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)

Monday, October 23, 2017

Planning for Ward Activity

Bonjour à tous,

Well this past week was fun, we had stake conference, and some exchanges. Elder Merritt and I are preparing for a Halloween activity this coming weekend with the branch. We discovered that Satan thrives in a Halloween store called Festi. We went there to look for decorations, and we walked around a little, and pretty much nothing there was appropriate for a church function. Either too dark, or other things... We walked out and both realied that as soon as we walked in, we just had a bad feeling. And throughout the store, we just had this bad feeling linger with us until we were home after that. So yeah, glad I have the Priesthood. 

We have decided that Elder Merritt's favorite movie that we watch is a church video called Together Forever. Which is all about marriage and the family. It's a great video, and I've seen it maybe 5 times in the past 2 weeks. But it does bring the spirit, so ça va. 

I also got my hair cut this week by a member, it's better than it was before! It got really long, but I also discovered that I like my hair longer! And we got a mangez-vous out of it, so win-win.

I have discovered that chocolate here is rated by what percentage of the chocolate it actually cacao. So this week I tried some 47% cacao, that's the picture I put of a wrapper. And I also tried 81% cacao. Which is borderline gross, but the aftertaste was pretty good. The picture of the cracker is a Nantes cracker that a member gave me! I was so excited.

Other than that, I honestly have trouble remembering this week. This week just kinda flew by, I can't remember if I mentioned this last week, but 2 weeks ago, Wednesday marks 6 months on the mission! I might've already mentioned that. Crazy stuff!

The last picture is me and my MTC comp meeting again at conference.

Anyway, I love you all! Have a great week!

Sincerely
Elder Payne 
France, Paris Mission




Nantes cracker

Chocolate label
Elder Jay Payne and Elder Hayes


Monday, October 16, 2017

Exchanges in Arras

Bonjour à tous,

This week was pretty fun! We had exchanges in Arras, and zone conference in Lille. So a busy week!

Exchanges in Arras was fun. I spent all day with Elder Ruiz from California. He is super cool and we got along really well. We looked for a bunch of less active members of the church and did a lot of contacting that day. Interesting experience there, we were looking for a less active member and their home address. And we came upon the address and rang the doorbell. No answer, we almost left, but I felt prompted to ring again. So I did. About 30 seconds later, an short older lady opened the door. Inside the house was very dark and I could tell that she was probably sleeping. Then she asked why we were there and we told her that we were looking for someone. She didn't recognize the name. She said sorry and then said this "J'ai envie de mourir" which, translated means "I envy death" or "I want to die". Judging by the her demeanor, we could tell that she was serious. My companion and I didn't know what to say to that. After a couple of seconds of silence, Elder Ruiz pulls out a Plan of Salvation pamphlet and just says "Read this, it will help" she took it and then we left. I can only hope that she will benefit from the pamphlet. But yeah, if I hadn't of rang the doorbell again, she wouldn't have that pamphlet. Cool experience.

Other than that, zone conference was cool and we had homemade burritos for lunch! And also had the training for Facebook.

I had some poutine today too! It's a Canadian food that is about their equivalent of biscuits and gravy... But not quite as great. I will attach a picture.

Lately, I have been learning a lot about loving people. Christ-like love is so hard to have sometimes, but as a missionary, I feel like that's key. I heard a talk by Elder Eyring recently where he said that everyone you see on the street, on the bus, at the store, anywhere, has already had their sins paid for. Christ loved them enough to die for them, why should I feel any differently. 

That's about it for this week! See ya all later!

Sincerely
Elder Payne 
France, Paris Mission





Monday, October 9, 2017

Apartment Cleaning in Saint Quentin

Bonjour à tous,

This week was fun! Had some cool experiences, but first, priorities.

Facebook has been cleared in our mission! I will hopefully have a working Facebook profile by Friday (we get trained for it on Thursday). And we are allowed to add family and friends from back home! Although I will still only be able to chat on Mondays as normal. So yeah, thats exciting. I might need to make a new profile although I'm not sure.

