Monday, July 27, 2015

7-20 à 7-26

Bonjour everybody! This week was another awesome week.

Events I experienced:
Monday was the first day of transfer 2! Elder Bleak is awesome.

On Tuesday we gave service to the Boyault family. Then we headed out to Lyon for a bleu conference! All the new missionaries from my transfer were present. President Brown talked about having childlike faith. Once, there was a town that was in the midst of a terrible drought. They decided to all convene in the middle of town to kneel together in prayer, in hopes of receiving a miraculous rainstorm. As they all gathered together, a little girl came running in a few minutes late, during the middle of the prayer. The pastor giving the prayer noticed that she was dragging an umbrella twice her size. Nobody else had thought to bring an umbrella, even though they were hoping for rain. After the pastor finished the prayer, rain clouds rolled in, and it rained for hours and hours. None of the adults had had the faith of this little girl, who was the only one there with an umbrella. Great story

I also got to reunite with the other elders I came in with, my fellow brothers of transfer 109. A great, great time!

Wednesday we took care of legality! I also met a Soeur Zenger who knows the Nothum family from St. Louis. Her older sister dated my sister's fiancé's older brother. I also met a Soeur Larsen, whose mom is good friends with my mom! Pretty cool, seeing all this small world stuff. We went to the institute for some free time after legality and met more missionaries.

Thursday we actually had bleu missionary conference! It was a lot of fun. We got to share really cool experiences and I shared the miracle me and Elder Garside had with M. I realize that I forgot to explain that last week, my bad! So here it is:  Elder Garside and I were walking home, when a man from a bus stop across the street said hello to us. We decided to go talk to this strange man. We got to talking, and he started crying as he expressed how depressed he was. His whole family had died in a car accident a few months ago. He showed us a gun and two bullets in his backpack that he was planning to use on himself. He was en route to his house to go kill himself. We had no idea what to say. We just listened and smiled, and tried to help this man, M., feel God's live for him. He spoke mostly Italian, so his French was broken, but we somehow understood him completely. We told him that God loved him, and that if he would only hang on, he would find "good things to come" as Elder Holland has mentioned before. He looked into our eyes and said, "I can feel the Love of God through you eyes," and choking back tears, he continued, "you and you (pointing to us individually) have given me back my life." We shook hands, and he was smiling and crying at the same time when we left M. It was a wonderful opportunity to help him in a time of need.

If we listen to the Spirit, Heavenly Father will always put us where we need to be, when we need to be there. It was incredible. We helped save a man's life. We fixed a RDV for the next day at 12 at the bus stop. He didn't show up, and we have no contact info for him, but I hope he is still okay. He has a Book of Mormon and said he'd read it, so I hope that helps him. Miracles are real and with enough faithful prayer, they still happen today.

Friday was a good day. We used the bikes because Elder Bleak fixed the brakes! Yay! Frère V. made us egg rolls, and we saw J. again! She likes Elder Bleak so that is very good news.

Saturday we saw A.! That lesson was frustrating because I felt like I failed. I struggled to speak French for the first time as a missionary, really, and I didn't teach well at all. Elder Bleak and I are doing role plays every day to improve and I know that will help me a lot, so I'm really excited for that!

Sunday we saw Soeur M. and J. It was another miracle with J! She called us at 8ish, and told us how she had started drinking and smoking again, since her son had brought her cigs and bière earlier that day. She knew she had to stop and was in tears as we talked over the phone. We biked over there ASAP and were able to calm her down. She told us that she had also forgiven someone earlier that day, a neighbor who long ago had never repaid a loan. J. has had an extremely arduous life, so forgiveness is not an easy thing for her. That was a miracle all by itself. She expressed her continual desire to be baptized and she recommitted to make progress towards that. I'm so proud that she isn't giving up! Satan is putting in overtime on her but she's fighting back.

Shoutout to Sister Markowski for her mission call to Paris! That's 5 other missionaries I know in Paris. Pretty great stuff!

Things I remarked:
  • We often criticize others but fail to fully realize our own faults.
  • We need to have faith and rely on ourselves as well as the Lord. He helps those who help themselves. If we fail to act on our faith, we will surely lose that faith eventually.
  • Things are not as obvious as they may seem. To truly help, you must understand the past to change the future.
Lessons I learned:
  • There is no one right way to do missionary work.
  • Missionary work is fun! Fun is okay, but it needs to be in the Lord's way. 
  • Keep an open heart and an open mind!
  • We need to be patient. Sometimes even our good intentions and efforts are not exactly what the Lord has in mind. 
  • Be concentrated and consecrated in whatever you are doing. It's the only way to get anything done. If you consecrate your life to Lord, if you put your inner animal upon the altar of sacrifice, you will find freedom and joy in what the Lord can help you become, and you will win infinitely more than what you gave up.
(free) Advice I have:
  • "Do Not Fear" by Boyd K. Packer
  • "Consecration is the only surrender that is also a victory." - Neal A. Maxwell
The church is true! The gospel is the best ever. I love you all! Thanks for all your letters of support! À plus!

