Elder Brown in Montauban

Elder Brown in Montauban

Monday, January 30, 2012

Bikes Don't Swim, but We're Fisher's of Men - January 30 2012

Bonjour à tous!!!

Nous avons passé une semaine super marrante à Agen! Un accident de vélo, un enseignement à "une multitude", un orage, des miracles, même une interrogation par la police...c'était chouette!

Alright, I'll explain. Monday afternoon I got in a bike crash--don't worry, there was no permanent damage, except to my pants. We wer buzzing along the road, with Elder Tulley about 100 feet behind me. Suddenly a car cut in front of me to try and park, leaving no room to turn but plenty of momentum. I braked hard and the bike spat me out over the handlebars. I caught myself and ran out of it on my hands. No, just kidding, I only caught myself on my hands and then my helmet and backpack hit the pavement as well. Thanks again for those nice thick gloves!
We taught madame Berthon that night! She told us more about how she feels a bit abandonned by God. She wasn't immediately interested in fixing another appointment, but she promised to read the Book of Mormon (in which I had written my testimony and underlined several passages)!
On thursday we finally managed to teach la famille Montoye! It was pretty hectic with three other moms and there kids present. This group of fifteen or so is the "multitude" that I mentioned above. The kids didn't want to gather and listen, so we had a very hectic first lesson. I considered it a victory because we managed to start and end with a prayer. C'est déjà pas mal! We're seeing them again tomorrow morning, without all of the kids!
Saturday night we were knocking on doors when it started pouring! We kept knocking on doors for about an hour. The rain wasn't letting up at all (we had hoped it would), so we ended up swimming home on our bikes. We got back to the apartment with plenty of time to spare, so we headed back out on foot to pass by the adresses of several former investigators. At the first adress, nobody seemed to live there, so we started heading back in the other direction. However, I noticed the lights on next-door. I thought "why not", so I knocked and a woman answered the door. I explained that we were missionaries, she let us in, introduced us to her husband, and explained that she was interested to learn more! We'll be teaching Maria and Michael tonight! We hadn't had any success that whole evening, but because we exercised faith, we had that miracle at 8:50 at the very end of the long, cold, wet trial of our faith!
Also, last night we were stopped by the police because someone in the residential area where we'd been knocking on doors called to report two "suspicious looking men dressed all in black." They had probably seen us unlocking our bikes and assumed we were up to no good!

I love you all! The church is true and I would say more but I've gotta go!
-Elder Brown

Monday, January 23, 2012

Bikes and Miracles - January 23, 2012

Ma chère famille,

Hello again! We've been abundantly blessed this week in Agen! On monday, President Murdock sent me a message giving us the green light to find and purchase some bikes. We found one really expensive bike store, and meanwhile Elder and Sister Larson were out shopping for us in Toulouse! Elder Larson called to tell me that he'd found the perfect bikes for us, and they brought 'em over on wednesday morning!
I love the Larsons!
Having bikes has enabled us to be beaucoup plus efficace in our work, as a lot of what we do during these winter nights involves knocking on doors in residential areas that are a good forty minutes away from our apartment by foot. As I mentioned last week, without bikes we spent a LOT of time just walking!
A few things that happened this week. Unfortunately nobody has come to church--not yet! Opeti and Losi have disappeared. Lydie is in Toulouse for some medical tests. Dwayne was in Bordeaux for the weekend--en plus, il a la langue bien pendue. It's hard to teach him because he talks a lot. I called Armand yesterday and he said he doesn't want to see us anymore. He told me to call back later.
But...We've had MIRACLE after MIRACLE! On tuesday, we were out knocking on doors. At the second door, a woman answered. Elder Tulley barely had the time to say, in halting french, "Bonjour, nous sommes missionnaires de l'église de Jésus-Christ--" and then she said "Ah, Jésus-Christ! Il m'a laissée-tomber, lui!" She went on about how she used to believe in God, but then she had lost her parents, her house had burned down, she had gotten divorced--all in one year. "S'il y avait vraiment un Dieu aux cieux, tou cela ne me serait pas arrivé. Cela ne m'intéresse pas, au revoir!" And then she shut the door. I felt bad for her, but it's also true that people tell us that sort of thing every day. As we walked to the next door, I pulled out my little port-à-porte book to note that we should not knock on that particular door again.
As soon as I had marked a little 'x' next to the number 21, I had the feeling that I should have left it blank. I felt like we should go back. So we turned around and rang the doorbell. This time she opened the kitchen window and didn't say anything. Her expression was softer. I handed her a pass-a-long card through the window and said "this message will bless your life." We talked for a minute or two, and she agreed to let us come back to explain more. We're going to her house tonight, and I've already got a Book of Mormon ready for her with my testimony inside and a few scriptures highlighted! Please pray for Madame Berthon!
I don't have time to tell you all that Iid like to say, but we taught Monsieur Rey, the gardener, on saturday. He's been reading the Book of Mormon. He's catholic but doesn't agree with a lot of what he sees in his church. He said to call him back in a few weeks.
Monsieur Morel, whom we taught for the first time last week, is doing well! We read Alma 32 together, and he said it was adressed right at him! For those of you who have not read Alma 32, it's in the Book of Mormon and I highly recommend it!
We found a couple on saturday night who accepted the invitation to be baptized! Serge and Celine live not far from the church--they're not married yet, so we'll see where that goes.
We knocked on the door of a man who came out and said, "Je trouve ça très honorable, ce que vous faites! Moi, je suis chrétien, mais anti-pape. Je veux donner une éducation chrétienne à mes enfants sans pour autant leur imposer une réligion en particulier." His name is Alain Montoye, and we were supposed to teach him yesterday...but he wasn't there! This was not a total failure, because his wife was there with their six kids and the seventh on the way! Her name is Beatrice, and we talked for a while about the church and her family. She's very open to having us come over and teach them! The family Montoye could singlehandedly (or should I say "fourteen-handedly") double the size of the Agen branch! We're gonna try to stop by this afternoon (P-day will be a bit short). Please pray for them!
We taught Puariki on friday--we arrived at the house just as her husband was getting home, and I asked,"est-ce que vous êtes le mari de Puariki?" He said yes and I said, "parfait! Nous sommes les missionnaires!" He left us on the porch, went in and siad something to his wife, came back out, and said, "C'est la peine. Laissez-tomber" In other words, "forget about it." We kind of stood there deciding what to do, and a few minutes later Puariki (she's tahitian, and Frederic is french) came walking out all in a huff. In the end, she convinced Frederic to let us in, although he didn't listen to the lesson. Puariki used to be very believing, but ever since her marriage to Frederic she's felt far from God because Frederic is pretty anti-religion.
We taught a guy named Drew.
Last night we knocked on the door of Takeem and Sallie, a muslim family. They invited us in and listened intently. They're not very practicing, and were interested to read the Book of Mormon! Takeem gave a very simple prayer at the end--Sallie even helped him!

