Monday, March 30, 2015

Power of the Restoration

Bonjour tout le monde!  I hope you are having a great week as you read this!  It's been such a busy week here.  We've been traveling all over northern France but it's been great!  I'm going to keep this one short because we've got quite a few things to get done for our trip to Bruxelles tomorrow.

This week we were in St. Quentin, Lille and Arras for district meetings and had the opportunity to meet lots of awesome missionaries.  Tuesday after district meeting we rushed to our train making it on as the doors were closing!  When we got back to Amiens we had an exchange with Elder Hall and Elder Lam.  I was with Elder Hall and we had a great time together.  We changed our plans to passby a less active member's home.  He doesn't live there anymore but we were able to get his contact information.  Then we went porting close to his home and found a few people who expressed interest including a man who met us downtown over a year ago and was excited to see us and invited us to come back another time.

Thursday we took off to Saint Quentin and did an exchange with the 2 Elders there.  I was with Elder Bigelow from Syracuse, Utah and we had a great exchange which included teaching a woman named Shakira, (not the singer) contacted a less active member, got drenched in a rainstorm (Still rainy and cold up here in the North) and last but not least we had an awesome lesson with Thierry, who's one of their amis.

We taught Thierry the Restoration and it went so good!  The spirit was strong and he came to church yesterday and wants to be baptized!  During the lesson I noticed how every time we talk about the Restoration, Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon the spirit is so strong.  It is a continuous testimony to me of the truth of this message and how sharing it has changed my life!  I know this weekend we are going to hear about the first vision and the Restoration and how we can feel the confirmation of it's truthfulness again if we listen with real intent and desire.  We got to see a cool experience with the power of prayer this week with a less active that we've been working with who wonders if God loves him.  We invited him to pray with real desire, on his knees, and we promised him that he'd feel a confirmation.  The spirit was super strong and than a few days after this lesson we got a phone call from him and he said, "I got an answer, God does love me and I know it for certain!"  It was so cool and another building block for my testimony of the power of prayer!

That doesn't take in much of what we did this week but for now it will have to do!  Have a great week and watch conference this weekend so that you can have the spirit for the next six months.  I know that all the missionaries are super excited here.  Also, Happy Easter on Sunday!

Elder Player

Elder Bigelow on Exchanges in St. Quentin

Elder Jones

Monday, March 23, 2015


"Goodbye" Elder Barber
At the Gare

Fanja treating us to Fish and Chips
at Papa Bagel

Bonjour a tous!  Today is a nice day with the sun shining, which is a welcome change after several days of rain.  This week has been great with lots of changes and some awesome training that we've received. Early in the week Elder Barber was able to say goodbye to some of the members at FHE and we were able to eat with a few members and pass by their houses before we were off for Paris on Wednesday morning.  With the suitcases ready Fanja came and picked them up and then we were off to the gare! Jean Francois met us there to say goodbye as well - so nice!  

While waiting to pick up my new companion, Elder Beck, I saw Elder Cramer, Elder Eldredge and many of the people who I've become close to!  That was great!  After lunch at McDonalds we made our way back to catch our train to Amiens and so starts the companionship of Beck and Player.  

On Wednesday night we had 3 lessons with Nathan, Souer Bourdet and Tristelle that went great.  On Thursday we were able to do some contacting in the ville and Elder Beck was able to see Amiens.  We met some cool people and focused on Easter and Genealogy.  If you're looking for a way to share the gospel help someone get to know where they are from in this life and you'll see it's a great way to start. One man we contacted, Lobert, started with us talking about genealogy but before we knew it we were talking about the Plan of Salvation and he had a Book of Mormon in his hands and now we have a rendez-vous with him this week.  We then went and saw Linda and Elisabeth and it went great!

On Friday we were off to Paris for mission Council.  It was a great mission council!  President Babin talked about real success and the difference in being a manager and a leader.  The main message was about being ourselves.  Each one of us was called to this mission for a specific reason and unless we are ourselves we cannot accomplish this.  Above all, if we are ourselves we are happier and the rest will follow in terms of success!  It was a great day and I was able to see many friends/missionaries, including Elder Velazquez and others from Nancy!

