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

Monday, March 9, 2015

My joy is full

This is the guy from the bus miracle two weeks ago, who we taught for the first time last week. I told you he was golden. I wasn't wrong.
So we got there for the second lesson and this guy was just so excited to see us. We sat down and the first thing he told us was that ever since we gave him the Restoration message, he hasn't touched a single beer. We didn't even ask him not to. He just knew that it took him further from God and he stopped! But that is not even the best news. He showed us the scripture in the Restoration brochure about the Great Apostasy (Amos 8:11-12) that talks about how people would be looking for the word of God but wouldn't be able to find it. He told us, "That was me. I looked in all the other churches for the true word of God but none of them gave me peace." Then he told us that he had prayed about our message and instantly felt and calm and peaceful feeling that told him it was true! He told us, "I want to go to church, I want to be baptized...I want to have this peace forever." I'm pretty sure I almost cried of happiness. This guy is amazing. He said that now that he knows he's on the right path, he'll accept any commitment we give him. He gave us his copy of the Book of Mormon and asked us to write our names and emails and testimonies on the inside cover so that "Even when you leave, I'll always remember my two brothers who brought this truth into my life." He's getting baptized on April 18th.
Another cool thing - there's this kid, Christian, who the missionaries have been teaching since long before I got here. He was actually baptized about six months ago (with a permission slip that supposedly had his parents' signatures on it) but then his parents didn't let him come to church so he was never confirmed. He's got great faith but his parents just want none of it. So we've been reaching out to his parents, but neither of them wanted to even talk to us. But then Elder Wheatley had the idea to go eat at his mother's Japanese restaurant and leave her a letter each that explained that we just want Christian's success and happiness. She never contacted us back, so we figured it didn't have any effect. But then out of nowhere, Christian showed up to all three hours of church! He said his mother was touched by what we had written and decided to let him come. We hope that will continue and that his parents will give him permission at some point to be baptized (again, since a baptism without a confirmation apparently needs to happen all over again).

We continue to see miracles. Of course, there is lots of hard stuff. I don't talk about it as much because the good stuff takes up all of my time. There's the guy who isn't willing to put in any effort to stop smoking and start doing something besides Grand Theft Auto and marijuana; the guy who's been going to church his whole life but was never baptized because he doesn't have a strong enough testimony; the dozens of times we've been stood up for appointments. (We call it being "Frouged," after a drink called Frouge, which tastes kinda bitter at first, then really bitter afterward.) But it's all worth it for the good that does happen.
So there are some thing about Paris that are weird that I haven't talked about until now.
- Milk. It's not pasteurized. And I love it that way. Because of some weird thing that's probably explained by some science thing somewhere, that means we don't even have to keep it in the fridge until we open it. So we buy like 8 gallons at the beginning of each week, because we can. I think it tastes better too.
- Intersections. They have intersections here that are more than 4-way. Like I've seen 7-way intersections. Whose idea was that? Never make me drive in Paris.
- Tiny roads, tiny cars, weird parking. People park everywhere. Sidewalks are not just for walking anymore.
- People here are weird about the environment. They're super careful about not harming the earth--they all drive tiny cars, they don't do flyers because it's a waste of paper, they make you pay for every plastic bag you use at the grocery store. But then they go and buy a billion bottles of water because it's some sin to drink tap water here, plus everyone smokes. Make up your mind!
There are a lot of Africans in my sector, and they sometimes have really awesome names. We have a less-active member we meet with whose first name is "Dieu Mon Temoin." But that's too long, so he goes by Copain. Can you imagine how weird that would sound in English? "Hey, my name is God As My Witness, but you can just call me Boyfriend."

So I've been identified more than just once as a Canadian because of my accent. I'm sorry, Mom. I let you down. But Dad, you can be proud of me.
Weekly field trip report: The Mona Lisa was just as disappointingly small as it was ten years ago. There is a HUGE and beautiful painting on the other side of the room that no one even cares about. Weird. Today, we hope to go to Sacre Coeur.

I've discovered I really like personal study. Every time we have a rendez-vous or service in the morning that makes us miss personal study, it just makes me feel more tired. All y'all need to read more scriptures and have a study journal! I've found so many scriptures that I really like that never really hit me until now. But no matter how impactful a scripture is, if you don't write down somewhere why it's awesome, you'll forget it within two days. So yeah. Study journals. That goes to everyone--missionaries, future missionaries, and old people alike.
Love you guys! God is good. Jesus is my Savior and I can get through anything with His help. You all can too. Rely on Him and He will never let you down.
Elder Stanford

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