So other than that, we also had a day where we went to an apartment in a city called Saint Quentin to clean an apartment that old Elders were using and then the Elders got transferred and replaced with Sister missionaries. So we went to go clean the old apartment. It was gross, and the apartment was dismal. But throughout the whole thing, I was noticing some floor panels that can be lifted. So at one point I got one of the other elders to help me lift it. And we found stairs, underneath the apartment. Just leading to a black abyss. I just thought, "What the heck did I just find?".

So we found a light switch and turned on the lights to the mysterious  basement. And I walked down there with another Elder and our Priesthood ready to possibly cast out some demons. As we were walking down, we found some mangled, old baby dolls in some openings in the wall. They were the creepiest things I have ever seen, and honestly, I was terrified. While we were down there we found some other stuff in storage. The other missionaries helping clean didn't come down with us, so they closed the doors and shut us in! In a joking matter of course. But still...

Me and the Elder with me took some video that I hope to get soon to send to you guys. But yeah, that's about it. Then the Elders upstairs let us out and we decided that we prefererd to be upstairs instead of throwing away the dolls. So we left them there.

So I got to spend a day with the whole district! Which was a ton of fun, and one of the sisters I knew from the MTC was there, so it was cool to catch up a little.

That's all the time I have.

Sincerely
Elder Payne 
France, Paris Mission

Monday, October 2, 2017

Transferred to Amiens

Bonjour à tous,

This week has been very interesting. First off, I am now in Amiens! A blessed city in the north of France. My companions name is Elder Merritt from Sacramento California, he is super awesome. We honestly get along so well that we have only ever disagreed on a few things. Me and Elder Merritt are the only ones in Amiens. He is the district leader. The branch here is about 40-60 people depending upon the day. And the work here is progressing. We actually extended a baptismal invite last week and the girl said yes! So we hope to continue teaching.

We have one member here who is named Romain. He is a great guy. And he loves the missionaries! He calls us like 4-5 times a day just for advice. He is cool and actually came to watch conference.  The talk that I liked the most was by Elder Holstrom, he talked on miracles and how miracles are hard to distinguish sometimes. It occurred to me just how much of a miracle the Atonement is. It's cool, to think of the Atonement as a miracle. 

So in other news, when I came into Amiens, the apartment didn't have electricity! So for 4 days and 4 nights we lived without any electricity. Which meant candles, reusing clothes, and eating out for every meal. That was fun and I now appreciate home cooked meals more than ever before. 

We have electricity now and all is good! My French is good enough now to be able to converse with people and express most of my thoughts. So that's great. 

Well here are some pictures that I took of the view from our apartment, a giant playground thing I got to climb on, the best burger and pastry in my entire life, and my sunbleached suit that I threw away. (The color behind the lifted up lapels is the original color.)

Sincerely
Elder Payne 
France, Paris Mission


Burger and pastry


Sun bleached suit coat - note the different color under the lapel! 

Playground climbing ropes

View from apartment

Monday, September 25, 2017

Getting Transferred This Week

Bonjour à tous,

Well this week was fun! We did some service and learned how to put up wall-paper! It's pretty easy, but tedious. The Sister's house we worked on looks a lot better now though, it was a mess before.  We had 3 different members feed us dinners, but sadly no investigators. But that's okay, we have been doing a lot of work meeting with less active members of the Church, which is also missionary work, so ça va.

We were able to have lunch with some members at the same time that the Soeurs watched the General Women Conference. It was super fun and I got to help cook. The people that we were with was a very young couple who are both return missionaries. The Brother explained to us his life story and it was super cool. The Sister lived in the poorer parts of France growing up. They are an awesome family though and really missionary oriented. 

In exciting news, I am moving cities! I am going to a city called Amiens. It is in the north above Paris. I go out this Wednesday to Paris and then to Amiens. My new companion's name is Elder Merrit. And I have heard a lot about him and all good things. I hear he is a super missionary. Which is good, so I am really excited. 

We also had some exchanges in la Rochelle. I went contacting in a rich retirement home neighborhood, yeah... the people were not very receptive, so we sere not not very effective. However I love the guy I was with, Elder James. Me and him get along super well and we are really good friends. We bonded over quotes from the three amigos movie. 

Keeping it short

Quote for the day:"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

Monday, September 18, 2017

Paris is Awesome!

