Wednesday, October 17, 2012

10-15-12 Avignon 16

Hi everyone, I actually have a question for you first maman, What is face reading?
Now answers:

  Still beeing a good dog with the guitar, I've learned silent night a cool classical version (we really just took the hymn book version and learned how to play it on guitar) Getting ready for Christmas carnivale fun!

For the sink, Nothing has been done at the moment… I understand the office is really busy and it is hard to find a good place to live even if you had the time to look at it.  It is still being held up by cardboard, our bathroom floor is breaking and warped, ,and the mold I think is gaining a mind of its own ha ha.  It really isn’t terrible though, although, the cockroaches are back, and that is where I draw the line.

Yes they have halloween here.  It used to be a lot different from how we celebrated it in the states, but it has been well americanized now. I think there are more just costume parties than trick-or-treating.

One new ami !  His name is Stéphan, he is a practicing catholic, and he is really quite a miracle.  Elder Arrington and I went out praying to find someone interested in the restoration.  We went to Villeneuve and walked for quite a long time.  Then we felt good about this one road, and the third door we knocked on was him.  We were able to teach a quick restoration lesson and give him a book of mormon.  We were not able to fix another rdv, but he did say Au plaisir, which leaves room to come back and say hi and all that.  Hopefully things go well with him. Really nice guy.

I am thin, I am looking good, but last week I didn’t really eat well. We went to McDonald’s for lunch today (i know mother I am sorry !) It was way good though.  The MacDo (as they call it here) is really classy… and really expensive.  It comes out to around 8-9 dollars for a large bigmac meal (that is the cheapest thing on the menu) .  I don’t think I’ll have anything like that for a while, there is much better food to eat here anyway.

Lessons in the presence are a lesson with an ami de l’église with a member there to testify.  It is generally wanted that you have a member at all the rdvs you can so that they know the amis when they come to church, to welcome the amis, to show the amis that not all the members are weird like the missionaries, etc…  It is hard here though, because there are two active families in Avignon, and they both work during the day.  So that is what president said he doesn’t really care
about.  We no longer do « discussions » that’s what they called lessons back in the day of memorized stuff (which I find funny because the word discussion seems to imply a dialogue… oh well)

That’s cool Bryce is home, Tell him I say hello ! Where did he serve his mission ?  Texas ?  No… I have no idea.

Oh, and yes dad, you did a great job of translating my french.
Cet-à-dire que je devrais ecrire les chose plus difficiles !

I also heard from the Aix elders (Elder Tulley and Kunsler) that the Duffins dropped by.  It would have been fun to have seen them, but I am glad to hear that the Other elders are saying good things about me ha h… Not that there would be any reason for them not to… (there really is no reason, I am just joking =)

On Tuesday we went to Sorgue again to see the Delplanches.  They are a fun couple that got baptised about six months ago… more like seven or eight now.  English class went well.  We started talking about the D&C’s with Quansah and got him all nice and confused.  I think he understood things by the end, but may be it is a sign to stick with the first principles and ordonnances for a little longer.  He is still doing amazing, he has such a strong faith.  I love seeing him after English class to hear what his miracle was for the week.  The Spirit like has conversations with this guy, (not really, but he does have
lots of promptings like change the radio station randomly to hear something about the church on a station he never listens to)  He is great.  I want to send you guys a picture of him and of avignon, but I couldn’t find an adaptor to put my SD card into the USB port, So… package ?

Also my camera has gotten into the bad habit of draining my batteries (the last pair of batteries lasted about four days…)  So I wonder what’s up with that.  Yeah…
Then we had district meeting on Thursday which was fun, nothing crazy or new this time.
Sunday we had a lunch n’ lesson with the Guillon family.  The lunch was CRAZY good, best thing I have had on my mission (I have the recepie, so I’ll make it for you guys some day)  Like a fruit salad with shrimp, apples, mango, peach, red onion, ginger, and some other stuff.  Really simple to make too.

Also something fun, A journalist in Bolène wants to do an article about us.  The church publicity people have been calling us all week telling us what we can say and what we shouldn’t ha ha.  We will be interviewed this Friday, so I am basically going to be famous in a local paper that goes around all of Provence… not too shabby ha ha.
It is cool, everyone suddenly seems to know that we are mormon, before they would guess Jehova’s witness or Seventh day evangelists before mormon, but recently they have been getting it on the first guess.

