Monday, February 19, 2018

Letter from Epinal - Feb 19 - Starting to Think in French

Bonjour a tous,

Well, I can officially say that my French brain is beginning to really take over. Every once in a while I will find myself speaking French and not even thinking about it. Which is a good sign. This week in general was pretty good! We found 2 new investigators, which is awesome! That's 2 more souls that we are helping! And most likely 3 because one of the 2 has a son.

This week I got sick, nothing serious, mostly just a cold and a headache. But nevertheless still annoying. I'm still recovering now from it. I fear my companion has begun to contract it as well. We will see how it goes. I also learned a tonguetwister in French. It's all based around the word foi. (La foi=faith, le foi=liver, foi=times, and the ville called Foi.) I'm too lazy right now to type it out, I can record myself on audio saying it for you guys though. And yes, I believe that audio recordings are ok to send home. Because missionaries do that in the MTC. But I will ask my mission president in my email to him today and find out for sure. If it's not ok, this will be my last one.

Anyway, we went out to dinner on Valentine's day with an ami and her family. We went to a place called Buffalo Grill. It was pretty good! And after that she made us a cake at her house (well it was pre-made but you know what I mean). It was good and they apparently went online and watched the entire Joseph Smith movie about his life and they really liked it! We want to show them 17 miracles eventually. 

Also, we visited all of the referrals from that member in Mulhouse! The first was a guy in Thaon named Jose. He was super cool and is actually progressing really well right now with no interruptions as far as we know. We went to Remiremont to find the other 2 people and found 1. She works at a perfume store there and we walked in, found her, and told her about how the member Jeremie gave us this Book of Mormon and asked us to give it to her. She was really surprised and one of her coworkers saw our tags and recognized us as the Mormons, you know, the ones who live in communities and practice polygamy! Wonderful... But as far as we know, she has a Book of Mormon and our number if she wants to meet with us. The last referral we found because we called her and she said she had actually moved to Épinal! So we met her last night and she is really nice and has had a really hard life. She and her son are refugees. So you can imagine the life they've had. Anyway, they are really nice and we have a return rendez-vous with them this Friday! 

So needless to say, we are doing pretty well here in Épinal. I am really excited for it to warm up here because this place would be beautiful if it was green! All I see is potential!

Well I love you all, and here is the recording!

Elder Payne 
France, Paris Mission

Monday, February 12, 2018

New Technology in Epinal

Bonjour a tous,

Well this week was a blast, and also hard. But mostly a blast!

This week we went and tried door to door in a village just north of us, within walking distance. It was a beautiful walk there with the river on your left and green fields on your right. I keep hearing from locals that this city is absolutely beautiful in the late spring and early summer. So I hope I get to see that. Because this city is covered in nature and I would love to see all of the trees with leaves on them!

We also just got new smartphones! They work so well and they are so much faster than the little Nokias we had before. Given, less tough, but we have the kind of smartphone that is supposed to be tougher than the average smartphone. I don't know if they are "missionary tough" but so far so good. The members really like sending us emojis haha.

One of our investigators, Sylvie Blanchard is very cool. In fact she and her family are so cool that they are taking us out to dinner on Valentine's day! We love them so much! Sylvie is like, the missionary mom here in epinal, she loves to help us out. And her kids are awesome too.

I got a new suit today for free! For the entire time I've been in Épinal, there was this bag of clothes by elder Anderson's dresser, and I always thought that it was his stuff. So I never touched it. Today he told me that it belonged to another elder who finished his mission here and the stuff is up for grabs. So I looked and found 2 ties, some clean socks, and a nice suit! It is light grey and actually fits me like a charm.

This week is yet another nice, busy week. Oh and another funny thing. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I like to tinker. I enjoy building things. And for the past month or so, I have been wanting to get a stylus for me tablet. Well I discovered by way of accident that batteries work on touch-screens.  So I made my own stylus, using nothing but tin foil and a AAA battery. Here is a picture!

Well I love you all! Have a good week!

Elder Payne 
France, Paris Mission

Monday, February 5, 2018

Learning to be more Spiritual in Epinal

Bonjour a tous,

Well the email was originally longer than this and then I accidentally deleted it. I'm sad because now I have to rewrite this email.

Well, to put it in short terms, this was an interesting week.

We met with an ami named Jacque last Monday, he invited us to eat at his house, he also invited 5 other women as well with the intention of presenting us to the girls. He tried his VERY best to make us look good in front of the girls. That was an interesting night, one of the girls took interest in us but not the message. That was awkward for everyone.

Other than that, we got 3 new amis this week and Bobby and Salome came to church again! It was a fast Sunday, so we had a very spiritual Sunday with testimonies. I hope they liked it and felt the spirit, because I definitely did.

We have another rendez-vous with our new amis this Wednesday, they are really cool and seem interested. They also love americans! :)

Well we had a fun week and this one is shaping up to be promising. I actually have been really improving recently in terms of teaching boldly. The day I realized that I don't know how to be bold was definitely a turning point in my mission. A logic chain keeps going through my head (I have become a much more logical person recently). It is a series of Q and A's.

