Category Archives: MTC

Concerning Pigeons

Dear Concerned Reader,

I feel the need to explain something that I have not yet explained to you.

We have a problem here in Mantes.

A big problem.

Pigeons are taking over the city.

They’re in the train station. They’re in the Church. They’re all over our apartment building. You can hardly walk outside without getting pooped on. They’re everywhere. Little, dirty savages. The sparrows are on our side but they’re not strong enough to take on the pigeons. Especially when the pigeons breed like rats. They just had babies.

There’s one pigeon in particular. He’s all white and he sits at the top of our apartment building. All the other pigeons fly around him as if he were the sun and he held some sort of gravitational pull over them. They worship him. He is LORDPIGEON. He is evil. He has two demi-gods who are half white, half grey. They do most of the dirty work. They’re the ones who watch over the grunt-pigeons.

One day we went contacting downtown. We were minding our own business, talking to people, when the all of the sudden the white pigeon swooped down in front of us. He gave us the stink eye but we didn’t let that get in our way from doing our work. But you can see how this is starting to become a problem. He’s getting stronger by the day.

Finally, last Friday evening, we returned to our apartment, thinking that everything was normal. Until we found a feather on the floor. We searched the apartment. Suddenly, from behind one of the chairs, a pigeon flew at us and then headed toward the window. But the window was mostly closed and so he hit his head and fell to the ground. Then he did it again. And again. And one last time before he finally found the narrow opening that he must have had come in through.

He left presents on the floor.

I’m writing this letter in hopes of getting help. I have not yet seen a pigeon infestation of this kind and I fear that if we wait any longer to act, it will be too late. Indeed, I am convinced that the pigeons intend to take over all of Mantes, then Paris, then France. Europe. Then the world. Global Warming. (It’s a conspiracy. Something about hotdogs).

We don’t have much time to act.

I’ll await your response.

With all due respect,
Elder Scared-For-His-Life

P.S. We already tried feeding them rice. It didn’t work.

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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in MTC


The Adventure Continues…

I still haven’t been shot! Miracles do happen!!

Hey, do you want to hear a real miracle?

We spent the entire two weeks just contacting and knocking on doors. We got a handful of numbers (not the miracle). None of the numbers worked (Also not the miracle). So now we’re going to be smarter about gaining numbers so we don’t get our time wasted with fake numbers. :P

Here’s the miracle.

After a two weeks of basically nothing, something pretty cool happened yesterday at church. Two girls randomly showed up in church. One was seventeen and the other fourteen. They said that they were walking home and the seventeen-year-old saw the name, “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints” and wanted to see what it was like inside. So they came in and stayed all three hours.

After talking to them for a while, we found out that the seventeen-year-old was from Spain. Legit. Spanish. And that she knows a close friend who is in the church and that’s what made her curious to go in in the first place. We also found out that she’s been to a temple open house in Spain. So we got their phone numbers and we’re hoping to see them sometime this week.

Boom. Miracle. The only downside to this is that they could be out of our area. But if they are, that’s not bad anyway, we’d just pass them to some other missionaries. It’s still pretty cool.

Aside from that, not much new has been going on. The last thing I guess I wanted to add was how much I noticed I’ve been blessed in my life. We visited a member this last week and they have an OK apartment and everything, but they have no furniture or anything and they’re going through a very hard time paying for their food and all they have. And yet when we went over to see them, the father’s first thought was to give us juice that he had just barely bought. He kept saying, “I’m sorry, I don’t have bigger cups for you.” But when you think about it, just his simple act of giving three elders some juice when he’s struggling to pay for it, means a lot more than even an entire bottle of juice. It suddenly means the world.

With all due respect,
Elder Saul Marquez

P.S: NatLar, thanks for the moment of silence in my honor haha. This place has no movie posters so I have yet to see the posters, but everyone else in the mission has seen them and they say it looks AMAZING!!! I hope it’s awesome. But I still doubt it’ll be as cool as July 15th was. Haha. And you’ll get a letter from me soooooon. :D May the Odds Be Forever In Your Favor. – Elder Saul  (This is for a couple of Saul’s friends who took a moment to remember Saul because he can’t see the Hunger Games movie…He loves movies especially where he has read the books)

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Posted by on February 27, 2012 in MTC


Amongst the Whirlwind of Things

The last week has, indeed, been very tiring and exhausting. SO much
has happened. I guess it starts with us preparing our investigators
for baptism.