Bonjour à tous,

Well this week was pretty cool! We actually got a chance to go to the Paris Temple on Tuesday! It was awesome and the temple here is beautiful.

The trip to Paris was awesome! We stayed overnight with the assistants to the president. That was fun. We went with some other elders from our district. One of the Elders is super cool and me and him get along really well. He did swing dancing and longboarding too! Me and him traded stories while on the train. He's so cool and he's our district leader.  

I believe I sent pictures last Monday of the temple.

This week has consisted of a lot of finding in the streets. We managed to find 2 new people. And we hope that they will progress. This Sunday we actually got a lot of members that came up to us wanting us to come over! So that will be awesome. 

I actually had a cool experience this week while finding. Me and Elder Stanford had been finding all day one day. And with no success, we were feeling pretty down on ourselves. Then we went for one last stretch of finding before we went back to the Church for some stuff for the rest of the day. And what do ya know, it starts raining! It was a freak rainstorm. No one likes talking in the rain. So we walked for a bit and after everyone rejected us we decided that that was it for the day. And we headed back to the Church.

On our way to the Church, in fact we were almost there, we saw one guy walking our direction. Elder Stanford just looked at me and said, "Look Elder Payne, it's our new ami!" And we talked to him and he was Muslim, Algerian, did not speak very good French, and was very interested in the gospel. Those 4 things together, by the way, don't happen like EVER. So we got his number and he told us several times that he is very interested in talking with is in the future.

I can now participate in French discussions. I can understand a lot and I can almost have a normal conversation. #gift of tongues  The Ward I am assigned to has about 500 people, 120 of which come regularly.

In conclusion, I have learned a lesson from this and other experiences that the times when we feel down, when we hit rock bottom, when we feel like there is nothing more we can do, that is when we become humble enough for the Spirit to talk to us unrestrained. And that it when Christ reaches out to us to pick us up and keep us going.

Quote for the day: "when all you've got is nothing, there's a lot to go around."

Sincerely
Elder Payne 
France, Paris Mission



Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Short letter due to Temple Trip

Bonjour à tous,

This week was mostly a lot of finding since our amis dropped off our radar. We found a cool lady yesterday, I hope to meet her again. 

So we got the chance to go to the temple! I didn't think I would be able to until the end of my mission. But elder Stanford had to go to Paris anyway because of legality work. So we figured why not go to the temple?!

I took some pictures that I will attach. Sorry I really can't write that much this week. I promise to be better next week. I just don't have time today because we have to get on our train to go back to Nantes.

Sincerely
Elder Payne 
France, Paris Mission

Paris France Temple





Monday, September 4, 2017

Finding Gold in the Rocks (Importance of Member Missionary Help)

Bonjour à tous,

Well, this week has been interesting. One of my companions got what we call "midnighted". Which is basically a call from the mission president in the middle of the night telling you that you are going to a different city the next day and that you have one night to pack and everything. Elder McCrea is going to Liege,  which is the city he was born in (his first area in the mission field). An elder there broke his ankle so they needed an elder to come there who still had all of the Belgium legality done. So elder McCrea will be there for the rest of the transfer and might come back to Nantes. So I may or may not see him again. Our trio has been able to bond pretty well, and I am sad that we are getting broken up just as we were picking up speed.

So that was exciting. Needless to say, didn't get much sleep last night. 

Other than that, the work here has been difficult for us. Mainly because for some reason, as soon as elder Stanford and elder McCrea came in, our amis have been dropping off the face of the earth. We haven't been able to get contact with Tatiana for about 2 or 3 weeks now. And we had a couple other people that seemed good, but they weren't answering or kept fruging us (that means that they set a rendez-vous, but then never show up). So that all is frustrating. So right now, we just do a lot of finding. We also have 3 meals with members in the next 2 weeks, I'm excited for those.

We received a member referral yesterday which is soooo awesome! We have a meeting set with this new referral this week. And some other small miracles happened too. 

We had one cool meeting with a guy on Saturday night. His name was Celestin. He invited us to a bar that "fit our standards". So we went to the only skyscraper in Nantes, which apparently has a bar at the top. We met, talked bout life, bout God, tried to share our message about the restoration, and in the end he wasn't interested. But I got some cool pictures! I will attach them here.