Q:how does one teach boldly?
A:with the Spirit

Q:how does one get the Spirit during a lesson?
A:testifying or speaking of an eternal truth

Q:how does one testify?
A:speak of the things close to you heart

Q:how does something get close to your heart?
A:personal spiritual experience

So you can see that in order to teach boldly, you must testify of the things that are close to your heart. The things that you have had experience with that have changed you. It was then I realized that I do not know exactly how some of the things that I teach have affected me personally, therefore, I cannot testify as powerfully of something I do not have a strong testimony of. So I have been trying really hard lately to change and grow a testimony of everything that I teach so that I can testify and invite the Spirit into every place that I testify in. 

I have seen a drastic difference lately, and it has helped me be happier, more successful, more spiritual and sensitive to spiritual promptings, and bolder.

So that was a cool experience I had and am having. It really really helps. I also took some pictures this week!

Love you all!

Elder Payne 
France, Paris Mission

Elder Payne in his favorite habitat - the forest

Elder Payne enjoying some dinner provided by some of the church members

Monday, January 29, 2018

Another 6 weeks in Epinal!

Bonjour à tous,

Well that's another transfer behind me, and we are both staying in Épinal!

Which is kind of convenient because we planned some things for Wednesday not realizing that if one of us moved, that whole day would be taken up. But it all worked out. 

In other news, we are still meeting with some super cool people! Their names are Bobby and Salome. They are still really cool. We have a lot to teach them before baptism, but we will get there. This week I hope to invite them to baptism, but we will see what the Spirit says. Today we had a fun day, we went shopping, realized that the next bus doesn't come for another 2 hours to get back. And went instead to lunch at a nearby restaurant called Flunch. It was pretty good! The only problem is the place is kinda far away. So it took up some travel time. But we got back.

Our amis came to church again on Sunday! They came late though because they thought it started at 10am. It's alright because they are just so awesome. We have another meeting with them this Thursday. 

I actually had a really cool personal experience I wanted to share that relates to them. I have been thinking a lot about what they need and how to best teach them. And my thoughts have been totally occupied with how we can teach them. On Sunday night, me and Elder Anderson wanted to watch some of the training video, District 2 by the church. So we were watching that, and about halfway through, elder Anderson had to go to the bathroom. So for a couple of minutes, I was alone. As I was walking into the hallway I stopped suddenly, mid step. And I felt something, like a small voice telling me to pray. So I said a quick prayer just asking my Heavenly Father to bless them and also to help me because I didn't know what to do. And I had a thought run through my heart that I hadn't thought of. It told me that I have been thinking of people more as teaching challenges instead of people. And that that is what has been holding me back. I expressed my gratitude and felt a quick surge of peace and emotion that left as soon as it came. I knew at that moment that the Spirit had spoken to my heart. And I vowed to myself to try my best to never do that again. And so, I am now trying to view people differently. 

It is easy to focus too much on the teaching challenges of others when they do not do or say what you want them to. I am learning to do quite the opposite, focus on the person. I hope that through me showing my heart to them, they will progress and see God in their lives and come closer to Christ. 

Other than that, we have a rendez-vous tonight with a super nice old man and his daughter. We hope that they will be interested to hear more.

Well, have a good week, and I love you all (not just saying that).

Elder Payne 
France, Paris Mission

Monday, January 22, 2018

Exciting Visitors at Church

Bonjour à tous,

Well this week has been a blast and there is another great week coming! Our new investigators came to church! They were super good! We left early in the morning to walk to their apartment (the things we do for our amis...), and they opened the door and were all ready to go, they said that they had only got 3 hours of sleep the previous night. But they were coming anyway. Which is awesome! They came and everyone in the branch was so excited to see investigators at church they just couldn't control themselves! After sacrament meeting our amis went around and met everyone, we didn't tell them to do that! So that was really cool and gave or tiny branch a little boost of excitement.

We are meeting with them again on Thursday. Also, the elders in Saint Dié have an ami named Pierre who I actually found while contacting. And he is getting baptized this Saturday!!!! I am totally going to see if I can go. And yes, I am excited for his baptism because I helped contact him originally. But at the same time, it was God and the Holy Spirit, that brought him to conversion, not me.

This week we have a jam packed week planned. We have a lot of people to see. And it's the last week of the transfer. So next week, things could change, I am pretty certain that I will stay here in Épinal. Whether my companion changes, I don't know. But we will see.

Today we went bowling as a district, it was a ton of fun! We did some last day of soldes shopping. The deals today were insane, so we figured if there was something for under 10 euros, ça va. This week is looking like a warm week for us, but it's also going to rain a lot. So I don't know how that's going to work out. 

I just took some pictures for the heck of it.

Elder Payne 
France, Paris Mission

Elder Payne on a train.

