Monday, March 31, 2014

Wilfried's Baptism!!!

6 missionaries in Rouen!

Creepy Cemetery we got lost in!

Right Before Wilfried's Baptism

Isn't Wilfried a cool looking dude!

  Bonjour!  Tout le monde!  I hope you've all had a great week and if you are in Salt Lake I hope you're enjoying the snow!  This week has been full of running around, exchanges, teaching, Wilfried's baptism and yesterday his confirmation and his receiving the Holy Ghost.  To say the least it has ended on a high note!

Last Monday we met a man named Richard.  The soeurs had found this awesome guy when they were porting and had set up a church tour.  The wanted to meet us at the church on Monday and hand him off. We re-arranged some plans and made it possible.  We arrived at the church at 7 pm and gave Richard a church tour.  He had read some of the Book of Mormon already and had questions.  As we discussed things we asked if he could feel anything.  He just said, "Ya, but I can't describe it."  We explained, "That's the spirit testifying that these things are true!"  We invited him to Wilfried's baptism and he said he'd be there.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were full of exchanges.  On Tuesday we left Rouen early in the morning for Mantes la Jolie.  After a lovely 1 hour train ride we arrived, had district meeting and then started exchanges.  I was with Elder Martinez in Rouen.  Elder Martinez is from Utah but lived in Tijuana, Mexico for 7 years.  He has been out for 6 weeks longer than me.  It was an awesome exchange and we taught Wilfried the rest of the commandments, which he accepted.  We visited with 3 members and left spiritual thoughts and then ported and met a man, Stephane, who we can't wait to go and see again this week!  The exchange ended Wednesday afternoon and Elder Johnson found his way back to Rouen.  The next exchange was 24 hours later.  Later that night we met the soeurs for another man they were going to hand off.  We waited at the bus stop and when he arrived he had a friend with him.  We took them on a church tour. The friend is not interested but hopefully we'll be able to see the other man again this week.  We went to visit Ezechias, who is doing great! and then went to see Tarolin.  We had asked him to pray for the name of a street for us to port and he had.  We went off putting our flyers in the mailboxes expaining we would be back in a few days.  With time to port one more house we saw a mother and a child in a kitchen and knocked. She said, "Entrez/Come in!"  We were rather shocked since this doesn't happen very often and we hadn't even said why we were there.  We told her we were there to talk about the Resurrection of Christ and she again said come in.  We entered and talked about eternal families and asked if she had time to talk to us. She said, "Yes!"  This was really unusual as it was in a "well-to-do" area and during dinner time.  I literally said out loud, "WOW!"  We pulled a brochure out and started talking.  We asked if we could pray and come back but the father arrived home then and sadly said no.  We will pass back this week to give them a DVD and hope for more.

Thursday morning we hopped on a train and went to the small village of Pavilly to see Pascal and had a great rendez-vous.  We hurried back and met the Elders of Mantes again to start our second exchange.  This time I went to Mantes and worked with Elder Wallace.  We had an awesome exchange and Elder Wallace is great.

Friday morning we caught the train back to Rouen and helped a member move some furniture.  We were spoiled again at the Warenghiens and ate delicious salmon quiche, pepper chicken, green beans, bread and cheese with mini eclaires for dessert.  Sister Warenghien loaded up a plate of eclaires to take home for later!:)

Saturday was full of preparing for the baptism.  It went great and Wilfried was so happy!  Elder Johnson was able to baptize him.  The baptism was right before a Relief Society activity so a lot of the members were there to support him.  As he came up out of the water he had the biggest smile on his face that continued through Sunday.  He had bought a new suit, shirt, tie and shoes and was looking really sharp.  After the baptism we had a few refreshments and even Richard had come.  Wilfried and Richard started talking and walked home together because they live close.  Later Wilfried told us that he knows Richard from soccer and they were talking on the way home and some of Richard's concerns were the same as his.  He told him how he had found such peace and answers in the church.  (He's already doing missionary work and wasn't even confirmed yet!)

