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Category Archives: Mission

New Beginnings Again

I’m left once again pondering on new beginnings. I think there must be chapters to life and I feel as though I am about to write the final words of a very significant chapter in my own life.

And I just want to say that this has been the greatest chapter of my life. I have loved my mission so very much. There are surely no words that one can employ to describe such an experience. It is unlike anything else in this world. I didn’t realize that my Heavenly Father loved me so much to the point that he would give me such a wonderful experience.

I didn’t expect what has happened. I really do understand what Elder Holland meant when he described the mission as a miracle. I feel like a new person. I’ve started over. I’m starting to understand that repentance is a beautiful thing. I’ve seen it in the lives of others and I’m seeing it in my own life.

I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a message of new beginnings. I know that it is true. I know that Jesus Christ accomplished his mission on this Earth in atoning for our sins and defeating death. He is the Light, the Truth and the Way. I know that he loves us for we are all children of a Heavenly Father. I know that God and His Son appeared to a young boy of fourteen-years in answer to an honest and sincere prayer; and in so doing they accomplished prophecy. I know that today we live in the latter-days, the final dispensation. We have the Gospel of Jesus Christ in its fullness. We are in the days that the prophets of old dreamed of. Have you ever thought about that? I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I read Mormon’s final words this morning. I know that those words were written for me and my family. What a blessing it is to have that book in my life.

I know that God is in this work and that Christ walks beside his righteous missionaries. I’m ending my service as a missionary. I’m so sad to leave. It’s harder to end your mission than it is to start it.

And so I’m off to the next beginning–another chapter. I just hope to live true to these last two years for the rest of my life and then after.

Love,
Elder Saul Marquez

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2013 in Mission

 

Where Are You? Where Are You Going?

This week was unlike any other. I feel like I’ve just taken a giant tour of France. I wasn’t even hardly in St. Nazaire.

So Tuesday I went on exchange with an elder in Nantes. It was a lot of fun. We did a lot of contacting and even found somebody they could teach. Nantes is just a cool place. :) And then I got back to St. Nazaire. We quickly taught a lesson and then we rushed all over the place! We went to the gare to buy tickets, we went to the Post to pay for Elder Visconti’s legality and then we quickly packed and left to the gare to catch a train.

That night we stayed in Angers with Elder Richer-Brulé and his companion. Zone Conference was the next morning and I had to be there early for a leadership training with Elder Kent F. Richards of the Seventy. There wasn’t a train from St. Nazaire to Paris that would get us to the conference on time so the assistants had asked us to stay in Angers so we did.

Thursday morning came and we woke up at FOUR IN THE MORNING! We were sooooo tired. We were in Paris about an hour and a half later. The leadership training was SO GOOD. We talked about many, many different things. I remember it ending and thinking, “The actual zone conference hasn’t even started yet! This is too good!”

Well, we had zone conference right after the training. Elder Richards spoke for most of it and it was just honestly too good. The Spirit was strong throughout the entire thing. It was clear that each and everyone of us was being taught something different by the Spirit. Elder Richards himself was just so great. I talked to him briefly after the conference and thanked him for coming. It was honestly one of the best zone conferences I’ve had and I felt very uplifted. I received a lot of revelation and instruction as a missionary and even for after.

That night we stayed in Paris because Elder Visconti had an interview in the US Embassy the next day to get his visa to go to Provo. We had the afternoon to ourselves and we decided to go CONTACTING! I don’t know why but we were SO HAPPY to be contacting. I remember turning to Elder Visconti and saying, “I”m so happy to be a missionary.” And we went out, got lost, talked to a bunch of people and found a couple really legit people to pass to the Paris equipes. One lady was like, “I believe in God but I’m scared of him.” And we said, “That’s because you don’t understand your relationship with him; You’re his daughter and he has a plan for you.”

We stayed with the Chinese-speaking missionaries that night. I got to see Elder Cheel, from way back in the MTC. He gave me a Chinese name.

