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

Monday, September 28, 2015

A Bible! A Bible!

Hey everyone!

So this week: We called a potential ami in our phone who actually answered (surprise) and agreed to set up a RDV with us (bigger surprise). So we got his address, found the street, and got to that street 5 minutes before the time we had set. And then:

Elder Orton: "So what was the house number?"
Elder Stanford: "570."
Elder Orton: "Ok what number are we at?"
*both of us look over*
Elder Stanford: "...crap."

Thus began the epic tale of two missionaries walking down a street, through construction, past the TJs and chapels that date back to the Apostasy, from #3 to #570. Yes, the numbers only went up by 2 with each house. And yes, we were quite late. But this is not the sad part of the story, because the guy and his girlfriend were 20 minutes late to their house, and we were only 18. 

So we get into this RDV and explain things, including the Apostasy, Restoration and Book of Mormon. And we think it's making sense to them...yeah...turns out we were mistaken. And then they pretty much quoted 2 Nephi 29 without even knowing it. 

Here is the account of some of the things they said, and some of the things I would have liked to say back. 

"Wait so...the stories in here...aren't in the Bible?"
No...we know you already have a Bible, why would we give you the same stories?

"All we know is Jesus Christ. We can't accept anything else."
It literally testifies of Christ the whole time and has His name on the cover. 

"So this guy, Mormon, was he one of the 12 disciples? If not then we can't accept."
Was Moses? Doesn't mean he can't write scripture. Wait, I thought you knew the Bible...?

"So why didn't Jesus ever mention Mormon?"
1) Why didn't He ever mention Noah or Paul? 
2) Most of the life of Jesus isn't actually recorded (John 21:25). 
3) He did mention His other sheep that lived elsewhere (John 10:16). 

"Doesn't Revelation say not to add anything else?"
1) John only says not to add anything onto that specific was he supposed to know that centuries later his revelation would be put at the end of a book called the Bible?
2) If we were supposed to take that literally, everything after Deuteronomy 4:2 would be false. 

Any more questions?

I'm telling you, we really tried everything. Everything that wasn't impolite to say, that is. Sometimes people just don't understand that they need something other than La Bible. At the end, all we could say was, you've just got to pray about it. I hope that at least that part was understood before we left. 

Face it, world. The Book of Mormon makes sense. You can't prove it wrong -- scientifically, biblically or otherwise. You've just got to pray about it. Pray about it. Either it's true and you should listen to what it says, or it was made up and you won't feel anything when you ask God if it's true. There's really nothing to lose. 

That's my challenge to you: pray and ask God if the Book of Mormon is His word. Even if you already know it's true. Listen to what you feel. Let it improve your life right now and guide you to a much better life after. There's nothing to lose. 

Love you all! Until next week...Elder Stanford, signing off. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Random thoughts from a random week

Hey all!

Stuff is good here. Honestly there's not much to report though. My comp and I have taken turns being sick so we've spent two days inside, which kind of sucks. I went to a lesson while I was sick where we taught the Word of Wisdom and I was like "Today we're going to talk about a commandment that's here to help us keep our bodies in good health." But I could barely even speak when I said it and I kept coughing and stuff. I hope nobody noticed the irony. (Is that what irony is? I keep forgetting the real definition. I just know that most people use that word wrong.) but yeah, we go to our rendez-vous but instead of contacting we've just come in and slept. So we haven't been finding new amis to replace the ones that inevitably fall off the planet. But we're trying! We just found a dope African couple (he's from Burundi and she's from Rwanda) who seem promising. They're not even living together! Which is pretty rare for couples here in Europe.
More updates to follow.

There are fruit flies everywhere in my apartment and they can't die. I trapped one in the microwave and turned it on for 15 seconds...and then I opened the door and it just flew right back out. Dunno what the microwave radiation did to it. Mutant fruit flies in the future? But we found one of those giant bug-eating bugs in our apartment (you know the ones that look like mosquitos but they're like the size of a golf
ball) so we're keeping it alive and hopefully it does some work.

My area is huge! Most of it I'll never even get to see in my 24 weeks here, just because of the amount time and money it would take. We called a potential ami in the phone who was like "Oh I can't see you guys, I moved to Waremme." Well Waremme is in our area...but sadly he's right. It would take too much time for us to get to his place and back (we have no car, just trains and buses) and so unless he's willing to drive into Liège to see us, it can't really happen. And as huge as our sector is, the zone leaders who live with us have an area about 3x the size. It touches Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
The stake is the Brussels Belgium stake, and it covers all of French-speaking Belgium. So I go into Brussels for zone conference and stuff which is kind of cool.