Sunday continued to be an awesome day and confirmed my testimony of how the gift of the Holy Ghost is real.  Wilfried was so happy and had such a light in his eyes.  Tonight we will go for a FHE with Wilfried, Romain and the Bitanga family.  We can't wait.  On top of all of that we did a pass back of a family we met last Sunday. As we knocked a man said, "I'll be right out."  As we talked about the Book of Mormon we found out he had met with missionaries 10 years ago and he knew a lot and was still interested.  He is now married and has a family.  We set a rendez-vous for later this week and I can't wait to teach Aurelien and his family.

We have been so blessed and thank all of you for your prayers.  The Lord's work is "Hastening" and I'm so grateful to be a part of it here in France!  I hope you all have a great week and have the opportunity to watch General Conference this weekend.  I know there is something for every person who watches and listens with an open heart and a desire to learn.  I love you all so much.  Until next week...

Love, Elder Player
Wilfried and the Bitanga's
right after his confirmation!
The font in's huge!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Easter is Coming!!!

Bonjour!  Tout le monde!  It's officially spring and another great week has passed!  This week was full of teaching, porting, member visits and a Zone Conference in Paris!  I'll see if I can sum it all up for you!

Adventures with the members:
We've continued to visit with our members this week.  We made it to 9 member's homes and shared a thought with them about how important "testifying" is and why we testify to teach.  We used the testimonies of Joseph Smith and the 3 and 8 witnesses to show how testimonies help other people see that the Book of Mormon is true.  We asked them to write their testimony in the front of a Book of Mormon and than we will give them to our amis to help them come to know that these things are true.  I can't wait to read the testimonies and give them to our amis this week.

Zone Conference:
We had an awesome Zone Conference this week in Paris with President and Soeur Pozananski.  Elder Davis, Elder Cramer and Elder Eldredge were there too!  It was awesome to see them all and hear that they are doing great!  This week Elder Christofferson and Elder Teixera were able to visit Belgium and see the missionaries there.  We got to receive a lot of their counsel from the Poznanski's on Wednesday.  We have a goal to welcome our new mission President at the end of July with 125 new baptisms.  That's in the next two transfers!  During Easter time we will be focusing on new ways of contacting/porting people to show them the power and peace that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ has given to us and our lives.  I'm super excited and on the way back from Zone Conference we put it into action...and that leads us to the next category...

Awkward Contacts:
The first contact after the zone conference took place on the metro.  I saw a guy and decided to talk to him. I usually try to think of a compliment or a where something is because we are new.  Usually it goes well but today was a little different.  I asked, "Do you know if there is a Zoo here?"  (I really did want to know if there was a zoo here.)  He said, "No!"  I continued to ask questions about what he did, how long he's lived here and then asked, "Are you believing?"  He asked, "In what?"  "In God and Jesus Christ," we responded.  He said, "I am God and Jesus Christ!"  I wasn't sure I heard right so I said, "What?"  I hadn't heard wrong and he didn't have the desire to explain because it would take too long.  That contact threw me for a loop but sure makes for a funny journal entry!

Wilfried is doing great and we were able to teach him 3 times this week and he attended church on Sunday. He is so excited for his baptism!  We were teaching him about tithing on Saturday with Tarolin and we asked him why he felt tithing was important.  He had an awesome answer that even shocked Tarolin.  He said, "To help the church of Christ continue to grow and help people like me find the truth and come to Christ!"  He's so awesome and it's amazing to see him grow and change every week.  He has a great desire to come to Christ and never leave!

Got haircuts this week at a Coiffure.  First haircut I've had that someone else has done it since the MTC! We walked in and asked if they cut hair without appointments and she said no and then a moment later said she was sorry.  She thought we had asked if we could talk about Jesus but yes they could cut our hair.  Her perception changed throughout our haircuts.
We were told that our church comes from Ancient German roots and all members speak Ancient German but those in America speak English!  (Weird)
Had an awesome FHE with the branch president's family and their friends.  Had delicious crepes!
After Zone Conference we ate at the only Burger King in France!  Usually there is a huge line but we were able to get a burger and fries and make our train with a few minutes to spare.  It was soooo delicious!

That's a little bit about our week.  We also found some awesome potentials that we will teach this week.
Thanks so much for your love and support!  Till next week...

Love, Elder Player
This beautiful Cathedral is right next to our church!

Elder Cramer and me at Zone Conference

Elder Eldredge and me at Zone Conference

Elder Davis and me at Zone Conference

Monday, March 17, 2014

Want a Tour?

