Monday, January 26, 2015

Joy in Families

Salut!  I hope you are having a great day when you read this.  Everything is going well here, even with the winter rain!  It's been another good week and was pretty calm compared to last week.  We were able to be in Nancy all week and work together and see some awesome things happen with our amis...they are really starting to progress.

In particular there were two highlights in our teaching that had to do with two families.  The first is Srdan, Uranela and Sladjan or the Aljiti family.  The second family is the Escalentes, Luis and his three children, Etienne, Oscar and Emilie.  On Friday night we had an appointment with Luis and the children and we wanted to do an activity that would get the children more involved.  We decided we'd do the Brownie lesson that we have used a couple of times.  We got all the ingredients ready and took off to teach.  Each ingredient represented a principle of the gospel and if you didn't have all of them, or in the right order, the brownies wouldn't turn out or taste as good as they could have.  Then after baking, or enduring to the end, you have an awesome reward...yummy brownies.  This is like life.  We need to live the principles and commandments of the gospel, endure to the end and we will have an awesome reward that can be very sweet and full of joy if we live our lives right.  It went great and the kids loved it!  Luis and Emilie came to church again, third week in a row, and next week all four of them are coming!  (Keep your fingers crossed!)
Sladjan Aljiti with me...
It's snowing!

Aljiti Family
Escalente Family

Earlier on Friday Srdan cancelled our rendez-vous because he needed to go to Germany to help a cousin so we rescheduled our rendez-vous for Monday but on Sunday Srdan and Uranela walked into our Sunday School Class.  So we had 4 people at church yesterday. So cool!  Later that night we made a quiche and had a FHE with them. We watched a talk with them and then tried to learn some Serbian and talk with them in their own language but that made them laugh super hard!  Apparently I'm not the best with my Servian dialect but it was fun and I just love these people so much.  The normal days and rendez-vous bring us so much joy. They are all so amazing and we are so lucky to be here with them and get to know them better!

Our homemade Quiche for the Aljiti's

*FHE and Pizza with Guillaume
*Saw David again who had such great questions!
*Met a muslim man named Jesus
*Had FHE with L'Homels and played a fun game to show apostasy using pictionary and chinese telephone!
*Went to Strasbourg for a district meeting and saw one of Elder Velazquez's less actives!

So there you have it.  A sum of the week here in Nancy.  This Saturday we'll hear about transfers and find out if I'm staying or going.  Love you all so much and hope you know how grateful I am for you!

Elder Player

Quote of the week..."I will love the light for it shows me the way; yet I will love the darkness for it shows me the stars."  Og Mandino

Monday, January 19, 2015

"Ask and ye Shall Receive"

Bonjour Tout le Monde!  I hope, once again, you have had a great week.  It's been a great week here and super busy.  This week we traveled quite a bit.  We had exchanges, a trip up to Caen in Normandy to do Elder Velazquez's legality so we traveled a good part of France and had some awesome experiences along the way!

After P-Day last Monday we had a rendez-vous with Francois.  We had decided that the Restoration film would be a good way to help him to better understand the importance of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.  We showed up and as we started to watch the film one of his roommates, Eric who is 22, came out and said Hi and watched the film too.  After, we asked him what he thought and he said, "That was really powerful!"  We explained who we were and why we were there and testified of the Book of Mormon and gave him a copy.  He said we could come back this cool!

We had an awesome rendez-vous with Vincent and Srdan and his family who are doing great and progressing well!  Srdan and his family always make us laugh because they often just start taking in Serbian to us and act like we understand.  (I wish we did!)  They are so awesome and we love them so much!

Elder Johnson and me on exchanges in Epinal!
During our exchanges this week I was with Elder Johnson in Epinal  He is a great missionary and we had a super night teaching recent converts and less actives.  The next day we had about an hour before we need to catch our train so we started contacting.  After a half hour, in a downpour, and no success we stopped and said a prayer that we would be able to teach someone  in the last thirty minutes.  The last person we contacted was Okel. We testified of modern day prophets and told him we knew if he would pray he'd be able to feel something and know that what we were saying is true!  We had a prayer with him and then asked if he had felt something.  He said, "Yes, but it's not something I can explain."  We told him is was the spirit telling him it's true and then we were able to fix a rendez-vous for later that day.  What a great way to finish our exchange and it testifies of the truthfulness of one of my favorite scriptures in Matthew 7:7-8:
     Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you: For       every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be         opened."
I know prayer works and I know He listens and is always there for us.  This is one of the things that I've truly learned on my mission.

