Monday, June 30, 2014

Water or Wine?

Lady Liberty in France
French Statue of Lady Liberty!

Paris Letters with a good-looking
missionary in front of them!
 Bonjour!  Tout le Monde!  Here it is the last Monday in June.  It has been a good week here with some great rendez-vous with amis.  I'll start with Sebastien!

This week we were able to see Sebastien twice and hopefully more this week.  His exams are over for becoming a butcher.  Last Monday we went to their home and the whole family was there.  His sister, brother, Cedre and the two kids.  It was a little crazy but we were able to teach a few points of the Restoration and ate with them.  We talked about the church to his siblings, who are all for the church and for Sebastien becoming a member.  So, that was awesome.  Sebastien asked us if you could go on a mission when you are older.  We said, "Ya, as a couple!"  He proceeded to tell Cedre that he wanted to go on a mission when they are older.  So cool!.  On Saturday we were able to have another rendez-vous with Sebastien at the church.  Joe helped teach and we watched the Restoration film.  It went great.  At the end we looked over and asked Sebastien what he was feeling and he said he couldn't really describe it but it felt good.  He said he always feels good when he comes to the church and so he knows that it is true.  The spirit was so strong and I'm so excited because he'll be on vacation the next two weeks and can come to church.

Teaching with Joe is great.  He testified so strongly of the gospel and told about his conversion.  He is so excited for Sebastien.  We were able to teach Joe a few times this week as well.  He is such a great example of a great member.  He asked if he could come and teach with us more often and gave us his schedule.  We were able to teach him about temples and genealogy.  Woah...he was so excited to be able to go to the temple and be baptized for his father but asked if he had to pick just one ancestor to be baptized for because he wants to do it for all his family.  When we explained he could be baptized for all his family he was so happy and wanted to get started on his genealogy right away!

The Vasile family...we are taking a new approach with them and we think the restoration finally clicked.  We are excited to go back and see them this week.  They did tell us that they have a hard time coming to church because the mom doesn't understand anything.  We don't have any Romanian speakers in the ward so our new task is to find a Romanian/French person soon!

We were able to eat with Jackie.  When we arrived he had bought each of us a rotisserie chicken, fries, coke, watermelon and cherries.  So delicious and he seriously feels like he's a father to us!

Made homemade pizza dough and scones this week.  It was a hit!

Saw the French Statue of Liberty.  Pretty cool but the American one still wins!

Saw Jean yesterday and he is doing great.  We asked what he was doing for the week and he said, "I don't plan ahead anymore because I don't know if I'll have tomorrow!"  He has a funny sense of humor!

President and Soeur Poznanski left on Friday and President and Soeur Babin arrived.  This week we will have a "meet them" conference and interviews for our zone.  It's on the 4th of July so that'll be fun.  I heard from Elder Davis that President Babin got here and asked them what they were doing.  When they said going porting for three hours President Babin said OK I'm coming too and went knocking on doors with them the whole night!  So cool and it sounds like he has the fire, vision and energy for the mission.  I'm excited to meet them.

That's a wrap for this past week.  Soldes started and so today we are off to the La Defense to do some shopping.  Super excited.  Love you all and thank you for your letters and emails.  They are the best and seriously mean so much!  Have a great week and I'll email again next Monday.

Elder Player

* This week we were asked, "Why do you use water instead of wine?" more times than ever before.  That's always fun to explain so that was why I picked that as my title for this week!
Eating Thai Food in our kitchen...Don't you
just love the wall paper?

Tarte Fraises that we made for
District Meeting

Jackie's Feast for us!

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Arc de Triomphe and President and Soeur Poznanski

8 of us in one apartment so we can
make it to Zone Conference on time!
Bonjour!  Tout le Monde!  I hope  you've had a great week and that you are enjoying the World Cup like everyone in France is!  Last night we were trying to go to sleep.  There was a game on with Algeria and for about 2 hours the bar and restaurants outside our apartment were going crazy.  Lots of yelling and cars honking!  I think they must have won.  From what we've heard France and the USA are doing great so everyone is happy!  In addition to the crazy, soccer loving, Europeans with their excitement for the two wins this week it has been a great week for us!  We were able to continue to meet some awesome new people and say goodbye to President and Soeur Poznanski at a zone conference that was awesome!

