Monday, June 27, 2011

Well one of this week's highlights was getting free Danette yogurt in centre-ville. Then we got filmed and became famous. Here is the link. We are in it twice really quick. All of the video you see is in Reims... home sweet home for me. It's a really cool city.

Otherwise... Do you know the song 'My Kindness shall not Depart from Thee?' Elder Bjerga and I are going to sing it for sacrament meeting here either this week or next week. We both really really love music. Our neighbors must be aware of that fact too. We are always always are singing in our apartment. Anytime that we have a few minutes to kill in the church we go to the piano and I play stuff and he sings.

In Paris this week we had our last zone conference with President and Sister Staheli. It was so SADDD. At the end we all got in a line and hugged them, then we stood up and sang 'Que Dieu soit avec toi jusqu'au revoir' (God be with you till we meet again). On the last verse President and Sister Staheli set down their hymn books and walked out through the middle of us. I think that every single person was crying. I want President Staheli to seal me in the temple when I get married. I bet there family and friends are excited to have them back home after 3 years :)

President Poznanski gets here tomorrow I think. He's the first French member to be a mission president in France. We have interviews with him this thursday.

It sounds like really good things are happening on the home front. When do Josh and Shannon join the party? I tell so many people about you guys and the cool stuff you do. I'm glad Jordan is now eating fresh and working at Subway. He can hook me up with some spicy italian sandwiches when I am there. We actually go to Subway here fairly often to remind us of America. It's weird here though. First of all, they measure in centimeters, so there goes the whole 'foot long' thing. And then even if they had the foot long it wouldn't be 5 dollars. It's like 7 or 8 euros... so convert to dollars and it's like our entire month's savings.

Elder Bjerga and I have been getting super close lately. We need to not stay up so late, but we have been having some really deep conversations lately while trying to go to sleep in the summer heat. I feel really close to him. Like someone that you can always count on to be there.

Well, we got some stuff to do. I hope you love the yogurt video. It was actually really good yogurt. I got a chocolate one with chunks of pear. Mmm :)

Love you guys,
Elder Ben

Monday, June 20, 2011


Well I am on a pretty big high right now because I just figured out that Michelle in Springboro got baptized over the weekend! It's funny because I had been writing her an encouraging letter literally five minutes before I got on to my email and found out that she had just been baptized and confirmed. I wish I could've been there. She is awesome.

That alone gives me so much encouragement to continue what is going on in Reims. Sometimes I get discouraged because we have taught and gone through so many amis that just don't seem to progress. I seem to beat myself up over it. But then there are times when I take a step back, realize that things are going how the Lord wants it to, and THAT is what takes away discouragement and helps me work harder.

We do have amis that are progressing though. Don't worry. Something that we don't have a lot of is days left with our mission president! President Staheli is going home in 9 days and President Poznanski is taking the wheel. I'm kind of scared about the change and will miss President Staheli a lot a lot. There seems to be a very special bond between all missionaries and there mission presidents. Granted it isn't going to drastically change the face of my mission, but I am just a little anxious about switching some things after one year in the field.

Elder Bjerga and I have taken like 500 pictures in our two weeks together. Ridiculous. I glad that he is someone that is not scared to have fun and be himself. I'm also still glad that he cooks like every single night for me. I'm learning a lot about cooking.

We are about to go have a crêpe party with our ward mission leader for pday. That rocks. Yesterday we took a bus to Paris with our ward to go to Stake Conference. It was so so good. It was one of the times when you are just so happy to be a live and be with everyone that you love. Elder Reina and Elder Kopischke both spoke. Elder Kopischke is President of the Europe inter-region area. He spoke about the power of the Atonement. It is amazing how many talks we could write about the Atonement. Maybe that's one reason why we call it an 'infinite atonement.' It is so simple but it's influence is never ending.

One really cool thing from this week: we were on a train coming back from Paris and we met a 17 year old deaf boy. We had an hour long conversation with him using a piece of paper and our hands. It was really incredible. He gave us some little cookies he had and we gave him a pass along card. He is a student and goes into Paris every single day to go to a special school for the deaf.

Well, I hope you guys are having tons of fun. The 'staycation' that you're planning sounds good. I think the times that I liss home the most is when I know that everyone is at the house together.


Benny Boy Coburn

Monday, June 13, 2011

Guess what is this Thursday?? My ONE YEAR MARK!!! Holy cow. It feels like right about where I should be though... I have a letter that I wrote to myself at the beginning of my mission that I'm pretty excited to open and read for Thursday. I don't remember anything I wrote in it.