Woke up on Friday and went to the embassy. Everything went well! Thank goodness!! I was so stressed. I had to do all the paperwork and it was complicated. But everything is good. The visa arrived at the mission home this morning. Elder Visconti is going to Provo. No worries. After his interview we got back to St. Nazaire and did some work with the few hours we had.

Saturday we were off to Rennes. Got on another train and got there at night. District Conference (like Stake Conference but for a district) was on Sunday and none of the members had space in their cars so we went to Rennes. I got to stay with the zone leaders, one being Elder Nielson, my old companion from Mantes. And then Sunday morning we had conference. The building was stuffed!

President and Soeur Poznanski were there since it’s the last district in France (the mission president is in charge of the districts in the mission). There was also an area general authority, Elder Sonny Donaldson from England. Just before he got up to address everyone, he turned to President Poznanski and said something really quick. Next thing I know, President is in front of everyone and says, “Elder Lerdahl and Elder Marquez, can you please come up here?”

I screamed in my head, I CAN’T TRANSLATE!!!!

We got up there and then Elder Donaldson whispered to us.

“Alright, here’s what we’re going to do. You have one minute,” he said. He looked at me. “You’re going to bear your testimony on the Restoration.” Then he turned to Elder Lerdahl. “And you’re going to bear your testimony on the Atonement. You have one minute. Let’s bring the Spirit in here, elders.”

So I did it. And then Elder Lerdahl did it. And then Elder Donaldson told us we could sit down and he said to the members, “I want you to remember that there were ordained ministers of the Lord among us today… And when they teach and testify, they do so with power and authority. You can trust your friends with them.”

WOAH!

And then he gave an incredible talk. One of the best I’ve ever heard. And I won’t go into detail, but essentially he asked these questions, “Where are you? And where are you going?” Where are we in our lives? In our progression? Where are we going?

“The Lord knows the end from the beginning.”

It was incredibly good. Everyone was on a spiritual high and I know I was after having heard from both Elder Richards and Elder Donaldson within a few days of each other.

I know personally that I am where I am meant to be. I love my mission so much. There’s still so much more to do and I intend to do it.

Since Elder Visconti now has his visa, his plane to Provo is April 1st which is next Monday. So that means my last day in St. Nazaire is this Saturday. From Sunday onward I’ll be in Angers.

Happy Easter,
Elder Saul Marquez

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2013 in Mission

 

And There Were More Calls (Part Two)

So he called again and said that he didn’t want to see us on Tuesday but said that I could call him on Wednesday to see if he was available later in the week.

So I called him on Wednesday but it went straight to his voice mail so I figured he blocked our number.

And then he called us on Saturday and said that his cellphone no longer worked, so he called from his home phone and wanted to see us that night.

So we went over that night and he wanted help moving some furniture around. He actually seemed really, really happy to have us over as we helped him out. Once we were finished, we sat down and had a lesson. He had questions over baptism. We started talking about the Gospel of Christ and our objective as missionaries. By the end he told us that he didn’t like the idea of repentance or baptism and that he didn’t want to pray, read or attend church.

Elder Visconti asked him, “What do you feel when you go to church or when we’re around.”

The investigator thought for a moment and then said, “I don’t feel good.” And he told us that he didn’t want to continue seeing us. So we testified and told him he was always welcome to come to church if he wanted.

Sunday came and we waited for our investigators to show up.

Guess who shows up? Yes. He came. I was shocked. Elder Visconti said he wasn’t. And now we have a rendez-vous with him for tomorrow night. We’re supposed to call him tonight to confirm.

I’m honestly not sure what the deal is. I think he feels the Spirit but is having a hard time coming to terms with it.

So tune in next week for Part Three!

No, in all seriousness, we’re really praying for him. I’m convinced that the Spirit is working inside of him, but like I said, I think he’s having trouble accepting it. Perhaps that should be expected from someone who hasn’t had much contact with God in the past? But there’s clearly something that keeps pulling him back. Even yesterday in Sunday School, he was participating a lot and seemed to really enjoy the lesson.

