Monday, July 5, 2010

Last Letter!!

Well last week in the mission.  It has been a lot different than I expected.  I feel really good.  I don't feel too sad... at least not yet.  It was a good week.  Elder Berrett and I continued working despite the hot weather and the temptation to not work as hard.  But the hard work payed off because we found some really cool people, and got in contact with some cool people who will become new investigators this next week for Elder Berrett and his new companion Elder Prunier who is french and who doesn't speak a word of English.  My poor boy.  He will definitely be pushed and tried to learn.  Plus the sisters in our ward are getting closed so all of their investigators and recent converts that they were teaching the Elders will be now teaching.  He has to describe their situations and all the things they have to do all in French.  It will be a lot of work but it will be a great learning opportunity.  
I am glad that Patrick enjoyed it, because he has helped me sooooo much on my mission.  He helped me learn french, he worked with us all the time and fed us every Saturday... He kept me going at the first of my mission and at the last of the mission.  So he deserved every last minute of it.  He is a good man.  A terrestrial angel for missionaries here.  
You are right I really don't have much to say. It is my last email and I will be seeing you in like 3 days so... I will tell you anything you want then.  I love you lots.  Hope everything goes well with the trip.  
One last thing that was very awesome this week was at church Timothy got up and bore his testimony and it was soooo amazing.  He seriously acts like a wise 80 year old man.  I love him and I got the feeling again that he will be a great instrument in the hands of the Lord here in Belgium for the years to come.  Also our DMP Frere Wery whom I love an respect SOOOO much got up and bore his testimony and thanked me.  For my work that I had done and for my testimony and that he had learned a lot from me.. I felt so loved and so thankful for him.  He is probably one of the most amazing man you will ever meet.  He is so dedicated to the work of the Lord and sacrifices so much.  The Ward is here simply because of him.  I appreciated that for once a member recognized the work that we missionaries do and he was grateful for it.  That was a special experience.  Well Trunkiness is setting in... I am ready to COME Home. I am way excited to see my family that I love... Mainly all the little kids and I feel confident in the work that I have done for the Lord and know that I am now ready to move on.  
Love Elder Jacob Von Simonson

Monday, June 28, 2010

Time...

NOOOOOO..... well time is running thin.  I can't freaking believe that I have one week left on my mission.  Triste (sad)...really.  It hadn't really hit me until last night.  I was thinking about my transfers in Brussels with Elder De Mass and the very special and fond memories that I have had.  I realized how much I love Belgium. I don't really want to leave.  I am excited to see family, especially my nieces and nephews ... But I am going to miss Belgium, there is just something special about it.  
This week was pretty good.  It was also very difficult because we have a VERY difficult missionary that lives with us and we had exchanges with him and his companion and that created some arguments and ridiculousness.  Maybe it is the Lord's way of helping me be more excited to go home.  Or maybe it is just the fact that I need to learn more love and patience for difficult people.  Anywho other than that it was good.  

Tuesday Elder Berrett and I had to go to Brussels to get his legality.  That was cool, but it kinda ate up our whole day.  Elder Berrett is soooo good.  There were other new missionaries there and they were all weird and annoying haha. So I was glad to have Elder Berrett.  We also had a bunch of service this week.  We helped this lady from the Ward move.  That was fun.  Let us just say that Europeans don't know how to freaking move.  
Other than that, we have had a lot of time left for finding and porting.  We did hours and hours on end of just talking to people.  maybe the Lord is just helping me make up on all the time I missed out on finding and porting while I was Assistant and driving to the Netherlands etc.. Maybe.
Timothy is doing very well.  He went out and bought a suit for church and also we taught him about the Priesthood this week and he got and interview with the Bishop and should get it next week.  
Other fun news...  I played piano in Sacrament meeting... How do you like me now...?? That is right.  I'm cool.  I learned myself the hymn, In Humility... just mainly the top hand, but the pianist is on vacation so there was no one to play so they asked us missionaries to play... and somehow I got roped into playing.  It was less than spectacular, that is for dang sure.  
Well, I am way excited to see everyone and very excited to show you the beauties of Belgium and share with you some of my life for the last two years.  I feel like I have finally started my life.  At the end of my mission I have come to realize how important the Gospel is.  I look back before my mission.. and think, "Man I was stupid.. If only I had known all this before."  Oh well, right.. At least I know it now... I am so thankful I came on a mission. I would be absolutely nowhere if I hadn't come.  
Speaking of nowhere... I got a letter from Brett the other day and he told me that the last he heard.. Derek was in Jail for selling drugs and Greg had moved to New York with an 18 year old girl; Oh how different our lives are.  I prefer mine... my future is looking better... 
Thanks to everyone for all your love and support that you have given me on my mission.  Thanks for all your great examples.  Sorry for being such a jerk and kinda forgetting about all of you.  I  don't think I ever told anyone of you Happy Birthday or wrote you letters; I literally forgot about you a little.. so sorry, but thanks again! 
I am super excited to get to go to President Brubakers house with Elder Schmutz and his parents.  That will be SUPER SICK; I will try and set up some more appointments.. but I was just wondering when you would want to be in Charleroi and when you would want to be in Brussels.  I will try to figure that out.  
Also I have a question about my talk.  Do I have a subject or not.... ??? Let me know that way I can begin thinking and pondering about it.  Love you lots
Bisous (Kisses)
Elder Simonson

So this is our district right now and the other picture is a member family that we are teaching.  The little girl is seven and the family wanted us to help prepare her for her baptism so we are teaching her.  She is soooo cute... her name is Ketsia 
Enjoy! love ya 
ELder Von 

Monday, June 21, 2010

T-R-U-N-K-Y

What does that spell?..... Trunky!  Mom is trunky.  I knew this day would come!  But I guess I can let her be trunky because it is only two weeks away.  That is understandable.  But I will tell you what... this whole going home in two weeks thing hasn't really become real to me.  I feel the same and missionary work is still the same.  I'm not lost in a pool of trunky thoughts, at least not a whole lot.  So I guess that is good because then I am staying focused, right?  
This week was really good.  Elder Berrett is progressing a whole lot and his French is getting really pretty good.  When he wants to say something he can get it out.  He thinks that he isn't saying it right, but every time it is.  He is a good example to me.  He tries soooo hard and isn't afraid to fail.  Yes, I got my camera card a long time ago, sorry... every week I forget to tell you that I got it. 
This summer has been a really rainy one.. I think it rained almost everyday... but then again it is Belgium.  It is always sprinkling a little.  But at least it has been warm.  Not hot, not cold, just warm.  
Monday we had pday.  We went around in shops looking at stuff.  Elder Berrett still has stars in his eyes so everything is soooo cool and different, so obviously he wants to buy everything. It is funny... I find it humorous.  Tuesday we had an exchange with Elder Winkler and Hall.  I worked with Elder Winkler (the Swiss) It was an awesome day.  We taught Timothy and some recent converts.  Timothy was ready to go.  Wednesday he had his baptismal interview and passed.  We went and saw him on Friday to see if he had any questions or concerns and he didn't.  So we talked about enduring to the end and steps after baptism.  


Saturday was his Baptism.  It was a really good baptism.  I was kinda worried because I didn't think that anyone would be there.  But there were a ton of people there.  It was short, powerful, and just really good.  His Mom was so very happy for him and she is doing well and coming back strong in the church.  She had an interview with the Bishop and is back on track.  


Yesterday we had the confirmation of Timothy.  It was the Young Men's President that gave him the Holy Ghost.  It was powerful.  From the blessing that he received, it sounded like God had been waiting for Timothy to be baptized and that now that he was baptized, it was like... "Allright, now he is a member, now we can use him."  I got the feeling that the Lord has lots of things in store for this young boy.  
Friday however, was kind of a weird day.  We had Zone Conference in Bruxelles.  It was so weird.  I had kind of anticipated that it would be this huge spiritual experience where all the miracles and feelings of joy would just overcome me.. but it wasn't really that way.  It was just kinda normal.  I was happy and I felt content with my mission but it wasn't what I was expecting.  But that is ok... that isn't what was to happen.  I don't like when I think something is going to be a certain way, because then I am let down when it isn't.  It was a great Zone Conference though, exactly what I needed.  I learned an important principle that will help me through my whole life.  
So that was my week.  Benjamin is doing ok.  He is really pushed up to a wall.  He has the sincere desire to be baptized but Satan is putting a ton of opposition in his way and he just needs to show by his acts that he has the desire to be baptized.  He has to choose.  He lets things get in his way too easily.  We are praying and hoping that he will begin to put more faith in the Lord and let worldly things go.  Opposition is good because that makes him stronger... so that is the good side.  Other than that we are teaching a few new people but they are just new.  
Next week should be good and I still have time to find a sweet new person like Timothy or the Family Johnson.!!!!! Right?  Am I right?!  
Anyway.  That is that.  now a little bofiness.  YESSSS! I am in the Architecture program.. and everything is in place for me... Luckily the Lord gave me a sweet sister and mother.  That is a huge blessing for me.  I didn't have to do anything or think about anything and you guys just took care of everything.. I am so spoiled.  Thank you.  I love you sooooo much... (however... 19 freaking credits... are you trying to kill me?  haha... dang and those aren't easy classes either.)  Oh well, I will jump the fence when I get to it... right?  
Have a good week and get ready to poop yourself when you see how cool I have become....haha... See you Soon. 
Love Elder Jacob Von Simonson

Monday, June 14, 2010

Time is passing quickly...

