So just so everyone knows, I'm not in Mulhouse. There was a blue that was supposed to come into the mission this transfer, but he got reassigned, so I'm taking his place in Évry which is about 40 minutes south of Paris. My comp's name is Elder Long, he's from Oklahoma and he's been in the field for almost a year.
Monday 15 Feb.--Tonight we went with Frère Tuffigo to buy a couch for his mom and helped him transport it. He's such a funny guy! He always has this grin on his face like he's high haha :)
Wednesday 17-- Got to Évry which is super urban and way different than my other sectors. The majority of the people are African in the city, we are constantly using urban trains and buses to get around, and we are in a HUGE ward (about 160 people each week). It's SOO different! Also because we have awesome public transportation we can reach almost every member and most of our area in less than 2 hours! The ward here is so strong! A third of all the stake officers are from our ward, and all the ward council members are just as solid. It's cool because our ward mission leader is President Babin's son in law(they are living in the Babin's house during their mission), and another one of their daughters lives in the ward with her family. Our bishop is currently in Portugal because his daughter has cancer and they're getting treatment there, so I didn't get to meet him tonight at our ward council. But the rest of the members were so sick! We also visited a member of the elders quorum presidency( Frère Digbehi) this afternoon. He's from the Ivory Coast and is so cool! He made us fried plantains while we gave a spiritual thought haha :)
Thursday--We got to go visit our DMP (ward mission leader in French) at his house, so that means I sat on President Babin's couch ;) Their kids are so cute! Tonight I taught the weekly Book of Mormon Class we have here in Évry. We have a companionship of sisters in our ward also, so each week we take turns teaching a class on passages from the Book of Mormon. I taught about the gospel of Jesus Christ with 3 Nephi 27. Frère Digbehi was there as well as one of our amis, Eddine. We had a wonderful discussion and all of us felt the Spirit a ton. Afterward we went over to the elders quorum president's house (Frère Bailly) to have a mangez-vous and practice teach the restoration to them. Amazingly we did both in 30 minutes because our BoM class ran late. I never thought you could testify of Joseph Smith with cake in your mouth and still feel the Spirit but it can happen! ;) haha
Friday-- We went out porting/less active hunting and we felt the distinct impression to go down a certain street. We look at the name of the street right before porting and it's called Maple street (it was in French but still a pretty classic American name for a street) so we get excited and start porting....nothing. But it was a good night, we had some interesting conversations with a Muslim and a Jehovah's Witness. Anyway we get home and start planning. The next morning we were supposed to do a service project helping a member finishing moving all her stuff out of her old house. We didn't know where she lived and while we were searching on the map we came across her address....13 maple street.....we both were like freak did we port into her last night!?
Saturday-- So we head out to the address and standing in front of the house we realized that we had indeed ported the house and they very adamantly said they weren't interested....awkward right? Haha. Just then we get a call from the high priests group leader (Frère Meunier, the husband of the Babin's other daughter in the ward) asking us where we are. We're like, "right in front of the house, but nobody else is here." He tells us that there are like 6 people out front with two vans. We look around...nothing. So I'm checking the map while Elder Long is talking to him. Apparently this road continues into the next town and after it crosses the boundary the numbers all start over. So we walk down the street about 5 minutes and we find everyone, luckily we hadn't ported that house yet :) haha We helped out a little bit and the new owners were there so we got to talk to them. They were so surprised that they got to talk to two Americans and a Brazilian (Frère Ozari, executive secretary, was there helping he's from Brazil but speaks French and English pretty well)! This afternoon we had the baptism for the granddaughter of the lady we helped. She just turned eight (her dad, Frère Arriaza is the first counselor in the bishopric). It was super cool because they invited a ton of family and friends so we got to have some awesome discussions and teach some little lessons. It was weird though because there were more people at the baptism than have been at sacrament meeting in any of my other areas haha! :)
Sunday--Church was great! Eddine was there with one of his sons for sacrament meeting. We invited ourselves over to three members' houses ;) You have to invite yourself or you don't get invited :) haha
This week was sick!.....and so was I! Haha ;) I felt like crap all week, but we were too busy to take any breaks. We found this cool older lady named Collette while porting. She's super outspoken and not too polite sometimes but it's funny ;) She let us come back with a member (Sister Coloma) who lives like 5 minutes away. We taught the Restoration and invited her to start reading the Book of Mormon, she said she would! The only problem is that she's also studying with the Jehovah's Witnesses, and she told them definitively (and us as well) that she would not be baptized and she wouldn't get married to her boyfriend (she's a widow). We'll see about that haha!