We taught them the last few thing Monday night and then made an effort
to see them every night leading up to the baptism. The mother was
feeling good about the Church and everything we’ve taught her, however
she was still on the fence abut the baptism. She hadn’t said no, but
she hadn’t said yes either. She’s been baptized twice already, so
she’s been hesitant to do it again. We’ve explained it all to her and
she understood it and didn’t really object it. She just wanted a

So Thursday came and we all decided to fast for her confirmation.
That night we went over and talked. She was still unsure. Before
leaving, Elder Smith suggested praying there to get a confirmation.
We knelt down in a circle and then each said a prayer. Elder Smith
started, then I did one, then the daughter did one and finally the
mother. It felt like a heavy blanket was draped over our hearts. We
knew it was the Spirit.

There was peace and then quiet.

“What do you think?” asked Elder Smith.

She thought for a moment.

“I’m going to do it,” she said. “I just don’t know when.”

She got the confirmation, but then she wanted to wait for her sister
who is being taught by a different set of missionaries in Nivelles
(just outside of Brussels). But she decided that she still wanted a
baptismal interview, just in case she changed her mind and decided to
go through with it on Saturday.

As for the daughter, she told us that she was two-hundred percent sure
that she would be baptized. So we planned for one baptism on

Friday night came and we did an exchange with the zone leaders so they
could do the interviews. I went with Elder Hoopes to their house and
there he did both their interviews. The daughter was super excited
for the baptism the next day and both she and her mom did just fine on
the interviews. We left the house telling them when they should be at
the church and what to bring, etc, etc.

And then on the way home I got a call from the daughter. She said
that she wanted to change the day. She wants to be baptized with her
mom–she wants to do it as a family. Elder Smith talked to her and
they said they would pray that night and tell us Saturday morning.

Saturday came and they had their answer. They would wait, for how
long they weren’t so sure, but they would wait.

We were a bit sad to see that happen, but we, at least, know they WILL
be baptized. They said it themselves. It’s just a matter of when.
However, we feel strongly that it’ll be soon. They honestly are an
amazing family, and Elder Smith and I have been beyond blessed to have
seen them grow and change. Especially the daughter. She’s
thirteen-years-old and her faith is incredible.

And amongst the whirlwind of things, Saturday I found out that I’ll be
leaving Brussels. I’m going to a place called Mantes la Jolie (or
something like that). It’s North of Paris. And from what I hear…
It’s a bit… ghetto… But so it is! And I’ll be in a trio–I’ll
have two companions. One I already know, Elder Sorenson. He’s a
group below me, he’s a really good kid. The other is Elder Nielson
who is still pretty new in the field from what I understand.

As for Elder Smith, this is where he finishes his mission. So neither
of us will be here for when our investigators get baptized. It’s
weird to think that in two days two completely new missionaries will
be teaching all the people we’ve spent time with.

For me, I’m especially sad. My time in Brussels has been very
precious to me. I’ve now spent six months here. That’s an entire
quarter of my mission! I remember leaving Meaux and how sad I was to
say goodbye. Well, to be perfectly honest, I’m crushed to be leaving.

Brussels has been something else for me. Here I’ve experienced some
of the most challenging moments of my life. I’ve made friends that I
will hold onto eternally. I watched my French progress (slightly!
Still getting there, haha!), and I defied my own faith and somehow
taught in Spanish after forgetting it. Here I witnessed miracles and
truly gained a testimony that miracles do exist. Within the Lord,
nothing is impossible.

When I think of Brussels, I think of trials, growth and happiness.
This place will hold a very special place in my heart.

It all hit me yesterday as I went up to the pulpit to give my parting
testimony. I’m very sad to say goodbye to the ward and the wonderful
people I met here. This ward really is amazing! And the Belge are
awesome!!!!! Haha. :)

But I’m happy to be moving on. It’s time to go. I’ve been here for a
while and I’m ready to see the rest. With the Lord by my side, I know
that I’ll make it through the months ahead.

So here begins Chapter Five of my mission!

All is well.
Elder Saul Marquez

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Posted by on February 13, 2012 in MTC


Seven Reasons Why I’ve Loved the MTC


Sorry for not writing a post last week. Things are getting super busy here. I’ll be in France in less than ONE WEEK!! :D

So with that in mind, here’s some stuff you might (or might not, probably the latter) want to know. We don’t get Dear Elders on Saturdays so if you need/want to write me through Dear Elder, then please send it no later than Friday. If I don’t get it Friday, I won’t get it at all. If you want/need to send a package, it has to be here no later than Saturday. I won’t get it if it comes later. The MTC won’t forward my mail to me. They’ll just send it back to you.

