Monday, April 28, 2014

A Nail from the Nose of an 89 Year Old! Slick Trick!

Wow!  What a week it's been here.  I hope you've had a great week too.  We have continued to be blessed by the Lord and have had some cool experiences.  We have also had some interesting moments, as the Title suggests, that I will never forget!

Last Monday we went to the Champs Elysees to do some shopping.  (More like looking but it was still fun) We made our way out of the metro tunnel and found ourselves next to the Arc de Triomphe with the Eiffel Tower in the background.  I love Paris!  There is something about this place that is like no other place I've been.  We made our way to the street and found some super cool things in lots of different stores.  Next we made our way to La Defense to a mall there.  Pretty sure there is more shopping centers here than anywhere else around the world!  While shopping we met two people who contacted us instead of the other way around.  The first was a Parisian girl who wanted to know the difference between the Mormons and the Catholics.  (She's catholic)  The second was a man named Henri (an employee of the store) who asked if we believed in Jesus.  We said yes and then he walked off but a few minutes later he came up and asked where our church was and asked to meet with us another time.  So cool!  We ate Chipotle burritos that were delicious but expensive.  Oh well!

As the week continued we were able to continue to see some amazing moments that I will try to sum up:
...Sebastian and Cedre:  We found their teaching record and it had been over a year since the missionaries had seen them and there really wasn't a reason why so we called them up and set up an appointment.  After rain, hail and getting lost we finally made it to their apartment and had an awesome lesson.  His wife, Cedre, is a member who isn't active.  They have two kids, 6 and 2, who are super cool.  As we were teaching about faith we asked them, "How can you develop faith?"  Cedre responded and said, "Sebastian, what do we do every night?"  We found out that they read the Book of Mormon together and pray together every night. Sebastian continued and said, "I know it's important because every time we stop reading or praying things don't go as smooth.  Last week I realized that I hadn't read for a long time and been taught by the missionaries and I wanted to call, but didn't.  You called the next day!"  Amazing to see how the Lord works and how people are prepared.  We taught them later in the week about repentance and we will be fasting with him next week that his boss will let him change his work schedule so they can come to church.  We know that the Lord can soften hearts if you pray,  fast and have a desire.

As the week continued we seemed to be running to catch trains.  Tuesday night we had 3 minutes to go from the metro 6 levels below ground to one level above ground to catch the train.  We booked it and made it.  Thursday morning we need to catch the train from Troyes back to Paris.  We were the last people on board before the doors closed.  Whew!  We'll try to work on that for the next rain.  We had an exchange in Toryes and I was with Elder Watts who is from Orange County, California.  We had a few rendez-vous and an awesome day.  One experience was with a kid named Bryan Curtis.  We were going to a rendez-vous with a less active family but when we arrived the family wasn't there.  Elder Watts suggested that we pass by our other amis who live close by.  We walked over and the mother ran out and told us to go in but that she had to go get her son because something had happened to him.  We went into the house and waited.  Shortly she came in carrying him in her arms.  He's 10 and was curled up in a ball because of intense pain and couldn't walk.  She told us she couldn't meet right then and needed to call the doctor.  We asked if we could give him a blessing first.  We were kneeling  on the floor as we gave him a priesthood blessing.  After he started to stretch his legs and within 5 minutes he was up walking and ready to play with his friends.  I really can't express my feelings except that I know the priesthood power is real and can help and heal in moments of need.  We must always be ready and worthy to use it. It was so amazing!  His friend and 12 year old brother were watching and after asked, "What did you just do?"  We explained over the next hour and had such a cool lesson with the kids and the morther.  For me it is another testimony builder that the Lord knows where we need to be and makes it possible to be there.
Bryan Curtis in back
This is the boy we gave a blessing to.

The last thing I want to share is about a man names Jean Paranton.  We had a rendez-vous set up for the night but they weren't there.  We decided that we'd go porting in a building next door.  We started on the 15th floor and at the second door opened.  It was a young family who let us in and we had a prayer with them.  As we continued we came to the 13th floor and ported door number 334.  An old French man answered and we gave our introduction and he said he'd like us to pray with him.  We entered and started to talk to him.  He said he loved Americans and has so much respect for us and that he had met a lot of our soldiers during the war.  He had medals, guns and all sorts of art and bronze lining the walls.  As we continued to talk to him he asked if we wanted to see something he learned to do in training.  "Of course!" we responded.  He went over to a drawer and found a huge nail 6 or 7 inches long and then came over and started to inhale it.  He inserted the nail all the way into his nose!  We kept looking at each other like what is happening right now.  Next he came over and said pull it out.  I looked at Elder Alexander and he pulled the nail out of the Jean's head.  Oh wait, did I mention he's 89 years old.  There was no blood or brain matter on the nail for which we were grateful.  As we continued to talk we learned that his children no longer talk to him and he lives with his animals.  He even read to us the letter he wrote for his kids to read when he dies.  It was full of wisdom.  This man was involved in the first artificial heart transplant in France and has done many other things in his life.  He's lonely and was so grateful to have someone to talk to and wanted us to tell everyone we met the "crazy French man" but than said he loves all of his family a lot.  He talked about how we have to live each day to its fullest and learn from each mistake.  It was awesome and we'll be giving him a visit again this week to see if we can do his shopping or help with anything else.

