Monday, October 25, 2010

Bonjour a tous, il fait froud mais nos coeurs sont chaud!!!

Dear Everyone,
I am doing well, and this week was good, chilly but not bad, the vineyards are starting to turn red and the leaves are turning yellow, it is really really pretty. I hope that you all are doing well as well. Halloween is coming up and I expect lots of pictures, I need to know what all the grandkids are being, and by the way Grandma and Grandpa and giving extra candy to anyone that dresses up like Uncle Elder Smith for Halloween!!
This is my shout out to Karlee Phelps (Willey), I got your wedding annoucement and I just want to say congrats! You two look great, and I'm super excited for you both!
We taught our Amis - Carlos, who is getting baptised on the 7th of November - It was a good lesson on friday with him and at the end of the lesson he told us that his wife had already explained it to him a little and that he wanted to follow the commandment, that made our job really easy. He told us that he would throw away his alcohol and that he was going to do it, so that he could be baptized. On Sunday he told us that he had had dinner with some friends on saturday and they started the night by offering him alcohol, talk about immediate opposition. He then told us that he said, no and that he just wanted water, his friends persisted, and he just said "no thanks", that my friends is what we like to call faith! I was so proud of him when he told me and I can see that he is changing and he will be completely ready for his baptism! It was a rewarding moment for me to see him gain a small testimony so quickly.
Another Amis - Didier, he is 30, smokes like a chimney and is big, has a scruffy beard and lots of tattoos - he looks scary but he is a GIANT TEDDY BEAR, I love him. He is super kool, the other day when I was on an exchange Elder Magnan saw him, sitting in front of the train station, just chillin' playing his ukulele. Needless to say, Didier is my kind of guy. We taught him the word of wisdom this week as well, and invited him to reduce the amount he smokes per day, he used to smoke about 30 cigarettes per day!!! and now he is down to 15. He invited him to church and he said that he was going to go out and party with his friends, we told him that he would be tempted to drink and smoke if he went out and partied on saturday night, he knew it was the truth. He decided to follow the commandments and he came to all 3 hours of church on sunday and told his friends that he didn't want to go out and party with them. Again it was another rewarding moment to see him choose the right. He is engaged to be baptized on the 13th November, if he keeps choosing the right he will be well ready as well.
This week was good, we taught well and stayed diligent in some tough moments, we went out in to the countryside 2 times for lessons. We were in the rolling hills of southern france, surrounded my sheep, vineyards and fall colors. It was beautiful, we taught Carlos one time and a less active brother, both who live about 45 minutes to an hour away from Carcassonne, the members help us SOOO much, it would be the same sacrafice for you to offer the missionaries a ride to Logan and back. As you can tell the members are so good.
Speaking of the ward, the piano played got released yesterday, and guess who got called as the ward pianist in the Carcassonne......yep you guessed it.......alright mom, go ahead and say it "I told you so".. I should have practiced more......
I love you all, and I hope that you have a great Halloween!!! I loved the package mom!!! The dried Mangos are so good and I've loving the church news!
LOVE , Matt

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Being Weird and Luggage Rack Ride

Bonjour a tous!!!

This week was a little bit chilly and windy. It is almost overcast everyday and winter is getting close. We have been teaching all of our amis' this week, but for the last 2 weeks we haven't been finding as new investigators and its been a little depressing, so we decided to really hit the streets with Le Livre De Mormon and flood Carcassonne with the Book of Mormon. It worked great, in a matter of 2 hours we found 4 people and over the course of the week in total we took 10 contacts that were interested in our message.
This week on saturday we had 5 people not show up to our lessons, when the day started we had planned to teach 7 lessons and at the end of the day just 2. It was a little bit of a downer and we had to make some changes of plans, as we were walking to one of our amis' apartments, the wind gusted up and frankly I was miserable, the lessons had fallen through I was freezing and I wasn't feeling in the best of health. As the wind gusted I turned my head to avoid the wind and I looked at my tag that was flapping in the wind (it was the clip on tag) and I saw "ELDER SMITH". In that moment I realized that all of you were praying for me, my parents, my siblings and siblings-in-laws, my nephews and my nieces, and my friends, and that it was an honor to wear the name "SMITH" on my chest all day everyday, I thought of all the other Elder Smiths', Grandpa, Dad, Ben, Tres, Taylor and I thought to myself "What would they say right now?" I realized that you would tell me to keep going and finish the day strong. So thats what I did. At the end of the day, I was still a little disappointed in vast change of plans, but I had learned a valuable lesson of the power of prayer and of the love families and close friends.
This week I traveled to Toulouse for Zone Conference, unfortunately there was a strike with the train workers and our entire district missed the first half of Zone Conference. But after a little bit of a delay we made it to Toulouse on a different train. It was really good and I enjoyed it. President and Sister Carter talked about asking good questions and about teaching people not lessons. It was helpful for me, because sometimes as we teach the basic first lessons, we have taught them many many times, and I feel a little numb while we teach. I much prefer to have the spirit there and change the lesson to the needs of our investigator so that they can feel the importance of the restoration and plan of salvation.
Carlos Bento: Because he lives far away, it has been difficult to teach him and to get him ready for his babtism, we talked with them and we have moved the date back so that we can teach him enough before his babtism. He will be babtised on the 7th of November and Confirmed on the 14th. He has asked Elder Magnan to babtise him and he asked me to confirm him a member of the church. yikes! I'm going to be praying for the gift of tongues, I've never given a blessing in French!
Vanessa: She is doing well, her and her fiance are getting married on the 24th of November and she will be babtised on the 4th of December. We hope that Benoit (the fiance) will be engaged for babtism for the same day. They are doing well and want to know more and more each lesson, Benoit is still yet to gain this testimony, but Vanessa is strong.
Didier: His babtismal date is set for the 7th of November, but we need to DTR (define the relationship), what I mean by that is find out if he really wants to be babtised. He is currently having some major struggles with the word of wisdom.
Sabrina Khemissi: In the past she was striving for babtism and she has been working really hard to get over the habit of smoking, this week she broke down and said it was too hard, and she has been feeling really stressed with her family and friends, she asked that we teach her less and more slowly, it is sad. We are scared of losing her if can't regain her fire.
Caroline: She has a testimony but she is living with her boyfriend. She knows it is true but she is being held back by him. Sadly he is a less active member and he is not a very good example for her, our next step his to get him worthy, so that he can be a good example to her.
We have others, but these are our amis' that we are really trying to focus on this week.
This week has been good. Elder Magnan and I are getting along well and we are enjoying our time together, I think in 3 weeks we will we separated.
I love you all and I pray for you ALL, from Grandma Sanders to Baby Carter, and everyone inbetween.
Elder Smith