I feel like blessings are just being poured out on our heads! I feel overwhelmed because I don't think we deserve it. God has prepared many of His children here in Agen to recieve the message of the restored gospel! I hope we'll have the opportunity to baptize them unto repentance!
I'm so glad to hear the news from all of you! I wanted to make some comments (even a few about housing) but I'm out of time! I love this work and I know it's true!
I love you all!
-Elder Brown

Monday, January 16, 2012

Gloves, Bikes, and Miracles

Ma chère famille et mes chers amis,

Et bien, l'œuvre du Seigneur avance à Agen! We've had a great week! As I mentionned in the heading, I broke down and bought some gloves this week. My hands were getting--and staying--so cold because we've been spending all of our time outside! Unlike whatever Kendra's experiencing in Provo, we are having a cold winter! One lady on the road responded, when we talked to her "Oh, the mormons, huh? You're finally back, and you brought the cold with you!"
Despite the cold, we've been having fun and having success! On friday we taught a tongan rugby player, his wife, and two of their friends. Opeti plays rugby for the Agen team, and he married Losi a few months ago. They didn't make it to church, but we'll keep you informed on their progress! Yesterday we were blessed to teach a lot--we have two new investigators (Lydie and Dwayne), and we also taught one family (Asmae et Alain) who said they weren't ready to be taught but that they would read the Book and Mormon and call later. We planted a seed!
Church was interesting once again! We've got work to do in order to really help this branch take off, and we're planning on doing it!
Armand is doing well--we're hoping to teach his wife, Léonie, next time we go over to his house. He still hasn't come to church because of his responsabilities at the Catholic church. We saw him this week with President Landry Zambo, who bore a very powerful testimony of the restoration of the gospel and of the "one true and living church"!
As for Nolwenne and Morgane, they told us last night that they prefer just to call us back if they're interested to meet us again.
We just got permission to buy bikes! I'm excited, because we've already been doing a LOT of walking down LONG roads with nobody to talk to! Bikes will really help us be were we need to be (especially during winter) to find the families that God has prepared to receive our message.

Dad, Je relis ton livre depuis quelques jours; merci encore!
Mom, Sister Larson called me today to say that your package has arrived! Thanks a ton, I'm excited to get those gloves! I'm glad to hear about our dinner invitations, and I'm sure la famille Herlin (Ketty and Jean-François) will want to have us over.
Kendra, I'm glad the weather is warm. T'es chanceuse!
Drew, sorry you got beat up, but that's AWESOME that you got to see and hear Elder Holland; I bet Triss wanted to get baptized right after hearing that! Say hi for me.
Steph, get well soon, and congratulations on your water bottle. President Palmer has an accent?
Trevor, pole vaulting requires the heavenly virtue of patience (of which I don't have very much either!) Just RUN FAST (that's one thing I never figured out...) Say bonjour to JT for me!

Elder Tulley is progressing quickly! He's a lot less sleepy now, and we're working well together!

