Monday, December 27, 2010

Well. I think we pretty much hammered out most of our nuts and bolts during our 2 and a half hour conversation on Christmas :) SO. GOOD. There's a good way to make you miss home. Even if it is a 'home' that you've only seen pictures of.

Here is the moral of the story: I LOVE it here. Let me just make you a little list of the things I love: the city of Brest, the ocean, our car, lighthouses, the 5 hour train ride here, the members, Christmas, Elder Huff, patisseries for breakfast, and else. You could say that I am the happiest I've been on my mission. Eek!

Our very first morning here Elder Huff(lepuff) and I drove out to Le Conquet. It is the furthest west penninsula in France and the closest that we're ever going to get to America. We could've swam. We just drove out there, walked around the beach and the lighthouse, ate patisseries and talked about everything we wanted to do during the transfer. We both took our family pictures and stuff out there so we could get to know each other. I like him a lot. Its been the best first week with a new companion so far.

Ok, Christmas. Seven hour long, seven course meal in the middle of the Bretagne country side. Chicken, escargo, vegetables, shrimp, scallops, salmon, cheeses, foie gras, ice cream, fruit, macarons, etc, etc. I gained like 2 kilos.

Christmas morning we opened presents and I was highly relieved to see that all my presents weren't 'thermal underwear' like mom had declared on the package. Phewww :)

There is a 'missionary grandma' here that gives us lunch every sunday afternoon named Mami-cia. She is like 85 and I just want to hug and kiss her. She had us over for Christmas eve and she treated us like kings. She reminds me a lot of my own grandma. Hah, everytime she would crack a joke she would turn to me with a great big smile and make sure I was laughing. She is the CUTEST.

On Wednesday I was alone for 8 hours while I was waiting for Elder Huff to get here. I was playing piano at the church all alone when a guy rung the doorbell. He asked me about some people that I didn't know, and where they were. I was like "franchment monsieur, j'ai aucune idée." I was about to turn him away when he told me his name was Frank. Frank?! I remembered his name from what the old missionaries in Brest had told me. We I invited him in and him and I sat down and had ourselves a little lesson. I played a song for him on piano too :) We mainly talked about families and Christmas, but it was way neat.

I gave a talk yesterday about L'amour du Christ. The love of Christ. It was the first talk I've actually given in France. It went way well. It was all about Christmas.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010


It has snowed almost every day this week. The problem is that Paris is just not equipped for snow and so it becomes a bit of a problem. For example, church was canceled yesterday because of 3 inches. Then it rained the rest of the day, then it snowed all night and now we have about 3 more fresh inches. Moral of the story is: bad weather puts a damper on missionary work. I guess its pretty though :)

We have a mini missionary with us this week. I have learned so much french being around him all the time. I want a french companion bad. Yesterday we tromped around outside all day delivering the gingerbread cookies that mom sent me the mix for. It worked out well that i got to say goodbye to a lot of people because there was no church.

Umm, we're in the middle of Paris right now because I wanted to come up for P day before getting shipped 600 kilometers away to Brest. Its pretty sloshy with all the snow.

Oh! We set a baptismal date with one of our amis! His name is Esaie. It is a 30 something year old black man that we found knocking doors during my first transfer. Well, we have been teaching him slowly and steadily ever since, and now he's going to get baptized just after I leave!He has come such a long way; He used to smoke two packs a day and now he only smokes one cigarette every other day. We have the goal for him to stop completely on Christmas day. We were in the rendez-vous talking about baptism a bit and i was like "Esaie, here's what we're going to do. We're going to pick a date, then we're all going to get down on our knees and you're going to pray about it. We're going to be especially attentive to what we feel and what the spirit tells us. After we finish praying I want you to tell me what you feel." So we picked January 15 and he prayed about it. As soon as he said "le quinze janvier" in his prayer I literally felt a sparkle come into my heart. Afterwards he said he felt good about it and the he wanted to do it. Woo!! :)

One last thing: for a long time I've been trying to get Elder Hann to tell me what he wrote about me on the confidential report to President that he writes once a transfer as a district leader. I thought it was because he had written something bad that he wouldn't tell me (because sometimes we haven't seen eye to eye). Well later while I was talking to someone at a train station he told the sisters what he had written. Sis McClaine said he had written that I was the reason why Evry has investigators and that I was the reason why Evry was doing so well. I thought it had been bad!

One more last thing: remember Sony? the golden golden investigator we had that dropped off the face of the earth? We started teaching him again!!! He is just as golden as ever. That is a good thing to leave Evry on :) I'm sure he will get baptized soon.

Christmas love,
Elder Coburn

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ohkay. I love being a missionary. You can't really describe the lifestyle, but it is SO FUN. You live in a place for a while, move to a different place, become an expert on whatever city you live in, have the BEST people around you, and love love love it. I love France and I love Paris. I live all the missionaries.

First things first, I'M GETTING TRANSFERED TO BREST :) It is the very North Eastern penninsula of France (the closest I'm ever going to get to the U.S. on my mission). Apparently it is gorgeous, like my mother. It is a 6 hour train ride from Paris. Talk about a big mission. So... we are on the coast out there, we have a car, and the branch is about 30 members. We are whitewashing Brest, which means my companion and I are both going to be new there and the old elders are out. So, we kind of have our work cut out. I like that. Basically I've heard nothing but good things.

I will be sad to leave Evry, but I have wanted a change for a while. Elder Hann will be staying here for Christmas to claim our 4 dinner appointments (I don't know how its going to go in Brest with such a small branch). Elder Hann will be training a new elder here in Evry. Evry must be getting sick of "bleu" missionaries. Hah, at least the bleu will have lots of Christmas love to welcome him :)

I went to Versailles twice this week. Once for mission conference, and once for a stake christmas concert.

Mission Conference. Best day of my life. I was literally smiling the entire day. 150 missionaries from all over France and Belgium in the same room. The whole mission only gets together like once a year, if that. It is so expensive to get the hundreds of train tickets that the mission has to get permission from the Area Presidency (its like 150 euros for an average missionary to get there. do the math). Anyhow, it was the best. We talked a lot about how as missionaries we were forordained. We talked about the chances of being one of 150 "brave and noble ones" in the Paris mission, out of a world of billions of other people who don't yet have the call that we are blessed with. I think this is going to be the best Christmas I've ever had :) I have never felt so tangibly the love that the Savior has for me than I did while sitting in the middle of that room listening to the Spirit. That is the meaning of Christmas. I have a goal to give out a Book Of Mormon everyday until the end of the year as a Christmas present to someone on the street, in a train station, or anywhere. It's working really well so far.

On Friday night Elder Hann and I made tacos. Good, normal, tacos. Well, after I put the emmental cheese on my taco, I noticed that itwas actually a little moldy. Like, blue and fuzzy. Well, I've been in France for a while and I like to think I'm not scared of moldy cheese anymore, so I pulled off the bigger blue parts, said "to heck with it," and ate it. FAIL. I woke up a stinking two in the morning and threw it up. I haven't thrown up since I was like in junior high. Eww, eww, eww. I guess there are some types of cheese that aren't supposed to be eaten moldy.

One of our dinner appointments this week was with a beautiful French family. We had tartiflette (best thing of my life). Thats beside the point though. They have a 2 year old and a 4 year old girl. Of course we played barbies the whole time. Victoria, the 2 year old ran around the whole night yelling "missionaire!!" whenever she wanted me. Then she would always laugh and act embarassed. When we were leaving Victoria tried to bisous me on the cheeks. I died on the inside because I wasn't allowed. A few days later I had a dream that I bisoused her and it was the best. At church Victoria kept running down the isle to me during sacrament meeting loudly wispering "missionaire!" I told her parents about the dream then they tried to tell me missionaries were allowed to bisous if it was little children! Ugh ugh ugh! Well, somebody might be getting a bisous next week before I leave Evry.