Speaking of Sunday School. The Gospel Principles teacher’s daughter got married Saturday night and so she wasn’t there for the class so I had to make up a lesson on the SPOT! I hate doing that! But it seemed to go well. We talked about Charity, Love and Service. The lesson seemed to really touch one of our amis. We’ve been meeting with her since the end of last transfer. She’s great! She really loves church and keeps all her commitments. After the lesson she came up to me and said, “I want you to meet my husband;” We were super happy to hear that because we had asked if we could meet him before but she had said no.

Well, we just had a rendez-vous with her and her husband. He is a super, super nice man. Very philosophical and not interested in reading the Book of Mormon and learning more, but still a great guy. We presented the message of the Restoration and talked about how the gospel blesses our lives and our families. He wasn’t too interested in the end, but again, he was a very kind man. Either way, it works out great that we could meet him because now he knows who we are and I think that will make it easier for her own personal progression. At least we hope!

Other good news. One of our investigators who we’ve been working with hasn’t wanted to be baptized because he doesn’t want to be in a different church while the rest of his family is in another. His family is currently in Africa and the church doesn’t exist in their country. Well, this last weekend he finally talked to his wife–he wouldn’t tell her he was seeing us at first. We gave him a blessing a couple weeks ago so that he would have the courage to talk to her and so he finally did. She said we’ll see. But he said that he got word that his family can come up to France soon! And so once they’re here, we can teach them all the gospel!

So great things are happening. Apart from that, it was kind of a difficult week. About ten rendez-vous that we had scheduled didn’t happen. And half of our amis were out of town so we couldn’t see them. So we taught a lot less than we had hoped to.

And we got a call on Tuesday that the zone conference had been cancelled. Snow in Paris made it impossible. So now we have conference this Thursday. And then Elder Visconti is going to the US Embassy on Friday. And then we have district conference in Rennes this weekend… And I have an exchange in Nantes tomorrow. So we really don’t have a lot of time this week. That’s why we took a rendez-vous on our P-Day.

Not to mention that I’m the one doing all the paper work for the visa… And that takes time and is confusing.

I feel like time is running out very very quickly and I just want to work the best I can. Our objective for these last couple of weeks of the transfer is to find those who will be baptized next transfer.

Le temps est très court et le jour déjà baisse, Venez, préparez du Seigneur le chemin. Prêchez l’Évangile, exhortez sans cesse: «Convertissez-vous, le divin règne vient! Convertissez-vous, le divin règne vient!»

Love,
Elder Saul Marquez

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2013 in Mission

 

And There Were Many Calls

This week has been interesting.

On Tuesday Elder Visconti and I had a rendez-vous with an ami and a member at the chapel. We got there about six minutes early and were just going to wait at the door for the two to show up. But I had studied diligence that morning and I felt that it might be good to continue walking a bit and talk to some people for a few more minutes. Why not make use of our time?

Well, we ended up stopping a man in his thirties. The Spirit was super strong in the contact. He didn’t hesitate to fix a rendez-vous. We scheduled it for Friday but that was the time that worked best for all of us. We were really excited about the rendez-vous because, like I said, the Spirit was pretty strong in the contact and we could tell that he needed to hear the Gospel.

Wednesday morning came and we went to Nantes for district meeting. While there, we got a call from this man. He was calling to confirm the rendez-vous and then at the end of the call he said, “And… so… you’re Mormon, right?” And I replied yes and then he said, “Umm…. Well, I’ll have to confirm that with you later then…”

In my head I was saying, NOOO!!! It was super obvious that he had gone online and read all sorts of rubbish on the Mormons (That happens a lot here in France).

After district meeting we started an exchange and I went back to St. Nazaire with a different missionary. We felt that we needed to contact that afternoon so we did that. And who did we cross on the street as we did that? The guy we set a rendez-vous with. You could tell that he really didn’t want to see us.

“Buhhh… I won’t be able to make it on Friday…” he said.

“Okay,” I said. “Is there a reason?”

“No, it’s just that I have my opinions… and I’m not interested.”

So I told him OK and that he could call us if he wanted to see us in the future.

