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.

Sincerely
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!


Sincerely
Elder Payne
France, Paris Mission


Christmas decorations in Epinal

Star Wars X-Wing fighter parade float

Monday, November 27, 2017

Big plans for Epinal

Bonjour à tous,

Well what a fun week this has been! Beaucoup de finding! (There's a little French for ya - it means 'a lot of finding'). We found that since no one is on the streets ever here in Épinal, we have to do a lot of door to door. So we have been doing that every day. Small ville life is very different from the life I am used to. We find ourselves with a lot of time in between plans day to day, so it has been difficult to find things that are productive to do. But we have big plans for this little town!

Since Christmas is rolling around, there is literally no better time of year than now to start getting people back to church! And here in Épinal, we have a ton of people who have not been to church for a long time! So we decided that the main work here in Épinal is to find the less active members, so we plan to visit every member on our lists (and yes that is plural "lists"). And bring them a little Christmas cheer with some cookies and an invitation! We are going to try to fill our little church to the brim this Christmas! So we are really excited for that, it will be hard, but worth it. 

I have also been losing some weight here in Épinal, we don't eat as good as my other places and we do a lot more walking, so you know 2+2=weight loss. But it's not too bad so far, I don't have an accurate number for you all but right now I weigh about 152 lbs. Maybe I will start putting exercise is my free time!

I did have a thanksgiving dinner with the district this past Wednesday. It was really good.

It is getting cold here. Yesterday it snowed a little. I am going to try to buy more thermals today and possibly some glove liners. Because this is just the start of winter in Épinal. It will get much colder. At least we have our electricity back so it's warm in our apartment.

I have been teaching myself how to play piano! Because I am the one playing piano at church. I always wanted to, but now I have the motivation! So I have learned some simple hymns with only right hand. And I just downloaded a piano manual from lds.org. So hopefully by the time I get home, I will be pretty good! It's something I enjoy and I find some peace in playing the piano.

Today for p-day, we went to a cool war torn castle! Got some cool pictures there that I will attach!

Sincerely
Elder Payne 
France, Paris Mission




Elder Payne and Elder Anderson


Epic Elder Payne

Monday, November 20, 2017

Unexpected Transfer to Epinal

Bonjour à tous,

Wow! This has been a crazy week!!! So first of all, I got 'midnighted'. Which means that I got a call from the assistants of the president randomly a couple of days ago and they said that president has been doing a lot of praying and decided that the Lord needs me to be in Épinal. I am now half training an Elder named Elder Anderson. Don't worry, nothing happened in Amiens and there are still elders in Amiens. I honestly had no clue why I was leaving until I actually got into Épinal. To explain Épinal a little bit, it's a tiny town (big ville streak lost). It is in the Eastern mountains, which means it's beginning to get pretty cold here. The branch is about 20 people.

I am excited for these next transfers because 1:I am training. 2:there is a lot of work to do here. I really feel like I was meant to come here. The branch is super nice!!

The first morning that I was here, the power went out. That was extremely stressful for me and we had a ton to do today. But we got it all done. With the power, we had no power through all last night, so it was really cold in our apartment. Then today we went to the store and bought a new fuse. Came back and it still didn't work! I was mad. So we went shopping for groceries after calling the mission office with our problem. We came back with our groceries and put all of our food in the church refrigerator. Oh and by the way,f we live right above the church building. So if all else failed, we were just going to spend the night in the church because it still had power. While doing some emails, I remembered that one of my companions (Elder McCrea) had served here. So I called him and told him about our problem and asked where the power box is. He told me where it was and I went and looked, and our power was completely shut off! I don't even know why! So I turned it back on and we went and checked the apartment, and BOOM! All the power was back on! We said a quick prayer of gratitude and went on with our day. Moral of the story, rely on the Lord and have faith, and he will sustain you in life.

So yeah, that was crazy. But now that we have all of that figured out, we can focus on the missionary work here. We have big plans for this place.




In Épinal, the trains here are a problem. The closest ville to us that we will need to go to is 1 hour away, but here's the thing, to get anywhere else out of our sector, we have to go through Nancy, the ville 1 hour away. So to Paris, 3-4 hours direct. To Strasbourg about 2 1/2 hours. And all of our members live far away, like a 1-2 hour bus ride away. So traveling is life here.

Also if anyone is going to send me anything, I have a new address.

Les Missionnaires
28 Rue de Bellevue, 88000
Epinal, France

I will start taking pictures of this place this week. Because I have nothing to send picture wise. But I love you all and I hope you are doing well!

Sincerely
Elder Payne
France, Paris Mission

Monday, November 13, 2017

New Missionary Companion and a Little Sight Seeing

Bonjour à tous,

Well this week in Amiens was crazy, and busy and fun, and I saw some miracles!

To start off, my new companion is a guy named Elder Christensen. He is from Utah. He is three transfers away from going home, so it's possible that I will be his last companion. But me and him get along really well. We joke all the time, but he is also a hard worker, so he's great. 

I am going to share the fun stuff first to get it out of the way. Today we went to the Amiens cathedral, which is the biggest one in France according to area. And we actually got to go to the top of the cathedral with a guide. It was pretty cool, although my thighs hurt because the only way up is by a long flight of really steep spiral staircases. So that was quite the workout. I will attach some pictures.