We taught Eddine at the beginning of the week with his wife. She's a non-practicing Muslim, but is super spiritual and as we talked about the family she got super interested and said she'd like to learn about our message. So we set up a lesson later in the week at the house of the Primary President (Sister Alves) because they are a super strong and spiritual family (Frère Alves is on the high council) and the Mouktard's (Eddine and Samra) have two little boys. We taught the Plan of Salvation and Samra just ate it up (Eddine had already had the first two lessons). The Alves family were pitching in and testifying without us even asking and it was pretty much an awesome lesson. We had to leave to get to another appointment, but they stayed together and had dessert and talked for like an hour after we left! #gomembers!
The appointment we had after was with a recent convert family that have had trouble coming to church the past couple weeks. Sam and Admaya Koker are some of the funniest people I've ever met! They're African and English speaking and they have a super adorable toddler named Harry. We were supposed to teach a potential investigator with them because he speaks English. He couldn't make it, so we just talked with them about what they've been studying in the gospel, and had a super great time. We had to get home because it was almost nine, but apparently Admaya had made a meal for us and our potential, so she packed up about a pound of chicken and like 2 pounds of fried rice into a Tupperware and sent us home with it....OMG she knows how to cook! Haha It was SOO good.
This week we met with the family Madzela (super cool African family in the ward) a couple times because their son, Christ-Eric, just turned 8 and was going to be baptized this Saturday. The dad, asked us to come teach the basic missionary lessons to help solidify what they've been teaching at home. So we taught him a couple times, and it was super weird! 99% of all African kids are crazy nuts and loud, but Christ-Eric and his little sister were super calm, respectful, and attentive. It was really refreshing actually haha! So Saturday comes and guess who gets to be at the church at 6:00 to start filling up the font for the baptism at 10:00.... That's right! The missionaries!! But the baptism was awesome and we were asked to be the two witnesses for the baptism, so it's all good haha :) Plus, after the baptism there was a little luncheon and we got to stay and eat. There was a ton of really good African food....I love this ward! Haha
Saturday night and Sunday was Stake Conference. Elder Timothy J Dykes of the seventy presided at the conference. Eddine was able to make it to the adult session, but not Sunday. Samra wasn't feeling good, so didn't come (she's like 7 months pregnant so she isn't taking any chances). This week we visited with the Boisserie family (he's the high councilor over missionary work and lives in Évry) and shared a spiritual thought and a raclette ;) haha But he gave a mini talk during the general session and he gave us a shout out! It was great because President and Soeur Babin were visiting #browniepoints haha just kidding ;)
Sunday night we were out porting and this guy answered took one look at us and said in English, "I know you, you're here to sell the Book of Mormon, I'm not interested." Shocked, we said that we weren't here to sell anything, just to help people grow closer to Christ. We asked him where he learned to speak English so well, and he told us his wife is American and he teaches English and American law at a university in Paris. We started to chitchat and after a little bit he let us in to talk with him. An hour and a half later we had taught pretty much the entire restoration, and talked about everything from the Book of Mormon musical to reincarnation vs resurrection to Donald Trump and everything in between. He said he was really busy for the moment but he gave us his card and said he would read and pray about the Book of Mormon. He also gave us some Dr Pepper because we're American haha :)
Feb 29-March 6
So a little bit before I got to Évry the elders were contacted by a woman, Liddy, who said she was a member but hadn't been to church in 20 years. She wanted us to come and teach her 13 year old son. So we show up Monday night and there are like 10 people there! Her brother and sister in law, her friend, her sister, and two of her sons. Originally she just wanted us to teach the 13 year old, Nedved, but we weren't about to pass up the opportunity to teach a whole family of Africans, so we invited everyone to join in. The brother listened a little bit, but the sister, Lorien, and the two sons, Nedved and Melvine (9 years old), were super interested in the restoration, each took a Book of Mormon and we set up another appointment. We met with them again, but Liddy didn't participate at all. It's weird, she wants us to teach her son, but she has no desire to listen or come to church. So we read with the kids and Lorien in 3 Nephi 11 about the Savior's visit. It went pretty well, and they all committed to start reading and praying every day.