It might seem from what I write in my emails that we have a lot of "half-miracles" that don't seem to get finished; we find somebody cool...and then they're not interested anymore. We really feel the Spirit testifying to an investigator...and then he or she decides not to follow it. I would just like to say that this is the work of the Lord, and that His work and designs "cannot be frustrated, nor can they come to naught" (I paraphrase). He is in charge. He knows His children--who they are, where they are, what they need. He is also a God of miracles. We as goofy 20 year-old missionaries are part of the fulfilment of the prophecy that the "weak things of the world" shall go forth and proclaim the fulness of the gospel to the four corners of the earth. Sometimes (actually the overwhelming majority of the time) we don't know where we need to be, or why we need to be there, but I know the Lord guides us.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve Him and His children here in Agen. I know ithe work is true, and yes, it is a work of MIRACLES! It is also the funnest thing I've ever done, and I highly recommend to all young men to serve a mission!

I love you all so much! I really am having the time of my life out here! Please pray for the people who are being prepared by the Lord to find us, and pray for us to be able to find them!
-Elder Brown

Monday, January 9, 2012

5 days in Agen - January 9 2012

Bonjour à tous!

Hey everyone, I'm glad to hear that life is good on the american continent! I've got a lot to tell you and a lot of questions and comments to which I need to respond as well!
On wednesday, I drove myself and three other missionnaries (Elder Barton, Elder Hemsley, and Soeur Siwachok) from Toulouse all the way to Geneva. It was pretty fun! All twelve of the trainers went out to McDonald's (we actually didn't have the choice--the office Elders had been asked to take us all out to eat). We spent the night at a hotel, and were picked up to meet our bleus (trainees) at the mission home on Thursday morning. My bleu is named Elder Tulley--he's a Lamanite! For those of you who are reading this email and do not know what a Lamanite is, ask a mormon or, better yet, read the Book of Mormon yourself! Elder Tulley's family actually lives on a Navajo reservation in Arizona. He's been pretty tired this week (partly because of jet lag, partly because we've been WORKING like crazy!), but I'll think he'll snap out of it soon.
Quick side story--I met a certain Soeur Lala (that's not her whole last name but I can't spell the rest) in Geneva. She's training this transfer as well. I've met her once before, nearly a year and a half ago, when she entered the mission at the same time as Elder Park, who was my first bleu. This time, I learned that Soeur Lala is from Grenoble. When she heard that I'm from Spokane, she said, "have you heard of Liberty Lake?" Apparently, Soeur Lala's older sister spent several months with the Craig family in our ward a few years ago! She said that Kristen Craig actually spent some time chez la famille Baret (Elder Baret is serving in Aix en Provence right now) Say hello to the Craigs from Soeur Lala!
So, back to Agen. Our apartment is the most beautiful missionary apartment I've ever seen. We went to meet with the Branch President, frère Landry Zambo, on friday. He explained to us that there are normally around 8 to 10 members. He also had a dream that the branch was about to grow explosively! We had a few cool experiences these last few days. On our way from the train station to the apartment for the first time, we contacted a couple, and apparently the husband is the gardener at the church here in Agen. We're hopefully going to teach them this saturday. We also found a less active member (Armand) who was baptized 30 years ago in Congo. He was forced to flee the country in 2001 because of the civil war, and when he arrived in France he couldn't find a Latter-day Saint church, so he started going to the Catholic church. He was excited to come to church, and actually drove us there sunday morning, but he realized at the last minute that he couldn't come because he had obligations at the catholic church. Saturday night, we had 5 minutes left before 9:00 when we had to be at the apartment, and I said, "Elder Tulley, we need to find somebody!" We walked down a road and contacted a young woman who said "I'm a member!" Her name is Adriana, she's from Portugal, and she's been here in Agen for nearly eight months without knowing that there's a chapel here! We called soeur Zambo, who brought Adriana to church the next day!
We have four investigators now, about whom I'll tell you more next week. We were contacting someone in the street when Nolwenne called out to us from her window and asked if we woud come up to explain more about the Mormons--so we taught her and her boyfriend, Morgane, last night! Samir and Assya are muslim, but very curious!
Dad, is there a Gabriel Fletcher in Spokane? Apparently he served a mission in London with frère Lhospital, a member of the Stake Presidency who came to church for branch conference, which was yesterday (so for my first sunday we had almost 20 people instead of 10!).
Mom, the adresse of our apartment is:

les missionnaires
35 rue Montesqieu, apt 31B la résidence Montesquieu
47000 Agen

Drew, as for your pole vault friend and her questions about ordinances...try Preach My Gospel. As for the halftime dance, I'll be praying that you manage to turn it into something legit. Here's an inspirational quote that you can use to help motivate the other guys to keep it clean: "Crude humor is uncreative" I'll pray for you to be efficient too.
Kendra, I got your Christmas letter, thanks a ton, ma soeur!
Trev and Steph, I'm glad you like pole vault class so much (and that you like the teacher Steph. Is it Lex?). Keep up the good work.

I had other stuff to say but am unfortunately out of time...

I love you all! Serving as a missionnary is the best thing I've ever done, and I wish I could do more. The church is true, and the Book of Mormon is blue. It is also true, and my favorite book in the world.
Have a nice week!
-Elder Brown