Monday, October 31, 2011

HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAYS!!! Jordan is SEVENTEEN today. Holy cow. What a champion. Also Jordan, good call on going to Chipotle for the birthday. I've actually been talking about Chipotle a lot this week. I miss it so much! You just go ahead and stick a candle in that burrito. And then eat an extra on for me. And mother, really? Another birthday? How do you do it? One could never tell. You don't look a day older than the day I left.

In response to mom's question: for Christmas... socks and ties? Probably not. I'm drowning in ties and I just bought a bunch of new socks. In all it's reality and ungloriousness, money in the account is definitely the most attractive option. You see, I am quite a fan of all this whole french clothing thing, and well... the big sales are right after Christmas/before I come home. So that is kind of where my heart is lying. Although I would definitely appreciate a little package of cheap American candy and doo dads to open on Christmas morning :)

Answer to dad's question: Luxembourg is RICCHHHH. Holy cow. BUT, really really pretty and I don't think that the people there are very proud about their wealth. The people are apparently a lot nicer than french people. It is a very cool place to go. I highly recommend it. Especially at night. Sounds like the football world is spinning just like it always has. I love your updates.

Josh, way to go snagging those iphone 4's. I've got my mind set on one for when I get home (hint to the parents). Everyone and there dog in France has an iphone 4. And everyyyybody has a dog.

Well, we set a baptismal date this week. We were just passing by a few people's addresses out of the area book, and we stumbled upon a cool guy named Georges. During our rendez-vous I was like, we can totally set a date with him. Then the Spirit confirmed that when he said "I have everything I want, but I don't have what I need. Something is missing in my life." So we explained about baptism and why we set dates as goals with people, and then he chose his own date and he prayed about it himself at the end of the lesson. He is really cool. We will probably end up pushing back the date because he will have to get married in the meantime, but I have a lot of faith in him. He sent us a text the other day to tell us that he had already started reading the Book of Mormon. He even put a smiley face in the text :)We have a member of the bishopric that doesn't live far away that is going to come start teaching with us. Good stuff.

We are also teaching an incredible man named Jean-Michel. He has a house, a mini-van, two little girls, and a wife. He is one of the most soft, kind people I've ever met. He took notes during our lesson this week about how his family can be together forever. He is amazing. We hope to see him with a different member of the bishopric. When I asked him the "will you be baptized if you find out that it's true?" question, he answered with "yes" before I had even finished my sentence.

We didn't get to see Kevin this week, but he seems to be doing well and we hope to see him soon. We had a good lesson with Erasto about the Sabbath day, but then he still didn't come to church :( and we saw a good number of other people around town too. We have been doing a lot of contacting lately and it is paying off with new people to see every week.

Last night Elder Hales and I went to Catholic mass in the Nancy cathedral. It is the second time I've been to a mass on my mission. Very cool. Last time was in Evry so all the Africans were pretty evangelical about it, and this time was almost all elderly french people and it stayed pretty calm. I think it is a really good experience to go to mass. Practically everyone we teach and invite to church is Catholic so it's good to know what they are used to. Elder Hales and I also got some good harmonies going on during their hymns and stuff. It enthralls me how much their is a cut off in religious belief between the old generation and the young generation in France. It is like black and white. Nobody knows what is going to happen to the Catholic church because in 20 years there will not be a whole lot of people filling the cathedrals. Nine out of ten young people that we talk to were baptised Catholic as a baby, no longer believe in God, and don't plan on giving their children any sort of a religious experience. Kind of sad. Hmm.

Guess where I got to go this week??? REIMS!!!! I got to go back for a day because I had to do some stuff to update my visa and that is where all of my legal work is being done. I ADORE that city. Nancy is good but Reims still feels like home. Dang I love that place. I was smiling the entire day long. I even ran into Yiping (our old investigator) on the street! I also got to go see Guillaume, the most awesome recent convert. Oh Reims. So so good. Elder Hales seemed to quite enjoy the tour of my old city too. I am going to have to go back one more time in a month or two, so then I will have seen it in every season :)

This week I will not be in Nancy very much. Tomorrow and Wednesday I am going on an exchange in Versailles with one of the AP's (from Portugal). I am way excited about that. Versailles is gorgeous. Then when Elder Hales and I are reunited we are going down to city of Mulhouse to do a training for their district and then we are both staying there for exchanges until Friday. Crazy. Next week we have two more trips to Paris too.