Last, but no least, on our voyage to get Elder Velazquez's legality we had to spend the night in Paris so we stayed in Nogent.  We got to see Jean Paranton again and he's doing great and wished all of you a Happy New Year full of happiness and good health.  It was great to back there with him and see how he is doing. We continued to teach Davis and celebrated Elder Ursua's 21st birthday by going to a BBQ restaurant, Papa Joe's, that was delicious.  I hope you all have a great week.  You are in my prayers and I'm so thankful for all that you do for me!

Love you all...
Elder Player
Elder Ursua's 21st birthday!
Jean Paranton in Nogent!

Ribs at Papa Joe's

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Not Much Time Doesn't Mean No Miracles

Bonjour!  I hope you have all had a great week.  I want to let you know that the missionaries over here are doing great...despite the terrorists attacks.  President Babin has kept us up to date and taken precautions to keep us safe.  Even when we were in Paris on Thursday everything was going good with heightened security. Thanks you for all your prayers.  I know they keep us safe and that God is watching over us!

This was a busy week with a lot of traveling.  Two days in Mulhouse and two days in Versailles.  It didn't leave us a ton of time in Nancy but the time that we did have was amazing and we are being so blessed. 

While we were in Mulhouse we found out that it was moving day for the Elders and the Sisters so we spent time as movers.  It was pretty fun and great to see their new apartments.  On Tuesday, while we were moving, we received a call from an old ami that elders had taught about 8 months ago.  Alexis had been receiving texts every Saturday inviting him to church but had not come.  He explained that he had been reading the Book of Mormon and had some questions and would like to talk to us.  Very cool!  Then later that night we received a call from Vincent.  He's the one whose brother passed away suddenly and he went to Marseilles for a month.  We hadn't heard from him but he wanted to get together.  Wednesday night we met him at a Cafe and had a coke.  We talked about the Plan of Salvation and then asked if he'd had time to read the Book of Mormon.  (Last time when we asked he said "yes" but that he hadn't read much, only about a hundred pages)  This time he said he'd finished the book!!!!  We asked if he'd been able to do as Moroni invited us and pray to know if it was true.  He replies, "Yes and I think I'm ready to be baptized if you think I am!" was so cool and the spirit was so strong!  We were able to set his baptismal calendar and as we showed him the steps he was going to need to take he said, "I've been studying the commandments, The Word of Wisdom, the Law of Chasity and Tithing. I'm ready to respect all of them!" We are going to teach him again tonight!
Coming home from moving the Mulhouse
Elders and time to change!

Mulhouse Elders Apartment

Next we had great exchanges in Versailles.  I was with Elder Lam.  He's an awesome missionary. We were able to have a great time and talk about the things we are learning as missionaries. After we got back we had a referral from headquarters for David. We had a rendez-vous with him on Friday nights. He told us that he's been searching his whole life for something that he has yet to find. He know that Jesus Christ is his Savior and he has been looking for His church. He wants something reputable and then he remembered about the "Mormons" and decided to look into it.  After reading on the website he decided if he was going to know it was true he needed someone to teach him.  He asked for a Book of Mormon and wants to read it and see if it is true.  We will see him again this Wednesday and see what he has discovered.

One of the finishing touches of the week was our awesome rendez-vous with Luis and his family.  He lost his wife about 7 months ago and was a member referral.  He's back from vacation and we were able to teach the Plan of Salvation and he loved it.  He came to church yesterday with Emilie, who's nine.  The members were awesome to him and he said next week all three of his children would be there with him.  I hope and pray if you ever see anyone you don't know or recognize at church you will go to them and make them feell welcome because it makes all the difference in the world.  I'm grateful for all they did for Luis and Emilie yesterday!

