Monday, July 28, 2014

L'oeuvre du Seigneur!

A "Bird Car' we found while doing
pass backs!

Random lightning and rain storm on
Bonjour Tout le Monde!  I hope you've all had another great week and a great 24th of July for those of you in Utah.  Living with 3 people not from Utah I definitely realized that it's only a Utah holiday.  This past week has been great and we were able to have some awesome miracles and see some people start to progress. So, here we go...
Last week I had an exchange with Elder Mahieu from Lyon, France and the we had some miracles.  After district meeting we took off and went straight to a rendez vous with a referral we'd received.  A man named Elysee.  We arrived and were able to have an awesome lesson with him and teach all of the Restoration.  He was so excited to learn about it.  Elysee had a friend there that left after we prayed because he didn't want to participate.  Elysee said, "See he's just not ready to accept the gospel right now but I'm ready and this is the time for me!"  It was so cool to see that he could realize how the Lord had prepared him and that he was ready!  More to follow on him next week.  We took off and came home and set our goals.  Our rendez-vous for the night got canceled so we decided we'd go finish the night porting.  We didn't have a lot of time but went a few bus stops past the apartment and got off.  We felt like it was a good place to start.  Instead of just starting with the first house we kept going, for some reason, and a few minutes later a Chinese woman came up and asked us if we could come and talk to her and her son.  We said, "Sure!  When?"  She said you can come right now and so we went and talked to her and her son and taught them why we were here and were able to pray with them.  It was awesome and at the end they asked us to come back and bring stuff in Chinese, French and English.  Yesterday we were able to take the information back to them in all the languages.  Sadly, her husband told her he didn't want us to meet with them anymore.  She still took the books and apologized.  You never know where it could lead - we know that at least we planted a seed!  The next morning we finished our exchange and were able to teach two more people.  Joe and Roy!

Joe is doing great and is so excited to go to the temple.  We were able to get him a family search account and now he is doing his family history to take his family names to the temple.  Roy came to church again for the third week in a row and we were able to have a great lesson with him too.  After we exchanged companions back, Elder Meng and I went and saw Victor.  He had read the Book of Mormon and loved it and had lots of questions.  He said he felt at home in our church already!  Then we taught a man, Yannic, who is in his final year, for his masters in Finance, at the School of Business in Paris.  It was another great lesson on the Restoration.  Yannic told us he had been praying for years but had never received an answer and we explained that was because he was being prepared to receive the truth and then he would receive an answer. We talked about how he could know it was true and used the "fruits of the spirit" from Galatians and listed peace, joy, and patience.  He said he could feel all of those right then and during the lesson.  It was cool to see him recognize the spirit and be told that the lesson and message we were sharing was true.  The gospel is so true and I'm so grateful for the spirit and how he testifies of the truth!

As the week continued we were able to see Romain again and have a great lesson with him.  He had lots of questions but at the end said he just felt really good and wanted to become a member of this church.  We asked him to pray for a confirmation about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. He said he thought it would be better if we did it but then said he would try and prayed with so much sincerity that at the end he had tears in his eyes.  You could tell he had been touched by the spirit.  He came to Church yesterday - even after working all night.  He said he knew he needed to be there.  He's so legit.

To say the least, we had a great week and were able to teach lots of lessons.  I'm so thankful to be here! That doesn't even start to scratch the surface of what I'd like to share but I'm out of time.  Here are a few highlights:
...Service activity with the Soeurs helping a lady get here back yard into shape.  It was so fun and the first time I've been able to mow a lawn in over a year!
...We really tried to work with less actives and were able to find a man who was baptized in Grenoble in 2005 but he wants to come back and quit smoking.  He was so glad we were there to help him reach his goal.
...Got honked at and waved at, in a nice way, by someone!  That helped finish Tuesday off in a good way!
...Found Dr. Pepper at DIA and bought two to go with lunch!
...Got a new bishop in our ward and new counselors.  He's 28 and only been married a year and a half but he's going to be awesome!
...Elder Meng ate escargots for the first time.  He liked them and ate almost a whole plate of 12!
...Got stuck out late because of trains, had a good "soldes" shopping day, and had someone buy us cokes when we asked for directions.  He then took us and showed us where we needed to go and called us later to make sure we got there - so nice!

