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

Monday, January 1, 2018

New friends from Sudan

Bonjour à tous,

This week was pretty productive if I do say so myself. The funniest story is we had set aside some time to try and find the miracle lady that we met a couple of weeks ago. And we also wanted to try to meet with another lady who we met while porting. So first we tried the porting lady. She lives in an apartment. And the problem with apartments is you can't really get in unless someone rings you in. So we tried going to the sonner (the doorbell/phone) and started ringing her. But she wouldn't answer. We didn't give up. We tried ringing other people, but no one let us in. Then as we were walking away, we noticed a car was starting to pull out of the closed parking space under the apartment. So we snuck in (not trespassing) and got in before the door could close. Then the challenge was navigating this apartment building. So we tried the first door we found and it led us to what I like to call "the depths of Tarturus" because it looked like a dungeon. It was really just storage space. We ended up finding the door to the inside of the apartment building and found her room. We could hear people being pretty loud on the inside as if someone was on the phone. So we waited for a couple of minutes before ringing and a man came out and I found out that she was not home but that this was her husband. I asked him to tell her that we stopped by and then we moved on.

The interesting part was looking for miracle lady. With some clever deducting over the past few weeks, we found where she lived (it's not creepy). And took the elevator to her floor. As the elevator doors opened we met the Sudanese guy that we talked to the same day we found miracle lady! We was just leaving his house, but he saw us and without saying a word he motioned us to come in. So we went into his house where he had to 2 other (very confused) friends. He explained to us that he had to leave but that he would be back.

So we sat down with these guys we had never met before and started up conversation, they were all college age, Sudanese guys that spoke broken French. And as we were meeting our new friends. 3 more guys came! We said hi and ended up being there for like 2 hours just talking with these guys! At one point the man I was mainly talking to mentioned that he cooks Sudanese food. So we agreed that we should have a meal all together some time and exchanged Facebook profiles. Long story short, we met 5 college age, Sudanese refugees in the space of 2 hours, set up a rendez-vous, and made 5 new friends. It was awesome!

And later that week we tried going through our area book and looking at old amis and we ended up talking with 2 people who said we should call them and set something up after the holidays. 

So all in all, this week has been super good! Slow at times, but good. And we are beginning to see the fruits of our labors here in Épinal. 

Well I wish all of you a happy New Year! I love hearing about everyone's holiday season, so feel free to email me!

Love you all

Elder Payne 
France, Paris Mission

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas visit video phone call

Elder Payne hasn't sent a letter for this week yet, but he was able to video chat with him for Christmas!

Jay is doing well and is very happy in Epinal France.  He is pretty comfortable with the language and only has difficulty when people speak too fast. He has also been learning phrases in other languages like Arabic and Swahili.  People are surprised when he can greet them in a different language than French.  It has opened up several discussion opportunities.  Recently on a train ride between Paris and Epinal, Jay and his companion met two very promising contacts.  There is plenty of time to visit and discuss the Gospel of Jesus Christ when you are on train rides so often.

The small branch of the church sometimes only has 7 people that attend on Sunday.  They have been working on finding less active members in the area and re-inviting them back to church.  He described looking for a member in a smaller town for several hours only to find out that they were not there any more.  But they did get to know the town very well.

Jay did receive his Christmas package while in Paris this week.  We originally sent it to him in early November (as instructed).  But Jay was transferred to Epinal to help train and his package to Amien got returned to New Mexico. We had to pay to ship it again, only this time to the Mission Office in Paris.  Jay was excited for the green chile and other local edible treats we sent.  He also was glad to receive a book about Temples that he can read on his free time (when ever he gets some).

It was very humbling to hear him bear his testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Atonement in French.  We could see the devotion and humility as he spoke.

The blessings of serving a mission were surely evident today as we got to visit.

Curtis Payne

Monday, December 18, 2017

Work Progressing in Epinal

Bonjour à tous,

Well this week has been complicated and some crazy things happened.

First off, we had district meeting in St. Dié this week. We didn't know it was in St. Dié, so we bought the normal train tickets to Nancy. Got in Nancy, found out it was in St. Dié, bought 2 more tickets to St. Dié. And went to a late district meeting. And after that, we had exchanges. So we stayed there and met some really cool people! I helped find a guy from Senegal who is awesome and recognizes us as servants of God! So that was awesome!

On Thursday, we had the responsibility of cleaning the church, it's small enough to do on our own with a couple of hours. And while we did that, elder Anderson set up decorations. He really likes doing that kind of thing, so I let him do most of it while I practiced piano. After that a member who is here for studies asked us to come to her house and bless her apartment. So with another member (because she is there alone) we blessed her apartment. She is really cool and speaks some English!

On Friday we had a open day ahead of us, so we did quite a bit of door to door. And we found a someone with awesome potential! It was actually kind of funny, because we actually got along by talking about how glad she was that we weren't the Jehovah's witnesses. So we all got a good laugh out of that. And she said that she is excited to meet with us again!

On Saturday we had to extend some last invitations to come to church Sunday, so we went searching for less active members in a smaller town called Le Thillot. There were 2 people who lived there who had been baptised. We couldn't find one but we did find the other after 2 hours of searching and thinking, and turns out that she just doesn't have the means to come to church. So we plan on meeting with her again just to visit and help her out and make sure she has come contact with the church and the Gospel.

