Monday, May 26, 2014

Decisions Determine Destiny

Meet Michael...Future Missionary!
Bonjour!  Today is the start of another transfer and for the big news... (drum roll) I'm staying in Nogent and so is Elder Alexander.  It's his 5th transfer here!  Crazy but exciting and Elder Utahia who lives with us will be receiving a bleu missionary to train.

This week was great and it ended with a bang!  Joe was baptized on Saturday along with Marilia and Wilhem.  It was such a great day!  Saturday morning we were able to go to Marilia's baptism.  She was the women who came up to us and asked us where the church was.  We asked if she was a member and she said, "No but I want to be as soon as possible"  We found out where she lived and that she had been taught in Brazil by the Elders but couldn't find the church when she came to France.  We passed her to the Soeurs in Anthony and she was able to go to church there.  They had a family home evening with her that night but found out that she actually lived in the Evry area so they passed her to the Soeurs there.  Over the last 4 weeks she has been taught and prepared for baptism and the date was set for Saturday.  All she needed was permission from her husband.  The first three times she asked she was told "No" and on the third time he kicked her out of the house for the night.  During a rendez-vous last week she started to cry and said, "All I want to do is follow Christ and be baptized in his church.  I have faith that he will prepare a way for me to do that.  They all prayed together and she decided that she was going home and ask one more time.  The next morning the Soeurs got a phone call from President Poznanski and the husband had given permission for her to be baptized.  It was a miracle made possible by the Lord!  The baptism was filled with the spirit and after she was able to bear her testimony and said that on the day she left Brazil and the Elders she had lost her happiness but the day she found them again she found her happiness.  She expressed how happy she was that day.  It was so cool and absolutely amazing.  An example of faith beyond all measure.  She gave us all gifts that she had ordered from Rio for all of us that had taught her!

After the baptism we hurried and got on the train to come back to Nogent, grabbed the brownies we had made, and went to the church.  We arrived and got everything ready to go and the night ended with 2 more baptisms.  Joe and Wilhem.  Wilhem is the husband of a member in our ward who has been inactive.  She has been re-activated along with Wilhem.  They have been taught by the Soeurs and from the day I first met them I thought they were both members.  I love them so much.  To see Wilhem enter into the waters of baptism and to see the happiness that it's brought to both of them is amazing!  I know that they will be blessed in the future.  Sunday night we went to their home for dinner and Sandra, his wife, just cried and said that she has never felt such joy and then they both testified of the gospel and the blessings they've already seen.  Super excited to see and to realize that they will be sealed with their 5 year old daughter in the temple in a year!

Last of all...Joe!  Saturday night while waiting for Joe to arrive he finally pulled up with a car full of friends that he had brought.  His 2 brothers and their families, who are members, and a cousin were also able to come.  He looked so good in white.  He bore his testimony and said how much joy he felt.  On Sunday he received the gift of the Holy Ghost!  It was such a spiritual weekend that I'm sure none of us will forget!  I'm so happy for all of them and love them all so much!

We also had some great lessons with our amis!  The Vasile family continues to progress and we are going to see them a few times this week.  Every time we go they start by saying,  "This book, it has a lot of stuff in it that is true!"  Slow but steady!  We had a District 6 meeting and got to go with the Soeurs and our District Leader for baptismal interviews.  While the DL was doing the interview we were able to make cookies with the kids.  The youngest, Michael, is so legit.  I'll attach a picture of him wearing my watch and one of my name tags.  He's  a future missionary for sure.  We were spoiled with a mangez-vous (dinner) with Yiun.
They are the family from Tahiti.  (The wife is here being treated for cancer)  Even though they are in a hotel they had prepared a table with fine china and an amazing meal.  We had individual hams, potatoes, salad, bread, appetizers and 3 desserts and Coke!  To say the least we were stuffed.  If I lived in Tahiti and ate like that I would not be able to walk every day!

