Monday, February 25, 2013

Yverdon 2

American cash doesn't work here, and sometimes in the bigger stores in the boarder towns like Geneva you can get away with spending euros, but you actually end up spending more that way, so it is better to use the swiss franks.

We have an Opal, it is a European car, I'll send you a picture of it one of these days, not this week because it is covered in bird poop, we need to wash it.  Il y a plein de corbeaux ici, there are lots of crows here and they poop everywhere.  Elder Puairau has already been pooped on here, not since I've been here.  Anyway, you have to watch out.

I don't know if we will play soccer so much the p-days since it is just the two of us, but we are going on exchange with the elders of Neuchâtel and we will probably go there the Monday before the exchange to play with them.  I think for p-day, we are going to profit from the car and go see some of the castles and chateaus in the area, but not today since we have about four rdvs.

We have no amis with a baptismal date yet, but there is some cool potential, we are working a lot a lot with the members, and we are teaching a family friend of teh steak president.  I personally have not met the family yet, but we have a rdv with them for this thursday, and we are going to invite them to baptism for a specific date.  They have already said they would be baptised when they know that it is true.  It is a family of four, so that could be really cool.

The apartment is ok, pretty small and old, but clean, we are working on making it clean at least.  It is a little odd to be in a two missionary apartment again,  I kinda miss having the big meals with four people, it feels a little too quiet now.  Still it is livable, and we have enough hot water, and water pressure and a flushing toilet, so I can't complain.

We are both zone leaders over the same zone.  Our zone includes Yverdon (naturally), Neuchâtel, Bienne, Besançon, Dijon, and Salon sur Saône, so it is a pretty big area geographically, but there are relatively few equipes.  I told you that they added four new zones to our mission?  Rather they split the existing ones into smaller pices.  So before there was also Lausanne, Martigny, Gex, Renens, and Fribourg, but that is it^s own zone now.

Elder Puairau is awesome, he comes from Tahiti, he and his whole family are converts, he was baptized at the age of 13 about.  Unfortunately his father is inactive, but E Puairau says his father sees how his mission is changing him, so hopefully that helps him.  He also likes to box, he is a really nice guy, but I think he could kill me very easily with his bare hands if he wanted to ha ha.  He has gained a decent amount of weight on his mission, and he wants to loose it, so we are working together on getting thinner, We still go running, not every day, some days we do workouts with the weights.  It is good.  The only problem is that there is lots and lots of chocolate in the apartment, and the members here just keep giving us more and more!  So for the next zone training conference thing, we are giving all our chocolate to the French elders to show them what they are missing, and also to be nice.

Monday 18:  Played ping pong most of the day with Elder Ihalmo, sorhaitz and Carré, took the funiculaire to the top of the mountain and got to see the clouds, unfortunatly it wasn't a clear day, but what are you going to do.  Then I actually packed and took the 15 minute train to Yverdon.  Then We drove to Lausanne to drop off the other elders, and that is when I emailed you.

Tuesday:  Passed lots and lots of people that were referred to us from members, or less active, or that were old amis, etc.  Then we had our meeting with the ward mission leader, and then a steak council meeting.  Fun, I felt like one of the big boys there in stake council.

Wednesday:  Saw Caroline a chinese less active woman who owns a little shop that sells good stuff such as candy, key chains, liquor and cigarettes.  She asked us to pray for her store to do better so she can come to church.  We explained we didn't feel comfortable asking God to help her sell booze.  The next day she called us asking us to pray so her store does better, so it looks like we have to re explain a few things.  She is a really funny nice person, she just misunderstands, and has a hard time listening.  She loves me already because she can talk to me in English, she has called me every day since then... sometimes multiple times.  Don't worry, she is like 60 years old and married =P 
After we ate lunch with the family Maillard, active members.  They are a cute old couple that lived in Argentina most of their lives.  The husband is Swiss, and the wife is Argentinian.  They made Shepherd's pie!  Really really tasty!
Then passed a whole bunch of people.  Saw Benjamin, a recently re activated member with his inactive father who for the first time in months actually joined in for the lesson.  There are some very complex problems with that family, nothing that a little humility and forgiveness and repenting couldn't fix, but not everyone is willing to change right now.
Then we saw the famille Marki, the stake presidency's family talked about their friends we are teaching and what we can do to help them etc.

