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

Monday, August 22, 2016

Au courant

Hey guys! Quick update:

Aurélien is doing really well! Our biggest concern was the Word of Wisdom, but he took it super well when we taught it and committed to live it fully. He's still praying daily, and now he even feels comfortable saying prayers out loud during our lessons. (:

Fred and Désiré, our recently baptized brethren, are both super solid still. Those are actually the two members we use to teach Aurélien haha. Members with responsibilities are more likely to feel like an important part of the we've been putting 'em to work!

We have two awesome new amis! Their names are David and Eale (pronounced Ay-a-lay, or, if you're Canadian, Eh-al-eh). You may remember that three weeks ago, at the beginning of the transfer, we hosted all the newly arrived missionaries--which includes taking them all out contacting in Paris on their first day. We call it "mothering," because it's like a mother bird teaching her newborns to
fly: first you show them how to do it, then you force them to do it, even if they're scared. d: Then you catch them if they fall.

Anyway, to get to the point, both of these people were found from mothering--a new missionary, led by an experienced one, street contacting. David is a homie! He's come to church twice already, loves it, and seems to be settling in nicely. He even volunteered to be a part of the church cleaning crew this Saturday haha. Once we teach him the first couple of lessons, a baptismal date will be in order.

Eale is a stud as well. He is a family man, living with his wife and son. (Hopefully he'll bring them to church and we can start teaching the whole family!) He's looking to have the constant companionship of God in his life--basically, he wants the Gift of the Holy Ghost, although he didn't say it like that. He's not the type of person to dive into a new life right away, but at least we know that when he makes a choice, he'll stick to it. We've also had better member support than ever so far in welcoming them! Mostly just four or five members who are working miracles for us. If you're reading this at those members when the missionaries bring their friends to church!

Aside from that, just a normal week full of little miracles, working, planning, and a bit of fun as well (: thanks for joining us. You are now au courant. Tune in next week!


Elder Stanford

La Mission Française de Paris

  One of like 76388 cathedrals in Caen

Caen Castle

Chateau de Fontainebleau

PS Sounds like you guys are having a ton of fun in Montana! Profitez-en. But sorry...despite your best efforts, you weren't able to make me jealous. I get to live with three good friends, not worry about income or expenses, rise above the social media smog, go suit shopping at Champs-Élysées, and best of all, preach the gospel with authority from on high. Boating will happen again, but these two years won't! But don't get too jealous ;)

You guys are the best! Love you all! À décembre I suppose. It strikes me that we may not even Skype again. Crazy. 

Be good!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Forward, pressing forward

Hey everyone!

The week passed in the blink of an eye. With no dramatic buildup whatsoever, the two best pieces of news are:

1) Getou got baptized in Amiens this weekend! Ever since first meeting her I've had the feeling she'd be baptized, so I was a bit disappointed when it didn't work out the first time...but all is well now. That makes three individuals that my companion and I found and taught in Amiens who have been baptized since I've left.

2) Aurélien accepted a baptismal date! For the end of September. The guy is a stud. Super humble and open. We're really happy for him, and although I won't be in Paris to see it, I'm excited to have participated in the first truly French baptism of my mission.

Five of our amis came to church yesterday! Three of them for the first time. It was a sacrament meeting focused on missionary work. I was one of the singers in a special musical number and then gave a talk on the restored priesthood right afterward. It honestly went pretty well. We had a few people promise to be back next week.

Other than that, the only unusual stuff was going to Rouen and Caen for meetings, which was fun. Except for the part when we had to run from our apartment to the train station to catch the train to Caen. And then run from the Caen chapel to the train station to catch the bus to Rouen. And then absolutely sprint the 1.5km from the Rouen chapel to the train station to catch the train back to Paris. In the sun. Wearing our dark suits. But we survived! Plus, we got to see a cool castle in Caen, the beautiful cathedral in Rouen, and the tower where Joan of Arc was imprisoned for the last few months before being executed.

That's all the time and all the news I've got, so I'll stop there. The work hastens on.

Gros bisous,

Elder Stanford

Mission française de Paris

PS Recently I've been discovering the beauty of the Haitian Creole language. If you take written Creole and read it out loud, it sounds exactly like an African or Haitian person speaking broken French. It's incredible. My only source is the scriptures in Creole, so allow me to cite some examples from it. (When pronouncing, say everything like in French, except you say E like É.)

2 Nephi 2:27
English: Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh.
French: C'est pourquoi, les hommes sont libres selon la chair. 
Haitian: Se poutèt sa, lèzòm lib dapre kò fizik la.

Mosiah 2:41
English: ...for the Lord God hath spoken it. 
French: le Seigneur Dieu l'a dit. 
Haitian: ...paske Senyè Bondye a te di sa. 

And now, a challenge to see if you can read this and understand without the French or English above it:

3 Nephi 11:18
Epi, se te konsa, li te pale avèk Nefi (paske Nefi te nan pami foul la) e li te kòmande l pou l avanse.

Beautiful, no? 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Désiré, Aurélien, Lilianne, homeless guy.