The next day he called us and wanted to see us.

So Saturday comes and we invite a member and we have our rendez-vous and it is GREAT. The Spirit was SUPER strong. And he was very receptive to everything we told him. He told us that his family is super Anti-God but he’s always believed that something is out there. It was honestly an incredibly good lesson.

He came to church the next day and really liked it. He told us after the services that he felt something and that he wanted to talk. We talked to him and read Moroni 10 with him. Again, it was super, super good. At the end of the lesson we fixed a baptismal date for the 13th of April!

And then late Sunday night he called us and said he didn’t want to see us anymore…

And then he called an hour later and said that he wanted to see us on Tuesday and talk about baptism….

And then he called this morning and said that he wanted to confirm Tuesday and that he had questions about social security…? And I said, “I can’t help you with that…”

And then he called us around noon but I didn’t notice the call…

And he just called me again….

…. And he just told me that he’s going to call later tonight….

Soooo. Not sure what to think. The weird thing is that the rendez-vous and really, really good and he’s COMPLETELY normal in them. I heard him tell a member yesterday that he has a hard time communicating with people. Elder Visconti and I think that he might just be really, really socially awkward and so he lacks confidence in himself and others. So he’s very indecisive. We’re not completely sure but that’s what we think it seems to be. I suppose we’ll find out.

So there’s your weird story for the week.

Good things are happened here, though.

While on exchange, the elder I was with and I were talking about some worries we had. As we were discussing, a memory since forgotten flashed through my mind. There I saw two missionaries, Elder Gubbay and Elder Burnside, writing three letters on a whiteboard.

“Okay, get your planner out,” I told the missionary. “And write these three letters: R-O-D. That means Repentance, Obedience and Diligence. And the key to all of that is prayer.”

We looked the three terms up quickly in the Scripture Guide and set goals for our exchange based off of ROD. We saw some really cool things on that exchange. And the elder went back to his area and they also saw some cool things on there.

It was just really cool because as I was talking with him about ROD, it wasn’t really like I was sharing anything with him but more like we were both being taught something important. A couple of the zone leaders, Elders Gubbay and Burnside, back in Brussels had talked a lot about ROD back when I was there and it just hit me like a bird flying into the window! I had totally forgotten that. It wasn’t even on my mind! It didn’t even make that big of an impression on me back in Brussels. But I’m glad the Lord helped me remember!

We’ve been applying those three principles as well as prayer in our week this last week. I feel like we’re being guided more by the Spirit as we go out and work. Our week was busy but really good and we found a lot of new potential amis and we scheduled a lot of rendez-vous for this week. We’ll see what happens, but things are looking really good! And a couple of our amis keep progressing–one is still looking at getting baptized on the 6th. It’s all very exciting! :D

This week will be busy. We’re going to Paris for zone conference this Wendesday and then we have an exchange on Friday.

Should be good.

Talk to you next week,
Elder Saul Marquez

P.S. There were some Spanish speakers in the grocery store this morning and the cashier didn’t understand what they were saying so I totally translated Spanish to French and I felt super cool. Hehe.

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2013 in Mission

 

Good Week

Sorry for the generic title.

This week was SO. GOOD.

So it was announced a while ago that St. Nazaire would be receiving a pair of couple missionaries. The branch has been pretty excited since then as have we. Well, I got a call last weekend from the secretary telling me that they would be coming in on Friday and she asked me and my companion to go to Nantes to pick them up. We said ok and didn’t think too much of it after that.

Tuesday came and I got a call from a random number. I immediately recognized the voice, though. It was Elder Metcalf, one of the older missionaries who had been serving up in Lille back when I was in Valenciennes. He told me that he and his wife had been in St. Nazaire since Monday preparing the new apartment for the new missionaries. He asked if we would have a little time to help them on Wednesday and I said sure. We got there the next day. They had bought plenty of furniture but it was all furniture that had to be put together yourself. There was a lot of it. They asked us to put together a desk and so we went at it. Sometime during our conversations I mentioned that we were picking up the couple Friday afternoon.