We are teaching Romain tonight and have a great week planned.  Hope you have a great week too!  Till next week...
Elder Player

After service fixing a sister's backyard!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Kept From the Truth because They Know Not Where To Find It!

Bonjour!  Tout le Monde!  I hope you are having a great day as you read this.  It's been an awesome week here in Nogent and I can't wait to share some of our experiences with you.

After P-Day last week we decided to make calls and "stack the deck" or try to get rendez-vous set up for the week.  After that, which was a success, we had 45 minutes left so we decided to go see Jean.  We started our way there but when we arrived the door to the building was closed and when we called Jean he wasn't there either.  He was out for the Bastille Day celebration with a friend.  We changed our plan and went contacting around there.  In the next 45 minutes we had 2 awesome lessons with 2 French woman and their dogs!  The first lady we talked to listened to us talk about the Plan of Salvation.  She had lost her sister and hadn't believed since but loved that we'd pray for her and give her some hope.  She could remember her father meeting with Mormon missionaries a long time ago.  The second lady asked where we were from and when I said Utah she told us that her son went to school in Utah and would be going back soon.  I asked which school and she said the University of Utah.  So cool!  We are hoping to get to see them both before he goes back to school and talk more about our message.  It's a sure thing that it wasn't by chance!

As the week continued we had our district meeting, which went great, and then I went on an exchange with Elder Gutelius from Paris Lilas, who is awesome.  We had a rendez-vous at the church which fell through but we went crazy with contacting and talked to everyone in sight and ended up at a lake.  As we continued to contact we met so many cool people.  Two were young families and we taught a few more lessons with others.  It was so awesome and Elder Gutelius is such a great missionary.  His French is great!  He's from the states but has lived in Peru and Japan.  He was Elder Davis' last companion and we had a successful time.   When we got home ,Elder Utahia, had bought us both a kebap and fries.  It was payment for getting their phone that they had left with another companionship.  Such a great day!

As the week continued so did the miracles.  I don't have time to share all of them but I want to tell you about Victor Oliveira and Sebastien.  We went out to try and contact some referrals we had received.  One had an address and phone number but the phone number wasn't correct so we tried the address.  When we arrived it was a house that had been turned into apartments and the last names were on  mailboxes.  We started porting the doors to find him.  At the first two doors we struck out but at the third door it was his wife who told us he was in Lyon for work but could give us his number to set up an appointment.  We called and made an appointment for Thursday.  When we meet we asked how he had found the church.  He said he was born Catholic but knew it wasn't right and so he's been searching for the truth but has never been able to find it.  As he was talking it reminded me of what I had studied earlier that morning in Preach My Gospel/Chapter 9.  "Many of these people have been kept from the truth only because they know not where to find it." (D&C 123:12)  He continued to tell us that one day he was looking on the internet and found our site.  He was shocked to see how much it focused on the family and it just felt so right.  That's when he requested a visit from the missionaries.  WOW!  The lesson went awesome as we taught him about the restoration.  We answered his questions and we can't wait to see him again this week.  They have a super cute little boy, David, who is 2.  At the end of the lesson I asked if he knew Marilia, the recent convert from Brazil, and sure enough they are cousins.  Such a small world!

Finally, we were able to see Sebastien and he said he'd come to church with his oldest daughter, Lilas.  He missed Priesthood and Sunday School but made it to Sacrament Meeting.  I felt pure joy and I'm so excited for him.  Lilas asked when she could be baptized too when we showed them the font.  We get to go see them tonight again!

The Lord is blessing us so much and people are being put in our path who are ready.  It is so great!  I'm so grateful to be out here and it's been such a great week!  Elder Meng is awesome and yesterday, when we finally did see Jean, it was entertaining to watch his eyes as he did the nail trick.  We are doing great and being blessed.  I hope you have a great week and remember I love you all.  Have a great 24th of July and party it up
These are the homemade desserts that
we made for District Meeting!

My new companion - Elder Meng!

Till next week...
Elder Player

Monday, July 14, 2014

Bastille Day & Miracles in ways not expected

Happy Bastille Day!  It's the 14th of July and one of the biggest holidays/parties of the year in France.  It's like our Independence Day so tonight there will be lots of fireworks.  All day there are parades and all sorts of entertainment and finding an open grocery store was difficult but we succeeded.  I hope you have all had a great week!  It's been a great week full of change and a new companion.  Elder Meng is great!