I really like our new district leader, him and I get along really well. He did swing dancing, longboarding, and is just a good guy. So we have fun.

I did hear about the hurricane in Texas! It was on lds.org. I am so glad to hear that Lonny and his family are safe.

Lately I have seen the effect of good members. Members can literally make the difference in a missionaries life. When I look back to the days of finding, I can't help but think that contacting is extremely inefficient. It is like looking for a needle in an enormous haystack or one fleck of gold amongst rocks. We can look for it all day and maybe find it. But the members are people who have been looking at the haystack or rocks for years. They have a pretty good idea where the gold or needle is. They point it out and we have soooooooo much higher chances of success. Once I get back, I intend on helping the missionaries wherever I can.  

Well that was about it this week.

Quote for the week
“If we don’t try, then we don’t do; and if we don’t do, then why are we here?” Thomas S. Monson April 2001

Sincerely
Elder Payne 
France, Paris Mission



Monday, August 28, 2017

Crazy Trip to Rennes for Zone Conference

Bonjour à tous,

Well this week has been interesting. We had some rendez-vous set up with some amis. But then we got a random call from the zone leaders saying that we were going to have an unplanned zone conference the day before stake conference. So we ended up cancelling about 3 meetings and going to Rennes for days. 

That was very stressful and hectic. Not to mention that we got to the train station in Nantes and realized that we had forgotten our train tickets back at the apartment and didn't have time to go back and get them. So I ended up using my personal money for a train ticket and 3 bus tickets in Rennes. 

So we had a sleepover at the Rennes apartment on Saturday night. Almost all of the elders in our zone had to do the same thing so we ended up having 17 elders sleeping in one apartment for a night. We were packed like sardines. It was fun, and crazy, and stressful. But in the end we had an awesome zone conference and got 2 new rendez-vous this week from it.

So that was crazy but memorable.

I know that God has been blessing me and definitely taking care of me while on my mission.

Love,
Elder Payne

Monday, August 21, 2017

New Companions - Still in Nantes

Bonjour à tous,

How is everyone this week? I heard of a bunch of protesting stuff going on in America, bummer. Over here though I think everything is great!

This week I got my new companions! I am in a trio for the next transfer. I am with elder McCrea and elder Stanford. They are both pretty cool guys. We have fun. They are both pretty old in the mission so that means I have 2 people as my polishers. They both came from some very small towns, so Nantes is a big change for them.

We went to a small town called Pornic. It is right next to the ocean. We went there because we had a referral. So we took a 1 hour bus there. It was a long day especially since we did not find the lady we were looking for. In fact we deduced that she might be dead (we don't know though). 

We got 1 new investigator this week! His name is Jean-Baptiste. He is pretty cool and hope that we will see him again!

We did not get a chance to see Tatiana this week, but we have a meeting scheduled this week with her. And we hope to extend a baptismal invitation to her! At the last meeting we had with her, we helped her to understand what the spirit feels like and how to invite him for personal revelation. She admitted that she has felt it before in her life, and that was super cool. 

Other than that, not kuch this week, just figuring things out and getting settled in. We also went to the cathedrals again today, but this time we got to go in the crypt. I will attach some pictures.

Sincerely
Elder Payne





Monday, August 14, 2017

Short letter from France

Dear Family,

Yeah sorry I missed writing a better letter last week, being in a trio means that we are busy pretty much all the time. But I have some time today to write.

The trio is fun, although we get the repertoire today which will tell us all about the new companionship and who my next companion will be. I will include that in the next weekly letter because we haven't gotten it yet. The stakes are high though because I could possibly be training, or become district leader, or just get a new companion. But whatever happens, I will be okay with the Lord's help.

The French is coming along, I find it interesting how many people ask me how the French is going. It's not annoying, but how do I respond to that? Anyway, right now I think my French slowed down, because we haven't found much time for language study. But it will come.

I can't believe the amount of personal growth I have already seen on my mission. And actually, last Saturday made 4 months in the mission! I am really learning how to listen to others and not be judgemental or argumentative like I sometimes was before my mission. 

Well I guess I will end it there.

Sincerely,
Elder Payne 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Letter with a package and pictures

Hello Everyone!