One more thing. Elder Schwind just became the an Assistant. He was my zone leader before and I've been on several exchanges with him. Yesterday at the Christmas concert he told me about when the decision was made to send me to Brest. He said they were talking about where to send me and he told President "Elder Coburn has the ability to talk to someone on the street, and have them immediately like them." Then President said "Brest." That really touched me.

All my love,
Elder Benjamin Quinn

Monday, December 6, 2010

First of all. I GOT MY CHRISTMAS PACKAGE :) Best day of my life. Mom, you said that that Christmas tree of love was an inspired idea, and I am here to say it was. I cried when I was reading it. Not too much though, I am a man remember. The Christmas tree is now up on my wall, with all the wrapped presents below it. It is our only tree :)

WE GET TO TALK ON THE PHONE IN 19 DAYS!!!! I don't have a countdown or anything though. Yesterday we had a lesson about Elder Ballards talk. It was the one when he talked about the relationship between fathers and sons. If anything has made me miss home lately more than that, I don't know what it was. I have a good dad ya know. Le meilleure, je dirais.

The other morning I was on exchanges in a town named Torcy with the zone leaders. When I came out of the shower there were two 'dead' elders lying on the floor with ketchup all over their white shirts and frothing from their mouths. Then the third elder turned the corner and held me at gun point. Cap gun point that is. Then the ketchup zombies started chasing me so I spent ten minutes running around the apartment not trying to get ketchup on me.

Fontainebleau in the snow last week was probably the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. I couldn't have lived there though. Napoleons bed was too short for me.

We had family home evening with the Kamande family (just the dad is a member). I brought paper and markers and then me and all the kids drew the plan of salvation for our lesson. We sang hymns and played games too. Then we had a fab dinner with them. Like, FAB. We're doing the same thing tonight.

I don't know how long mom waited this year to turn the heat on, but we just barely got our radiators to work this week. It has been FREEZING. Sometimes we would open the front door and use a fan to blow in warm air from the hallway. Well, a guy from the ward came, fiddled with sonething, cleaned a filter, and now we're warm.

So far we have 4 Christmas invites from members. The bummer is that transfers are on the 22nd. I may not even be here to reap the bounty. Oh well.

I am having a 1/4 life crisis. I'm just a boy still, why do I keep growing up? I want to stay this age forever. Or at least for like 5 more years. I feel like I know everything, but I hardly know anything. Do all kids go through that? I remember thinking the same thing when I was 15.

At church yesterday we had a Christmas meal after all the meetings. Why did I come to France for my mission? Food.

Speaking of, we had a second lesson with the Kamandes later in the week, but we didn't want them to feed us because they have so much lately. We told them that we could only stay an hour, then we had to go. Then we walked by the kitchen and saw dinner cooking. Fail. Then at the end she told us she had made something for us. She ran into the kitchen and came back out with a chocolate cake. A WHOLE CHOCOLATE CAKE. It was huge.

I got to skidaddle.

Elder Benny Boy C
In a bit of a rush today. We are doing emails then running off to Fontainebleau while there is still snow on the ground :) Fontainebleau was Napoleon's crib a few hundred years ago. Cool yeah? Today is the first day of snow this year too- we have about an inch. Elder Hann is peeing himself.

Well, its been another fab week. We had our zone turkey bowl on Friday so I still got a taste of Thanksgiving despite being in France. Our team was the 'Stem of Jesse' and we played the 'Golden Calves.' I hate to brag, but I had three touchdowns down the length of the field, intercepted a few, and threw the game winner touchdown in the "next point wins" stage. But I don't wanna brag. Ohkay...

To go back to Evry afterwards we had to go through Paris, but there weren't any trains there for over an hour. Well... friday night date night anyone? Paris is BRILLIANT during Christmas.

This week we saw one less active man for the first time. He is 57 and lives all alone. We just sat there and listened to him for 2 hours. He cried a couple times. There were a lot of times we could've said something to "help" him, but mainly we just listened. At the end he told us that it was the best meeting he has had with missionaries in 15 years. He said "You know what? I'm going to come to church on Sunday." And he did.

This week after English class it was POURING. Well, we didn't have any umbrellas so Sis McClaine and I wore trashbags with little holes for our faces. I don't think French people do that much, because they sure looked at us funny.

On Saturday we helped an old lady move basically all day long. I guess I need to excercise more because I could barely move on Sunday. She had so much stuff. So. Much. Stuff. I'm more than a little bit glad I'm not there to help with our move. Good luck!!

Oh, also yesterday I almost threw up at a lunch appointment with some Africans. I kind of wanted to throw up because I thought it would be a good story, but I didn't. But eww. I used to love African meals. We've got another one tonight though so I'm holding my breath.

We got two referrals at church yesterday. Straight up, cold, hard referrals. That was a new experience :)

Well, sorry this is really rushed. I love you. Off into the snow! :)

Elder Coburn

Monday, November 22, 2010

Well, I'd be lying if I said this week wast the best that I've EVER had. I say that every week, but i'm for real this time.

Well firstly, church was a dream yesterday. Elder Hann and I had 15 nonmembers there. The best part is that they all have the kind of testimonies that are going to keep them coming back. Nadege told all six of her kids that they were coming back every week from now on. Didier and his mom want to get baptized before I leave Evry. We've had to start setting aside certain rows in sacrament meeting for our investigators. We were so busy yesterday that we had to skip lunch. We didn't get to eat until nine. My stomach hurt so good.

There are a few other really cool new people we're teaching too, that didn't get to come to church this week. One is the 19 year old grandson of Mama, whose mom is in Congo still. He lives with Mama. It is really cool to teach someone my own age. Everytime we teach him we have to report back to Mama to tell her how it went. She wants him to be less prideful, but I think she has already tried to change him a lot without much success.

Another cool new teaching opportunity is a man named Justin and his wife. They didn't get to come to church either yesterday, but we got to have a lesson with them last night. Literally, the best first lessonof my life. For reals. They have been married for 3 months and are looking for a church. They have a 6 year old handicapped boy. The wife is SO cool. For example, we said one sentence, then she explained to her confused hubby about why she needed to be re-baptized. They said they were going to read the Book of Mormon as a couple after we left last night. They must be the best family I've ever met. We broke the ice with them in the first few mintues we were there and the rest was a miracle.

I keep asking myself if this is what missionaries in South America or Utah feel like. They dang better not take it for granted. We are so blessed!Miracles happen!

I have been serving next to Sister McClaine for my entire mission so far. We were in the mtc together and we've both been in Evry together for 3 transfers. She is really really cool. She kind of has the motherly role in my life. Hah. Oh, also, in a couple weeks I'll have been on my mission for SIX MONTHS. Woah. When did that happen? So fast.

In case you've been wondering, Evry is pronounced "Ay-vree" The Ay sound = like how you say the letter A. With the accent its évry, but i can't put an accent on a capital E. Ok this paragraph is confusing enough.

This week Taylor sent me a letter and it was the first letter that Elder Hann or I have gotten in OVER A MONTH. Well, that was all happy and good, until the zone leaders came over the next day and brought me EIGHT letters that had been piling up for me in the mission home. Eight. AHHKJIHAHH!!! All the other missionaries hated me for that. The letters were brilliant. I was going to save them and read one everyday for a week, but then I broke down and read every single one of them that night. Hahh.. Hugs and kisses to everyone who wrote me :)

We've had lots of good lessons with members present lately. On Saturday evening we coordinated it to have two lessons, with two different families, with two different members driving us to and from and participating in the lessons. Members work magic when they come with us.

