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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

 

Two is Better Than One

This week was really good, particularly the weekend.

Our 34-year-old investigator was baptized this last Saturday. I baptized him. He wanted it done in English over French (long story). And the baptismal program was in Bretton (but we left some French in). Haha. And very very few members could attend. So it was different from any other baptism I’ve been to thus far on my mission. But it was still really good.

He’s pretty tall and I’m pretty not tall. So it was somewhat difficult getting him fully under the water! We had to do it twice! On Sunday a member went up to him saying, “I heard you had to go under twice!” And he said, “Yeah, I don’t like uneven numbers.” Hahaha.

And then the member who did the confirmation messed up. So we had to do the confirmation twice. Haha. He was a good sport about the whole thing.

And thank goodness, I kept myself calm this time. I didn’t stress out like I did the last baptism. The last baptism I felt like a rabbit trapped in a little box. I don’t know why. I just stress over things too easily.

Yesterday was very good as well. We had several investigators come to church–more than we’ve had before. The investigator class was filled!! And they took up a nice little chunk of the congregation during sacrament meeting. The members seemed super happy to see so many new faces there. They all did a good job at befriending them too.

And the girl we baptized a couple weeks ago is introducing us to a friend who wants to meet with us tonight! :D

Things here are just great.

This Wednesday our mission along with the Lyon mission will all be doing a day of “Spiritual Finding.” We plan to spend our time finding new people to teach–people who will accept the invitation to be baptized. It’s all to prepare ourselves for the new missionaries. President Poznanski is guiding us in making our work more spiritual and fruitful. Things are better than they have ever been before, in my opinion. We want to be at a new level by the time the new missionaries arrive.

It’s the last week of the transfer. We’ll see what happens next transfer. I’ll probably stay here in St. Nazaire. We’ll see. Good things are happening.

Love,
Elder Saul Marquez

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2013 in Mission

 

Mission Fever

Howdy,

So this last week was pretty busy. We had interviews with President and Soeur Poznanski in Rennes. (That was my first time going to Rennes–yay!) And then we had a training from President and then the zone leaders and then district meeting right after. Long day! I was on exchange the night before too. But it all worked out really well. I’m surprised by how quickly this transfer is going by.

There is the fact that it is shorter.

Yesterday we had several new investigators show up at church. It was great! The branch just seems to get more and more excited over missionary work. We’re teaching with the members a lot and they seem to be loving it. A few of them bore their testimonies about doing missionary work and shared their experiences of teaching with us. They’re getting Missionary Fever. Haha.

In the mission we’re preparing for all of the new missionaries. With the age change, we’re expecting so many new missionaries in the mission. And so President is focusing a lot on our methods of teaching. We practice teach like no other now! It’s not our favorite thing to do but we do it. And it helps. We’re getting a lot more used to it. We’ve already seen how it helps us work out the wrinkles in our lessons. I really feel President is inspired in the direction he is taking this mission. It’s changed so much from when I started.

I’m just sad I won’t be here to see all that happens next.

One of our investigators will be getting baptized this weekend. He didn’t believe in God before we started teaching him. His faith is still small, but it’s growing a lot and we’ve really seen a change in him since the beginning.

Things are great here! :)

Love,
Elder Saul Marquez

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2013 in Mission

 

Stressful Calming Baptism

I had a pretty bad headache all of Saturday. I don’t know why, but I get super stressed before baptisms. I’m like a rabbit trapped in a little box. But I’ve survived. And most importantly, the baptism happened and it was a wonderful experience!

We’ve been teaching this 19-year-old girl for two months now. She’s from Guinea-Bissau and she used to be Catholic. She was very active in her church back when she lived in Portugal but she lost a lot of that faith when she moved here in France. She went through many, many trials and felt that she needed more of God in her life, but she wasn’t finding it where she was.

About a week before I arrived in St. Nazaire, Elder Fuller, my companion, contacted her when getting off of a bus. He said that she hardly said anything during that first contact, but that her interest was apparent. They taught her once and the rendez-vous went really well. I arrived in St. Nazaire the next week. The first rendez-vous that I was in with her, the Spirit was so incredibly strong. She came to church the next day, we talked to her afterwards and set a baptismal date.

Since then we’ve been working with her a lot to prepare for the baptism. The zone leaders came down on exchanges Thursday night. We met with her for her baptismal interview. She brought her father with her. Turns out he was baptized six years ago but left the church when he decided he wanted to be Catholic so that the family would be unified in their faith. Well, Elder Fuller and one of the zone leaders talked to him as the zone leader I was with interviewed her. The father is okay with the baptism, but he’s not interested in coming back himself.

The baptism had to be in Nantes which is a good hour away. We got on the train and the members helped bring her and her family to the chapel. One of the members who was supposed to give the talk on baptism had an emergency just before and said she couldn’t come anymore. She told us that she’d give her talk to her husband and then we could have someone read it at the baptism. When her husband got there, we asked for the talk. He forgot it!

So I gave the talk off the top of my head. I had given a talk in Valenciennes on baptism just a few months ago, so I mostly did the same one again. But it was still really different.

Then we had the baptism. Elder Fuller baptized her. It was wonderful. After the service, she was really, really happy. There was just a good feeling. Everything was calm.

Sunday morning came. She asked me to do the confirmation. I had never done one before. I was pretty nervous. And then to make things better, the branch president asked us just a few minutes before to give talks during sacrament meeting. Guess who got to give on a talk on the spot again? And then I had to play the piano. I always stress out when I play the piano.

When the time came, I laid my hands on her head. As soon as I began talking, it was like my mind went empty. All that stress that I had just vanished instantly. I was calm. All I could hear and focus on were the words that were coming out of my mouth. It was very special. I’ve not really had an experience like that. Even when giving blessings… This one was just different.

She was so happy after church. She’s normally very quiet and shy. She was shooting the breeze with the members after it was all over. She left the chapel saying “Thank you for everything you’ve done for me.”

I’m so glad to be on a mission. This is the best experience in the entire world. I just know you can’t understand what I mean unless you’ve experienced it yourself. Words do not describe this. I love my mission. I hope this never ends.

There are many good things coming in the next weeks. Time is so short, I hope to make the most of it while I still can.

Love,
Elder Saul Marquez

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2013 in Mission