Monday, January 27, 2014

I'm a Dad! Our Amis and great food!

Bonjour!  I hope you have all had a great week!  I can't believe that it is almost's crazy how fast time passes!  This week in Rouen was great, crazy, and super busy with transfers and going to Paris.  It's official now...I'm a dad! (That means I'm a trainer to a new missionary) and my son is Elder Johnson from Park City.

Wednesday morning we rushed off with all of Elder Cramer's bags in hand and headed to the Gare for Paris. We met the Le Havre Elders on the train.  Now we had 9 LARGE bags, all over 50 lbs. and 4 people to manage them.  With our luck 90% of the escalators were broken...but we made it!  I took off for the training at Saint Marie and then an hour later it was time to meet our bleu's.  They all marched in, some looking terrified, some with huge smiles.  All of us were thinking, "Who will be our bleu?"  President Poznanski started with a slide show.  The name of the ville and the trainer came up and then the name of the bleu with a short description!  Rouen came up and President said Elder Player will be training...(drum roll) Elder Johnson!  Elder Johnson is from Park City, Utah.  He turns 20 next month and wants to be a surgeon for the army.  He was going to Westminster before his mission.  He's awesome and we have lots of similarities. Even his closest sibling is ten years older than he is...crazy!  After talking, more training and French sandwiches we were off!  We made it through the metro and to the train and then finally arrived in Rouen around 5:00 pm.  We did some quick planning and then we were off to do some contacting!  All the people we talked to were interested and we got some phone numbers  and some rendez-vous set up for next week. After, we made our way to our first rendez vous with a new family Elder Garner and I contacted last week on exchanges.  We went into their apartment and saw three super cute kids.  The oldest is three.  We taught them and then at the end Papy asked if next time we could read lots of scriptures together.  I pulled out a Book of Mormon and asked if they had ever heard of the Mormons.  Melor(the wife) said "no"  but asked what it was.  Papy said we would talk about it more next time.  We had a prayer and then Melor asked is she could have the book to read for the next time.  We said "yes"!  It was an awesome first day and I can't wait to go back and teach them more tonight!

I'm almost out of time so I'm going to "List Style" now:

Ezechais...Love him to death.  He taught us the Law of Chasity and the Word of Wisdom while waiting for a rendez vous and then taught with us.  His testimony is so awesome and powerful.  He passed the sacrament for the first time yesterday!

Romain...Doing great.  Taught him this week and he was telling us how before his baptism he was having problems with the bank and his loan and then finding a job for when his training is done this June.  He said Monday morning after the baptism he got a call from the bank and everything was worked out and then later he found a job with the best construction company in Rouen!  Amazing to see the blessings that came from his decision to be baptized and follow the gospel.  He came to church yesterday in a bright red suit - I wish I had taken a picture with him!

Johnathan and Estelle...They are doing great and we were able to see them a few times this week. Johnathan knows the gospel is true!  We promised him that God would make it possible to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know it was true...even through it's really hard for him to read!

Food...It's France!  It has to be it's own category!  I was spoiled again this week and ate with the Warenghien Family.  We had shellfish soup, baby turkey with prunes and veggies, cheese and a chocolate almond cake with creme anglais!  Delcieux!  Super excited for Elder Johnson to be able to have some authentic French food this week.  He's scared but I explained that anything you don't'll learn to like!

That's a quick wrap of our week here.  This week we are off to a conference in Versailles, on Thursday, with Elder Kearon of the Seventy.  That's exciting and we have some great things planned for the other days!
Thanks for all your love and support.  I love all of you and hope you have a great week!  Till next week!

Love...Elder Player
Elder Johnson's first au pain chocolate

Elder Johnson and me under the
arch at Saint Marie

This is my "son" Elder Johnson from Park City, Utah

The famous Warenghein family who feeds us so well!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Romain, Johnathan et Bleu

Romain, Elder Cramer and me!
Bonjour!  I hope you are all having a great Martin Luther King Day.  I must say that I'm surprised they haven't adopted that holiday here because Europeans love their vacances...maybe next year.

This week in Rouen has been a great week!  It started with a crazy split, a second trip to Etretat and ended with a phone call but here's what happened in between...

Romain was baptized on Saturday.  It was an awesome baptism and he was so happy and felt so good after. Elder Cramer baptized him and then on Sunday Frere Bitanga gave him the Holy Ghost and confirmed him a member.  Romain is amazing and he has changed so much in just a month.  He is sincere and has a desire to follow Jesus Christ.  He is an example to us.  I can't wait to see his testimony grow over the next few weeks and can't wait for him to receive a calling in the branch and receive the priesthood!