*A great FHE with the YSA and the L'Homel Family
*Srdan, Sladjan and Uranela are doing awesome and came to Sport Saturday...they all want to be baptized
*Had an awesome lesson with Alfred and the importance of baptism "clicked"
*Heard from Marilia, who got baptized while I was in Nogent, who moved back to Brazil and is doing great

There you have it in a nutshell!  Thanks for your prayers and support.  We are doing great over here in France.  Love and miss you all!

Elder Player
Elder Velazquez and the Arc de Triomphe

A demonstration against terrorism outside our apartment
Je suis Charlie!

Monday, January 5, 2015

2015 Here We Go!

Friday in Paris!

Bonjour tout le monde and Happy New Year!  I hope you all have had a great week of celebrating and bringing in the New Year.  It's been a great week here in France and we still are in shock that it is 2015 already!  I can say that 2014 was an awesome year and I've learned so much here in France and can't wait to see what 2015 brings to the picture!

Last week has been very busy with a Ward New Year's Eve party, District meeting, saying goodbye to the Gionet couple and to Paris on Friday for mission council.  We have had some great experiences that I will try to quickly share with you.

Tuesday after district meeting and our meal we took off for our first rendez-vous with Ismael.  We were able to finish re-teaching all the lessons in the week and a half that he has been here.  We watched the Restoration film, which he loved.  He spoiled us with a macaroon cake and quiche lorraine which later we were extremely thankful for.  We took off from his house and headed back up to the the church to teach Srjdan. (The church is on the opposite side of the city but we made it!)  We had a great rendez-vous with him and were able to talk more about baptism and give him a baptismal calendar.  Next we rushed half way down the hill to teach another amis, Francois.  We had a great lesson with him that was guided by the spirit.  It wasn't exactly what we had planned but we couldn't have taught more simply and testified more clearly and the spirit was so strong.  We are hoping he will take the commitment to pray and ask if the Book of Mormon is true and that God has only one true church.  We'll see this week.  After that we rushed to Rene's to teach him and watch a conference on the Sacrament that was awesome.  As we left we had 20 minutes left.  We hadn't been home since district meeting, we were carrying our bags with our French and English stuff that were heavy and we hadn't eaten any dinner.  We felt prompted to talk to someone on the way home.  As we walked to the bus stop there was a lady walking towards us and it was the first person we had seen so I bore a very sincere testimony saying, "Bonjour, I'm Elder Player from the U.S.  I am here for 2 years.  I know that when you are tired and don't have more to give, God gives you strength to continue."  (I'm sure that we both looked a little weary ourselves)  She responded and opened up to us about her life and how she wanted to try other religions because what she was searching for wasn't what she had found.  She started to talk about a book that she had once read that talked about two civilizations that had been taught by Christ and that it had really interested her.  Elder Velazquez and I looked at each other and said, "The Book of Mormon talks about that!"  It was so cool and she took the book.  We were able to say a prayer with her and she said when she came back from Portugal she would come to church. We could have easily taken the last twenty minutes and just gone home but a loving Heavenly Father gave us the ability to keep going even when we were tired and hungry to meet this woman and tell her about the Book of Mormon. (We were so happy when we got home to enjoy Ismael's quiche lorraine)

Wednesday was my birthday and I was spoiled and had a great day.  (I'll let the pictures do most of the talking)  To start the day two of the Elders went to a boulangerie and got me a warm croissant for breakfast, Marie-line made me a cake, Ismael had a gouter for us and then that night we had a great New Year's Eve party!  We had dinner at a restaurant on New Year's Day (a rare treat) and than on Friday we went to Paris for mission council.  We were able to hear President Babin's vision for the mission in 2015.  Sister Babin and President spend so much time helping us succeed and I can't wait to work and see this plan come to pass!

Thanks for all the birthday wishes.  Have a great week as you get back to "real" life!  Haha  Love you all and will write next week!

Love, Elder Player

The New Year's Eve Party

Ismael on our last lesson with him

Marie-Line and the Birthday Cake she made for me!