Happy happy Halloween. The Nancy zone leader companionship is sporting matching orange ties to celebrate the occasion. All four of us in Nancy are going to a big scary cemetery tonight and we might go to the town fair before that :) Want to here one of my new favorite Halloween jokes?? How many vampires does it take to screw in a light bulb? None. Vampires like the dark. ha. ha. haaa. My kind of humor :)

Well, that's about it for this week. Love you loads. Happy Halloween (and birthdays!) It's funny... I remember emailing you two about your bdays one whole year ago :)

Avec tout mon amour,
Elder Ben Coburn
Dear Coburn Clan... and guests.

What do you want to know about? What I did this week? What I'm wearing right now? The weather in Nancy? Well I'm wearing a white shirt and tie (obvious), and it's pretty dang cold outside. We've had a heavy winter week have been wearing coats and scarves everyday. I cut my hair last night. I ate chocolate chip granola for breakfast this morning. I still haven't found any mittens to buy for this winter (but a member tipped me off to where I can find some). Umm, I went on exchanges in Luxembourg this week. I made chocolate chip cookies this week and they're all gone. And... did lots of other enjoyable stuff.

In the missionary area, we did a lot of door knocking this week and we taught a lot of cool students. We taught a Venezualan named Jesus, an Iranian named Mamod, an African named Duran, an Enlish guy named Vaughan, and talked to and met a lot of other cool students. There are so many foreigners in France. As irony would have it, our best new ami out of everyone is Jesus. Our rendez-vous went super well. Most of the others though we are probably not going to be seeing again. We had nice lessons with all of them, but they weren't incredibly interested. Oh and a bonus: last night we went out porting (knocking) and we kept saying "man, we just need to find another person like Jesus!" and then the first door we hit was another Venezualan and we're going to go see him tomorrow :) I need to learn Spanish. Speaking of Spanish, I did actually teach a lesson in Sanish this week. It was during my exchange in Luxembourg with Elder Canonica (a swiss missionary) who was called Spanish speaking. We taught a midgit from Peru, so that was kinda weird. I picked up most everything being said when he was speaking, but most of what the peruvian lady said went over my head. I got a few sentences in here and there. Yo soy Elder Coburn. Tengo hambre.

We saw Kevin this week again; but only once. It was good. He is changing so much. He was happy, smiling, and laughing. He has started to pray on his own now and is hopefully going down to the temple in Switzerland this week for the mariage of Josselyn's brother. That would be cool. Erasto is also really cool as always. He is progressing. We had a great lesson where we taught the Gospel of Christ trying to show how the Bible and Book of Mormon work together. It went really well. The Bible and Book of Mormon complete each other.

Oh, another cool thing. Two weeks ago on the way home from Paris I talked to a guy in the train named Charlie. He is a GI in the french army with a wife and kids. We talked about the Book of Mormon a lot, and the conversation ended in him promising to read it, and that I could call him in two weeks to see what he thought. So I called him this week and asked if he had been able to read it at all. He said he was about halfway through it. Halfway WHAT? "Have you already read about when Christ comes?" I said? "Yeah, I already am passed that." he replied. Mirrracle!!! Remember how we spend all day everyday trying to get people to read even one little chapter of the Book of Mormon? Yeah. He said that in one more week he will have finished it and we can set up a rendez-vous to talk about it. He lives in Strasbourg, so that rendez-vous might not be with us, but it's okay. Go Charlie.

There was a funeral in our ward this friday. It was for a sister that I never met, but I know her children pretty well. They are my age. Hard hard hard. I didn't think I would cry at all, but that was a futile attempt. Thank goodness for the Plan of Salvation. I don't know how people do funerals without knowing that they are going to see the person again.
On Sunday Elder Hales and I did a special musical number for sacrement meeting. We did a piano/organ duet of Nearer My God to Thee that we have been arranging for the last several weeks. I played piano with lots of little twiddle dees and dums and Elder Hales powered through on the organ. It was realllly cool. I think it was the first time the organ had been used in like 3 years. We got lots of thank yous and such and there were a couple people crying afterward too. I wish you could've been there :) We are going to try and do another one before we get transferred. Sometimes when Elder Hales and I are just messing around on the organ and we play songs with hard bass lines, we sit side by side and he does the hands and I do the feet. That's fun.

