Monday, May 28, 2012

Hellllllo!!!!! I hope that you are all having a wonderful time with the wedding stuff in Arizona. I hope and assume that everything went wonderfully. Things are going well here. It's really hot and I've worked up some lovely tan lines on my arms and neck. This afternoon we are going to play some baskteball with a member, Simon (about to go on his mission), that I've been trash talking ever since I got here. He is probably going to win. I haven't touched a basketball in a long time. We have a cool new ami named Darell that is super into sports and a he came and played soccer and frisbee with us and the young adults. His mom is a member so I have high hopes for him to get baptised. He is supposed to come play basketball with us today too. He is the black one in the picture. 

We set another baptismal date this week. It is with our ami Isabelle, but then neither her nor Rebecca came to church yesterday so we will have to see how things play out. They are both very good amis though.

This week we had a super legit african dinner with a blind member named Pédro. He is from Angola, a portugese speaking country. He used to be a pilot and a general in the military until he went blind in a helicopter accident in 2007. He said he has shook George Bush seniors hand from when he was a general. Cool man with an incredible amount of faith.

We also met a man (a 24 year old recent convert) this week that just got here from Germany (but he is african) and didn't have anywhere to sleep or any money or anything. When we met him he had already slept outside one night. So we spent an afternoon finding him a shelter type place to sleep, making calls to the bishop, and getting him around Nantes. It is a long story, but he is really nice and humble. He came to church and everyone is kind of taking care of him now. When we met him it kind of like "ruined" my day but in a good way. It just once again opened my eyes to how much we have and how much we take for granted. I always seem to have kind of an unavoidable guilt about how good I have it when I meet someone like that. I was really quiet for the rest of the day after we helped him out.

Good. We are going to Paris on thursday for a conference with Elder Teixeira of the seventy. It is going to be four or five hours and I got asked to do have of the translation (from english to french). It will be the second to last time I go to Paris on my mission. The next time will be "Paris P Day" the day before I fly home. Crazy stuff.

I love you! Make sure to send me lots of pictures of the marriage. Have a great week!

Elder Ben

Monday, May 21, 2012

What a wonderful week we have had. It is exactly the kind of week I want to finish my mission on. Hopefully everything continues to go so well and I can savor it all as it comes. 

Elder Dunn and I feel a little bit like President Monson back in his bishop days taking care of widows. We have 5 solid investigators right now and all 5 are young African mothers that have a baby. There is Rebecca, Rita, Sylviane, Jeanne, and Isabelle. With babies Orlainne, Marvelous, Naellia, Mwayai, and one other. They are all miracles for us to be teaching them. Rebecca, from Congo, fixed a baptismal date this week for June 9, and came to church for the second time with baby Orlainne. She is doing well. Jeanne and Isabelle, both from Ivory Coast, are her friends in the Red Cross maternity ward where she stays. They found out that she was getting baptized and basically said "we need to be baptized too!" We saw them for the first time yesterday after church and they are incredible. Isabelle wants to find faith and forgiveness, and Jeanne is already very believing and her eyes sparkle when she talks about Christ. Sylviane is a girl we ported into, has a verrry hyper 2 year old named Naellia, and is Martinique (so I guess she isn't African). We have our 2nd rdv with her tonight at the church, and a member (Audrey - baptized 3 weeks ago) is picking her up and bringing her. Rita is a native english speaker from Nigeria and is a miracle story in and of her self. Her story starts one year ago when I was in Reims. I remember being on the phone with some missionaries from the other mission in the south of France, and they told me they had a referral for our mission in Nantes. So I took down the information and passed it to the Nantes missionaries. That was that. So now one year later I was randomly flipping through one of my old Reims planners when I saw a referral for Nantes. I hadn't seen a teaching record for her or anything in the area book so Elder Murdock and I tried to pass by a couple times but never could catch her home (and by that I mean that we knocked on all the doors in the building except for one because it was playing loud Bob Marley like music and we thought it was the landlords door). So then this week Elder Dunn and I were back there again and knocked on that one last door to find Rita and her baby boy named Marvelous (we call him Marvy for short). She is amazing. She is the kind of person that just glows. Turns out that the "Bob Marley" was African gospel music and that she had never met the missionaries a year ago. I think it was all in the Lord's timing though because one year ago she would've been pregnant and it sounds like it was not the most opportune time for her to accept the gospel. But now there is no question in her mind or ours, that she has been prepared for the gospel. It is amazing how far in ahead God plans things. He knew this would happen before the world was even created. Incredible. So Rita is doing very well. One night she fed us chicken and rice, and then another night she came to the baptism at the church of the bishop's son. So it was a pretty incredible week (four out of the five were found this week). 