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Soggy in Carcasonne

I loved hearing from you all and I hope that all keeps going well. Jodi is moving. Tim doesn't have a shoulder. USU beat BYU :( The Poulsens went to NYC and partied with the Ben Smiths, who are busy in studies and life, the Sealys are busy busy but great, Lish is back to work and the Tres Smiths are doing basement work and finishing soccer season. It sounds like the provo crew is keeping in real as well (this is my shout out to Jen, Mikey, HP, Kelli, Anna, Michelle, Mad Dogg, Kevin, Em, Eric, and the Vegans) ha
I'm super grateful that I bought my coat and my umbrella last week, because it has been raining not stop for almost 48 hours. Yesterday we walked for like 30 minutes in Hurricane Katrina numero deux, and we were drenched. It didn't help that a car splashed with a huge puddle either. We made it to our appointment and then we did it again, We were wet, but happy. We sang several remixes of singing in the rain, there is sunshine in my soul to day, you are my sunshine, and rain drops keep fallin on my head.
Cette Semaine......
Tuesday: We had a district meeting and it was really good. We got new new missionaries in our district, one of which was Elder Danny Allen. It was great, I opened the door to my apartment and for a second I felt like I was back in Kaysville, at Dear Old Davis High School. We both couldn't believe that we were on the other side of the world and we were looking at each other. He was great and I enjoyed the 3 hours we got to spend together. He stayed in Carcassonne on an exchange and I went to Beziers for the day. Beziers was really good. We contacted and taught a recent convert and had a family night with some members as well.
Wednesday: I was back in Carcassonne and we taught some Amis, but had some no shows
Thursday: I was on an exchange in Montpellier while Elder Magnan was at a leadership meeting for the whole mission. It was nice. I was working with an elder from my district in the MTC. It was different. But good, Montpellier is alot bigger than Carcassonne, the exchange made me realize how gratiful I am for Elder Magnan, I enjoy the way we teach and contact alot more. They are good missionaries in Montpellier but it was just alot different, and I felt like we were wasteing time just talking to people. Me and Elder Magnan jump right into contacting. Bonjour we are missionaries, there is a prophet on the earth today! or something like that. but in Montpellier, we small talked and shot the breeze and then started talking about the gospel. Good, just really different.
Friday: I headed back from Montpellier but we had troubles with trains. The Trains were running late, and all sorts of things were messed up, so we ran for our a train and asked the controller if we could pay for our tickets on the train (usually you have to have travel plans and to have bought your ticket already). we road that train as far as we could and then we were in Narbonne, a city without missionaries and it was about 7 o clock and we had no train. We wandered through Narbonne and contacted people, even though there was no missionaries that could teach them easily and then we went back to the train station to find a way to Carcassonne. We ended up doing the same thing, and asking the controller if we could buy our tickets while on the train, he said yes, but there wasn't any seats left. The entire train was booked. He let us buy tickets and we rode in the luggage racks on our way to Carcassonne. It was an adventure for sure.
Saturday: We have an Amis who is going to be babtised in 2 weeks, but he lives out in the country side with his wife(member from Brazil). There is no trains directly for his little village. We woke up early and took the Train to Toulouse and then waited in Toulouse for a little train going to Foix. We took that train and then they met us at the train station and drove us 30 minutes to their house in Lavelavet. In total it took us 3 and a half hours to go teach him. We then taught and ate lunch and they drove us back to the train station. The Train was late but we road back to Toulouse and then again to Carcassonne. We left Carcassonne at 7 in the morning and got back at 7 at night. 12 hours for 1 Rendez-vous! It was important that he was taught. but it took a long time.
so in all reality I wasn't in Carcassonne this week. It hurt the work because we spent alot of time traveling and teaching other companionships Amis'. It was a good we none the less. We have 3 Amis' engaged to be babtised and 3 others that are SOOO close to committing to babtism.
It was a good week, but they numbers weren't their to prove it. but thats OK, we taught those that needed to be taught and we learned many lessons.
I hope all is well. Know that I love you all! This work is the work of the Lord and you can share it aswell, as you live the gospel and show others the joy and happiness of the gospel by example.
LOVE Elder Smith

