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 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