Wednesday, December 30, 2015

12-28-15!

Hello hello! This week was one of the best!! EVER!

Events I experienced:
Monday was awesome! We had a little trouble getting to Bordeaux, because our train was cancelled. But we got there alright in the end. We stayed in the Talence equipe's apartment, all 24 of us! It was crammed haha, but super fun!

Tuesday: We then got up (well, never really went to bed) and arrived at the chapel at 3 am. Then we had an 8 hour bus ride to Lyon! That was pretty fun, I got to visit with a lot of missionaries and cool stuff. Got a few hours of sleep. Then we arrived in Lyon, took mission photos at the Confluence museum, and visited! I got to see all of my former comps, Elders Garside, Bleak, Hansen, and Stutz! It was the best day ever, having all of those Elders that I love with me! They're all doing super well, which is awesome. We then checked into our hotel, and went to a park for a break-the-fast lunch of domino's pizza. We had a little time after lunch to play games, and I got to play a little soccer which was always nice! Then we went to the Aquarium, which has an auditorium that we rented out. We had more games, our version of the 12 days of Christmas, an address from President Brown, and we got to watch THE LION KING!!! Super fun. That movie is incredible haha. We had dinner delivered by MasterTaco of Confluence. French tacos are like American burritos but a little different. So delicious. We also got gift bags of candy, a new mission music CD for 2016 plus an additional CD recorded by some returned missionaries of the France Lyon mission (provided by the recently-returned mission President Roney, who is currently in charge of organizing the new Provo temple open-house!) and a cool key chain with President Brown's slogan on the back: "Begin with the end in mind!" Such a good day. It felt weird to be in pday clothes the whole day but I'm not complaining haha.

Wednesday was so awesome too!! We had conference part 2 at the Ecully chapel in Lyon. We heard from our entire mission presidency. And we had a sweet lunch and got to talk to everyone! I was able to get a picture with all my comps, it was pretty sweet. And a picture with my group, transfer 109! So fun. It's so wonderful seeing everybody in one place. We also sung our arrangement of Silent Night! It went pretty well. Then we took a bus back to Bordeaux and stayed the night in the Talence Elders' apartment encore.

Thursday was great! We made cookies for the Cal family and everyone else haha. Then we ported a lot! Then we had Christmas Eve dinner at the Cal's house. We had raclette! It's basically potatoes, cheese, and meat. It was delicious. We shared a message about giving gifts to the Savior, by serving and loving our fellowmen.

Friday was ok. Haha it was Christmas, of course it was awesome! We are at the All's house. We had foie gras, castrated chicken, and some other French things. Cheese! Some dang good cheese, too. We also got to watch Mulan!! I was so happy. Then we got to Skype with our families! A very, very fun day. The best part was the introspective evaluation I gave myself. I thought about Christ's birth, and about how I am doing, what I am doing each day to give the gifts He would have me give. I cassé'd myself a good amount. I received some much-needed pieces of advice, and it really helped me to re-double my efforts and be better. That was really the best part about Christmas, getting a chance to seriously evaluate myself and resolve to be better- not next year, next week, tomorrow- but right now. Because I already promised Him I would give my best!

Saturday was pretty good! We had weekly planning, a rendezvous with Nes, and a mangez-vous chez Frere Vil. Mil made dinner, and it was a bit of a fiasco, but it still tasted good so whatever.

Sunday was awesome! I got to give a talk, which I actually love doing now. En plus, I got to reuse a talk which always feels good. It went very well. I added a story from my first transfer that the members loved. We had choir practice and Ward council after church, and got home at 14:50. Church starts at 9:30. Haha it was a long day!

Lessons I learned:
This week I ponderized John 15:27, which reads: "And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning." Bearing witness, something we promise to do when we are baptized! Always a good things to do. Dare to be a Mormon, dare to stand alone. Dare to have a purpose firm, dare to make it known! He has always been with us and always will be with us as we testify of His eternal truths.

John 3:16, Mosiah 2:17, 2 Néphi 19:6, Acts 10:38. These scriptures describe what gifts we have been given by God, and what His Gift has done for us. We can show our appreciation for these divine gifts by doing good, by following in the footsteps of the Savior. As we serve our fellowmen, we are serving God. His teachings are meant to help us reach exaltation, because they turn us into someone who loves everyone unconditionally. They turn us into disciples of Christ, even celestial citizens. May we let the Savior wash us, may we not resist as Peter once did, but let us declare, just as the same son of Simon did: Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God!

(free) Advice I have:
"Don't Drop the Ball" by President Hinckley, October 1994 General Conference. A great talk about living up to "Our Great Potential," as President Kimball has taught (April 1977 Gen Conf).

"There will always be a shortage of police if there is a shortage of effective parents!" ~ Neal  A. Maxwell. Hahaha this is a classic Elder Maxwell universal truth! How important is good parenting! Just like in the mission field. Good trainers usually produce good missionaries. Our training forms us, and excellent parents usually form excellent future parents.

Well there ya go. It was awesome. I love you all! Joyeux Noël and Bonnes Fêtes! Bisous.
Love, Elder MacArthur

Sleeping on the bus from Bordeaux to Lyon

Ben and all his mission companions to date

Transfer 109 Crew

Christmas Eve dinner with the Cal family

Christmas dinner with the All family

Monday, December 21, 2015

12-21-15!

Hello everyone!! Merry Christmas. I had a wonderful week this week. It was full of the Christmas spirit and sharing the gospel and just about everything you could really want.

Events I experienced:
Monday was pretty good. We had Skype interviews with President Brown! He is an amazing man, and I always feel really inspired after talking to him.

Tuesday, I had an exchange with Elder Underwood! He's a pretty cool guy, and we have a lot of things in common. We had a pretty productive day, even if I was sick for most of it. Hoping that I don't ruin Christmas for Elder Brill haha! I'm feeling better so we'll see how things go. Today, as we taught a recent convert, a drunk guy harassed us in the park. Mil was kinda freaked out, but we were protected in the end. I really felt the Lord's protection during that rendezvous. I know that He cares about us all very deeply.

Wednesday was district meeting in a really French town called Perigueux. It was awesome! That's all I have to say.

Thursday was super cool. We saw Nes, and unfortunately he isn't doing well. He's living on the street now, he doesn't want to live in Figeac where the gov told him to go so malheureusement he's homeless. I hope he can get his papers to work soon. I pray for him a lot, and the stress of trying to help him find solutions is killer. But I'm getting better at managing it I promise!

On Friday, I had an exchange with Elder Price, one of the Bordeaux zone leaders. He's a super cool guy from Layton, Utah. He has 3 sisters poor guy haha. He's got a beautiful family haha. We were able to have a great exchange and stay productive during the evening.  We passed some less-actives and old amis with Frère Hub. We got to have lots of good discussion and we really had an awesome time serving in Brive together. Elder Price is one of the coolest missionaries I've met! Super relaxed and laid back; he really helped me learn to be less stressed.

Saturday was good. Not much to report

Sunday was cool. Nes came to church when he told us last night that he wasn't coming! He's homeless right now, and that's really hard. But at Ward council, THEY REALLY ACCOMPLISHED SOMETHING GREAT! Haha miracles DO happen. He's being housed by members of the Ward until he can find shelter. It was a true testimony builder to me that this is the true church of Christ on the earth. I was really touched by the way compassionate service was rendered at the drop of a hat. I love the Ward so much for what they are doing.

Lessons I learned:
Last week, I ponderized Luke 9:62. It reads: "And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." During this Noel season, we have more opportunity than ever to spread the gospel light. No looking back, "no empty chairs" as my mission president says. Especially during this wonderful season, we can't slow down. Every member a missionary. We must have a sense of urgency, as Elder Holland said to our mission 20 years ago. I'm so grateful that the Christmas season lets us work harder and better and faster and stronger than any other time of the year!