Hola Familia.
Well I am still kicking, and things are going well.  This week was a little long and testing, but it was still a great week.  Timothy is doing amazing and he is all set and good to be baptized this Saturday on the 19th.  That is what the blessing is.  We couldn't ask for a better, more prepared person than him.  After all, that is why we are here right?  To help people to baptism and continued faith in Jesus Christ.  So we are very grateful for that and are very excited for him.  Other than Timothy and Benjamin however, we have no other investigators.  We do hours and hours of finding, knocking doors... we talk to a ton of people that aren't really interested and it gets tiring doing that day after days, but we understand that that is how it goes so we are trying to not get discouraged. 
Timothy will be baptized by a youth in our yard named Jeremie Pitters.  Jeremie is 20, African, and he wants to go a on a mission, so this has been a good opportunity for Jeremie to come teaching with us and to be able to baptize someone.  Timothy is as smart as ever.  We taught him the rest of the commandments before baptism and he understood and already lives them so it was good.  It was really funny...we asked him if he had any questions and he said,  "Uh... ya.  I have been reading in Alma where it talks about the church of the Gentiles and the things that they were doing in their church which was against the will of God," and he said,  "Were they talking about the Catholic church?  Because what they were explaining was the Catholic church exactly."  HAHA it was funny.  We told him that they were talking about any church that wasn't the church of God, but yes, that it was much like the catholic church.  He is a smart little bugger...
As for Benjamin, he is doing alright.  Progressing a little slower than we thought, but he is still really full of the desire to change and be baptized.  He called us on Monday to ask us to come over because he needed to talk to us.  He told us about some of the problems that he has had in his life and that he was sure that he had an illegitimate child somewhere out there and that he felt the responsibility of that child on his shoulders.  So he said that he wanted to take care of it before he got baptized, because he wants to be clean and ready before he is baptized.  He is a humble, sincere guy.  
Other than that we have had rain and sun off and on.. That is Belgium... and a lot of porting and finding.  We will continue, and I just need to have the hope and belief that there are people that are interested and do want to hear our message. 
SO.. that is that.  I don't really have too much else to tell you.  I keep not having too much to say these last few weeks... I am doing well and am excited to see the family.  It will be fun to see how much you have all changed and grown.  As for Jacob Barrows.. I met him the day he left the mission, which was the first day in the mission field with Elder Musters.. and then I saw him later at a Stake Conference.  Thanks for all that you do.. I have talked to a few people and a few recent converts to try and fix some appointments for when you come to visit and I will take care of that my last couple of days before you come... I am not too worried about that right now. 
Love you
=Elder Jacob Von Simonson  

Monday, June 7, 2010

Hello, Hello


Hello hello,
Well thanks for the letter.  No that was not sarcastic.  Don't worry.  Everything is going great.  We had a good week with a lot of sun and some rain.  It is going really good with Elder Berrett.  We get along great.  He is sarcastic like me so.... obviously. 
On Monday we had p-day and did a lot of errands for Elder Berrett and some shopping.  Let us just say I found the sweetest, classiest European suit for 60 euros so... ya you know how that ended.  Tuesday, We had District Meeting and went and did hours of finding and then headed to Liege for a meeting with the Zone Leaders and to do an exchange with them. 
Wednesday was our busy day.  We saw our three investigators.
Benjamin is doing good but is progressing slower than we had planned which doesn't matter at all because he has the desire and is progressing , so we are not rushing it and we will be fixing a new date this week.  We taught the Word of Wisdom this week and are going to begin working with him to help him stop smoking.  Other than that he is doing well. 
Timothy is doing soooooooooo amazing.  I love this kid.  We saw him on Wednesday as well and we taught him about the Sabbath Day.. because last week he didn't come to church.  We found out why.  I had to laugh afterwards because I was all worried that they were just being lazy and not coming to church but we asked why and the mom, Maggie said.. "Well, I drank some special herbal tea on Saturday that my friend gave me and I didn't know it was a laxative tea."  She said, "...so in the morning I couldn't even leave the bathroom, let alone the house."  HAHA.. so they are doing great. 
The Sisters had another baptism this week in the Ward.  It was a lady that was an eternal investigator.. she could never get baptized because she smoked a butt load, something like 60 cigs a day.  But finally she decided to get baptized and did her best to stop smoking.  She went down to 4 a day the week before her baptism and then she stopped.. I hope it is for good, but oh well.  She made the covenant with God.  Anyway, Timothy came to her baptism to see what it was like.  He loved it obviously and it really helped him see what it would be like.  He was asking a ton of questions.  Then he went on Ward trip with the whole Ward on Saturday... which was awesome and then he was there for church yesterday.  Also on Friday at the baptism the Bishop started talking to him and then invited him and us to come eat dinner at their house.  I love the Bishop.  So that was amazing.  He will be ready for the 19th. 
Other than that, Elder Berrett and I did a ton of finding and porting this week.  it has been good practice for him and me.  We have started keeping track of how many people we talk to in a day so that we can be more motivated to talk to more people.  So far this last week we were averaging about 30-35 people a day.  Maybe doesn't sound like much.. but we really do try hard. 
So that was pretty much my week. It was good but we just need to find so more amis. 
That is really cool about JR and his family.  we need to get them baptized... just have them over when I get back and I will share about my mission and pretty much just tell them they need to get baptized.. HAHA :)
So I am talking on the 18th... that is cool.  Good thing I still have a month, right?  I got a letter from Seth Reynolds and he was telling me how powerful and amazing Elder Demass' homecoming talk was and he was telling me that I had better do good too... so no pressure, right?  Anyway all is going great.. Thanks for the encouragement that you give me.. love you all
+Elder Von Simonson+

Monday, May 31, 2010

Salut!

Salut.!!! The week has been a great one.  It has been good to work hard and have a missionary that wants to work their butt off and talk to everyone.(Not that Elder Receveur didn't.. he did. it is just good to have another companion like that) Well mission accomplished!  I successfully picked my newb up in Paris on Wednesday.  It was fun.  Elder Winkler and I both are training so we went down together and we took Elder Crump and Elder Receveur down to France.  Both of them were going to France.
I was really scared to get my new companion, like I said before I was afraid that I would get a goon and someone hard and weird for my last transfer.  But once again the Lord spoiled me rotten.  I got the sweetest companion ever.  He is great.  Hard worker, has the desire to be on a mission and isn't scared to try and speak French and learn and make mistakes.  He is great.  My baby boy's name is Elder Seth Berrett from Highland Utah.  He is cool.  He is about two inches shorter that I am.  He is a total granola.  He lived, ate, and drank rock climbing before his mission.  He wore little short cut off shorts, no shirt, and nice tree hugger sandals, Choccos.  He isn't a tree hugger he just likes the outdoors.  He is definitely my kind of person.  He listens to chill music like Radiohead and his personality is like mine.  So once again I get a sweet companion.

This week was so amazing.  Yes go ahead and laugh at me for saying it was amazing but it was.  We have been teaching Benjamin and Timothee.  The best news is that Elder Berrett's second real day in the field we went to teach Timothee and we talked to him about the Gospel and what he needed to do to return to live with God.  We explained the importance of baptism and we had planned to ask him to be baptized on the 19 of June with Benjamin.  We had planned for Elder Berrett to ask him and we had gone over how to say it and all that.  So we just got finished explaining baptism.. Timothee understood completely and the moment was coming and I was hoping that Elder Berrett was understanding so that he could invite him... And at the perfect time Elder Berrett pipes up and says.. "Would you like to be baptized on the 19th of June?" and Timothee responds by saying... "Ya, why not."  So we were very excited about that.  So now pretty much we are teaching two people, Benjamin and Timothee and both of the them have the desire to be baptized and are working toward a date.  We don't have many other people that we are teaching. just a couple but they aren't too serious.  That is alright by me I prefer not wasting my time teaching people who won't progress I would rather use the time to be finding prepared people to teach.

