Monday, November 7, 2016

American Chapels and Die - Weeks 72, 73 and 74

Okay, so it's been awhile since the last time I wrote an update. Some pretty exciting things have been happening and because of this, I haven't had a ton of time to write. First of all, I am in a new city. I have been transferred to Valence, a city just south of Lyon. I am opening a new companionship, that means my companion and I will both be brand new to Valence, not replacing previous missionaries. It is a little challenging because we will be starting from nothing and we will have to find new people with no previous contacts or connections. Also, I have a new bleu again so I get to train one more time. His name is Elder Bott and he is from Salt Lake. Another Utah boy. Good deal! It should be fun. My zone has the AP's in it so there will be lots of trips to Lyon and hanging around in the mission office. I am going to miss Gap though and the awesome people that I met there these past 6 months. I had some really great and memorable experiences. 

But the most important thing that has happened is that the Saturday before I left Gap, I was able to baptize Julie, a remarkable young lady that has been interested in the gospel for quite awhile and has had the lessons with several sets of missionaries. She is the only member in her family and she has been researching the church for about a year and I had the amazing opportunity to baptize her. It was pretty awesome and something I will never forget. Julie and her mom even came to the train station at 7:00 am the morning I left Gap for Valence just to say goodbye. It was pretty cool.

Now on to Valence. Fun fact for the day. Every city in France has a certain name for if you grew up there. Instead of being, say, just a Texan, you get a special name for your city. Valenciennois is actually the one for Valence. 

When you first open a new companionship somewhere, you basically start with nobody to teach and so you have to be creative to find new people because nobody really wants to talk to people in the streets for 8 hours a day. Luckily though, this week the guys from ChambĂ©ry called and said they had someone call them and wanted to meet with them. Turns out he actually lives in Valence and so they hooked us up with his number. Before we even had time to call him, he actually gave us a call wanting to meet. That usually doesn't happen too often. But we fixed a rendez vous for later in the day. 

We met up with him at the church because luckily, our church is pretty close to the center of town. Turns out he speaks English better then French and so that made Elder Bott happy to be able to actually talk with him. We just ended up sharing the story of the Restoration with him but after we got done talking he was telling us how he's been in France for a year and when he initially decided to come here he wasn't sure why he chose France. He just told us it felt right. Then after meeting with us and talking, he said he thinks he knows why he ended up in France. Pretty cool little experience for the week. 

We went to Grenoble this week for a district meeting, they had a member who just got back from his mission from Italy come and talk and he told us what worked for him and what ideas and things that he used in his mission. It's really interesting to see what things work in other missions that we can use. 

I took Elder Bott out porting (tracting) for his first time on the mission. If you think of the idea from other people's point of view, you have two young kids from another country going around and knocking on people's doors to try and talk about Jesus with them. Not always the most effective way to go about this. But whatever we can do to find people who are interested. One of the people we talked to was a Jehovah's Witness. While we were talking, she just kept quoting scriptures from the Bible as if it was just a normal thing to quote the Bible while talking. It's always fun talking to them because they try to nicely convert us as well.  

On Saturday all four of us here in Valence decided to go out to this small ville called Die (D-ee) for a few hours. Die is a small town up in the mountains and it turns out it basically just has a lot of older people living there. Interesting name. We knocked on this one lady's door and she came out and asked how much money we wanted. We told her we weren't here to collect money and we started explaining who we were and all that stuff and as soon as she asked if we were the "good brethren" and we said no, she just left to go inside. I guess our dinner isn't on her tonight. 

Because of Stake Conference in Lyon last week, we went to church for the first time in Valence this week. I have already taught Gospel Principles and next week I teach Priesthood. How is this possible? Surprisingly, about half of the members seem to speak decent English and they were happy to have two new missionaries in the ward. Since the other two Elders are British, there are always jokes that get thrown around from the members. And it also turns out that some people in the ward are good friends with some general leaders in the church. Maybe I can get some stories out of them one day. The chapel here is also only about a year old and so everything is basically brand new. It's one of the only churches I've seen here in France that actually looks like an American one. This week is also full of  visits to members who want to feed us and so Elder Bott should get a nice taste of some real French food this week. 

That's about it for this week. Take care.

Love, Blake 

Julie, the newest member of the church in France.

Julie's family

After the baptism

Stake Conference

My new comp, Elder Bott. Yes, we are the odd couple, at least in height.