So speaking of the bishops son's baptism- it was incredible. The bishop and his wife are from Madagascar. They are the biggest blessing to this ward. They had so much Malgache (Malagasy) family in town for the baptism that I was easily in the minority as a white person. I wish I were Malgache... I'm like obsessed with them. The bishops wife is a caterer and went to towwwn on the food. They made fresh sushi for the first course (out of three) and I just filled up so much on that that I couldn't do the main course or dessert. People from Madagascar are also super into music. During the baptism I did a musical number with the bishop's 12 year old daughter, his wife, and the primary president. It was a medley of primary songs. I played piano and sang the guy parts, the wife and primary president sang the girls parts, and the 12 year old, Francesca, played violin. Me and Francesca are super tight now. She made me a sweet book mark for doing the musical number with them. Then afterwards when everyone was eating (there were about 100 people) the bishop's wife wanted live music for them to listen to, and so she asked me to play something so I scrambled and printed off the words to amazing grace and sung that and played it for everyone (i was miked), and then she asked me to do another something so I printed off the words to come thou fount, figured out the chords really quick, and sung it with a girl (another Malgache) from the ward who sang harmonies. That one turned out like realllly good sounding. It was the funnest evenings ever and Rita and Marvy loved it all. Well... at least Rita did. Marvy kind of just sat there and drooled n' such :)

Well, I'm excited that next time I hear from you guys Caleb will be MARRIED!!!!! Out of control. Have fun at the marriage, and make sure to send me lots of pictures. I'll be waiting patiently :)

Love you!!

Elder Ben

Monday, May 7, 2012

153 to 165 this week. And mom, I'm slightly offended that you think I'm exaggerating :)

Well Elder Murdock is getting transferred and I am resting cozy in Nantes to finish my mission. Elder Murdock is going to Troyes- a really neat city not far from Reims. My new (and last) companion is Elder Dunn. He is from Greeley, Colorado and grew up with Tanner :) So to follow the mission terminology, it is Elder Dunn that is going to "kill" me. 

Rebecca came to church on Sunday which was awesome. We've been praying for her and her baby so much. She really liked it, she said she might be ready for baptism in about a month :) So we will probably fix a date with her this Saturday when we go to see her. She is regaining faith little by little. Jean bore his testimony on Sunday. It was one of those "tear-your-heart-out-I-just-love-this-guy" sort of testimonies. He is such a trooper. He cried when Elder Murdock told him that he is getting transferred. It was so sad. He just got all quiet, then started crying, then kept saying "may God protect you." He treats us like royalty. Audrey (the other équipe's ami) got baptised on Saturday and more than half the ward was there. Audrey is super cool. She is french, 24 yrs old, getting her masters in law... really cool. I was a witness for the baptism, and the first time her dress didn't make it all the way under. I was only pretty sure that that meant we had to redo it, and the other witness wasn't really sure either. So I told them to redo it, and the same thing happened again (remember that like 100 people are watching). So before I asked them to do it again I ran over to the bishop just to make sure and he confirmed that yes, the dress needs to be all the way under. So we did it again, she tucked the dress in between her legs, and the third time was the charm. In french they say "Never two without three." Jamais deux sans trois. It was really cute though and she was happy to have gotten "that much cleaner." 

The ties keep piling up on my "already worn it" rack and all the members and other missionaries keep teasing me about being so close to the end. This week Elder Murdock went up to  Belgium to do some stuff for his legality and so I had a day in Paris with some of the other trainers. Another missionary and I went to the Catacombs of Paris. Underneath Paris they have 6 million skeletons worth of bones that you can walk through. That place is going to get groovy during the resurrection. It really made me think about life. Good thing I know what I know or that would've been a really depressing experience.

Oh, also we've been having problems with our sink clogging up all transfer, so on Saturday we had a member come over to try and work on it, but he couldn't fix it. There was a humungo build up of like sediment 2 or 3 meters down the pipe. After lots of using a snake, and a plunger, I was finally able to stick a garden hose down the pipe and push and push until it was all pushed out the end. It was the most wretched smelling crap ever. So gross. Like if we had left it much longer I am convinced it would've formed a rock down there. But now it works like a charm and I learned a bunch about plumbing. Woohoo!

Cool. Not a whole lot else to talk about here. Sounds like a lot of fun at home with Jessica! I'm excited to do work in the backyard with dad and Jordan this summer. That sounds so good right now. Good job cutting down that tree. Sounds like it took some good brainwork to get it all down. Like a video game, as Dad said. Annnd, Jordan makes a really cute toddler. 

Love you all!


OH MY GOSH. ps. I will be calling you on Sunday. Will you email me as soon as possible and tell me when your church is and when the best time for me to call would be? Then I will email during the week to tell you when I'll call.