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Monthly Archives: December 2012

Shall We Not Go On?

Happy New Year! Things here have been good. Despite the holidays last week, we still found a few new people to teach. One new investigator is a long time friend of one of the members. He’s been looking for direction in his life so the member invited him to church. We met him there and setup a rendez-vous for that afternoon. He loved church and pretty much made the decision that he’s Mormon now. We’ll be seeing him a few times every week. We fixed his baptismal date for February.

Speaking of baptismal dates, the young girl who we set a baptismal date with went to Marseille for the holidays. We’ve been keeping in contact with her and we contacted the missionaries down there so they might help her find the chapel. We haven’t yet talked to her (we’ll be calling her today) but if everything went well, she should have gone to church in Marseille!

Other investigators are progressing. One that we’ve seen a lot is starting to feel the Spirit. He’s never really believed in God but he told us the other day that some of the things we’ve taught him have touched him. He’s reading the Book of Mormon and attended church for the first time yesterday.

So we’re seeing some good things here in St. Nazaire!

The coolest thing happened just a few minutes ago. The mission sends us an email with a list of baptisms that take place during the weekend. I logged on to see the name of a woman we taught in Brussels!! We had fixed a baptismal date with her a year ago but she couldn’t stop smoking. Well I guess she must have because she was baptized this last weekend! That’s so cool and I’m so happy for her. What a great way to end the year!

And so here we are again at the threshold of another year, the series of this last one in our shadows. This last year has been different than any other that I have ever lived. 2012 was the year in which I was fully and completely a missionary for the Lord. Time will continue but I’ll never have another year like the one that I’ve just had. It’s been difficult, and yet at the same time so very gratifying–gratifying in a way that cannot be expressed in words. Words cannot describe what it means to be a missionary. There is nothing else like this in the entire world–and one can’t truly know what it’s like without having experienced it for themselves. I’m thankful that I’ve gotten to experience it all throughout the year 2012.

I don’t know what 2013 holds for me. I’m pretty sure that certain things won’t be the same come this time next year. But no matter the changes, I intend to see that my faith in Christ stays strong. And no matter what lies ahead, “shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory!”

“Be not afraid, only believe.”
Elder Saul Marquez

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Posted by on December 31, 2012 in Mission

 

The Christmas Spirit

I like this poem that President Monson shared by E.C. Baird:

I am the Christmas Spirit
I enter the home of poverty, causing pale-faced children to open their eyes wide, in pleased wonder.
I cause the miser’s clutched hand to relax and thus paint a bright spot on his soul.
I cause the aged to renew their youth and to laugh in the old glad way.
I keep romance alive in the heart of childhood, and brighten sleep with dreams woven of magic.
I cause eager feet to climb dark stairways with filled baskets, leaving behind hearts amazed at the goodness of the world.
I cause the prodigal to pause a moment on his wild, wasteful way and send to anxious love some little token that releases glad tears—tears which wash away the hard lines of sorrow.
I enter dark prison cells, reminding scarred manhood of what might have been and pointing forward to good days yet to be.
I come softly into the still, white home of pain, and lips that are too weak to speak just tremble in silent, eloquent gratitude.
In a thousand ways, I cause the weary world to look up into the face of God, and for a little moment forget the things that are small and wretched.
I am the Christmas Spirit. ”

Merry Christmas! :)

Love,
Elder Saul Marquez

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2012 in Mission

 

Speaking of the Spirit

The move to St. Nazaire was…. tiring. Very tiring. We got up early and headed out. On the way to the train station the wheels on one of my suitcases died. So we had to drag it along. And then when we got to Paris… we still dragged it along. And we went through the dreaded Montparnasse train station. Thankfully, some elders in Paris were able to help me out there so we were able to take a shortcut. And then I hopped on a train alone to Nantes and met my companion there. Then we took another train and voila. St. Nazaire!

My companion’s named Elder Fuller from Nebraska. He likes to work, so that’s good. I’ve already learned several things in the last few days from him–things I can start doing to be an even better missionary.

The ville itself is a lot different from the other places I’ve been to. First off, we’re right on the coast. We live a few minutes from the beach. I haven’t seen it too much but I got a good look the other day as a member drove us past it. It’s kind of weird to think that those waters are what separate me from America–the same waters that the people of the old world dreamed of crossing one day, and then eventually did. Since St. Nazaire is right on the coast, there’s some boats. They build giant cruise ships here! And airbuses.