First let me share a few cool experiences we had at the first of the week.  I had an exchange with Elder Powelson in Paris Lilas.  We had a great exchange running errands and we were able to teach a lesson on the street.  I was able to learn everything about raising cows and the meat they provide from Elder Powelson.  He is from a small city in Canada where they farm and breeds black Angus cows.  To say the least, it was fascinating.  Also, because of the zone conferences during the week elders were coming into Paris and staying the night so that they would be closer and make their zone conference on time.  Elder Johnson just happened to be staying in the Paris Lilas apartment that night so I got to talk and hear how he is doing.  It was super fun to see him and talk about our amis and converts.

As the week continued we received a referral from some other missionaries and we had an appointment with him on Wednesday night.  We made our way to the area and met Pelenda.  Pelenda had contact with the missionaries 15 years ago and was taught most of the gospel but was never baptized.  A few years later he moved and joined another Christian church congregation.  A few weeks ago he was able to go to church with a friend in Evry and they were able to get him in contact with the missionaries again.  We were able to teach the restoration and at the end we asked him if he would be baptized and he accepted and set a date in July.  That was an amazing example to me of seeing a seed planted and with time slowly grow and now it is ready to be harvested.  The Lord is preparing people and even the people we meet who aren't interested today might be interested later.  Planting seeds is awesome!

Pelenda came to church yesterday and loved all three hours.  We found out that his home isn't in our area so we are going to pass him to the missionaries in Anthony.  We are so excited for him and I'm sure he will be baptized.

During the week we had our Tahitian Night for the ward.  We have been planning it for weeks and it went great.  (Maybe not exactly as planned but it was a hit and Joe brought one of his friends, whose name is Perfect, and we were able to teach him.  He is interested to hear more.  Jackie, the Tahitian man, brought two of his friends who said we could come and visit them too.  Member missionary work is the best kind. During the "soiree" we learned how to sing a Tahitian song, saw films of the islands, had music and then a delicious, traditional Tahitian meal.  Sadly, I didn't get any pictures but I'll try to get some from ward members.

Last, but not least, we had an experience that I want to share from yesterday.  After church we decided to pass by some of our amis who said they would come to church but didn't.  (A surprise visit to say we missed you at church)  We headed out but got off on the wrong RER stop and had to wait for the bus to take us. We were kinda bummed because it was going to take 15 minutes for the bus to come.  But we waited patiently and got on the bus.  A few minutes into the bus ride a 50 year old French woman turned around and asked what religion we belonged too.  We told her and she said, "What religion?"  We asked her if she was familiar with the Mormons and she said, "Yes!  You're Mormon?"  We responded in the affirmative and asked if she'd like to hear more about what we believed.  She said yes and so we moved up and sat by her. She thought the "mormons" were Amish (due to all the false documentaries here) and so we explained no and taught her about the restoration.  As we got off the bus we continued to talk and asked if she would read the Book of Mormon.  She said yes and we gave her a copy and marked the introduction.  She asked if we'd write a small word in it to remember us and so we did.  We asked if we could talk more and she said yes.  We finished by praying and she asked if we could pray for her 18 year old son to pass his exams.  It was awesome and I can't wait to see her again this week.

On Friday we had to say goodbye to President and Soeur Poznanski.  We had a Zone Conference and we were able to sing for them, give them a mission wide gift, which was an Arc de Triomphe and take pictures. The Arc de Triomphe is symbolic for our mission.  When we arrived in the mission we were given a small Arc de Triomphe and a card with a quote from Napoleon that said, "You will not go home unless under an Arc de Triomphe.  As missionaries we all want to go home under the Arc de Triomphe and be able to look back at the victories we had and all that we were able to accomplish and learn.  An Elder had carved an Arc de Triomphe and each missionary sent a message of something we had learned from President and Soeur Poznanski.  All the messages, with our names, were placed all over the arc to show that they, the Poznanskis, were going home under the Arc de Triomphe.  It was so cool and we were able to hear their final testimonies and words of wisdom and advice for us.  They are the best and have given everything they have to this mission and we can feel and see the results.  I can't begin to express how much I've learned from them and how thankful I am to them.  The good news is that they are staying in France.  Who knows, maybe I'll serve in Anger and see them again sooner than I thought.  This Friday is when the official change takes place.  President and Soeur Babin arrive and President and Soeur Poznanski go home..  We are excited to meet our new President and Soeur Babin.