Elder Bjerga rocks. We are having a lot of fun. He is way more musical than me and way more full of charity than me. He kind of treats me like his child when we are around the apartment together. For example, at 6:30 this morning he was in the kitchen making pancakes for his little benny-boo. Then we had a picnic on my blanket for breakfast. He has been out for like 8 months but he has been transferred way more than me. He's hoping to stay in Reims for a while though. It's a pretty good place :)

It was sad to leave Elder Pieper to go to Nogent, but I think everything is turning out just fine. He sounds happy in the city of Nogent. Although, as he says, "it's no Reims."

Today we have been pretty busy for a pday. We woke up, did pancakes, did a huge outdoor market that is the length of Reims with a new member, we helped a lady move, and now it's 1 o' clock and we are doing some quick emails before we head off to help a DIFFERENT lady move.

Remember how I copy and pasted last week the things that I sent to the assistants? Well, here are the things that Elder Pieper said about our last two transfers. I think that you'll find them interesting:

Focus Your Efforts
We must find until we find where the success is, and then there, you
must focus your finding. If you do that, you will find success. In
Reims over the past two transfers we have found where the success is,
and we have really focused there. Now, maybe its not the same for all
areas, but from what we have seen, the success really lies in the
younger age group. We all know about Elder Perry's vision of how the
success of the church in Europe lies in the youth ages 18-30. And we
are starting to see his vision be realized. There is a student housing
building, very close to the Reims apartment. Missionaries have had
quite a few amis who lived there in the past. We had one ami there
that we were teaching, but we had no idea how golden the building was.
But then we realized that this building, and the student age group is
where the success lies. So we ported and contacted in and around the
building, and really focused our finding efforts there. We invited the
YSAs of the ward to come teach with us. We invited those we found to
activities at the church (movie night,english class, institute). And
once our amis started becoming friends with the YSAs, missionary work
becomes a whole lot easier. We started with one ami, and at the end of
our second transfer we had about 15. Looking back on the last two
transfers, about a third of our total lessons were taught in that

Find When You Teach
We actually haven't had very much time to really do a lot of
contacting or porting these last two transfers, because we have really
been busy teaching. Yes, we must use the time that we aren't teaching
to find more people to teach, but what we've found, is that we find
more people during Rdv's than when we do more common forms of finding.
Especially when focusing on the younger generation, its really simple
to find people when you teach. Sometimes friends would be in the
apartment of our ami when we show up for a rdv. Sometimes someone
would show up halfway through, then come in, sit down and listen. Then
at the end of rdvs we asked them if they were interested in starting
taking the lessons. All it took was courage to ask. One thing we
believe is that if we are spending the vast majority of our time
teaching, and don't have much time to do finding, God will bless us by
putting people in our way, whether by being a friend of one of our
amis, or by being on the bus the same time as us from one rdv to
another, there is always finding to be done. Once you find, teach,
then while you teach, find.

Give People a Chance to Get Interested
As a missionary normally when we contact, the people really aren't
interested in talking about god, or having a rdv with us. And we do
get rejected a lot. But one thing we've learned is, that most people
aren't ready the first time we contact them, but we must give them a
chance to become interested. Invite them to activities, or invite them
to english class. Many people are interested in learning english from
native speakers. In coming to these activities people can start to get
comfortable with us and the church, as well as meet members and other
amis. And oftentimes this leads to them becoming interested and
eventually wanting to receive lessons. But one thing we did this last
transfer that really speeded up the process, was after every english
class, we had a 30 minute spiritual message in french. We made sure
people knew it was not obligatory to stay, but it gave us a good
opportunity to explain our purpose as missionaries, how we are here,
yes to help people with everyday things such as English, but our main
purpose here in France is to help people come unto Christ and progress
spiritually. For the most part, the students at english class chose to
stay for the spiritual thought. Then they heard us, or other members
bare testimony about Jesus Christ or the Book of Mormon, and then the
next week they stay again, and eventually they trust us and want to
learn more. Then it just takes the courage to ask if they would like
to start meeting with us regularly. We found alot of amis through
english class, and saw people who at first were not at all willing to
talk about god, become very good progressing amis.

Ok. Ben again. I have to bounce though. I love you much. Mom, the gardening at the new house is looking LOVELY. You are a professional. You can do my house too... when I get one.


Elder Coburn

Monday, June 6, 2011

I'm getting sick of writing about how happy I am but there is just nothing else to talk about...