On Saturday we were busy with a meeting with other missionaries from other villes and then we had quite a few rendez-vous.  The day ended with Branch Council with the Stake Presidency.  We focused on the members doing FHE's with us each week and with us inviting our amis to their houses or the members inviting their friends where we can give a spiritual thought to them.  If you know anyone you could do that with I know the missionaries in you area would love to come over and do a spiritual thought.  You just have to provide the home and maybe a treat at the end.  

On Sunday Nathan and Tristelle came to church.  So great! We found out that Nathan is only 17 but a future missionary for sure.  Later we had a FHE with Elisabeth, Lucas and Brian.  Oh man, I love these people so much.  They are moving to Paris but I'm so grateful to have met them.

It's been a great week and I know that each week I'm able to learn and grow in the gospel.  What a blessing.  We can always improve and grow and one day become as God knows we can be.  To end Elder Oaks said,  "In contrast to the institutions of the world, which teach us to know something, the gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something."

I hope you have a great week and always remember how much I love you!

Elder Player

Elisabeth, Luca and Brian

 Mission Council

Mission Council with missionaries
from Nancy

Monday, March 16, 2015

When Plan A turns into Plan Z

My District with each of us
holding the number of transfers
we've been out!
Bonjour a tous.  This week has been absolutely crazy and than on top of that it's transfers this week.  I'll be staying in Amiens and Elder Barber will be leaving.  That totally surprised me.  My new companion will be Elder Beck from American Fork, Utah.  I'm excited to served with Elder Beck and I know that he's a great missionary.  I'm sad to see Elder Barber go.  He will be serving in Bretagne in the city of Vannes.  (There is a beach there...yipee!)

So, what is the plan?  According to the dictionary a plan is: a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something; an intention or decision about what one is going to do; to decide on and make arrangements in advance; design or make a plan of (something to be built).  So now we know what a plan is and as missionaries that is one thing we do a lot...make plans!  Nightly planning, weekly planning, and many other times we are planning.  This week none of our plans went as planned!   We received a phone call on Tuesday night from President Babin informing Elder Barber his father had passed away.  In the next 24 hours, after much prayer, Elder Barber decided it would be best to go home for the funeral service.  He felt like he needed to speak at it.  The problem was the funeral was on Friday and now it was late Wednesday afternoon and there were authorizations needed, an 11 hour flight, and getting to Paris to catch the plane which made it all seem near impossible.  With prayer and a continuous confirmation that it was what he needed to do we put it in the Lord's hands.  Everything worked out, but with a few hiccups. On Thursday morning when the authorizations came through he had already missed the direct flight to Salt Lake.  His mom who works for Delta found another way for him to get home.  The Piepgrass couple, who was doing renovations on our apartment, took us to the Gare but the train was not there and the next train would be too late to make his flight.  Elder Barber called the Piepgrass' and asked for other ideas and within 5 minutes they were back and drove us the hour and half to the airport.  We are so grateful to them because without their help it would not have been possible.  We got to the airport, checked him in and and he was off.  I was alone at the airport, which was weird, but in just a short while I was picked up by some missionaries and they dropped me off at the new mission office.  I spent the next 4 days and saw a different side of missionary work...especially during transfer preparations and moving into the new office the day before.

I worked with the office Elders, the Assistants and spent time with the Office couples, who are awesome. I unpacked boxes of supplies, did exchanges with quite a few missionaries and during one of the exchanges I even taught a Chinese lesson.  (I felt like a bleu/greenie all over again - not understanding anything)  I did learn to say "Hello" in Chinese pretty good!  Haha  I got to be a member for a lesson with the AP's, go to dinner with one of the couples and had a cool experience with a woman, Maria de Grace while we were contacting. When we talked to her she said she was staying Catholic and that was that!  We were walking in the same direction as her and at a cross walk Elder Lam asked, "So, do you live around here?"  It was like she had forgotten she didn't want to speak with us because over the next 20 minutes we had an awesome lesson with her and prayed with her.  She gave us her phone number so that we can give her an Easter message in the next week or two.  Super cool experience!

