Love, Elder Coburn
Monday, September 26, 2011
In the leafy tree tops the birds say good morning. Good Morning! Well, not the hottest week this week. Francoise, our baptismal date has taken a 180 degree turn right back to where she was. It's weird. She has been saying stuff on the phone that is completely opposite of what she was saying in our rdv's last week. I feel like after such a long time of missionary life I am kind of getting dulled to feeling pain when investigators take a turn for the worst. It's like I'm starting to just accept it and think that it is normal. I don't think that it's a good habit to be falling into. I think that I dull myself to it because I don't want to invest my whole self in an investigator and then be so torn up when that person goes south. I hate feeling sad! But what I'm discovering is that if I don't invest myself in these people, then I end up feeling like an uncommitted and complacent missionary. And nobody likes those. It's exactly like someone that doesn't put their wholeself into a relationship because they don't want to get hurt when they break up (except I'm far from being in love with anyone here). In the end I think it comes back to the fact that this life is designed to be like that. To have highs, life has to have lows. When I choose to not invest my wholeself in someone, I may skip over some of the heartbreak if that person goes south, but I don't think I would fully experience the joy of that person progressing either. It comes down to simply not caring for my brothers and sisters as much as I could. Not reaching my possibility. Also, it is ridiculously selfish to try to keep all of myself to myself. After 6 baptismal dates now that haven't happened (I should probably stop keeping the running tally, right?), I feel like I am starting to pull back more and more into my shell. I don't want to keep being hurt! That's natural right? But was Christ not hurt already for me? The Christ invested His wholeself into us with a love unselfish and unfeigned. Who are we to try and treat each other with anything less than that love? After putting his whole being into our salvation He felt a pain undulled and undeserved. Is that not the same exact pain I feel on a much smaller scale every time that someone rejects His message? So then I'm left asking myself when the storm will be calmed and the waves will settle down. If a low exists, then there must be a high out there somewhere. It has to come eventually right? For Christ it came three days after His atoning sacrifice. He rose again to lead the way for us to rise again -but aside from our personal resurrections, I think there is a key application on a much smaller scale as well. The coldest part of the night is right before the sun rises, and so it can be in our day to day struggles and sufferings. To experience the sunrises of this mortal experience, we are often called to go through cold nights. They can be frighteningly cold. We know however, that no matter what the suffering, Jesus Christ will be there with "everlasting mercy to gather us." That is where we experience the sunrise, the calm sea, or the long worked for baptism. Nothing good has ever come without the investment of one's self and perseverance. I am thankful for the challenges of my mission and for the endless opportunities I am given to give of myself to others. I am thankful for the opportunity to invest myself in Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. I love you guys. SO MUCH.
Monday, September 19, 2011
One more week, one more email, and we're all a little bit older. This week... hmm... Ok. Story: Last P-day right after I emailed you guys Elder Hales and I decided to go shopping and look for stylish, faddish clothing. The kind that young people wear. Like... us. Well, just like every week it turns out that it is all too expensive so we decide to mosy on home. While walking home I randomly said hi to an African lady that was walking past us with a stroller and two little kids walking along. Good idea. After she was about 10 meters behind me I heard her say "merci." So we were like "woahhh horsey," and we turned around to go talk to her. It went something like "We're missionaries. We talk about Jesus Christ! Oh you love Jesus too?! Here is a book about His visit to America! We can really come talk to you about it tomorrow?" So we went to see Françoise the next day in her little house and had one of the most wonderful lessons. We taught the first lesson up until the Great Apostasy, and then I asked her "how would you feel to be in an apostasy?" She said that we basically were already in one. She said that everyone in the world was kind of lost and didn't know what to believe anymore. "Françoise, our message to the world is that we are no longer in a state of apostasy and that the true church of Christ has been restored." The Spirit entered the room at that moment. I stopped everything I was saying and just told her that I could feel the Spirit at that moment. Clutching her heart and with tears coming to her eyes she said that she had never felt a warmth inside her like that before. We invited her to be baptized when she knew it was true and she said that she already did. We set a baptismal date with her for October 8th. After teaching her more about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon later that week, she once again confirmed that she knew it was true. "There are only good things in this book" she said while holding the Book of Mormon. Then she said "You know, when Christ was on the earth himself, nobody believed his message or accepted Him as the truth that we was. It's the exact same with opposition to the church in our day. I know that it's true. I know there will be trials and challenges, but I'm ready." At least that was the general idea of what she said. She is wonderful.
This week Elder Hales and I also traveled down into the Southern Alsace Region of France. We went to the far reach of our zone to do a training for the district. It is GORGEOUS. Just like mom. But holy cow. Like mountains and castle ruins on all the tip tops and green and lots of rivers. Also, we could see Germany from there (you can see the mountains). It was nice, but our training only turned out okay. We didn't really feel like we captured the attention of those 6 missionaries. Afterwards I went on an exchange with Elder Harevaa, the Tahitian in our zone. He is sweet. Like the type of guy that has killed sharks with his bare hands and goes fishing with a spear gun. He doesn"t speak any English yet. He's been out about 4 transfers but it seems like he really misses Tahiti. Who wouldn't? We were in the city of Colmar. It's in the part of france (still Alsace) where all the houses have the timber framing and cute little disneyland colors.
This week we did a lot of stuff for the Young Single Adult weekend. They transformed the church into the plan of salvation, and Elder Hales and I were "missionaries in the Spirit World." Every room in the church was a different stage of the Plan of Salvation. It was neat. At the end, there was a talk by a temple sealer that made me want to go to the temple again sooo bad. I haven't been for over a year. Ca fait longtemps!
