Serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in northern France, southern Belgium and Luxembourg.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Even TJs mistake us for TJs

Two things have been working together to ruin the lives of the Mormon missionaries in Paris. One of them is a report on a supposedly "factual" channel here in Paris that talks about how Mormons are Americans who live in their own little Amish community with their multiple wives. How many times have I explained to people that that's not us?

The second things is TJs (Jehovah's Witnesses). Everyone who doesn't think I'm a polygamist thinks I'm a TJ. I've heard it from people I contact on the street, and even from people who we pass by but don't contact. But recently something funny happened: this lady flagged us down on the street and started talking to us. We were confused because...that never happens. Then she said, "You guys are Witnesses, right?" Elder Wheatley told her we're not Jehovah's Witnesses. She then said, "Oh. Well I'm a Jehovah's Witness. Have a good day!" And she was gone. Yeah. Even TJs mistake us for TJs.
On another note, it is impossible to tell the people in our ward apart. I'm really struggling, because we're now past the point where it's okay to ask people their names. At one point I was talking to the other Elders and they mentioned a certain Brother Tagro, and I said "who's that?"
They said "the smooth bald black man in his 40s."
I said "Which smooth bald black man in his 40s? The one in the bishopric?"
"Nope, that's Brother Mbappé."
"The one with the shoes with the zebra pattern?"
"Nope, that's Brother Tchim."
"Oh, the other smooth bald black man in his 40s. Gotcha."
These are my struggles.
Sometimes the work can be hard. Sometimes, like on Wednesday, you have a full day planned with 4 great rendez-vous (including one with Lony and a first lesson with another of awesome Pierre's referrals) and then one by one they all fall through and you're left hiking around a whole ville looking for people to teach. Sometimes, you have an ami who tells you he's ready to buckle down and begin a program with us to stop smoking, but then you find out he's just a Yes Man who only talked the talk. Sometimes, you go to meet someone after an hour-long trajet to get to their place, after calling and texting all day with no response, only to have him answer the phone from his friend's house while you're standing on his doorstep and tell you another time would be better. Sometimes you struggle to have Christlike feelings for a person like that. Sometimes you do a Restoration lesson in the church, and have a member join (uninvited) and start talking to this guy about how the book of Revelation proves that the Book of Mormon is true and Joseph Smith was a prophet, when we've only gotten to the Great Apostasy and this guy hasn't heard of any of that stuff yet. (Okay, that one was just kind of funny because we managed to get the lesson back on track and there was no harm done.)

I want to talk about reverence, because that's been on my mind a lot these past two Sundays. We brought Lony to church a week ago (he works every other Sunday, so not yesterday) and, like I said last week, our ami Christian. And there was all sorts of noise. Loud babies for sure, but mostly just people in the back who straight-up talked (not whispered, talked) because I guess they thought they wouldn't bother anyone from back there. Wrong. Lony, being the golden ami that he is, loved church anyway. Christian isn't the greatest at expressing his feelings so I don't know what he really thought. Luckily, he already knows he needs to be baptized. BUT! The other Elders brought two amis to church for their first time, and as they were talking to the bishop afterward, he asked them how they enjoyed church. They said it was good, but in Sacrament Meeting they couldn't hear the speakers! Apparently they weren't too pleased with that, and the bishop wasn't, and neither was I when the bishop told me about it later. Not only was the noise distracting, it actually stopped well-meaning investigators from hearing talks about the teachings of Christ. Yesterday the bishop gave a talk on reverence and basically just "reproved [the ward] with sharpness" (D&C 121:43) and told them about that experience. The people who were having conversations at the beginning of his talk definitely weren't by the end. But I don't think those investigators were back at church the next week. How devastating is that?? So don't have conversations in Sacrament Meeting! That's not what it's for. It's for thinking about Christ and feeling the Spirit. Have conversations in another place or at another time. Do it for the investigators. K thanks.
Today is the first day of transfer #2. Halfway done being "blue." I wonder if the rest of the transfers will go as fast as this first one. Elder Wheatley has been called to be a district leader for the first time, which is awesome. He's quite frankly the best one around for the job. I'm excited for him, even if this means I'll go on a million exchanges over the next six weeks.
Love you all! Thanks for your emails and prayers. I pray for you all too.

Elder Stanford

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