Well, I have a testimony of missionary work. The Lord has a direct hand in it. He is doing amazing things right now. It would sure be a bummer to miss it. Hurrah for Israel :)

Elder Ben Q Coburn

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Goodmorning, goodmorning, goodmorning. Put your hand down! You're smiling.
Yes sir.
Why you smiling?
I.. love football, sir.

Just a little shoutout to all you Remember the Titans fans.

Well. Mainly right now I am writing to you in the midst of excitement. We are going to Paris after emails and that means that I will see Elder Hales for the first time since our first day in the mission (he just got transfered there). I love him beyond words. Anyhow. No big deal or anything... just running around Paris with my best friend... all in a day's work.

It has rained for about a week and a half now. I don't really remember what it was like when it was not raining. It is kind of depressing some times. Oh well though, we don't have to get down just because the plants need water to get up.

Miracles are still happening like popcorn. It's hard to define 'miracle' though because for me a miracle is when there is toilet paper in the bathroom. Mama is a miracle though. Lastnight we stopped by her house and had a little lesson with her. Mainly we talked about the primary program earlier that day and about how she wished that her grandkids could have been (will be in the future) part of it. After about 30 minutes we told her we had to leave for another rendez-vous, to which she responded "What?! You haven't even eaten yet! I am your Mama, and my children don't come to their Mama's house without eating." So, we took our dinner to go. Fish and fried plantaines. It was the kind of fish that still have all the fins and skin on it. Yum yum. Also, earlier in the week we were at Mama's and I told her about how sometimes I really miss my family. She told me "There is no reason why you need to miss you family! They are over there, and we are over here. I am your mama now. Call me when you need anything." Clearly, she has no intention of stealing the place of my maternal mother (don't worry mom), but she certainly knows how to pamper up her children. This morning we saw her at the bus stop. It was a really cool experience for me because it showed that we are literally strengthening the stakes of zion. We hardly ever see church members around Evry, and then to see one that I had a part in bringing to the church was really cool. I don't know if you followed that.

This week for English class we played games. Like duck, duck, goose and I spy. Haha, sometimes it is a challenge to teach English class when you have a British companion because they have to make sure that you don't confuse pants with trousers and all that. Basically Elder Hann doesn't care for Americans all that much. On that subject, this week I learned that you should never make comments about Europeans smelling bad when you have a British companion. Oops... that was a tense train ride home.

I am very pleased with the new house :) Elle est belle, la maison. Good choice. That will be fun to come home to :)

French is coming very well lately. Sometimes I don't really realize how much of the time I am actually speaking French. I still make all of the phone calls for our companionship. Last night I was calling one of our investigators who is from England, but I completely forgot that he spoke English and so I spoke to him in French the whole time without even realizing it. Afterwards Elder Hann was like "why were you speaking French?" and I was like "danggg it." I'm finding that people in France like you better when you can speak their language. I read a chapter of the Book of Mormon out loud in French every morning and that has really been helping. I am always scared though because there can be days when French is so easy, but then the next day it will be SO hard. It wakes you up and shows that we really do rely on the Lord for the gift of tongues.

We didn't get to see Didier this week. He is pretty sick. We'll probably have to push his baptismal date back. Satan is a bum.

I don't have too much news to share really. We are working with a cool family where only the husband is a member. We are going to go do family home evening with them tonight :)

Have a SUPER week.

Elder Coburn

Monday, November 8, 2010

I'm staying in Evry another transfer!! At first I was not happy at all. I wanted to leave so bad. Then Mama's baptism happened and I realized how much i would have been leaving behind and now I can't believe I ever wanted to leave. There is so much left for me to do here before I leave. Obviously Mama's family hasn't been baptized yet :)

It has been raining for the past 3 days straight. So what do I do? I go and buy an umbrella today. But then of course it stopped raining. It is a pretty umbrella though and I like how it looks when I stash it under my arm. French... sort of ;)

Mama's baptism was BEAUTIFUL. I could have a baptism every day. There were about 30 people there and 13 of them were nonmembers (woohoo!). She really likes the bishop so he was the one to baptize her. The sisters told me later that afterwards Mama was dancing in the bathroom drying her hair and singing praises to the heavens. Yessss. I love her in all her African-ness. There were 6 missionaries at the baptism and so we sang "C'est le Christ." Aka, "This is the Christ." The song that President Faust wrote the words for.

At church there were several members that gave her little gifts to welcome her. Elder Hann and I gave her a framed picture of all of us :)

Food. Mama and others made BUCKETS of African food for the baptism. Sometimes I forget I am white.

Mama's daughter Nadege came with her 6 children (the 5 usual plus the baby). Better yet, her husband came! Before, he had been the one that didn't want the kids to get baptized. Well, after a heavy dose of the Holy Gost and a few select members at the baptism he can't wait to have us over! I have a great feeling the family will be baptized in this next transfer. The kids and the mom all want too and now the dad is way open :) Good thing Elder Hann and I have at least 6 more weeks in Evry to help the Holy Ghost work some magic. Speaking of Nadege... at the baptism we found out that before Mama had ever even met us, Nadege had had a dream of Mama meeting two "monsieurs" who would "lead her to the truth." Do miracles happen? Yes they do.

Side note: the man on the computer next to me knows I'm American so he is making an especially valiant effort to talk to himself in english. Haha.

Church yesterday was so good. It is better every week. I would have cried if I was getting transfered. Nadege and the kids came but the dad couldn't come this week. This ward is like my family now. It is the "Springboro" ward of southern Paris. I can't imagine leaving. It is a testimony to President Staheli being guided by revelation. I had told him how bad I wanted to leave and he knew to keep me here.

Mama's confirmation was one of the coolest things I have ever experienced. The man who did it is the sweetest old man who is from the same country as Mama (Congo Brazzaville). He did half of the confirmation in French and half in KiCongo, their native language. As soon as he switched into their native tongue there was a power that came into his voice and ran through the circle of us. Only a few people in the congregation could understand the words, but everyone could understand the feeling. Frere Madzela who gave did the confrimation is one of my heros. Afterwards Nadege (who could understand the language) said that is was a "real" blessing. She was really touched.

There is a family that is moving into our ward from England. There two little kids are named Finley and Felicity and they are CUTE. Only the dad speaks French. I was telling Finley that all the girls will like him in the future because he'll be able to speak French and English perfectly. He almost threw up at the idea of girls liking him. The family gave us a ride home because it was raining and we are going to go help them paint later this week. Yes, there accents are rad.

Little miracle: a man named David walked into the church on Sunday and told us he had been looking for the "church of Christ" and had found us online. "Come on in!" we said. His favorite part was little 5 year old Felicity's testimony in English. One of her three sentences was I "I love Jesus." David clapped. Haha, hopefully we'll start teaching him soon.

Next item of business: this week we have at least 5 members having us over. I'm almost sure that is some kind of record for the Paris mission. We had to schedule some for the luch times so that we can have the evenings to teach.

Speaking of teaching. You know Didier who has been progressing really well? We are a pinkey's length away from having a baptismal date with him for the 27th of November. It always turns out to be a miracle when we go over to see him. We were talking about baptism and I suggested Saturday the 27th. He immediately looked at his brother and laughed in an "I can't believe is sort of way." Turns out that his birthday is the 28th and he had just promised his brother (who is a member) that starting on his birthday he was going to be a new person. Well, what a better way to do that than be baptized. He believes that us telling him the 27th was inspired by God. Frankly, it was :) He said he already knows the answer will be yes,but he is praying about it this weekend and will call us tomorrow.

This mornings adventure: tromping through a national forest in the rain with Africans and looking for mushrooms. Apparently these mushrooms are really expensive if you buy them, so there are several people that go and hunt down there own. It is kind of like a race to find them every time it rains. We went with two of my favorite members. They are brother and sister and apparently have been eating these 'shrooms for 20 years. HAH. Well, they are big mushrooms but we only found four. Also, it was freezing and wet. But way way fun. If nothing else I'll have a good dinner table story about mushrooms for when I'm an old man.

