All the missionaries in our mission now have iPads! It's a cool new thing we can use to spread the gospel to everyone!
I want to do something a little different this week with my letter. I want to go a little bit more in detail of the week of a missionary in France.
To start out, France is a very beautiful country. The food is great, and the places are historic. One thing that I love is the people here. Here in the south of France, you have people who are from around the world. Many come here for different reasons. One reason I think people come here, is to hear the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Many of the people don't even know that's why they came in the first place!
Let me add more perspective on my opinion. Every day, I walk in the streets in the city's in my sector. These include Martigues, (a nice mix of Venice Italy, and L.A. California), Salon de Provence, a small French city, and Vitrolles. (There are mostly houses here). But anyway, I walk in the street in these city's and try to talk to people about the family. We have. Questionnaire that we use that tries to get people to open up about their favorite memories with their family.
We usually ask "Quel membre de votre famille a fait le plus grand sacrifice pour vous?"
Or in other words, which member of your family has made the biggest sacrifice for you?
We ask these questions to try and get what we call in the mission "The Spirit of Elijah". For those who are curious of the name, think back to the Bible. Elijah is the Prophet responsible for the Keys to keep the family connected for eternity. In essence, he is the master of the family. When we talk about people's family, it invites his presence into the conversation. That way, the people we talk to can feel the spirit.
We then show a booklet called My Family. In there you can keep the precious stories that you have with the members of your family.
We want to give this booklet to everyone for free! The main purpose for this booklet is to have people realize how important the family is. To give some background info on the churches stance on the family, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Saints is that we know that the family is a gift from God. We have our families to have joy. I know that there are many people who have felt that joy here in France! I just want the people to know that it's because of the love of God we have our families.
Our goal for the mission is to have everyone come closer to Christ. this includes all our families! When you look at the plan of God, the doctrine of the church, and the message of the family, you will see the family at the center!
When we are talking to people, I can see a lot of things that a strong family could have helped with. We talk to people who get sad when they talk about their families. They say that they didn't have a great experience. That is a sad thing to see. But the amazing thing of the Doctrine of Christ is that you can make that change and create an atmosphere that you want.
I know that to have a perfect family, you must have the family centered on Christ. Then message of Christ has all the love a family would want. When you feel like your family is doing fine, take a look at all the things Christ taught, and I know you will find new things to use to achieve that goal of a perfect family!
There are people who say to us as we walk by trying to contact them "I'm happy, my family's fine, I don't need Christ in my life."
Thanks to our Heavenly Father, we have the choice to decide things for ourselves. The thing these people we talk to don't understand, is that God has given already all the things we need to have that joy, and love in our lives! They just need to know where to find it.
After those people who say they are fine pass me, I think to my self, "yes you may be fine, but the question you should be asking is, 'do I have joy, peace, hope and real love in my life? Am I really doing everything possible to improve my family?'"
Take a second to ponder on those words. Joy, peace, hope, and real love. People sometimes think that money, prestige, pleasure, and other things create those things. The fact is that Christ and his teachings is what give those feelings! If anyone has questions on how to get those feelings, feel free to send me a email, or just talk to the missionaries in your area!
So that sums up some of the things that we experience every week as a missionary! It's fun, but also very hard!
To now give some more details about the events this week.
Elder Arts and I took a picture for President Roney. He leaves soon so we gave him a picture to remember us. We then went to the church and wrote to our friends and family. The rest of the evening was working in the area book to get it reorganized.
We had zone training where we pretty much just did setup for the iPads. We then ate lunch and personalized the iPads.
Elder Spencer from Marseille came with me back to Vitrolles for am exchange. The day passed quickly. We took a bus to Salon. We had a meeting with our member Marc, but he had to cancel last second. So we went contacting instead! I already gave a summary of what we do for contacting usually. To sum it, no one was interested. We were able to talk to people though!
After Salon, we came home and went to Ward Mission Council. I am trying hard to speak more French, so I tried to be brave and talk about the people we were working with. It was an ok attempt to talk, we will keep it at that. After the council we returned home and got ready for the night.
Elder Spencer and I did the usual routine. But there was a twist in it! At the end of the morning, we took a bus to most dangerous city in Europe! (Marseille, also my favorite city)
I had another doctors appointment for my elbow. Don't fall off a ladder before your mission, it's hard to see a doctor a lot.
We did my favorite thing to get to the doctor, we rode the Metro! For people who want to know things that make me super happy, it is Castles, Metro/Subway rides, blue water with a sun shining above you, and alternative music. I have all those things except one.