We met with the Mouktards twice this week. We changed Eddine's baptismal date to the 9th of April and we think we might be able to get Samra ready by then too. We taught the restoration up to Joseph Smith, and Samra was understanding everything, asking questions and was super excited. This was great because I'm pretty sure she has ADD because until we start teaching she's really distracted and also just seems totally beat, but every time we start teaching she gets this glow about her and is full of energy. She was super excited when we told her the next time we would be meeting at another member's house to watch the restoration video. She hates reading but loves tv, so we thought that would help her out. We all met up on Friday at the Mukuemo family's house and watched the restoration together and we all testified of Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the church. Frère Mukuemo talked about how he was converted and they answered questions. The two families totally hit it off, and we are going to be integrating the Mouktards with the Mukuemos
We went out less-active hunting a little but this week, and one of them totally paid off. We stopped by a lady named sister Ramos (we found out later she's less-active only because her husband won't let her go to church all the time, but whenever he lets her she's there. So already a miracle that he didn't mind us visiting her!) She's from Cuba but has been in France for about 30 years. So we sit down and start talking with her and her sister (her sister just moved here from Cuba about 7 months ago, so she doesn't really speak French) it was funny having everything translated by her sister. Elder Long speaks a tiny bit of Spanish so he got to whip that out. When the sister spoke to us I could understand the jist of it, but responding was pretty much impossible. But the sister said she would be interested in meeting with us, so we set up an appointment with both of them!
Sunday the Bishop and his family were back! I got to meet them, and they are seriously so amazing! He's from Portugal and actually served in the Évry ward during his mission. Also, Frère Alves pulled me aside during priesthood meeting and asked me to help him teach the 8-11 year olds in Primary because he needed someone else to be in there with him. We taught about prayer and it was GREAT!! I forgot how much I love teaching primary kids. SHOUTOUT to all my amazing primary kids, I love you! Guess who showed up to church for sacrament meeting....Sister Ramos, her sister, and her friend that we had met briefly! It was so great to see them, and they all seemed excited for our appointment.
Quick side note
In the last two weeks we have had 8 meal appointments with some of the coolest families ever! Haha Perks of being in a big ward ;) Also, I am becoming incredibly trunky because there are so many stinking cute babies and kids in the ward and I can't play with them. I have to settle for peekaboo during sacrament meeting. haha jk...kinda...
So yesterday we had an appointment with an old investigator we called a couple days ago. We start talking with him and he's going off about all sorts of weird stuff, why America invaded Iraq, politics, reincarnation, etc. We told him why we were there as missionaries and asked him why he thought we felt impressed to call him rather than all of the other people in our phone. He got quiet for a second and said, "I know why....You are missionaries of Jesus Christ......and Je suis Jesus-Christ." Now for all you non-French speakers, Je suis can mean one of two things, I follow or I am......I turn to this guy and say "you follow Jesus Christ or you are Jesus Christ?" He looks at me with this Joker style grin and says, "I am Jesus Christ." ............"Well it was nice talking to you if you ever are ready to learn if we have the truth call us. Have a good day." Hahaha We aren't calling him back!
Noël family update
So these past couple weeks I've been writing the Noëls from time to time. They changed their date to April 30th because Emy (that's right they are using short versions of their names with me! Haha we're tight!) has to work the day they had originally chosen. They're going to all three hours of church as a family and they are absolutely loving everything they're learning. They've already started inviting relatives to their baptisms as well! The coolest part for me is that I got permission to go to their baptism, and they told me they would be honored to have me baptize both of them!!!! I love them so much! They're the reason I came to France. I'm sure of it.
Sorry I took so long to write this all out. We have only been home on time like twice and we've had appointments on P-Days and stuff. Literally we've taught about 25 lessons a week these last three weeks......we are so freaking busy haha! But it's good :)
Much love to you all!
SOME PICS FOR YOU
Us breaking into the Sisters' apartment because we were out of Books of Mormon ;) haha
Us at 6:00 filling up the font....we were dead haha