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