That's a summary of our week here in France.  The weeks continue to fly by and I can't believe this week is the end of June already.  Have a great week and know how much I miss you and love you.  Be safe...until next week!

Elder Player
The Sacre Coeur...Man it's big!

In front of the Sacre Coeur

Saying "Goodbye" to President and Soeur Poznanski!

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Paris Temple has been started!

Trying to see the Mona Lisa on P-Day
Bonjour! Tout le monde!  I hope you have all had a great week.  Especially for all the fathers yesterday. Happy Fathers' Day!  This week has been a great week and we've continued to be blessed by the Lord with the ability to teach His children.  This morning in our letter from President Poznanski we received some awesome news.  After much opposition and many appeals by everyone in France for the the Paris Temple, that was announced 3 years ago, Elder Andersen and Bishop Causse on Friday were able to break ground on the temple and the cornerstone was laided.  They received a call from a lawyer tsaying all the opposition and appeals had been rejected by the city and they could now move forward with the building of the temple! This was such good news to receive and we are so happy that the temple can progress and in 2 to 2 1/2 years the people of France will have a temple!

This past week we were able to have some great experiences and one of them was to share the gospel with an 11 year old boy, David, and his mom, Rachel.  Rachel and David have been coming to church now for a year.  Rachel was baptized 4 years ago in Italy.  We had seen them at church and had heard that David had not been baptized.  So, last week we went and asked if we could see them and they agreed.  On Wednesday we were able to teach them.  We decided we'd teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ by doing the brownie activity.  This time we made a batch before so it'd be like a cooking show where they pull out of the oven the perfectly cooked brownies.  We even had all the ingredients in little bowls on the table.  It was pretty legit, I won't lie.  Haha!  At the end we asked David if he would be baptized and he said "yes" and so did his mom!  She told us how in Italy they were with the Elders every week and they really missed that. David has been asking when they could have a FHE with them again and he had been asking questions about why he needed another baptism when he was baptized as a baby.  She said this was exactly what he see for himself why it was important to be baptized with all of the right "ingredients"!  The spirit was strong and it was an awesome moment with them.  So fun to teach a child, especially one that had been going to primary for four years and knows so much!

Children are the best and yesterday we were able to spend time with a family from our ward and have a "gouter" or light dinner with them..  We ate two delicious cakes and it was fun to be with them and their three kids who are 8, 6 and 3.  We played a fun game with them too.  It was awesome and made me miss our Sunday dinners back home.

This week I had a great exchange with Elder Brockbank, from Lilas,Paris, here in Nogent.  This week I'll be going to Lilas, Paris with Elder Powelson.  Elder Brockbank is awesome and it was fun to get to know him better.  We had some awesome street and metro contacts and taught two lessons to Frere Malasse and the Vasile Family.  We were bold with the Vasile family and they said if they were guided to know it was true they would be baptized.  The parents even stood up for us when one of the kids said, "It doesn't talk about Joseph Smith in the Bible anywhere!"  It was cool and I'm excited to go and see them again this week!

~Joe got the Priesthood and became a ward missionary.  He's so excited to come and teach with us and be able to bless and pass the sacrament.  He's doing great!
~We taught an awesome lady, Madame Deligny, who is about 65 and very French.  At the end of the Restoration lesson we gave her the Book of Mormon and asked if she'd read it.  She said, "You're Mormon?"  She continued to tell us how she knew some mormons and was so excited to read it and to please come back.  She gave us cakes and juice to take on the road!
~Regained contact with an ami who was taught 10 months ago.  We had a great lesson and he said if he came to know that these things are true he would be baptized!
~There was a strike by SNCF so all the trains and metro's were crazy.  They didn't just do the strike for 2 days, as planned, but for 4.  Bizarre!
~Opened "Player Pressing and Alterations".  (at night after planning)  We borrowed a sewing machine from a member so we can make our long sleeve shirts, that are tattered at the cuffs, short sleeve shirts.  Perfect for summer and make our pants slimmer so they are more European.  It's become a hobby for us all!  I'm thankful for all the years I watched my mom sew!  See the picture below of our sweatshop!  Haha
~Last Monday we saw the Mona Lisa at the Louvre.  Wow!  That was an experience!  The Louvre is legit!