I don't have a lot of time, but here is the cool miracle.

Before elder Merritt left, we had a lot to do on Tuesday to get him ready, so we were all over town. And while walking from place to place, we by chance met all of the classic people on the street that he wanted to see! A crazy guy that calls himself the prophet, a potential ami that we lost contact with, and a recent convert that he baptized and really wanted to see before he left! All by chance or miracle! And we found a new ami! We were coming off of the bus and this guy followed us off, and he stopped us and asked us who we serve. We said that we serve Jesus Christ. He asked us where we pray, we answered that we believe that we can pray anywhere we like and it doesn't require a special place. He explained to us that his entire life was recently taken from him and that he had nothing and that he needed to pray. So he wanted to know about us and we shared a scripture from Alma with him about the atonement. He really liked it and we gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon! We took his number and he said that he wants to meet in the future! We have a rendez-vous set up later this week!!

The Lord prepared him, and I hope he will go far.

Quote:"Many years ago Brigham Young told of an early missionary in the Church who was asked to share his testimony with a large group of people. According to President Young, this particular elder “never had been able to say that he knew Joseph [Smith] was a Prophet.” He would have preferred to just say a prayer and leave, but the circumstances made that impossible. So he started to speak, and “as soon as he got ‘Joseph’ out, ‘is a Prophet,’ was … next; and from that, his tongue was loosened, and he continued talking until near sun-down.”
President Young used this experience to teach that “the Lord pours out His Spirit upon a man, when he testifies that [which] the Lord gives him to testify of” "M. Russel Ballard October 2004 (Pure Testimony).

Sincerely
Elder Payne
France, Paris Mission





Monday, November 6, 2017

Looking forward to new missionary companion

Bonjour à tous,

Well this week has been busy, and I'm getting a new companion this Wednesday! Elder Merritt is going home this week! He is so excited. But my next companion will be a guy named Elder Christensen. I hear good things about him but I don't know him at all personally. But I am staying in Amiens. 

Yesterday was fun because none of the branch presidency was at church. So the ward mission leader presided. Not many people were at church yesterday because there was a big wedding in our branch that was being held in Saint Quentin. Actually on the same day as a baptism there as well. But it all went well. 

We did a lot of tracting and finding this week. And we didn't find any solid contacts. But it paid off because a member this Sunday brought 2 friends from work to church! They were pretty cool. I hope to teach them in the future. 

Well I honestly can't remember my week, this week should be interesting with transfers and all of that. 

Talk to you all next week!

Sincerely
Elder Payne 
France, Paris Mission

Monday, October 30, 2017

Busy week in Lille and Saint Quentin

Bonjour à tous,

So this week was jam packed full of stuff. On Monday, we went to Saint Quentin for p-day because it was Soeur Nickerson's birthday! So we went to a carnival, had some food, and went to a zoo. It was a blast, and also cold. So yeah.

Tuesday we had exchanges in Lille with the zone leaders. That was easily the most productive missionary day I have ever had. We had a goal to contact 40 people that day, we wanted 22 phone numbers, and 4 new amis. We ended up talking to 41 people, getting 17 numbers, and 3 new amis. That's about a 90% success rate for the day! Which is freaking awesome!!! I just wish it was in my own city. But it was still really awesome.

Wednesday not much. Just coming back from Lille exchanges.

Thursday we had a rendez-vous with a member of the Church and 2 members who have not attended church for a while, and it turned out really good. One of the members who hadn't been to church for a while came out of her kitchen with a bunch of candy and chocolate and told us that we weren't leaving until we finished it all. Which I had no problem with. So that was fun.

Thursday we did some shopping for district meeting, because at every district meeting we have a district meal. And we were gonna make lemon bars. By the way, I have grown a special affinity to dark chocolate. I love dark chocolate. And dark chocolate here is usually rated on a scale of how much cacao is in the chocolate. I really like 70% cacao. But I was on the hunt for 100% cacao just because I wanted to know what it was like. Well while we were at the store, I found some 99% dark chocolate. I just had to buy it. We tried it at the bus stop and honestly, it tasted like bitter earwax. Terrible. 

Friday we saw a member named romaine, he is schizophrenic. But we love him and help out where we can. That night we saw a member named fonja. She loves the missionaries and is in the relief society presidency. She fed us some food from Madagascar called malagash. It as super good! We also had district meeting, I fed everyone the 99% cacao chocolate. Everyone hated it except for 1 elder! He liked it!

Saturday we went to Saint Quentin again to give a baptismal interview to their ami. That was really cool! After that we went to the old elders apartment to finish the cleaning there. I didn't dare go back in the basement. 

Yesterday was normal with weekly planning and stuff. But I think that's it for the week. This week is going to be packed to the brim. And next week is transfers! I will get a new companion and Elder Merritt is going home because he has finished his mission. We are trying to help him go out with a bang.

Weekly quote: "I know this from personal experience. Answers to prayer haven’t always come easily or quickly. But they have always come. Time and again, I have been the beneficiary of the Lord’s mercy and guiding hand. Jesus Christ knows the way because He is the way. “For I will go before your face,” He promised. “I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up” Sheri L. Dew October 1997

Sincerely
Elder Payne 
France, Paris Mission









We think that's Elder Payne - upside down (you can sort of make out a possible missionary tag on him)

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...