Last, but not least, we met a man, Sebastian, this is another Sebastian so we'll say Sebastian #2.  We received his number from Headquarters and it said...Aunt and Uncle are members in Lyon.  Has a Book of Mormon and is ready and wants to know more.  We called him and set up a rendez-vous.  When we arrived he told us, "I am a serious sinner.  My whole life is sins but I saw the change that happened in my uncles' life, who was made an Elder yesterday.  I want the same change and healing he has had because he was just like me before.  We were able to read the Book of Mormon and taught the whole restoration.  It went great and he was excited to read and study more.  We will meet again this week.  It's so amazing to see how much he desires to change and be healed!

It's been awesome to see all three people baptized, meet Sebastian #2, teach the Vasile family and see people listen, make changes in their lives and act on them.  I know these decision will change their destiny.
Please think about talking to one person this week.  It could change their destiny as it has for these people. It's time to go check out and see where all the missionaries are going with transfers.  (Oh, the life of missionaries!)  Have a great week and know how much I love you all!

Elder Player
Making Brownies for the baptisms

Paris...So Cool!

Very famous bridge where couples go to lock
their hearts when they get married!

Joe on his baptism day!

Marilia on her baptism day!

Joe and his brothers!

Meet District 6

Joe and Wilhem

Monday, May 19, 2014

"Light Always Overcomes Darkness"

Jean with the Book of Mormon

Crazy how fast the first year went.  I don't
even want to think how fast the 2nd will go!

Talent night in our ward!
Bonjour!  Tout le Monde!  It has been a fantastic week here and feels like summer has arrived.  Today it it suppose to get up to 25 degrees C with 100% humidity.  Everything is so green!  The Lord has blessed us this week and miracles have come our way.  Here are a few moments I want to share...

Last Monday after P-Day we had a rendez-vous with Sebastian and Cedre.  They are a part member family that we started teaching a few weeks ago.  Sebastian has been trying to work out his work situation so that he can come to church and we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.  We talked to him about setting a date for baptism in July, a week after he can start coming to church, and he said YES!.  A few minutes later his wife, who is a member already, came in and he said, "Cedre, I have a surprise!  I am going to be baptized and now it will be possible for our children to grow up in the church!"  She became so excited and started telling us that Lila and Elysee had never been blessed and asked if we could do that on the same day Sebastian is confirmed.  The Spirit filled the room and you could sense Sebastian's desire to become a member.  As the night continued Cedre started to talk about how they had been married civilly but had never had a church ceremony because she always knew the day would come that they would be married in the temple.  Now that day will come true.  It was so amazing and I'm so thankful for this family and how prepared they are and that they soon will be able to go to the temple and become an eternal family!

After the lesson they fed us and then we left for the bus stop.  We were running a little late and saw that the bus would not arrive for 15 more we were definitely going to be late now!  As we waited a bus, that wasn't scheduled for a stop, pulled up and it said it was going to the RER stop.  We got on but as we scanned our passes it said "service closed".  The driver said, "Oh well" and let us on anyway. We made our way to some seats at the back and started to talk about our rendez-vous with Cedre and Sebastian in English.  We were the only people on the bus and the driver yelled back, "You're English?"  we replied that we were Americans.  He continued to talk so we moved up closer and started to talk.  We learned that he had toured all the western US and loved Salt Lake and had met some members there.  (Small chance of that, right!)  We told him why we were here and he told us he was Catholic but not active and was open to hear more about our church.  It was the first time he had heard that the Mormons had churches, even in France, with thousands of members!  We exchanged phone numbers and made it to the RER stop and knew that it wasn't chance that we were running late and that bus just stopped there even though it wasn't a scheduled stop.  God made sure that we met Fred that night!

Saturday we were able to teach Fred and give him a tour of our church in Nogent.  He was so impressed and had so many questions.  We taught him about the Book of Mormon and he said he would read and pray about it.  We are meeting with him again this week to talk more.  As we closed the lesson we had a prayer and he said it was so different than the memorized prayers that he was used to.  We explained that we can have a relationship with a loving Father in Heaven and feel his love by his Spirit.  After the prayer he opened his eyes and was clearly touched by the Spirit.  With tears in his eyes he said, "Wow!  That felt really good!"

