Almond Rice
Raspberry Nutella Dessert...delicious!

Fall Colors in Belgium
District Meeting/October 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

All it takes is 20 seconds of insane courage...and great things will come to pass!

My Friend, Frere Fraiken
Cool park that we did contacting in!
Well, if you guessed, that was from "We Bought a Zoo".  I loved the quote and feel like it's very applicable to missionary work.  We had a great week in Belgium and saw some miracles from that 20 seconds we gave!

On Tuesday we had an awesome mangez-vous with the DeLigne family.  They are from Belgium and speak perfect French that you could listen to all day.  They have a super cute family, with three little girls who brought us drinks and then books to read to them in French.  We had a delicious meal and a great spiritual thought and then took off to do some finding.  This week, like many, was filled with lots of finding on the street, metro and door to door.  Here is the approach at doors we use:

1.  Introduce yourself...Bonjour, Je m'appele Elder Player
2.  Where your from...Je viens des Etats-Unis
3.  What are you doing here...Je suis ici dans Belgique pendant deux ans en tante que une missionnaire pour         l"Englise de Jesus Christ des Saints des Derniers Jours
4.  State a truth and testify of the Book of Mormon, Prophets, Family, anything that you feel will              touch them and invite the spirit.
5.  Ask an inspired question based on what you testified about.

We call this approach, Alma Contacting.  By inviting the Spirit quickly we hope they can feel the difference and will want to talk more.  Sadly, often they quickly say "no, I'm not interested" but every once in a while you get that person who will listen.  This week during district meeting we were asked to talk to one extra person every time before we were going to be done.  Whether before going home for the night or for a meal. Always talk to one more person.  So, we promised that we would do that and we saw some miracles from it!  Friday night, while heading for the tram, we saw a group of three mean.  We said, "Three is even better!" This is where the 20 seconds of insane courage comes into play.  You go over, interrupt their conversation, speak in a different language, and teach about religion.  But this 20 seconds of our Alma Contacting worked. We proceeded to teach most of the Restoration and then they asked if we could set up another time to teach them more.  Again, last night on the way home there was one last guy on the street and he was interested, took a Book of Mormon and said he'd love to meet again this week.  If we all give of ourselves, 20 seconds of "insane courage", the Lord will always watch over us and bless us!

Other crazy moments included our lunch with Frere Fraikin on Thursday.  Probably our last lunch together since he can't make it this week.  I must say, I will miss his advice and conversations!  We had a super cool moment with a member and her son on Thursday.  They called to see if we could come give a blessing to her before surgery.  We arrived and asked if the son wanted to give it.  He said he had never given a blessing since being made an Elder.  We taught him how and he gave an amazing blessing with so much love for his mother in it.  It was amazing.

On Sunday, we were asked to go home teaching with a member, teach Sunday School, give blessings and had a couple of lessons to teach to people we had contacted.  Somehow, we fit it all in!  I gave my first blessing in French-I've done the anointing but never a blessing.  It was a little nerve racking but worked out. I've learned that the Lord will put the words in your mouth as they need to be

The final and most entertaining thing was Friday night when Elder Wood announced, "I have a proposition!" He wanted to move the desks in the bedroom and one set of bunk beds out so were had separate work space.  The next day, during lunch, we took a part the apartment.  It sounds easy but we stripped the screws and it ended up being a bigger project than we thought but somehow managed.  Now it's like a whole new apartment...we'll see if it lasts!

Next week are transfers and I feel like I will probably be transferred...we'll see!

Today we are off to eat a durum and some frites and then see a couple of cathedrals and a quick stop by the Godiva Factory.  I can't believe I've already been gone 5 months.  I hope you have a good week and always take that 20 seconds of "insane courage" to talk to that friend, someone at work or school about the gospel. Just do it and great thing will come of it!

Love you all...
The Streets of Belgium
Elder Player
St. Marie Cathedral in Belgium

Frites with the Zone Leaders and Elder

Monday, October 14, 2013

Teaching in the Rain and Exchanges

Francis, a new convert, and me
Bonjour!  I hope everyone had a great week!  It's been a good week here and fall has finally arrived!

After our P-day activities last week we started off with a lesson with Sylvestre and And Eleana!  They're great!  Sylvestre was heading to the Ukraine for a week so we had a lesson on prayer. At the end of the lesson we had a closing prayer and prayed specifically for each person in the family and asked for the Lord to watch over his family and bless them with health and safety while he's gone.  They were touched and could feel the spirit testifying to them of prayer and its power.  After that we started our exchanges.  I was with Elder Godfrey for Tuesday and Elder Eldredge was with Elder Wood.  It was great!