A few weeks ago Johnathan was on the bus with us.  When he heard us speak English and then French he asked us where we were from.  We started talking and got his contact info and then ran into him on the bus later that day.  He showed us all these cool speakers on the bus that you could put up to the window and than BAM! music would fill the whole bus.  We were like little kids!  We taught him on Friday and then went to his home and watched, "Finding Faith in Christ".  At the end he just sat there and said, "Wow!  I can really feel something right now."  It was an awesome lesson and we invited him to Romain's baptism on Saturday. He came Saturday morning right on time and was able to watch it all.  Right after Romain was baptized and was changing his clothes he told me, "That was just like Jesus was baptized in the movie."  After the baptism he stayed and we continued to talk.  He talked about how he could feel the "force" and wanted to have it all the time.  We talked about prayer and as the lesson continued we used silence like never before.  It was amazing to see how the Holy Spirit took over.  We were able to teach him how to pray and have an amazing experience praying on our knees with him.  It was a simple prayer but heartfelt and powerful.  It's hard to describe it.  We invited him to come to church and he showed up at 9:30 and stayed until 2.  He ate with the branch and everything.  It was awesome and I can't wait to see him again this week!

Sunday night, after a couple lessons, we were walking home and the phone rand.  It was the assistants and the last day of the transfer.  It was for Elder Cramer.  He found out he is going to St. Quentin to be district leader.  After they talked for a few minutes the phone rang again and it was for me this time.  I'm going to be getting a new missionary this Wednesday and be a trainer!  I'm super excited and so happy to be staying here in Rouen with the amazing branch and to be able to watch the work go forward here.

...Taught an awesome guy named Franck.  He's French and wants to change.  He is looking for the truth and for happiness in his life.  Super exited to teach him again this week!
...Had a 48 hour exchange with Elder Garner.  While on the road we realized that we needed to be down the hill in a neighborhood below.  We saw a little trail, followed it, and oh was pouring rain too.  We didn't have our umbrellas, realized the grass was mud and continued to slide down the hill  My pants got pretty muddy but all washed and good to go now.
...Had an awesome FHE with Ezechias, Romain and the Bitanga's.  On our way home he took us on a tour of Rouen.  The 5 of us in a tiny car made me feel like we were on a Disneyland ride.  Super entertaining!
...Ate a raclette with happy I get to stay here in Rouen with them!

Hope you all have a great week and know how much I love you all and am so grateful for your support!

The work is progressing and with the New Year there are so many people who are searching for happiness and a way to change.  Always look and pray for ways to share the gospel.  They're endless and everyone needs the blessings that we each have in our lives.  Till next week...

Elder Player
Romain's baptism!
This is right after Romain's baptism
This shows how many transfers we have
all had in the District!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Amis, Food, Ezechias, et Etretat!

Our Zone at Zone Conference

Frog legs anyone?
Actually, quite delicious!

St. Maclou Cemetary from the 1300's

Learning to make gallettes du roi!
This is going to be a super fast email because we don't have very much time today.  I want to quickly talk about four things and the pictures will tell the rest of the story!

First...Our Amis:
We have been able to teach Romain 5 times this week.  To see someone's dedication and desire to be baptized amazes me!  I've realized how much we ask these people to do.  Like in President Uchtdorf's talk, "Come, Join With Us".  We ask so much but the Lord gives us so much more back!  We were able to meet some amazing new people this week from Solomon, Nigeria and had a cool experience finding Alexandre.

On Tuesday night we had about an hour left and decided that we'd say a quick prayer for guidance as to where we needed to go.  We felt we should go to this little neighborhood about ten minutes from our apartment.  We got there and started to port from door to door.  After 5 doors we saw Alexandre on the corner!  We started talking to him and learned that he is 18 and has been searching for religion.  He wasn't raised religious but asked many questions that really only the gospel can give the answers to.  We talked for nearly 45 minutes on the corner and recounted the first vision.  We then asked if we could pray with him to know that these things are true.  As we prayed, a simple prayer, it was amazing the spirit that came to testify to us!  A further example of how powerful prayer is and that if we ask, the Lord will give to us!

I know this has been a topic for sometime in my emails but this week was no exception and I have to include a little bit about it.  We had three mangez-vous and I can officially say, "I feel like the Goose who was stuffed!"  (Foie Gras)  I tried some firsts this week and I'm so lucky to be here in this amazing country with such amazing members who cook for us!

Here is a small list of some of the things we ate this week.  Frog legs, escargots, foie gras (Goose liver), steak, hen, crab, beets, cabbage and numerous other veggies, apple tarts and gallettes du roi!  I have to admit that some of it was outside my comfort zone!

Ezechais is amazing and I love him more and more as we spend time with him.  He was able to teach us yesterday and as he bore his testimony it invited such a strong spirit.  He was able to receive the Priesthood and is now a priest and will be baptizing Romain this coming Saturday.  Ahh....super exciting!

Last night we were eating with a newly married couple in our branch.  We asked if they had ever been to Etretat.  They said yes and we expressed that we would love to go serve there or come back one day and see it!  Within seconds, Frere Cunche asked if we would like to go tomorrow and said that he could take us. We explained that we were not sure if we could go because it is outside our area.  He pulled out his phone and called President Poznanski.  They're cousins and so the president said yes we could go.  So, this morning we were able to go to Etretat!  It was amazing and nice and warm (for January).  France is gorgeous and we are blessed to be able to serve here!