Well.. I can't believe I'm on my last transfer.  Luckily I have a new companion who has a lot of fire because that gives me a lot of fire.   I love Elder Berrett, he can barely speak french and cant understand hardly at all but he doesn't care he just starts talking to people.  He has a lot of Faith.  I love him for that.  We are working hard and loving it.
So Elder Dewey I don't know if you remember him but he just finished his mission.  We ate breakfast with him today at Patrick's house.  He got released by his Stake President over the phone so now he is just vacationing it up like a real man.  I thought that was kinda cool... a little weird also.  It was good to see him especially because he wasn't a missionary anymore.  oh well...
Well that was our week.  The Sisters in our Ward had a baptism this last week.  It was a little girl of 9 years. She is part of a family of 13 kids... they are members... pretty ghetto but good people.
I can't really think of much else to tell you other than things are going good and my new companion is great.
Love you all talk to you later.
P.S.  Dad, those counter tops looked really good.  Well done.  Good on ya..
Love Elder Von Simonson

Monday, May 24, 2010

My last transfer...a little weird!

Dear Family,
Well this week was an amazing week.  I love how quickly things can change.  This whole transfer we have been searching and searching for people to teach, and we found them and then we taught them, but they weren't really interested or serious, so we looked for more people.  Then we looked and looked some more. 
Our whole goal for this transfer was to simply find one solid person that was serious and who was progressing towards baptism.  That is all we wished for because at the beginning we had no one.  We literally had no investigators.  Well this week was the last week of the transfer and the Lord blessed us amazingly. 
    First of all... on Monday we had a lady (that is a neighbor of some members) decide after two years of coming to church that she finally wanted to be baptized.  The Sisters have been teaching her, so that was exciting for them.  The only problem is that she smokes a ton... around 50-60 cigarettes a day.  That is a lot.  Then Tuesday, we went to Namur for a District Meeting and a District proselyting activity.  While we were there, a member called us and said,  "Hey... our neighbor named Benjamin is very interested in meeting with you.  Can you see him tomorrow?"  Of course we can... So we saw him and he had come to the Ward party not too long ago, and had known these members for a while.  We sat down and started to get to know him and then he kind of cut us off and said,  "Well, the reason I wanted you to come and see me was because I really want to change my life and do good. And since I have moved here (next to the members) I have felt really good.  I know my baptism as a baby wasn't my choice, but I just feel like now I need to make that promise with God."  He said,  "You probably think I am crazy, but I just really feel that I should be baptized."... alright. So we said,  "That is great!  We would like to help prepare you.  That is our main and only goal is to help prepare people to be baptized."  So we set a date with him for the 19th of June.  He is Belge.. this is the first Belge person that I have taught and set a date with.  He is 27 and a nice sincere man.  He is very smart and knows what is right and wrong and has had a hard life.  So we are now seeing him 3 times a week.  He has started coming to all the activities at the church and he was at Church on Sunday and loved it.  He said,  "It is weird... everything that they teach and everything that people share are like my ideas and my thoughts.. I didn't think that something like this existed."  He is amazing, and once again we did absolutely nothing...other than be there and showing God that we really wanted and desired to teach someone serious.. then He just handed him into our laps. 
The other sweet thing... I think I told you a little last week... but we are also teaching a 14 year old black kid who is super smart and super serious.  Timothee is his name.  Well, we finally got them to come to Church yesterday.  His mom is a member, just inactive.  We were going to set a date with him for the 19th also, but when we asked him he said,  "Well, I am still a little confused... there are a lot of churches and I just want to be sure that I choose the right one because I don't want to make a decision and regret it later."  He is amazing.  He came to church and loved it.  I went to Young Men's with him.  There were 6 other young black kids in the class, so it was perfect for him.  Then the teacher was asking everyone if there was a difference between immortality and eternal life and they were all saying that it was the same.  Then the teacher asked.. "Timothee, what do you think?"   His words exactly were...  "Well, immortality is more physical and eternal life is more spiritual."  Then he continued to show up the other boys who had been members for a long time.  It was great..
The week was great.  We finally have some great people to teach.  Elder Receveur and I were very excited and happy.
That brings us to some news.. It is the end of the transfer.. and you know what that means.  Transfer news.  Guesses.. anyone?  Well that is right... I am staying.. but sadly for Elder Receveur, he is leaving.  He is going to be co-companion with a missionary his same age in a city named Cholet.  They are both really young and they are going to white wash a little city.  His new companion is French and is one of the biggest studs.  They will do great and it will be a turning point in his mission.  I loved Elder Receveur.  We got along way too good.  Plus he is a hard worker and we had the same desires and ya, it would have been great to stay with him for my last transfer.. However the Lord had other plans for me.  I am going to be TRAINING a poor new missionary.  I feel bad for the poor kid.  He is going to drag my lazy butt around.  I am excited and nervous.  It should be interesting...Maybe a little hard.  I am going to be working double, but oh well, it will be good.  Plus we have sweet people to teach and baptize, so it should be a good start for his mission.  Well that is that.. so my last transfer... it is a little weird.  My mind has completely grasped the idea, but it doesn't change much.  It is no different than any other transfer. 
So that was my week.  We went to Namur today to see the Citadel with the District.  It was fun.  That is why the email is late.  so...
Thanks for the pictures.  I loved seeing everyone.  I love them all.  It made me trunky because I would love to hang out and have a party with all those people because I love em..
Well that is really all for the week.  I will be going to pick up my newb on Wednesday and bring him back to the GHETTO  He is going to love it. 
Take care, have fun.
Happy Birthday, Clint... 28 and still queer...  pity really
Love Elder Simonson  

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fast Week...

Howdeee.  All is going well in Charleroi, Belgium.  We had a busy week.  We had three exchanges this week so we spent a lot of time away from each other.  That isn't always the greatest for obtaining and reaching the goals that we set together as a companionship, because we were never together and couldn't focus on them nor work on them. 
Monday we had pday and I had a baptismal interview for a little girl that is 11 that got baptized in Charleroi 2 last night. Then on Monday night, Elder Receveur and I went to Mons to work with the companionship there.  I spent Tuesday working in Mons.  It was FREEZING cold the whole stinking day.  It was like winter, raining and blowing.  I loved Mons.  It was soooo beautiful compared to Charleroi, and the people weren't ghetto.  Plus the missionaries live with an American member... and she shops on the military base so that meant AMERICAN FOOD for a day... let's just say the taste of sweet Captain Crunch caressed by ice cold American milk, then the crunchiness of delicious corn dogs and topped off with nice cookie dough ice cream, was enough get me a little trunky.. But I quickly countered those feelings by eating a Gauffre (waffle) and some Chocolate and then I was good. 
Wednesday we had an exchange with the other Elders in Charleroi. Which was good.  They passed us this part member family.  We are now teaching the 14 year old kid who wants to be baptized.  He is just amazing!  He reads all the time in the Book of Mormon and he understands really well.  He is one of the most intelligent kids I have ever met.  So that was exciting.  Thursday we had interviews with President. That went well.  Elder Receveur and I prepared some lunch for the District. We have a store that sells Mexican food.. So we had a bunch of really good burritos.  Everyone was loving it. 
Friday.. we planned and then went and taught a couple of people.  We started teaching this beautiful little family from Rwanda.  The mom is a little lost and really searching for the right church.. but.. hopefully she will put forth the effort to know the truth. 
Friday night was one of the greatest nights of my mission (well funnest).  Our Ward had a Ward party and it was the 'Souper Belge' (Belgian dinner).  We ate authentic Belge food and it was dang good.  Also they had the whole night centered on Belge culture, so that was really fun for me.  I was loving it.. They did a skit on how to make real Belge Frites.   It was sweet.  For dinner we ate Carbonade et Frites.. and for desert obviously Brussels waffles.. carbonade is kinda like beef stew, but a little sweeter and with prunes in it.. It is good... especially on top of Belge fries..  So that was fun for me.  Saturday we did some service for a lady and cleaned up her yard.. cut trees down, pulled weeds, etc.  Then the rest of the day we spent finding.. knocking doors, talking to people, you name it.  Yesterday we went to church.  We had Ward Conference so I got to see the Stake leaders and see some people that I knew from Bruxelles.. it was fun. Then there was the baptism of the 11 year old in Charleroi 2.  We went to that so I got to see all the members again.. It was great and for the most part they all remembered me.. It made me feel good.
Anyway that was my week.. It was fun and super fast.. I can't believe that we are pretty much through May.. we seriously just started it.
Well, love you lots and will talk at you later.. 

