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

Monday, April 6, 2015

It was the worst of times and then the best of times.

First, let me tell you a story. This is a true story of a young trainer and an even younger blue. The young trainer was sitting with his young blue in an old room in an old city, when suddenly, the old cell phone rang. The young trainer picked up the old phone and listened. As he listened, a new expression formed on his face. He handed the old cell phone to his young blue. This was news. The new blue listened to an old voice on the other end, and experienced something new: the Mission President was calling for him. His voice said, "Président Babin, comment allez-vous?" but his young mind was saying, "This is new." Was he being reprimanded? Was he becoming AP? No...he was being informed that his (young) mother had contacted his Mission President because he had not written that week. The young blue proceeded to inform his Mission President that he was fine, not dead, and not purposefully neglecting his family.
With that story, let me inform the world why I didn't write last week. Last week, since Elder Wheatly has been in France for a year, we needed to do his second-year legality. We got there as it opened, having blocked out 2 hours in our schedule to get it done. How naive of us. We proceeded to stand in line...for seven and a half hours. At one point, Elder Wheatley stopped an employee and asked why the line hadn't moved for two hours. He informed us that the staff takes lunch from noon to 2, so they don't help anyone then. Of course. Why would they? But if we left the line, we wouldn't be allowed back in. Mom, I love your country, but I hate the way they run things.
I brought my scriptures to do personal study while I waited, but at one point I took Elder Wheatley's place in line so he could sit down, and left them where I had been studying. Then a government employee embarrassed me by holding them up in front of a whole room of people and asking whose they were. And I spoke up and everyone looked at me. As she gave them to me, I heard someone say, "C'est un livre sacré et il l'a oublié." I didn't lose them! I love them! Ugh. Worst.
Anyway, after 7.5 awful hours, we got to the front of the line, where Elder Wheatley gave a paper, got a paper in return, gave a signature, and we were done. The whole thing took about 45 seconds. Then, later that night, I discovered that I had lost my wallet. So yeah...not my best day in the mission.
But it gets better because...General Conference! We got to go with Lony (to a different chapel because they weren't showing it in ours) and basically just have a day out. In between sessions, we got to have a little picnic with the ward, show him the baptismal font there, go on a stroll in the park, and talk about the blessings of the gospel. It was great. Of course, he loved it, and said it answered almost all of the questions he'd written down beforehand. We missed half a session, and didn't get to see the Sunday afternoon session yet, so I'm confident that the rest of his questions will be answered when he watches those. That's how Conference works. It's nice how that happens every 6 months, isn't it? Inspired people who don't know you saying something perfect for you. Anyway, he's the best. During our dinner he pretty much just opened his heart and told us how grateful he is that he found us and thereby found the gospel. Really great moment. Totally going back to France and visiting this guy.
I loved so many talks. The one by Elder Anderson in the Saturday afternoon session was the answer to the question I brought, which specifically concerned an ami named Yannis and what he needs. That was really great. I also really loved Elder Oaks' talk (especially the part where he called out the people who are on technology during church), almost every talk in Priesthood session (especially Pres. Uchtdorf's, which went really well with Elder Ringwood's talk that afternoon), and many others.
Not much other news from these past two weeks, or at least any news worth remembering for so long and writing down.
Love you guys. If you're reading this, it means I love you. Or I don't know you. But I'd be surprised if someone I didn't know was reading this. Heck, I love you anyway, random stranger.
Elder Stanford

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