So this week was super fun! Tuesday, we had District Meeting and then went to a Chinese Buffet for lunch as a special Christmas meal. We got a lot of weird looks because there weren't a ton of people there, and then in walks 11 well dressed teenagers with badges haha! Later that night we went and taught Brice about the last half of the Plan of Salvation, he ate it up, and he's continuing to progress well. Wednesday, we had to go into Paris so Elder Rollins could get legal for his first year in France. Luckily, Sister Spencer in Rouen had to do it the same day, so we got to hang out with them for a while. While all the bleus went to do their legality the trainers went and checked out the addresses for some less actives in the Paris ward, so Elder Nord (from my Dunkerque days) and I got to do another exchange together! That night us and the sisters went and got dinner then headed to our train, but when we got there we found out that because of some track problems they had to take all of the passengers of a different train on our train. That means we got to ride first class!!!! Kind of.... There were NO seats so the 5 of us and about 200 other people were sitting in the aisles. We rode like that for about an hour and then a bunch of people got off at the terminus of the other train, so THEN we got to sit in first class haha :) We kept talking in weird faces and the little bit of sign language that Sister Poznanski has taught us, we were cracking up for about 90% of the 2hr train ride! Thursday, we ate dinner with the Tuffigo family. He's in the branch presidency and she's the young woman president. His mother and sister were also there with us. It was so delicious and we had a ton of fun together. Christmas morning while Elder Rollins was sleeping (we are allowed to sleep in on Christmas and New Years) I made him french toast just like Elder Godfrey made for me last Christmas. Then for lunch we went and ate with the Margeritat family and her sister's family was there as well. It was crazy with the 4 young kids, but super fun. Also, we got to watch Despicable Me 2 and The Minions in French...not too shabby ;) haha Sunday we ate lunch with President and Sister Silbermann, it was delicious and we played a mormon version of settlers of cataan.... I lost miserably! haha :)
Love you all! Bronson Me, Sister Poznanski, and Sister Spencer on the train back from Paris. ...#tightquarters
Random Christmas tree at a tram stop Sunday morning... Don't know why :)
Tuesday 8 Dec. We had a super cool district meeting! I decided to just have an open discussion on the blessings that come from our knowledge of a Savior and we watched the Christmas video the church made this year. As we talked the Spirit was testifying to each of us the reality of the birth, life, and atonement of Jesus Christ. We all walked away with a stronger desire to serve the Lord and share this knowledge with everyone. Then we had a fun exchange with Elder Sherren and Elder Duncan (those are Sherren's glasses I'm posing with haha).
Wednesday we got back and then decorated the church with Sister Lefebvre and Brother Paporé (RS president and Branch mission leader). It took us like 3 hours to do everything. That tree is like 15 ft tall and it was a pain in the butt to put all the branches and decorations on it! But it makes the church look really pretty now :) Thursday 10 Dec. I went to Cergy for an exchange and a baptismal interview. I have to talk about this interview. So this kid is like 20 and is mentally challenged, he's the son of a recent convert and decided recently that he really wants to get baptized. So we sit down together and I always start the interview with a prayer, but this time I felt to ask him to start us out. As he talked with our Father in Heaven he expressed the fact that he didn't know a lot, but that he wanted to continue to learn and do what Jesus wants him to do. As he spoke I felt the Spirit testify right then that he was ready to be baptized. We went through all the questions and although he didn't have a perfect memory or understanding of everything it was clear to see he was willing to follow the Savior the rest of his life. I had heard beforehand that he loved Coke a TON so I brought two bottles with me and hid them in my bag. When we finished and I told him he'd be baptized the 19th I pulled out the Cokes and toasted to his baptism. He thought it was so cool! Haha
Friday 11 Dec. when we got back we had to go to the church to open it up for a member of a different ward who was doing some maintenance work, so we had to sit and wait there for a while, and we didn't have time to do anything else after because of weekly planning. So we were kind of sad that we wouldn't have any time this week to do some work, but the Lord gave us a miracle to make up for our lack of time. As we were walking out of the church a young lady was walking by and apparently heard us talking in English because she stopped at the bottom of the stairs of the church and stared at us. We were understandably a little uncomfortable as we walked down, but I asked her if there was something we could do for her. She asked if we were American and when I said yes she got all excited and said she lived right next to the church and would love to practice English with us. Now we are not allowed to teach English classes because the government will label us as a cult trying to lure vulnerable people in with the classes, and it's even worse when a 22 year old girl is the one asking for the lessons haha. So, I told her we weren't allowed to do that but we could share our message with her and also speak a little bit in English. She asked what our message was and so I said we are a Christian church with some unique beliefs like a living prophet and twelve apostles. Her eyes went huge and she asked, "you think the apostles are alive?!" thinking we were talking about the original twelve. I explained that there were modern day apostles and showed her pictures of the twelve and first presidency on my iPad. Also we mentioned the fact that families are eternal and she got this shocked, yet happy, look. She said she'd love to meet with us so we fixed an appointment for Wednesday. Saturday 12 Dec. we had to go to Rouen to do another baptismal interview for the sisters there. Their investigator is this sweet old lady in her 70's who absolutely loves the church and all the members. She's pretty much already part of the ward. So we open up the interview and we start to talk and it's clear that although she loves the Savior, she doesn't have a relationship with God and she didn't have a testimony of a modern day prophet and church today. We talked a lot about her difficulties with faith and we shared personal experiences together and had a wonderful discussion about the atonement and another points that were hard for her to comprehend and