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

Monday, March 2, 2015

Read your scriptures y'all.

First of all, thank you for the package! Loved it. My roommates all really like Fuzzy Peaches. And now that I have contacts for both eyes, all I need is to find my contact solution that I lost five weeks ago in the mission president's car! I've started a list of the things I've lost so far on my mission. I'm at 4 or 5 now. I wonder how long until I lose the list too.
I'm surprised nobody's asked me about food yet. Don't get me wrong, I'm super glad that's no longer a factor in my identity, but I would have thought you guys would all want to hear about this stuff. First of all, so I don't get your hopes up: I haven't started liking anything that I hated before. BUT my extensive list of things I would never eat is rapidly shrinking. My reform started after my first mangez-vous. We all ate, and I ate almost all of it (way more than I would have a year ago) but didn't quite finish it. Nobody said anything and it was still a really good lesson but I felt SO BAD. These are people who are investigating the greatest thing that will ever come into their lives. Who am I to skew their perception of this wonderful message because of some petty dislike of a taste or texture? I would walk over hot coals to get these people to recognize the truth of the gospel. So surely I can move my teeth up and down, even when I don't want to, so that at least they don't hate me and the name I have on my tag. Even if it tastes like dog food. (Not naming any investigators' names, but that did happen.)
Elder Wheatley and I have become super close this week. I realized how good my trainer is when I went on a couple of exchanges this week and stayed in a different apartment. Some of these missionaries don't invite the Spirit in the places they live. Not that they're super pagan or anything, but...yeah. How can you live and study in a place that doesn't have a constant spiritual atmosphere? So yeah, I really love Elder Wheatley. He's got everything that I was hoping for in a trainer: hard work and enthusiasm and good advice and the ability to sing on-key. Like I said before, he is also a master at receiving and following spiritual promptings. I'm super lucky.
Kind of a slower week this week. But still, a few cool things happened. First of all, we got to meet with Helder on our third visit! He's really cool and super open. Which is good but also bad, because he struggled a bit with the concept of only one true church. He visits the Charisma church, which is basically a super-Evangelist just-clap-your-hands-and-dance-hallelujah rock concert type church. But he did accept our commitments and listen our message, so there is hope! We're meeting him again this week.
We met Lony for the first time this week and this guy. Is. Golden. He is so excited for us to meet with him. He so readily accepted our message and said he would read the Book or Mormon every day so that it can help him be better. He's coming to church this week and we're going to meet with twice a week from now on. He's investigated many churches but felt they were all "missing something." Well Lony, have we got the message for you.
Last week we saw a guy who requested a Book of Mormon online. He did it because his uncle is meeting with the missionaries in Lyon, and he wants to read the Book of Mormon to make sure we're really Christians. He doesn't think he wants to meet with the missionaries himself, but we talked about the Restoration a bit with him while we were there. Right after I gave the account of the First Vision, there was a little silence, and then he said something amazing: "I am sure of one thing--Mormons are Christians." Really cool.
Pierre got the Priesthood! Super cool. He has so much faith. He might come help us give a blessing to a less-active. Next step for him and his family: temple!

Some advice to future missionaries: READ YOUR SCRIPTURES. Do it. Get to know them. Learn to love them. As a missionary, it becomes such a joy to do, and part of you just wants to pretend to be sick so you can stay in and read some more. But here's the thing: I thought I would have plenty of time on the mission to do lots of reading for myself. Not so. I do lots of reading, but lots of it is for our amis that we'll be meeting that day. So one thing I wish I did before the mission is just to have read more for me. There are gems in there. The more closely you look, the more you get. For example, Helaman 15:7-8 is a formula written by ancient prophets for how to stay active in the church. Alma 26:22 (one of my absolute favourite scriptures right now) gives me some things to do and then some promises if I do them.
Shoutout to the Gillis family for sending the first non-family letter that I've received on the mission. Thank you guys! Great to hear about all the stuff that's going on back home. Also great to hear that I'm not missing a legendary ski season haha.
Thank you to all those who wrote! Not much time to write everyone back, but I read everything and loved it.
Love you all! I'm about to go to the Louvre. Not a bad life. Write you in a week!

Elder Stanford

And now some pictures from last week. We're not very good at selfies.

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