Elder Godfrey has been here for four weeks, so he's still a bleu, but we were blessed with some great success and had a fun day.  We went out and held nothing back and talked to tons of people.  We had a few awkward experiences too.  An Asian man ran out and said, "Oh! You're the Jesus people.  Follow me!"  Of course, we followed him and then he pointed to a man who was at a cash register and said, "He loves Jesus too!"  Then he left us with a confused man looking at us.  After that we used "Alma Contacting".  It's known in our mission and is where you teach right there and then, set a rendez-vous date, if that doesn't work a phone number or if that doesn't work, give them a card with your phone number.  We tried to teach that way but it just wasn't working.  Finally I said, "Man I have never tried this hard to teach right on the street!" and BAM!  Right after I said that the next guy we talked to listened to us teach about the restoration.  We got his number and gave him a Book of Mormon.  It was sweet!  We had a mangez-vous with the Hakenpaa family from Finland.  They would speak English and then switch to Finnish so it was a little crazy but what a super nice family!  We finished the night with an awesome lesson with the sisters amis. (The sisters were sick) One, named Odette, was awesome and had lots of questions.  She was looking for a church where she felt like she fit in.  The sisters are seeing her again this week.  I hope to hear more about her progress.

Wednesday we had district meeting and President Pozananski was in town so he came.  He even stayed for lunch after a great meeting.  We had potluck and for dessert we bought different types of pastries from a bakery.  It was delicious.  This week we changed the time we leave our apartments from 11:00 to 10:30.
President Pozananski said if we pray for inspiration we will see miracles in that extra 30 minutes.  We are already seeing that happen.  He's so great and caring and we are lucky to have him!  We taught Una on Wednesday and Thursday night.  We taught about the Plan of Salvation and he loved it so much and said it makes so much more sense now.  He brought up baptism again and said he's already been baptized but we asked him to pray about it and he agreed.  We explained that our baptism was the right one with the right authority.  He lives outside of our area so we passed him to the other Elders in Louise.  It's still in our Zone and Stake so when be's baptized (not if) we'll be able to go!

Thursday included a visit to the doctor's office for a quick follow-up for Elder Eldredge.  I must say America has really good medical care.  Here the doctor's office is an apartment, and the waiting room is a hall.  The doctor's office is a bedroom with a computer, a cupboard with the medicines and a small exam table in the corner.  Odd but it works.  We had lunch with Frere Fraikin who always gives us great advice.

The weekend was full of knocking on doors and changes in the weather.  We've had sunlight and nice weather for the last few weeks but fall is here and that means rain.  It's rained the last few days and I've been using my new coat and scarfs!  We've had some nice runs to the tram and got to use a parapluie.  We had an awesome lesson with Francis, a new convert, and the Mulanda familty.  We even had a mangez-vous with the Bishop's family.  He's Belge and she is Irish.  He speaks French to the kid and she speaks English to them.  The 5 year old boy can speak perfect French and English and switch back and forth with ease!  It's amazing and they are a cool family.  The bishop is a diplomat for the United Nations and just returned from Afghanistan.  Two years ago he was in Kosovo and dealt with the crisis there.  Sister Orsini is a doctor and plans go back to her practice soon now that their baby is almost a year old.  We had some delicious Mexican food!  On the way back at 8:55 (as usual) a man sat down on the metro.  We casually said "Hi" and "How are you?"  We ended up teaching him for the next 15 minutes and had a great lesson.  We are teaching him again tonight.  The Lord is preparing people and they are put in our path.  Thanks for all of your prayers and support.  I know I couldn't do it without all of you!  Missionary work is amazing and I'm so lucky to be here right now at this time.  Hope you all have a great week!

Elder Player

Some interesting things from this week:
The church's heater is out so everyone was bundled up.  It was about 53-55 degrees inside on Sunday.

Church movies are awesome, and since we don't exercise on Sunday mornings we start our day with a church movie.  We watched, "Mountain of the Lord".  It's about the Salt Lake temple and was awesome. Cool fact I learned was that after we became a sate and we're named Utah it wasn't because of the Ute Indians but Utah actually means, "the top of the mountains".  It fulfills a prophecy in Isaiah 2:2-3..."A house of the Lord will be built in the top of the mountains and people from all nations will flow unto it".  That's the Salt Lake Temple.  Super cool and I had no idea about that.
District Cardi Party

European Union Station
Our Apartment Cardi Party!
Yesterday the sisters came in and said, "We need a translator for our lesson from French to English."  They were teaching 3 French people and 2 English people so I translated for them...crazy but super fun!
Our attempt at a "jumping picture"

Monday, October 7, 2013

Zone Conference, General Conference and Escargots!


This last week has been awesome here.  We have received much spiritual nourishment from Zone Conference and General Conference.  We have heard so many amazing messages from people who are inspired and called of God.

While this last week was hard to teach and it seemed as if no one would show up for their rendez-vous or answer their phones we still had some success and our 8:55 miracle from last week became an even bigger miracle this week!