This week I ponderized Luke 22:32. It says: "But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." I really took his scripture to heart this week. This is the Lord speaking to Peter, and it applies perfectly to all of us. This helps motivate me to strengthen the feeble knees, to lift up those that are down. That's what the Savior did His whole life. He "wore out [His life]" in the service of others, as D&C 123:23 exhorts us to do.

During studies, I read John 13:17 which teaches us: "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." If we know the commandments, we will be happy if we live them! Just as Lehi was promised prosperity in the land as long as he lived the commandments, it's all about what we do.

(free) Advice I have:
"Worship through Music" by Dallin H. Oaks In this 1994 general conference talk, Elder Oaks talks about how music is an indispensable part of our worship. He reminds us how music can invite the spirit, often more effectively than words can. A really good talk for any music lovers out there!

We-we-we-wel-wel well that's all, folks. Have an awesome Noël! Love you all!
Elder MacArthur

District meeting in Perigueux

Funny rugby statue in Brive

Monday, December 14, 2015

12-14-15!

Bonjour everybody!! This week was chouette! It happened like this:

Events I experienced:
Monday! We did groceries, chilled, then emails and had FHE with a recent convert named Mil at our DMP's house. Swell day. Our DMP talked about how everything in supermarkets is bad for you and that the food companies feed us poison so that we need to buy the pharmaceutical companies' medicine. It's all a big conspiracy, man! A fairly socialist vegetarian. Gotta love him!

On Tuesday I had an exchange with Elder Berry, my district leader. He's super cool! One of my favorite missionaries I've met. We had an awesome day, we taught Nes and Elo. Elo accepted to be baptized on January 9th! So excited! She's wanted to be baptized for a long time but hadn't gone to church, but now that's she's coming it'll happen for sure. We finished the day with teaching a recent convert Mil at the Brig home. Frère Brig is the Bordeaux Stake President, and he's really good at teaching. Plus we got delicious dinner so that always helps haha.

On Wednesday, we taught Elo and Nes again. We taught Nes the law of chastity, which went flawlessly. He agrees 100%. Which is really nice, because France isn't the best at, shall we say, keeping that commandment. I don't want to be negative, but the tabacs (the little convenience stores), they have naked photos sometimes and I HATE it. It is the worst!! But I digress. We did have a cool mangez-vous with the Drem family, we showed them the Christmas video. And we had all-organic food. It's like I never left Eugene haha!

Thursday, we taught Nes with Frère Drem, and we saw the O'Muls at the church. They are Irish, and very very funny. They talk forever. And kinda rant. But I love it. Frère O'Mul did have some gems though. I have come to the conclusion that 99% of words are funnier when spoken in an Irish accent.

Friday was a great day! We saw Elo and Nes, business as usual. We did some porting, got rejected. Got the finger waggle. I hate the finger waggle. Oh well haha! We had lots of good street conversations and were able to give out some cards for noel.lds.org/fr. And we got patisseries for dinner. Haha no parents no rules!! For dinner at least.

Saturday was great! We got to give service at the Hub's house. We helped move his sister, who is in a mental hospital. It was pretty gross to be honest, but it was humbling to see how good we have it in comparison with others. I'm truly grateful for our apartment and our life of luxury, we are truly blessed in our mission.

Sunday was good! We taught the law of chastity in amis class, and during sainte-cène Elder Brill gave a talk on unity. It was a war between him and all the toddlers running around. I'm not sure who won. Little kids are noisy, as I found out. I have come to the conclusion, as a result of said events, that the law of chastity is a good thing. We gave a blessing after church to a recent-convert named An. She's super cool!! I love her so much. Then we went to ward choir practice! It was super great. I love Ward choir! They needed a bass so I decided to join and let me say that was a good decision. The members love me for it. Afterwards, we went up to the hospital to teach Nes. He was down in the dumps so we had a feel-good lesson, and tried to cheer him up. Then we gave the sacrament to Frère Cal and had dinner with their family as usual! Such a good day :)

Lessons I learned:
One of Frère O'Mul's gems really made me think. He said that "Evil flourishes where good people do nothing." I really liked that! A lot. Now maybe "none is good, save one, that is, God," but if we follow Him, we are doing our best. Being people who follow Him who is good, we must be "anxiously engaged in a good cause," because the world depends on it. Today determines tomorrow, and decisions determine destiny, as President Monson teaches. Our seeds we sow today will determine our harvest tomorrow.

(free) Advice I have:
"That Thy Confidence Wax Strong" by Bishop Richard C. Edgley This talk is all about having confidence, where to find it, and how to go forth and work with confidence in all that we do! I suggest this especially for my dad, seeing as he has been called to be the bishop of my hometown Ward. I hope this talk helps :)

Thanks so much!! I love you all. Remember the reason for the season #onelove

Love, Elder MacArthur
Brive!

Ben and the Brig family with recent convert Mil

Brive La Gaillard panoramic view

"Creepy Trees" in Brive

Our apartment

Our apartment - again

Monday, December 7, 2015

12-7-15!

Hello everyone! This week was splendiferous. Here's a taste

Events I experienced:
On Monday, we did emails, bought stuff for our new apartment, and had FHE at our DMP's house, Frère Vill. That's about it. Productive day haha.

Tuesday we weekly planned, and had a rendezvous with Nes. We talked about the commandments, and it went very well! He expressed his strong desire to be baptized and follow the Lord, he is a great man. I'm so very thankful for him and his efforts to follow Christ. He believes that the Book of Mormon is true, and he reads each day!

On Wednesday, we visited JC Chal, a less-active who lives 2.5 hours away, at the very edge of our sector, at the border between us and Clermont-Ferrand. He is incredibly kind, and has a strong faith. He isn't doing well mentally, but he is so righteous. We got a ride from Frère Vill. That man is a saint. Dropping 6 hours out of his day for us! He is so cool. I wish every member was as helpful as Frère Vill. On the drive back, I talked to him the entire time about his family, my family, the gospel, music, career choices, and everything else imaginable. Super cool bonding time!

On Thursday, we had zone training in the Bordeaux chapel (the first building constructed by the church in France!) Our zone is pretty legit I must say. It was a great great time! We got our Christmas pass-along cards, the temple brochures in French, and we came up with ideas on how to make the Mille Membres en Decembre (1000 members in December) work. Since we have a 5:30 curfew, it's hard to do missionary work as usual. Satan thinks he's scored a victory. But the Lord has inspired President Brown to challenge us to use this opportunity to our advantage by teaching with members! We can be outside the apartments after 5:30 if we are with a member, so this is a great way to expand our member teaching pool! Just as the Fall seemed to be a victory for Satan, with God's help, we can use it to our advantage and make it a good thing. We can show Satan that terrorist attacks in Paris can only make our mission better!

Friday was a weird day. We taught Nes, it went well, got a new ami named Je, gave him a Book of Mormon, had a cool mangez-vous with a less-active and Nes. As we called Nes to confirm a rendezvous for tomorrow, he told us he was in a psychiatric hospital, because of all the stress he's enduring with his lodging situation and everything. So the day ended on a sour note, and we're really concerned for him. He's tough, I know he'll get through though!

On Sunday, we shared the new Noel video with everyone! We ate with the Cal family again on Sunday. It was a good day. We also visited Nes in the hospital, he's doing well. He hopes to be discharged on Thursday. We had 3 amis at church today, it was pretty awesome!

Lessons I learned:
President Brown called us during dinner on Sunday and we were eating, and I looked at the phone and it said "E Pres Brown" and so naturally I almost had a crise cardiaque. Turns out he was just calling to make sure we had heat in our apartment. What a nice guy. Haha I almost died. Elder Brill laughed a lot, it was a good moment. I think I'm still shivering. Lesson learned: don't freak out when your mission president calls you. It might be fine! Just kidding, it might be because he's sending you home. Ya never know.

