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 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..
Elder Jacob Von Simonson