Monday, December 1, 2014

Thanksgiving, and the Trial of Enduring to the End in the Cold!!

Thanksgiving Dinner with our Zone!
Bonjour everyone!  I hope you are all having a great morning when you read this.  It's been a great week full of things like eating tons, contacting in the cold, watching Nancy come to life with all the Christmas lights and markets.  I would like to share three experiences from our week here in France!

First was Thanksgiving.  A time to come together and be thankful for all the many blessings we have and above all for the gift of our Savior and his atonement for us.  This year Thanksgiving started with our district meetings that morning and then a zone feast here in Nancy.  It was so fun to be together and to eat well!  I made stuffing without a box, never done it before, and to my surprise it was actually pretty good.  We had turkey, chicken, beef bourguignon , bread, yams, mashed potatoes and a table just for pies.  It was delicious and we all got our fill of good food for sure!  Later that night we had a mangez-vous with the L'Homel family who prepared a Thanksgiving meal just for us even though it was just a normal day for them!  They are so fun to be with and such great members here. It takes us about 30 minutes by bus to get there and Elder Gram and I both had a cookie sheet of rolls and were talking in English on the ride there.  A young college girl came back and asked if we were American and, as a proud American, I said, "Yes, I am!"  She came and sat with us and over the next thirty minutes we were able to explain why we are there and why we were going to such a small village and what we believe about our families.  She's from a family of 14! (That is super rare in France - take a Utah family of 14 and times it by 100!)  We took it as a sign that they are very prepared to become members!  Haha.  We had a great conversation and she said she'd love to come to church and right before we got off the bus we had a prayer with her and she loved it. We are praying to see Nadia come to church soon!

Second...On Saturday night all the Christmas lights in the ville were on and the Market was open so we decided to go caroling and when people stopped we gave them our card.  There were six missionaries that went out and we had a great time singing Christmas songs and it was cool to see how the music was putting smiles on peoples' faces.  I can't imagine how many people now have a picture or recording of the Mormon missionaries singing.  It was good PR!  After we sang for a while we decided to finish the night by picking a street and have a set of missionaries on each side of the street and one set of missionaries at the top going the other way and that way we could finish the whole street.  We rang or knocked at peoples' doors and also contacted people that walked by.  An older madame walked by and we started taking to her and sang her "Joy to the World" and then asked if we could come over and share a Christmas message with her.  What she said shocked us..."Yes and don't just share a message but come over and eat with me and my husband!"  (He's a Catholic Deacon)  She said she invited some others about a year ago but they never came and she thought she must have scared them off.  We said we'd be there and set the rendez-vous for Monday (today) at 12:45.  We just got back from an amazing lunch in one of the nicer neighborhoods in Nancy and they were awesome.  One of the most Christlike couples I've ever met and so kind to us.  We ate and talked about our beliefs.  I think they saw that it wasn't as different as they thought.  We finished by singing all together, "Angels we Have Heard on High" and then we gave them a Christmas book and said we'd love to help them if they needed it or answer any more questions they had.  It was an awesome experience and we hope we'll hear from them again.  If nothing else we planted a seed :)

Third...Sunday, after church, we had four hours of time with no rendez-vous scheduled so we decided to do some passbacks with some old amis and then visit some of our less actives to end the night!  u
But, as often happens - things don't go as planned.  No one was home and after about 3 hours in the cold with the wind blowing and one hour left before our mangez-vous we were not super excited to keep going.  We dug in our heels and decided to go downtown and contact.  On our way we saw a man sitting in his entry and said,  "Let's go talk to him...he can't run away!"  That's how we meet Gee, who is cool and believes in Christ.  We were able to sing and pray with him and we have a rendez-vous to go back on Wednesday!  Then we met a younger man who was from Marseille named Vincent.  We asked if we could come see him another time because we thought he needed to catch a train.  He told us he had 10 minutes and so we were able to teach the restoration and as he heard the first vision and we read Moroni's promise to him you could tell he was touched and he told us that was profound and he couldn't wait to read more and pray about it.  It was so cool and we are going to talk to him when he gets back from Marseille in a few weeks.  To finish it off we saw someone who we had sung for on Saturday night.  She was German but has been here for 16 years and spoke perfect English.  We talked to her and asked if we could give her a movie about Christ and Christmas and she said, "What I would really like is the Book of Mormon in German."  She had met with the missionaries years ago but they only had the Book of Mormon in English.  We ran back to our apartment and got a Book of Mormon in German and gave it to her.  She was so excited to go home and read it.  It was crazy to see that after 3 long hours of working in the cold with no success it was the last hour that we found success - lots of it!  I think that's often how life is...sometimes it seems cold and hard and we want to give up but if we just keep going the Lord will bless us with success when we have done all that we can!

The week was awesome and I'm so grateful for these two years I have to be here and serve the Lord.  I hope you all have a great week and think about all that the Lord has given you - especially this Christmas season.  Until next week...

Elder Player
Elder Miller and me in St. Die

Our little Christmas tree!

Our homemade stuffing, rolls and yams!

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