Monday, February 28, 2011

Bonjour mes chères frères et soeurs!

This is one of those p-days that I am going to remember for a long time. France is so gorgeous!!! Today we went to Menehem and bummed out on the beach for most of the morning. There are gigantic boulders EVERYWHERE. One of the pictures that I am sending is Elder Huff and I posing with our car on the beach. We've been planning out this picture for a long time. Cool huh? What's not cool is that we got STUCK in the sand. We had intentionally only driven a few feet into the sand so that we WOULDN'T get stuck, but nonetheless, we got stuck. We were freaking out. Are we supposed to call President? Call a tow truck? Of course not. We hiked off to the nearby village and sweet talked some locals. In the best french I could muster I walked up to this guy and was like "Hi... umm... we're parked a little bit badly... in the sand... do you have a truck?" Well he didn't have a truck (nobody in France does) but he flagged down his buddy that was puttering past in his utility van and before we knew it we were back on the beach and they were pulling us out of the sand. Don't you love small towns? After we were out I asked the guy if there was anything we could do for him. He said "You're missionaries right? All that I ask is that you never come knock on my door." We assured him he was safe from us.

Other than that we at bread and cheese by the lighthouse, went shell searching, went rock hunting, acted like little boys, etc...

This week Elder Huff and I went out to go on exchanges in Rennes. Basically, we lit the work on fire there. I went with Elder Shumway to have their only scheduled rendez-vous of the day with a guy named Juan. He has apparently been taught by the missionaries in Ecuador, London, and now France. I don't really know what the other missionaries have been doing though, because Juan hardly knew what baptism was. Anyway, we talked about it for a long time and then set a baptismal date with him!! I felt all good about myself because Elder Shumway (in his second transfer) told me it was the best rendez-vous he has had since he has been in France. Woohoo! Then both our companionships went knocking doors and we had three lessons in a matter of hours. Big stuff.

Annnd, even though we lost two days to Rennes, we still managed to have ten lessons back in Brest this week :) My favorite new investigor is the British guy I told you about last week. We had our first lesson with him and it was soooo gooooood. We have more lessons planned for this week. Also this week we found an inactive American thats been living in Brest for a couple months. He's from Michigan so him and banter with each other quite a bit. So we're going to start working with him. Marion and Christelle are back on track after not being able to see them for a couple weeks. Michel is good. Isabelle and Gervais are alright. Our other investigators are good. People, people, people... they're my life. It's true that you literally have to 'forget yourself' on your mission.

You want to hear the lyrics for a song I'm working on? It's called 'Your Royal Blood'

Who is this King of Glory?
Who is this King of Kings?
This is our God, we have waited for him.
This is the Lord, we have waited for him.

Your royal blood, passed down from kings.
Your royal light, forever brings,
Peace to the children of the kingdom,
Peace as prophesy sings
Your royal blood.

Pourquoi tremble-je,
Quand j'entends son nom divin?
Pourquoi ai-je peur,
De celui qui me donne du pain?

Your royal blood, passed down from kings.
Your royal light, forever brings,
Peace to the children of the kingdom,
Peace as prophesy sings
Your royal blood.

It's not finished.

Gotta go!!!
It's time for Family Home Evening... except its at the church, and it's not my family. It is the evening though.

Love love love,
Elder Coburn

Monday, February 21, 2011

Doesn't time just go too fast? I think so.

I have basically been high for the last week. Well, on a high that is. The work is going so well here.

I don't even know where to start. Let's get the big picture first: This whole transfer the zone of Bretagne has been trying to get all the companionships to have 10 lessons a week. Impossible right? We're in France and nobody believes in God, right? We had ten lessons last week! We are teaching more than I have been my whole mission.

We have been trying to be more 'consecrated' missionaries lately. Part of that includes being more productive with our Sunday afternoons. Usually we kind of hang out at the church for two long then eat with members all day. Yesterday after church we were like "ok, lets get out of here and go find more people to teach." So we contacted for an hour and there were literally only 3 people that we passed on the road. Luckily, the third try is the charm. We were like "hey we're missionaries, etc, etc." Then this 20 year old man responds in broken French that he wasn't interested. I noticed his accent and responded in French again with something like "where are you from buddy?" he was like "england" So then we threw French out the window and literally shouted "YOU SPEAK ENGLISH!!!" Then we talked for 10 minutes in the middle of a busy roundabout and he explained to us the he doesn't not believe in God, he just hasn't been to church since he was 6. Longstory short, it was a perfect contact, he ended up asking us if we did "discussions", and we got all his info and set up a rendez-vous for Friday. His name is James.