(free) Advice I have:
"The Shield of Faith" by President Packer, from the April 1995 general conference. An excerpt: "The ultimate purpose of all we teach is to unite parents and children in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, that they are happy at home, sealed in an eternal marriage, linked to their generations, and assured of exaltation in the presence of our Heavenly Father." The perfect Christmas gift to give, the gift of the Gospel!

As Jeffrey R. Holland has taught about Satan, "...But apparently his effort to stop the work will be reasonably well served if he can just bind the tongue of the faithful...I am looking tonight for men young and old who care enough about this battle between good and evil to sign on and speak up." We do not have the right to bind our tongues, to not speak up about the gospel. Our brothers and sisters are in need of access to Christ's atonement, and we are the ones who can help them! This Christmas season, please speak up. Please share the reason for the season. What will happen if you share the gift? The Savior tells us what will happen: "Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven."

I encourage everyone to share the church Christmas videos with somebody! The Christmas videos, "He is the Gift" and "A Savior is Born" are great ways to share the gospel and give the gifts that He would have us give His children. There is no better way to thank Heavenly Father for His divine gift He gave us, His Son.

Hey I love you all! Thanks for the words of support and your prayers.
Love, Elder MacArthur

Zone training

The moving elders! They took our dresser away and gave it to Fribourg. It took a while.

Gospel Principles! I got bodied hard by Frère B haha


Monday, November 30, 2015

11-30-15!

Hello everyone! I had a stressful yet rewarding week this week. Here it is!

Events I experienced:
Monday was awesome! Hung out in the Toulouse gare, met my new companion Elder Brill. His comp, Elder Kimble, is switching with me, he's going to Carcassonne. We got back to Brive, dropped off my stuff, then went to FHE at our DMP's house. It went really well, we taught out progressing ami Nes!

Tuesday, we engaged our ami Nes to be baptized! He has almost no soucis, the only problem is that he might move to Tulle, a village 40 minutes away from Brive. Still in our sector, but it would be less convenient. He already respects the word of wisdom, and lots of other commandments! He came to church last week and he loved it, I really hope he's ready. We're seeing him about 5 times a week, since he doesn't work, so I bet he'll be ready by the end. He recognizes the spirit very well, he's super super cool. To describe him: a buff guy from Cameroon, kinda short, very happy. Very smart too!

Wednesday, we taught Nes again. We also saw Mil, a recent convert. And Ward council. That's about it, other than our preparations to move on Thursday.

Thursday! We moved. That's it. Our apartment is super nice!! Well, problems are kinda big in the bathroom, but....yeah. No electricity or gas yet, so we're bumming it out in the old one until we get heat. We also found out that our engagé, Nes, has to move to Figeac, an hour away. If we can't get him to church, we can't baptize him...we are sad about that.

Friday, more of the same. We continued to move in, set things up, clean. Nothing super there. We got more texts from this one perverted investigator (long since dropped) who keeps texting us filth. Haha we need to get the office to block his number...

Saturday was more of the same.

Sunday was fun, we had dinner with the C family! Their shy 14 year old daughter "was staring at me the entire time with gooogly eyes and a weird smile," according to Elder Brill haha. I'll make sure to talk to her less the next time. Yeah now that I think about it she blushed every time I talked to her. Hmmmmm dang it better stay away.

Lessons I learned:
The success we have is always a group effort. I might have just walked into a baptism here, it will not be because of my efforts alone! I have everyone to thank for all my success I ever have in life. As Abraham Lincoln said, "All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother." This is very true! All of our efforts are collective, because nobody lives in a vacuum.

Abraham 3:25 says: "And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them." I really like this scripture! It teaches us the importance of obedience even in trying times.

Also, my ponderize scripture for this upcoming week: Mark 10:27 says "And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible." I'm trying to make this my motto for this next week, having faith and relying on Him to get me though, because I'm going to need it! I have neglected His help recently, and I have suffered the consequences. Sad to say, but true. Don't ever think you can skip the fundamentals, get lazy, and rely on yourself. Nothing more stupid was ever done by anyone anywhere.

(free) Advice I have:
My angel mother suggested this talk to me: "Live in Thanksgiving Daily," by Joseph B. Wirthlin from the Sept. 2001 Ensign! It is an excellent talk.

Thanks! I love you all!
Elder MacArthur

Me, dressed for bed! No heat hahahha

Me and Nes at a Chinese buffet,Tan Phat!

Me and Elder Brill!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

11-23-15!

Bonjour everyone! I had a wonderful week. It was my last week in Carcassonne. It was sad to leave, but I am already loving Brive-la-Gaillarde! Here's what the last week in Carca was like.

Events I experienced:
Monday was awesome! We made a pie for a less active named San, we took it over to her house to congratulate her and her boyfriend Jer on their engagement. Elder Stutz got a haircut! That's about it.

Tuesday was good. We gave service at the Bo's! We helped Frere Bo move his food storage up into the attic. There were spiders. Uggggg. Then we helped their neighbor, Mar, fix her mother's bed that broke. After that, we saw J and read the Book of Mormon together! It went very well. Then we saw an old ami named Ric. He is an old English guy, and he's really cool! It's fun to be able to teach in English haha. He talked a lot about Creationism and Darwinism, it got pretty tangential but we brought it back and invited him to read his Book of Mormon!

On Wednesday, we had a rendezvous with J, with Frère V. It went well, we shared the parable of the laborers. She is starting to understand how despite our different circumstances, life is very very very fair! It's really a good deal for all of us. Then, we bought a cactus for J, because I might be leaving this week. Transfers in 2 days. Then we had a rendezvous with a man who was, to quote Harry Potter, "nutty as squirrel poo." I won't even mention any details, not worth it. Nice guy though!

Thursday, we saw T and B Hy. Tony is a Protestant preacher. We didn't know this going in...rather, we didn't realize what that meant. It was interesting. In the end, he didn't want to pray about the Book of Mormon. So we left! As we left, we told him we were going to teach his friend Ric, and that stung him a bit I think.

Friday, we got transfer calls! Elder Stutz is staying, and I am going to Brive-la-Gaillarde! Another small town, in the Bordeaux stake! I'll be serving with Elder Brill. I also got bised by J and Oc. Oc is 18. Hahaha oh well, she wasn't flirting at least. Elder Stutz told me my face was a melange of petrified, horrified, and grief-stricken.

Saturday was awesome! We said some goodbyes, and taught J and then Da at his music shop! Me and Elder Stutz had an exchange review, it was really awesome. I've learned a lot this transfer!

Sunday was great. Church, goodbyes, then dinner with the Jac family. And we taught 20 lessons this week! Super good way to leave Carcassonne, on top!

Lessons I learned:
My ponderize scripture for this week was Matthew 6:33. It says: "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Heavenly Father will take care of everything else if we seek to do His will first.

(free) Advice I have:
Learn from the situations you experience every day! We are always put in situations that will give us the best learning opportunities possible. We always have things to learn, no matter what! Taking time to reflect and observe the world around us will help us learn what we haven't seen before. We are here to learn, so let's not waste any time learning as much as we can. The glory of God is intelligence!

I have been so blessed to spend 4 transfers in Carcassonne! And now I'm ready to leave and help my brothers and sisters at Brive. I have been told that Brive has a great ward. I'm very excited for all the new experiences and challenges that await me.

Thanks for all your love and support! You're all awesome!
Love, Elder MacArthur



Monday, November 16, 2015

11-16-15

Bonjour everyone! I had an interesting but wonderful week. Here's what happened:

Events I experienced:
Monday was a little painful. I wore some French shoes that I picked out of a dead pile, and they...are not comfy. Also, I shipped a package back to the US and it was expensive. That hurt most of all. But other than that it was a wonderful p-day. (And apparently the stuff broke. Great.)