Well I think I will close things here for now.  Thank you so much for your emails, I really enjoy getting them.  J’ai eu un rêve que nous étions (papa, maman, JJ, et moi) à Euro Disney.  Pour n’importe quel raison, j’avais du mal à comprendre les gens.  Je ne pouvais non plus m’exprimer, alors que papa était complètement courrant en français.
J’admets, j’étais un peu jalou, mais bon.  Je vous aime en touts cas, même si papa est plus fort que moi dans le français après mes deuxans.  Au revoir !

10-8-12 Avignon 15

Hello everyone,  So let’s get right to the questions :
Yeah I am still loosing weight, slowly but surely.
We have three nice heaters in our apartement, but it is still too hot to use them, I usually don’t sleep with the covers on still. It is cooling down though, and feels quite nice.
I wouldn’t say it is fall quite yet, there aren’t a lot of changes
except it gets dark around 8 o’clock now.  But with the cooler
weather, it is much nicer to be outside.  Avignon and provence is really an incredible part of the world, I can’t wait to show you guys!
Quansah’s kids are still great, I think the mother is actually French because Quansah is dark black and his kids are not so dark, she lives about an hour away.  He only has the kids every other weekend.
Yes Zone conference is in Aix.
Genevieve (the ami with mental problems) disappeared, we have been considering passing by her house, but it is difficult to find a member who can come with us because many of them live far away. OK, here is how General conference goes down:  The times are fixed here, all the members have to do is plug the projector in and then plug in to the satellite and it is ready to go, no recording or anything else on our part.  Saturday evening was the relief society thing followed by Saturday morning session (starting at 6 o’clock
france time)  Elder Arrington and I watched that in French and we were actually a little late, so I didn’t hear about the age change for missionaries until I talked with the members after, that was cool to hear about though, Elder Arrington has a couple friends who are going in a few weeks now instead of a few months.
Sunday Morning at 11 we watch priesthood (I saw this and all the rest in English because the branch president was really nice and set it up for us in another room).  Then Saturday evening session starts at 2 oclock.  After Sunday morning session starts at 6 o’clock, and we just have to wait for the liahona to come out to see Sunday afternoon session.  I guess we could watch it at the internet place, but that
would cost a pretty penny. We had a good 20ish members there which was more than I thought, because most members watch it at home on the internet.  IT was cool to
see all the people there.  In between Priesthood and the Saturday afternoon session Elder Arrington and I brought lunch, as well as the other members there, it was like a pick-up picnic, fun fun fun!
I thought all of the talks which I heard were wonderful.  I really liked Elder Anderson’s “ask the missionaries” talk, really funny.
This week wasn’t too eventful, Zone conference which was really good as usual, it was interview zone conference (meaning every three transfers, the mission president just has a quick interview to see how things are going)  I mentioned that the branch isn’t unhelpful when it
comes to missionary work, it is just hard when the closest member who could help us is a half hour drive away.  He told me that he doesn’t really care about us getting lessons in the presence as long as we are keeping the rules.  I really love president Roney, he is like a funny Yoda of wisdom.  He really makes everyone he talks to feel like they are loved and special. Unfortunatley, Elder Arrington and I must have eaten something funny, and we were both out for a couple days.  Probably the worst food poisoning I have had, but it went by fast and we were able to get out by Friday.  We did lots of service for a couple member families, and had a lesson with our jehova’s witness friend Fabien!  Over all, aside from getting sick, this was a really good week.  It seemed to only
last a couple days though… really the time just goes by too fast. Sorry I don’t have a day-to-day, I hope this is a good email.  I am doing well and I am happy, Elder Arrington and I get along really well, he Is really funny and has taught me lots of new vocabulary like MAKING BIG PLAYS.  That’s what we say when we have a good contact or lesson or something cool.
J’espère que tout va bien chez-vous, que vous êtes dans la bonne santé et tout ça.  J’aime bien la langue française, maintenant j’essaye de faire tout en français, y compris mon journal personal.
Have a wonderful week, stay strong.  Conference weekend is really like Christmas here, and the best thing is it comes twice a year!  I love the gospel and the chance I have to be a missionary.  As far as numbers go, There haven’t been huge changes yet (there was only one baptism this week), but I have noticed a difference in the way I am working.  I feel better and really have the spirit with me all the time when I do what I am told to ha ha.
Encore, je vous aime.  JJ, as-tu une petite copine déjà?  Ton horloge approche sa fin, si tu ne t’es pas marié avant moi, je vais te donner un coup de poignet !  Au revoir tout le monde !