Elder Anderson
District bowling on P-Day. Serious competitors.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Different Nationalities in Epinal and Exciting New Teaching Opportunities

Bonjour à tous,

Well I'm at the point in my mission where people start to stop emailing me. I understand, I wouldn't have been any better. I think I only emailed my own brother a handful of times on his mission. So I understand, it's not me, it's you. (You feeling guilty yet?) 

NOTE:If you do not have Elder Payne's email address please post a comment on the blog and the email address can be sent to you.

Anyway, for those of you who weren't turned off by the opening paragraph, congratulations! You now get to read about the interesting parts of my week. Let me summarize it in a sentence. Serbians are interesting, Africans are the best, the ghetto is great for missionary work, and spend money carefully. 

The Serbian part is the fact that we found a Serbian family who have not been to church too often and are really cool people. They don't know perfect French but then again, who does. We didn't expect them to feed us, but they did. They fed us some sort of cake, some take out pizza, and slightly expired oranges. But don't worry, we didn't get sick. We got a ride home from their son, who has an English girlfriend. He is super cool and speaks a little English himself. They don't come to church because they don't understand French very well, which I get, I mean, it's hard for me too. But they are good people.

With the Africans part. We got some new investigators this week whom are absolutely amazing! I feel like it was one big, elaborate  three week miracle that brought us to them. So many things added up to us meeting them. But long story short, we met an African couple (by way of  a miracle) and the boyfriend is super strong in his faith and wants to learn as much as he can about the gospel. By the end of the rendez-vous, we had taught the entire restoration, and set up another rendez-vous tomorrow morning. He told us that they wouldn't mind us coming over 2-3 times a week for studying the gospel! That doesn't happen! So we are REALLY excited for that. Next time we are going to tech them about the gospel of Jesus Christ. I hope that goes well.

The ghetto part is because we learned from the Serbian family that the area where we do most of our finding is considered the ghetto of Épinal, and we found the Africans in a less ghetto area. All in all, people in the ghetto are more humble, nice, and willing to accept help. Therefore, the ghetto is great for missionary work. And as long as you are obedient, you will be protected. (No worries).

And then last thing, I totally got swindled out of 50 euros for a pair of jeans. It all happened really fast. I knew today that I need new jeans. So with the insane deals going on right now for Soldes (French black Friday), I knew this was my last chance to get them for SUPER cheap. So I found some jeans that I thought were 25 euros because the price tag said 50% off. And the cashier came over and said "Are you buying those jeans?" I answered yes. She took the jeans to the cash register and rung everything up super fast. Said some fast French that I didn't understand, and before I know it, I'm out of the store before realizing that I paid 50 euros and not 25. So moral of the story, pay attention.

That was basically my week. We did a lot of finding and found some cool people.

I love you all!

Elder Payne 
France, Paris Mission

Monday, January 8, 2018

Continuing Work in Epinal and New Years Eve

Bonjour à tous,

And yes I will always start off my emails like that, you can't tell me otherwise. :) 

Well this week has been totally awesome!!! And just because we are really seeing the beginnings of success here. And life is good right now. We found 3 new investigators last week during exchanges! Which was amazing, and pretty much unheard of in this ville for a while. We met the Sudanese guys again, they were really nice and they fed us impromptu. We are trying to set up a French or English class for them to help them out. We also met a lady who was really cool and was interested in the gospel. So all in all, things are going well. We are also getting our dryer replaced this week. I'm really excited, because for a transfer now it never worked for me. I don't know why and it really doesn't make sense because it always worked for my companion. He doesn't understand either. I've decided that Épinal does not follow any sort of logic. Street smarts don't matter. Science? Forget it. Logic simply doesn't work here. I've gotten used to it. You just gotta get out and go and roll with the punches.

We had to drop our other people including the miracle lady because she is avoiding us. But I'm willing to make the trade for more promising people. Really, I would rather someone tell us straight up if they don't want to meet with us. It's just time consuming if we set something up and then they don't show up.

I also have been keeping record of our steps here in Épinal, because I got a pedometer for Christmas. Right now, we walk an average of about 1.5 miles a day. Which I realize is actually not that much, but we do a lot of finding in apartments. So not as much walking between each door.

I bought a cheap toy the other day that I really enjoy, especially when my companion takes so long on p-days to write emails. It's a magnetic toy that I can build and design things with. I really like it. Anyone who knows me well can easily say that I love to build things and create things. 

We had dinner with a member named Alhin for New Years, we had a galette des rois "cake of the kings". Which is a traditional cake that has a "bean" or little toy in the cake. And whoever find the bean gets named king for the party. My companion got the bean. It was a really good meal!

I hope you all have a good week!

Elder Payne 
France, Paris Mission
Elder Payne - enjoying dessert

Elder Anderson - King of New Years

Letter from Epinal - Feb 19 - Starting to Think in French

Bonjour a tous, Well, I can officially say that my French brain is beginning to really take over. Every once in a while I will find myself...