Quick note: Last week we thought we’d get Elder Holland. We didn’t. We get Elder Nelson. Very cool. :)

So here’s what Monday will be like for me: Elder Russo and Sister Ovard will be leaving at five in the morning to go to Toulouse, France (I think I spelled that wrong). So we’ll probably be up early to say bye to them. Then everyone else in our zone will be leaving at like eight. Elders Hunter, Cheel and I will be leaving at 1:50 pm to the Salt Lake City Airport. We have ONE straight flight to De Gaulle Airport in Paris–leaving at 4:50 pm (I think) and then a nice eleven hour flight to Paris. We should get to Paris the next day (June 7th) at around noon. And then I begin my mission! :)

We’re excited to leave! I’ve enjoyed my time here, but I am SUPER ready to leave. I think that the worst thing will be saying goodbye to all of the great people I’ve met. So today I thought I’d share a little bit about each of the members of my district.

Elder Zollinger – He and I like to tease each other a lot, but it’s always with a good spirit. He has a strong testimony and has really inspired me to be the best missionary I can possibly be. He’s also helped me loads with French. I owe a lot to this elder. He’s serving in the Geneva mission.

Elder Cushing – Elder Cushing is absolutely hilarious. He’s loads of fun to be around. I’ll miss his jokes that he tells every day. But even thought he loves to mess around, he’s also serious about the work and I know he’s going to serve well. He’s also going to Geneva.

Elder Jensen – He’s from Queen Creek too and we met briefly once in our mission prep class. I’m so glad that I’ve gotten to know him. He gets so excited about French–especially when we’re playing French/Gospel catch phrase. He’s just always in a good mood and I know his attitude is going to bless everyone in Geneva too.

Elder Turnbow – Elder Turnbow is super smart and always shares insightful thoughts during our lessons and discussions. He’s a great guy. You can tell he’s got a strong spirit and testimony of this gospel. I’ll miss Elder Turnbow loads. He’s just awesome! :) He’s serving in Geneva.
Elder Russo – Elder Russo is one of our room-mates. I’ve seen a huge change in him since he first got here. He used to have the worst time staying on task, but he’s gotten so much better. His desire to serve has grown incredibly. He still has trouble sometimes, but I know as he serves, he’ll become even stronger. Sometimes he’s a bit of a handful but I’ll miss him a lot! :)

Elder Cheel – Elder Cheel is our crazy elder who’ll be speaking Mandarin in Paris. When he first got here, he said that his testimony was still a seed. The other day he commented that he feels it’s grown a lot here. I can tell it has. He doesn’t take a lot seriously, but I think he will the more he serves. I can’t wait to talk to him in two years to see how he’s changed. He’s got a great spirit and he’s going to bless a lot of people.

Elder Hunter – Last is Elder Hunter, my companion. I’ve been sooooo lucky to have him as a companion. He’s absolutely awesome. I’ve never had any problems with him. He’s helped me loads in French and in better understanding this gospel. We teach and plan well. I’m really sad that I’m going to have to leave him in a week. But I know that he’s going to do some amazing things in the mission. I’m excited to hear about what those things are!

I’ve really been blessed here at the MTC. Especially with my district. They really are the seven reasons why my time here has been so great. Not only them, but my zone, teachers and branch presidency too. They’ve been my best friends for the last two months! Everyone here is just awesome. I’m ready to leave, but I will miss it and I’ll cherish the memories I’ve made here forever.

So I guess the next time you hear from me is when I’ll be in France!

Wish me luck! :)
~ Elder Saul Marquez

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Posted by on May 31, 2011 in MTC


It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! No It’s…

So last Tuesday was pretty crazy. The rumors were flying around everywhere that President Monson was coming to speak to us that night.

We had a lot of reason to believe that he was going to be coming. A sister who left three weeks ago had known that Elders Scott and Oaks were coming–she apparently knew someone who had all of this information. Right before she left she said that President Monson would be coming within the next three weeks. Then one of the sisters in our zone told us that the choir was singing Consider the Lilies, which I guess is President Monson’s favorite song. And then one of the media personnel told Elder Zollinger that President Monson was coming. And then we met some missionaries going to Honduras and they said that their mom had a friend who said that President Monson was coming.

So everyone freaked out. And as we walked through the halls I kept hearing people whispering about the fireside that night. So we lined up early to make sure we’d get the right seats. We started singing hymns, waiting for them to announce who was coming when…

Elder Neil L. Anderson walked in.

So it wasn’t President Monson. But it was still an apostle–so we were prettttttyyyy excited.

His talk focused a lot around a statement in Preach My Gospel: As our understanding of the Atonement increases, our desire to share the gospel increases. He talked about repentance and the need for us to repent as missionaries and to bring others to repentance. One of the cool things he said was that after we repent, we think less of ourselves and think more about others.