So with this super short - quick review of our week I hope that all is well with each of you and that you have a great week.  I love you all and thank you so much for all your support!

Elder Player
This is Etretat!

This is the point of Etretat!

The city of Etretat...look at the blue water!

The arches of Etretat!
There is a golf course on the top!

Frere Cunche, who took us to see Etretat!
He is 23 years old, a newlywed and awesome!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Deja 2014

2014 is officially here...crazy!  I hope all your New Year's resolutions are still going strong after 6 days and I hope you all have a great first day back at  school and work!  Last week was another great week full of miracles, teaching, singing and eating everything from a delicious Nutella Croissant to African Plantaines!

Last week we had a different schedule due to the New Year.  It went like this...
Tuesday we had a normal day until 5.  We started the day going out and singing for a member's mother and leaving her with a spiritual thought. Then we went to go contacting.  We were determined to talk to everyone we met so the day started with a man named Enrique.  He pulled out a piece of paper from a doctor that declared him mentally ill.  Then we passed a man painting himself in nail polish.  That was a sight to behold. We are guessing he was preparing for parties!?  We kept walking and were able to meet some awesome people who we will teach later this week.  At one o'clock we talked about heading back for lunch but decided to keep going for another half hour.  A few minutes later we ran into a mother, Catherine, and her son, Jose, from Peru.  She told us how her brother was adopted by a Mormon family when they were young and she's always wondered where he was and what exactly were the Mormons.  They had never talked with the Mormons but said they had a few minutes to talk.  As we walked to the church we learned that they have been looking for a place to pray and worship but just haven't found the right place.  We gave them a tour of the church and finished by giving them a Book of Mormon in Spanish.  Amazingly, this book had been sitting on the entry table for weeks since no one speaks Spanish.  Talk about a miracle.  We can't wait to teach them later this week and meet her husband and other two sons.  After lunch we decided to do some porting.  As we started knocking on doors Elder Cramer said, "Wow...look at that cross on that house...they must be religious!"  Oh, they were!  As the door opened, a nun came out of the house with three other nuns behind her.  We asked if we could sing and they said yes.  After a few songs we wished each other Happy New Year and approached the next door.  Out came a priest.  The following doors were also interesting, to say the least, but in the end we were able to meet a young mother and her daughter...Lily and that was great!  Tuesday night we had a Family Home Evening with the Bitanga Family and Ezechias.  It was followed by a delicious meal of chicken, plantaines, cavier salad, potatoes and a birthday cake for me!  It was a great day and definitely a birthday I will never forget.

On Wednesday, New Year's Day, we had a mangez-vous scheduled but found out that she had hurt her back.  She said we could come pick up the food but not eat there.  Our phone had fallen out of Elder Cramer's pocket at the Bitanga's house the night before so when we went to get it they said, "Go get the food and bring it here and we can all eat together!"  We set the table, ate and then Frere Bitanga taught us all to play some family favorite games that brought out the competitive side in all of us.  We are so lucky to have such awesome members that take good care of us!

The week continued with miracles.  Lessons with our amis, Ezechias and members.  We ate with the Bitanga's again after our DMB meeting and then had a lesson/mangez vous with two other members and Ezechias.  We ate Gallettes de Roi, a holiday food for January!

Here are some other highlights of the week...

Spent Friday with a young man from our branch, Jason, and had an awesome day.  The Lord made it a perfect 5 hours and I've never met so many people interested consecutively.  Jason loved it and said he can't wait to go on a mission.

Made the trip to Mantes la Jolie for District Meeting.  First district meeting this transfer due to Zone Conference in Paris and the holidays.  Found out we all are going to Paris at the end of month because a member of the Quorum of the Seventy will be coming to Paris.

Got news that Gentil, Elder Davis and I found him in Strombeek, was baptized!

Got caught in the craziest rain and wind storm ever.  In three minutes we were sopping wet!

Gave service for a young family who moved into a new apartment and gave their son a Book of Mormon all wrapped up.  He was super happy and excited to read it!

Rearranged the entire apartment and it's looking good.  Change is always good!

So in a nutshell that's a glimpse of our week in Rouen.  To finish, yesterday at church, we had Roman come. At the end we asked if we could teach him a short lesson and he said, "Of course!"  He told us what he thought about church and said he loved it.  At the end of the lesson, Tarolin, a member, said, "I have a feeling that you need to be baptized."  Roman said he would love to be baptized and we were able to set a date. Roman is a man who contacted us about two weeks ago on the metro.  It's another testimony of how the Lord prepares his children to receive his Gospel and places them in our path when they are ready!

Thanks you for all you love, support, birthday gifts and New Year's wishes.  I'm so grateful for all of you and am so lucky to have such amazing friends and family.  Love to you all and have a great week!

Elder Player
Happy Birthday to me!

Jungle Speed...super fun game!

Gallettess de Roi
The Kings of the New Year!

The four missionaries in Rouen