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Boy oh boy I loved conference!!!!

This week was a little different from last week, last week was my most busy week in France and this week was my least busy week in France. We had alot of Ratez-Vous' (when someone doesn't show up) I think we had 10 or something. So we tried to be busy and we had sent up the week to be busy but apparently these people weren't quite ready for the gospel this week. I realized this week how much of our success is granted from the Lord ............100%!!! We need to teach well and work hard, but if we don't have tons of lessons that means that the Lord had a different agenda. I hope that made sense. But at the same time even though we weren't not crazy busy with lessons we were still teaching alot and found success. One of our Amis', Carlos Bentos, he is from Portugal called us and told us that the Book of Mormon was true and that we wanted to be baptized. We thought about it for a second but we accepted his commitment. :) ha ha it was kinda fun to have the investigator give us the commitment, it made our job really easy. He is going to be baptized on the 23rd of October the same day that his wife was baptized 22 years ago in Brazil. They are really great, and I'm very very excited for them. We are still going to teach him intensely because we want to keep his fire lit, and we want to make sure that he is getting baptized for himself not his wife. We also taught Caroline, the girlfriend of a less active member. She prayed as well and told us that the Book of Mormon was true, again we agreed. :) She doesn't have a baptismal date yet, but we are going to keep working on it.

I also have a new member of my district. His name is ELDER DANNY ALLEN!!!!!! he is in Beziers and I will be seeing him very often, tomorrow in fact, and I've talked to him on the phone several times already. He has a good trainer, French as well, and as far as I've heard they are seeing lots of miracles as well. Beziers has been a little bit cold for the last 6 months, but he has been here for 6 days and they are already seeing much more success. Elder Magnan said that it was normal because new missionaries have more faith. I guess that helps :) I want to have faith for all of my mission so that I can continually see the miracles of faith for 2 years not just 2 transfers.

Sunday was SO SO good!! I loved listening to conference, I listened to half of it in French which was a little difficult, I don't have an apostle size vocabulary in English, so in French.... it was a little rough. And unfortunately, I didn't understand anything of Elder Cooks talk, I was trying but I was totally lost. I'll have to read it in English in the Ensign next month. I really loved the priesthood session and it made me miss watching it was with all the brothers, brothers-in-law and dad. We watched Saturday morning and Sunday morning directly, and Priesthood session and Saturday Afternoon on delay. Unfortunately Sunday Afternoon was live but it was from 10 pm to Midnight and we had to be home. I wanted to hear Elder Bednar and I assume he spoke in the last session. Maybe we'll get to watch it next week, I hope so. I especially loved the talks of the 1st Presidency. I felt like they were talking right to me, and I felt honored to have had received a mission call from these great leaders, apostles and prophets.

I did hear the Temples announced and unfortunately there wasn't a France temple, but watch for next time. There is word that the property has been purchased in Versailles and that the land is already being prepared. I had this knowledge because Elder Magnan's family lives 15 minutes from the temple site. There is also a member in Bordeaux that is helping with the design and blue prints. Apparently they have been this close in the past, so nothing is for sure. But the members are more confident this time.

Are you eating well?
I eat really well, sometimes too well

But I was curious if you had enough money?
I think you probably heard about Elder Spackman. haha They eat out alot and thus it is expensive

Do you pay for your own heat?
Nope, in fact it is kinda of cold in our apartment and the French government doesn't turn on the heat until the 18th or 19th of October, so our land lord gave us a space heater for the nights, its cozy :)

In some places you put coins into a meter to heat your apartment, how do you heat?

Did you get winter clothes?
I bought one V-neck sweater, it is rather dashing in my opinion, and it is a grayish brown color and it looks good with all 3 of my suits. I am going to by an umbrella this week and a coat, it'll cost about 100 Euros, ouch.

There was another massive protest, it was kinda funny. Elder Magnan said that they usually yell and heckle the missionaries so we had to change our outfits on the fly to try to look normal while we walked past the protest for a block and half, it was kinda funny.

Hope all this well and I hope you all loved conference. I love you.