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

Friday, July 23, 2010


This email is going to be screamin' good.
Yesterday could be described as a bit of a frenzy. First of all, I fell in the shower. Hard. I was just trying to kind of jump over the divider to the next one so that I could turn his shower cold. I kind of forgot about my feet on the way back down. I sat on the floor for about ten minutes after laughing in pain. Also yesterday I wore a tie with dogs on it. It was unlawfuly hideous. It was good because it inevitably led into conversation about how I worked at a pet cemetery. Elder Johnson and I have also started racing to our residence hall. Like, racing. It involves hurdling rope dividers and benches and dodging those vertical poles that are conveniently placed everywhere. Don't worry though, I went back and found all the highlighters that fell out of my shirt pocket. They were strewn about the MTC.
As I walked into dinner yesterday I saw one of my friends headed towards our table. He was holding a tray with all the food that I was planning on getting. I walked up to him, took the tray gently out of his hands, and graced him with a little "ah, merci mon ami." Then I went to our table and ate it. He forgave me later though.
Okay. Let me tell you about the best lesson I've taught so far. It was at the TRC this week. We taught an uncle and his niece. The niece was from France and didn't even speak English. It was SO GOOD to be able to talk with her and understand her and know that I can do that. It was cool because we just broke out of the mold of the TRC. They just stopped acting like investigators and we taught them as them. The Spirit was the strongest I've felt while on my mission. It felt like I was being pulled up out of my chair. Our teachers watch us on cameras in the TRC. On our feedback he said "you can really tell that you care about and love the investigators you teach. I think it's one of the things that gives you so much power." Ahh. I loved it.
So every week we do "service." What that means is that we go and clean someone else's building. Anyhow, the custodial worker who is in charge of us is my buddy. I bribe him with left over bagels from my breakfast to get the easy jobs. Yes.
The past week we've had a sub for one of our two teachers. It's cool because the sub went to our same mission so he has lots of cool stories and things to tell us. Like, how French people go crazy if you take them jello. It's a novelty apparently. I'll try it: "Hey... I brought some, jello? Do you want to hear a message?"
There is another teacher here who lived in the same dorm as me before his mission. With the same bishop.
Speaking French only is going good, but getting kind of monotanous. It's been 1 5/7 of a week now. I dream about speaking English sometimes.
We learned a little bit of Chinese this week. In case we meet Chinese people that can't speak French. I learned how to say three things:
"I am a missionary"
"I don't speak Chinese, but my friend does" (this is when I hand them a phone that is calling the Chinese Elders)
"Wait a second!" (this is for when they decline the phone and start running)
We get 60 new French missionaries this coming Wednesday. It will be a big jump from our current zone of 30. We get to host new missionaries this week too. We're the ones that stand by the curb, pick them up, and take them everywhere they need to go. I'm excited to be an example for all our new French missionaries. You can decided exactly what kind of a missionary to be. I remember when I first got here the older missionaries seemed SO much older than us. The missionary who only spoke French was my biggest example. I want to be like that for other missionaries now.
Most of my free time is spent in rendez-vous with our 'investigators.'
Mom, you are a GREAT letter sender ;)
I love you guys. It's weird that I've already cut more than a month out of my two years. It's going really fast. I like that.
Elder Ben Coburn
Mosiah 2:41, of course.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Halfway to Paris

Goodmorning Coburn household, we're coming to you live from Provo, UT. Well folks, it's shaping up to be another hot one here in the valley. Slap on that sunscreen, grab your lawnchairs and hit the beach. That's right, bring the whole family for a day of fun and games. Don't forget, this is Elder Coburn live on the air with qMTC4991, so tune in those radio dials, turn in up loud, and settle in for a hot one.
Someday I'll be a radio host...
Okay. Yesterday was fabulous. Firstly, wait. K rewind.
I started speaking only French all the time on Monday. It is so much fun. It has gotten so much easier too, and it's good because it is helping everyone in the district want to speak it and understand it more. What I'm trying to say is, I haven't spoken English since Monday. My only exceptions are for when I see BYU friends and for singing.
So, Yesterday. Elder Johnson was in San Fran so I didn't have a companion. I had an tutor session and I taught the entire first lesson in FRENCH. It was SO good. Um, SO good. It just all came out how I needed it too. Guess what else? The Spirit speaks French too. Who'd have guessed? Anyway. It was really really fab and made my day.
The other thing that made my day yesterday was the following:
We were practicing one minute contacts with random people outside. We were talking to this one companionship (I had people to translate for me), and halfway through one of the elders was like "are you Ben Coburn?!" Then in my head I was like "dang it, dang it, who is he?" Then I looked at his name tag and firgured out. Ethan Kennedy!!!!!!! Who I haven't seen since we were best friends in primary!! He moved to Germany when we were so little and I haven't seen him since. Like 10 YEARS!!!! He is way cool. He is going to Poland on his mission. Cool huh? That's what I thought.
Also yesterday was good because Caleb sent me a letter. I had gone two days with no letters. It was bad news bears. That's why we love Caleb. He sends me 2 or 3 a week. Also he told me that he saw some BNY kids and I was jeaulous. What I'm saying is this: you can write me whenever and I will just be as happy as a plum.
P days are pretty boring because the temple is closed. This morning I talked to David R. for about an hour. I started missing home a lot when he was telling me about how he had been texting his mom.
Remember how a while ago I said that I wasn't sick of the food yet? Lies. It is all becoming the same. Clearly I would rather have Mom's meals a couple times a week than have these meals. Even is they are more consistent.
Elder Johnson and I do work. At the beginning of this week we had two "progressive investigators" that are just like investigators but role playing. We have to set up our own appointments and decide what to teach n' such. I don't know what we were thinking, but we now have 6 progressive investigators, with another one planned. The most I've ever heard of anyone having is 7. Most people have 2 or 3, but it's all optional. So we are going to be a little busy in between classes. But, for me that is the best way to prepare to go into the field.
Today is our halfway mark in the MTC. Crazy huh? 4.5 down, 4.5 to go. I hope the next half goes as fast as the first half. I want to be in France so bad. After I taught the first lesson to Frere Howell he said that I'm almost fluent. That sure made me happy. Frere Howell has only been off his mission from France for a couple months too, so I like his advice. He is way neat. All the teachers here are way neat. French is way neat. The scriptures are way neat. French scriptures are also, way neat. I'm really scared to start marking my French scriptures. They've got to be perf.
Darn it, I had lots of good scriptures to give at the end of my email but I don't have my planner with me where they're all written. Just know that they're good. And most of them are about being happy. Naturally.
Elder Coburn