We eat crepes a lot. I like to fancy myself as a crepe master and a quiche master. I can make crepes that are about two dinner plates wide. Mmm. I wish I was French.

Well. Things are going well.

I love you. Thank you for every single little thing you do for me.

Love, Elder Ben Coburn

Monday, November 1, 2010

Things are peachy like cream. Let's see.

Mama comes to mind first. She is an ANGEL. Remember how she had knee surgery about 7 weeks ago? well ok listen- she lives about a five minute walk from the church. Yesterday we were getting worried because she hadn't shown up for the first 20 minutes of church. We went outside to look for her, and we saw someone really far away moving really slowly. MAMA!!! She had struggled to church through the cold for FIFTY minutes!!! Needless to say, she now has endless families lined up to give her rides. I wish you could see her faith. On top of it all, she is getting pressure from some of her family. She has told us about it all and how she has been SO strong and just told her family no. Mama has such a strong testimony of the church because of the acts of charity that she has seen from us and the members. All that charity wrapped up in the Holy Ghost makes a pretty sure testimony. She is a Saint. We have taught her everything she needs before baptism and we still have 2 weeks left. She wants to come to America and meet you guys. Haha, the language barrier would be a bit of a hazard.

Yesterday there was a baptism at our chapel. It was a different ward, but they had to use our font. We had to fill the font and get all the stuff ready, so that was fun. The font hadn't been cleaned in a while, so as the water began to rise we noticed an incredible amount of dead bugs floating to the top. Naturaly, I had to role up my pants and climb in to scoop them out. Then we discovered that the water was ICE COLD. After cleaning up bugs and pulling my frozen legs out of the font, we commenced to dump small trashcans of steaming hot water in the font. Before long, we had used all the hot water in the church, and the water was still cold. Lets just hope we come up with something better for Mama's baptism, or she might have a heart attack in the cold and keel over. We would have to just baptize her quick.

Dominique made crepes for us this week for breakfast. That was a good morning :) He is still coming to church just as faithful as ever.

We bible bashed on Saturday night. Sick. Hated every second of it. It completely ruined my night. Spirit? No. Bad feelings? Yes. Eww. Eww. Eww. I got so mad. I just sat there and watched with my fingers in 20 different scriptures ready to throw at him. Eww.

We got let in while knocking doors this week :) It was the first time on Elder Hann's mission that that has happened.

We had a great rendez-vous with and man named Esaie (Isaiah in French). We've been teaching him for a while. He told us that he needs to quit smoking before he gets baptized. We didn't even know he smoked! I told him, "Esaie, we are here as representatives of Christ to tell you that He wants you to go the next 24 hours without smoking. We'll come back at the same time tomorrow and see how it's going." He agreed, but then had to call and cancel our rendez-vous the next day. He is really cool though.

The big french strike is going strong. Manifestations, riot police around Evry, and not very many trains or buses.

We have a rocking week set up already. Two families are having us over for dinner. Thats a big change :)

Lately I have been really grateful for my testimony. It really is the most precious thing that I have. At home I got tossed around so much by my wants and desires. I thought it was so important to fit in, and so important to be up to date with coolness. Of course, an attitude like that can't change over night, but it can change. A testimony can't be cultivated overnight, but it can be cultivated. My testimony is why I am here. My testimony is the root of every good thing that has ever happened to me. My testimony puts me in the place where I desire to listen to my parents, and church leaders. Most importantly, my testimony puts me in a place where I desire to listen to the Lord. It's suppposed to be like that.

Well, take all my love and give it a hug. After, it's getting cold and we all need someone to hold.

Brilliant last line? Maybe, but I'm not conceited :)


Elder Ben Coburn
Well, here I am. The last real week of another transfer. Mama's baptism is on Saturday and then I am expecting to get transfered out of Evry the following Wednesday. I'll know on Saturday if I'm going or staying. Despite loving Evry, I'd like to go.

Today is a holiday in France called "All Saints." They don't really celebrate Halloween. I only saw 4 little trick or treaters. Anyway, because its All Saints there are not very many buses and so we walked to emails this morning.

Back to Halloween: HAPPY BIRTHDAY JORDAN!!! So old... So datable.

Also a little heads up: HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!! So young... So already married.

This has been a blessed week. We have ate at members houses 4 times. That must be some sort of a record for Paris.

All is well on the path to Mama's baptism. She couldn't be more excited. She fed us a big old African lunch this week. Delicious. She brought all 5 grankids to church this week. They got hooked on primary. Also she had a dream about all 5 of them getting baptized. Haha, the primary sang a song during sacrament meeting and the grandkids went up and sang too. Little Curtis, the 4 year old got to hold a picture and he stretched it high above his head the entire time :)

Last P-day we went ice skating. We were the oldest ones there.

We have an ami named Didier. We fasted the whole day before we saw him. He wants to get baptized. In our last rendez-vous I showed him the scripture about baptism in Mosiah 18 and he said the it answered the questions he has had his entire life. It was a miracle rendez-vous. We seem to be having lots of those lately. Evry will definately have more baptisms next transfer.

At Dominique's house this week we did a little dancing. Michael Jackson type dancing. We took a video and I cry every time I watch it. It is barely too big to attach in the email :( He is still coming to church nice and good though. It's hard for him because he is single and lives a long ways away. He has to get up early on Sunday mornings to take the bus.

October flew by. Every month on my mission has gone faster than the one before it. I don't know where all the time has gone already. Four and a half months!!

We met two of the meanest people of my mission this week. The kind that are lying through their teethy smiles and telling you to repent. One of them was telling us we weren't smart enough to preach and that there is no prophet named Thomas S. Monson. The other one kept saying "repentez-vous!" and that we were a church of the devil. He told us he didn't know what we believed but that his friend had told him that we were evil. Sick. Some people only have the intent to destroy and break down.

In happier news, have I told you about the Miracle of 2010? The paris mission got around 150 baptisms last year. Well, this year we have a goal of 300 baptisms and guess what? It's happening. We are getting really close. President Staheli said that he feels that every team can baptize at least once before the end of the year, and then we will get it. People are having baptisms all over France. It's never ever been like that before! Areas that haven't baptized in 15 years are having baptisms. It is really cool to be part of it :)

France is GORGEOUS in the Fall. All the trees are like fireworks. It helps that there are random bits of towers and castles scattered through them. I love it.

Elder Hann and I have been getting along just fine for the most part. We'd never be best friends, but I think this transfer has really helped him. This will be the first baptism he has seen in 14 transfers.

In sacrament meeting this week I played piano for a cute little 11 year old and Sister Brough (missionary). They sung A Child's Prayer. Or more appropriately, "La prière d'un enfant."

We have one investigator that I am teaching how to play piano. That's fun :)

Happy week to everyone. Peace and blessings.

Love, Elder Coburn

Monday, October 18, 2010

My companion told me that the coldest and darkest part of the night is right before the sunrise.

So it is with missionary work sometimes. Especially this time. Remember how last week was so hard for me? This week the sun came up! MAMA IS GETTING BAPTIZED :) :) :) :) :) The Holy Ghost really worked a miracle. We had a lesson with her and we took the bishop. He was magical. She finally understood why we were asking her to be baptized again. The next morning she walked to church all by herself through the coldest morning of the year (the kind that makes your eyes water just by being outside). She showed up exactly on time and took her place in Relief Society. The lesson was on baptism. Then we have the most wonderful gospel principles class about Christ. Between us and the sisters we had 7 investigators there. I sat by Mama for Sacrament meeting. About halfway through she asked me how she could be baptized. What? I found some scriptures for her to read and we talked to the bishop about it afterwards. She loved sacrament meeting. We set a date for the 6th of November for her baptism, along with an investigator of the sisters who is getting baptized then. We walked her back to her house through the cold again, but every few steps she would have to stop walking so she could use her whole body to tell us that she has found the church she has been searching for. I wish you could just talk to her and see how amazing she is. She is so different than she used to be. The Spirit truly did change her. She told us that she was going to come to church every Sunday even if she had to pull herself on her knees. She wants her grandkids and her daughter to get baptized too, so we're going to try to get them ready for the 6th too. That would be 5 more baptisms, and 2 children who would be when they're old enough. Mama wants to go with us to teach them.