How are you all doing? I have been geting all your emails! Thank you!!

The work here is going great and I am continually finding things that I really appreciate about France.  I love French doors. Seriously, the doors here are pieces of art.  And here is something French that you can try at home.  Get some apple juice in a cup, and put an orange slice in with it. I had that at a members house and loved it!!

You can try that or you can try 'bizou' (spelling). Which is kissing someone on both cheeks to greet them.

Well I love you all and as Dad would say, "Remember who you are".

Love,
Elder Payne

Parent's note: We didn't get a e-mail this week so I just transcribed a short letter Jay sent in a package.  Jay is companions with two other missionaries for a couple of weeks.  Transfers are the week of August 14th at which time he should get a new companion.  He did send an e-mail to someone else and stated that the two missionaries he is with now are lots of fun but hard working too.

The pictures were on an SD card that Jay sent along with some other items he sent.
Info from Internet search:  Dreaming the Erdre of Marie-Hélène Richard is a walk on the Erdre between urban and nature that plays with the landscape and the reflections, from one bank to the other.

No notes on this picture - If someone knows about it let me know and I will update the blog.

No notes about this picture, but I guess Jay ate well that day.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Missionary cooking in France

Bonjour à tous,

I going to work with two other Elders this week, right now I am still in Nantes. I will get a new companion in two weeks.

This week has been pretty fun, although interesting because my ATM card didn't work this past week. Elder Mansfield and I have been eating pretty much the cheapest food we can find. Did you know that one large can of beans, some rice, some hamburger, and some tomatoes will make a burrito mix that feeds 2 people lunch and dinner for a week?

I have been learning how to make crepes. They are super easy to make and serve as kind of the tortillas of France. You can literally put anything on their and it will usually be delicious.

We had a service project this week that was pretty much the worst. I spent 6 hours on a roof... scrubbing... each... individual... tile. We didn't even finish. But it was still fun in a sense.

We also went to a cool land bridge last P-day. It was pretty cool. I will make sure to send pictures. I got really sunburned too.

Tatiana and Camille have been coming to church every week and we are really excited to see them progress. You can read more about that later. But anyway, things have been going good, elder Mansfield goes home this Thursday and I will be in Saint Nazaire for the next two weeks. I will make sure to email you guys all about it next week.

Sincerely,
Elder Payne

Monday, July 24, 2017

Exciting end of the week

Bonjour à tous,

Well this week was very exciting!!! First on Monday, my soul died a little cuz Elder Mansfield wanted to do some clothes shopping before he went home, and he decided to invite the Soeurs for clothing advice. Needless to say, I was a tired, zoned-out, missionary zombie for about 2 hours.

Tuesday we went to Rennes for our first interviews with the new mission president. Then we stayed in Rennes because we had some legality stuff to take care of for residence in Paris.

Wednesday was just zone conference.

Thursday we went out to Paris! Super fun cuz I got to meet with my old MTC buds. Funny story, The legality stuff includes a general medical check up, and one part of it you go in a room without your shirt on and talk to a lady about your general health. I told her that I have been experiencing some back pain. In response she reaches over and puts her hand on my stomach (as a missionary I felt very violated) and just said in broken English "strengthen core". So since then I have been doing core workouts.

On Friday we managed to find 2 new amis. That was really cool.

On Saturday is the cool part. So I don't know if any of you remember me talking about Tatiana. But she is the Brazilian woman with the 3 sons. Well we fixed another Rendez-vous with her. We also invited one of the women from our ward and her son. We expected her to bring her son again. When we were waiting at the church or her, we saw a really nice Mercedez pull in to the parking lot. We didn't recognize the car. A guy gets out of the car and none of us new him, then Tatiana also gets out of the car. When you're a missionary you never expect your amis to have a car. We learned that the man is named Camille and is Tatianas boyfriend (she's divorced). Then we proceed to have an awesome Restoration lesson. Camille is really cool and the entire ward loves him because he is a soccer agent. Then we gave them a soft invitation to come to Church and gave them both a Book of Mormon.