Friday, July 9, 2010

Week #3

E-mailing may be the most stressful part of my P-day (which is officially Friday) because of those little red numbers in the top corner of the screen that count down a half an hour. If you don't finish and send your email in half an hour it kicks you off. Silly little red numbers.
I'm not in a threesome anymore. We got a new elder in our district that is now companions with Elder Flores. So now I'm in a normal companionship again with Elder Johnson like I was originally. I like it. It is a lot less stressful so far.
Yesterday was fab. I went to San Francisco and back. We got up at 4 to go catch our flight. One guy in the airport bought Elder Hales and I doughnuts because he said he never gets to feed the missionaries in Utah. In San Francisco we had a shuttle driver who took us to the French Consolate to get our visas. We got fingerprinted and signed some stuff, and that was about it. So then we had 4 hours to kill. Our shuttle driver took us to Pier 39 for most of the time. Elder Hales and I (neither of our companions were on the trip) walked around together and spoke French most of the time. Clam chowder, lunch, amazing. There are SO many church members in the world. While we were walking around there were 11 Mormon families that stopped and said hi to us. I want to wear my name tag all the time just to find all the members. But, it is crazzzzy how many people look at you when you are a missionary! Everybody does! We were told not to proselite because our proseliting licenses are only for France, but we talked to a few people who asked us stuff. Oh. Then we went to Ghiradeli Square. Chocolattttte. Is so DANG good. Then we went home and got back to Provo in the evening. Good little day trip. San Francisco is so cool.
We got to watch the fireworks last Saturday night. They were good. We didn't get to hear the Carrie concert from the stadium though. Not so good. They herded us into a "musical dramatization" so that people wouldn't sit outside and listen to the concert. Bummer.
People laugh at me when I eat my ice cream sandwiches with silverware...
So maybe I don't want to get chocolate in my front teeth.
Testimony meeting on Sunday was so good. In French of course. I was the only one from my district that bore my testimony. I had planned out some French stuff to say, but when I was up there I just said whatever came to mind and it came out in French. I LOVE it. French that is. And testimonies. I guess I'm trying to say that I love French testimonies.
I got a haircut. The longest they will cut the sides in the mtc is 1/2 inch. That's cruel. Clearly it's not my best look.
The TRC this week was super. Elder Johnson and I teach a mean 2nd lesson. With the Spirit of course. We committed our "investigator" to baptism. Yesss. Also, Sister Watson (the French lady who I had dinner at her house) and her little daughter were there volunteering. Everyone was like "Oh! Elder so and so got the native French speaker! that's so hard!" But then I poked my head in and talked to her and her daughter in French and I found them perfectly charming. Her daughter is presh.
Thanks for the mail. Caleb is a rad mail sender. So are Mom and Dad and Josh. Thanks for dem chips mama.
I found a new favorite scripture this week. I think it is cliche to be set on one favorite scripture, but this on is SO SO good. It is so happy. It is about how happy you can be, in this case, after you do missionary work. Funny how that worked out. Alma 26:16. If I get a missionary plaque, I want that one on it.
Elder Ben Coburn