Other than that.... hmm. President didn't quite seem to make it for our weekly Sunday brunch. Our work has continued to get bigger. In fact, our numbers have doubled every week this transfer. I'm not sure how long that can last though... the digits start getting pretty big pretty fast :) Hmm. Yup, that seems like it's about it for this week. I am so grateful that Heavenly Father gives me, Ben Coburn, a chance to take part in His work. It is amazing to see how He works. I love you guys :)
Monday, September 12, 2011
Family! I'm trying something new. I decided to write my family email before I read all of yours and then hopefully my brain won't be so distracted as I write this.
So. It's P-day. All the same, we had a rendez-vous this morning with a great new woman we contacted in the street a few days ago. Her name is Florence. We talked to her in the street... Gave her a Book of Mormon... asked if we could come over to talk about it... went over and talked about it. It is one of the first people that we have really been able to find ourselves and start teaching since I've been here. This week was Stake Conference. It was good. We sang in the young single adults choir. President and Sister Poznanski came out to the Nancy Stake for the weekend which was sweet. And... guess what??? We invited them over to our apartment to come eat with us and they totally did. It was actually pretty lucky seeing as there are 180 missionaries and three countries in our mission (France, Belgium, Luxembourg). Our apartment had never looked so clean as it did when they came. They said it was the first time that they had ever eaten at a missionary apartment... natural. It was way fun. They came over for lunch on sunday and I cooked. It was a grated carrot salad with a vinagerette (very french) for starters, and then we had a cool creamy vegetable pasta afterwards... then ice cream and cake. I feel so comfortable around President Poznanski. He isn't scared to show us his human side, but at the same time it is so clear that he is a very inspired man. So we got lots of brownie points this weekend... just kidding. But really.
One day this week I had a really stupid idea to go contacting in this really big park that I found on the map. After looking at the map I was imagining like a nicely manicured park with like a cool chateau in it. Well, when we got there we found an overgrown mexican-like forest park with horse trails and a "chateau" that had like 1 of 4 walls left. Then... we kind of got lost in the mexican forest... walked like 3 miles... tried to descend a few really steep forested hills... failed... rested... walked... got out of that wretched weed patch like 3 hours later. Good time usage.
Last night we went to eat at some really awesome members' house. Guillaume and Marine. They are brother and sister and have only been members for 2 yrs and 6 months respectively, and they are both our age. They are SO cool. They remind us of BYU students. It is cool to be with young people. The chapel here has a young single adults center that is brand new and really nice. There is a senior missionary couple that runs it and we are really trying to find a lot of young people to help them fill it up. Oh- also I figured out this weekend that the Nancy chapel is the biggest chapel in all of Europe. It's pretty big :) The largeness of the gym has led us to invent a new game. All four missionaries run around and try to kick/throw/head butt volleyballs at each other. There are no rules. It's called Freeball. No injuries yet.
There is a construction site right across from our 12th story apartment. Every morning we all huddle along the window and watch the construction progress. We have names for all the workers, but mainly we just refer to them as the squabbies. They keep making really cool cranes. Those things are huge. Wealways talk in our british accents and relate the whole construction site to our little imaginary story: Pirates of the Crane-ibbean. For example, there is the Black Crane, the Interceptor Crane... and "It's a shilling to tie up your crane at the dock!.....What do you say to 3 shillings and we forget the crane?" and.... "there's no crane as can match the interceptor for speed.....I've heard of one. It's supposed to be very fast, nie uncatchable. The Black Crane.......Well, theres no real crane, as can match the interceptor."
I love you a lot. I'm excited to read your emails. Love Love Love.
Monday, September 5, 2011
Well, here I am in the lovely city of Nancy. My new address is a winner... plenty of random letters, numbers, and slashes. Here it is:
Elder Benjamin Coburn
B.P. 614d 13/15, Blvd. Joffre
I really love this city already. That was kind of to be expected though, it's Nancy! It's one of the cities that a lot of missionaries want to go to. It's also a brand new addition to the mission so it's all mysterious n' such. On Friday Elder Hales and I went to the mission home for a zone leader conference. The mission home is reallllly nice. It was the first time I had been back to the mission home in more than a year!! It was so cool. We all sat around the big dining room table and discussed the 'finer matters of the mission.' I felt like dad in a fancy business conference setting. It was all in french which was really cool. I feel so comfortable around President Poznanski. He is kind of like... dominating. Everything in the mission is getting streamlined and whipped into shape. I love it. President Poznanski and his wife will be out here in Nancy this weekend for stake conference and we (the four elders in Nancy) are trying to get them to come over to our apartment for dinner. That would be sweet... I'd be the one cooking :) Our apartment is smack dab in the center of Nancy. We live on the 12th story of a big building right across from the train station. That is way convenient because we take trains multiple times each week to get to other cities and other missionaries. Because we're zone leaders we will soon be visiting the three districts in our zone to give trainings. We are going to be talking about "being a consecrated missionary." We want to discuss how Heavenly Father will always keep his promises if we keep ours too. If we are consecrated missionaries, Heavenly Father will grant us the miracles and the baptisms that we are seeking. We will also be leading a training for the whole zone during interviews and we will be talking about "spiritual finding." Relying on our faith to find new people to teach, instead of relying on ourselves. We want each companionship to be able to find a young new family to teach this transfer.
The work in Nancy seems pretty slow right now. It's a huge change after Reims. This week we had a whopping 1 lesson, and it was with a lady that we found in a park one afternoon (it was actually a really really great lesson though). The ward is about the same size as Reims, but a lot more lively. Nancy is the stake center and it is the biggest chapel I've ever seen in France. There is even a gym there! What a luxury!!
Okay, I've got to go. We're going to the church to play 4 square with the other Nancy team tonight. Sweet.
Sounds like all is going well on the home front. I love you guys.