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

Monday, May 30, 2016

Crazy faith

Right then. This week was - big surprise - a crazy week here in the middle of Paris. I am still feeling a bit sick, or maybe I'm just developing allergies for the first time in my life, or maybe my body is just rudely telling me to ingest something other than baguettes, cheese and secondhand cigarette smoke.

Again, we had two back-to-back exchanges this week, both right here at home, with the elders of Versailles and St Ouen. (For those of you who are just joining us, a companion exchange is when a companionship comes to our area, or we go to theirs, and we switch companions for a day to learn from each other and the way we do missionary work.) I was able to work with Elder Harris, my son who was born a year ago; Elder Nagloo, from the Reunion Islands (is that how you say it in English?); Elder Mansfield, straight outta Idaho; and Elder Oopa, from Tahiti.
All four of these missionaries were fantastic at working hard, teaching and testifying, but today I'd like to talk specifically about Elder Oopa.

Elder Oopa is a new missionary being trained in St Ouen, in the Paris suburbs. When I entered the mission, he wasn't a member of the church.
He was baptized with his twin brother about a month after I came on the mission. It takes a year to prepare to go to the temple and on a mission, and he left as soon as he could. He and his twin (also named Elder Oopa now, uncoincidentally) lived with their grandparents in Tahiti because their mother passed away and their father left them and went to France. After one year, on the eve of their departure - just before their setting apart as full-time missionaries - they were able to baptize their grandparents. Now, here in France, Elder Oopa showed me a picture of his father and told me that he knew his father was in France, but he didn't know where...but he feels that the Lord sent him here for the specific reason of finding and baptizing him. And he has all the faith in the world that he'll be able to do it. One day I'd love to see a picture of Elder Oopa with his long-lost father, dressed in white in front of the baptismal font. I'll pray for him if you do.

Zone Conference

(Haha the screen)
No more time, but know that I love you all! Until next week!

Elder Jordan Stanford

Mission française de Paris

Monday, May 23, 2016

Sickest week ever

So life here in the middle of Paris is crazy. 
In one week, we went to a giant soirée familiale with all the young single adults in the Paris area, went to the cities of Rouen and Caen for meetings, saw a riot in Rouen on the aforementioned trip, had exchanges in Versailles, brought the Cherbourg elders to Paris for exchanges, got another freaking blood test for this tuberculosis scare, and taught over a dozen lessons...all while I was sick. It's this mega-cold that's lasted for about six days so far, that's made me go through multiple rolls of toilet paper (no missionary apartment invests in Kleenex boxes), gave me a gnarly sinus headache, and allowed me to sing lower than ever before. And it's still here. And I'm not allowed to take certain medicines that help with colds because of the other drugs I'm taking.


In front of the Paris Temple
This is Elder Richards, with whom I live. He is serving Mandarin-speaking and is currently training a new Chinese missionary, Elder Chen. Elder Chen was born in Taiwan and grew up in Montreal, but somehow his first language is English. He speaks French and Chinese too though. 

Elder Richards is just a better human than all the rest of the humans. The man will not let ANYTHING go to waste. I've seen him steam banana peels and pineapple husks and eat them so he didn't have to throw them away. He's vegetarian, takes cold showers, sleeps on the ground, grabs recyclable stuff out of the trash, runs barefoot outside, and picks up litter whenever he sees it here in downtown Paris. 

The other really cool person I have the pleasure of working with is Fr. Keita, from Mali. Over the course of a couple of months since the missionaries contacted him in the street, he has gone from non-practicing Muslim to practicing Christian. He has a baptismal date for June. It's an interesting situation, because we have had to start from the very beginning with him: who the Saviour is, why we needed to be saved, why we call Him the Son of God. Super cool, open guy. He knows that his family in Mali will likely reject him for becoming Christian, but he denies any actual physical danger, so we'll be able to proceed with the baptism when he's ready for it. 

God is there, He answers prayers and His church is again on the earth! Love you all!

Elder Stanford

Monday, May 16, 2016

Heart of Paris

Hey hey!

Right then. My new area is great. My comp (ex-MTC comp Elder Rivas) is pretty much the same as he was when I first met him, except a lot more experienced and knowledgeable of the scriptures. Still hilarious and a little crazy and full of faith. And I still don't know what language to speak with him. The apartment is actually really good! Most Paris apartments aren't, so I was surprised. We live in the 13th Arrondissement, if that means anything to you folks. We live with the Mandarin elders. They are hilarious and unique, though not straight outta China. I'll tell you more about them next time.

New address:

Elder Jordan Stanford
Les missionnaires
17 Passage Foubert
75013 Paris

The ward is good...I think. This being the centre of Paris, about a million tourists come through each week.

...I'm writing this on my iPad while sitting on a metro and this guy just sat down beside me who is not at all small. And I'm squished and he's invading my personal bubble and he sat on the side of my jacket and that's literally dragging me down. Anyway...

Yeah a million tourists pass through each week, and many more members are American, including the bishop. The missionaries here honestly don't know that many members because we're so busy running around with amis and directing the tourists to other Americans they could talk to.
But it seems like a good ward. Just crazy. Everything is translated from French to English or vice versa.

I got to that ward and who did I see? Four girls I know from BYU, doing an exchange program thing in Paris. So weird. They'll be here for the next two weeks. Maybe I'll have pictures next time.

My week was super super busy. Being the équipe in the heart of Paris, and given that the office elders are all the way in Versailles, we have to do a bunch of organizing, especially on transfer week. Setting up for meetings, buying food for the blues coming in, getting metro tickets for them, herding everyone and their luggage around the different train stations of Paris so they can be shipped all over France while never ever being alone...pretty hectic. All that after getting about 3 hours of sleep the night before transfer day due to packing and early trains.

We taught a few cool people, but the most touching spiritual moment was when a Chinese university student was asked to give the prayer at the end of amis class in my new ward. It was the most honest and sincere prayer I've ever heard, because she had never heard anyone pray when she was growing up. She said things like "Thank you for bringing Chinese people into this church. I hope I can understand more and then that I can help the other Chinese people understand more about you as well. Thank you for the missionaries that talked to me. I hope you can help them to find many more people to teach." I LOVE Chinese people now because every one of them at church was so polite, actually followed the lessons in Chinese on their phones, and genuinely wanted to study to know more.

Last but not least, on Thursday we got to visit the temple site and then go to a conference right beside the Chateau de Versailles where Prsident Uchtdorf came and spoke! It was awesome. He talked about helping the refugees, and always being worthy of a temple recommend.
We had a self-referred investigator show up!

That's all I've got! Love you guys! Be good!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Alive and happy

Hello everyone!

This being my last Monday in Amiens, I have a lot of people to see, some large suitcases to pack and one giant cathedral (biggest in Europe) to climb before I catch the next train out early Wednesday morning. I'm going back to Paris!

More details next week, but suffice it to say that I'm still alive, and happy to be.

Thank you all for the birthday pictures and videos!

Love you all and happy Mothers Day!
Amiens Cathedral
(the biggest in Europe)

Street and canal in Amiens

A 'mangez-vous' with an African family.
Guess which dish I didn't touch?

Laser tag and bowling with the youth

Our Mother's Day call !!!