Thursday:  Drove back to Neuchâtel to buy bus passes for everyone, because we have a magic card that has lots of money on it for things like that (one of the perks for being ZL)  Then we bought gas for Bienne and their car, and then we went to Fribourg to eat lunch with the Elders and buy them their bus passes.  Guess what?  Elder Leau is in Friboug, it was really great to be able to see him again and get  caught up.  Then We headed back to Yverdon, quite a nice little day trip.  (Fribourg is a gorgeous city by the way)

Friday:  Did some planning saw a less active (who came to church yesterday!) and then saw the recent convert family in the ward, they are really great, and fun to talk to.  They live in Saint Croix on the mountain, boy there is a lot of snow there.  I thought we were going to die sometimes on the road, but we made it: 

Sat.  Did some service at the Leneberger farm, you said you saw lots of farmland, yes there are lots of farms here, I got to feed the cows, ride the tractor, and cut some trees!  I'll send pictures.  It was a perfect story tail farm complete with fat house cat, crazy sheep dog, cows, lots of cows, and the smell of poop everywhere.  Beautifully posed on a hill just by lake Neuchatel.  A great view by the way:  This is really an incredibly beautiful country.

Sun:  Church was good, there is a ward of about 80 members who come every week, so more than the other places I have served in for a while.  The members here are really great.  Lots of young people, and lots of Portuguese (that explains the title of the email)  We taught the boyfriend of the bishop's daughter, who is now a new ami, he is funny a little punk from Germany.  He is really interested you can tell, but he still puts up the act that he is too cool to care, but still he asks good questions.  Then we had a family night with the young adults.  We practiced giving book of mormons to friends, and then played cards... a good time.

Well, if you want pictures I have to end the email here.  I love you very much.  There will be lots of traveling this week as well.  I'll tell you more about it next week, but the travel itinerary looks like Lausanne, Geneva, Lyon, Besançon, Dijon, and maybe if we are lucky we'll get to work in Yverdon this coming week ha ha.  The work is progressing well.  Four more baptisms this week.  Love you bye!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Yverdon 1

Ok, so here are the answers to your questions:  There are lots of dogs in swiss, not a lot of poop unlike france because people actually clean up after their dogs here.  Also, They are generally larger husky german shepherd dogs from what I^ve seen.  Ones that would like to eat monte as a snack, but they seem nice.  The cats here are really cute, and almost all of them will let you approach and pet them, so I enjoy that :) 

Yes I got the valentines So did Elder Ihalmo, and he says thank you by the way.  I appreciate the little bit of cash, but you know they don't use euros here.  It is Swiss franks. I'll show you some when I get back, if you thought that euros looked like monopoly money, the franks are fisher price play things ha ha really weird money.  It is still worth more than the dollar par contre.

Yes I am still running and eating well.  I wear pants with a size 32 waist now!  It is really cool to look at those little things, and then I fit in them.  I still wear my huge american pants most of the time though, they don't look great, but well enough.

The two baptisms went really well.  Lara was crying (good tears)  and they were both very touched.  Really it was an incredible experience.  Then the confirmation went well as well.  They are and will continue to be great members! 

So now the question is did I get transferred.  Well I^ll answere that by telling you where I am.  I am now on the church computer in Lausanne.  That`s right, I got moved to Yverdon!!!  (how does that make sense)  Well, I am in Lausanne moving some missionaries around, and giving them rides in my new car!  Yeah we have a car... and I am also zone leader now.  SO I am not quite sure what that means yet, it is a little more responsibility than a district leader, but pretty similar, only we deal with district leaders instead of just the normal nothing missionaries (ha ha I'm joking)  Also, we are both zone leaders, my colleague and me.  My new colleague is Elder Puairau, another Tahitian (PUu, ay, Raow)  This one is a difficult one to say, just pronounce all of the vowels.  He actually came into the mission the same time as me.  He went to the MTC in Madrid, but we are both on our 11 transfer. 

Elder Ihalmo is still in Bienne, but he is actualy still with me for the day to wait to pick up his new guy.  It is crazy to think that this is my 11th transfer and my 10th companion.  Normally we should stay together longer too, because zone leaders stay in the area a while.  Though, I've been surprised every transfer so far, so I really have no idea.