10-1-12 Avignon 14

Lame, ok, I am doing a copy paste word document because the internet here is really shoddy
Do you know the Mcknight’s?  They came to our branch yesterday, apparently they were in the 13th ward with us.
Also are the Cole’s new to the ward?  They wrote me a letter recently.
Answers:  The women’s conf will be shown here this Saturday
Yes I have my coat and robe My hippie bag looks alright still, the missionary life is wearing it down though.  I sewed the little desk French flag on the front of it.
I think the French get a kick out of it.  It is kinda strange, the
only places you see French flags here are outside of government buildings;  There isn’t a lot of country pride.
I am a good dog with the guitar, I am learning the Christmas songs now for caroling this Christmas!
The new appartement situation is progressing slowly, they are still looking though.
General conf will be this Sunday;  We watch the Pristhood meeting Sunday morning, then Saturday day session, followed by the Sunday morning session.  We have to wait for the printed version to see the Sunday afternoon one.  Or we could watch it online on P-day.  Maybe Elder Arrington and I will be able to see it in English in the office of the church building.  If not, it looks like we’ll just have to watch it in French, which I can understand, but I just like it better
in English, and that would be better for E;  Arrington as well.
Money Monday, After emails, we practiced guitar, cleaned the
appartement, and then saw Prince, he was really cool, though he was sick so we didn’t really teach him too much, but got into to the Plan du salut, er the … what is it in English?  Plan of salvation that’s it.
Taco Tuesday:Went to Montfavet, nothing much going on there.  Then had a ward mission council meeting thing that I don’t know the name of in English with Sylvain.  It was really cool, he wants to do some big things as DMB… ward mission leader (dirigeant de mission de branch).
Then we ran away from some muslim kids who were yelling at us. Nothing serious, and we didn’t really have to run away, they were just being rude.  We also made scrumptious tacos for dinner!
Windy Wednesday:  Saw Dawn and helped her put a cone thing on one of her cats.  That was fun.  She is going to England this week, that will be good for here to get away and actually be able to sleep at night and not fret about her cats.  Then we taught English class, then Quansah afterwards;  He is still awesome just so you know.
Thonner thursday:  Had a raté-vous, and then two more raté vous, and did lots of porte a porte.
Wunderbar Vendredi:  Weekly planning! Then we made a huge list of old amis that we though had some potential, and started contacting them, no luck so far;  Went to Les angles for a change of scenery.  Talked to lots of nice people, but no one really interested.
Super Saturday:  Had an amazing Lunch at Frère lascols’s house. Tomato salad, some cheese and nut salad, green salad, quiche, potatoes, and chicken.  Also a raspberry cake to finish it off and a plate of various cheeses to remind us that we are in France.  I loved it!  Then we worked in Centre ville, and talked to Prince again, he didn’t have a lot of time, so it was very brief, but I do love those African people, they are so chill.
Sabbath Sunday:  had church.  We did fast Sunday for general conference next week.  I had to be a translator for the McKnights, that was fun.  Sister McKnight actually got up to bear her testimony, so I went with her to translate it for the branch.  It was a lot of fun, I doubt I would like to be a real translater though, that stuff hurts your brain doing it for multiple hours ha ha.  Then we went out looking for miracles and didn’t find anything… until I called someone that me and Elder Call talked to who said she would like to meet us
sometime at the end of the week, score!

