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

Monday, June 20, 2016

Well-dressed

Hey everyone!

First of all, happy Fathers Day to my father! Thank you for everything you've done for me. I couldn't express it if I tried. You're the best, and I love you.

So most missionaries know that whenever you have a baptismal service, something has to go wrong. Nobody knows why; it's just a rule.

This Saturday we had the baptismal service of our friend Fred. I don't know if I've talked about Fred very much...he already had a baptismal date when I got into the sector. He's a homie. He actually reminds me a lot of my old roommate Osvaldo, just a Tahitian version. He was brought to church by a friend and was taught the gospel principally by Elder Rivas and the missionary I replaced, Elder Stolk.

So we got to the service and everything seemed fine: the font was filled, the water was warm, the food was prepared, the talks were ready...and then Fred went to change into his white baptismal clothes.
We expected him to have the pants. He expected us to have them.

With no options of going all the way home to get them, we looked through the closet in Versailles to find some replacement pants. Now Fred is not a small man, and all the clothes in that closet were just unrealistically small. No way he was going to fit into any of them, even for a two-minute ordinance. We didn't know what other options we had. I started thinking, it's not so bad to baptize someone who's not wearing full white, right?

When Elder Rivas held up a white dress for women's baptisms, commenting "This will have to do," I truly thought he was joking.

That's the type of guy he is. But he was totally straight-faced. Then Fred took the dress, equally straight-faced, and went into the bathroom to change. He wasn't going to let something as small as a dress stop him from the most important act of his life.


 Luckily, Tahitians can pull this type of thing off. He rocked it. 


                                   He gave a great testimony at his service (his first time talking from the pulpit), 
                                 drove our ami home for us, and went to go buy a suit for his confirmation the next day. 


So missionaries aren't allowed to gather in a central location for transfer days anymore, nor are they allowed to be in Paris for very long...which means that over a hundred missionaries now have train tickets to Paris that give them about an hour in the city before they leave to their next area. An hour to find their new companion, travel through the metro from one of seven Paris train stations to another, with two gigantic suitcases. Now the thing is, no missionary is allowed to be alone, and an elder can't be alone with a sister. And who was it up to to create the solution to this hellish algorithm? Us. Central Paris. This is what a portion of our plans looked like:


On a sadder note, Elder Rivas is being transferred to Rennes this Wednesday. I was hoping we could stay more than one transfer together. My new companion, Elder Walton, was in my last zone and I was able to do a couple of exchanges with him; he's a hard worker and I have no doubt we'll do great together, but anything is a change from Elder Rivas. I'll miss that guy.

Just like you, we've done the lesson on Scriptures, the last two weeks for some reason. The second time was by our recent RM quorum president, who made this point: if any of us traveled for three days and realized we needed to go back home because we didn't have the scriptures, would we do it? Like Nephi did. Then he showed the difference between the Nephites and the Mulekites, whose largest difference was the presence or absence of scriptures. He said "I hope today we can all study the scriptures a little more than yesterday and a little less than tomorrow."

Et cetera. 

Lots of other things happened, including two finding days, a reporter asking to shadow us for a day, an awesome YSA activity, and us setting a baptismal date with another ami, but that'll all have to wait until next week. Or maybe you'll just have to see it in my journal. If I ever decide to update it more frequently than I update you guys.

If you made it to the bottom of this overly-long email, congrats. Love you guys. Be good!

Elder Stanford 
Mission Française de Paris







Monday, June 13, 2016

Inspirés d'en haut

Hey all! Not a lot of time. But I just wanted to share a quick miracle with you.

On Saturday, March 11th, 2016, a woman named Lydie was sitting in her home in Paris. Despite being quite active in a Christian church, she had been feeling for some time that something was missing in her spiritual life. That day, she expressed to God in prayer that she wanted to be guided toward something that He wants for her. Then she went outside.

She later found herself on a bus, and decided to get off at a park in the northwestern part of Paris.