Yesterday, since I was in Versailles, I had a few minutes and was able to see the Chateau de Versailles.  I also saw members from Rouen that were there for Stake Conference and it was awesome to see them for the first time in about a year.  It got me so excited to go back and see them all again.   Then it was time to pick up Elder Barber from the airport.  We caught our train back to Amiens and made it home and oh, how nice it was to be home last night.  I can't wait to see the members tonight at FHE.

Elder Barber is doing great too.  He said the funeral went great and he knew that was where he needed to be.  So even though our week went differently than we planned it was still a great week and brought us closer to the Lord.  Sometimes life takes unexpected turns but whether from plan A to B or even to Plan Z, remember it is up to you to decide what to make of it.  I saw Elder Barber make the best of this week and he was a great example to me.

I hope you all have a great week.  Our week will be busy with transfers, mission council, and branch conference so I'm sure it will fly by.  I love all of you so much and hope that you know that!  Till next week...

Elder Player

Monday, March 9, 2015

It's Always Worth the Wait!

Bonjour tout le monde!  I hope that the time change isn't affecting you too much.  We have three weeks until we "spring" forward.  That means that there is only a 7 hour time difference, wahoo!

It's been a good week here and very busy.  I want to focus on a few cool thing that we saw happen. Often as missionaries we have the chance to visit members who are not active, just need a visit, have questions answered, or just a spiritual thought during the week.  When working with less active members it feels like you ask them to something like read the scriptures or come to church but unfortunately it rarely happens.  This is where patience comes into play.   While being patient and waiting and being consistent to challenge them to do certain things this is usually when the miracle comes.  This week we saw the consistency, patience and the "wait" pay off with two people we have been visiting.  We went to visit a friend and member, Bettembos, and last week was the first week he came to church in a long time.  On Monday we ran into him on our P-Day and he said he wanted to come to the FHE at church that night and he did!  And guess who was there yesterday again...Bettembos!  It made all the effort seem worth it!!!  We also visited Alphonese this last week and it's been quite some time since he's come to church and yesterday as we came in from our"Amis" class into sacrament meeting we saw Alphonse sitting there.  What a great Sunday surprise!

The other experience I want to share started when we were making calls on Tuesday to fix some rendez-vous with our amis.  We called potentials from the area book and had a couple who said they would make time for us.  One of these is a man named Fidele.  On Saturday our rendez-vous was for 4:00.  The clock kept ticking and after about 15 minutes we called and he assured us he was coming. We had another rendez-vous at 5:00 but we continued to wait.  At 4:45 he came and had brought his friend, Hyancithe (ya-sont is the pronunciation) who wanted to know more about us.  We gave them a tour of the church and the last part is always the baptismal font.  It is right next to the primary room with a beautiful picture of Jesus Christ being baptized by John the Baptist.  He started to ask how we did our baptisms.  As we explained he then asked how long it took.  We told him that we would teach him lessons before and then when he is ready he could be baptized and make a covenant with God. After, we sat down for just a minute and he asked if he needed to "sign up" to be baptized or how he could receive the lessons.  We told him he just had to want them and then we would teach him and he could be baptized when he was ready.  He said, "I want to do that!"  Such a cool experience!!!

This morning I was reading a talk by Brother Ridd of the Young Mens General Presidency.  It talks about our generation and how we are so used to having what we want now but that we must realize that things take time before we can receive.  He says it so much better...

     "One of life's early lessons should be that there is great power in the compounding effect
     of little things that we do each day.  Small and simple things are at work in your life right
     now - working either for you or against you.  Just as the Lord uses such things to build you
     up, Satan uses them to distract you and lead you slowly, almost imperceptibly, off the path.

     Our challenge is that when we see a wonderful family, or a financially successful person,
     or a spiritual giant, we don't see all the small and simple acts that produced them.  We
     watch Olympic athletes, but we don't see the years of daily training that made them
     champions.  We go to the store and buy fresh fruit, but we don't see the planting of the
     seeds and the careful cultivation and harvesting.  We look at President Monson and
     other General Authorities, and we sense their spiritual strength and goodness, but what
     we don't see are the simple, daily disciplines repeated over and over again.  These things
     are easy to do, but they are also easy not to do - especially because the results are not

     We live in an instantaneous world.  We want to go directly from planting to harvesting.
     We are so used to getting instant results - anytime we have to wait for more than a few
     seconds for Google to answer our questions, we get irritated - but we forget that these
     results are the compounded efforts of generations of work and sacrifice.