The last thing I want to share is about Jean, the man who put the nail in his head.  He called us yesterday during church and asked if we could come see him because he had a little gift for us.  It's been two weeks since we saw him but had some time in the evening to go.  He gave us a book, "The Gospel according to John" with a letter thanking us for our kindness.  We felt prompted to give him a Book of Mormon and explained that we had a gift for him too.  When he saw it he instantly said, "Mormons!  I've heard so much about this book!  Thank you so much.  I want to read it."  He than took our hands and kissed them and it felt as though he'd been waiting to receive this book his whole life and after 88 years it finally had arrived.  It was so cool and we are going to see him this week.  It just goes to show that we should never have biases and always share what we have because even if we think they are not interested it might be just what they have been looking and waiting for!

We got on the RER and a man and woman heard us talking and asked us where our church was.  We asked if she was member and she said "no" but wanted to check it out and if she liked it she wanted to become a member!  The Lord truly does put people in our cool!

The Vasile family was awesome this week and 4 of them came to church for Ward Conference yesterday and it went great.  We are seeing them again tonight!

Joe is awesome and so ready for his baptism on the 24th.  Yesterday he came to church in another classy suit!

Had an awesome Talent Show Saturday night by ward members.  Our ward is filled with so much talent from singing, acting, composing instrumentals - you name it.  Our ward is also full of young families that at times I feel like I'm in Utah until they start speaking French!  HaHa

Had a mission conference with all the Paris missionaries and with Elder Snow, Elder Dyches, their wives and the Director of the Family History Department.

I have officially been out over a year this past week.  I got two awesome packages from mom and dad with many of my favorites, including pancakes and Golden Griddle syrup (my favorite) and so we had a delicious pancake breakfast Saturday.  We watched the Saratov Approach, which our mission had a fireside on a few weeks ago, and my favorite line was "Remember, Light Always Overcomes Darkness!"  I know that this is true and that thanks to the Atonement of Christ all things are possible.

I'm so grateful to be here and I love it every day.  Thank you so much for your support, prayers and for all you do for me.  Have a great week and I'll write next Monday.

Love...Elder Player

Monday, May 12, 2014

27 Bones - 25 Muscles = 1 Human Hand

Bonjour tout le monde!  This last week has flown by and once again we've been continually blessed.  The week finished off with a great skype yesterday.  It was great to see and hear all that is going on.  The time passed fast but was awesome and I just want to say again how much I love all of you!

Over the last 7 days lots has happened and there's a few things I really want to write about.  I mentioned that there are 533 members in our ward but about 333 of those are not attending so we have set goals with re-activation.  We met with the Ward Secretary and he gave us about 40 names to start with.  We've been calling and going to see a few of them this last week.

One man, Louis-Pierre, hasn't been to church in over 2 years but has been through the temple, was the Ward Secretary for 10 years and is an Elder.  As we visited with him we asked how he was converted.  He shared his story and we added our personal conversion stories to his.  We used a scripture in Romans 8:35-39.  I love this scripture because it shows us how the Lord loves us, even in difficult times.  No matter how long we turn away from his teachings, no mater what we've done, He is always reaching out to us with his arms wide open.  We continued to talk with him and he talked about how he could feel the love of Christ for him in the temple more than anywhere else in the world.  He expressed that he'd love to feel that again.  We asked him what he thought he needed to do to be ready to go back to the temple.  He's going to come to church next week and start back on the road to returning to the temple.  It was cool to see his desire and realize that all he needs is a helping hand to reach down and invite him to come back.  We (not just missionaries) are the hands of the Lord on the earth and he has asked us to reach out to others.  (Mosiah 18:8-9)

I know if we just reach out to one person and give them our hand, as the Lord through others has done for us so many times, we will be able to see many people return and be able to feel the fullness of his love just like Louis-Pierre.