The weird thing is that pretty much the entire ville is just residential zones. It’s just a giant cluster of neighborhoods. Lots of porting here. And lots of retired people.

So it’s quite the change from all the others I’ve been to! It’s a branch here, not a ward. I guess baptisms have been kind of slow the last few years here. But when I got here, the elders had just fixed a baptismal date with an old eternal investigator. Legit! That’ll be on the twenty-second of December.

The coolest part is that the elders, the night before I got here, found an eighteen-year-old girl and taught her briefly. They set up another rendez-vous and we got to see her Saturday night. That night we ended up teaching her the Joseph Smith story. We had some members there who testified and shared their conversion stories.

The Spirit’s presence was strong. She told us that she’s been looking for a new religion for a very long time. She’s grown up in another church and as she got older, she felt that it was missing something. Now, in the rendez-vous, she said she was feeling something she couldn’t deny. We invited her to church the next day and she came! And she felt the Spirit there too (despite the protests of some very… very… very loud babies). We met with her afterwards and talked more about her experience. And there, we asked her if she wanted to be baptized.

“I’m not going to hesitate to say yes,” she said.

And so we fixed the date for the twelfth of January! She is legit. And the members really took to her. One family invited her over for dinner at their house Wednesday night. We’ll be there too. It’s great to see members get excited about missionary work and it really, really helps.

So there’s our miracle story for the week! It’s experiences like those that remind me why I’m on a mission and why this gospel is true. The feelings of the Spirit are more than just silly mind tricks and the life and mission of Christ is more than just a fairytale. It is so very true, and I know it.

Speaking of the Spirit, I think I forgot to mention this. We started teaching an investigator back when I was in Mantes this last summer. For years he’d been studying with another church but wouldn’t be baptized because he couldn’t get over a few points of doctrine. He started talking to one of his friends who is a member. She referred him to us. Well, Elder Andrus and I had taught him for several months. Sometimes in our lessons, he’d ask questions about some doctrinal differences between us and the other church he had been studying with for years. He couldn’t get past a few of our own doctrines. We told him to pray about it.

Months went by, and he wouldn’t come to church. I left and I went to Valenciennes. Elder Andrus and his companion continued to visit him. Elder Andrus’ last Sunday in Mantes was the day that this investigator finally drove out to church. Apparently he cried and cried through the whole thing! He couldn’t deny the Spirit. He was baptized a couple weeks ago.

Love,
Elder Saul Marquez

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2012 in Mission

 

Go West, young man!

It has gotten wwaaaaaaayyyyy ttooooo cold this last week. I keep telling people that and they tell me that I haven’t experienced cold yet. They forget I was here last year too! And I know it’s going to keep getting colder. But it’s still too cold. This morning it was four degrees. I thought I was going to die. Thank goodness for radiators. Yesterday it hit freezing point. It started snowing during church. The first snow!

So the big news is that I am leaving Valenciennes! The transfer has ended and thus begins my next one. I don’t want to remember which one I’m in so I won’t say which. Hehehe.

“Go West, young man!”

I’m off to a place called St. Nazaire. I’m going from the North of France to the West of France (not the farthest point West, though. There’s even westerner villes), on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. I’ve no idea what the weather will be like. Here in the North it rains a lot. There, not sure. I’m sure it’ll still be cold.

As for Valenciennes, Elder Kendall is staying behind. I think he’ll do a good job. He seems to really get missionary work. I’m proud of the progress he’s made during the last twelve weeks. He’ll do good in the future. I’m sad to say goodbye to Valenciennes. I have seriously really, really enjoyed my time here. It’s been wonderful. I’ve had two good companions and I’ve met many people.

I think that when I look back on Valenciennes, the things that will stick out the most will be the members. The members of this ward blow me away! From the old ones to the recent converts. They’re all so solid and they’re all so devoted. I think I owe them a lot. Their strong faith is inspiring to me and it reminds me why I’m here and what I’m to be doing. I think I’ll especially remember my birthday when we were porting. We got a lot of slammed doors in our faces and the people seemed to be in an extra grumpy mood that day. I didn’t express it outwardly, but each time that would come, I would feel slightly down inside. And then I’d get a call from a random member (or members) in the ward wishing me Happy Birthday! They kept my spirits up that day.

I’m thankful that I got to serve here in Valenciennes. It’s been a wonderful chapter on my mission. I know I still have people to meet and people to serve, experiences to live and things to learn.

What an exciting prospect.

Sincerely,
Elder Saul Marquez

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2012 in Mission