Awesome Easter activity with the ward here in Nogent
Got to see the coolest French house ever which was surrounded by rolling hills of yellow flowers
Continued to teach Oxcene and Jumite and their kids...they are so cool!
Met an awesome family who knows members that I know in Brussels

It was an awesome week and it so different to serve in Paris.  This week we have zone conference and then our last interviews with President Poznanski.  Thanks so much for your love, prayers and support.  Till next week!

Love...Elder Player
Cool house in France

Colza Fields

Double Rainbow over our apartment!

Waiting for the Elders to pick us up in Troyes

This is after running for the train...
we're pooped!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Bonjour from Paris

I hope you all had a Happy Easter yesterday.  This was definitely a different Easter than previous ones but it was great and I'm so happy to be here in Nogent!  We've had a great 5 days together and cannot wait to see the amazing things that will happen here.  Here's a little bit about our week:

Last Monday and Tuesday were full of talking to members and having FHE's which were great!  It was a busy few days and a great way to finish in Rouen.  I've come to love these people so much and it was hard to say goodbye but I know change is good!  Tuesday night was full of packing and Elder Johnson acquired a lot of things that wouldn't fit in my bags.  Ready for the weight of my two BIG bags and a duffel I bought...166 lbs. Yes, absolutely crazy and my goal is to never have that much to carry around again! Luckily, Elder Johnson didn't have luggage going to Paris and the three others Elders were there to help me bring it back to the apartment.  No wheels broke so it was a success!

Wednesday, after getting to the Gare, I got my Navigo (metro pass for Paris which equals freedom to go anywhere in Paris on P-days) and then I had to say goodbye to my "son", Elder Johnson.  That was really hard but I know that he's going to kill it in Rouen with his new companion and I'm so grateful I got to be his "dad" and companion.  Then, I met Elder Alexander, my new companion.  Elder Alexander is from Las Vegas, NV and is awesome!  He's a recent convert to the church and I'm so excited to be with him this transfer.  This will be his 4th transfer here in Nogent.  We live with Elder Utahia, from Tahiti, in his 6 transfer and Elder Whatcott, from Boston, who is in his 16 and final transfer.  The two Elders who live with us are actually the missionaries for Aulnay.  They travel 45 minutes to their area every day to do contacting.  Our apartment is awesome and right off the RER (metro).  It is next to Aushan and a mall and only 4 stops from downtown Paris (15 mins.)  It's huge with rooms for each companionship to study, a big bathroom, huge kitchen and a huge living room that is the area for sleeping with super nice beds!  So to say the least, I am happy!  After we ate something we went out and did some contacting and to see the church.  Our chapel is the 3rd oldest in France and is very nice.  Our ward has about 160 active members and a total of 533 members.  (We definitely have some re-activation to work on.)  That night we had a FHE with the Kusseling family.  I found out that Frere Kusseling is the CFO of BMW here and also stated the KFC Franchises in France! He's so awesome and his family is so nice and humble.  He's our and mission leader and I'm so excited to work with him and his family!

The next few days involved contacting, visiting amis, FHE's and lots of other things.  Here are just a few things I want to share...

Friday morning we went out contacting to a neighborhood called Vincennes.  As we came out of the metro, there in the background, was the Eiffel Tower.  Pretty Crazy!  At the end of a few hours we took the metro back and took the wrong exit.  As we walked towards the RER we were stopped by Mararelia.  She asked, "Are you the Elders?"  We said yes and she asked where the church was because she wants to come but couldn't find it.  We asked if she was a baptized member and she said, "No, but I want to be baptized as fast as possible!"  We were in shock and so excited.  We took down her information and told her we would have the sisters call her and come see her.  As we left she asked if we needed anything because in Brazil (She's from Rio) they always help out the missionaries and if we ever needed ANYTHING to call her!  On Sunday we got a call from the Soeurs, one who was Soeur Castillo, telling us that she had come to church and later in the day they had a FHE with her and she wanted to be baptized.  So amazing!  We take a wrong exit, meet Mararelia and she wants to be baptized.  God knows us and our personalities and people are prepared and put in our path.  So cool and a testimony builder.

