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