Ok, love y’all guys.  This one isn’t as long as the last one, but the internet freaked out and deleted it about a quarter of the way through… sigh, I have learned my lesson though, and only use Microsoft word for writing.
Oh, we saw our JW friend again this morning.  He was really nice, and we had a great discussion on the plan of Salvation.  He gave us the jevhova witness point of view, but he let us talk and explain, and it went really well.  I think he is trying to convert us, which is a little interesting. It is fun though.  He really knows his bible, luckily the lord reminds me of stuff I have studied to share with him to support our point of view.
En tout cas, je vous aime tous!  Je sais que nous avons raison, etc’est vraiment notre église qui est dirigé par Jésus-Christ.  J’aime ma mission et tous les gens que j’avais rencontré ici.  You forgot to tell me if you translate what i say in French.  Love you all verymuch;  Have a good week.
Bonne semaine!

9-24-12 Avignon 13

Hello Everyone!  Good week, but as usual let's get started with the questions:
Yes it is all good to have a guitar.  There are several other
missionaries that have them, as you saw, mine was not too expensive, just another accoustic nylon string (of course I am not going to buy an electric ha ha) yeah, the idea was to have something else to do on P-days and to implement it into contacting. There is a homeless guy here who has a guitar, he started talking to us, and the guitar came up, and we mentioned that we know how to play (elder Arrington plays
guitar as well, he is really good) he had us play a little bit for
him, and in just 10 or so minutes, there was a little more than 10 to 20 people around us.  Pretty fun, so we figured it could be an option. I don't let it become a distraction because I really do not remember how to play much of what I did before.  I only play it during meal time and P-days, and I have been figuring out the chords to the hymns.
So far I have about four or five written out.  I think It could be
good.  But yeah, I am being good, don't worry ha ha.

We got our new fridge and it is wonderful. Really makes the rest of the place look a little bit better.  Our old fridge even when it worked only cooled things a little... not very well, but this new one keeps everything nice and ... fridged.  Also, the office Elders are officially looking for a new appartement for us because we have a mold problem, and the sink is made of cardboard, and we live across from a bar.  That is really all the info I have on that so far, but it is exciting.  I'm sure I'll have more to tell you about that next week.

Yes I am eating well.  I am working on my six-pack now.  No more drinks other than water, and no more kebabs, and only 80 carbs a day. I am going to be so hot when I come back, just you wait ha ha.

By the way mother, I have a delicious recepie you can try, and see if you like it.  A member fed it to us and I love it, though she didn't have any specific mesturements so you'll just have to eye it and see what looks good.  So you boil some asperagus, as the full stocks, then when it is almost cooked, you throw in a bunch of sliced strawberries
for the last couple minutes.  Drain it, and add a healthy ammount of creme fraiche (I think you'll just have to use sour cream) and olive oil (or butter, but more sour cream then butter and oil)  Cover the pot and let the heat from the asperagus melt the stuff into a nice liquidy tasty thing;.. and then eat it.  I thought it was incredible.
Hopefully you can try it.

There are lots of dogs here, but not as many bichons Lots of cats too. Everyone seems to have a governement funded poopsie.

There are lots and lots of muslims here in Avignon.  Lots of French cities in the south have lots of Muslims though.  There was actually a thing that happened recently where some american put up a video that offended the muslims, you probably know more about it than I do, but president has told us to avoid muslim areas even more, and actually
the past few days we have been coming home right when the sun goes down because it was some muslim holiday, and we didn't want any trouble.  Not too much seemes different, a few groups of mulslim kids swore at us and whatnot.  That has happened before, but it seemed to happen more.  Anyway, I think things are calming down.

Monday:  I got a suitcoat for 60 something euros, because my american ones are like wearing tents, it looks good, it is just plain black. At the end of the Day we met Tony who talked to us a bit.  He is really nice but not too interested in converting.  He is reading the book of mormon though, so that is cool.

Tuesday:  Helped Dawn, the English Cat lady.  Did our grocery shopping because we got our new fridge that morning.  Had a rdv with Sylvain our new ward mission leader, he wants to do some big things with the
branch, and we are starting by visiting every active family in the branch to change the mindset of the members from (if the missionaries find someone we will see if we can help" to "How can I share the gospel with my friends and then get the missionaries to help me"
Anyway, it should be fun.