Let me tell you a little bit about our week.  Last week I told you about Jackie's wife passing away on Friday but he was still at church on Sunday.  On Wednesday night we called and asked if we could bring the sewing machine back and he said we could come on over.  We made our way, in the pouring rain, carrying the magic sewing machine that brought life to "Players Pressing and Alterations".  (I kinda felt like Will Smith in "Pursuit of Happiness" carrying around the bone density scanner)  I took my coat and covered it so it'd be dry and we made it there.  When we arrived Jackie wasn't there but his daughter was and we gave it to her. As we left we realized we forgot to give her the cord and book that was in our bag.  We knocked but no one came to the door so we called Jackie and he was visiting a friend close by and said he'd come right up. We waited and then of course he said "come in" and even with our "no, it's ok" he persisted and asked us to help pick hymns for the ceremony they were going to have the next day for his wife.  Charla, his daughter, was going to go get us some pizza but we insisted that we didn't need food and for him to stay with Charla. He insisted on walking us home and stopping to buy so some food...a bucket of 36 chicken wings, fries and take home to eat.  There was no winning and I have to admit it was a delicious feast and it all got eaten.  The next day was the service for his wife and it was awesome.  I love Tahitian culture.  They are so loving and the spirit was there for sure.  There was about 20 of us there and I was so glad we could tell Jackie and his family how much we love them.  Sadly they returned to Tahiti on Friday but maybe we'll meet up gain in Tahiti.

This week was transfers so on Tuesday Elder Alexander was packing and getting ready to take off.  We were able to visit and eat with the Angulo family for his last night.  Wednesday morning at 6:30 we headed to the gare and put him on a train for Dunkerque.  It sounds like he's doing good.  I loved working with him and we were able to see so many amazing things in two transfers.  After dropping him off we went to meet my new comp.  Before he got there I saw missionaries who I haven't seen in over 4 months and it was awesome to see a familiar face.  I have really missed them.  I can't even imagine what it's like to see family again after two years.  We went to the gare and picked up Elder Meng and then came home and fixed some lunch. These last few days we have been working really hard and done lots of contacting and the Lord has blessed us.

Thursday night I was super tired and it was pouring rain but we kept porting and asking if we could pray with people.  I though that surely if we went right till the end we'd get let in.  I had no doubts that we'd be blessed and the last person would let us in.  But after a day of contacting, a frudge and lots of porting it just didn't happen.  I was kind of disappointed but now I can see, as I look back, how we were blessed in other ways. We walked into the apartment the next two nights and the phone rang and we had referrals.  President Babin even had one for us!  We had three from the headquarters of the church too.  There are two miracles I really want to share about two men named Ishmael and Romain.

We were able to meet Ishmael last night, after receiving his info from the other missionaries who had taught him for some time.  He moved and after a year they called him and he wanted to talk more but now lived in Paris in our area.  We were able to talk to him about the church and his desires.  At the end he asked how long and what do he need to do before he can be baptized.  So cool...and I'm so excited to teach him again this week and fix a baptism date.

Yesterday at church a member came up to me and said, "One of your amis is here for the first time." We went up the stairs and he pointed out a man in a super nice suit who I thought was a member.  It was Romain...yes, another one!  I went over and started talking to him and learned that he had received the text that we send out every Saturday night inviting our amis to come to church and he was finally able to come. He had been contacted by the missionaries about 4 months ago and taught once and now had come to learn more.  After church we were able to talk more to him and he loved it!  We are going to talk with him again this week.  At the end he said he could see himself as part of this church!  I'm stoked to teach him again!

Even though one of those last doors didn't open that night you can see that the Lord blessed us in other ways. It's always better than we could have imagined.  I'm excited to be working with Elder Meng.  He's awesome and caring and wanting to do all he can.  This week we have 2 district meetings and some great rendez-vous set up, which we are excited for.  I hope you all have a great week and know how much I love and miss you all.
Love...Elder Player

Goodbye to Elder Alexander

Jackie, my awesome friend from Tahiti

All the missionaries at Jackie's wife's funneral

Monday, July 7, 2014

Transfers....I'm Staying in Nogent

Porting in the Paris, France Mission

Our apartment trying to guess
who will go where! 
District picture with # of transfers in the card!
Bonjour Tout le monde!  Another transfer has rushed by and I'm staying in Nogent!  My new companion is Elder Meng from Kennewick, Washington who is in his fifth transfer.  I'm excited to meet him and get to learn more about him on Wednesday.  Elder Alexander is going to Dunkerque, which is right on the seashore, and from the apartment you can see the UK.  Our apartment and district, other than Elder Alexander leaving, is staying pretty much the same.  It has been another great week here in Nogent.  Sadly France lost their game in the World Cup last week to Belgium so the French people have been sad but now we can relate better since America lost to Germany.