There actually is one sad thing I can write about: Elder Pieper is getting transferred to Nogent, a suburb of Paris. It's a little weird to be attached to someones hip for 3 months straight and then just to be separated one day. I really really love Elder Pieper. It has been the best two transfers of my mission. I'll be sad to send him off on the train to Paris.

My new companion is Elder Bjerga. He's from Norway!! Most notably that means that I am 0 for 7 on Utah companions. Elder Bjerga actually lived in Utah though for like the second half of his life but I'm not going to count it. He was in the same mtc group as Elder Pieper.

Last night Elder Pieper and I called Sister Staheli to tell her how thoroughly content we are with our two transfers together. This past transfer we taught 103 lessons. Sister Staheli said she thinks that might be a record. Combined with last transfer we have taught 192 together in Reims. Of course numbers aren't the most important thing but we think it is fun. On our way to the chapel this morning we got a call from the Assistants full of praise and thanks about this past transfer. They said that what we are is what they want the entire mission to be. It was sweet. I love attention. They asked us to email them about what we learned and what we did to make our transfer so good. So I chose three things to write them about: Unity, obedience, and planning. They are three things that I really believe in. This is what I wrote:

We believe in being unified. In John 17:21-22 Christ prays for us to be one in the same way that He and the Father are one. That means we need to have the same goals and objectives. We need to be working for the same thing. One very effective way that we did this was to read the entire Book of Mormon together in one transfer. During personal study every morning we would always read the same 20 pages, then for companionship study we would talk about what we read and how to use it in our lessons that day. Another thing we noticed is that unity does not come while sitting around the apartment. Hard work unifies. Success unifies. Disappointments and trials unifie. Alma and Amulek seemed pretty unified in prison together, but they didn't get into prison by sitting on their lazyboys and eating baguettes. Work is a key to unity.

We believe in obedience. Our 3rd week together we taught 22 lessons and had two separate baptismal dates. Then we bought Schtroupfie. Schtroupfie was a 2 euro goldfish from a marché. Obviously we knew it was against the rules, but it was just a goldfish. Dumb, dumb, dumb. After keeping Schtroumpfie in an old pretzel container for a week we lost both our baptismal dates and our lesson count get chopped in half. Even if it wasn't 100% because of our disobedience, it might as well have been. God works in mysterious ways and he sure taught us our lessons. Schtroupfie now lives with in a recent convert's aquarium where he is happy and so are we. To obey is to follow God's will. We're lucky to be missionaries because we have a nifty little white book that tells us exactly what his will is for us. We have testimonies that being obedient to even the smallest things brings the biggest blessings.

We believe in planning. It is thoroughly impossible to teach 20 lessons a week without planning. It's like trying to shoot clay pigeons (or real pigeons) with your eyes closed. Planning takes time and it takes picking up the phone to make calls. It seems like or phone call to rendez-vous ratio was about 10 to 1. Some phone calls are awkward, awkward, awkward, but you have to do it! Planning also takes forgetting one's self. Rdv's always should come first. There have been so many days when our plans left us no time to go home for lunch, but we felt like it was better to be teaching. Above all however, it comes down to what President Staheli said: we can not put our will in line with Heavenly Father's will without planning as a companionship every single day. It is essential if we want His help. He can show us where the clay pigeons are.

This week we made really good progress our Chinese ami, Yiping. She has been coming to English class for to past several weeks and at our invitation she has also been coming to church with her two little kids! She is very nice and very social. At the beginning she didn't know anything about God, but now she recognizes and feels the Spirit when she is with us. She prays and comes to church because she knows that she will learn good things there. She is using this weekend to pray about a baptismal date for June 25th. She is very shocked that we think she is ready, but I think she knows herself that she has found something that is true and good. So we have our fingers crossed.

It has been SOOO HOTTT in Reims this weeks. It's crazy weather. It will just be hot hot hot in the daytime, and then there are crazy storms in the night time. Last night for example we were sleeping on the balcony when Elder Pieper woke me up to go inside because it was pouring rain on us and thundering and lighting ilke nobody's showbiz. I would've never noticed though.

Also this week we went to an international horse jumping competition that was taking place in the park right next to us. It made me miss riding horses with Hannah and working on their ranch. We also went to a huge medieval festival in centre-ville. There were lots of people dressed up, lots of sausages, and lots of other crazy stuff. It was a lot like the Renaissance Festival.

Hmm. I guess I should go.

I love you all so much. Clearly it is one of the brightest parts of my week to read all your emails :)

Love, Elder Coburn