Wednesday:  Dawn needed some other help, so we fixed something for 20 minutes or so, then we went to Villeneuve and ported, then English class

Thursday:  District meeting, lots of fun really good as usual.  Went home and then to Villeneuve again to finish the little coin we were doing, then just some pass backs in Avignon

Friday:  Weekly planning, then I must have eaten something funny because I was throwing up all day and feeling horrible.  I think it was this tuna bread stuff a member made us because that was the only thing that only I ate, and Elder Arrington didn't get sick.

Saturday:  Big miracle day, we randomly got a call from someone saying they would like ot be taught by us, so we happily accepted and fixed a rdv for today (we actually had the rendez-vous and it went really well.  He is a jehova's witness, but very nice and he wasn't just there to bible bash)  Then we gave cookies to a member family because it was two of the members birthdays this week.  One of the kids told
us he has a friend he would like to introduce to us so we can teach him.  Awesome, I love it when that happens, which has never happened before... to me.  Then we got a new ami Muhamed, he is muslim, but also willing to listen and read the Book of Mormon.  Good day

Sunday:  Fun at church. After we taught Quansah's children with some fun object lessons.  They liked it, and they love coming to church. They also want to be baptised, but the mother is not OK with it, so that complicates things, but they are both really cute and awesome! then we did all of Elder Arrington's studies and such, and hid from the muslims.

Today we also got a random call from someone wanting to come to our English class, so that was really cool.  We'll see where that goes. Also we are going to see Prince again today, our new ami from ghana.
Things are picking up here again.  Honestly Avignon doesn't have the greatest reputation.  It is a cool city, but people are such downers here, they just criticize everything.  I usually respond to that by saying" did you know that there is an awesome castle wall around the city and a huge palace in the middle of town.  Then they say "well that is kinda cool I guess".  There haven't been any baptisms here for a couple years, but we have had four in the last six months, and all
of the recent converts are still active and solid.  I really like
Avignon, I wouldn't mind staying another transfer (this one ends in four weeks)  Especially if we have a groovy new apartement that would help.  There are a lot of good members here, and good things are in store.  We just have to keep up the positive energy!

Basically what I was talking about by saying we need to change how the french think of themselves... I was more thinking of missionary work. There is a poisonus idea that the work just doen't progress here like it does elswhere.  That is true, but that doesn't mean it can't change.  I have seen the weekly baptism totals go up from about two or three a week to five six and seven a week, even getting over ten sometimes.  That seemes pretty darn good, and It can still go up. There are tons of scriptures (DandC 4 for example) that says that the field is already white and ready to harvest.  I have yet to find a scripture that says the field is white, but France... I don't know, it's pretty tough there.  I know miracles come with exact obedience and hard work, but also smart work.  Elder Arrington and I have found 4 new amis, and at least 3 others that will be new amis this week
(normally)  I am not saying this to brag by any means, but just to say that there are people ready to hear our message.

I love my mission, I love the French people, even if they act kinda funny sometimes.  I am really really really tired, but somehow with lots of prayer I get up and go to work.  I love you all too, I hope you have a wonderful week.
Random subject change, I need a converter thingamajig that I can put my SD card into so I can plug it into a USB port.  I'll look for one today. If I find one, I'll send some pictures next week.  I know it has been a while.

Lastly HAPPY BIRTHDAY JJ I love you so much and I pray for you everyday (you too parents... and monte... and even Max... and Bruce and Robin)  Remember enjoy the little moments and the now.  Don't be oblivious to the future, but be happy now, life it a lot better that way.  I am also working on a package full of goodies to send to you guys, but it will probably still be a few weeks because I keep forgetting and I am still not totally sure what to put into it.

Ok I hope you like this email, it was a long one.  Love you again bye!

September 17th Avignon 12

Hello all, great week.  questions:
Since I didn't start training Elder Arrington, I wouldn't say that he is my son... it is more like I am the fun uncle he goes to live with or something.

I had a pastèque (watermelon) last week that wasn't all that good. The melons are looking like it is the end of the season, but I have had almost all incredibly good melons!