Tuesday was great! We had 3 lessons, 2 new Amis, and we gave out a book of Mormon! We helped these people with their genealogy, and I had an interesting conversation with the wife of the man doing the family history stuff. She talked to me about contraception for some reason haha. She said her husband came from a family of 10 kids and I got the explanation as to why..."Back then, there was no radio, no tv, no movies, Internet. You got up early, went to bed early, and...voilà!" Good to know, lady.

Wednesday was awesome! We had district meeting, and then Elder Hoopes had an exchange in Carcassonne. We talked the whole day in a Sean Connery voice haha. It was glorious! All we had to do was a bunch of passes but it was still really awesome and fun!

Friday was great. We had a great lesson with our ami Seb, he's really awesome. Unfortunately, he told us today that he didn't want to join a church, but he said he would come to church next week. Hopefully the spirit works on him and he changes his mind! We spent a good bit of time searching for halal candy for a Muslim friend. Apparently he eats chocolate though, so we ended up buying him some chocolate. Not sure if regular chocolate is strictly halal, but anywho, as we stopped by an epicerie, we found a guy who knew our ward mission leader! And his friend used to have a Book of Mormon but lost it when he moved from Montpellier. So we were able to give him a book and our card! It was a cool miracle.

Saturday started off on a blue note. Due to a terrorist attack in Paris, we were told we were to stay in the entire day! A little later, we received clearance to leave. But the areas in the south-east of France (us, apparently) have a 6:00 curfew, same as the Marseille Elders. So that's gonna be weird, having to go home once the sun sets.

Sunday! It was awesome. I gave a talk on agency, it went pretty well. I also got major compliments on my pink cravate. It is a belle cravate I must say.  We had a rendezvous with our ami Iri! It went well, she got a little caught up on 2 Néphi 2, but we helped her understand the Book of Mormon a lot better. We also asked some youths for directions, and ended up giving a street lesson! It was pretty cool.

Lessons I learned:
My ponderize scripture for this week comes from Moroni 8:16 and 21: "Wo be unto them that shall pervert the ways of the Lord after this manner, for they shall perish except they repent. Behold, I speak with boldness, having authority from God; and I fear not what man can do; for perfect love casteth out all fear...I speak it boldly; God hath commanded me." My first mission president's wife, Sister Roney, talked a lot about having "holy boldness." These scriptures exemplify that attitude. I love the axiom "perfect love casteth out all fear," it is so true! Nothing but the pure love of Jesus Christ can expel fear of man and the wiles of the devil.

Embrasser and embraser. The first verb means to kiss. The second means to set on fire. Be careful! Haha that's just a fun little tidbit for ya.

(free) Advice I have:
"Let the scriptures be your guide, and you will never find yourself traveling the road to nowhere." ~Thomas S. Monson. Very simple yet profound advice from President Monson!

"Pray like it all depends on the Lord, and work like it all depends on you!" ~ Gordon B. Hinckley More wonderful advice from a former prophet. Whenever I pray more, I can see that my work as a missionary improves. It is the same for all of us!

"Some Things We Have Learned Together" by Elder and Sister Holland. An incredible talk. Perfect for people who are either married or about to be married, or thinking about getting married. Watch/listen/read that talk. I have the audio and it is incredible. Top 5 talks ever given, à mon avis.

Please pray for the people in Paris. It means the world to them, all the support they are getting. If anyone needs prayers, it is all those affected by these revolting attacks.

Thanks so much! I love you all. I appreciate all of your prayers, and I encourage you to get on your knees and pray for our French brothers and sisters. Thanks much and God bless!
Love, Elder MacArthur

Toooooo dark. Yuk.

The only kisses I'm ever getting on the mission!

At Le Chinois Gourmand with Frere V and S!

The temple pathway brochure! We are the first mission to use these, according to our mission President. They come out in French soon!


Monday, November 9, 2015

11-9-15!

Hey everyone! This week was one of the busiest weeks ever. Also one of the best! Here's what I was blessed with:

Events I experienced:
Monday was pretty legit. We gave Frère Mic a blessing, then went to the castle! It was raining, and not many tourists there, very tranquille. We went to a boulangerie after and got mille feuilles and baguettes. The guy who owns the shop loves us, and he gave us 2 free croissants! What a bro. Then we got on a train to go to Marseille for our zone conference in Aix en Provence!

Tuesday we had zone conference! It was really great. Best day ever! Some notes:
  • There are so many people sustaining us! For every soldier on the battle field, there are hundreds of people supporting them. The heavenly hosts are on our side, they are pulling for us, and Jesus is pulling with us!
  • The baptisms we are blessed with are EVERYONE'S baptisms.
  • Taking Aim at Prayerful Planning -poor planning precedes a blowup -prayerful planning precedes perfection -our back-up plans are our tackles that protect our blindsides, so that tombez-vous (rendezvous that fell through) don't wreck us!
  • Have specific plans, back-ups, and use the planner so the next day is as focused as possible -plan business contacts, role play them, go in with a plan!
Wednesday was incredible! I went on an exchange with Elder Shaw. Our exchange was awesome! We got to see a less active named Soeur Font, and a progressing ami named Au. I have seen him twice before, and the difference is stunning! He is changing so much, I was really happy to see him doing so well. We taught him at a members house, the L family. They are really cool people!! We had a lot of time to contact on the trams and stuff, I was blessed to be able to talk to a lot of people. Elder Shaw is a wonderful missionary, and we had so much fun and did so many great things! It's always a great time in Montpellier.

Thursday was really cool. We gave away 2 Books of Mormon! Both were given through business contacting. We went to contact a clothing store, but the lady we talked to last time didn't remember us, so we left. Right as we left the store, we saw a lady on the road, we contacted her, and we taught a street lesson right there! We gave her a BoM, and we set up a RV for Sunday after Stake Conference in Toulouse. Later in the day, we contacted SOS Music, we know D (the shop owner) pretty well. We finally got him asking about what we do, and one thing led to another, and we gave him a Book of Mormon too! He didn't want to fix a RV for us to teach him/explain the book, but we'll get him next time haha.

Friday was an adventure day! We went to Limoux, a town full of unusual people. We saw a lot of weird stuff. We had a rendezvous with a less-active member named S. He's really cool, our lesson went really well. We invited him to stake conference, and hopefully we'll see him there!

Saturday was really fun. We did studies, then made a lot of area book calls, then got on a train to Toulouse! We had stake conference, then went to the Concorde Elder's apartment for the night. We had a bunch of pasta and candy and talked a lot, it was a great time. It was a little cramped with 10 missionaries, but at made it all the more fun! En plus, I picked up some sweet stuff! 3 pairs of proselyting shoes, and some basketball shoes! And a belt. And socks (mine are...suffering). And a scarf. And an exchange bag. And a few ties. Dead piles are the best.

Sunday was awesome! We had Stake Conference in Toulouse, it was awesome! Lots of jeune filles and jeune garçons. It was cool to see a lot of people my age, besides missionaries haha. When we got back, we had a lesson with a new ami, Iri! She read 1st Néphi (the book) in 3 days. She is incredible. She accepted everything we said, and she is really excited to meet with us encore next week! Iris was baptized Catholic in a while ago, she comes from Taiwan where there is little religion. She looooves Mary, so it might be hard to address the fact that we don't worship her haha. We have high hopes for her!

Lessons I learned:
"Therefore, fear not, little aflock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail." ~D&C 6:34 I really love this scripture! It is so succinct. It is so true! When we are on the old ship Zion, as Elder Ballard has taught us, we cannot fail (as long as we stay in the ship!)