The rest of the week was like that...people were put in our path everyday and we are so grateful for the Lord and his outpouring of blessings on us.  Yesterday we were stopped by a man that asked if we believed in God and why wasn't God helping him.  He wants to talk more to us.  Saturday morning we were contacting a lady who had been fasting for 3 days to prepare for Easter.  As we started talking about the Restoration she asked if we believed in prophets.  When we said yes she said, "I know this is true!"  Her husband is American and lives in New Jersey.  As we had a prayer with her on the street the clouds opened up and the sun came out as we said "Amen".  She said, "That's God saying that he agrees with what we have talked about!"  I'm stoked to teach her Tuesday.  We've made contact with amis that haven't been seen in 2+ years who are interested to learn and talk about the gospel.  I really can't explain how blessed we have been in the last few days!

I'm so excited to be here and work and learn from all the people in Nogent.  I know there are people who are ready to receive the gospel and it's our goal to find and help them.  It's going to be great to live with these three Elders plus have amazing P-days in Paris!  Today we are going to the  Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysees!  Thanks for all the emails, love and support.  Have a great week and know that I pray for you all!

Love...Elder Player

Funny/Awkward moment for the week...Yesterday before I was going to give my introduction to the ward I was asked to give a long testimony about Easter because a talk fell through.  Everything went great (pretty good French) but at the end I said, "In the name of thy son, Jesus Christ, Amen."  I guess that goes to show that we pray a lot...Haha!
Leaving Rouen with 166 lbs. of luggage!

Frere Auger saying goodbye at the Gare

Contacting with the Eiffel Tower
in the background!

View from our apartment

Meet Elder Alexander

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Transfer 8 and I'm off to...

Bonjour, tout le monde encore!  I hope you've had a great week.  It's been a week full of goodbyes and miracles as we prepare for Easter.  We've been setting up our FHE's and have 5 out of 7 set up.  But now it's official...I'm leaving Rouen after almost 6 months here.  Before I say where I'm off to I'll share some highlights of our week!

After P-Day last week we were asked by the Soeurs to go and give a blessing to one of their members. They visit this member every week, Brother Arnold.  We went off to the hospital to see him.  When we arrived he was expecting us and excited to see us.  We asked if we could give him a priesthood blessing and explained that this is the same priesthood that Christ and His disciples used.  He asked for a blessing and right after he said, "Wow!  That gave me hope and was good for me."  We stayed and talked with him and learned that he "believed" but was not active.  We asked questions and learned that because of stress from work he now had a blood clot in his brain and it was very serious.  He told us that he used to pray and read the scriptures and that it helped him a lot.  We talked about the Book of Mormon and how it helps us, strengthens our families, and gives us peace.  He was so excited to start reading the Book of Mormon that night.  The Soeurs are still teaching him and he's really excited about the gospel and how it can help him and his family.

Wednesday night we went to an area, Bonsecours, where the Warenghien family had prayed and felt like we should go there.  We took the bus and we stopped at a neighborhood with newer homes and where we felt there might be young families.  After checking to see when the last bus stop was we realized we only had 25 minutes to port.  The first house was a young family with 4 or 5 kids.  They had met the "mormons" before and were interested to hear more about it when the husband was there.  We were able to port 8 house and 3 families were interested and want us to come back this week.  It was so awesome that in 25 minutes we could find three young families and shows us again that amazing miracles happen when members and missionaries come together.

Thursday night we had a "frudge" (no show) and decided to go do some porting in the hour we had left.  We decided to go close to our apartment but no one seemed interested and expressed that we were interrupting their dinners.  At 8:55, always the last few minutes and when your faith has been tested, we saw a family walking down the street.  They didn't speak French very well but spoke Romanian.  We didn't speak Romanian so we asked if we could come back and share some stuff in Romanian.  The husband said "no" but the wife said "yes, he doesn't know what your saying."  They have 3 children so we will pass by and teach them this week with Romanian supplies on board.  Wish us luck!

A few more highlights:
...Gabriel came to church again and asked awesome questions about the priesthood.  We watched, "Finding Faith in Christ" and now the goal is to re-activate him and help him receive the priesthood.
...Thierry made the decision to quit drinking coffee and said he knew he could do it with the help of the Lord!  Awesome rendez-vous!
...WE ate with the Warenghien family on Saturday and had crab/avocado salad, steaks with pepper sauce and dijon mustard, potatoes, cheese, bread, fresh fruit and madelines for dessert.  Yummy!