My week was uneventful, except of course Désiré's confirmation. I also got to "mother" a new missionary, which is taking them out contacting the morning they arrive in Paris, the day before they meet their trainers and go to their areas. I still remember my mother. It wasn't a great experience, so I remember just hoping he wouldn't be my trainer haha. 

Aurélien is progressing nicely! He said his first non-memorized prayer with us in our past RDV. Super shy dude but very open and receptive. If all goes well, he'll have a date by the end of the week. 

There's been a homeless guy trying to sleep in the chapel lately... We've been told to check everywhere in the chapel before closing it up. This week, we found him! He was hiding in the bathroom in the cellar. He told us he was just trying to fix the toilet (at 21h00 on a Tuesday) and then hurried out...into a different part of the church building. We followed him to the top of a stairwell where he had run into a dead-end. He did NOT want to sleep outside again...or go to a homeless/refugee shelter because it smelled too bad...anyway, I went down some of the stairs to call a couple of people with more authority than me. When I came back, Elder Walton was reading aloud from the Book of Mormon with him. It seemed to calm him right down. I told him what the people on the phone said, and he accepted it much more easily. We gave him food and he left willingly. 

I just learned that Lilianne, our miracle contact in Amiens, got baptized!! First person I've ever personally contacted in the street who's gotten baptized. So cool! I'm so happy (:

Not much time left, but know that I love you! 

Elder Stanford

We now have 8 extra we built a couch. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

A baptism plus a hundred other things

Wow. This was a week.

Last Monday, we played laser tag with a bunch of missionaries and Tahitian members, including our recent convert, Fred.  We played 3 teams of 5. Fred got first (he's a gamer) and I took second. Our team ended with 28,000 points and the other two teams got 5,000 each haha.
Not to brag or anything...

Tuesday, we had an activity where the whole zone came into Paris! We did an Amazing Race activity with them, where everyone had to make their way to three areas around Paris and complete a list of objectives (contact a runner, take selfies with three cool statues, give out two BoMs, etc) before making it back to the church. We aren't allowed to go to the big touristy spots, so we had to get creative...
Anyway, the first five companionships to make it back having completed all the challenges got to choose a prize, ranging from ridiculously fat ties to an origami pig collection to a poem written by yours truly. We also had missionary challenges for them to complete in the three weeks leading up to the event, and whoever did the best got head starts...not gonna lie, it was pretty elaborate. But really crazy and fun! At the end, we used a budget that we petitioned from President Babin to have a senior missionary couple make sloppy joes for everyone. Good times. Here are some pictures of people completing challenges:
"Take a picture of some cool nature"

"Action shot at the old gladiator arena"

"Statue selfie"

So yeah, that was fun. 

One morning, as we were scraping out our freezer in preparation for a cleaning check, we noticed we had enough snow to make a small snowman. One thing led to another, and before you knew it, we had a small demon in there. Don't worry, we cast him out. 

This day also marked a big milestone for me: the first time I've ever successfully contacted a white, French businessman in a suit and tie. He was hurrying between two interviews but still took a couple of minutes to talk and give me his number. 

Of course, the biggest event was Désiré's baptism! This dude's a stud. In the three months between talking to the missionaries in the street and being baptized, he's never once frouged us, and come to church for about two months straight now. 

He's still pretty shy and doesn't like pictures; this was the biggest smile we could get outta him. 

It's also the first time anyone has asked me to baptize them! I was honoured and overwhelmed. We had to do it twice because the first time his hand didn't go all the way under...classic. Aside from that the service went super well! And all his Ivory Coast homies in the Church came out of the woodwork and made awesome Ivoirienne food for afterward. Désiré will receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost this next week in Sacrament Meeting. 

District pictures (Elder Ho's "dying" pictures because he goes home this Wednesday):

Can you believe I'm that old?? Just finished my 13th of 16 transfers. (Or 17--who knows?)

All throughout the week, I was needlessly stressed over the possibility of being transferred (didn't happen) and also the stupid transfer day solutions I mentioned last transfer (still had to do those). For those of you who are just joining us, they put it on our companionship to find ways for each of the 62 missionaries passing through Paris to get through the metro system from any one of eight train stations to another...while always being with at least one other missionary of the same gender...meeting up with their comp somewhere, who also can never be alone...with two enormous suitcases with all their possessions in them...all in time to catch their departing trains in another station to head to some far-away French ville. But it's okay! It's all over for now. Now we just need to feed all 26 new missionaries coming in (!!!) and their trainers the next couple of days. One more transfer of this, then I'm headed to some tranquil countryside French ville to finish my mission in peace. 

District finding day in St Ouen

I'm sure you're all bored, but allow me to show you the way we ended the week after the baptism: picnic by the Eiffel Tower with our Philippino friends. Unfortunately I completely forgot to get a picture of the people or the food, but here's a picture I got on the way back home: 

Never gets old. 

Well, that was my week. Hope you all had great weeks too! Thanks for your love and support! I love you!

Elder Stanford
La Mission Française de Paris