     Alma gave Helaman counsel that is excellent for us today.  Speaking of the Liahona and
     the "many other miracles" that guided Lehi's family "day by day" he said:

     "Because those miracles were worked by small means it did show unto them marvelous
     works.  They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those
     marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey...

     O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with
     our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even
     so it is with us.  The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever.

     And now, my son, see that ye take care of these sacred things, yea, see that ye look to God
     and live."

I feel like that is one of the greatest things we can learn in our lives and something that is vital in missionary work.  We must have the ability to plant, cultivate, then wait, and when the time comes, reap the harvest.  Whether the wait be a few weeks or 20 years to see someone finally come to accept the gospel after many seeds have been planted, the time will come if we continue with the small and simple things, and the reward will always be worth the wait!

I hope you all have a great week and remember to never see some small action as a waste of time. We never know what time mixed in with these small and simple things will result in.  Thanks you for your letters, emails and prayers.  I love you all lots!

...Elder Player

The largest cathedral in all of France
This cathedral is huge!

Monday, March 2, 2015

More Happiness Than You have Yet Experienced!

Luis and his family with Aurore, who gave us
the referral, and her father who baptized him!

Bonjour tout le monde!  I hope you are all having a great day when you read this email! This week has been a week like most weeks.  It has had its "ups" and "downs" but when you are having "ups" you forget the "downs".  There is a line in all mission call letters that says, "Greater blessings and more happiness than you have yet experienced await you as you humbly and prayerfully serve the Lord in this labor of love among His children."  That is so true and I've been able to recognize how little things make me happy and the news of Luis getting baptized made for a happiness that is different from anything I've ever experienced!  No object or item in this world can make you as happy as this.  The best part is that it is a happiness that we call all have!

So, first (like I mentioned earlier) Luis was baptized in Nancy.  I am so happy for him and I was able to talk to him after the baptism.  He seemed so happy and I can't wait to see how the gospel changes him and his family.  I even got to talk to Srdan and say "hi" and see how things are going with his family!

Second, Simon said he'd come to our young adult Family Home Evening at the church at 6:30 Monday night.  He wanted to meet us in front of a restaurant at 6:15 so that he could get on the right bus and we could all go together.  The clock ticked away and as the bus was pulling up we thought we'd have to go without him but guess who came running around the corner and was able to catch the bus...Simon!

Third, we went porting, in the rain, in a very nice area, and after 2 1/2 hours of no success it was time to go back and take the bus home.  We decided to give it one more try.  Guess what?  The lady knew the Mormons from when she lived in Germany and wanted to have us come back when she could be a better host!  #8:55miracle
"Into the woods"
Here we are porting in the rain!
Fourth, we returned to Rouen for Elder Barber's visa and it brought back great memories from when I served there about a year ago!

Fifth, we were able to teach a recent convert, Jean-Francois, and he bore his testimony and the spirit filled the room when he testified of how the gospel has changed his life.

Last, but not least, Elisabeth and her family stuffed us with good food because she doesn't want us to go hungry!!!

Sharing the gospel every day in different and simple ways has brought me a happiness that can't be found anywhere else!  If you are looking for a little more happiness or to bring back those feelings you had on your mission do a simple act this share something on social media, talk to a friend or give someone a Book of Mormon.  I'm sure we all know someone who needs the Gospel and I promise you that you will feel a great joy if you share it!  Here are two of my favorite scriptures that express this feeling...

*D&C 31:3  "Lift up your heart and rejoice, for the hour of your mission is come, and your tongue shall be loosed, and you shall declare glad tidings of great joy unto this generation."

*Alma 29:9  I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it.  I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance, and this is my joy."

Each of our mission is here on earth and it is now that we can share the Gospel with those around us.  Just as Alma says when we are an instrument in his hands there is joy that comes from that.  I am so grateful to taste that joy on my mission.  I hope each of us can even when we are not full time missionaries.

Thank you for all your prayers and emails.  I love and miss you all and hope that you have a great week.  Till next week...

Elder Player