That about wraps up our week.  We have our last Zone Conference on Friday with President and Soeur Poznanski! :(   Another exchange, my second year of legality and some great lessons planned this week.  I hope you all have a great week too!

Love...Elder Player
Reading the Book of Mormon on a bridge

The Louvre

Elder Utahia and me at the Louvre

The Allanic family that had us to dinner

Player Pressing and Alterations

Goofy picture of our district


Monday, June 9, 2014

Summer is here...

Mormons in France
Bonjour Tout le monde.  Another week has flown by and once again it's a holiday here in France.  The Pentecost!  I've come to know that if you want to go where you have a weekly holiday France is the place! This week we've also had the arrival of summer weather.  Lots of late night thunder and lightning storms. We've also been able to teach some amazing new people, millionaires, along with our other amis.

Last Monday, after emails, we decided to go to the Eiffel Tower and walk under it and around in the gardens.  As we got of the metro there is a bridge in the movie, Inception, that's right there so we got some cool pictures of that.  On the way to the tower there was a girl that looked so familiar and as she turned around I realized it was one of the people from the Business Scholars Program at the U that I had done projects with.  It's so crazy to see people that I know.  As we continued to walk we ran into a "study abroad" group from BYU and one of the girls was Jennica Overman from high school.  So in 5 minutes I had run into 2 groups of people that I Paris!!!   Crazy!  As we were talking two of the girls whispered that we were so awkward but we heard them and called them out on it.  We said, "We know we're awkward!"  So now it's official we are awkward missionaries in non-missionary settings!  HaHa

We were able to see the Eiffel Tower and this time it was even decorated with a huge tennis ball for a tournament that was being played.  P-day was great but the week that followed was better.  We were able to teach Sebastien last Monday night and eat with him, Cedre and their children.  They are doing great and we will see them again this week.  We saw Jean yesterday and he is reading the Book of Mormon and doing great.

Tuesday night we decided that we had lots of potentials in our phone and needed to contact them.  We started to make calls and we were able to set up some rendez-vous with them.

The first one was with Bernard on Thursday.  We met him at the RER stop and then walked to the church together.  Bernard is about 65 and is an ambassador for the UN.  He was an investment banker in the US for 35 years.  Now he is managing refugees funds and doing food orders to send to them.  We gave him a church tour and as we did he kept proposing deals to us.  Like turning the church into a computer training center for refugees so that they can do good things after school.  We said that really wasn't our purpose. We told him we were here to baptize and help people come unto Christ.  He was very nice and took a Book of Mormon because he thought his wife would be interested.  At the end he asked if we could cut our contract with the church short and come work for him.  He said he'd train us but we said no and so he gave us his contact information for after our missions.  He did say we could go out to dinner with him and talk to his wife about the church so hopefully we will get to meet her this week.

One of the other contacts was Charles.  We set up a rendez-vous for Sunday afternoon.  Getting to his house was difficult because the bus routes have been changed due to construction.  It took us over an hour to get there but we finally made it and started to talk to him.  He had watched a documentary on the church in Salt Lake and loved it and wanted to learn more about what we believe.  We continued to teach him about the restoration and he was so excited and said he believed.  He asked how he could continue to progress and become a part of church on Sundays.  We gave him all the information and he said he'd be there on Sunday.  We read about prayer from the introduction of the BOM and how the Holly Ghost can help you know that it's true.  He was so happy and when we gave him the Book of Mormon to read he said, "For me?"  It was obvious that he had been prepared and so we asked him if he'd be baptized and we set a date with him right there.  He asked, "So, I can be baptized and all? Yes, I want to do that!"  So cool and we can't wait to go back and teach him again this week.  Just another amazing example of how people are prepared for us by the Lord.

...Stake conference on Saturday night in Torcy and then a regional conference that was broadcast from Switzerland for 31 stakes in France, Netherlands, Italy, Belgium and a few other countries.  We were able to hear from President and Sister Uchtdorf, Elder Andersen, Elder Teixeira and Sister Reeves of the Relief Society.  It was awesome and was focused on "Hastening the Work" and how we can all participate.
...Taught Frere Malasse and had an awesome rendez-vous full of the spirit.  He expressed his desire to do ordinances for his parents and siblings who have already passed away.  Such an amazing moment and really increased the importance of eternal families and temple work for me.
...Had two lessons with the Vasile Family.  One was an object lesson where we made brownies to get the children involved.  Every ingredient was part of the gospel and showed how when we use all the ingredients and follow the "recipe" given to us we will have a great reward at the end.  Brownies or eternal life and happiness with our family.  The children loved it!
...We were able to see Joe this week and he's doing awesome.  He is so devoted to studying the scriptures and he should be getting the Priesthood next week!