On Sunday we had figured out that we already have 3 new amis this week with almost no finding time (the lord provides). And if Tatiana comes with her whole family, we would have 5 new amis and 5 amis come to church. That is unheard of. We were sitting in church when BOOM! They show up!!!! Tatiana, Camille, and her 3 sons! It was AWESOME!!

So yeah, this family is going far. They are so cool.

Sincerely,
Elder Payne

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Importance of Personal Prayer

Bonjour à tous,

This week we had some more exchanges in Rennes, and some with La Rochelle. We also had a Saint Nazaire finding day. That was fun.

Honestly, I can't really remember this week very well, it went by so fast. Although I have started an interesting goal that you might find interesting.

So at the exchanges in Rennes, we didn't have any time in the morning for personal study and prayer. Well for the whole day I was really just zombie-like and really out of it. Then the same happened a couple of days later in Saint Nazaire and that is when about half-way through the day I decided that I needed to find a way to make sure that I always say a prayer. So Elder Mansfield had an idea to put a coin in my shoe, and every time I noticed the coin, I would say a prayer.

So I tried that except decided to amp it up a little, so I put a coin in both shoes. I literally said a prayer every like 10 minutes for the whole day. But it helped a lot. I noticed a huge difference when I don't have my spiritual fill every day.

So I think that that is the most exciting thing from the last week. This coming week will be really interesting because we have interviews with the new mission president on Tuesday, zone conference Wednesday, Legality stuff on Thursday in Paris, and on Saturday is a youth/missionary activity all day.

Sincerely,
Elder Payne

Monday, July 10, 2017

Miracle in the rain

Bonjour à tous,

Well this week was really exciting, met the new mission president, he is super cool and I am confident that I will have no troubles getting along with him in the future. If you want to hear a really cool story keep reading, I know that I would've tuned out by now.

So I will just start with the cool miracle story this week because it might take up the whole email.

So yesterday was a pretty decent day in the morning, normal church. Elder Mansfield and I  didn't have any rendez-vous for the afternoon. So we decided that we would have lunch and some personal studies and then go porting (door to door) in a residential area. We had looked for some places on maps, and decided that that was where we needed to go. Well the weather app said that it was supposed to rain that night but I thought nothing of it because there was clear blue skies. As we were getting ready to go, some HUGE clouds rolled in and it started to drizzle a little bit. I still thought nothing of it. Right before we left the apartment, it started pouring. So we decided we would go anyway (because you know...missionaries).

I have never been happier on my mission so far than I was during that rain. I don't even know why I was so happy but I think that it was because I felt like a real missionary. Our pants were soaked, our shoes full of water, water starting to soak through even our rain jackets. We were doing some porting with no success and decided that we should say a prayer about whether or not we needed to stay there. I got a very subtle impression that we needed to leave. So we left. Then it started hailing, with the already ridiculously hard rain. By this time, any hope of dry clothing was lost. We hopped on the tram to go back to our apartment and decided we would come back later when the storm had blown over.

We were on the tram, soaking wet. And a woman starts talking to Elder Mansfield because she was curious about the name tags. We kept talking to her about who we were and the tram stops for technical difficulties and we all had to get off and walk. She asked us to walk with her so we did, we met her husband later, who had heard about the FLDS church (fundamental LDS) so we cleared up some misconceptions regarding the LDS church and kept talking. By this time we had already crossed half of Nantes with this woman. So we walked with her and her husband, still talking, and got on our tram to get home. We ended completely ignoring our stop and just kept talking. Her and her husband got off and we got off with them. We walked with them to their house, they invited us in, they gave us soda, we scheduled a mangez-vous (dinner app.) and they said that they would invite their daughters too. 

So all in all, we talked to this woman and her husband for about 2 hours, crossed all of Nantes with them, gave them a full lesson, prayed with them, got their number, got their address, and scheduled a mangez-vous, and got 2 new amis and possibly 4 all in one night. This doesn't happen...ever. We are sooooooo excited to meet with them again. Elder Mansfield said that in 2 years he has never experienced anything like that. I said a prayer of thanks that night and my shoes are still soggy.

Blessings. If you skipped to the bottom, please read the email, you wont regret it.

Also, I have some pictures here of an art museum we went to.

Modern art ladies and gentlemen....