A couple funny stories (well more like funny quotes from investigators):

1. We were in Priesthood class with our investigator, Hugo. Hugo is very...sincere. And he speaks his mind. So we were talking about the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and the teacher said "When the Priesthood holder tells the person to receive the Holy Ghost, the person receives it at that moment. Are we all in agreement?" And everyone said yes, except Hugo. He just raised his hand and said "...skeptical." And Elder Orton and I just busted up.

2. We were teaching an Arabic-speaking man named Jamaa. He was telling us in broken French that he wanted to be a missionary like us and go around talking to the Arabs about the Book of Mormon. So to make sure he understood, I took the iPad and spoke into it, "Jamaa, if you want to be a missionary, you have to be baptized first." And when the iPad spoke it back to him in Arabic, he looked at us and just said, "...c'est juste." (That's fair.) Ok then! He's in the ZLs' area so they're working with him. We really do think he believes the Book of Mormon. (Side note: The guy converted to Christianity from Islam and had to flee to Europe for his life, so he's already got a pretty cool

3. We were teaching a man about fasting and how he can fast for strength to overcome his smoking addiction. And he said "Two meals? Ok so I'll fast for three...and if this works, that means the Mormons are right."

Anyway. This email had about as much cohesion as my week. That's all for now.

Love you all! Write me big letters!

Elder Stanford

Monday, September 14, 2015

On baptisms, relationships, and unity.

Hey all!

This week: the zone leaders had two more baptisms. This time it was a couple - a guy from Congo (of course) and a Belgian woman. They had to get married and quit smoking before their baptism, and they did both!
I got to go to their house this week on an exchange and eat there, and then we are at a member family's house last night too, thus getting double the Liège mangez-vous count in one week than I had gotten until that point.

So we brought our ami Toussaint to the baptism, and he brought his girlfriend and three kids! Really a beautiful family. The only thing that would make them more beautiful would be if they were married and sealed for eternity...but hey...we're gonna work with them for that!
Anyway, after the baptism, Toussaint told me that when he watched it, he just "wanted to get up right then and there and go into the font too." He said he's ready. We'll teach him more this week, and especially his wife. More updates to follow. But you guys...invite your friends to baptismal services! Especially convert baptisms.
Nothing can go wrong.

I mentioned the member family that we visited last night. First of all, we got there early so we decided to knock doors for 20 minutes.
And we actually had someone give us her phone number and invite us back! I can count on one hand the number of times that's happened on my mission (this is #4). And we usually don't even get the number.

But that's not the cool part. Before the member visit, my comp and I had a bit of a disagreement on what we should share for a spiritual thought. I wanted to just do a classic missionary message about how we can share the gospel with our friends, and he wanted to do something about Moroni 10:3-5 and how we need to pray to know spiritual truths even as members. Eventually I decided to not be so stubborn and to be unified with my companion instead. And I guess I'm not always right, because when we shared Elder Orton's message it actually went really well. We got a text later that night from the mother saying "Your message was just perfect! [My son] has been having some doubts and is looking for a reason to keep coming to church. You are great missionaries and brought a good spirit into our home! Thank you for being a blessing to us." So that was a super humbling experience that I'm glad I was able to have. And they invited us to come back soon (:

Love you all! Feed the missionaries! Share the gospel by extending invitations to your friends! Be faithful!

Elder Stanford

The Liège District

                       A nice senior missionary couple took us to the Namur Citadel on P-Day
View from the top of the castle

The dude who invented the saxophone lived in this city

View from the Namur apartment

Monday, September 7, 2015

Singing songs

Hey all!

This week...was another week. Met some people. Taught some people. Got stood up by some people. Sang "I Will Survive" with my zone leader in front of the members. The usual. 

Saturday was crazy. We got up at 6 to go clean the church, because somebody switched the cleaning schedule around without telling us and we found out the night before. At 8 we started a funeral service for a member of the branch. We all sang "How Great Thou Art" in English at the request of her less-active son. After that, we had a meeting with the zone leaders and some of the other équipes they brought in from around Belgium. Then we went back to the church for the baptism of someone the soeurs had been teaching (sang a musical number there), then to a karaoke activity with the branch where they got me to sing...three times. 

And now I'm typing this on my new iPad in the back of a car on the way to explore a castle with our lovely senior couple missionaries. Life ain't so bad. 

Love you all! Be good!

Elder Stanford