In the evening we went back over to Mama's. We were a little late, but she said "My children, I knew you would come." We made a baptismal calender with her to plan out all the lessons we still need to have. We taught her about the Sabbath day, and about tithing. She saw that we were going to talk about tithing and she said "Oh, papa, I already know about tithing, just show me where the envelopes are and how to do it." She wants to pay more than 10 percent, despite not being that well off to begin with. When we taught about the Sabbath she told us about how she was going to go to church no matter what for the rest of her life. She was like "the Lord gives us SIX days to to work, go shopping, and everything else. I can go shopping on Saturday to get food for Sunday." Then she expressed to us how ridiculous it is how people seem to be in good health all week, but magically get sick on Sunday. She said she still wants to come if she is sick. She told us how she would love it if church was 12 hours long. Oh. Also after church she asked the bishop about getting a triple. She ended up getting a triple, a hymn book, a gospel principles book, and a old testament study manual. WE LOVE MAMA MARCELL. Her first name is actually Tsimba. Like Simba with a T. Yes, she is from Africa. Congo to be exact.

In other miracle news, our 62 year old investigator Mr. Matoko also came to church. He felt the same exact way as Mama, minus the asking to be baptised. The bummer is that he is leaving for a 2 months stay in Africa in a week and a half...

Another miracle was Didier. Our rendez-vous was going okay, but then her wasn't getting it. I told him that the reason we were there wasn't necessarily to make him a member of our church, but to bring him baptism by authority. Then he spent the next 5 minutes talking about how I didn't know the significance of what I had just said. He has talked to his brother a lot about baptism apparently (his brother is a member). He was talking about maybe the reason we had been sent to him was that, and that maybe it is time for him to actually be baptized. Ahh. Miracles.

We had my first round of mission president interviews this week. So good. That helped me a lot. Especially my interview with Sister Staheli. We just talked about how incredibly blessed we are. She reminds my of Sister Dalton. President told me that I'm almost definitely going to be transfered after this transfer, so not to worry about companionship issues (although they are going pretty good now). I'd be excited to go somewhere else though. The ride up to interviews was ridiculous. With the strike on transportation there is only like 1 train every two hours. Needless to say, we were sardines. I have never touched so many people at once in my life. It was boiling hot. After analyzing the situation a bit I said to everyone "bon, est-ce qu'on peut chanter?" Meaning, "well, shall we sing then?" I got some vile glares after that. Pardon me for shining on your rainclouds. French people are something special sometimes.

The sisters in Evry got attacked yesterday. Well, too punk teenagers tried to steal their purses. Sister Brough was like "heck no!" and so she wrestled with and hit them a little bit and saved her purse. She knows it was stupid, but she's really proud of herslef. Eventually they also got back Soeur McClaine's purse and only the camera had been taken. That was a blessing. I was so mad at those kids. The sisters called us in the middle of the chase, while we we at mama's. Mama said something like "Go! Save you sisters! The Lord will protect you!"

So things are going great. Thank you SO much for your emails. They are amazing. Even though things are obviously going better now I will keep reading them throughout the week. It's not like I'm done having hard times for 2 years.

Hugs and kisses.

Elder Ben Coburn :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

It's good here.
I just got back from playing football (american of course) with all the elders who live around Paris. So that was good. We were playing in the rain in a field in the middle of Paris. Eiffel tower, Les Invalides, you could see it all. Unfortunately it ended in a concussion, a busted eyebrow, and an ambulance sooo... that will probably be the last Paris P-day Football. Dad, you would've been proud of some lanky catches.

General Conference is AMAZING as a missionary. When Elder Holland came on the screen at the beginning I felt like the superbowl was starting. I grabbed my seat edges and ate everything up. We were all a bit unhappy however that Paris didn't get their temple this time around. Oh well, next time. Yes mom, conference made me a bit homesick. I had my little family picture out the whole time. It was the first time I've ever watched it without at least one member of the family. I've watched two sessions in english and two in french. Why would I watch it in french you might ask?!

Well, we can start out by saying that I got a little taste of motherhood this weekend. Mama and 4 little African kids came. They are the CUTEST. So obviously it is quite a task to keep children reverent during conference, but luckily I came prepared. I sat in the middle of all of these little angels and distributed paper and markers that I had brought. When they needed a little extra help to get through the meeting I whipped out the Sour Patch Kids. Those were a hit. After an hour I took them all out in the hall for a bathroom break and to talk about conference. One of the girls had written down a list of questions she had about conference including what it means to have a change of heart. She is ten. She is amazing. The day before we had taught them at their house about Lehi's family. That lesson had me on the ground in front of them drawing the family on a boat with 5 sets of cute little african eyes glued to me. That was a dream. So anyway, during conference each child took their turn drawing their own pictures of Lehi and his family. They even labeled which children were wicked and which were righteouss. The 7 year old boy took the Book of Mormon and started copying it down starting at verse one. They are ANGELS. Mama took like 4 pages of notes and was kissin everybody like crazy at the end telling them that she'd see them next Sunday. Yessss.

Jerome also came for a session. I'm pretty sure he'll get baptized. We just randomly ran into him on the train ride home. I lent him my black suit for a few days this week. He needed it for work. How many times in my life am I going to loan a suit to an African man? He gave it back already so no worries :)

I officially LOVE contacting. I talk to everyone. I fancy myself to be pretty dang good at it. I am really seeing the blessings of it too. Our weeks our full of appointments. I just like it. A lot.

Oh I bisoused an african lady this week (the cheek kissing thing). She came out of nowhere. I secretly liked it. It was my first one.

Elder Hann comes about halfway up my tie. It's a match made in heaven. Actually it's kind of hard. I am the senior companion. Not really, but really. I make every phone call and I do all the talking when we are out. He has been here 13 transfers. He told me that he has only gotten 1 number his whole mission. WHAT?! I get a couple numbers most everyday. He said he has 'bad luck.' So basically... I'm learning a ton because I am doing everything, but it is hard sometimes. I miss Elder Riley. I can't ask Elder Hann anything about French because he just doesn't know/care. I speak better French, which is frustrating because it's my second transfer and I'd like a little help sometimes. Generally I have a good attitude about it (though obviously not right now). We are just really different and never have anything to talk about. I try to serve him, but I need to do better still... bah. He cooks though! Thats is okay with me :)

My question going into conference was how to have less pride. President Monson nailed it on the head. Gratitude. (I'm glad you really liked it too mom. I was watching it live at 6 in the evening). So, I've been trying to LIVE gratitude instead of just express and show it.

Haha, tomorrow we have a rendez-vous with a man named Matoto, and then with a man named Toto. Hah :)

Dad, I liked the Pride talk too from priesthood, but it was in French so I didn't get a lot of it. We still have Sunday afternoon session that we are going to watch at the beginning of church next week.

I had some alone time during transfers. I was scared to death. I am going to be SO AWKWARD when I get back. I just didn't know what to do with myself. I was like sweating and confused. I had to go up to Paris by myself to fetch Elder Hann.

I have to go. Love you lots!!!

See you next week :)

Elder Coburn

Monday, September 27, 2010

Well, my first transfer is OVER. So fast. I'm already three and a half months through my mission. But as Elder Riley figured out for me this morning that is still 15,260 hours left... compared to his 48 hours. Hah.

