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