Another time this week we were doing a "consecrated hour." It's when we choose a road, a specific time, and for that hour we literally contact every single human we see. It involves running across the road, stopping people on their bikes, and even contacting cute girls that I would never dare talk to otherwise (I for reals poop my pants some times). So we were doing this and had been getting shut down like crazy for 45 mintues straight. I was tired and sick of talking people when I flagged down this guy riding his bike up the sidewalk. And then basically... we went to a park with him and spent the next hour teaching him about God. His name is Kevin.

We have a longtime investigator that is ready for baptism except for some legal problems because of his handicap. We've been trying to get that sorted out for ages, but this week we actually did it. We had the branch mission leader come with us one night and after a rollercoaster lesson its finally all sorted out. We are just waiting for the his advisors to get in contact with the church leaders and then we will have his baptism soon thereafter. Its possible that I'll still be in Brest for his baptism but I'm not sure. His name is Michel.

Miracles a plenty. I miss home but I wouldn't want to be there.

Before I finish my email I wanted to tell you about how I learned the meaning of prayer this week. On Tuesday morning I was having a really hard time and I just felt really down despite all the success we've been having. We actually ended up not even leaving the apartment in the morning and instead we both just kept reading scriptures and studying all morning. There came a point when I couldn't understand why I was feeling so down and so I went into our bedroom to pray. I prayed, and it was a type of prayer that I've never had before. In my journal I wrote "I spoke with God today. Truly. It was the first time in a long time I've prayed out loud for a personal prayer. I just talked to Heavenly Father for a long time and I have never felt his presence like I did then. It was a tangible comfort that he was there. It was real." I wrote a lot more, but basically that morning has defined my life ever since. It's not that I ever doubted that God was there, but it is a whole new matter entirely to really know that he is there. This life is so short, but how often do we forget that just because we can't feel the Heavenly Father is there? How often do we break the little rules because we're thinking about everything but what we should be? On Tuesday morning it felt like God was standing just on the other side of my bedroom curtains where the light was coming in. He is so close to us during our lives on earth. I know that He lives, our Heavenly Father, and I know that Christ lives. I have never known it like I do know.

Well, I loved reading your emails. I hope you enjoy going on a CRUISE WITHOUT ME!! Gee wiz. And I call you my family. I'm going to go play piano for a couple hours now while Elder Huff does his emails. I'm writing a few songs :)

LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE :))))))))))))))

Elder Coburn

Monday, February 14, 2011

Okay okay okay. Here we go :)

A HUGE apology for not being able to write last week. Here is my excuse:

I left BREST early monday morning and went to ST. MALO (thats where all the beack pictures are). From there we went and spent the night at RENNES. We left early the next morning and went to NANTES and then ANGERS. We stayed the day in Angers for leadership conference. We slept in a hotel in Angers, and then finished leadership conference the next day. That evening we went to LE MANS and then back to Rennes to spend the night again because we couldn't get all the way back home in one day. The next morning we went to ST. BRIEUC when we decided we should do our exchanges with the elders there. So after that and after 4 hectic days of literally travelling all over North-Western France we got back to home sweet home: Brest.

I am so sick of trains. Otherwise, France is gorgeous.

Ok... time for the miracle story. Marion and Christelle are a young African couple that have only been in France for a month and a half. They are students. We have had two lessons with them and they came to church for all 3 hours yesterday. THEY ARE SO GOOD. You can't not feel the Spirit when you are over there. On Saturday night we watched the Restoration with them after teaching the first lesson. Afterwards I asked them what they felt. Marion said "I feel the truth, and I feel that it is real." Christelle smiled and said "I already know that it is true because since we came to Brest I have been FASTING and PRAYING to find the right church." She said that they were fasting the day that they met us on the street. They are both reading and praying about the Book of Mormon. The Branch loves them. We already have two more rendez-vous set up for this week. If that isn't a miracle then I don't think that miracles exist. I know that it was pre-arranged by our Heavenly Father. What if we had just been lazy the day that we met them and had decided not to go out contacting? Miracles will happen when you believe in them.

So I hear Jordan gave a talk at church yesterday? Me too! I talked about repentance and the sacrifice of Christ. It was way better than I had expected it to be. En plus, c'était en français, donc... je suis pratiquement le meilleur.