Yesterday (Sunday) was filled with pictures of people I've come to love and saying goodbye to them.  Wilfried bore his testimony, that was awesome, and Ezechias and Romain were all there too.  I'm so thankful to have met these amazing people.  The pictures will do most of the taking this week and now I'm off to Nogent, France.  It is just outside of Paris and we will have metro passes to go anywhere in Paris on P-days.  It's only 15-20 minutes away by metro.  Soeur Berge started her mission there and said it's an awesome, huge ward with lots of young families and said that I'll love it!  Wednesday morning I'll be off for Nogent and start a new journey there.  We will have a 4 man apartment and my new companion is Elder Alexander. More info next week!

I hope you all have a great Easter and know how much I love you all.  If you have a few minutes send me a letter at my new address:
Les Missionnaries
Elder Chase Player
33, Rue Maximilien Robespierre
94120 Fontenay Sous Bois

Much Love...
Elder Player
The Barnjak Family

The Bitanga Family
I love this family so much.  They've been
like my parents here in Rouen!

Cool Forest we found while porting!

The Famous Warenghien's!

District 6 picture with Transfer Numbers!
Sisters were at a conference!

Frere Dupre

Convert Sunday School Class

My 3 Converts in Rouen

In front of our Apartment in Rouen

Gabriel and moi!
Transfer prophecies in my BuBu
Little island in Rouen!

Porting in France with the trees in blossom!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Testimonies of Amis and Prophets

Bonjour! Tout Le Monde!  I hope you've had a great week and got to enjoy general Conference this past weekend.  When conference rolls around each six months it's like little kids on Christmas morning for the missionaries.  It was worth the wait and not a let down.!  All the messages were so great and I'm so grateful for our leaders and the inspiration they have.  As for this week, it was great and still shocks me that it's already Monday again.

Last Monday after P-day we had FHE with the Bitanga family, Romain and Wilfried.  The spiritual thought was President Uchtdorf's talk, "Come and Join With Us" from last conference.  He tells the story of a couple that asks about the church and all the things that are required by members and finally the couple asks, "So, why are you members of the Church?"  That was the question we asked for each of us.  "Why are you a member of the Church?"  We went around the table and each person expressed their feelings and thoughts and it turned into a testimony meeting.  It was so awesome to hear Romain and Wilfried's testimonies.  It's amazing to see how the Gospel can change someone's life and bring them so much joy.  I'm so grateful for the chance we have to see that change happen in peoples lives.

As the week continued we visited members, new converts and less active members and had some great success with them.  We were able to teach the most lessons ever to the less active and new converts.  Two of them were able to come to Conference yesterday.  We asked members this week to think of a friend they can invite to FHE before Easter.  It goes along perfectly with Elder Ballard's talk from yesterday.  If everyone will reach out 4 times a year and invite someone to church or to be taught by the missionaries we will see great blessings and an outpouring of his Spirit in our lives!  This week we are praying and working with the members to set FHE dates for the next week.  One of the things we were asked by President Poznanski was to ask members to pray for a street name that we could port on in their neighborhood and we have seen success there.

It is true, just as President Monson said last conference and emphasized this conference, that "Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labor in the Lord's vineyard to bring souls unto Him.  He has prepared the means for us to share the gospel in a multitude of ways and He will assist us in our labors if we will act in faith to fulfill His work."  Over the last few weeks we have worked with members and we have seen miracles.  It is when we come together and combine our efforts that we will see lives changed and people brought to Christ.  The last week we were able to port a street that Tarolin had prayed about that wasn't far from his house.  We met one family that let us in and Saturday afternoon was no different.  Each family was so kind to us and encouraged us even when they were not interested.  As we ported, we met a man by the name of Christian spoke to us for about 20 minutes at his door.  We learned that he had lost his daughter when she was younger and had hatred in his heart against God for taking his daughter.  As we talked we asked if he would like to have this feeling taken from him.  He said, "yes" and we explained that it's possible by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  He said it is difficult to believe in these things since he is a man of science but he was willing to listen and this week we are super excited to be going back to talk and follow up on the brochure, "The Plan of Salvation" we left with him.

Finally, this weekend was General Conference.  It was such an inspiring weekend and full of things to re-charge and give motivation to us to continue to become more like Christ.  I hope you all got to see or listen to it and if not take time to because I know that there is a message for you.  We were with Wilfried for Conference at Frere Auger's on Saturday might and at the end he said, "That wasn't too bad!  I didn't know what to expect and I had so many questions at the beginning but every single one was answered."  Wilfried has only been a member for a week and so if he can find answers so can we find answers to the questions we have.

The work here in Rouen is going great and we are continuing to be blessed by the Lord.  I'm so grateful to be here with Elder Johnson and still have the goal to have him try some crazy food before I leave, like escargots.  We'll see if I can make it happen.  Thanks for your love and support and have a great week.

Love you...Elder Player
District picture with the number of transfers!

General Conference with the Soeurs

Operation communication with Frere Auger

Cool French house!

Rainbow over Rouen!