Elder Von Simonson

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wow...

Well it was great to talk to you yesterday. It was good to hear everyone and hear that dad still has trouble talking and that Clint is still queer... We had a good week searching for new people. We met some neat people and had some good experiences. The Sisters had contacted this guy named Jean Claude and they gave him a Book of Mormon card and then a couple of days later he called them wanting a Book of Mormon. So the Sisters asked us if we would go give it to him and teach him. We did and it went pretty good. He is an older guy and very intelligent and a little special to say the least. He is a little crazy. But it was really neat how interested he was. We will continue to teach him and see what happens. The other cool thing is that I had an exchange with the Zone Leaders and Elder Berlin, my wonderful little friend, came here to Charleroi to work with me. It was a great day. We stopped by to see this guy that we had contacted on the road a few days earlier and he wasn't there, but his friend answered the door told us he wasn't there and we said,  "Oh it is ok, we talked to him a few days ago and wanted to come and teach him today,  but we would love to teach you the same thing"... and he said,  "Ya sure, come on up."  So we taught him and half way through the lesson one of his friends walked in and we started teaching him also. They were both really great and we really hope to start seeing them more so we can invite them to come to church and to start working towards baptism.  So we saw the hand of the Lord in the work for sure. Also we have a lot of people that we haven't been able to get a hold of and surprisingly we ran into all of them on the street... I love how God works. Other than that we have been doing a lot of porting and a lot of finding...
I was going to tell you a story yesterday when I was talking to you... but I forgot, but since I don't have too much to say, I can just tell you now... So we were porting.. and we knock on this door and a big burly guy answers the door. He sees us and says... "No, I am not interested"... and starts to shut the door... then I was in a joking mood and felt like being a smartelic and said,  "What?  Is it our ties or the way we are dressed, that doesn't interest you?"  So he opens the door and says... "Listen... we don't have the same beliefs" and so I say,  "Well, that is ok, that is why we are here."  He says... "I am a member of Satanism... and have been for thirteen years... look at my ring." (he had some Gothic looking ring on) So at this point I didn't know if he was kidding or not... so I just kept on joking with him... SO... I say very sarcastically.. "Ohhh cool... so does that bring you joy or... happiness?" and then I realized that he wasn't actually trying to come up with a dumb excuse to get us to leave his house but that he was actually part of Satanism.. He said.. "Listen, we don't follow the same master... it isn't about joy... it's about knowing who you serve."  At this point I am still being nice and sarcastic... I don't know if he appreciated it or not but it was fun... SO...I said, "Well.. you are right we don't have the same master... but we know who our master is and it brings us lots of joy to serve him and he loves us."  He goes off on the same kind of thing... and then says... "Listen... You need to know that very soon there is going to be a Big battle between Satan and God".... and he says... "and I know which side I am on and will fight for my master."  I replied... "Well, we do too... and we completely agree with you...very soon there will be a war... in fact we are already in that war right now.. and that is why we are here."  So he says... "Well, I am glad you know who your master is."  And I said, "me too.. but I guess that we will see each other on the battlefield then?"  He replied, "Yep".. and he says... "I respect you, and what you do, but just know when I see you on that battlefield... I WILL KILL YOU!"  And I said,  "Alright, we'll see."... and then he closed the door.  Then I just started laughing.. and turned to my companion and said... "Oh my gosh, I can't believe that just happened!" haha.. so I was pretty much threatened.  I thought it was funny.. the kind of people you meet on a mission is quite amusing.. anyway.. dumb, but fun little story.
As for the job thing.. all I have to say is.. I AM DOWN... I would love a job for the month that I wait to go to school.   Like you said that is an answer and a blessing from Heavenly Father.. and I can already see the blessings that are coming after the mission. Heavenly Father is just so great.. he spoils the crap out of us... and Europeans say that there is no God because there is so much bad in the world... HA.. what do they know.. anyway.. that is all I really have to say. I love you all lots and hope that you aren't all getting too trunky to see my beautiful face and be graced with my wonderful presence ... I love you and I will talk to you soon.
PS I just attached some pics from Paris...
Elder Von Simonson




Monday, May 3, 2010

Hooray for babies!

Dear Family and Friends.

This week has been a really great one. The last couple of weeks we really haven't had much going on... but this week we started changing that. We had a lot of porting and finding and contacting old investigators to see if they were interested... we really put our faith and effort into it.. and the Lord, in turn, blessed us...
Last week doing our planning, we really just wanted to break out of the rut and start teaching more lessons. Elder Teixeira had invited everyone to stop putting a cap on our faith and our work and to just go out and do it, and that we could teach 21 lessons a week if we wanted. So last week Elder Receveur and I had 4 lessons in total which is not too hot... so we decided we were sick of this crap, so Elder Receveur, with his faith said, "I want to teach 20 lessons.." and me and my pescimistic/realistic self said, "Well, we don't have any investigators and last week we taught 4 lessons, so I don't see how we could teach 20 lessons.." and there was the problem... I didn't have the faith to begin with and I was already putting a cap on what the Lord could make come to pass.... So together we set a goal of 17 total lessons.. and we worked really hard to accomplish that... Well the Lord blessed us and we were able to get things going this week.. We ended up teaching 11 lessons and we found 3 new investigators Which is a whole lot better than last week... so we didn't quite get 17 but we were very satisfied with 11.
One guy we found has been an investigator for years and he is a Theologist and so he knows everything about the church. We went and visited him and he was great.. so we will begin meeting with him and just see if he is ready now to join the church. The reason he hasn't joined yet is because he said he has already converted too many times.. but he had realized some real key points about the church... such as (his words) "the Mormon Church is the only church that the ordinances are for after this life..." he said, "you have such a Celestial view of things..." so i thought that was cool.
Another lady we found was near the church. We were just doing some porting and we knocked on her door and she came out and started talking to us like she knew us, she told us, "No, sorry I don't have time to meet with you today.." we were a little confused, but then she explained that the Sisters used to come and teach her.. then she says to us.. "But I want you to come by and teach me the differences between the Catholic Church and your church because I never understood the difference when the Sisters would come and teach me.." So we took Patrick with us and he just told her straight up all the good differences that he really liked and bore strong testimony of why he changed.. it was perfect.. She is busy for the next week or so, but then she really wanted to come to a baptism and there is a Baptism in Charleroi 2 in a couple of weeks.... so we are hoping and praying that she will come and love it and have the desire to start coming to church and meeting with us regularly... She is something special, I feel that she is very prepared.. I wouldn't be surprised in the near future...and plus she is Belge and has a family, car, etc... she is just a nice normal person.. Just the way I like em
The other person that we found was really cool also. We saw a cute little black family so we ran to them and contacted them.. we were talking and and then their bus came and they started getting on, but we hadn't gotten their number or address or anything.. and as they are getting on the bus, the mom says, "Pass by sometime..." and the little kid yells out the address! After they had gone.. Elder Receveur turned to me and told me that Elder Stowers and him had contacted her the begining of last transfer but she had given them a bad number and they were never able to get a hold of her.. we stopped by her house last night and taught them a short lesson and will be stopping by this next Tuesday.. they are a beautiful family from Rwanda..
So all in all that was my week... We had two exchanges this week.. I went to Namur... it was beautiful as always.. but on the train ride over I had my overnight bag with my scripturess, and my personal journal and my study journal from my whole mission and .... we got talking with a guy and then when we got into Namur, I got off the Train and realized I had left my bag on the train.. so I ran back downstairs to try and catch the train but it was already taking off.. SO I was really sick to my stomach.. I figured I would never see it again.. but I called the Elders in Liege and told them which train I was on and asked them if they would go to the station and jump on the train and try and find my bag.. they did and they found it! So I got my bag with everything in it back... WHEW.. Thank goodness.. I was praying my heart out.. because it was things that you just can't replace...
Anyway that was my week... all is great... my feet don't hurt too bad.. I just like complaining and it was more just to emphasize how much we walk... haha.. so the other funny thing is that in the morning for exercises we have been doing competitions like how many push ups we can do etc.... so for example I would start and do one pushup then the others would do one... then I would do two and everyone would do two.. and we continue until you can't do anymore... and each time it just keeps getting bigger and bigger.. so we did that with pushups and I was sooooo sore for 3 days and then we did situps and I was sore forever... then we did lunges... let's just say I won.. but at the end I had done 351 lunges and let's just say I have never had legs this sore in my life.. it has been poop walking around.. but it was fun... and it entertained Elder Receveur.. so it was worth it.. Love you lots talk to you later...
Elder Simonson
P.S. Congrats Clint and Katie!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Hey there!