I love you a lot. The missionary work here is getting better and better. Thank you for your prayers.

Elder Benjamin
Ps, I think I want to name one my my kids Hayden James Coburn. Yes? No? Wait to run it by the wifey?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Well yesterday marks... (drumroll)... 16 MONTHS. Sixteen hard cold months. One month for every year that Jordan is old. 42 months. 1.33333 years.

So that's kinda weird.

We had once again a great week. We've been on a roll. I'm starting to become more "satisfied" with the work in Nancy the longer I'm here and this past week was definitely our best. We had several occasions to teach lessons with members present and a good number of other lessons too. We're starting to work really well with certain members and gaining a lot of confidence from the ward.

Our big miracle this week was the following: For several weeks now we've been working with a less active named Josselyn who has recently been coming to church a lot more. He is 19 years old. This week we had a rendez-vous set with him, and then he canceled it the day of (which has been a bit of a trend in the past). I told him I was kind of bothered that he kept doing that, and then we set a rendez-vous for the next day with him promising me that he'd be there. The next day we were at the church waiting for him and I kind of was getting bugged again because it was 30 minutes past the hour and he still hadn't showed up. So I kept playing piano, etc, etc. Then the doorbell rings and it is Josselyn and his friend Kevin. Kevin is the kind of kid that I just want to reach out to and hug. He was dressed in all black, a little bit shy, and had his head hanging down underneath his long hair. He is also 19 years old. His family situation is a disaster and he had came to Josselyn, an old friend, needing help. That is why Josselyn had canceled the rendez-vous the day before. Josselyn, also a shy person, felt that the gospel of Jesus Christ was the only real cure for Kevin's situation. Through tears and embarrasment Kevin told us about his problems and how he has never believed in God. He told us that he was about as far as anyone could ever be from having faith and that he felt more alone than ever. What do you say to that? We taught him about his worth and we taught him about God. We said everything that we felt like we should. In the end it was a spiritual rendez-vous and Kevin and Josselyn walked back out of the church into the cold afternoon. After that I didn't really think we were going to see Kevin again. But, low and behold, guess who shows up on Sunday wearing a suit? I think it was the first time in Kevin's life that he had put one on. It was Josselyn's dad's suit. He was at church for all three hours. During priesthood we took him out and taught him the Plan of Salvation. It was one of those times when it all just makes perfect sense. Kevin had changed since the first time we had seen him. He had a little bit of light shining in his face. He said that as he had listened to Josselyn's prayers throughout the week, he had started to think or believe that maybe there actually was something there. Josselyn said that it was like we were in a dark room and he had grabbed Kevin's hand and put it on the iron rod. Kevin also said that ever since the first time he walked into the church that good things had started happening in his life. He sang all the hymns with us too. We are going to see Kevin tomorrow to teach him about the Restoration. Please pray for him :) I'll attach a picture of us three.

We recieved our new missionary this week. Elder Stephenson from England! He is from Sheffield. We really really like him and are having a great time. It is his first transfer and he is super excited about the work which is awesome. Oh happy chuffin' days.

Erasto is doing well but couldn't come to church this week. Umm... we are going to Luxembourg again this week. Wish us luck ;)

okay I've got to go. I pray for you and love you. Keep having fun over there :)

Love, Elder Coburn

Monday, October 10, 2011

What time is it?? Summer time! Time for vacations! What time is it?? Family timme! It's time for e-mails! ....just a little treat for all you high school musical junkies out there.

WELL. It seems like I'm always starting off emails with that word. Well it rained almost all week here. Cold cold rain. I had my winter coat pulled out a few times. Looks like Ohio has been pawning off all it's crappy weather over to France. I also have a pretty nasty cold because of it. Sore throat and stuffy stuffy nose. Blech. Snot is like my arch-nemesis. Oh well, we still had a good week. Once again we ended up on a lot of trains. On wednesday we did exchanges with the assistants so I had to ride an hour and a half into Paris, trade companions, and then ride and hour and a half back to Nancy. The next day I rode an hour and a half into Paris, switched back companions and rode back to Nancy again. The next day we had to ride an hour and a half to Strasbourg, do a baptismal interview, and then ride an hour and a half home. Those pesky hours start adding up pretty quick. So far this week we only have one trip to Strasbourg planned for district meeting on Thursday. I love that place. We may have to go there as a family. It is def the prettiest city I've ever seen (search pictures if you want). On Tuesday this week we are going over to the Salway's apartment (the senior missionary couple here) and having a goodbye brunch for Elder Burke. He is going up to Normandy. Getting the transfer email this week was really exciting. Elder Hales and I are obviously ecstatic to stay together, we didn't at all expect to be separated. Elder Bise is going to have so much fun training his bleu this transfer. I love being in a 4 man apartment with them. Nancy is the first time I've been in a 4 man.