Last week we did something really cool though.  Wednesday we had a consecrated day for finding.  With our whole mission and the mission of Paris, we all prayed every 30 minutes and contacted the whole day. At first I thought it was going to be a loooong day, but it actually passed really really fast.  We found a really cool guy in the morning who really wanted to read the book of mormon.  Then after lunch we found a guy who had seen the missionaries a long time ago and we had a great conversation with him.  then in the evening, on the last door that we knocked on, this awesome Italian man who let us in, we were able to teach him.  He said he would read the book of mormon every night.  We... well the other elders are going to see him later this week.  Also, we found this cute couple with two kids that we taught a couple times this week, and who have some great potential, so things are starting to happen in Bienne.  not to mention that the branch just gave us like five other families to teach.  Big miracles are happenning every day

Just now, while I was writing you, this Chinese guy walks in and says, hello, I saw that this was a church and that the light was on, so I was wondering if I could come in and look around.  The other elders are now teaching him and showing him around the church.  Miracles happen all the freakin time!!!  The chinese person is coming to church this week.  wow.

So I need to go.  I am so excited to be zone leader, get some things done and baptize some more people.  I love the mission so much, and I love the gospel.  I have had the privilege of seeing so many people change their lives for the better because of it.  It is really something I had taken for granted before, just the value of what we have.  In talking with lots and lots of people every day, you find that there are lots and lots and lots of people who are not happy.  You just get a sense of being lost from them.  Seeing how the gospel changes people in to something better.  Into people with a purpose who don't know everything, but who have a goal, and are actually happy in life.  I is so sad when people reject the message because you love them so much and you just want them to be happy, and you know that this is the answer, but they just don't get it... urg.  We'll there are lots who do get it, and who do change.  Just so you know, I say this just because it bugs me that people think that we don't have any success here in Europe, So far this year there have been almost 50 baptisms already!  The people here are so great, and even if it is less baptisms then other parts of the world, there are so many poeple looking for the truth who just do not know where to find it.

I love you all so much!  Thank you for your prayers and all that you have done for me.    I really liked your emails.  Bonne semaine, à la prochaine, soyez sage, et ne prenez pas la grande chance que vous avez de connaître l'évangile comme quelque chose allant de soi Je vous aime fortement.  Ciao Paix

Neuchatel 4

Wow, lots of questions. I am still loosing weight, though the members love to give us chocolate, and the chocolate is sooo soo soo soos oos oos soo good here, but yes I am running usually every other morning.  Sometimes all four of us go, sometimes just two at a time.  Elder Sorhaitz is the only one with the willpower to go every morning.  To give you an example.  there is a shirt here that another missionary left behind (a p-day shirt)  that I tried on and fits really well, I looked at the size, and it's a medium!  I don't remember ever wearing a medium shirt.
Yes I still have the guitar, and I played it in the mission office with the assistants and president, just so you know that it is approved.

Keyboards in Switzerland are almost the same as they are in the states, but the y and the z are switched, and there are a lot more symbol keys to do léttèrs wïth äcçènts, and the things like the ? ' and ! are in different places.  Also I got used to the french keyboards which are even more different than the swiss ones.

No we are in the same time zone, but we go to the church in Bienne in the morning to do emails, we study on the train, and do the rest of our studies at church.  The other Elders take the computer at the neuchâtel ward so, we go here:  Then the german elders just came by... so it looks like there isn't enough room for the both of us.  They said they would come back in an hour or so, so that was nice of them.

After this, we do our shopping in Bienne (because for some reason the shops are closed until 1 in Neuchatel) Grab lunch and get back to Neuchatel around 1 oclock to play soccer with the other equipe of missionaries.  That's what we did last p-day anyway.  It seemed to work.  Did you know that I love playing soccer now?  I suck, but it is way fun.  Maybe it is because I don't get winded after 2 minutes, or I have no other video games or what have you.  I really like it though.  Today some other missionaries are coming for exchanges, so we are all going to play together today.  If the weather holds up.  it snowed last night, but there was snow the last time, and we just borrowed a shovel from a catholic church and shoveled the field (it was an astro-turf field)

I have yet to try any uniquely swiss cheese, but I here Racclete was invented here, and I loved it in france, so maybe we'll have to see how that is.  By the way, the kebabs here, way expensive (8 franks is really reasonable compared to 4 euros in France)  However, they kick butt compared to France's kebabs, holy cow, they are unbelievable, and less greasy and more veggies inside.  They are almost like the gyros mother would get at crown burger, but mixed with that kebab magic.

Yes we have a phone.  We didn't have one when we got here because it was waiting for us in the apartment, that's the only reason we didn't get it when we arrived.