This week has been good. We deep cleaned our apartment, got along REALLY well, and had tons of teaching appointments with members present. Out of five people who promised they would come to church we came away with two. Not too bad. They were both really good. One of them was Jérôme, he really liked it. He stayed for half an hour afterwards and just talked to people. He is the single black man from Cameroun. We taught him this week with a man named Frère N'Tamag. Apparently it was super inspired because it turns out that Frère N'Tamag is from the same side of Cameroun and they speak the same rare african dialect. After that lesson Elder Riley told me something funny. During the lesson I had asked Frère N'Tamag a question, but apparently I had addressed him as Frère Emmental. Emmental is a type of cheese. Oops. I guess we know whats on my mind though.

Elder Riley has been a really big blessing. I've learned so much from him. He has stayed in missionary mode so well even though he is going home so soon. It'll be sad to leave him. My new companion will be Elder Hann. A Scotsman, and the shortest elder in the mission. Brilliant.

One night this week we didn't have anything to do so we decided to travel to the furthest reach of our area to visit a less active family. Well, originally we were going to visit a less active family, but by the time we got there, we only had half an hour before the last train home. I don't know what happened but somehow we ended up eating pastries and walking around the cutest french town EVER (am I my mother's son?). It is all built around a castle from the 1200's. SO COOL. Oh, the town is named Dourdan. like Dan. Dourdan.

OH!!!! Guess who committed there first person to baptism yesterday?!?! I don't know if I've told you about him. His name is Mr. Wata. Like water said with a gangster african accent.We always teach him outside under a tree. We have taught him three times now. He is really cool, really poor, and really happy. He has a wife and two little kids, but for now his wife is always working. He told us that he believes everything we've said is true. Haha, when I asked him if he'd be baptized there was about a minute of silence before he said anything. I was just thinking "he's going to say yes, he's going to say yes." After about the first 10 seconds of silence I really wanted to say something to clarify the question because I had been nervous and kind of jumbled the words out of my mouth. I felt like he was thinking about it and I felt the Spirit so I decided to not say anything. After fiddling with his hands for a minute he said "Was there a question?!" OF COURSE THERE WAS A QUESTION! Oh la. I need to settle down. Anyway, he said of course he would be baptized!

I went to my first french hospital. One could say I went to well... heck. Let's just all hold hands and be REALLY thankful that we have nice hospitals. If I ever get hurt on my mission (I won't), I will nurse myself back to health from the comfort of my apartment. I'll spare you from anymore detail. We went there to visit the investigators mother who we gave a blessing last week. She loves us.

Love from Paris,
Elder Coburn

Monday, September 20, 2010

I honestly can't convey how happy I am. There have been plenty of hard days and slammed doors so far on my mission, but things keep going just SO well.

Golden. His name is Sony. We met him yesterday, and we taught him yesterday. So, amazing. I can't describe how prepared he is. Elder Riley said that it's the best thing thats happened to him in two years. He is the most prepared, most humble, most ready person I've ever met in my life. I cried during our rendez-vous last night.

We met him in the train station around 4 o' clock. We had a different rendez-vous in another town, then we called him, went back and taught him. He is from Haiti and he speaks French and English perfectly. He is 33 and lives by himself. His parents live in Florida and Haiti and he loves them. He plays piano and works.

He kept telling us how he is a believer, but he doesn't know very much. He said he was there to learn and wanted us to teach him. His questions were real and sincere. We read one verse of Alma 32 and he said "So this applies to me because if I read this book and put it into action, I will know if the book is true based off of the reaction, and how I feel." He taught me so much! He is so much the embodiment of someone who has been kept from the truth because he knows not where to find it. He also told us how he has heard bad things about the Mormons, but he doesn't believe them because of how he feels when he is with us. He wants to learn by what he feels.

I can't wait to get to the next life and watch our rendez-vous over and over again. He has no idea what he has done for me. He said he is going to come to church next week. He said he'll read the Book of Mormon with any free time he has. He said he'd pray that night and ask if it was true. I know he already knows it's true. His prayer at the end was so humble and real. He thanked Heavenly Father for sending us into his home and bringing him truth. He told us how he loved how we used the bible too because that is really important to him. The church is so inspired! The part when I cried was when I was telling him about Christ having many sheep, and how some of them were the people in the Americas in the Book of Mormon. I told him that the people in France were his sheep, as well as our families in Haiti, Florida, and Ohio.

Anyway, that is in the front of my mind right now. Obviously.

We have had lots of opportunities to give blessings so far on my mission, way more than I imagined. It is really cool to see so many people that have a testimony of priesthood blessings, members and nonmembers alike.

Oh. Gosh. Stake Conference was yesterday for the Paris Stake. It was held in the Palais des Congrès, an incredibly beautiful and french building. Right, in, front, of the Versailles Château. Literally. AMAZING?!? Yes. You walk out the door and you're looking at the entrance to the château. Last time I was there I was about... 11? I adore the church in France.

Mama continues to rock my life. I especially like the cute little head dresses she wears. We took her american cookies. Loved them. This week we are going to teach her whole family, like 13 kids!! Also Mama is for sure coming to church on Sunday. I can't wait to escort her in. We have to get a car for her because she is still recovering from her knee surgery. I nearly passed out when she was showing us the bandages this week. Like, I started getting white and kind of layed down on the couch. Luckily, she noticed and with her motherly African love nursed me back to health. We talked to her about spiritual food vs. physical food. She ate it up. Literally. And spiritually. She is slowly becoming un-evangilized too. She doesn't even chant during prayers anymore! Also, without us even mentioning it, she started spouting out about why tithing is important. Oh mama.

Mama and Sony were my two favorite things this week. We had a about a lesson every day other than those too. Sorry if I bore you with our investigators.

This is cool: the first week here we didn't get any of our weekly goals. The next week we got one of them. The next week we got two. Then three. And this last week we got... four :) The best part is that the goals are always higher and higher.

Snails. Ate them. I literally LOVED them. So dang good. They just tast like mussels only they were all garlicy and delicious. We got them for dinner one night and took them home and cooked them. When in France...

In a rendez vous this week there was a 5 year old african boy who couldn't stop looking at me, touching me, and otherwise harassing me. Why? turns out I was the first white person he has ever been around. He didn't like Elder Riley though. It was actually kind of scary at times, he would like grab me and start kissing my hands and arms. His mom had to explain to him how I'm white and he's black. I said how sometimes I wished I was black. Then it got awkward. I think that line works better in the states.

Something thats really frustrating is people who have already been baptized and don't understand the authority thing. It has been happening a lot to us here in Evry. By the way, Evry is the equivolent of little Africa. That's why there are so many Africans that we are teaching. We only have on white investigator for now, and she's married to an african man.

Quote of the week. You have to say it outloud. Me: "how are you going to get number after your mission?" Elder Riley: "Elder, it's a little thing called faith." Me: "you mean like faithbook?"

We are going into Paris again for P day today. Elder Riley wants to get his fill before going home in a week. Aka, the transfer is over in a week and I will have a new companion. I should be staying in Evry though. I'd better be.

One of the sisters in Evry has told me a few times how much I've turned around the work here for the Evry elders. It means a lot to me and it's cool to see that I've personally had an effect here. At the beginning there wasn't much, and now we have 4 solid progressing investigators. We should have them all at church on Sunday. Ok, pardon my boasting, but Ammon says it best. I will not rejoice in my own strength, but in the strength of the Lord. He is blessing the people here so much and I'm so lucky to be able to help.

There are two scriptures I love reading back to back. First is 3 Nephi 5:13, and then read D&C 123:17.

I love you as always.

Elder Coburn

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I AM IN LOVE. With life.