There is one American family that lives in Nancy, and this morning we helped him move :( . They are moving to Germany. Sad day. Their parents came out for a few weeks to help them move and stuff. It was really cool to hang out with a bunch of Americans. The dad is a big farmer from Idaho and Elder Bise and I kept cracking up over his American humor. So funny. We were also really amused by all his expressions like "chip off the old block" and "that's why they pay me the big bucks." I miss Americans. I was amazed at how smoothly this move went compared to the french people we helped move this last friday. Haha, the Americans had it all planned out and it was super efficient, and the french family was just kinda like joy riding around in the moving truck with mirrors and cabinets and crap smashing around in the back. We had some good laughs with them. The french people are actually a really good situation though. They are part of 3 inactive families we just found that are all related, and two of the husbands aren't members. Sweet. Those families also led us to another lady that we met. We saw her up in her attic like apartment and mainly just sang her a few hymns. There was like 8 years worth of spider-webby nic-nacs piled up everywhere and a cat was running around shedding all over the place. Mmmm.

Remember Erasto that I told you about last week? We had a muuchh better lesson with him this week. He is really cool. We talked about the restoration and he said he would read and pray and that he really just wanted to know for himself if it was true. He doesn't want to know for his mormon girlfriend, but for himself. We are seeing him tomorrow. Cross your fingers and pray! Every sunday at the beginning of priesthood meeting we do a "missionary miracle minute," and so for this week we talked about Erasto and invited everyone to pray for him with us. The members here are great.

I really love my mtc group. There are 18 of us in a mission of 180. Holy cow. It's cool to see everyone grow and progress. Eight of the sixteen zone leaders this transfer are from our group. Sweeeeet (like how dad says it). Speaking of how dad does stuff, I've been copying his way of recieving compliments. Like how he puckers his lips, squints his eyes, and nods his head up and down. Hahahahha. "Good shootin' tex" says dad.
And, "hey cool ben, can you run grab my scriptures upstairs?"
"Why me?"
"Cause you're the fastest one."
"Oh yeah, sweet. Okay" *as I pucker my lips, squint my eyes, and run upstairs.

I just emailed Brandon from Reims. I think he is currently in Ethiopia for a marathon. I love him. Also, Josée from Reims has a new baptismal date for December.

Umm... i finally got the letter today from the Springboro primary. They were so CUTE. my favorite was Julia Bruun. She told me that she likes to sing :) Me too.

Okayyyy. I have to go. I love you. Keep writing me ;)

Elder Ben

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Wow. Six weeks goes by so fast huh? Elder Hales and I are both staying in Nancy another transfer :) :)
The other companionship that lives with us is changing though. Elder Burke is leaving and and Elder Bise is staying to train a new missionary. NO JOKES WILL BE PLAYED ON HIM... none. We think he will be French.
So all four of us are hoping to stay another transfer after that and be in Nancy for Christmas. Elder Bise (who I ADORE) and his bleu are basically for sure staying for Christmas because of a new two transfer training system. Elder Hales and I would be going three transfers together if he stays for Christmas and we are just okay with that. Elder Decker (Sean, my roommate) just became zone leader in Belgium. I love him.
It has gotten really really cold and wet here lately. Yuk. How is Cleveland? Good I hope. The trees here are so pretty. One of my favorite parts of this region are all the hills and mountains and the colorful trees all over them :)
K. That's my two cents. Love you!!!!!!!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Alors. Bonjour encore! Il fait plaisir de parler avec sa famille. Surtout quand tu as la mienne.