Sincerely, 
Elder Payne






Monday, July 3, 2017

More News from Nantes

Bonjour à tous,

How is everyone this week! I am doing great out here, we have actually been getting quite a few new amis this week!

First, we were contacted by a man named Vincent. We apparently contacted him on the bus 2 weeks ago but totally forgot about him, whoops. But it turns out he is super cool, we try not to put favoritism on amis but he is definitely one of my favorites. He is 19 and a practicing Buddhist. But super open to the gospel and learning more. 

We also met a Brazilian woman named Tatiana. We had a meeting with her and she brought her 17 year old son too! Turns out she has 2 other teenage sons! Super cool!! We hope that we can get all of them to church or to at least come to meetings. But Tatiana is pretty awesome. Her son doesn't seem interested in sports so we can't get him to Saturday sports, but ya know, whatever.

In terms of transfers, yes there was one on the 28th, but I stayed and so did my comp as is customary for training to stay 2 transfers. It is so weird to think I am on my second already. If you didn't see, my comp is going home in a month, so I will go to Saint Nazaire for 2 weeks until I get a new comp in the next transfer.

That was the extent of most of our week, along with a service project and an awesome museum today.



Sincerely, 
Elder Payne 




Monday, June 26, 2017

Birthday Package Received - one month later

Bonjour à Tous,

Hello everyone! This week has been kind of a slow one, because all of our amis just dropped off the face of the earth and for a couple of days, we didn't have any amis. All that means is lots of contacting, out in the street, door to door, everywhere. We manage successfully contact 4 people over the week, 2 of them fruged us (arrange a meeting and then don't show up) 2 others agreed to come to church this Sunday. The last guy is actually really cool, apparently he was contacted by the sister missionaries in February and then he had to go out of country for something. He came to church on Sunday just wondering if he was still welcome. He agreed to meet with us on Wednesday! Super awesome!

Also, our only progressing ami, Eddy, stopped answering our calls and we have no idea what happened to him. We stopped by his apartment and left a good note for him. But at church on Sunday, one guy came up to us and was wondering about Eddy, apparently he is a good friend of Eddy and told us that he will call him this week and try to set up a meet with Eddy again but this time the friend wants to help us teach him. 

All I can say this week is that Heavenly Father provides for his children. e are super excited to teach the new ami and hopefully invite Eddy to be baptized!

In other news, I have discovered that the french don't have grape jelly, and we contacted a Catholic priest and got invited to attend an ordination this Sunday after church, Pres. Babin said it's okay so we will go to that and I will tell you guys how it went next week!

In the pictures this week! Drum role please...

First we have a couple of pictures of the package from my family! The general condition of it was good, the brownies were all smushed but still delicious! Second, there is the pirate ship just down the street from our apartment, it was there for some sort of event.

Sincerely,
Elder Payne


According to Google Translate: amis = friends





Monday, June 19, 2017

Short e-mail with pictures

Hi everyone!

I have had some pretty awesome experiences this week. We got asked to go dedicate a tomb in Saint Jean de Monts. Which is a little town right on the beach. A really beautiful town. Turns out the funeral was not an LDS funeral, and it was very interesting. We ended up giving the dedication in front of about 40 people who are not members of the church. So mass teaching! We went to see the beach, of course we didn't actually go on the beach, but it was the best one I've seen yet.

Here are some pictures.

So the first pic is of a castle we went to on P-day that is about 3 blocks from where I live. It's called Château Duke de Bretagne. The second is a pic of the amazing beach in Saint Jean de Monts, we were there to consecrate a tomb at a catholic funeral. The next is one of the biggest attractions of Nantes, it is a gaint robotic Elephant that moves around the island in the middle of Nantes. The next is a pic of the inside of the castle. And the next is a cool building that is not far from our apartment. For the next week, I will make sure to take a picture of the pirate ship close to our apartment and the naval battle ship.

Nantes is an awesome!

Well have a good week.

Sincerely,

Elder Payne




A castle we went to on P-day that is about 3 blocks from where I live.


This is a picture of the yard inside of the castle.
Here is a picture of the amazing beach in Saint Jean de Monts

A giant robotic Elephant that moves around.
'cool building that is not far from our apartment'

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...