I would be lying if I said that I didn't legitimately feel like I was on vacation right now. Maybe it has something to do with being in Paris and eating pastries all morning. I took a zillion pictures, I wish I could send them all.

Paris is my favorite city ever to exist. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else doing anything else right now. Although, this morning while puttering down the Champs Elysées I admitted to Elder Riley that if I could change one thing it would be to have my lovely mother with me. That would be a dream.

Well, the pictures will explain most of my vacationing. However fortunately, I'm not here to vacation. Missionary work. I. Love. Missionary Work.

Each week since I've got here we have been more and more sucessful. We are finding more and more people to teach and setting higher and higher goals each week. This week has been fabulous. There is one African man we started teaching this week named Jérôme. We taught him in a park on Saturday about the Restoration, and then we taught him in the chapel Sunday night about the Plan of Salvation. He had already started reading the Book of Mormon and had some questions. He is our first investigators who really seems to be keeping comittments. THATS EXCITING. Haha, we randomly saw him at a train station on the way back from Paris just now. Its destiny.

Oh. I am legal in France now. I had to have a medical appointment to get my title of residance. Medical appointment... there's a story. My favorite part was when I had to wait in a 2'x2' room inside a large truck for 10 minutes with my shirt off. It was the 'waiting' stall to get my lungs x-rayed. I don't know why the only things French people care about are your lungs and your teeth... maybe because everybody and there dog smokes here. I think I got a little high from secondhand smoke in a tie shop in Paris today. Sick.

Another man we found is Guito. He has an aunt or something in the church. We started talking to him and he already knew EVERYTHING about the gospel. I asked "Guito, do you have a testimony about Joseph Smith and the Restoration?" He said yes. Then I didn't know what to do. They don't teach you that kind of stuff in the mtc. Hah, we read 3 Nephi 11 with him and talked about Christ's doctrine. We discussed why it was important and told him that we're here to help him through it. That was cool. He'll get baptized.

Side note: in other important news I found the best kebab shop of my mission this week.

I love children. I had my third dinner appointment this week. Frankly, it was the first time of my whole mission that I stepped foot in a real house. It was nice. I was having trouble speaking French with the parents so I went and played barbie with the 3 year old daughter. Everybody speaks the same language when it comes to barbies. Needless to say, little Victoria and I are now best of friends. It kills me to not be able to pick her up or anything.

Somehow this week we found ourselves at a city festival because a member wanted us to help at his genealogy booth and hopefully find people to teach that way. When we got there he directed us into the hottest, stuffiest, most full or old people room of my life. We then sat down and listened to some french genius give a talk in French about family history. I just wanted to die. So hot. So much French. For an HOUR AND A HALF. We left the festival after that. Possibly the most unproductive thing I've done. Ever.

We saw Mama again. That is always a treat. She was so happy to see us. She is bed ridden because she just had knee surgery. I've just gotten used to her chanting during prayers. She said that one of the next times we can teach her whole family. Aka, her daughter and THIRTEEN grandchildren. Jackpot. She also gave us the first referral I've gotten on my mission. Those babies are rarer than baptisms.

Our sister missionaries are living in a sick house. Meaning, one of them has been sick for the whole last week and a half. She is just now getting better and the other one is just now getting sick. We took them chocolate cookies. Those poor souls. The sisters usually carry our district. Needless to say, our numbers are down this week.

Well, life goes on. Awkward teaching appointments, church, studies, eating baguettes and moldy cheeses (MMM), frujies, English classes, exchanges, and running across town squares to catch trains. One could say it is a dream. I sure would.

I love you all, as always. I also decided that this is the first real time that none of us brothers have been really living together.

Thank you for all the emails and pictures. They make my life.

Hugs and Bisous,

Elder Coburn

... a bisous is the cheek kissing thing. I'm not allowed to do them :(

Saturday, September 4, 2010

I adore everything about my life right now.

I adore everything about your lives right now.

Caleb is in CHINA. Josh is MARRIED and was just in Mexico... or around there. I'm in France. Dad traverses Ohio everyweek. Our family is dang cool. I love you guys. Ok, but maybe the crossing Ohio example isn't the best example.

I peed in the Seine this week, a life long goal.

Down to business, I have so much to tell you. Let's start off with my favorite little story as of late. We found and taught Mama Marcel. Yup. We love Mama. She is an larger, older, African lady. She is an evangilist. So we were spreading the love as usual, but during my opening prayer she started some sort of chant-prayer-thing under her breath. I was freaking out so I got quieter and quieter because I thought she was giving her own prayer. Somehow though, she magically said amen right when she was supposed to. I guess she had been helping a me out or something. Again however, I love Mama. She is the kind of lady that you want to clap your hands together with and sing hallelujahs with. During the lesson she kept saying amen to our thoughts. When we would talk about her blessings she would clasp her hands together, look up, and sing a little "merci Papa" to the heavens. Africans have so much faith. I love them. Especially Mama.

Lessons are picking up! The area is looking a lot better already than it was when I got here. We now have four investigators as opposed to none.

Oh. My. Missionary work. I taught the best first lesson of my life the other day. Probably because it was a real person instead of the mtc. We had an appointment with a man we found named Yves. It took us half an hour in the pouring rain to find his apartment and we were soaked all the way through when we got there. He seemed really touched that we had ran around out in the rain just to find him. Yves is a young African man for the Ivory Coast. He is here for a couple years for school. He knows the bible really well, but he didn't try to use it to find fault in us. Without any prompting from us, he promised that he is going to read the whole Book of Mormon. He has so much faith and he treasures his family, marriage, the gospel, etc... YES :) Talk about someone who is prepared. I hope so bad that nothing goes wrong for him. ALSO, he is normal. Hah, a lot of the people that talk to us are a little bit off, actually a lot of them are just drunk.

On the trains home from teaching Yves I talked to two people all by myself because Elder Riley was on the phone. As my conversation with them continued I got both of their numbers to set up appointments, ALL BY MYSELF :) I might have been a little prideful about that. Too bad they both "frujied" us. C'est la vie.

Church was less of a labor to understand this week, but still hard, and a lot still flew over my head. The whole Sunday was about missionary work so that was cool. I felt like a superstar. The ward is one of the bigger ones in France, and we have a really nice building. We've only had one dinner appointement so far still. It was my second day in France so I hardly remember it. Mission slang for a dinner appointment is a "mangez-vous." As opposed to a "rendez-vous." Hah, also when an investigator stands you up for a rendez-vous it is called a "fruji." Nobody knows where mission slang comes from.

We get around on public transportation and on foot. We have fun little passes that get us onto any train of bus, I'm sure they cost a healthy amount. We use them several times a day. Some of the areas have cars, but not ours.

It's fabulous that Josh is married. I want to be an uncle. Make sure to write that down.

Dad, I am really really glad you are loving the job. Keep on keepin' on.

Caleb, I would LOVE it if you came contacting with me. The French part doesn't matter. Two people not understanding is better than one. Hah.

Caleb said that China smelled like fish when he got off the plane? France smelled like smoke. But I think it was the people smoking right outside the door. Everybody smokes here.

Philip is really working at the Pines?! Shannon is going to emlpoy the whole mormon population before she dies.

Good luck keeping the house clean and getting it sold. That place is a gem.

Oh. One last thought quickly. Yesterday I was feeling kind of discouraged. I read something from my mtc teacher that said if you're not having sucess, look at your obediance. I kind of reevaluated myself after that. I put away all my pictures from home except for the one family picture. In their place I put several pictures of Christ and Book of Mormon heroes. I moved my alarm clock in my room so that I'll actually use it instead of just relying on Elder Riley. I made goals and wrote them down. It is SO liberating!! Sad feelings gone. Josh and Shan, thanks for your testimonies about obediance.

Hey, I'm in France.