Hello Hello, The week blew by as always. It is crazy. Things are going very well. This week was a fun one. We did a lot of finding and a lot of walking. My feet are killing me and my companion is just running circles around me. I just got spoiled with that car. Things are going great. This week we have been passing by a few old and former investigators to see if they are interested still. A lot of them are very nice but not to interested in joining the church. Most of them told us to come by whenever. They all like us but none of them take us serious as teachers. So that was that.
Another great thing and highlight of the week was that we had Zone Conference. It was really good. We had a mission tour with Elder Texeira and his wife. He is part of the Area Presidency. So that was a real treat. He is Portuguese and of course speaks perfect English. President Staheli and Elder Texeira both really tried to get everyone excited and tried to reset and change the mind set of... oh its hard its Europe, we can't do much. It was sooooo perfect.. that is what everyone needed to hear. That way the BBN missionaries didn't pick up on the bad mindset and some of the Paris missionaries got a mindset boost. It was really powerful and it got me excited to go out and work and helped me boost my faith that we can do more than we have been doing.
I don't know what to tell you really... the other night we were working with Patrick and we just needed to stop by an inactive member and then he ended up not being there and so instead of trying to look up more people we just said go home Patrick have a good evening and we are going to do some more finding. Because we really don't have any investigators. So we just started looking for people to teach. We were out in a nice neighborhood and did some porting and not much success. Then we were walking and I see this nice little Belge couple and I said to Elder Receveur alright this one is yours. He stops them and asks them if they believe in a life after death and they just open up and , she began telling us how she used to be really believing and how she is not really believing anymore but that she would like to get back to going to church and what not... So we set up an appointment with them for the next week and they seemed pretty interested.. That was our miracle for the week... something small and dumb but is usually those ones that end up being the biggest miracles in the end... We'll see.. Well I really don't have to much else to tell you. I am doing great and having fun and am happy so that is all that matters right.
Love, Elder Simonson...
P.S. I sent a letter home with my 2 gig card with it.... I hope that it gets there if not... it is just 2 gigs of photos down the drain... but we have never had problems before.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Promised Land

Well, I can't explain to you how stinking happy I am to be back in Belgium, the real and true PROMISED LAND.  I like to tease everyone and say that I had to repent and spend some time down in France, but luckily I repented very quickly and made it back after one transfer. I am only teasing.  I like France also, but I just love Belgium, mainly because I have spent pretty much all of my mission here. It is just easier and more familiar to me. Coming back to Charleroi after being in Versailles, the richest area of France, was a big shock. Man, I forgot how freaking Ghetto this place is, but OHH does it bring me joy. I was freaking out on the Train into Charleroi.. I was so excited to be back. People are just nice and awesome in Belgium.

Elder Receveur is pretty much one of the coolest companions I have had. It is a little weird having such a young companion. He is on his fourth transfer, he just got in the field December 7th. I just keep expecting him to jump in the lesson and make decisions and wait for his input. It is fun. He is probably the happiest person I have ever met. He has the best attitude about everything and he is super humble. He is just a dream...The last few days we have been a little lost because I don't know the Charleroi 1 area, so we have been walking a lot and I am used to 7 months of a car. So, of course I was complaining about how my feet hurt and he just kept saying... "It's fun, its companionship bonding time."...and he just kept finding all the good things in our being lost and walking kilometer after kilometer.
This will help you understand a little bit what Elder Receveur is like. First of all he is from New York, he grew up all over the East coast. He too, just like me and the rest of the Simonson family, loves playing.... "your team"... so we get along just fine. It has been really funny because we are in CHARLEROI where playing that game is like neverending fun. Let's just say that we would be better to pick out those that aren't weird or ghetto.

Anyway.. so that is me and my new life, I am loving it. I am happy to spend the last months of my mission here... though missionary work-wise, it is a little slow. This Ward just came from having 6 baptisms in the last 3 months which is INSANE (that is more than they had all last year), so that is good, but now we are just a little low on investigators because they baptized all the ones they were teaching. The Ward is really great. I already knew a lot of the members becasue of 6 months in the other ward. So all the members yesterday kept saying "have we already met? Where have we seen each other before?" So that was cool. It is however soooooo great to be with a firery new companion that loves to work and that is a hard worker and gets my old fat butt moving. It just feels good to go out all day and work hard... finding and teaching all day.. I love it.

It was good to hear from Mom, Dad and Trish.. I hope all goes well with Katie and her baby... Happy "having baby day," Katie.

As for the converts from before and old contacts... I called and talked to Esther and Dylan. They are not active at all. She seems a little busy and weird, but she said that she might have time for me to come over and visit this week. As for Daniel, he left for Africa in March. He has some business going down in Cameroon. So he is not here and no one is really sure when he will be back. I hope he will be back before I leave. Daniel is great and I hope he is still strong in the Gospel, because he was doing really great before he left.. As for Fatiha, I called her because no one has had contact with her pretty much since I left. Well, she didn't answer and then she called back later and I answered it but didn't know who it was and said,  "Hey, it's the missionaries."  She told me "erase this number from your phone and never call back." That made me really sad because she was so solid before. So I texted her that night and said, "Hey, it was me Elder Simonson that called you, I am back in Charleroi.. call me if you want."  She did write back and said "ohhh, ok yes.. how are you.. I will call you as soon as I can."
So that is that. We are working hard and loving life. In the apartment we have Elder Broadway(from England), Elder Walker (newer missionary), Elder Winkler (swiss), and Elder Crump(newer missionary also). So it is not really people I have been around on my mission but it is all good. They are all great. ELder Broadway is pretty interesting.. and Elder Winkler is just awesome like all Swiss people.

Well that is pretty much it for me... Love you lots. Have fun having baby, going on a cruise and whatever else you are going to do.
Elder Simonson

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Transfer news and Paris P-day

GOTCHA.... you thought I had already left.. but not yet.. You are right however, I am going back out to the field. I'm done being AP... AWWWWww which is a big sigh of relief, but it was such a great opportunity. I learned a heck of a lot. I really was called to be Assistant just so I could learn how to be a missionary... Heavenly Father had to force me to study and learn by having me teach 'Preach My Gospel' to other missionaries... But I am sooooooo excited to go back and apply all that I learned and just work my butt off... The reason I didn't email you earlier was because we had a Paris P-day so we have been in Paris all day seeing the sights. It was fun, but really tiring. We saw the Arche de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower and Sacré coeur. It was cool, but SOOOOOOOO many tourists and a ton of people trying to get your money..... It was kinda annoying. It was such a beautiful day though... nice and warm and the sun was shining. It was fun. Oh yes, and Elder Schmutz and Elder Ferguson came down to Versailles to the Mission Home to help get all the office stuff in order before transfers. So they are here for the week until Wednesday and then they are going out to their new areas. Elder Schmutz is going to Orléans as a ZL and Elder Ferguson is staying here in Paris as ZL. They are both pumped. As for me..... well it was pretty intense helping President with transfers and knowing that I was leaving and going to my last city... and not knowing where that would be... President asked for my opinion and I gave the only thought that crossed my head and that was, "Well I could go to Liege with Elder Spicer and then my last transfer I could train..." well that is where I was for a little bit and then I was moved around the board for quite awhile.. moving all over... and then we were working on the Ardennes Zone and working on Charleroi.... and we were looking for a great District Leader and to go to Charleroi 1. Well we sat and were looking and thinking.. Elder McKay and I threw out our ideas... President listened, and then we were talking about it and voicing our concerns and the fact that it is the biggest District in the Mission... bigger than some zones ...that fact came up.. and then President said, "I know who is supposed to go there".... and he turned to me and said, "Elder Simonson!"... he asked me what I thought and I said.. "sounds great, I will go wherever..." Sooooo long story short.. I am going back to Charleroi baby...