“What?” they said. “We thought they were coming in APRIL!”

“No, the secretary said that I’m supposed to pick them up on Friday,” I said.

There was no way they would finish putting everything together before then! When we finished the desk, we went out to teach a lesson and then we sent out a mass text to the members asking if there would be any available the next day to help us. About five came the next day! We spent a good deal of the afternoon with the members putting everything together. Thankfully we got it all done!!

Friday afternoon cam soon enough and we headed out to Nantes to find the new couple. We met Elder and Soeur Harris. They come from Utah and they’re really, really wonderful. Both served here in France forty years ago. We took them to St. Nazaire and there Elder Metcalf and a member helped them into their apartment. Saturday we showed them around the city a bit. We showed them how the buses work and took them to the chapel. That night there was a mini branch meal to welcome them. The members seem to really like them.

Now here’s a super super cool experience. We were walking home from the branch meal. It was dark and we decided to try contacting. There was a guy a ways off and I didn’t notice him but Elder Visconti did and he said, “Let’s go contact him!” So we started going toward the guy and he started coming toward us. As we got closer I made out the details of his face. It was an inactive member that I had seen once in my first transfer. Every time we tried to meet with him he canceled our rendez-vous! But that’s not even the cool part. As we got closer, the member and Elder Visconti freak out! Before I knew what was going on, they were hugging and practically crying!

And then I remembered that the inactive member came from Pau–the city that Elder Visconti comes from! Turns out that he used to LIVE with Elder Visconti’s family. But then he left the church and moved and nobody from Pau had ever heard from him again.

Well what a coincidence. (We know better).

It was very touching and very very cool. Elder Visconti was so touched by it–especially since he’s only just started his mission and it hadn’t been planned for him to come here in the first place.

The member came to church yesterday and says he’s coming again. We have a rendez-vous with him for tomorrow. The recent convert that we baptized a few weeks ago even invited him over to his home Thursday night as well as a few other members. Too good!!!

The district presidency was at church yesterday to call a new branch president. They’re really pushing to turn the branch into a ward here and the district into a stake as it’s the last in France. They called one of the members as the president. Elder Harris was called as the second counselor! And then they had Elder and Sister Harris bear their testimonies. When Elder Harris started speaking, the Spirit flooded the room. Nearly everyone was crying. Even our ami who attended church had tears in his eyes!! The Spirit was SO strong. And after that the rest of the meeting was incredibly spiritual. It was certainly one of the best Sunday I’ve ever had in my life. We were all really touched by the testimonies of Elder and Sister Harris.

And so that’s just a glimpse as to what my week was like. A lot of other great things happened as well but this email will be too long if I tell you everything. But we’re happy here and work is going along great. Life is good. :)

Love,
Elder Saul Marquez

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2013 in Mission

 

Elder Visconti

Well, I got my new companion and his name is Elder Visconti. He’s a visa waiter! Just like Elder Fourtina was. In fact, he knows Elder Fourtina because they come from the same stake. He comes from a city in the South of France called Pau (“Po”) and he’s been called to serve in the Provo mission.

And everyone seems to love him!

The members went nuts when they saw that the new missionary is French. Even more so the fact that he’s a bleu (“greenie”) missionary and he speaks great French—hahaha. The members love to go up and tell him, “You have perfect French, no accent or anything!” And then they laugh their heads off.

All the members love him.

Of course he has perfect French. He’s French! Haha. He doesn’t speak English yet. It’s really funny to hear him try and say things in English. I laugh pretty hard. But I know I was like that when I was trying to learn French. But he helps me out with my French as well. All I do is talk in French now. First day was a bit tough but now I don’t think about it much. I’ve even been thinking in French the last few days… I caught myself doing my personal prayers in French. I was like, “Non!!!!!”

But not a big deal. It’s actually a lot of fun and we’re getting along well. I’m super impressed by his excitement. When it’s time to leave the apartment, he’s jumping up and down shouting, “Let’s go!” in a thick French accent. It’s hilarious. And he has no problem talking to the people. He hasn’t been to the MTC yet but he seems to be getting it really really well. I just tell him what to do and he goes and does it and he does a pretty good job.