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


I love life. I made a list of things I want to tell you about:
1) Highlighting. My new scriptures are a coloring book. Orange, Blue, Green, Pink, Yellow. One color for each aspect of the missionary purpose. Faith and the Atonement, Repentence, Baptism, Holy Ghost, Endure to the End. My teacher said it looks like a rainbow threw up in my scriptures.
2) Behind my desk is a French flag made out of construction paper. I draw a star on it around my name for each day we've been here. It's neat.
3) There is an Elder in my zone from the U.K. He is hilarious. The other day we were having a British conversation. Mid sentence he stopped me and said "I must say, your British accent is quite remarkable. It makes me really feel like I'm at home." Cool? I though so.
4) Elaine S. Dalton. I LOVE her. She gave the devotional on Tuesday night. It was about courage. Amazing. afterwards I went and said hi to her. I said something about how she has no idea how much A Brand New Year has changed me and about how I'm a missionary now. I started to cry a little bit just saying that to her and seeing her smile at me. The Spirit around her is so amazing. I remember she said "You still have your Brand New Year smile." When I said hi to her after the CES Fireside at BYU she said "how could I forget your smile?" In the devotional she said that if nothing else, you can testify to people just by smiling at them. When I was set apart as a missionary President Ward blessed me to "Smile, look in their eyes, and declare my testimony with patient boldness." Just look at Sister Dalton's smile. Look at President Monson's smile. The three commitments from BNY were to pray, read the scriptures, and SMILE. Smiling invites the Spirit and it helps others to trust you. My testimony can be expressed through a smile.
5) Last friday we had a special fireside to end the Mission President Seminar. I was sitting about 20 feet from the stand. Guess who was on the stand? Ok I'll tell you. Elders Bednar, Cook, Christofferson, Enderson, Oaks, Holland, Nelson, and Scott. Just to name the Apostles. Elder Oaks spoke. Amazing.
6) The TRC this week was SOOO good. The TRC is where French speaking volunteers come and roleplay as investigators. We did the contacting in French and the lesson in English. I loved the contacting and I loved the lesson. It felt so real. I guess it is so real when the Spirit is there. I love French. love love love.
7) Last night I received my first "MTC Pass-along." I was given the pink umbrella. It was been passed down through French speaking missionaries in the MTC for about a year. It is given to the best dancer. Naturally, I was seen doing the moonwalk, so I snatched the coveted pink umbrella.
8) I have been able to play piano a lot. Just hymns for fun during free time. It is so refreshing.
9) Yesterday I found out that I'm going to San Francisco next week on July 8th! We basically fly there, go to the French Consolate, get our Visas, eat lunch, and fly back. Be excited.
Enough with the numbers. I love it here. Mom, I'm glad you found the lanyard. Also, when you were talking to David R on the phone I could here him talking to you. I was just sitting down the hall. I knew pretty much exactly what you were saying without listening. How was Girls Camp? Also... I think it would be appropriate to send me my CD. My friend has a CD player. I kind of really really want to hear what Mike did with my songs. Dad, I'll just clarify that I did infact go the top of Mt. Timp. You sound wishy washy. Also, Dad, you'd be proud of my basketballing here. It's my favorite sport to play as of late.
The other night Elder Johnson told me that he loved me a lot. I said "Je t'aime aussi." He said "No. Not even in the French way. The American way."
So, let's face it. 8 hours of sleep a night is not enough for me. I am always exhausted. I've only taken one nap though. But, I drooled a little on my Book of Mormon. So that was nice.
Last week I was playing four square outside. I kind of dove/lunged for a ball, but I twisted my ankle and skinned my hand. I felt like a lesser version of Taylor. But it's all better now.
Our room had it's random weekly cleaning check yesterday. We got "Exalted." Yeah, it's better than Celestial.
Do you guys have any super plans for the 4th? We get to watch fireworks from the stadium :) I laugh so much here. I love my district. They're amazing. The food is good. I think the people that get sick of it are the ones that stuff their faces every meal. I like the wraps. Good thing they cost $6.50 at BYU. Anyhow. I love you. You're the best. Have a fab week. I'll do the same.
Love Love Love,
Elder Ben Coburn
Alma 7:24

letter #1 from the MTC

Dearest Family in the World,
I love you lots. I love the gospel lots.
1)There is so much good in everything here. The teachers are amazing, and the Spirit is amazing.
2) French is the best. I am learning it so fast. Everything is coming back. We learned to pray in French on the first full day. It all makes sense. I don't even have to cheat off of my book to pray anymore! Granted, I only have a few things I can be thankful for and a few things I can ask for. Yesterday I was talking to some French sisters who are almost done in the MTC. They are going to Temple Square. They told me my French was amazing for only being here 3 days. The thing is, is that I didn't learn what I was saying. I learned it 3 years ago, but it was nothing I could've remembered how to say before I cam in the MTC. And when I was talking to them I didn't even think about what I was about to say. It just came out. Lastnight I had a half hour conversation with my friend from BYU in French. I could say almost everything I wanted to.
3) I am in a tripanionship. My companions are Elder Flores and Elder Johnson. It is kind of challenging because Elder Flores is from Mexico and isn't completely confident in English yet, so French is still a little bit out of the question. I have a hard time getting him to participate with us. It's hard because I want to just speak French all the time but then that excludes him. Elder Johnson is from Arizona. He plays sports. I decided to try studying the Godhead as a good example of a tripanionship.
3) I leave for France about August 16. We get to go to San Fransisco to get our visas. Ah yeah.
Please use Dear Elder to write me while I'm in the MTC. It is easier for me to read.
I love you lots. My PDay is Saturday. Hope you're having fun in Utah.
Love, Elder Ben Coburn