After the devotional we talked as a district with one of the members of our branch presidency. In regards to Elder Anderson’s comment, he noted that after Enos repents, his thoughts immediately turn to the welfare of others. Elder Zollinger also pointed out how after Lehi partakes of the fruit from the Tree of Life that his first thoughts are to share it with his family. I looked up these scriptures afterward and it’s true! And it’s really a pretty cool thought. If you had found happiness why wouldn’t you want to share it with others?

Elder Anderson finally closed his talk with how we were true representatives of Christ. He told us that “our plaques will be badges of honor.” I never really noticed it that way. But it really is something special when you can literally wear the name of Christ (or in my case Jésus-Christ) every day for two years.

So when it was all over and done, we decided to go outside to the curb to see him leave–just like we did with Elder Oaks. There was already a fairly sized crowd there. We made our ways to the front and waited for a while when he finally came out and started walking across the parking lot with his family. President Brown (the MTC President) pointed to our huge group of missionaries and the next thing we knew, Elder Anderson was walking toward us!! He started shaking everyone’s hands–it was really cool!

Now there’s something you gotta’ know. :) Elder Anderson served in France. So when he got to us I said, “Elder Anderson, we’re going to France!”

“You must have done something really good in the pre-existence!” he said. And then he stood in front of me and put his hand on my shoulder and started talking to me and it was pretty cool because I was being talked to personally by an apostle. He said, “President Gordon B. Hinckley once told me, ‘If you can build the kingdom in France you can build it anywhere!'” Haha.

He told Elder Hunter and I that it would be hard.

We’ve heard that before from loads of people, but we’re still excited to get there and teach. A couple weeks ago we had a devotional where one of the speakers said, “Do you think you would have been called to your mission if there was no one there prepared for you to baptize?” So I keep hope. :) And even if you never get a baptism, I imagine that you must be at the very least planting the seed in someone so someone else can bring the gospel to them later.

Everything else here has been pretty normal. Cafeteria is finally up and running again. And now we’re just counting down the days to our departure! 19 Days!!

~ Elder Saul Marquez

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Posted by on May 17, 2011 in MTC


One Month Down, Twenty-Three More to Go!


I can’t believe that I’ve been away from home for a month. I’m starting to understand what they mean when they say that the MTC and mission goes by fast. The days themselves seem slow, but then when we look back on the weeks we’ve been here, they seem to have gone by in a blur. It’s crazy how that works out!
Thanks for the letters! I love reading them! :)

So to answer some questions: How’s the weather? Raining. :) The others keep wanting to go to the field for gym but it keeps raining. I told them that it’s because I keep praying for rain because I love it so much. They were not amused. >:)

The elders in my district are doing fine. My companion, Elder Hunter, is the new district leader. Lots’o extra meetings for him!

And last week we didn’t end up having Jesus or President Monson come. However, we have reason to believe that something big is going down tonight. We’ll see…

So one of the cool things about the MTC is how international it is. We’ll be walking through the halls and I’ll hear people speaking in all sorts of languages from Spanish to English, to English English, to Australian English, to Chinese, to Genovian (What??), to French, to Telomononofwahaloogie!! It’s just a cool thought to think of how many people throughout the world are willing to serve the Lord and also how many people throughout the world need to know the Lord.

There’s really nothing new going on. They keep changing our schedules. They’re trying to fix and perfect the schedules to fit in with their new curriculum–and we’re the guinea pigs. We don’t know what’s going on most of the time. And they replaced our old service with a new one that requires us to do service two days in the week. I honestly wouldn’t mind doing it (and it’s a pretty cool service assignment: setting up the gym for the devotionals) but it’s on our P-Day! I have a significantly less time to write letters now. Today’s already going to be pretty busy.

But oh well. One cool new change to the schedules is that they’ve implemented something called Workshop. We have them Monday mornings and we can pick what we want to work on. So like yesterday we worked on “Teach People, Not Lessons.” It really helped with knowing how we need to teach by the Spirit and not just by the order of Preach My Gospel.

We also got a new teacher. He’s a bit more strict than our others but he’s a pretty cool guy. I’m really excited to learn from him. He’s replacing one of our older teachers who decided to run off and get married. We’ve now had both of our teachers replaced for the same reason!

Anyway, that’s pretty much it!! I’ve seen Elder Meryhew around. We don’t get to talk a lot because we only see each other briefly in the halls but he was in my workshop yesterday.

That’s about it. Write me!! :)
~ Elder Saul Marquez

P.S. – Also, I notice some of my mail is being addressed with MTC BOX #119. I don’t know what I have on the blog or left you, but my box number is actually 116! Can you change it if it’s wrong on the blog? Thanks!