I don't think many people could say that on their mission they only served in 3 cities but I can ..... !!!!!! Bruxelles, Charleroi, and Versailles. So I am going to be District Leader with Elder Receveur... he is still pretty new in the mission. I think he has been out for 3 or maybe 4 transfers.. He is just amazing though... I have only heard great things about him and everyone loves him. He is from upstate New York, if I am not mistaken...so that will be cool. I will leave on Wednesday afternoon and then my pday's will change back to MONDAYS... so I expect lots of letters and emails... no more of this "I used to write emails on Sunday and I always forget to write and then Saturday comes along" CRAP!!! haha.
Well some news from this week.. something cool and then not so cool happened. Well, you remember Alain... the guy I wrote about last week.. the guy who was fasting to get a testimony? Well we saw him on Wed. and taught him and asked him what he thought and if he had gotten his answer and he said he didn't really know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet, but he did tell us how he had pretty much received his answer and how a lot of the Gen. Conf. talks touched him. He told us that he loved the church, he thought the members were amazing, and they all live the Gospel and were true Christians... and he told us how he had the desire to be baptized and follow Jesus Christ ... but that it was going to be a big leap of faith because he wasn't sure what would happen after that and that all of his questions weren't answered yet, but he knew enough to be baptized and he would go from there... Soooo we were obviously freaking out.. because this is a stubborn, prideful man that has been investigating the church for over two years and he finally humbled himself and decided to act by faith and receive his answer from God. So I asked him, "Well, do you want to be baptized on the 24 of April?" and he said he would be on Vacation that week .. so we said, "How about the 8th of May?" and he said that that seemed kinda far away...he said, "I have the desire, I want to do it ... why not as soon as possible?" So we said, "Well how about this week end?" and he said, "Yes, let's go for it!" We were sooo excited... then ... dun dun dun... on Thursday we were going to see him and also talk to his daughter Celia and see if she was down for baptizing... and he called about 2 hours before the baptism and said ... "No...the baptism is off. I can't do it. I didn't sleep all night because I was thinking about all this.. and I just don't think I can." He wouldn't see us on Thursday and so we saw him last night. It was a little sad, but he had kinda gone back to the old Alain. He told us all the wrong things with the church and the things he wasn't quite sure of, but then also he told us all of the good things and all the things he knew where from God and said he had to be baptized, and we said, "Well where else are you going to find these things and a church like this? Nowhere.." Anyway, he told us that he felt like the things that were motivating him to be baptized were not the right things.. and he wouldn't tell us what his problem was, but we just came to the same road block... so we said, "Alain, we can't do much else.. you must get your answer from God or you will never know. You see bad and good and it is impossible for you to decide. You need to have that assurance from God that you can trust." He said while he is gone on his trip that he is going to finally decide .. and when he comes back it will be either yes or no.. and he will either stop coming to church and stop meeting with us, or he will be baptized...
The thing is this... that he has already had confirmations and answers from God... but there will always be the Faith aspect.. he may never know with the assurety that he wants.... when it comes down to it.. he is just going to have to act by faith.... there is no other way. He is going to have to choose to go with his heart and join, even though his questions aren't answered.. and step into the darkness and take a chance. I really think Heavenly Father isn't going to give him much more of an answer this time around. I think he already has had his answer.. or enough of his answer to get baptized, and then after that and through faith he will get the rest..
Well, that was about it this week. It was a great week and I loved serving this transfer in Versailles.. hands down the most beautiful city served in... and the most rich... and now for the change back to the Ghetto of Charleroi with the most poor people.... YAHOO... that means more people to teach and nicer people...
PS... thanks Jakis for the letter.. it was good to hear from your bones. I hope you and Tess find a job.. and I hope Trish and Dan get that sweet house so I can live with them again... thanks you are so kind... :)
just kidding.. and thanks for the pictures.. I liked them a lot..
My address will be the same as it was before 97 Rue de Montigny 6000 Charleroi.. so I am going to be in the other Ward and other area in Charleroi.. so not the same as before.. but the same apartment and the same city.
Love Elder Simonson


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy Easter!

Greetings.. Happy Easter.!!!
All is going great here in Versailles. Things have been a lot less stressful just because we haven't had to deal with office stuff. It has been great. The last two weeks have been great. We have been out searching for people who are interested. We are doing our best, but still the only people who seem to be promising are the Part member families. Last week we received five inactive families that the Ward wanted us to go and visit. Just so happens that we had felt prompted to begin seeing 3 of them even before they gave us their names. Here in the Europe Area that is one direction that the Europe Area Presidency has given. Every Ward should have a rotating list of five inactive families. It doesn't always get done, but when it does it is really helpful. So we visited them this week and 3 out of the five are part members. One family is a super rich half Phillipino family. I love it. Also the other night we visited a Hatian family, super humble, young family. We started teaching his wife who isn't a member. Her name is Nyasselande. So that is kinda how the work is going. It is definitely different here in the Paris region. People are in such a hurry. I love it though.
I kinda told you about the concert that we had on Sunday. It went really good. The Sisters that put it on were just insane. They are amazing. We had about 250 people there in the Versailles chapel. There were even people that we invited on the street that came. That was a blessing. It was pretty neat. Elder Caussé, the 70, was at church on Sunday and he spoke and then at the concert that night he got up and bore his testimony and it was very powerful. That was good because there were a lot of non members there.. So I think we touched and softened some hearts.
So the week has been great.. not a whole lot of exciting news to tell ya.. One pretty cool thing... I don't know if I have written about Alain and Celia. It is a father/daughter that have been investigating the church for about 2 years. They are French and just the greatest people. Average nice French people. Well, Alain has just had the hardest time.. and he just has soooo many objections yet he comes to church every week, reads the Book of Mormon , Celia is more active than half our young women..; she goes to all the activities; she goes to Seminary, she comes to church... they are just super great, but just need to be baptized... so.. since I have gotten here we have just taught him once a week because he knows everything and what not but he just needs to have a testimony by prayer and needs to just decide... I've taught him a few times and each time he has some question or some scripture that "proves" that he doesn't need to get baptized or that the authority isn't only in the LDS church. He is just super stubborn and prideful... and we have told him over and over... "Alain you need to simply know in your heart that Joseph Smith was a Prophet and when you know that and that answer comes from God, you can know with surety that this is the true church".... so we would invite him to do that and he would say... I am or I don't have to, I already know that the authority was never lost.. It didn't need to be restored etc.. etc... so that has been Alain for the last few weeks and really there was nothing we could do for him...
Well after the concert on Sunday night... a sister missionary that knew him well was talking to him.. I don't know really what they talked about, but she told Alain that he looked like he was weighed down by something and Alain just told here that he was just sick of not knowing and that he just needed to know.. so she told him that she would fast for him on Tuesday so that he might get an answer and that he could get that weight off of his shoulders... He really liked that and he decided to fast as well... so on Sunday night he ate a meal and then began fasting... well we saw him on Wednesday and he was still fasting... he has been drinking but not eating; We taught him on Wed and he was a completely different person... his attitude had changed... He told us that when he would try and prove us wrong and read stuff on the church and just use "facts" to back up that the church wasn't true... that really it didn't bring him any joy and the it really didn't even convince himself... and that he had decided that he just really needs to know.. he said, "I have to know.. I can't go on without knowing..." So we saw him last night and he still hasn't eaten any food; I hope he doesn't die, but I think he is showing his faith.. and I am just hoping with all my heart that he will receive and recognize his answer.. If soo we might have two amazing baptisms coming up soon. So; that was the good news of the week....
So transfers are coming up soon.. which is weird.. that went by fast.. we will be doing transfer decisions this week with President Staheli.. It should go well.. let's just say that I pretty much know what is happening to me :)
As for the travel plans.. that looks great to me.. I hope the hotel is alright; I know the Charleroise Steinweg.. it is a really big long street and there are some nice parts of that street and some super ghetto parts of that street but I think it will be ok... I love that area though and know it well it is right next to the Bruxelles 2 church.. so.. good on ya..
As for the questions you asked me.. the Assistant responsibilities have been fine.. we have really just been working like a normal companionship; sometimes in the mornings we have to do organizational things but .. it is all good. The way things go in this mission is a lot different than the Bxls mission.. and Pres Brubaker and Pres Staheli are different.. a lot.. but I love them both.. and they both get the work done well.. Belgium is a lot more international and a little more poor than France. Things are a lot more expensive here.. or at least I think they are; There is just this different feel to Belgium and France.. the French are a lot more uppity and prideful a little.. The food is about the same; there is more cheese in France.. obviously.. but I like Dutch and Belge cheese better than French cheese... I like the food here but it really isn't much different... you just have a lot less choices here in Europe... but there are some specialties that will be missed. Well, love you lots. Thanks Heather and Jaron for your letter... it was really great to hear from you.. thanks..
Love,
Elder Jacob Von Simonson

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Versailles, and Sister Smart...