Soeur Povar, my first mission nurse, taught me this a while ago:
To be happy, you need...
Something to do: Moroni 9:6
Something to hope for: Moroni 7:41
Someone to love: Moroni 10:32
It is not always a guarantee that one can find this in day-to-day life, but we can always find this in giving service. We love the Lord and those we serve as we give service. We hope for a better world, we hope for their happiness as we serve. And here is always plenty to do, plenty of service that is needed in this world. As a missionary, there is never a lack of these things. No wonder missionaries are so happy!

(free) Advice I have:
Advice from James E. Faust, in his talk "Acting for Ourselves and Not Being Acted Upon," in the October 1995 General Conference: "Many of you worry about your future. I think every conscientious young man does. But you do not realize what opportunities lie ahead of you. After a lifetime of dealing with human affairs, I am persuaded that your future will be beyond your dreams if you observe the following:
1) Do not live on the edge.
2) Avoid not only evil, but even the appearance of evil.
3) Follow the counsel of Lehi to act for yourselves and not be acted upon.
4) Seek first the kingdom of God and receive the great promise that all else will be added upon you.
5) Follow the counsel of Church leaders."

James E. Faust is a great example for all of us, and I love his advice here. Actively seeking the kingdom of God by obedience to the Prophet's council will ensure our future!

Awesome. Perfect love casteth out all fear. Remember that. AWESOME!

I love you all, thanks for all the support! Have a wonderful week!
Love, Elder MacArthur

Zone Conference in Aix-enProvance

Ben with "dead pile" coat & scarf

Ben with Elder Duffy & previous companion Elder Hansen

Ben with Elders Stutz, Barnes & Richmond

Ben & some of the Transfer 109 crew

Ben with Elder Stutz and two of his former companions


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

11-2-15!

Hey everyone! Short letter this week. But it was awesome!! Here's what happened :)

Events I experienced:
Monday! Super super awesome! We had dinner at Frère G's house again! He made a cassoulet. It was delicious. Unfortunately we found out that his rabbit had died the day before.  He had the rabbit for 10 years but had never even named it!  But yeah. Great time!

Wednesday! District meeting! Exchange with Elder Thompson from Idaho Falls. Total hipster. Would fit in great in Eugene haha.

Thursday was awesome! We met with a Jehovah's Witness. Really cool guy! But refused to read the Book of Mormon, so we left. Kept it amicable.

Saturday! Happy Halloween. Did we trick or treat? No. Did we tract, and get candy nonetheless? YES. We did some sweet business contacting at a candy store. This girl named Oc working there was super nice. We invited her to church, gave her our card, and we're totally going back to get her a BoM or something.

Sunday was cool. We got to do beaucoup de bonnes choses. Everyone at church commented on my zit, as they did the Sunday before. French people don't care about that kind of thing, whereas in the states that would be rude. It's pretty funny haha. We had dinner with the Mar family. Super cool Tahitians. It was the best. So much food. And they are all legit. Coolest people ever! I was dumb and forgot to take a picture though. Rats.

Lessons I learned:
"And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work. Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence." ~ D&C 4:5,6  Super good scriptures, my ponderize scripture this week. These scriptures are the ingredients for a happy life. Use them liberally.

(free) Advice I have:
Eat some Halloween candy. Do something cool. Hope for a better world.

Hey, speaking of that, Ether 12:4 says: "Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God."

I love you all! Stay classy.
Love, Elder MacArthur

New word of the week: Garth. Noun. Put all the food in a container. Apply heat.

Garth

More Garth

Hector Berlioz on an old 10 Franc note!

Monday, October 26, 2015

10-26-15!

Yo yo everyone! My week was fantastic.

Events I experienced:
On Monday, I fixed my watch! Got a new battery. Exciting stuff. We also had dinner with Frère G. Let's just say he's weird. Very nice man, but weird. We passed by his house on Sunday and we got invited back for dinner on the next day haha. We were thinking dinner would be as bad as he was weird (in which case we would surely die) but it was actually really good! Apparently Elder Stutz had enough faith in him haha! So even if someone is a little creepy, don't judge them! You never know what they're capable of. We SPARCed Frère G a lot, he was very happy to see us! It felt good making a member's day.

On Tuesday, we went porting (tracting) in Montlegun! It was fun, although nobody talked to us. The longest conversation we had was with a young woman who was in the middle of eating. She talked to us for maybe 30 seconds. 30 seconds too much. She was too interested in us. Waaaayyyy too interested. Anywho, after that, we met our ami F! Elder Stutz and F played Magic for a little bit (which I am not a fan of) and then F told us that he wasn't interested in converting. So we wasted our time a little bit. And I had to sit through an hour of Magic the Gathering. My soul died that day. Then we passed a less-active named B. He still thinks he's Catholic. We straight-up told him that he is not Catholic. That was a little frustrating haha.

Wednesday we did a lot of pass backs. We taught our ami Ph, his parents are against him getting baptized. He's 50, but he still feels like he needs to obey his parent's opinions. He doesn't want to make his parents angry, which is understandable.

Thursday was awesome! Zone training, where I got to see Elder Hansen and Elder Connell. Our zone's super cool. I started an exchange with Elder Spencer in Carcassonne, we saw Soeur M and J. Really good day, I love how Elder Spencer teaches. He's no Elder Perry, but he'll be a great zone leader. En plus, he played a Rhapsody in Blue rendition by the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. I died and went to heaven. I have not heard Jazz in soooooo long. Uhhhh. It was so great.

Friday was great! We had RCM with Frère V. He gave us lots of food. It was fabulous. Then we weekly planned. Then we taught J with S! Then we had English Class! We learned body parts and clothing vocabulary last week, and his week we did role plays to implement the things we learned. We had people explain injuries to the doctor, and we had them buy clothes at the store! It was a lot of fun. Then we taught C! We talked a lot about French movies and books, it excited him a lot to talk about his favorites! We're making real progress with C, he called us to ask how he should get an interview with the bishop. He really wants to come back, and we're helping him with his mental block.

Sunday was awesome! We had 4 amis at church! 2 Bulgarians randomly showed up who haven't been in years! One of them might be a member but we're not sure, because he speaks Bulgarian. Really cool day!

Lessons I learned:
Before we can help someone, we need to be their friend. Why would someone want to listen to you if they didn't feel that you were their friend? I have noticed this week that being friends to those we serve is critically important, because love IS the key. It is the ONLY key.

"The standard of truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing, persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished and the great Jehovah shall say the work is done” - Joseph Smith, quoted by Elder Oaks in "Joseph, the Man and the Prophet" from the April 1996 general conference. When we have God on our side, we cannot fail; His truth will go forth no matter what!

(free) Advice I have:
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. - James 1:27. This scripture has become one of my favorites. When we do what Jesus would do, we are doing what is always worth doing, and there can be nothing as important as lifting up the feeble knees, visiting the sick, the afflicted, the sorrowful, the lonely, and sharing the love of Christ with them. Making them feel loved, making them smile, acting out of Christlike love. There can be nothing as worthwhile, nothing more needed in this world than that!

Yes yes yes that was my week. I love you all! Thank you so much for your support!
Love, Elder MacArthur


Monday, October 19, 2015

10-19-15!

Bonjour everyone! Another superb week for me!

Events I experienced:
Tuesday was awesome. We did a weekly planning kind of thing, I taught Elder Stutz about the 'ville. We waited in our apartment for a long time, because the guy who was supposed to come fix out heater never showed up and we didn't want to leave right before he got here. So we were a bit stuck. We did get to pass a few people, and see S. Cool day! We're getting along super well, I'm really excited for this transfer!

Elder Stutz is from Idaho Falls, he's going to BYU after the mission, he's in his 10th transfer, has a girl back home! Total nerd, and he's legit. He loves LOTR so yeah I couldn't be happier. We be quotin' on a daily. Oh man it's the best.

