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