The next experience was with our "amis", Sebastian, who I've written about before.  He is married to a member and they have 2 children.  The only thing stopping him from being baptized is that he works on Sundays.  We asked  him to pray and we said we would fast and pray for his boss's heart to be softened. We talked about how fasting, prayer, obedience and doing all that we can will always work because the Lord will prepare a way for his children to fulfill his commandments.  He told us he would talk to his boss and mentioned that his boss had just bought a new meat store in Nogent by the church. He also told us that he doesn't have to work or attend school after the first of July so he can start coming in July.  Everything is falling into place and our prayers are being answered in God's own timing.  I know it'll all work out and his desire to be baptized and come to church will be possible. Yesterday we were able to find transportation for his wife and two kids so that they can start coming to church right away and tonight we are going to have FHE with all of them.  So awesome.

Last, but not least, is Joe and the Vasile family who are both doing great.  In Priesthood meeting our lesson was on the converting power of the Book of Mormon.  At the end of the lesson they left 20 minutes for those who wanted to bear their testimony.  Joe raised his hand and testified of how the Book of Mormon was the "thing" that he had searched for but as in D&C 123:12..."They are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it."  It was so powerful and we all left priesthood lifted by the spirit and everyone was amazed by the testimony of someone who is preparing for baptism.  He will be baptized on May 24th.  We also had the opportunity to see the Vasile's and they are coming to church next week.  We were able to get them Romanian Book of Mormons and they were excited to start reading it and pray to know if it's true.  It's so amazing to see how willing and open they are and how desirous they are to increase their faith in Christ!

Had lunch with a less active member who is working for Yves Saint Laurent, Dior and Chanel as a designer. He was super cool and has a son serving in Singapore!

Last Monday we got to see the Trocadero with an awesome view of the Eiffel Tower, the Opera House and the craziest Galleries Lafayette that I've ever seen.

Had a funny port at an apartment.  I spoke into the speaker box at the door and as I started to say who I was and that I was from America the lady said, "Sederik, you are so funny!  I know your voice...come in."  I tried to explain that I wasn't Sederik, but Elder Player from America.  She just laughed and said, "Sederik come on in!"  So we did.  When we arrived at her door she was surprised to see that is really was Elder Player and not Sederik and she closed the door on us!

Mother's to skype with my awesome family!

This week we get to hear from Elder Snow of the Seventies on Friday!

It's great to be in Paris.  I love all of you and appreciate your love and support.  Have a great week.  Till next Monday...
Love...Elder Player

PS...Let me explain my title...We have 27 bones and 25 muscles in one hand.  It is the most concentrated area of muscles and bones in our bodies.  Imagine why the Lord gave us hands and how we can use them to help others.  We are the Lord's hands on earth!
One crazy museum!
Galleries Lafayette

The Trocadero with an awesome
view of the Eiffel Tower

Lots of Rainy Days in Paris!
The Opera House

Monday, May 5, 2014

"He shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which He commandeth them"

The view of the Eiffel  Tower
Bonjour tout le monde!  I hope you've all had a fantastic week and are enjoying the beautiful spring weather.  This week in Nogent we have had spring weather with rain and sunshine!  The  Lord has continued to bless us and we have seen many miracles once again. We are preparing for our new mission President coming this July by setting a goal of 125 baptisms in 2 transfers.  That's 12 weeks!  You might remember that we set a goal of 100 baptisms in 2 transfers when we heard that Elder Oaks was coming last fall.  We reached our goal and then some with 115 baptisms   Earlier in the year a goal was set for 85 baptisms in 12 week and was also met.  Each goal that is set we have been able to reach and this goal will be no different.