Let's start with Zone Conference.  Zone Conference was 6 hours long, which seems long, but could have gone longer.  We achieved our goal of 100 baptisms in 3 months.  We actually had 115 baptisms, which is a record for our mission.  We were given a new goal for the next 3 months.  Like Elder Ballard challenged us, "Let's all find one person before Christmas and give the Lord a wonderful present!"  So each companionship is to find a family and baptize them before Christmas.  We have a plan and with the Lord we know we can do it!  The training was amazing with messages from the AP's, Sister Trainer Leaders, Zone Leaders and President and Soeur Poznanski.  I left so filled with the spirit and we all left with the desire to accomplish our goal.  We are so lucky to have an amazing Mission President and Mom.  Later that night we had a lesson with Douglas, who lives with a new convert named Francis.  Douglas wasn't there but Francis was so we decided to leave him with a spiritual message.  Francis asked if we'd come once a week and just help him better understand some of his questions from the scriptures.  He is so excited to learn and gain a better understanding of the gospel.  I can't wait to go back each week and see him on Sundays too!

Wednesday is when our 8:55 miracle from last week started to be realized.  A friend of Papy, named Una, was in the park last week at 8:55.  We set a time for a lesson and when we met he said he had already read some of the Book of Mormon.  After we sat down he left the room and came back with a Book of Mormon.  He told us about Joseph Smith, Nephi, Morini and others.  We were surprised and asked how he could follow the example of Jesus Christ.  He responded, "By baptism!"  Perfect answer.  Then he said, "I've done that - by immersion and with the priesthood."  Now the moment missionaries's hard to say say, "your baptism is not correct or valid."  Luckily, a thought came into my mind and I asked, "Did you receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands?"  He thought for a moment and said, "No, I didn't" and then asked, "How can I do that?"  We explained that baptism needs to be done by someone holding the priesthood and than they can lay hands on your head and give you the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Than you can follow Christ and his example and become a member of his church.  We asked him to pray for confirmation that this was true and was the right baptism with the right priesthood.  We prayed together and the spirit was so strong and so we set up another rendez-vous for Saturday.  On Saturday afternoon he started to talk right after the opening prayer.  He said, "I know it's true now.  I didn't understand much before but now it all makes sense."  Then he taught us about the restoration and the Plan of Salvation.  He said as he read and prayed he felt a burning in his heart and knew this was the gospel of Jesus Christ unlike the others!  Talk about an unreal experience and how a man who was put in our path with seeds already planted by missionaries years ago.  I can't wait to teach him more this week!  One other little side note here...he looks exactly like Shaq.

Frere Fraikin took us to lunch on Thursday and asked, "Elder Player, how long have you been here?"  When I told him a little over 3 months he said it was time to take me to "eat well"!  I am now a member of Frere Fraikin's inner circle so he is taking us to his favorite restaurant for some really good food.  Sweet!  We had an awesome mangez-vous with Soeur Grandfils, a member of the ward too.  On the way home the metro was down so we had to walk home - in the rain.  On Friday we stopped for lunch at a little escargot stand. Elder Eldredge hadn't ever had one so we ordered 10.  Quite delicious once you get past the look of them. With some frites it made a great lunch!

Finally, this weekend we experienced an amazing conference!  I've never been so excited for conference in my life and now, I think, I'll always be excited!  All the messages were amazing.  We had some strange viewing times here with one session yet to come.  I can say that I know our church is true and led by a living prophet today.  We are so lucky to belong to such an amazing church.  Last night the sisters had an ami, named Sophia, come with them.  I met her my first week here and referred her to the sister missionaries.  It was the first time she had come to a meeting but she was touched by the spirit.  She came up to me and said, "He's the one who talked to me at the metro station...Thank you so much.  I know one of the reasons I came here from the Congo was to meet the missionaries!"  I hope we can all be missionaries.  Whether full time or member missionaries.  At home, school or work.  No matter what age we can all change someone's life by opening our mouths and sharing the gospel.  I know it can be hard but as you proclaim truths to others and testify your mouth will be filled with the right things to say.  Just as promised in the scriptures.  I'm so grateful to be here as a missionary and I'm so thankful for all of your support at home.  Love and miss you all!

Elder Player

Random things from the week:
Strombeek Sign
Elder Brown and Sister Francis from the MTC
At Zone Conference
Bought hair clippers.  Cut my hair.  Gave my first haircut to Elder Godfrey, surprisingly he still has hair.
Wet walk from Soeur Grandfils...
the metro was down!
Elder Wood & Elder Eldredge
cleaning up the "Scentsy" mess!
Cows in the middle of Brussels
Eating Escargots - Yum!
The kitchen almost started on fire this week.  Elder Wood learned candles cannot be put on the stove top and melted like in a Scentsy burner.  Nor should a hot candle be cooled with water - long story!
Sunrise off our back balcony!