We were able to have a couple of great lessons with Pelenda.  Tuesday we went and gave him a baptismal calendar and he fixed a date that he felt comfortable with.  On Thursday we went back and taught the end of the restoration and it went so good.  We were able to really testify about the promise in Moroni and the spirit was so strong.  He said he'd read and pray for an answer about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. He also said that after we leave he can feel a difference from before we arrived.  Normally he is tired and then when we leave he feels energized and feels the desire God has for him to do these things.  He's so awesome and I can hardly wait to teach him again!

This week we went and did some porting to finish off one night.  For about an hour we ported (knocked on doors) in a huge apartment building and got about 4 of the 18 floors done.  But in that hour we were able to get 3 passbacks with families and teach a lesson to a lady named Josephine.  We taught her at the door while her family ate.  We were able to teach a good portion of the restoration and introduce the Book of Mormon. After we were done she didn't want to take the Book of Mormon because she couldn't call it "holy scripture" like the Bible.  We asked if we could pray with her and in her prayer she said, "I'm sorry Lord that I'm not ready to receive this message that they bring to me.  Please forgive me and give me another chance when I am ready."  Even if she didn't take the Book of Mormon it was amazing to me that she recognized that she just wasn't ready for the gospel message.  It continues to build my testimony that people are truly prepared by the Lord to receive us!

For the 4th of July we were able to meet our new mission president, President and Soeur Babin.  They are from Evry, France, which is about 45 minutes from Paris.  They are awesome.  They introduced their family, who all lives in France.  Then they gave us some training on what they want for each of us to take from our missions.  It was so great.  Here are a few things that I loved:
"Christ doesn't look at where we are on the ladder of life, how high, how low, but only at the direction in which we are going.
"Today is the first day of your mission!"
"We want you to be able to close your eyes and be able to have the arms and love of the Savior be there and this should happen often on your mission"

It was a great meeting and we got to have 10 minute interviews, as companionships, with him and his wife, and tell him a little bit about ourselves.  Then, because it was the 4th of July, we had KFC, fries and oreos to eat...It was delicious!  Elder Davis and I were able to talk about what we were doing this time last year when our sink exploded in Brussels...Good Times!

This week we visited Jackies' wife, Antonina, in the hospital where she has been for about a month.  She is being treated for her cancer.  We arrived and Jackie told us that he went to the ATM and two young teens had attempted to rob him.  He fought back and another guy came and helped him.  That's crazy and the last thing he needed.  We were able to go in and talk with him and pray for her.  She was super tired from the medication and the treatment they were doing so we left and he took us to Subway for lunch.  This man is one of the most Christlike men I have ever met.  He is always giving and so strong in all things, especially the gospel.  We have had the chance to eat with him every week and with both of them before she went into the hospital.  On Saturday night we received a call that Antonina had passed away.  We were in shock.  We had just seen her and nobody thought that'd be the result.  I can honestly say that was one of the hardest few minutes of my life but I was able to see the amount of love that I have for these people and how Christ has helped me gain that.  Yesterday, to our surprise, Jackie was at at church.  He bore his testimony and said that the two last things she told him was to go to church the next day and that she loved him!  His testimony was so strong and I'm so grateful to have been able to know him and Antonina over the past few months.  He's going home on Friday to Tahiti.  After a year away from his friends, children and family he'll be able to be with them and have a service for her to celebrate her life.  I'm so grateful for the Plan of Salvation and eternal families.  With our knowledge of the gospel we can know that he has a plan for each of us and everything will work out.  Most importantly, we will be with our loved ones again!

We had an awesome mangez-vous with a cool family last night.  They spoiled us with Lamb steaks.
We continue to teach Sebastien and Cedre and they are doing great
Enjoyed public transportation with major delays for the RER's because people kept going on the tracks! Haha

That's about it for this week.  Have a great week and I'll email again next Monday.  Love you all lots!

Elder Player
Jackie at church yesterday...I love this man!

Elder Davis and me!