Bonjour!  Tout le Monde!  I hope you have all had a great week.  It's been a great week here in Rouen and we continue to be blessed by the Lord.

I'm going to start with three of our miracles we had this last week.  Wednesday we were off to Mantes la Jolie for District meeting.  We arrived, had the meeting, ate and then had about 30 minutes before our train left so we took off and went contacting around the church.  We started taking to people but no one was interested.  Just when it was time to catch our train we meet a man named Lamine Khady.  He was fascinated by our being there, trying to speak French, and talking about church.  We told him that Christ's church was restored and on the earth today and then asked if he was interested.  He said, "Yes".  We gave him a church tour right then and we were able to give him a Book of Mormon and invite him to start reading.
He lives in Paris with his wife and child and we found out his address and gave his name to the missionaries there.  I can't wait for the missionaries in Paris to see him this week.

As the week  continued we had some time to go porting on Saturday night.  We went to a neighborhood not too far from our apartment.  There are some nice houses and in two hours we met people of every kind but in the end they all said, NO!  As we were walking home we ran into a woman and decided to contact her. Right after we started she said, "I know you, I'm Joyce!"  We contacted Joyce last transfer but haven't been able to keep in contact.  She expressed that she was still interested and lived on that street and we could come by.  We were able to pray with her right there on the street.  So cool that the Lord never let's you down after you've put in the effort.  He'll put people in you path!

Speaking of the Lord putting people in your path...we were on the bus heading home and at a stop Elder Johnson looked out the window and said, "I think that's Leonilde!"  I looked and said no and the bus continued going.  By the next stop I said, a little cowardly, "Maybe we should go back and see if that was her."  We got off the bus and walked back and when we got there it was Leonilde and her daughter Lola. They looked quite different with a hair cut!  We were able to schedule a rendez-vous with her for Friday and then on Friday we were able to pass her to the sister missionaries.  It was a great rendez-vous and the sisters are seeing her again this week!

This week we started our new Branch mission plan.  It includes seeing every member every 7 days to give them a spiritual thought, pray and help them understand how they can do missionary work.  We have the best branch ever!  This week we're going to visit each of them again and tonight we have the chance to go to the Bertrand Family's home and do our passbacks from two weeks ago.  They invited us to FHE with their friends who came to church yesterday and loved it and want to learn more!

Here's a few highlights from the week...
*Orange Juice - I'm pretty sure I drank more orange juice this week than ever before.  It's a staple food her and we are always offered a glass by people.  Luckily, I love OJ!
*Bruno - Our ami who said he's been coming to church the last few weeks...came yesterday!
*We were assigned the dessert for district meeting.  We decided to make Galettes du Roi.  They turned out really good but then we realized we had nothing big enough to carry them on the train.  Being creative and missionary poor we took off our chair covers.  (They snap on and are hollow, almost like trays) and it was a perfect fit for the galettes.  Everyone got a good laugh out of that one and we got some weird looks on the train.  But you do what you have to do!
*Wilfried is doing awesome and excited for his baptism on the 29th.  He even went shopping this last week to get new clothes to wear after he's baptized!
*To top off the week...the six missionaries sang in Sacrament meeting yesterday.  We sang Joseph Smith's first prayer to "Come Thou
Fount of every Blessing".  We thought it would be awesome but we didn't have time to practice and therefore I don't know if we'll be asked to sing every week!  HaHa

I hope you all have a great week.  Thanks for all your love and support.  Till next week...

Elder Player
Little Rue in Franch
Reminds me of San Francisco a little!

Our Gallettes de Roi before we put them
inside the chair cushions!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Finding and Teaching

Bonjour tout le monde!  I hope you have all had a great week.  It has been a fantastic week here and full of exciting events.  In the last week we have been able to find and teach so many awesome new people.  We had to say goodbye to Soeur Hunsaker and got to welcome 3 new soeurs.  We had some amazing planning meetings for the branch and even had time to get a pastry!

On Wednesday we helped Soeur Hunsaker to the gare with her bags and then later in the day we got to meet the three new soeurs right off the train and help them with their bags.  Yay for luggage!  The new soeurs are Soeur Mason from California, Soeur Callister from Provo and Soeur Berge from Florida.  (She was at the MTC with me)  They are all great and it'll be awesome to see how Rouen can continue to progress with two more missionaries...making a total of 6 missionaries!