Ok. Conference is SO GOOD. I said it once and I'll say it again -general conference is like the super bowl for missionaries. Except better. This time I got to watch most of it in English while sitting on couches and eating in the Young Adults Center. J'adore ça. My favorite talks?? All of them. But seriously. Most especially though I loved:
Elder Packer's about the youth of the church being raised in enemy territory and about repentance.
Elder Holland's about missionaries being the "recruits in war."
Carl B. Cook about "it's better to look up."
(Inside my head right now is like "dang it I loved them all!" continuing...)
Elder Christopherson about relative standards vs. God's standards
Elder Hales about trials and suffering
Tad R. Callister just dominated all around. He talked about the Book of Mormon.
And then obviously all three of the First Presidency. President Monson was getting pretty wild up at that podium :)

We don't really get to watch the Sunday evening session so I have no idea about those talks yet. The main four themes that stuck out to me all around were: Missionary work, Repentance, The Book of Mormon, and being in the world but not of the world.

Also, ever since the talk about looking up instead of down I have really just been trying to do that. Physically and spiritually. It totally works. No wonder President Monson is always so happy!

We had a pretty good week this week. We found three new amis to teach! One is a way cool Malagasy guy named Erasto. He is currently engaged to a girl from Utah and planning on going out there in December. So... we're talking about why she wants to be married in a temple, etc... He has a lot of deep questions. Like about baptisms for the dead and the 2nd coming happening in America...? Our lesson was pretttty messy but this weeks will be good. Another new ami is a 40 year old single man that says he believes in God, but he doesn't want to go further than that. We are trying to tell him that if we have true faith in God, then we are pushed to act on that faith. The very fact to 'believe' in God and Christ but not do anything is sort of contradictory in itself. The other new ami is a 60 year old woman from Africa with really short bleached yellow hair that takes care of aged people. She's hilarious. She supposed to be reading the Book of Mormon this week and we see her again tomorrow morning.

So in between all that we basically had the most out of control week of my life. We went to five different cities and two different countries. Zone leadering = drainnning. Tuesday we went to Strasbourg for our district meeting, Wednesday we went up to Luxembourg to give our training in their district meeting, wednesday and thursday we did exchanges with the Elders up in Metz, and then Friday we went into Paris for another zone leader conference in the mission home. Which led us back to home sweet home in Nancy for the weekend. And then somehow it was still our most productive week this transfer. Cool. Going to Luxembourg was my first time leaving France so far (a lot of other missionaries serve in Belgium). In Luxembourg there is an elder and a sister equipe (one of which is Sis. McClaine that was in the mtc and Evry with me. She goes home next transfer.) Anyway, so we get to Luxembourg, and the elders that were supposed to meet us on our train weren't there (they had missed the train up to Luxembourg). That's when the chaos started. How 'bout we just call them to find out where they are? Oh. Our phone can't make calls in Luxembourg. How 'bout we just ask 20 random people to borrow their phones? Oh. None of the calls worked. How 'bout we just walk around, try and find an internet cafe, search the church address and get there by ourselves? Oh. No internet cafés in the area. ON TOP OF ALL THAT EVERYBODY WAS SPEAKING LIKE A TWENTY CRAZY LANGUAGES AND LOOKING AT US WEIRD FOR SPEAKING FRENCH TO THEM. I was scared to death. Not really, but I was like highly flustered. All the trains, buses, languages, people, EVERYTHING was foreign to us, and we had zero communication with anyone. How 'bout we go into a Best Western Hotel and ask for help? Good idea. A cute little worker got us the church address (which was on the other side of the city/country) and told us which bus to get on. So poor Elder Hales and Elder Coburn book their little rear-ends across town to go buy tickets and catch the bus. By now we were a good hour late for district meeting. Then the other missionaries called. "Hey where are you guys??" WHERE DO YOU THINK WE ARE?!?! We were having to practice our charity big time. I was so so so frustrated. So then we get to the church, listen attentively to the district leader training, and then he calls on me for the closing prayer. I say "are Elder Hales and I not doing our training?" Oops. That part had somehow been forgotten. So we did our training in 5 minutes, ate some food, talked to some people, and went back to Nancy.

Other than that Luxembourg is gourgeous. Like, really, really gourgeous. And it's a good district, the communication part just kind of failed. We laugh about it now... sort of :)

Ok, I must be going. Luckily it is a very calm week this week. I love you and pray for you :)

Elder Coburn