It has rained a couple times, but not a lot.  The temperature has really lowered this week.  It is more around 28 ish during the hottest part of the day (that is in celsius, you can do the conversion).  Fall is coming, and i am welcoming it, it was so hot during the summer ha ha.  I bet I will be transfered to switzerland this winter so I'll pass the summer in one of the hottest places in the mission, and winter in the coldest place.

We do live by lots of cats.  We actually have an ami who has six cats. In fact, this morning right before we did emails, we helped her put a collar on one of her cats to keep him from licking a sore on his side. Fun stuff.

We call greenies blues because in France the army uniform is blue (their dress uniform) so in the french army the new guys are called bleus.

I don't think reading in French will make it hard to remember in English.  I guess I know what the scripture is in French, but I still know the reference or the place in the book of mormon, so I'll be able to find it in english.

Monday:  Went to Montpellier to drop-off Elder Call and pick up Elder Arrington.  Montpellier is in a place where lots of missionaries were passing through, so I got to see a bunch of missionaries I knew like Elder Hamilton who got transfered to Toulouse, and Elder Smedley who was going home, and Elder Tromeur who knows Will West because Will served in his ward in Milan Italy.  Could you tell Will that Elder Tromeur is doing well, and says bonjourno? That was really it.

Tuesday:  Taught Dawn (the woman with six cats) she is an old ami that we picked up again.  THen we helped her clean her apartement which is really small and disorganized.  Then we saw Olivier a less active member, and Sylvain an active member (who is now our new branch mission leader)

Wednesday:  We got somebody's address in a tiny ville called Saze (right of the river by avignon if you want to mark it, but I don't know if it will be there because it is tiny tiny tiiny)  There is only one bus during the day that goes there and none that come back. We figured we could take the bus there and walk to a close city that does have buses to take us back.  However, there are only two roads exiting
Saze, and they are highways with no room on the side to walk.  We got stuck there for about four hours before a member was able to come pick us up ha ha.  The guy wasn't there either, it looked like he was gone on vacation, so we'll pass again in a few days.  Then we taught english class and Quansah who is still doing amazing!

Thursday:  Went to Vedène to pass another address we got.  IT was also out in the middle of nowhere, but we got a member from the start to take us there and back.  Once again the people were not at home... too bad.  Then we went to villeneuve and knocked on some rich people's houses until one of them got mad at us and said they would call the
cops even though we weren't breaking any laws.

Friday:  Went to Lyon for Bleus conference!  It was pretty much the same as the last one, but more smooth and fine tuned I feel.  It was great to see a bunch of familiar faces, and I think it really motivated Elder Arrington even more, so now we are rockin avignon!

Saturday:  Saw Dawn again, had a lesson, and helped her clean more (I think she mostly just wants us there to clean her apartement ha ha)
Then we worked in the Pontet, not a lot of sucess, so we came back to Avignon and started looking for this old ami who lived in Centre ville.  We didn't find him, but the person living at his address is an awesome black guy from Ghana named Prince.  He let us in and we had a great lesson.  He doesn't speak French, and his english is not great, so it is a little difficult to teach him, but he is so nice and just so ready for the gospel!

Sunday:  Good day at church, Did studies and went to see Prince again. He had made us some tastey african rice and stew, and we had a good lesson about the restoration.  Because of the language barrier, we have to go slowly but he is understanding well.  He also doesn't know how to read, so we are going to teach him.  He is really really cool!

That is really all.  I like to hear about what is happening back home. I love your emails.  BY the way, I think I forgot to tell you this. Our fridge broke... two weeks ago.  So we have been living off of canned and dry food the past two weeks.  Our new fridge should be coming tomorrow though, so there is nothing to fear.  I thought we killed all the cockroaches in our apartement, but I saw one today.  I poisoned the crap out of it, and it ran behind the counter where I can't get him, so I hope he dies and infects all of his friends too.
I hate roaches.

We are Making Big plays here in Avignon!  All we need to do is change the way France thinks about itself and then we'll be in the money. Does that make any sense?  Not really, but I have to go now.  
Je vous aime!  JJ, va sortir avec une petite fille!  Il faut que tu aies une copine avant que je rente!  J'ai hâte de me marrer avec mes potes.  Un an est presque déjà passé, je ne peux le comprendre!  D'accord, bin, à la semaine prochain alors!  ciao!