And all the members love him.

But I’m seriously impressed by how excited he is to go out and work and do everything he has to do. He’s super young too. 18. Although here in France, the members could already leave at 18, even before the age change.

All the members love him!

It was also cool because when I went to pick him up, I got to see all of the other new missionaries. I think there are about fifteen new ones (guessing off the top of my head). They’re the first batch of the new group of missionaries who have begun missions since the age change. So exciting! And they are all SO LEGIT. I am SO JEALOUS. I went to stay here longer and see it all happen. But….

Did I mention that all the members love Elder Visconti?

I believe there will be about 90 new missionaries coming in next transfer. Our mission is about to go BOOM. Déjà in Nantes, which is in my district, there are now six missionaries. And here in St. Nazaire, we’ll be getting a new couple equipe next week. We’re all super excited! The members are excited too. St. Nazaire is part of the last district that exists in France. They’re really working hard to turn these branches into wards and the district into a stake. It’s all so exciting.

Good news here? Remember the story of the lady who called us one day, saying, “I don’t know why I’m calling you?” And we fixed a rendez-vous with her? Well, she’s been coming to church since then. She loves it. The members love her (just a little bit more than they love Elder Visconti). And she agreed to be baptized!! The date is April 6th. I think she can be ready before then. We’re hoping because the 6th will be a bit tough for several reasons…. But we’ll see. But it’s all so exciting!

Great things going on here! I just love it all SO MUCH! I’m LOVING MY MISSION. I don’t know how else to say it. Life is just great. Tough and tiring, but so so so so good.

And all the members really like Elder Visconti.

Love,
Elder Saul Marquez

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2013 in Mission

 

Sick Week

This last week has been very busy and tiring and loaded with all sorts of surprises.

Here’s just one surprise: The Flu! I woke up Thursday morning all good and fine with no problems. And then I suddenly got super super tired and sleepy during personal study–and I’m pretty good at avoiding that. And then I got really cold. So I put on a jacket and a scarf and my companion laughed at me. And then my temperature rose to 102.6 degrees or something like that. And I didn’t feel too good so I rested in the morning. But we had a rendez-vous at three in the afternoon so I got up to go to that.

It was with a new woman who we had contacted some weeks before. We taught her the first lesson and she was very interested in it. She said that she’s been searching for the truth and so she was more than happy to take the Book of Mormon. I thought it was a really good lesson except for the fact that it hurt for me to speak and my entire body ached and I was shivering and whatnot. I’m pretty sure she could tell I was sick. But I survived and we’ll be seeing her again on Thursday.

I was sick some more.

Friday came and I was still sick. Friday was also the last Friday of the transfer. That’s normally when the assistants call everyone to tell them that they’re the district leaders or that they’re training. I was certain Elder Fuller was going to get a call.

Well, the call came.

It wasn’t for Elder Fuller. I’m training. AGAIN. This is, like, my third time if you count Elder Fourtina a year ago. But I’m excited. I’ll only be doing half the training, though, because the training program is twelve weeks long and, well…

Anyway. Saturday came. I was still sick. We taught some people. I’m sure they could tell I was sick. And then Sunday came. Still sick.

Today’s Monday. Still sick.

Despite the sickness, I still had a good week. Wednesday was especially cool. We didn’t schedule rendez-vous that day because our entire mission, as well as the Lyon mission, all spent the day finding new people to teach! All the missionaries in France, French-speaking Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland united together in an effort to find new people to teach and baptize! We prayed for our two missions every thirty minutes. It was really cool. We didn’t actually find anyone on that day but plenty of other companionships did. Either way, the Spirit was strong. There’s something about being unified by prayer that you just can’t explain. It was a very neat experience.

And so today is day one of another transfer. This transfer is six weeks long. Back to normal. And I really really want to make the most of this one.

Love,
Elder Saul Marquez

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2013 in Mission