Wednesday! We saw our ami R! We engaged her for baptism! She's so prepared. Soooo prepared. We taught her the plan of salvation, and it went really well. After that, we saw the F-m family. They are awesome. Then we did porting. It was a good day.

Thursday was pretty awesome again. We saw our ami Abd with his daughter R and we shared Matt. 6:19-21 (my ponderize scripture!!) which they loved. We're not sure how to progress with them, we'll invite them to church and go from there. Then we saw J, to see if she was still mad with us. But she apologized! She said she missed us a lot, haha. Of course. The McRib is back!

Friday! Ce n'est pas le karaté, mais un cas raté! Haha we had ward council; us and Frère V were joking around the whole time. We had beaucoup de fun, V made some pretty fun puns.

Saturday was good! We finally found the bus transportation office! Yay! And, 3 lessons en plus! I got to wear my big trench coat. It was sweet. I felt like a detective or something.

Sunday was awesome too! We did some cool pass backs and saw an old ami A. She's super cool.

Lessons I learned:
"Pray about and ponder the scriptures. The scriptures open the window to revelation." - Preach My Gospel, p. 95. So true! So simple but so true. The scriptures are the best places to search for personal revelation through the Holy Ghost.

Full-time missionaries are to help the ward implement their missionary plan. We are the slaves. We are not in charge! The members, together as a ward, are responsible for the missionary vision. The full-time missionaries are to help the ward execute the plan, as best we can. Often, missionaries feel that they are in charge of the work. It is the Lord's work, and He has given the responsibility to create plans to the wards. The full-time missionaries must be the "slaves," not the masterminds! I think that many members of the church have a hard time understanding this.

(free) Advice I have:
"When something is over and done with, when it has been repented of as fully as it can be repented of, when life has moved on as it should and a lot of other wonderfully good things have happened since then, it is not right to go back and open up some ancient wound that the Son of God Himself died trying to heal. Let people repent. Let people grow. Believe that people can change and improve. Is that faith? Yes! Is that hope? Yes! Is that charity? Yes! Above all, it is charity, the pure love of Christ." - Jeffrey R. Holland, "Remember Lot's Wife".  AHHHHH HE IS PERFECTLY TRUE

"Faith is for the future. Faith builds on the past but never longs to stay there. Faith trusts that God has treat things in store for each of us and that Christ truly is the 'high priest of good things to come.'" - Jeffrey R. Holland, "Remember Lot's Wife". Read this talk, if you have not yet. Do it.

I love you all! God bless!
Love, Elder MacArthur

Me and Elder Stutz in our ward mission leader's clothes

Monday, October 12, 2015

10-12-15!

Bonjour everybody! I had a KILLER week! So here it is.

Events I experienced:

Monday! Pday! Haircut!

Tuesday! An exchange with my district leader, Elder Bryce. Super awesome guy! Love him to death.

Wednesday! Two hour layover in Narbonne. Pizza. Mmm. Porting. Lots of it. Street lessons! Pretty good stuff.

Thursday! Elder Hansen's legality in Beziers! Then we home taught the T family with Bishop Jacas. And bible prophecies! 2 Kings 19:30; Luke 10:2; 2 Néphi 33:10; D&C 75:24; Moses 5:31. We decided that I would be staying, and receiving an old missionary.

Friday! TRANSFER CALLS. I am staying to do a 4th transfer in Carcassonne. I will have served at least a fourth of my mission in Carc by the time I leave haha. I am receiving Elder Stutz, who is coming from Vitrolles. He is awesome, I have met him before!

Saturday! We had a good-bye lunch with Frere V and S! Asian buffet! Mm. Then we cleaned the chapel. We have cleaning assignments. Oh well. Service! Yay! Then we contacted and packed. Well, I didn't pack. Ohhhh yeah, and our only steady ami J yelled at us a bunch today and dropped us, the 3rd or 4 time for me. So yeah. Even if she does want to see us again, I'm not sure she's willing to change, so I'm not sure if we'll even be able to see her. It's rough. I was pretty down today, with Elder Hansen leaving and Josette dropping us and everything. I always get über nostalgic when comps leave. Which has been every transfer call so far for me!

Sunday! Cried. A good amount. Had a sister moment haha. Ok, had LOTS of sister moments. I really grew to love Elder Hansen. It's hard to say goodbye, but he's still in the zone, so I'll see him at least! Yeah. Crazy. 3 transfers over. By the end of the next one, I'll be 1/4th done!! WHAT. I still feel like a bleu haha.

Monday, new comp! Elder Stutz! Super cool! So excited! He loves LOTR so I'm in love.

Lessons I learned:
I got pretty down this week, with everything that's been going on. I had such high hopes for Carcassonne when I arrived, and 4.5 months later, sometimes I feel like we have nothing going for us. Sometimes I forget all the wonderful miracles I have seen, all the blessings that the Lord has given me. No, maybe we don't have many progressing investigators, maybe I have not baptized anyone yet, but the Lord has blessed me a TON. When we forget Him, we forget the whole purpose! I started to feel sorry for myself, I started to feel sad. But happiness is a choice, and it's a lot easier choice when we remember Him and count our blessings. So please. Count your blessings! Be grateful, and most of all, be happy! That's what the Lord wants for us, we are that we "might have joy."

From my boy Jeffrey R: "Anyone who does any kind of missionary work will have occasion to ask, Why is this so hard? Why doesn’t it go better? Why can’t our success be more rapid? Why aren’t there more people joining the Church? It is the truth. We believe in angels. We trust in miracles.
Why don’t people just flock to the font? Why isn’t the only risk in missionary work that of pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font?

"You will have occasion to ask those questions. I have thought about this a great deal. I offer this as my personal feeling. I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him?

“When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon and cast out and made a hiss and a byword, you are standing with the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lived. You have reason to stand tall and be grateful that the Living Son of the Living God knows all about your sorrows and afflictions.” (“Missionary Work and the Atonement,” Ensign, Mar. 2001, 14–15). I cried as I read this out loud in a rendezvous this week. Sobbing like a baby. Incredible stuff. When we are rejected, we are standing with the Savior! What more can I say?

Püppenhaus: doll house in German. Hahahahaha!

(free) Advice I have:
"You are here on earth for a divine purpose. It is not to be endlessly entertained or to be constantly in full pursuit of pleasure. You are here to be tried, to prove yourself so that you can receive the additional blessings God has for you. The tempering effect of patience is required. Some blessings will be delivered here in this life; others will come beyond the veil. The Lord is intent on your personal growth and development. That progress is accelerated when you willingly allow Him to lead you through every growth experience you encounter, whether initially it be to your individual liking or not.

"When you trust in the Lord, when you are willing to let your heart and your mind be centered in His will, when you ask to be led by the Spirit to do His will, you are assured of the greatest happiness along the way and the most fulfilling attainment from this mortal experience. If you question everything you are asked to do, or dig in your heels at every unpleasant challenge, you make it harder for the Lord to bless you." -Richard G. Scott  This is so true! I can't explain this any better than it has already been explained.

"On the example of the Savior himself and his call to his Apostles, and with the need for peace and comfort ringing in our ears, I ask you to be a healer, be a helper, be someone who joins in the work of Christ in lifting burdens, in making the load lighter, in making things better. As children, when we had a bump or a bruise, didn’t we say to Mom or Dad, “Make it better”? Well, lots of people on your right hand and on your left are carrying bumps and bruises that they hope will be healed and made whole. Someone you know is carrying a spiritual or physical or emotional burden of some sort, or some other affliction drawn from life’s catalog of a thousand kinds of sorrow. In the spirit of Christ’s first invitation to his twelve Apostles, jump into this work. Help people. Heal old wounds and try to make things better." -Jeffrey R. Holland

Elder Uchtdorf talked about how we over-complicate our discipleship in this last general conference. If we go around "doing good," the Lord will be with us, because we will be walking in the footsteps of Jesus.

