|American Fork Marching Band at Grand Nationals|
Well, first off, it's rough to hear about the band. I know how it goes. From what I've heard though, it sounds like you guys did your very best. That's really all that matters. You had a practically perfect year, especially with a really tough regionals group, and you should be proud of the work you put in. Judges make it tough. It's not always the best groups that really win. I'm currently working on a way to see the show, so hopefully in a few weeks I'll be able to check it out. Maybe even semi-finals eventually. But don't feel too bad about it. Woodlands, Carmel, Avon, Marcus, L.D. Bell, Ayala, Harrison, are all AMAZING band programs. You shouldn't feel bad at all. From what I can tell, this year was one of AF's best ever. Keep your heads high.
I'm glad to hear that you guys are working with the missionaries a little bit. Just so you know the differences out here, we schedule our own meetings with members. We become friends with them, get to know them, and tell them that we'd like to come over sometime to share a message and do our best to bring the Spirit into their homes. Then we go and teach them a real lesson. You could call it practice teaching, because it's with the members and we know that their salvation isn't on the line if we teach something a little bit incorrectly, so it's a bit less pressure, but we do it on our own, really trying to help them and edify them. I'm a little sad to hear that this missionary got distracted so easily. I hope that doesn't normally happen, cause there are a lot more distracting things than barking dogs. It's hard to keep the people you're teaching focused if you can't stay focused yourself. And actually, I think about Kevin every time I bear my testimony or teach about Joseph Smith. A boy as young as that was able to sincerely follow his heart and simply ask God for knowledge that he lacked, and God answered. I know that He does still today, and I'm so thankful to be hear to testify of that to others. Also, don't feel too bad about that missionary. It sounds kind of like he was trying to be funny, but it was rather unsensitive (just so you know, our problem here in France is trying to not get bise'd - kissed). But, it's not really all his fault. In the MTC, they really drill hugging people of the opposite gender out of you. Another thing I love about our mission is that we hug. Well, only our gender, but when we're greeting other Elders, it's gotta be with a hug. It's really good for morale and all that and just for helping us be closer as a mission. So don't worry, plenty of hugs here. But you do have a point about how we need to be careful. It's tricky, and some missionaries really just aren't good at not offending people, to put it bluntly. And it's extra sad that it kind of drove the Spirit away, since that's the opposite of our goal as missionaries. Anyway, the point of this big long paragraph is just that, don't worry, I get hugs, I think about you guys a lot, and we honestly care about and love our members here.
Now, to get started on my weekly summary. :) Long letter this week!
Lundi - started off the week pretty well! We were able to meet a guy whose information we received the other night. His name is Patrice, his wife is Fifi, and his 4-year-old daughter's name is Meggie. He comes from a Muslim background, but he's been checking out other religions for a long time, and he feels like he hasn't really found the truth yet. He's kind of complicated to teach because of this, since Muslims believe that Christ was just a prophet (well, some of them, others believe that he was the Son of God but that he wasn't actually crucified), while Christians believe he was the Son of God. But he's open and ready to learn. He also speaks English very well, so the lessons are a breeze. He's an awesome guy. He got a Livre de Mormon from the Elders in Lyon (where he was contacted) and in less than a week had read all the way to Omni (over 150 pages)! They're just a solid family that we're really excited to teach.
Mardi - Kind of a regular day. The highlight was that on the bus one time, Elder Evans and I got a little separated, and I talked to this woman about what we believe (all in French) and was able to give her a Livre de Mormon, and she accepted to read it! It was extra cool just because I did it without any of Elder Evans' help. I'm getting close to being able to hold my own in French now.
Mercredi - We were able to teach our Haitian Preacher ami, Frère Regis, along with his brother in law Paulimus (yes, pronounced poly-moose). We talked about Joseph Smith and how he was able to recieve an answer despite his young age and inexperience. They're really cool guys, but unfortunately they're not too interested in acting to know right now, so we aren't able to visit them very often.
Jeudi - We taught our Cameroonian ami Yannick. We're still trying to get through the Plan of Salvation with him. We're currently stuck on The Fall. He's into all this really deep doctrinal stuff. He asks really good questions. For example, if you were Adam, what would you have done? Would you have eaten the fruit and allowed all sin, pain, and evil to come into the world? It's pretty deep stuff. Elder Evans and I have already come to our own conclusion, but it's still pretty interesting to think about. Anyway, really cool guy. He'll be baptized someday, he just needs to understand that he doesn't have to understand everything to know that our message is true. We're working on it.
Vendredi - Kind of just a regular day for us. We taught a lesson about the Restoration to Jimmy. He seems genuinely interested and we feel like he's really going to progress. The tricky part is that his girlfriend is a recent convert and she ALWAYS comes to the lessons. It's good to have her there, but we're worried that he's going to try to convert just for her. So, it's a tender situation, but we're really excited for him. Personally, I feel really...invested with Jimmy. We've been talking a lot about trying to have true charity for our amis, and just everybody. I feel like I have that for Jimmy. I really want what's best for him, and I know that the Gospel will help him to have that.
Samedi - Crazy day! We did essentially no real missionary work, but I learned a lot. We had a surprise conference in Versailles (other side of Paris) with Elders Osguthorpe (General President of Sunday School) and Ridd (2nd counselor in the General Young Men's Presidency). Really cool guys. They talked a lot about being axiously engaged in a good cause, being dedicated and devoted to what we're doing, doing GOOD work, not just working, and just about having the desire and determination to continue. It was a lot of missionary pump-up type stuff. At the end, Elder Evans and I got to just hang out and talk with Elder Osguthorpe for a while about wht it's like to speak in General Conference and all that. It was a really cool experience. Apparently, Elder Holland says to everyone after their talk "That was the best talk on (subject) ever given in the church!" and he truly means it sincerely. It sounds like just so much building up that goes on with the Apostles.
After that little conference, we headed to the other side of Paris, Torcy, for our Stake Conference adult session. It was centered on missionary work of all things! It was awesome. President Poznanski spoke, and he mentioned how he wanted toys for Christmas but woke up on Christmas morning to an illustrated bible. And read in my other email what he said afterwards... (for Brian's sake "And that's when I knew that Santa Claus didn't exist!") Anyway, that day ended well, with us boarding two other Elders, Utahia and Wootton. Elder Utahia is from Tahiti. It was cool having a French speaker in our apartment. It gave me lots of good practice and helped me really build my confidence with French. I'm learning quite quickly.
Dimanche - Kind of a regular Sunday, just busy busy busy. Stake Conference in the morning. No tabernacles here, so we had it in a movie theater! I got a picture with superman while I was there (I'll send it next week). It felt really weird to be in a movie theater, but it was a nice meeting with (too comfy) comfy seats. No cup holders here in France though... After that, we had a nice evening with a member family, the Allanic's, and talked a lot about missionary work. They're really just wonderful members.
Overall, a great, but normal week. As missionaries, "normal" IS great! :) Lots of fun and lots of hard work. I love you guys so much! Dad, I'm working on your present, it might be a little late. We're just way busy right now. Tyler and Kevin, keep those heads high! You did amazing this year. Keep working hard even though marching band is over. Brian, keep studying all that Knowledge bowl stuff! Someday I hope to be as smart as you. :) And keep reading your scriptures everybody! There really is power in reading the scriptures. I can't tell you how many times I've found answers in there. And you'll realize how cool they are too! I had no idea how cool the stories in the Book of Mormon are until now. Anyway, it's about time to go. I wish you all a good week! Have fun and be good!
Elder Adam Bigler