Communication was pretty limited between other Elders in France, and it is pretty much all cut off here, because it is too expensive to call international, it isn't on our phone budget, so no talking with anyone in France.  In our district, I am the only American (Well E Sorhaitz  has a french passport, but he is American in every other way, his dad is french, but he didn't even speak french before the mission. In my zone, I am one of ... two Americans, so it is a little different.  French swiss is split into two stakes, Lausan stake which is everywhere in french speaking swiss except Geneva, and Geneva stake which also includes a few French wards like Annecy and Animace etc.I love switzerland, but I kinda miss France.  I like a lot of things more here like how swiss people are actually proud to be swiss, and they believe in God, unlike the French, but I feel like France has a charm and warmth to it.  The people here are... like i said proud, which isn't all bad, but I feel as though the people of france are starting to be humbled because of the bad economy and the crummy state that many are living in.  Here, they are not humble, but I've noticed people are still more religious... I  don't know it is hard to explain.

Because of E Ihalmo's extra studies, we just do them all in one go in the morning (whereas elsewhere we would spread them through the day)  this takes us to 12 to get all the studies done, then we eat, and take the train and are in Bienne from about 1:45- 2 till our train to come home at 8:19 or 8:52  We usually eat late, though, when we are really hungry during the day, we'll grab a cheap sandwich from a grocery store, or a kebab.

Yes E ihalmo and I sleep in the same room.  The other elders have their own room as well.  And we even have our own walk-in closet, nice apartment.

In church when there were 17 people, we taught priesthood, then class des amis, then blessed the sacrament, so yeah, we did a lot ha ah.  There were a good 30 or so this week, so that is good, getting better.

Gervain and Lara are both progressing great, and are so ready to be baptized, the only problem is that the font is in Neuchatel, and there is an activity there that night, so we have to organize things around that.

There are miracles happening every day.  We saw a member family yesterday who fed us delicious African food, and then gave us  six families to go pass and teach, so there should be some new amis rolling in soon.  I love it here in Bienne.  Lots of stuff is in German, but there is still lots of French speakers who are searching for the truth... Mostly the Africans because all the white people are german speaking ha ha, but Lara is Italian, so yeah, there are a lot of Italians as well who choose to go with French because it comes easier to them than German. anyway, tote zeins to yah, I'll try to send pics.  No promises, this comp is kinda old, but I'll see what I can do.

Love you so much, keep the faith, the gospel is awesome I LOVE THE LORD! CIao, Arividercci, aufweiterzheine (however you spell that)

Neuchatel 5

Hi.  so we are at the church, waiting for Gervain to arrive so that we can do his baptismal interview.  He said he is on his way, but we thought why not do our emails while we wait!  So I'll see how much I can do before he gets here.  Then I'll write more after ne t'en fais pas.
Gervain and Lara are both awesome and ready to be baptized this week.  Gervain actually asked me to baptize him, so that will be a real honor cool cool.  We had a little trouble organizing things at neuchatel for the font, but I think/hope that it is all worked out.   Yes we do have the lake, but... a warm font sounds better to most people then a lake in the middle of winter ha ha.

This week was really good.  We found two more families to teach.  One from a member who introduced us, and one from porting (knocking on doors)  They both seem pretty cool, and I'll keep you updated on how that goes.  It just is a testimony builder that it is really in the fourth quarter that God comes in and blesses you after trying your patience.  There is also another guy that the German speaking elders found us.  They gave him to us because he is a french speaker.  this guy is nice... stopped smoking weed last spring, and has already reduced his beers from 6 to 2 cans a day, and one pack of cigarettes to a couple a day.  Although he doesn't seem to have much intention of stopping all together.  We'll see how things go.

P-day, we did our shopping, and played soccer with the Neuchatel, Yverdon, and Fribourg elders. lots and lots of fun:  I was pretty stiff the next day.

I was thinking about buying some shoes, because both of mine... well the one, my feet are always soaked after an hour or so, and the other pair has no soles, so they are pretty uncomfortable... so I will look for replacement soles today, but even then, my shoes are pretty wet by the end of the day and need a day to dry.

Didn't get the valentine yet

We sometimes see the German elders around town.  They are open to help us if we need it, and they even said their apartment is open to us if we needed it.  They are really nice.  We usually talk once a week to pass numbers of people we have contacted, and to see how each other's amis are doing that we passed from one to another.  we haven't really worked together much, but we did have the idea of doing german french english classes for those who would want to learn.  That will take some planning and coordination though.

Yes I use the backpack now. It still bugs me a little that it is so big, but it is just easier than the shoulder bag, also it is a swiss army bag, and my shoulder bag has a big french flag on it, so I kinda thought it'd be good to use the swiss bag here.

Kebabs kick butt here, they are so delicious, but about twice the price than they are in France.

we have a key to the ward yes.