Someone should send me some pics of the Harry Potter trailer. It sounds like it’s soooo good. ~8)


Posted by on May 10, 2011 in MTC


Dallin H. Oaks and Lots’o Other Things

So we walk into the gym for our normal Tuesday devotional and I’m minding my own business when one of the elders in my district asks, “Who’s tonight’s speaker?” Someone suggested Dallin H. Oaks but I was thinking differently. “We just had an apostle come last week! We’re not going to get another one!” Suddenly this kid in front of me turns around and in a super thick Texan accent says, “Have faith!” So I clasped my hands together, looked up into the heavens and said really fast, “I believe in Jesus! I believe in Jesus! I believe in Jesus!”

A couple minutes later, Dallin H. Oaks walked in.

Moral of the story: Believe in Jesus.

Before Elder Oaks spoke, his wife talked to us. She told us how, as missionaries, we needed to see “the picture.” Often times we focus on the smaller aspects of what we’re teaching. We need to remember that everything we believe in and teach is directed at one purpose: Jesus Christ. I really liked one of the comments she made when she said, “The Church is not just a nice way to live. It is the reason why we live.”

Elder Oaks spoke to us next. It was different than when Richard G. Scott spoke to us a week before. Elder Oak’s talk was more instructional, whereas with Elder Scott he repeatedly gave us his testimony throughout his talk. Elder Oaks didn’t do so much of that, but it was still really cool. He had some great advice for us as missionaries, first and foremost being the requirement of the Spirit when we teach. When we teach, it’s not so much our words that matter, rather whether we invite the Spirit. It’s the Spirit that testifies to the investigator that the message is true. He went on to say that “Nothing short of a testimony will bring light and knowledge to them.” If we don’t have a testimony of what we’re teaching, how can we expect to teach effectively? Not only that, but one of the most effective ways of inviting the Spirit is by bearing your testimony.

Among other things he talked about was the importance of Preach My Gospel. I have to admit, I didn’t like using it so much when I first got here, but I’ve been finding that it’s a HUGE HELP. Elder Hunter and I have prepared a few lessons with it and I think it’s great. It’s got some amazing scriptures and questions to go along with each topic–and the biggest thing is that it keeps things simple. There’s none of the over explaining that we tend to get ourselves into.

Speaking of lessons and preparing, Elder Hunter and I have gotten two new mock investigators. Yesterday when we met with one, we asked him if he had fulfilled his commitments to read Joseph Smith History and then pray about it afterwards. He said he read and prayed but he didn’t pray to know the truth of the Joseph Smith’s story. He didn’t quite understand the commitment. It was really really cool because we started explaining it to him. He asked some questions like “Why is it important to know that the Book of Mormon is true?” and “How do I get an answer–what does it feel like?” Elder Hunter and I flipped through several scriptures, right on the spot (in French, of course) and taught him through the scriptures. It was crazy because it wasn’t like it was planned, but the scriptures just came to us and he understood everything we were saying. I was surprised that I was able to do that in French! It’s definitely coming along. I’ve still got loads to work on, but I’m just really surprised by how much I already know in four weeks.

Also, Elder Ryan Garrison should be leaving today. He was supposed to be leaving yesterday. I went and saw him right before he left to the airport–I thought that would be the last time I’d see him. And suddenly he was at dinner that night! I guess they had two flights to catch but the first came late so they couldn’t make their second one. So now they’re going today! Anyway, he’s off to Argentina–crazy to think!

Annnnd, we heard the news about Osama bin Laden. Although we heard it late! We got our mail after dinner and one of the elders shouted, “THEY KILLED OSAMA BIN LADEN!” And then when I got to the end of my letter from my mom, I read the news. Everyone else at the MTC seemed to already know, though. Anyway–that’s so crazy! I really wish I could read a newspaper or something right now. But a lot of people were pretty happy last night. There was much eating of celebration brownies…

And last, I saw that I got put in the acknowledgments of my friend’s book, Max Quick: The Pocket and the Pendant. That’s seriously SO COOL!!! I’ve never been in the acknowledgments of a book before! Thanks, Mark! I think his book just came out a few days ago. It’s a Middle Grade/YA read that I highly suggest. Go get it, it’s one of my favorites! :) Max Quick: The Pocket and the Pendant by Mark Jeffrey.

Anyway, that’s all I have time for. We’ll see who comes for the devotional tonight. Rumor is that President Monson will be coming soon. Him or Jesus.

~ Elder Saul Marquez

P.S. – We watched Elder Oaks leave. He didn’t have a limo or anything like we expected haha. He drives a little white car!

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Posted by on May 3, 2011 in MTC