Hey family... all is going great in Versailles.. I love it lots. We have been starting fresh like I have told you before. So we spend a lot of time finding people. So far we have found some cool people and are on the verge of teaching them and getting them on the path to baptism. The best thing is that it has been just super beautiful here. The weather has just been unbelievable. We haven't been wearing coats or suits, just white shirts. That is enough to make me happy. The work here in Versailles is great, but it is very different than what I have had throughout my mission.. It is not that it is bad, not at all... It is just interesting and sometimes intimidating contacting and teaching rich French people. That and also our area is very different because Versailles itself isn't very big... in fact the center of Versailles is very small... and we have a bunch of little towns like that in a HUGE area and each one of them is about 20-30 minutes apart.. so we spend an hour or more in an area and then you go to another little town for another hour or two etc... etc.. so I'm getting used to that... but it is just beautiful down here..
This week we went and ate at Elder Gerald Caussé house (he is a 70).... just his house... he wasn't there... he actually lives in Frankfort but his two older daughters live here and there are a bunch of young single adults that live there. The oldest Causssé girl is married to a councilor in the Bishopric and he invited us over for Mexican food. It was fun. There is not a whole lot that sticks out in my mind that would interest you that happened this week. This Sunday we are having a classical music concert at the Chapel in Versailles. So we have been porting around the church which is a Rich area... and man.... The French will not get you a time of day if you talk about Jesus Christ but if you are there to invite them to a free classy classical music concert... well.. they are just super excited and all down for it.. Inviting them to the concert has been working like GOLD.... it has been fun... The concert is being put on by three Sister Missionaries that were professional musicians before coming on a mission.. they are way good; Sister Smart is one of them. She plays the harp. A funny story now on that.. We were doing some porting in a super tiny and super rich village and we found an American lady from San Diego.. She was nice and soo we invited her to come and gave her the flyer and she was reading the names of the musicians and she was like, "Elizabeth Smart... wasn't there a girl that got kidnapped with that name?" and we said.. "ya... actually that is her.. she is a member of our church and she is a Missionary here in Paris".. it was funny... Also something that was cool was that we were porting one night in Versailles inviting people to the concert and this beautiful French family (super rich) invited us in and were really nice.. and interested also.. the mom called down all the kids to come and meet us.. it was intimidating.. haha.. also there are some really cool people that we have met in the last couple of days that are just amazing.. you will hear about them later.. Anyway that was pretty much my week.. it was a great week..
That is really cool that Seth came over.. I love him, he is great... that will be cool for him to have dinner with you on Sunday.. Tell him Hi for me... and tell him I miss his bones.. as for the whole travel thing.... we can get around without a car here in Paris.. no problem.. there are trains and metros and we can find our way around here... then we can take a train to Bruxelles... then in Bruxelles we might could use a car; Claire lives about 20 min outside of Brussels and I don't know where it is or if there is a train anywhere close.. If it wasn't for going out there to see her... we wouldn't need one; I know the Brussels transit system like the back of my hand.. I could get us anywhere but... I could also get us there by car, I drove one around for 6 months... as for Charleroi... we can take a train down to Charleroi.. and then in Charleroi we could probably use Patrick's car... He would for sure drive us anywhere we would want... he is like that.. he said if I ever came back, I could stay in his house and he would take off a week and he would drive us anywhere we wanted... When I was there he had a bunch of missionaries come.. and he took them to Brussels, to Liege, to Amsterdam.. you name it.. so I am sure I could work something with Patrick... We will see, just tell me what you are planning on and I can maybe help you modify it if needed.. but as for a car... I don't know which would be cheaper.. to buy metro tickets and train tickets or to just have a car for a couple of days. If you get a car, just make sure you get a GPS.. because Europe is tough without one..
Well... love you lots.. talk to you later
-Elder Simonson

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Birthday was great!

Hey everyone... well I'm twenty one and I have got the brains and the brawn to prove it... actually no one told me that when you turned twenty one you automatically got fat... I just always thought that happened with Clint and Jaron... I thought it was just them .. but apparently it is everyone..; I don't think I told you.. but since I became Assistant in September.. I have gained about 3-5 kilos.. that is a lot.. that is almost 7-10 pounds.. In other words I am fat... I never thought this day would come..; but now I am left to look at my brothers and embrace the inevitable future......
The birthday was great. I got both grandma and grandpa Hamblin's and Simonson's card. Thank you very much for thinking of me... It was great, the day of my birthday I got a call from Sister Staheli, some Sisters here in Paris, some Sisters in Liege and also a guy named Harry in the Netherlands. I would have to say that that was the most shocking and touching. Harry is an 80 year old man that lives in Eindhoven, Nederland. He works with the missionaries everyday and he loves the missionaries. He comes to every Zone Conference and every missionary related thing. But I received a call and saw it was from the Netherlands and thought hmmm it is probably a missionary;; calling me and breaking mission rules.. and then I answer and I here.. "Hello, it's Harry..." and he said.... "What day is it today?" I said it was Thursday the 18th.. and he said, "What special thing is happening today?" and I said oh.. it is my birthday.. then he wished me happy Birthday.. it made me happy. I have no idea how he got my number nor how the heck he knew it was my birthday..
The day before my Birthday we had District Mtg in Versailles and the district Sisters surprised me with a cake.. candles, song..; the whole thing.. They stole my camera and filmed it also.. so it is recorded as well.
This week was and has been great. We have been doing a lot of finding but also we have been teaching a few people.. I don't think that I told you about a cool experience... but last Saturday we went to a baptism at the Versailles chapel... it was for another Ward but, anywho.. we had talked to a guy while buying juice for Zone Conference one day... and we gave him our number etc.. because he couldn't give us his because he was working.. etc. but then I guess the Sisters met him on the street a couple of days later and they invited him to this baptism and.. he just showed up.. then while the lady got baptized.. he turns to Elder McKay and said hey so do you have extra clothes.. I want to get baptized.. haha.. we told him. whoa; well we have to teach you a few things and then ya you can for sure get baptized... then while we sang hymns he just bawled like a baby... his name is David and he is French.. he has a cute little 4 year old girl.. named Diana... well the more we talked to him after the baptism.; we kinda thought he was just crazy.. but none the less we set up a RDV with him and we taught him on Monday.. and found that he is just a really lost, sad man... His wife left him a little while ago and he lost his daughter and his house, everything.. so he really has just hit rock bottom and just is in the middle of a break down.. We taught him and he just cried like a little baby.. cried and cried.. it was sad.. he needs the gospel. He doesn't see why he even needs to live.. and so this is great for him.. he wants to be baptized we think it will probably be around the 24 of April. Also Sunday we had 4 people show up to church that we weren't planning on.. so that was sweet. I have really lacked on telling you cool things that are going on. So two weeks ago a big huge African guy showed up to church. His named is Melaine and apparently he has known the church for a long time and has been an investigator for like 2 years or so.. but he just showed up and then this last week he came with his "wife" and his two kids.. it was cool.. we taught them on my birthday and they really want to get baptized badly; but the problem is that they aren't married legally.. just traditionally in Africa.. soooo that is what has been holding them up for the last two years apparently.. The first thing Melaine said is, "Soo why cant I get baptized... I want to.." and so we explained..... The problem is, is that they are waiting to get married until their family from Africa can come up to France an see the marriage.. well that is never going to happen.. we are going to try and get them down with the idea of getting married now and having a celebration later.. we'll see what they think. They are African and they love their traditions... sooooo.. but ... that is a little bit about the people we are teaching.. we did a lot of finding this week because we don't have any investigators.. because like I told you before, the Assistants used to just follow President around to all the interviews and what not.. so they were never really in their area.. which means they just taught old eternal investigators..
Also a highlight of this week was that we went up to Lille for exchanges.. It was great. Lille is such a happening place; there are soo many nice cool people.. We met some sweet people.. The coolest was this girl.. she was French and 21.. just a white girl... and we stopped her..she listened.. and we told her about the Book of Mormon and explained a little and then she told us that her friend had the Book of Mormon and that she had read from it already... she was really interested and wanted to know more so we got her info and she will be seeing the sisters... That was AWESOME.. you never find normal upper class white French people that are genuinely interested in the church.. but God is a God of miracles right?? haha I also got to teach a little family that Elder Nielsen taught; Greg and Raphaelle.. it was cool.. It made me happy.. all in all it was a good week..
So I don't know if I already told you but Paris is such a HUGE stinkin city.. the Parisian people are not very happy and very pressed for time etc.. they all seemed to be extremely stressed and not happy.. it is interesting.. It is weird.. we will be finding and talking to people on the road and I will see an African person and get all excited.. and I will run up to them and contact them and they will tell me that they don't believe in God and that they are late for work.. etc... I pretty much die a little inside.. "What you don't believe in God... but you are Black and from Africa.. you have to... at least that is how it is in Belgium.. for the most part..." haha.. well.. I will end my rambling...
Love you lots.. also mom, I didn't forget.. I feel great about you coming to pick me up... it will be a wonderful experience; hope to hear from you soon ...
Love Elder Jacob Von Simonson

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Birthday Week!