---

At the same time, two elders were just finishing with an activity in a chapel just north of Paris. One of them, the Chinese-looking one who speaks three non-Chinese languages, wanted to go contacting. The other, a Canadian with unmatched charisma, agreed. Following the Asian/Latino (Lasian?) one's inspiration, they called an investigator and asked where they had contacted him that one time, and received the name of a park in northwestern Paris. They decided to go.

After meeting many people in the park, from non-practicing Muslims to disinterested families to really attractive Atheist couples, they had seen no fruits. The one with fiery hair received a call and therefore stopped contacting. The one with the more fiery personality, however--ever faithful--continued on his own.

---

After sitting on a bench in the park for a little while, Lydie decided that was no way to find what she was looking for. She got up and started walking somewhere--where, she didn't know. But it would turn out to be the right path, both figuratively and literally.

As she walked, an Asian man in a suit approached her and spoke to her in a Spanish accent: words of salvation, happiness and peace. The words sunk deep into her soul and strengthened her faith in the Saviour.

Then she asked for a card and walked away, a little weirded out.

JUST KIDDING.

After the taller one finished with his phone call, he joined them as they went and sat down. The three of them were able to discuss spiritual things, watch a church video, share testimonies and even pray together.

And that's how we have a rendez-vous with Lydie this Wednesday. Pray for us!

Loves,

Elder Stanford
District photo
(Jordan's 12th transfer-- 12 x 6 weeks!)


Monday, June 6, 2016

Rain, food, finding. In that order.

Hey everyone!

So it's been enough weeks in the field that every time I want to start writing one of these emails, I need to pull out my planner (well actually, my calendar app #technology) in order to see what I did this week.

First of all, everyone keeps asking about the flooding. Nothing in my life has really been affected, except a couple of flooded underground metro stops which make it harder to get where I want to go. The Seine is absurdly high though, it's true. What HAS been ruining my life is that it's rained almost every single day in the month of May. It apparently broke the record for most rain in a month in France since recording the weather became a thing.

We have a hilarious African member, Frère Belinga, who begins every conversation with "La paix du Christ" and ends each one with "Amen." I wish I had a picture of him. Anyway, he offered to pour me some juice, and I said "But I'm not sure which of these two cups is mine." He responded with: "Le Christ a dit, ce n'est pas ce que tu manges qui est sale." (Those of you English-only speakers can look up Matthew 15:11 to see the scripture he was referring to.) And he proceeded to pour it into one of the cups. And I drank it. Don't know why, just thought that was funny. Moving on...

Zone conference happened this week. It went really well. Except the part where the four of us were running through the streets of Paris holding food and beverage enough to feed 44 missionaries, late for the conference, in our nicest suits, in the rain, with no umbrellas, and with our metro being shut down due to a "suspicious package." But despite that, Elder Richards' stopping at every little red light, Elder Rivas' bitter complaints regarding his comfort level and Elder Chen's overly full bladder, we made it and everyone was well-fed with self-made baguette sandwiches. Many thanked us for not just lazily ordering pizzas like every other zone conference...but maybe we'll take Elder Rivas' advice and go that route next time. Way simpler.

Let's see, what else? We've found a bunch of new people to teach. A lot of hard work was put into that (Elder Rivas doesn't "feel peace" until he can go out contacting) and results are finally starting to show! More updates on them as they begin to progress. This next week we're hoping to see at least 6 of them come to church.

Well, I wish I had more for you, but the days fly by too fast for my emails to catch up. Hope you're all doing well! Loves!

Elder Stanford

PS I've actually met about 439932 American members in the streets of Paris so far, especially given that the church is between the Pompidou and Notre Dame. If you ever want to meet a Mormon fast, the best way is to put on a suit and name tag and stand in front of a tourist attraction. I've thought about just spending P-day in front of a tourist site and seeing how many members give me things, but I decided that was almost extortion.

PPS As for the TB issue, I do have a tuberculosis, but not one that has a bad attitude about life and freaks out over nothing. She's chill. Unfortunately we have to kill her anyway, because that breed has a tendency to get annoyed over a long period of time and lash out. Wouldn't want that. We're poisoning her by degrees; it's almost over.