We got to the doctor and he took a look at my X-ray. He says that the fracture isn't fully healed and it might have healed in a wrong way just a bit. It still hurts and is hard to fully extend my left elbow. So the doctor ordered another test. They want to inject my elbow with a circulation fluid that can tell if there is a block in the bones or something? It sounds painful, and it might be, but I love all the Medical TV shows. So I'm prepared I hope!
After the appointment I met back up with Elder Arts and we took a bus back to Vitrolles. The night before, I had a great plan for the day, but all our plans fell threw. So the only thing we were able to do was contact in Salon.
We had some good conversations and talked about the Family Booklet withstood people. After an hour and half of that, we had to take the bus back home.
When we got home I did some language study. I am trying to pray extra hard to try to get the gift of tongues.
Later we planned and ate.
I think Wallace liked the message.
After Wallace we wanted to take a bus to Martigues, but the bus we took back was late, so we missed the bus we wanted. We tried to pass a less active member, but he wasn't home. We were walking past a store that fixes watches, and we went inside because my watch' battery died. He said to come back next week and he would be able to switch it out. We then started talking about why I was here. I told him I was a missionary and am a volunteer for 2 years. He was surprised that I wanted to give up 2 two years of my life for service. He was surprised that I gave up other things too.
It was a good conversation. After that we were able to get the next bus to Martigues.
When we got there we decided to do some contacting. Elder Arts is trying to have me do more of the talking. I think it's a good idea! It's just super hard! We walked around the small streets that seem like Italy. We tried to talk to people, but no one stopped, or walked away after the 3 questions. It's depressing sometimes. Then you look around and realize you are walking above a canal with boats and a bridge. Then you feel a little better about getting rejected. I contacted another man and he said, "you're American I can tell!" In decent English. We talked to him in English and he told us he is happy with out God in his life. We told him why we're are here and he respected us. It was a good conversation, but I wanted to be able to share more gospel information.
We walked through the a park and then along the shore. I contacted this man and he asked where I was from. I said America. He stated talking about all the political problems going on at the moment. First, I'm not my brother Chase. So I don't know know all the details about politics. But we started to talk about religion. He said he was Islamic. I told him we were Mormon missionaries. We started to laugh because he didn't recognize us as them. It was really funny! I even clasped the mans shoulder because we were cracking jokes! I love it when you start talking to a stranger, and then a while after you can slap each other's backs and have it be perfectly acceptable! We gave him a card with info about the church. Then we continued our walk.
We then stopped this younger guy and we did the questionnaire with him. We started talking about soccer, and then back to gospel. I don't know how we pulled that off? I told him about the Book of Mormon, and I asked if he would take it for free. He said pourquoi pas? (Why not?). We then had to catch our bus. He said he would walk with us to the stop. While we walked he talked more about soccer. He didn't speak English at all, but he knew the national anthem and even the Netherlands Anthem. Elder Arts was impressed. He's from the Netherlands. The bus came and we said good bye. Hopefully he reads and calls us!
We then took the bus home. We were going to catch the bus that takes is to our apartment perfectly. But there was a detour, so we had to wait for 10 minutes while the driver figured out how to get back. We ended up missing the second bus. So we had to walk home. We got home late, planned until 10:12 and we didn't have time to eat anything for dinner. So yeah! We also have little food left. Yay!:)
We taught our recent convert Marc in the park. We want to reteach the lessons again, and we want to do them in French. It will be good for both Marc and me because we both need to practice French. After that, we caught the bus back to Vitrolles and then came home.
After church we ate the food in the kitchen, and then we went home to study. Then we went out to try and find a young members non-member mom to try and get a Rendez-vous. She wasn't home, so we came back home, and that was that! Work diesbecause no one is outside and there are no buses anywhere...
Oh well. Let's pray I get called to Marseille or another big city! But it's ok, I'm happy right here for the moment. It's good to learn things from smaller villes. This is smaller than Périgueux in lots of ways. Everything is more spread out. I think it is prettier here though in different ways too. Périgueux is VERY French. Here is more Mediterranean. There is a lake that when the sun shines just right, it looks like the water in the "Rio" music video by Duran Duran. Or in other words, very blue!
I already mentioned it in a previous email, but there are some days where there is strong wind all day! I love it! I don't know how it's possible! I feel like walking into a wall. It feels super great, because you still get a tan while not having to sweat! One downside is all the dust that gets in your lungs and eyes.
There's a little more background info on the life in Vitrolles and as a missionary!
Elder Acheson II