Well.. well.. the months start winding down and the whole family all of a sudden starts making comments about when I will come home and how hard and scary it will be for me.... HAHAHA I laugh in the face of the unknown... It will be fine and.. I still have time to kick some butt here in the field...
Well this week was no different than last week in terms of busy-ness. We had Zone Conference..; I know we just had Zone Conferences in the BBN .. but it was a really great and powerful week. Monday we were in Angers France that is like central west France.. then On Tuesday we had a couple of new sister missionaries come in a little late.. so we spent that day orientating (24 percent sure that is not a word) them. I think the best part of the week was we finally got to go out looking for new investigators... we got owned and no one was interested but it felt soooooo good to go out and work and talk to people searching for the one person that was interested... Then on Wednesday we had Zone Conference right here in Paris.. The chapel in down town Paris is in an old hotel that was built in the 1600's it is awesome and one of the most expensive pieces of church property... It is situated right next to the George Pompidou center/building.. its famous apparently.. We had two days of Zone Conferences here in Paris and then I WENT HOME BABY.... It was so good to go back to Brussels.. I love that place.. It is literally home away from home... We had Zone Conference in Brussels yesterday and it was good to see more of the BBN missionaries..;
However I really love the missionaries from the Paris mission there are some super great missionaries.. It is also fun to make new friends and learn from so many new people...
So I thought I might tell you about a little cool experience that I thought was neat. At Zone conference President's training was on Personal Revelation. It was very great and very powerful. However it made me think twice about going into architecture and you coming to pick me up..(just because he told the story about how he was training to be a fighter pilot and that was his dream from since he was little, but how during his schooling his friend and elders quorum president told him he felt like he wasn't supposed to be there and they fasted together and President Staheli got his answer that even though that is what he really wanted to do... the Lord had other plans and then how he became an employee of the church and how he came to be President Hinckley's personal assistant..) I just kinda thought to myself hmmm am I sure this is what the Lord had in mind. But I think so..
Anyway during his training he called on a few people to share experiences about personal revelation and how it had changed their life etc... so blah blah blah... While he was teaching.. I got the feeling that I should share an experience.. and when I finally went to raise my hand the moment had passed so I ended up not raising my hand and just kinda said a little prayer and said well if you wanted me to share that..hopefully president will feel to ask if someone wants to share something more... Well just as I thought that little prayer..; President Staheli paused for a second and then looked up and said.. I feel like there is someone who who felt that they were going to be called on to share an experience... so... whoever that is just raise your hand... It was just crazy.. I was astonished.. I kinda thought to myself no way did that just happen.. so I raised my hand, shared my experience and that was that.. I don't know exactly why I was to share that.. maybe it helped someone..; or maybe it was to just reinforce and help my testimony that personal revelation is true and real... probably the latter..;
Thanks so much for all the letters.. and thanks for the package.. i already opened it. You are the best.. I loved all of it. Elder Simonson

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Remember Me?

Hey there... so my name is Elder Jacob Von Simonson... I don't know if you all remember me or not... but believe it or not I was once your (son, brother, cousin, friend, grandson, or that one kid) you go ahead and choose one.... but that is me and I am still alive. HAHA
Well all is well here in Le Vésinet. The France Paris Mission is great. They are a bit different than our mission but ultimately the same. At first I was freaking out a little, just the weird ways they did things, but the more and more I think about it, I realize it really doesn't matter at ALL.. the same thing happens and all the little bureaucracy doesn't matter. So to clear up a few questions from Mom. They are on the same transfer cycle as we were so don't get your hopes up, I am still coming home the same date. When we first heard of the merger we thought that they were on a different transfer cycle but it ended up being the same. BUT.... Question.... Are plane tickets cheaper to Paris???? Think about it.. because with all these changes and all that has happened.. going home won't be the same experience that it would have been and if you want to come.. I wouldn't be completely against it... because then I could go back to Bruxelles and see everyone before I leave. Just something to think about. I know you probably love me and are thinking man he is about as indecisive as his father or Clinton.. ha :) Um so Elder Mecham and Elder McKay were the Assistants, but now it is just Elder McKay and I are the Assistants and Elder Mecham is on his last transfer and is training a sweet newb. I thought I told you in the last email that last Friday we spent all day doing transfers with President Stahlei it was crazy. I guess that brings us to this week; probably the craziest weeks ever.... SOOOO much stuff to do and stuff going on and people complaining and people with tons of dumb little questions and re-working forms and just a bunch of busy work. It has been crazy. I literally have not been out of this office since I got here on Thursday of last week. This last week was transfer week, so Monday we had stats and then we spent the rest of the day mapping out transfers and how they were going to work because we did them two different ways and the Paris France missionaries were freaking out because we do them differently and visa versa.... wow.. so we were on the phone for hours .... Then on Tuesday, The new missionaries came in so we had our little program with them..as usual it was awesome, you gotta love new missionaries. Then we had the Departing missionaries on Wednesday. There was a missionary named Elder Andrus from Post Falls Idaho... he asked where I was from and I said Pocatello and he got this look on his face and then I said, "Hey do you know the Andrus' in Pocatello?" and he said, "Ya, they are my cousins we were there all the time." He told me that the one of the youngest, Kim I think her name is.. is married.. hmm cool.. That brings us to Thursday.. that was our day to plan out for this next week and also we met with President to talk about our mission leadership council that was for the next day... ... so there went that day... believe it or not... And then Friday we had Mission Leadership council, where we cleared up a bunch of stuff... With the changes and the merger.. there have been SOOOOO many questions and everyone is just kinda feeling lost.. so that is why it took so much planning and what not.. But the meeting yesterday went well.. we are finally all on the same page. But then after that we came back to the office because we had to finish and finalize plans for this next upcoming weeks of Zone Conferences..... FREAK.. it feels like i just got done planning for Zone conferences and did them...OH WAIT I DID.. that is one of the differences.. the week after transfers they have their Zone Conferences. whereas we did Zone Conferences the week before transfers... it all works out the same except now that means I have almost 4 weeks of complete craziness. Another very different thing is that President Stahlei used to have his assistants go to all the interviews and go everywhere with him so they were never in their area and they never really go to much time to be regular proselyting missionaries. Luckily that will change this transfer.... I am just soooooooooo hungry to get back out to the field... ya I am still a pros missionary while assistant but I don't have 100 percent focus on the area with all the responsibilities etc.. so that is my little dream if you will; to go back to being just a measly senior companion and working my butt off... we'll see what happens; maybe I just need to wipe my tears away and pull up my pants and get out working now... Ya I think that is it. So if all goes well and as planned, after next week it will be home free we wont have to do anything but go out and teach people the gospel and search for some sweet miracles.. One cool thing did happen this week.. On my way into Paris on the metro/train.. I started talking to this guy and he used to go to church in Bordeaux... and he was a really cool African guy.. he wanted to come to church and doesn't live to far away from the church in Versailles.. Another fun fact; Elder Gerald Caussé, a Seventy, lives in the Versailles ward.. so how does that make you feel??? haha Well that is about all for me this week... next week will be Zone Conferences we'll go to Angers France and then stay here in Paris twice, and then up to Bruxelles.. my home... ahhhhhh Belgium here I come...
Sorry I haven't had a pday to go into Paris yet so I don't have cool pictures to send to you; I have a dumb little picture of the area around the mission home but that is really about it.. lame I know. Well love ya lots..
-Elder Jacob Von Simonson