I did bring a coat with me yes, but now it is kinda like a tent cover on me... it is huge, and it took up like half of one of my suitcases, so I left it in St Etienne.  I would have sent it back, but the thing weighs like 40 lbs! anyway I left that in St etienne along with half of my American suits.

Bienne (Biel as it is called in German)  is a city that is technically in both of our missions (lyon and swiss alpine), and we share basically the same area.

So the Elders got here to do the interview, Hopefully things go well.  I don't see why there would be a problem.  

So this week was lots of fun.  Lots of talking to people in the road, and not lots of success, but working through the members there is lots and lots of success.  Last weekend was the first baptism by the missionary game.  I think I mentioned that before.  It is just a way of helping the members do missionary work, and it has been having great success int he mission.  Well, I'm going to let the other elder use the computer to to his emails.  love you very much!  have a great week.  Sorry there is still no day to day, maybe one day I won't be so rushed... when I get home.¨

Ich liebet dich

Neuchatel 3

Hello all.  I am at the computer in bienne, but I am still getting used to the weird swiss keyboards.  Let's get to the questions

Yes we have a washer, only one for the whole building though.  It is in the basement and we have to sign up to use it.  I is a little inconvenient, but ça va.

No I didn't get the package, it will be a long time before I get it if ever.  because it'd have to be moved through zone conferences and ours is before lyon's so it would take another transfer, and that is assuming that they got the package in st etienne.

we do have a bus pass and a train card, but only for a week (it is freakin' expencive)  Right now our office is in the process of getting us a magic card that will get us on all the trains buses and boats in every ville in all of Switzerland.  It is expensive as well but less than what we are paying now for our weekly pass.  Just to give you an idea.  It is 26 franks for the buses and the little train/tram thing here in bienne each of us pay that each week.  Then the train pass to get from neuchatel to bienne every day is 77 franks per week per person.  Then whenever we need to take the bus here in Neuchatel which we will today at least a couple times,  it is yet another 3 franks each trip on the bus.  That adds up very very quickly,  so i hope the office gets us this magic card soon because... yeah.  In all we are getting close to 1000 franks per month just to get around.  That is hard to do when you only get about 200 every month ha ha.  that card i mentioned would bring it down to 470 per month. better...

Church is fun.  it is a pretty small branch here.  35ish the first week and 17 this week... lots of people sick.  that was weird having so few, especially because we meet in the big german ward's building.  The ward is great though. We found a new ami who was an old ami, but got kinda forgotten when the missionaries left Bienne.  He is really cool and agreed to be baptized our first rdv, so that is cool.  he is very African though meaning he doesn't keep his rdvs very well and he has a lot of faith, but not a lot of drive to ... read and do other stuff.  hopefully things will go better with him.

E Ihalmo is funny he wants to be perfect and he gets a little frustrated that he can't speak the language freely, but that will come.  We are getting along well, and we both take turns cooking, though I probably do more because I enjoy it more and E ihalmo has never cooked in his life ha ha.  Sometimes we eat with the other Elder equipe, but not every meal, just with different schedules and us being in another city all day.

Things are going well.  Gervain is progressing nicely towards his baptism.  and then there were two other cool things.  first,  after church on sunday,  we passed an old member who told us her whole life story, and the whole life story of her daughters etc.  It was actually a really powerful spiritual moment.  she said that she was particularly sad that day and she felt like we were and answer to her prayers.

Then that evening I called Lara (someone who we are teaching)  To confirm our rdv for today.  Earlier we invited her to be baptized the 16 February,  she said that was way too soon, and she would like to be baptized, just later.  Anyway when I called her, she said the rdv would work, and she also asked me if the 16 was still valid.  I said of course, she said she had thought about it a lot and that she wanted to be baptized that day.  WHAT'?  So cool.  It is going to be a little complicated organizing everything with not a lot of time, but it should be possible.  yeah, that was really really cool.

Other than that, the week was ok.  passing less actives, old amis, members, etc.  Talking to people on the road:  I've taken about four numbers in german now:  Thankfully I still remember ince swie drie wire, and all that:  I am also learning a few phrases.  I don't really have a goal of learning German, but at least enough to contact someone who doesn0t speak french, or says they don't speak french.  I love you all very much  Ich liebe sie or something like that.  Je vous aime tous tellement (that's much prettier)  I am sorry that this is another kinda short email, but our train is coming, and there is a member who needs to use the church computer.  We are staying strong and obedient.  The members here are awesome and so helpful, the only problem is there are only 30 or so, but we are working on that!  Have a wonderful weeek ciao