Yours truly,

Elder Coburn

Monday, August 23, 2010

You know the feeling when you're playing a video game, and then the controls get reversed because you caught a disease or something? Maybe not, but that's how I feel trying to type on this euro keyboard. Please disregard any q's that are supposed to be a's, and apostrophes that are supposed to be m's. You could say I'm rather out of control. Frenzied really. Hah. It helps that the people next to me are getting in an argument in French about the crying baby behind me. Poor kid. He didn't do anything.


My first area is in southern Paris in a city called Evry. My trainer is Elder Riley. He rocks. It is his last transfer before going home, but we don't talk about that. We live literally right next to the newest Cathedral in Western Europe. It is designed to look exactly like a 15 story tall Pope's hat. Hahhhhhhhh. I still chuckle every time I see it. It's nuts, look it up.

Elder Riley is basically Josh. Like, almost exactly Josh. The only difference is that he sacrificed a foot of height for the ability to play the piano and beat super computers at chess. He makes a good trainer. The kind that I can just follow on to trains and trust that he knows exactly where he is going.

When I got here the area didn't have anybody to teach, so this week we have been finding like it is our job. Fancy that, it is our job. I LOVE it. I love talking to people. I love finding out what people believe, where they're from, and what they're like. We usually go contacting in the streets in the morning, and tracting door to door in the evening. If there is one French phrase I've got down it's "ça, ne m'interesse pas du tout." It means that doesn't interest me at all.

On the bright side, this week is FULL of meetings we've scheduled with people that we've just found. Mmm, the fruits of the labors. I can't wait to do lots of teaching... and more finding of course. We've only taught one lesson since I've been here. It was a young black man who just let us in while we were tracting. That was a blessing. We taught him an AMAZING hour and a half long first lesson.

French. It's coming. I adore it. Of course it's not mtc French, but I can speak well, and understand the most part of conversations we have. I like to talk to people on my own because then it forces me to speak, listen, etc.. I can't wait to speak at Elder Riley level.

Oh. I sent you before and after pictures of the living room of our apartment. Disgusting right? You can bet I had something to say about that. Hence, the after picture when I had spent 3 hours throwing away the leftover junk of 10 years worth of missionaries. It's a big apartment, and it's just us two living there. The quality of the place is another question. I would give an arm for new carpet and to get rid of those atrocious blinds. Hah.

If you send things to the mission home address it takes until transfers for me to get it. Here is my address in Evry:

Elder Ben Q. Coburn
Les Missionnaires
17 Cours Monseigneur Romero
91000 Evry

I should be there for at least 12 weeks. 6 for sure.

However, anybody can send me emails, and I can just respond with mail. That seems ideal at the moment.

I love it here. I love you.

HAPPY HONEYMOON JOSH AND SHANNON :) I ate some cake for you on the 20th

Elder Coburn

Friday, August 6, 2010


Bonjour. bonjourbonjourbonjour. Here comes the baker with his tray like always. The same old bread and rolls to sell.
On the subject of music, my audition last week payed off! I get to sing for all the senior missionaries this Monday! So... I get to rememorize all the words to 'I Know that My Redeemer Lives.' Yay! I had decided that I wasn't going to be singing, so the invitation in the mail yesterday was a fab surprise.
Also on the subject of music, I got my cd yesterday! Thankyouthankyou. Mike is amazing. Ahh. It made me really miss writing music. I have gotten so many ideas for songs since I've been here. I talked to my teacher, Soeur Call, about it. We had a really good conversation about how following the Spirit when you're in the field is kind of the same as just following your talents and not being afraid to do things different. One time we were practicing contacting here, and when she opened the door we sang 'Aimez vos freres' to her and the Spirit was there so strong. Even though it was just a 'role play.' Aimez vos freres is love one a another.
On Wednesday I taught a really good lesson on the Plan of Salvation. We taught the former president of the Madagascar mission, a lady, and her 5 month old boy. He was ADORABLE. I don't see enough children here.
Also on Wednesday I was sitting outside when my friend Sister Watson walked by. She is the French lady whose house I ate at and such. She had her kids with her, and I talked with her for about ten minutes. She walked by at exactly the wrong time too. I was in the midst of a -can't wait to get to France- mood. Then she decides to show up, I LOVED it, and then I wanted to go to France twice as bad. Ten days. Ten days. We're supposed to get our travel plans today.
On that subject, we should be flying out on the 16th. I don't know where you'll be. But make sure to have a phone so I can call. But I'll give you the final deets next week.
This week I've studied a lot about humility/pride. I decided that pride is kind of the root of every bad thing. Stupid pride. On the other hand, humility is charity, diligence, patience, service, and everything else good.
Oh. I whole heartedly approve of moving to a town called Orange. It happens to be a favorite color of mine. Also, orange cream soda, oranges, orange sherbet, orange gelato, orange jello, peaches, apricots, and carrots. I looked at it on google maps and was thoroughly impressed with the greenness. I'll design the house if you decide to build. K deal.
Time is going so fast and so slow at the same time. It's a funny little thing, time.
We're going to the temple today.
Elder Ben Coburn

Friday, July 30, 2010

J'aime l'evangile

CLEVELAND :) I'm content about our family moving there. It's still in Ohio. I was pretty excited about Denver being a prospect, seeing as it's close to Utah, but I think Cleveland will tickle my fancy just fine. The new company is Graphtec? What do they do?
Jordan. Your letter was hilarious. I laughed out loud many times. I'm glad you're tan. And done with swimming.
Mom. Dang it. All our peaches getting eaten right before we pick them seems to be a trend. Too bad we won't be there to try again next year.
On Sunday I gave a talk in French. It was the kind of talk where they just call you out of the congregation. I spoke about knowledge and diligence. It went really well. I also got randomly called up for the closing prayer. Participation points.
So, I auditioned for a special musical number. I sang a really cool arrangement of 'I Know That My Redeemer Lives.' Elder Hales played piano and Elder Godfrey played cello. We practiced a few times throughout the week last week, and the audition was yesterday. It went WAY well. The thing is, there were so many talented people, and I don't have that much time left in the MTC, so I don't know if I'll get a place. But if so it would be in front of 2,500ish missionaries for a devotional or fireside :) Cross your fingers.
Time is going so fast. Two and a half weeks and I am living in France. It seems like I just sent my last email yesterday. We got all our new French missionaries on Wednesday. 63 of them. Obviously we don't have a lot of time to just sit down and talk with them, but from the ones I've talked to they're really neat. Mainly it's a game of charades when I talk to them, but some understand French really well. On Wednesday I got to host new missionaries, meaning, I was one of the ones that picks them up at the curb and takes them around to get all their stuff and find their class. I hosted 3 missionaries. I bought them all clips for their nametags because when I was new I wanted one so dang bad and I didn't know where to get them. It felt like I was an efy counselor or something. By that I mean I felt like I was Richie, because buying nametag clips seems like something nice that he would do.
The temple is finally reopen and we get to go today! Oh good :)
Last Sunday I talked to a missionary from Switzerland for a long time. I loved it. He speaks real French.
I haven't eaten sugar since Tuesday. I haven't had pop since before the MTC. I drink a V8 every once in a while to make myself feel healthy. They're disgusting.
The other day it rained while we were playing 4 square out in front of the temple. It was one of my favorite moments here. Despite being a wimpy rain, it rememinded me of Ohio and the summer.
Last night we all sang in the hallway because there is a missionary that is leaving. He finally got his Visa for New Caledonea. I love when we all sing French hymns together. 90 French missionaries singing 'God be with You till we Meet Again' in French.
Gene R. Cook gave an exceptionally powerful fireside the other day. One of his 7 main points was how we should use music to spread the gospel, and how we can use it to contact or get to know people. I liked that a lot.
You guys are writing really good letters. They make my days.
Love, Ben