Out of time but I hope you all had a great week too and know how much I love you!  Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there, especially mine.  I love you lots and miss you.  Have a great week and enjoy the summer weather.

Elder Player
Never disappoints!
Notice the tennis ball!
Truly amazing!

Inception Bridge

Elder Wheatley eating his first escargot!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory!

Bonjour!  Happy Birthday to Clay yesterday!  I can't believe it's officially June.  It doesn't seem possible...time goes so fast.  Mondays are always great because I receive your letters and see pictures of you.  Thanks so much and know that I miss you all and am happy to hear that you're all doing great!  This past week was another great week and we were able to teach quite a few people and meet some new people too.  To start off I want to talk about Fred.

Fred is the man that we met on the bus a few weeks ago and were able to teach him later that weekend.  He has been in classes but said he'd come to church on Sunday because he wanted to see how everything worked. Yesterday when we arrived at the church Fred was there and talking with some members.  We went down to start Priesthood and the topic of the lesson was geneology, indexing and baptisms for the dead.  The whole time I was praying and hoping that he was able to understand why we do it.  Here in France there was a documentary on the church and how we do baptisms for the dead but actually use the dead.  To say the least it scared people and gave them the wrong idea.  Thankfully that wasn't the case and the lesson was well taught.  Fred had tons of questions at the end but one of them was about the temple trip in a month and how could he sign up to go!  Maybe we can make that a goal to go for baptisms.  That'd be really cool!  The next two hours of church were great and Fred said that he loved it and wanted to talk more. He is reading the Book of Mormon and we will see him later this week.  I have a testimony that the Lord watches over our amis at church and makes it possible for them to always feel the spirit.

We went to see Sebastian this past week as well.  When we stopped by it was unexpected and Sebastian was not home but his wife, Cedre, and Sebastian's brother and sister and her boyfriend were all there. We were able to talk to all of them and it was great.  The sister's boyfriend, Dylan, is 19 and asked if he could take our number because he would love to introduce us to his friends. Tonight we are going back to have dinner and teach Sebastian and Cedre.

We also taught two young people, just a few years older than us, who had requested a visit from  We went in and asked them why they were interested and what they expected of us and they replied that they are very fascinated by our church and want to know the message.  We started to teach them about the restoration and they asked lots of questions.  They had so many on every subject.  We left them with a Book of Mormon and hope to hear from them this week!

We meet a family with 3 boys ages 11, 15 and 17.  They are not active but as we were heading out to do contacting their name came to mind.  When we got to their home we didn't have the code to get into the door so we called the phone number we had for them and the mom was so excited to see us!  We went in and gave them a spiritual thought and she explained how happy she was to have us there and that she really needed the visit.  She was sure the Lord had guided us there.  She asked us to bless the house before we left and than asked if we could come back occasionally so her sons can see us and hopefully come back to church.  We hope and  pray that this will be the time for this family to come back into the gospel.

Here are some highlights from the week:
Frere Malasse came to church this Sunday.  He's the member that is inactive but wants to go to the temple again.

Wilhem got the Priesthood yesterday!

On Transfer Day we ended up helping a few sisters with luggage and clogged up the public bus with 6 tons of luggage!  WOW!  (picture below...doesn't do it justice)

Said "goodbye" to Soeur Anderson and Elder Whatcott who were going home.

Had 17 people in the amis class this week!  It was so awesome!

For our mission we are trying to have 125 baptisms before our new mission president arrives in July.  So, it's our last month to reach the goal and we know it is possible.  I feel like this scripture fits perfectly...D&C 128:22..."Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause?  Go forward and not backward.  Courage, Brethren; and on, on to the victory!  Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad."

I love this scripture and it shows that if we always press forward, take courage, and have joy, no matter what the difficulty or trial, we will reach our victory!  (125 baptisms)

I love you all so much and hope you have a great week!

Love, Elder Player

Elder Whatcott on the morning he's going home!

Helping the sisters with their luggage!