And Sunday we actually had a decent turnout for church! The Serbian family we met a couple of weeks ago came, and a less active member that Elder Anderson met on exchanges came! And it was so good to see the branch come together to make something good and they were all so good to the people we brought. It was just a really good Christmas Sunday, and of course, we ate afterwards and the food killed us for the rest of the day. We were so tired, I had to keep elder Anderson awake for studies!

And now here we are, me and Elder Anderson did some exploring today and took some pictures, so I will send what I got. Christmas is next week so I wish you all a merry Christmas in advance! I get to call my family next week so I am really excited for that!!! 

I love you all

Elder Payne 
France, Paris Mission

Long way to St. Die

Monday, December 11, 2017

Working with the local church members and serving in the snow

Bonjour à tous,

Well this has been a packed week! First of all, we had interviews with our mission president on Tuesday, which was awesome, me and him are really starting to work together and I definitely support him. He has helped me a lot already during my mission so I really appreciate him for that.

Wednesday, we had a soirée familiale that a member put on, apparently it's been 3 years since they had one! But we prepared a cool spiritual thought using pictures and everything. And we had a member picking us up for that. Well he came early and we ended up being in a hurry, so I forgot my gospel art book! I had to come up with something on the fly without it. It actually turned out ok! With some French errors here and there, but I got the message across! One of the members is starting to take initiative and is inviting less actives and her friends to come to church this next Sunday for the christmas Sunday that we are going to have. So that is super cool!

On Thursday we tried to meet with the cool lady we met with a week ago, but she wasn't at her house. I not giving up on her!! We also had exchanges with the zone leaders. Also, as many of you know, I bite my nails. And I have been wanting to stop for my entire mission. But it's a legit addiction! It's really hard to stop a habit you have had forever! I have tried to stop several times! So we finally went to a local pharmacy to see what they have. And the lady pointed us to this stuff called "Stop Ongles Ronglés" which translates to stop nail biting. We bought it and I was curious because the only way for it to stop me was to have a really bad taste. So I put some on my nails and tasted it just like a kid with a hot stove top. 

OH MY GOODNESS IT TASTED BAD!!! The bitter taste immediately filled my mouth and throat and I almost puked. I gargled water, and even brushed my teeth and the taste was still there. Well that night the zone leaders were coming in late and wanted to grab something cheap to eat. So we got kebabs. But it made my food taste bad, my appetite was there but it tasted awful! And every time my nails touch my food, my food tastes bad. So I have a choice, either have perpetually bad tasting food for a bit and stop biting my nails. Or have good food now and never improve. So I guess I have to improve.

We actually did something really cool on Saturday! For light the world or "Éclairer le monde", we wanted to do something special. And it actually snowed very hard the previous night. So we decided to scrape ice off of people's cars. So at 9am, it was still snowing, we went out, bought some ice scrapers, and with scrapers in hand and frozen fingers, we scraped the ice off of 50 cars over the course of 3 hours. And we left a picture of Jesus Christ and a phone number in the windshield of every car we scraped. It as really cool, and then we returned home ready to eat, and got a phone call from a member asking for a Priesthood blessing for her mother who has Alzheimer's and is very sick. We ended up giving both her and her mother a blessing. That was one heck of a day of service. It was really cool.

That was pretty much our week I got a haircut today, and still can't enjoy my food. But I hope it will be worth it.

Elder Payne 
France, Paris Mission

Monday, December 4, 2017

Work Progressing in Epinal

Bonjour à tous,

Well my French has been getting a lot better recently. I now understand a lot and can express all of my ideas. I am not fluent, but that is ok. 

We got a new ami!!!!! I am soooo happy for that! It was actually a really bomb experience!

Me and my district leader were on exchanges and we had some time for tracting (door to door). We went to an area where there are a lot of apartments, said a prayer and felt like we needed to go into a certain building. We got inside and walked all the way to the top (9 floors!) The first guy we talked to was a Jehovah's witness and not interested (tough luck). He told us to leave. We knocked on every door and finally came on a guy who came from Sudan! He spoke little to no French and very broken English, but fluent Arabic! (Oh boy) He let us in and we tried to explain to him who we were and eventually got another time set up to meet. We walked out of his house and as we were walking into the elevator to go home, a lady walked out and Elder Melanson (district leader) started to talk to her. She mentioned that her kid just died. And we shared a scripture from alma about that. She then cried and we told her that God is there for her. She continued in saying that she is a devout Catholic and is very very strong in her faith. We told her that is great and we appreciate all of the work she has done in her faith and staying true. We showed a video and she cried some more (I did too). Then I testified and pointed out the feeling she had as the spirit and we asked her for another time to meet and she was really hesitant. But she said we could come back and if she is there then we will talk some more. We prayed with her and left that feeling very optimistic about the meet. I plan to go over again tomorrow night and teach her some more.

So that was super cool! There was also a Christmas parade in Épinal yesterday, elder Anderson took some pictures of the cool floats. We also have been seeing an increase in member activity here. After church on Sunday a member came up to us and told us she wanted to host a night at her house this Wednesday so we can bring any amis, and she will invite her friends over!!! Super cool and I really hope that that goes well.

Well have a good week everyone! And don't forget to light the world this Christmas!

Elder Payne
France, Paris Mission

Christmas decorations in Epinal

Star Wars X-Wing fighter parade float

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...