believe. I told her it would be best to wait a little longer before she got baptized because of the seriousness of the covenant she would be making. She agreed and I asked if we could kneel together in prayer. As I offered the prayer I felt the words coming to my mind clearly, pleading for Heavenly Father to help her create a relationship with Him, and to bless her as she continued to learn of His gospel. When I finished she had tears rolling down her face and she thanked me for our discussion and prayer. It was incredibly moving and sweet. When we got back to Le Havre we had our branch Christmas party. It was super fun! Elder Rollins and I were asked to do something for the talent show that was American, so we sang two songs, Rudolph the red nosed reindeer and since we were the last act we finished by singing Once in Royal David's City (which isn't in the French hymn book). But the best part of the evening was the beginning when we all watched the First Presidency Christmas devotional. It brought me to tears. If any of you haven't watched it, go watch it today! Ok, so for Sunday there's a background story. I didn't want to mention it earlier because whenever I share a super cool miracle it ends up falling through, but this one has been pulled through the refiner's fire and is still standing. A couple weeks ago we got a text from a random number saying "Hi my name is Brice Noël. I was on Mormon.org talking to a sister in your church and I want a Book of Mormon." Elder Shaver and I were dumbstruck (we still don't know how he got our number haha). We got his media referral the day after he texted us. We met with him gave him the book and he said, "I've done a lot of research on your church and I've seen good and bad things, but now I want to make my own decision. Give me two weeks to read the book and then we'll talk about it." Well six days later we get a text, he had read the whole book and wanted to talk about it. Before we met he sent us a document he wrote up with like 8 points where the Mormons contradict the Bible. We were scared that it would turn into a bible bash, but when we got there he was just concerned about the fact that it was different and accepted our explanations of all the points. He said that he would like to start the lessons to understand everything. But before our next lesson he sent a text saying that God responded to his prayers against our church. (I know how ridiculous that sounds....we were shocked too). We told him we were sorry he made that choice but we invited him to continue to pray humbly to know if what we have is true. About a week later we get an email saying, "In the end, I really want to meet with you and understand your beliefs" When we show up to teach him today(Sunday), he told us that he couldn't get rid of this strong feeling that he needed to meet with us. He still has a lot of deep questions and he's trying to learn it all logically but he's starting to progress little by little. In fact we already have two appointments set up for this coming week (yes TWO appointments the week of Christmas!) He's married with a cute 3 year old boy, and the best part is that his last name is Christmas in French! He's our Christmas miracle! Tuesday 15 Dec. We had Zone conference today. The couple supervising the temple construction came and did a presentation for us, then President and Soeur Babin gave small trainings that were pretty much their testimonies. Soooo spiritual and powerful! Then we had a nice homemade meal. Turkey, potatoes, gravy, mushrooms, and chestnuts. It was super delicious, but unfortunately the day after I discovered the hard way that I've developed an allergy to mushrooms like my mom did.....I'll spare the details mostly because I don't want to remember them..... I'm better now though. 😁 Thursday 17 Dec. I did an exchange with Elder Larsen which was super fun! For about an hour I got to teach him how to drive a stick because that city just got a car and he doesn't know how to drive a stick. I had forgotten how much I missed driving a stick.....9 more months..... #nottrunky! Friday 18 Dec. We had a super fun dinner with a member of the branch presidency. I had tried to keep my birthday under wraps but his wife found out so this Sunday she shows up with a bottle of cologne from her shop, and has the branch president announce that my birthday was the day before..... I hate my birthday haha :)
As you can tell, I did a lot of exchanges this week. It all started out on Tuesday when Elder Sherren and Elder Duncan came to Le Havre. This was super fun because Elder Sherren started his mission here a little over a year ago. We spent the day searching for some of the old amis he taught. One person we met with actually got baptized then a couple weeks later he fell off the face of the earth. So we were meeting with him and apparently he's been getting into drugs and is going crazy. He started ranting about the fact that someone from a church kidnapped him and then took him to a place where they were holding other people and torturing and violating people. He then pulled out an old copy of the Ensign and pointed out random people saying "this one was a kidnapper, this one got raped, etc". Then he told us someone had drugged him and removed one of his lungs and a kidney... It was so sad. I honestly felt so horrible after we left, but there wasn't anything we could do for him. He didn't want to meet with us at all after.
But that night we presented Meet the Mormons and even though no nonmembers came a super cool member came to see Elder Sherren and then he invited us to Christmas at his house! We won't have to stay in the apartment all day! Woohoo!
Wednesday we had a super fun district meeting with the ZL's. Elder Sherrens and Duncan came up with nicknames for everyone in the district which is now the ship "M.F.P Rouen" (mission française de Paris) and I'm High Admiral Jorgy Borgy with my comp Private Roly Poly. They presented them all and had everybody laughing their heads off! That was followed with an exchange in Le Havre with the ZL's. We ate with the Passavant family and started teaching Josué.
Thursday I had a super fun exchange with Elder George! It was so great catching up and reminiscing about the MTC. I forgot how funny that little Brit is! J
Sunday was super cool because we had the Stake President there. He bore his testimony last and it was so powerful! It always amazes me the quality of men that the Lord chooses to guide and serve His children. I encourage all of you to pay stricter heed to the counsel not only of the prophet, but also the bishops and stake presidents who are called to preside over us. If we do so we will be protected and prepared from life's many dangers.
I love you all! À la semaine prochaine!
Elder Rollins on the left, Elder George on the far right with glasses, the other is Elder Larsen