This week has been a great week for finding.  We started off by going to the Bertrand family's home on Tuesday night to pray and do some porting.  We had about two hours and were able to meet two young families who want us to come back.  One of the two had been to church in London and said it was a great experience and would love to know more.  We can't wait to go back this week.

Thursday before lunch we went out contacting for about an hour and a half.  As we were walking home we hadn't found anybody who was interested.  As we got off the metro this man was walking in front of us and continued going the same way.  We crossed the street hoping to talk to him.  But he turned down a side street.  Oh man, he got away we thought.  But as we continued to walk home the same man came out of another side street.  Well, you can only get away from us once.  So, we crossed the street and started talking to him.  He told us he was Muslim but open and we started discussing scriptures and the Book of Mormon came up.  We read Moroni's promise and prayed with him.  He said he'd read it and we could go back and see him this week.  Fast forward a few hours...we were going to do a passback and while waiting for our bus another came up going the same way and we decided to take it.  As we got on and sat down a man looked at us and asked, "Are you two brothers with the same first name of Elder?"  As we talked we found out he was Christian but didn't really believe.  He has always been searching for truth and has tried many religions.  As we got off the bus we set a rendez-vous for Saturday and left him with a prayer.  Saturday he came to the church for a tour.  While giving the tour he started asking questions about the history of the church.  We sat down and discussed the Restoration.  As we taught he sat there intrigued answering questions with great knowledge of the Bible and things such as apostasy.  At the end we read Moroni's promise and asked if he would read and pray.  He said, "Yes, I want to know if this is true."  We asked if he came to know it was true would he be baptized and he said, "Yes!"  Such an awesome lesson.

Wilfried...Plan of Salvation, Law of Chastity (which he accepted) and we found out that him and Soeur Bitanga are from the same part of Central Africa and might be related.  He came to church and was asking about his baptism and kept referring to himself as a Mormon!

Abati...New companionship of sisters met him and handed him to us.  Had 2 lessons and he came to Church on Sunday.

Peyrolle and family...We prayed to be able to find the new sisters a potential family and us a potential family in the 30 minutes we had before going home.  We did!  We were able to teach Peyrolle Saturday and gave Madame Jackie and her kids to the sisters!

FHE...Romain and Ezechias...enough said-it was great and ended with delicious African food! a calling yesterday to be the Branch Music and Choir director.  He was grinning from ear to ear and had people practicing after church for the Easter program.

That sums up a lot of it.  The work is going great here and I can't wait to see how all of our amis continue to progress.  We were able to have a meeting with the branch and co-ordinate the work here.  This branch is so amazing.  The Branch President and Frere Bitanga have worked so hard.  The new plan is to help us be more efficient and re-activate many families for the branch temple trip in June.  The work really is "hastening" and there are people everywhere who are prepared for the wonderful message of the Gospel.  I'm so grateful to be here and for all of your love, support and prayers.  Have a great week!

Elder Player
Panoramic View of Grow Horlage

Soeur Hunsaker leaving!
Her eyes were so swollen from crying!

Picture inside the Grow Horlage
Thought it was a cool view!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

C'est Qui? C'est Romain, Paris et Miracles!

Bonjour!  I hope you've all had a great week!  It's been another great week here in Rouen and I found out I'll get to have another awesome six weeks here with Elder Johnson!  Yesterday marked the first day of the new transfer and we found out that we will have a new companionship of sisters in Rouen for a total of 6 missionaries here!  The work is moving forward!  This week was full of awesome experiences and I hope I can write and do justice to them in this email.

First, our new converts, Romain and Ezechias.  We were able to teach them both last week and they are doing great!  We decided that we were going to talk to Romain about taking his earring out.  We've been worried about it but finally thought of using "For the Strength of the Youth" booklet.  We introduced it to him and explained how it helped us and so we read a few areas together.  We started with "Dress and Modesty". It talks about having short hair, dressing modestly, no piercings for men or tatoos because our body is a temple.  We both sat on the edge of our seat watching Romain as we read but at the end he said, "Wow, so I need to take out my earring and do I need to cut my hair? because if I do, just tell me."  There is a phrase at the end of this section that we asked him to pose to himself.  It says, "Would I feel comfortable with my appearance if I were in the Lord's presence?"  After we read that he said, "I need to cut my hair!"  We were in shock.  He took it so well and showed us how ready he is to continue to accept the Gospel and its teachings.