Today is Mamie-cia's 78th birthday. She is our missionary grandma :) We profited from the sales and got her a 5 euro sweater that she can wear to church. It is blue, her favorite color. We gave it to her this morning and sang to her. Then we ate cheese, bread, far breton, and sang hymns. I love her. She also gave me a miniature sword (a foot and a half) that used to be her husbands because she saw that I liked it (I was tromping up and down the hallway being Jack Sparrow and treating her like my cherie).

At leadership conference I got EIGHT letters handed to me from the mission home. Lots of letters from Christmas n' such. From everybody that I love.

Last week Elder Huff and I found an old bike in the forest with no brakes and flat tires... so... naturally we took it to the top of the biggest and muddiest hill that we could find. Then we tried to kill ourselves riding down it in our suits and ties. Yesss.

An update on the cute primary kids of Brest: I LOVE THEM. Sometimes I'll be in the chapel playing piano when little Nathan and Alyssa run in and start dancing to my songs. One time they came in and 2 year old Alyssa plopped herself on the piano bench and started tinkering on the keys with me. I couldn't help it so I was like "Alyssa, fais moi la bise." RIGHT AWAY she reached her little head up and gave me a big kiss on the cheek. AHHH!!!

Also, there was an adorable little Asian girl on the bus this week with her mom. I would make a face at her, she would look up to make sure her mom wasn't looking, then she would bust up laughing and smile back. We did it for several stops before she got off.

Well, there are tons of things I want to tell you but most of it will just have to wait another 16 months. Know that I love you.

Je vous aime trop.

Elder Coburn

"Heavenly Father knows where the treasure is for our lives, and all we have to do is ask for the clues." -President Staheli

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sooooooo :) Life is good. Almost too good. There are some days when it's like, "ugghh.. another day" but usually there are days when I can't imagine not being here, doing what I'm doing, and knowing who I know.

First of all, Elder Huff and I are both staying in Brest another transfer! We are happy as clams. I feel like such a big grown up going into TRANSFER FIVE. Of course, realizing that it is 5 out of 16 makes me look a little younger. It's okay though, I wouldn't want to be any further in my mission than I am. I think it is so important to be able to live in the moment. So many people in life are always just waiting impatiently for the next thing to happen. In college we were all like "oh, I can't wait till my mission when life will be so good." Now on our missions everyone is like "i can't wait till I'm home when life will be so good." When does it stop? New missionaries don't want to be new, junior companions don't want to be junior, and senior companions can't wait till that day when they become a district or zone leader. I think that dis-satisfaction with the present is sometimes a result of pride. When we're proud we think we're better than the moment around us and that we deserve better. We have trouble humbling ourselves to our circumstances. The problem is that our prideful appetites are never going to be filled. Yes, it is good to look forward to change, but if you can't ever be happy with where you're at then are you going to be an effective missionary? an effective father? ...just food for the though :)

So this whole transfer we've been just finding and finding and finding and saying "what the heck? where are all our amis?" I always saw a lot of patience and humility in Elder Huff's ability to keep going everyday despite our huge lack of investigators. I get frustrated really easily and if I don't see results I start freaking out. So that's basically the story of the transfer. Then this past week, the last week of the transfer, everything has been changing. We have just seen so clearly the Lord's hand directing his work here. It's like He is saying "here, you've shown me your patience, now show me your humility as I shower you with blessings." This past week we have met so many new people, given them Books of Mormon, and had rendez-vous with some of them. We taught a Romanian family twice, taught a recent-convert's friend that is going to give her and her kids a ride to church, and have a rendez-vous set with a young African couple that have invited us to their home. WE ARE BLESSED :) On top of it all, our investigator Michel is literally an inch away from baptism and we are just working on figuring out his legality stuff so that we're actually allowed to baptize him.

Cool fact: our branch mission leader and I were baptized on the same day: April 10, 1999. We figured that out this week while we we're eating fajitas at his house. (french fajitas are sooo not legit).

So on top of this whole miracle thing that Brest is in the middle of, it is currently "Soldes" in France. It is the biggest, cheapest, country wide sale. Like, everything is at least half off. Well can Benjamin resist a couple of killer deals on french clothing? Not so much. That's all i'll say. And Elder Huff and I look good. Ok. Good.

Well I lovvvvve you :)
France loves you :)

Elder Coburn