This past week we had zone conference with all 4 of the Paris Zones.  125 baptisms was our theme.  We have 2 months left and 95 baptisms to go.  We learned the principles of faith and prayer and that with obedience and desire we will be able to achieve our goal.  President and Soeur Poznanski are amazing and gave us such great information.  We've seen that the Lord is going to help us achieve this goal and is preparing people to enter into the waters of baptism...and that leads us to Joe.

Joe is an awesome man about 30 years old who moved to Paris 3 months ago.  He was living in Caen, my old zone, when he came into contact with the missionaries.  He took all the lessons and then moved to Paris.  He was taught once here about 3 months ago and then was in the hospital for 2 months and has not been contacted since.  We called him on Sunday and set up a rendez-vous for Wednesday.  On Wednesday we arrived at his apartment to teach him and he told us he needed to find his brochures.  He pulled out, "True to the Faith, Teachings of Latter Day Prophets, The Bible, The Brochure and the Book of Mormon.  We were confused and thought he must be a member.  He told us no.  We decided to start over with the teachings and answer his questions so we started with the Restoration and watched the video.  It was an awesome lesson.  The spirit was so strong and so we gave him a date to be baptized.  He was so happy and has been waiting for this day to come.  We asked him to pray for confirmation and told him we would pray too.

On Friday we had another rendez-vous with him and answered his questions and taught the Plan of Salvation.  He loved it and said, "It just makes sense."  At the end of the lesson we asked if he had received a confirmation and he said "Yes!  I was preparing something to eat and I totally forgot that I was hungry because after I prayed I had a happiness that I can't even describe in words!"  He wants to surprise his family because he's the only one that is not a member.  He even has a sister in Ghana, Africa on a mission.  To say the least it was one of the coolest, most spiritual experiences I've had and to feel the joy of this man's heart as he accepts the gospel was awesome!  On Sunday we met him at the Gare to go to church with him and he was in a classy suit, with his iPad ready to go.  When we arrived he opened up the Gospel Library app, he'd already downloaded, and asked what number was the opening song!  Right before the sacrament one of the Deacons asked him to help pass because they thought he was a member already.  I think that sums it up!  He's amazing and we are so excited for him!

Another awesome miracle happened while we were doing our weekly planning.  We were looking through the Area Book and a name jumped out at us so we called it.  The man said we could come and see them and so on Sunday we arrived on the bus to the Rue Bel Air.  It was such a cool area with gorgeous homes.  At the gate there were 4 kids playing outside and when we asked if their dad was there they invited us to come in.  We went in and met the family and started talking as the 4 kids peeked in from the other room to see what was going on.  We said they could come join us and they quickly did.  We asked how many of the kids were theirs and they said all of them plus 3 others that weren't home.  A total of 7 children!  Wahoo!  We talked to them and they are from Romania and very "believing".  It was an awesome moment and we are going back on Tuesday to teach them about the Restoration.  From these two examples you can see how the Lord prepares people and never gives us a commandment without helping us.  As for our 125 baptisms I know he's prepared a way to accomplish that goal too!

...We helped a member family from Albania last Monday and Tuesday around Paris.  Got them checked into their hotel and then back to the Gare the next day.  They were so grateful and said that their whole branch prayed for them to have a safe trip and it was coming true!

...Met lots of awesome people porting including a Portuguese family who kept saying, as they were reading the brochure in Portuguese, "That's true!"

...Saw Jean again (The man who put the nail in his head) and he's doing great and says to say "Hi" to all of you!

...Had an exchange with Elder Lloyd...he's awesome!

...Met the kindest family who is here from Tahiti!  They are members and some of the best people I've ever met.  They are here for the wife to undergo treatment for cancer.  They are an amazing example of faith in trails and Christ like love!

That's a wrap for this week.  I love all of you and am so grateful for your love and prayers.  Have a great week and I'll talk to you on Mother's day!!! :)

Elder Player

This is a picture of a cool lake we found!

Zone Conference with Soeur Castillo and Elder Esparza

Elder Alexander at the cool lake!

Downtown Paris on our last P-Day

The Kurti Family from Albania that we helped!