Fast forward to Sunday...After priesthood we saw this man.  He was dressed in a white shirt, tie and I thought, "We need to go talk to him!"  As we got closer we realized that it was Romain!  He had shaved his head, beard and was dressed in a white shirt, tie and dress pants and had some awesome glasses on! Throughout the day members kept introducing themselves...thinking he was a new investigator.  He was able to pass the Sacrament and Ezechias blessed it.  Such an awesome sight to see.  During testimonies Ezechias bore his testimony and spoke of his conversion.  He is now teaching a lady a couple times a week about the Gospel!  If a new member of 2 months can share the Gospel like that I'm sure we all can.  I'm so lucky to see these two people grow and change and find peace in the Gospel over the last few months.  On Sunday watching them bless and pass the sacrament was one of the best moments I can recall.  Baptism is just the beginning and I can hardly wait to see them grow and one day go through the temple with them.
The New Romain

On Tuesday we were in Paris for the day.  Before our train left to come home a few of us decided to go get dinner.  There is a Panini place where you can get a panini, drink and crepe for only 4.50 euros and it is right next to Notre Dame.  As we were waiting to order a man made eye contract with me and so I said, "Ca va?" Who would have guessed where that would lead.  Marc is from Haiti and left 4 years ago when his house and everything he owned was destroyed by the earthquake.  He's been in France for about a year and a half and was converted to the Christian religion because he found it gave him a lot of peace and hope in today's troubled world.  As we talked we told him about how we have found peace in Christ and his teachings, especially through the scriptures.  We gave him a Book of Mormon and asked if we could read Moroni's promise and then we prayed right there.  He wanted to learn more so we got his information and were able to get him in contact with the missionaries in Paris.  (None other than Elder Davis, my trainer)  I can't wait to see how it goes.  He ate with us and we were able to talk for about another 45 minutes.  Pretty amazing how people are put in our path, are prepared and often all it takes is a "Ca va or How are you?"  The Lord will do the rest!

One day, before lunch, we contacted a man by the name of Charles.  He said he was an atheist but had read the Coran (Bible) and meets with the JW's every other week.  He used to be Protestant.  When we asked what happened he explained he had been in the military.  Because of the things that happen in the world and the wars he had decided there was no God.  We continued to talk and invited him to read the Book of Mormon.  He loves to read and we thought it could help him.  We set up another rendez-vous for the next morning.  When we met him he said he was sorry that he hadn't had much time to read and had only read the first 54 pages.  Woah...that's a lot we assured him and he said he liked it and it interested him a lot.  We asked if he had prayed before he read but he said no.  We invited him to pray and testified that we knew he would know it was true by the Spirit.  He said to call in 3 or 4 days so he could finish reading it.  I can't wait to teach him this week!

And last, but not least, we went to the Musee cex beaux arts and Museum of Iron Works after emails last week.  It was cool and we saw a few of Monet's paintings.  In Paris on Tuesday I was able to see the Sacre Coeur.  Wow, that thing is huge and amazing!  I also saw the Notre Dame and went inside to see a service. Paris is amazing and a gorgeous city with so much to see.  I recommend it to everyone with a side trip to Rouen, of course!

Yesterday (that's why I emailed today instead of yesterday)we were able to build furniture for a new apartment for the new sisters who get here on Wednesday.  We went to Ikea and other stores to get it ready.  Now it's ready and is an awesome apartment!

Tonight we are going to the branch President's home to pray with his family and go porting in their neighborhood.  There are lots of young families and we are hoping and praying we will have success tonight and bring a young family closer to Christ!

Thanks for the emails, prayers and support.  I'm so grateful for the chance I have to be here and invite people to come unto Christ.  That wouldn't be possible without all of you.  Have a great week!  Until next Monday...
Love,  Elder Player
Sacre Couer
Overlooking Paris from the Sacre Couer
Our District
Notre Dame
Inside the Notre Dame
Rouen Missionaries
2 more sister missionaries are arriving on Wednesday