I love you all! Really! So much. Onward and upward!

Love, Elder MacArthur


Elder Hansen & Ben
 
Goodbye!

Ben & Elder Stutz!

Monday, October 5, 2015

10-5-15!

Bonjour everybody! I had a great week this week! It was legendary.

Events I experienced:
Monday was awesome. We had p-day as usual. And then our water heater broke! And our carbon monoxide detector went off! So we called the water heater fixer uppers, and they came, said it was busted, and it was leaking CO when turned on. So they turned it off, and they will replace it asap. So for the next week or so, cold showers! No hot water! I empathize with missionaries who had to serve whilst living in less-than-elegant circumstances. Then we went to the church for FHE! Only 2 people showed, S and a less-active named St!! WHO I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO CONTACT FOR NEARLY 4 MONTHS! We sent out the FHE text as usual, and I guess he finally decided to come this time! He is really cool, very African. Very believing, very philosophical. Direct quote from him: "God eats love, he cooks it, it is His happy meal." Hahaha such a cool guy. We invited him to come to general conference and he accepted! He told us the Spirit had been telling him to FHE today! He also said it told him not to go to church since May, so we have our work cut out for us there, but still! COOL!

Tuesday was sweet! We did some service for the B family, and had lunch with their neighbor Mar. It was lots of fun! We shared the parable of the Good Samaritan. Elder Hansen mentioned that his brother is getting married this weekend, and Frère B just said, "he's losing his soul, then..." And I mentioned my sister is getting married soon, so I asked, "is my sister losing her soul too?" And Frère B responded, "no, she gains one!" Haha we laughed a lot at that. Sister B was less amused hahaha. After that, we taught an ami named Fra at the church. He's very very nice, but I'm not sure he gets the point of our discussions. We've talked about baptism, the temple, and the purpose of our life on Earth with Fra, but we need to emphasize our purpose as missionaries again I suppose. After that, we had some sweet contacting, gave out BEAUCOUP de pass-along cards, and had dinner with the bishop's family. They are really cool and cook VERY well so it's always a good time chez la famille Jacas.

Wednesday was district meeting! I was pretty sad because I have a real possibility of leaving after this transfer, so it might be the last time I see lots of those missionaries in a while! After district meeting, we had a finding activity here in Carcassonne! We got lots of numbers and rendezvous fixed, it was an awesome miracle! After that, me and Elder Shaw started an exchange. We taught a new ami, Phi, and we did a lot of contacting! It was an awesome day. (I cried as we sung Angels We Have Heard On High at the end of DM. Our mission song is the best, it's even better in French. Elder Perry, my favorite missionary I've ever met, was standing next to me and he wasn't singing! I looked over to find out why, and it was because he was crying too. Ahh the spirit was so strong, we were all having a sister moment haha.)

Thursday was awesome too! We had 3 lessons, and gave more service so that's always fun! We also went to S's birthday party which was really fun. Pizza always helps. I love Elder Shaw, so it was really fun to get to do a long exchange!

Friday was tranquille. We did lots of boring stuff kinda, like area book stuff, our weekly missionary/ Ward mission leader meeting, cleaning out old phone contacts because our phone memory is filling up, weekly planning, iPad audits, comp inventory. We did get to have English class and a rendezvous with Phi, so that was awesome! It feels like we did nothing, but we really did haha. Any day without contacting or porting feels like we did nothing haha.

Saturday! We had a lesson! But not really! Our ami was way drunk! So we left! And then General Conference! It was awesome! So awesome! All good talks! So cool! We are so fortunate to have living prophets who speak to us!

Sunday was awesome as well. We studied, had meals, had a lesson with our potential ami Abd's family, and watched general conference. Abd is super nice! We keep on forgetting to ask him his last name haha, so he only name I have for him is his prénom. He's Muslim, so our views differ a little, but he's really open and super nice. We're still trying to work with him and get him interested in taking the lessons, but he likes the Bible so we share Bible stories with him. We just met his family today, his wife and daughter are very nice too! His daughter is a little too nice. And she is coming to English class now. Soooooo we'll see how that goes. On a happier note, general conference was awesome! SO AWESOME! I highly recommend it.

Lessons I learned:

Notes from President Uchdorf's first talk!
-sometimes as spiritual patients of the Savior, we are not very patient
-often we ignore reliable truth and seek to do it our way
-how do we know if we are on the right spiritual path? ask questions!
-is my experience in the Church blessing me? If so, why deviate from what we know to be true?!
Why does the Church work for some, but not for others? Do we:
-over-complicate our complicate our discipleship?
-we need to focus on the weightier matters "Living the Gospel does not need to be complicated!"
-focus on the fundamentals, and "the gospel will work better for you"
-start where you are, God will work with you regardless of what state you are in!
-look at your life through Heaven's eyes! "Exaltation is our goal, discipleship is our journey."
-by simple means, we can be taken from where we are now to the Celestial kingdom
-we can make the gospel of Jesus Christ work for us!

(free) Advice I have:
"No matter how serious the trial, how deep the distress, how great the affliction, [God] will never desert us. He never has, and He never will. He cannot do it. It is not His character [to do so]. He is an unchangeable being; the same yesterday, the same today, and He will be the same throughout the eternal ages to come. We have found that God. We have made Him our friend, by obeying His Gospel; and He will stand by us. We may pass through the fiery furnace; we may pass through deep waters; but we shall not be consumed nor overwhelmed. We shall emerge from all these trials and difficulties the better and purer for them, if we only trust in our God and keep His commandments.” -George Q. Cannon

Luke 4: 61-62
And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. Once we have covenanted to follow Jesus and build His kingdom, we cannot look back! We cannot leave this work unfinished! The Kingdom of God, or nothing.

Thanks everybody! I love you all! The Church is true and Jesus Christ is at the head of it.
Love, Elder MacArthur

Elder Hansen, St & Ben at church

Elder Hansen & Ben watch General Conference

Ben & Zone Leaders Elders Perry & Shaw

District Meeting in Carcassonne

Ben post-haircut

Monday, September 28, 2015

9-28-15!

Hey hey hey my week was killer as usual! Really, though.

Events I experienced:
Monday: not much. Let's skip it.

Tuesday: we had a lesson with a new ami, F! He is cool. He plays the drums, mostly for metal music. He's very hippy. He belongs in Eugene. He is cool.

Wednesday was awesome! I got to go on an exchange with Elder Perry, one of my Montpellier zone leaders. Elder Perry is the best. I've only ever had exchanges with him in Montpellier because he's always had some injury that prevents him from walking haha! We saw Ai at his house. I have seen him 3 times, and each time, I have left with a banana. It's awesome haha. After that, we went to the French-American Center in Montpellier. I met someone there named David A. He is from California. He is 42 years old. And he is the real-life Fire Marshall Bill. His personality so strongly resembles the Jim Carrey TV character that I thought for a second he really was Jim Carrey. Haha he is a true character, possibly the weirdest person I have ever met!

After that, we went to "Sport Extrême" at the church. It was like Zumba and P90X all rolled into one. It sufficeth me to say that I am very very sore now.

Thursday was awesome! I got to hang out with the zone as we went to our conference in Aix-en-Provence. I hung out with a bleu, Elder Duffy. He's the man. In the Montpellier gare, this guy who had recently seen "The Book of Mormon," theatrical version, talked with us for a bit. We said "have a good day" as we left, and he said back, "have a Latter-day!" It was hilarious.

Friday! Zone conference, with elder Detlef Adler of the 70. Pretty cool German guy. Hilarious! Such a funny guy. We learned lots and lots of things!

Saturday was good. Maybe someday you'll hear about it. But not now. Not important.

Sunday was crazy!! We had church as usual. Elder Hansen gave a talk in church on the 8th article of faith which was awesome. Then we taught M, a 7-year old with what seems to be severe ADHD, He's almost 8 years old and his parents want help teaching him and preparing him for baptism. He hardly listened to us so it was a little annoying but they fed us afterwards so there's always a silver lining haha! After that, we did our études, and then we went out porting! We had a few people who immediately closed the door at us, but then we found this lady named R. We gave her the family questionnaire, and before we asked the first question, she started crying! We asked, "what member of your family influenced you the most?" Before we finished asking the question, her eyes watered up, tears fell, and she said "ma grandmère!" It was incredible. She is croyante, and she cried as we testified of the plan of salvation and how temples help us live with our family forever! We showed her pictures of the temple and she asked lots of questions. It was awesome. We set up a return rendezvous for next week!

After that, as we walked home, we were accosted by this weird guy. He offered us cigs, we said no, but he kept insisting, and he followed us for about a mile...so we started running, turning corners, and we thought we lost him, but then he showed up again! This time he was angry, he called us "serviteurs du diable" and thougt we were Témoins Jehova. He started taking off his bag and tried to pick a fight. It was pretty scary. He was reaching around in his pocket and we think he might have had a knife. So luckily, we went to the police station (30 seconds away) and he followed us there! So we went in, asked for help, and an officer came and talked to him, and held him there for a while so we could walk home without being followed. All in all it wasn't a huge deal, but it was kinda freaky! I know Heavenly Father was with us the whole time, protecting us. Often, Satan attacks hardest right after our greatest successes; it's no coincidence we met that mec right after the tracting miracle.

Lessons I learned: Hebrews 11:16: "wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God". It is incredible that God is not ashamed to be our God, given all the imperfections we possess. Why then, being wholly imperfect, are we sometimes ashamed that He, being wholly perfect, is our God? It makes little sense. I would hope that we have no reason to be "ashamed of the gospel of Christ," or to be ashamed of Him whose gospel it is!

(free) Advice I have: "According to the Desire of [Our] Hearts" by Neal A. Maxwell. This talk is all about what we seek, our desires and priorities. Elder Maxwell mentions how if we can change our desires to align with God's plan for us, "We set our thermostats as to temptations." I have been thinking about priorities in my life as a missionary and this talk is excellent for anyone who wants help with things of that nature!

I love you all! Thanks for your love!
Elder MacArthur

In preparation for the zone conference with Elder Alder, we were asked to answer the following questions (among others): How did Abinadi touch Alma the Elder's heart? My answer, in brief:
Abinadi touched Alma because the Spirit testified of the truthfulness of Abinadi's words. Abinadi awoke something dormant inside Alma, the Spirit awoke the Light of Christ within Alma. Abinadi didn't preach something new, he merely caused Alma to remember what he had long since forgotten, that's why the Spirit was able to confirm it so strongly to Alma, because it was already in his heart, the Light of Christ was already burning. More than anything, the Lord had a work for Alma to accomplish. He prepared Alma to receive the word, to plant the seed, and experiment upon it. He brought about His purposes for Alma and the Nephite nation through Abinadi.

We start at the end of Abinadi's discourse. Pay attention to the words we read: Mosiah 17:2 -----> he "believed...for he knew"
-he was taught good and evil, he knew the difference between right and wrong
-all it took to start the ball rolling was someone standing up for truth regardless the circumstance.*
Take footnote b to... Mosiah 26:15 -----> faith of Alma to believe in Abinadi
-he had been righteous previously, he just needed to have the pot stirred a little
-he did "plead with the king" to let Abinadi leave in peace
-suggests a stronger conviction than a "maybe" or "I'm not sure."
Take footnote b to... D&C 46:14 -----> spiritual gift of Alma to believe
-"to others it is given to believe on their words, that they might also have eternal life if they continue faithful."
-he might have been searching for truth, seeking an answer, he knew that the traditions of Noah and his priests were wicked
-Alma was prepared to receive this awakening, to repent of his sins and remember the ways of the Lord that he used to follow *in Mosiah 13:1-9 What do we learn from these 9 verses?

Alma takes note of Abinadi. He notes that "his face shone with an exceeding luster," he spake with "power and authority of God," he guessed Alma's heart when he said "I perceive that it cuts you to your hearts because I tell you the truth concerning your iniquities." He ends this passage by saying "But I finish my message; and then it matters not whither I go, if it so be that I am saved." The incredible faith shown by Abinadi surely touched Alma and allowed the Holy Ghost to testify to him that Abinadi was a prophet, sent from God, holding His authority.

NOTES FROM CONFERENCE
Sister Brown
-we need to be team players, follow the rules, because people are always watching -our playbook is the scriptures, PMG -we can score using the playbook -our coach is President Brown, he gives us encouragement and assignments to help us score -in our team, we play to win!
-our head coach is Jesus Christ, He helps us play our best no matter what, 24/7 -comfort we receive can come from prayers from hundreds, thousands, MILLIONS of people around the world and outside of it -heaven sent help can come at any moment, comfort and heavenly help can come from anyone, anywhere

Sister Adler
-United effort in a spirit of teamwork produces a higher yield -absence of conflict is a cheap substitute for a spiritual relationship -be fast to forgive, be fast to repent, be slow to be prideful -serve your companions and be your best self for them -evaluate your companionship, follow the golden rule -"because I want you to have an awesome wife, work on..."
-pray always, pray too much, pray until you have the desire to pray, pray in all things -pray to express gratitude, pray for blessings, pray for others, pray for yourself, pray for everything

President Brown
-challenges help us become more like our Heavenly Father, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ makes it possible to endure those challenges -watch out for wolves in sheep's clothing, "Beware of the evil behind the smiling eyes"
-the spirit of the Lord is always edifying, never confuse false promptings with the Spirit -the Spirit communicates though prayer, scriptures, mission leaders, etc.
-Satan tries to counterfeit the feelings of the Spirit -we must learn to recognize the difference between the real deal and Satan's counterfeit -find out why we were put in our sector with our companion, find out our purpose -Satan is our common enemy, he seeks to destroy all of us -we will always prevail when we follow the example of our Master, Jesus Christ -if we follow Him, it will never be a close contest

Elder Adler
-sometimes we blame others, turning outward rather than turning inward -we need to work with our companions if we are to do His work His way -transitory residents of the earth never find joy, they find fun
-disobedience will cause our world to "blow up" -it will derail the work in our sector, our zone, our mission, it will hurt His work -rules and guidelines are inspired, heaven-sent help to keep us on safe ground -forgiveness is another way we can keep ourselves spiritually safe -if the Lord can forgive all, we can forgive too -we don't always know why Heavenly Father calls us how He does, but if we trust His judgment, then He will prepare the way for us to magnify our calling -He has not brought us here to fail, He has brought us here to succeed Success comes two ways:

1. Your personal spiritual development -our conversion is deepened through our faith in Jesus Christ
2. Seeing the spiritual development of our amis -feeling the Lord's love for our amis -we have to carry our own burdens, we can receive strength from others, but we must bear our own burdens, but He will help us "bear up our burdens with ease"

"Action is one of the chief foundations of personal testimony" -President Hunter -"not doing" will become "not growing," and necessarily, "not going," not going anywhere -review my attitude towards the mission I am serving -I am serving it, it is not mine, it is His; I am only here to serve the Lord -this mission is only a moment, we can endure it, we can endure it WELL!

Trying to remember our blessings, the blessings of this mission will help us see His hand in our lives. As we learn the pre-mortal existence, we learn that we knew each other, we have been sent here to people we already know, these people told us to find them and to teach them

Pretty view of Carcassonne

Mini transfer 109 reunion with Elders Connell, Wade & Ben