Love, Elder MacArthur

Some cool graffiti in Lyon

Ben and fellow transfer 109ers

Ben and Elder Bleak by the castle

"A cool dessert I made all by myself. Speculoos cookies, sweet cream, pineapple, and ginger spice. I'm proud of my culinary accomplishments."

Monday, July 20, 2015

7-13 à 7-20

Bonjour everybody! I had another fabulous week this week!

Experiences I had:
Monday: La Cité and the crazy lady who thought she could read people's minds through vibrations. She was insane. She told elder Garside that he didn't have peace in his life, and we were standing there like "ummm excuse me?" She said "I can feel that you're always searching for more answers and you aren't content with the knowledge God has given you!" She turned to me and said "but HE is content! He isn't searching for anything! He has peace!" Yeah so we politely disagreed, left her a pass-along card and left. We also saw the castle! Very very cool. Part of the architecture is Roman, because at/near its genesis, the castle was controlled by the Roman Empire, and many reparations were done Roman Style. I took a lot of cool pictures. It's the castle that Beauty and the Beast was modeled after so yeah it's pretty cool.

Wednesday brought an insane miracle.

Thursday was district meeting! Fun stuff. That's about it.

Friday, transfer calls! I am staying in Carcassonne and Elder Garside is going to Bordeaux to be a ZL. Haha I have made a lot of ZL jokes, pretending that he's really prideful about it even though he isn't. I've heard Bordeaux is the most beautiful ville in France so he's lucky! Frère V. made us a great lunch as always for our ward missionary council meeting and piled us up with leftovers and extra food to take home. We actually had to throw away some curry because our fridge was so full. He might be crazy but he has a heart of gold.

Saturday was just depressing as I realized I am gonna miss Elder Garside a lot. We saw O. and A. and J. as well. O. is an ami from Britain who is really, really nice and has mega potential. He lives with his girlfriend M. and their 5 year old son J. A very very nice family! A. said we could set up a RDV for this next week so hopefully she doesn't drop us again! She has mega potential too.

Sunday we talked with a less-active named Soeur M. and our ami J. Soeur M. talked about how they found the "13th crystal skull" in Carcassonne, like the thing from the last Indiana Jones movie, as if it was real. She's a little crazy. Our ami J. was just as funny, she remarked at my very short haircut (because I was too cheap to pay for a real one and I know nothing about haircutting) by saying, "You had longer hair! You looked better with longer hair." She meant it well but even so hahaha! She also told me and Elder Garside "It's good that the missionaries are so handsome, it would be hard to talk to weird ugly people all the time." Haha always a good time with J.

Today we went to Montpellier where I met my new companion, Elder Bleak (pronounced 'Blake') which was a relief because he is "SO SICK" as Elder Garside described him. He was born in Utah, moved to Boston a few years ago, loves sailing, speaks Chinese, French and English, and is just basically a saint. I definitely look forward to this next transfer!

p.s. Shout out to Elder "Uncle Zach" Taylor on his call to serve in the Paris mission! I have some great friends in that mission plus it's France so I am very excited for him!

Things I remarked:
A strong wall, overtime, will erode and become weak despite originally being strong. The castle in Carcassonne has lasted this long because it has been fortified, rebuilt, strengthened and fortified again. We need to rebuild our spiritual defenses constantly to stay safe!

Fear is a lack of faith. No faith without hope. I worry about J., about being in charge of Carcassonne, etc. But there is always hope. So I must have faith that everyting will be okay.

Faithful hard work won't fix all problems, but it will fix many of them. Elder Bleak and I won't be able to fix all the problems in Carcassonne and baptize everybody, but with enough faithful hard work we will see miracles and we will accomplish much with the Lord's help. Your life won't be perfect because of your personal efforts but it can get pretty close.

Relationships are forever. Love everyone in his life, love everyone you meet, because you will know them for an eternity. I try to love everyone I meet because our friendship will last forever. Also, why not love everybody? Doesn't that sound like the best thing ever, to love EVERYBODY?! Hard for sure, but awesome!

Lessons I learned:
Actively living the gospel and pressing forward prevents us from growing complacent. If we are content to be where we are, we are not experiencing growth!

Focus is really hard, but it is the most important factor to success. Focus is the battery that drives our progress forward! Without that focused effort, we won't get very far.

"Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come." -Elder Holland

Don't worry about everything. Worry about doing your best, and let the Lord help you with the rest. Worry about doing all that you can, and the rest will work itself out.

(free) Advice I have:
"Receive the Holy Ghost" by David A. Bednar
"An High Priest of Good Things To Come" by Jeffrey R. Holland
"Fill your minds with truth. Fill your hearts with love. Fill your lives with service." -Thomas S. Monson

I love you all! The gospel is great. Fantastic! Perfect, really. Thanks for all your support and encouragement! À plus et bonne chance!

Love, Elder MacArthur

Comments made by Ben in response to Kathy:  The Longs! I miss the Longs. they should have stayed in Eugene. Yeah it's hot. We don't carry water, it would get warm way too quickly. But we survive. And of course I'm cheerful, this is the best mission in the world!!! And as a missionary, if you're anything less than cheerful it doesn't work :) Thanks for constantly boosting my ego haha. I'm alright, but there are much better missionaries out here than me.

Fireworks on Bastille Day with La Cite Carcassonne in the background

More Bastille Day celebration

Me as I said goodbye to my père :(

New companion Elder Bleak!

Upper gare Carcassonne

Monday, July 13, 2015

7-6 à 7-13

Bonjour everybody! This week has been hard, but great nonetheless.

Events I experienced
J. She has had problems recently. We taught her tithing this week and she did not take it too well. It is understandable I guess, but still sad nonetheless. I think she will get baptized soon, because she has seen so many miracles already in the past few weeks. She has stopped taking the lessons, but I know she will miss feeling the Holy Spirit. I know she will be baptized. Your prayers are appreciated. I could go on for hours about how hard it is to see somebody come so close to happiness and then turn away, but alas I don't have the time today. We need a miracle, but we are in luck, because God gives His children miracles everyday when they are faithful!

Our interview conference with President Brown was awesome. We were all a little worried about what he would be like, but he is super and we all are happy to have him as our mission president. My interview with President Brown was awesome. He is really good at making people feel loved. I am sure he is an inspired man and will help our mission a lot.

I taught a man named A. with Aimé and Elder Perry this week in Montpellier. Elder Perry is the zone leader along with Elder Olsen and my exchange was fun. We were able to talk to a lot of people on the streets and even though Elder Perry was sick, we still had a great day.

I saw on a map in the ZL apartment in Montpellier: "Dwight Schrute from Scranton, PA- Assistant TO the President". That map is for all the elders who have lived in that apartment to sign, their name and where they are from. That made me laugh wayyyy too much!

I wrote down my goals for what I want to be like after my mission. I got really detailed and very very specific. It really helped me a lot! I encourage everyone to make goals, it really helps to get the most out of life.

Things I remarked
If you are walking in severe heat and a breeze comes to you, it feels awesome. If you want more cooling effect, you can't just keep at your previous pace and hope the wind picks up. You need to walk faster towards it! If we want more blessing, more spiritual wind in our lives, we must do our work to feel that spiritual wind. The Lord will always do His part and keep His promises. The wind will always be there for us, but we need to spiritually accelerate towards Him if we desire more spiritual relief. We must run (in all diligence) towards the wind of the Lord in order to bless ourselves and others. Jesus never did anything without the wind from His Father.

Forgiveness unlocks blessings and happiness for us.

Lift where you stand. Maybe you think you could do more somewhere else or in some other position, but the Lord has put you where you are for a purpose. So do the best with what you have and know that it was meant to be so!

This work is what you make it. Honestly the mission could be so easy if I wanted it to be. But I don't want it to be easy, not at all. I want to do my best to give everything I have, and if I don't make it hard then I am cheating myself, the people in Carcassonne, and the Lord. "Will a man rob God?" I certainly hope not.

Lessons I learned
We need to do our part, D&C 11:20, be worthy of His help. If we want the wind, we must run into it

We cannot control what others do, only ourselves! We must try to perfect ourselves to perfect others. Yet if we focus on ourselves, we won't progress. Christ perfected Himself not by worrying about His progression, but by giving His life for others. "No, we are not  earning heaven. We are learning heaven.  We are preparing for it (see D&C 78:7). We are practicing for it.” -Brad Wilcox

Saved by grace AND changed by grace. A great thought! We are all saved by grace, but do we allow Christ's grace to change us?

(free) Advice I have
General conference talks! Talks are always nice.
"Lift Where You Stand" by Dieter F. Uchtdorf
"Forgiveness" by Gordon B. Hinckley
"His Grace Is Sufficient" by Brad Wilcox

Thanks for all your support everyone! I love you all and I hope you have a great week.
Love, Elder MacArthur

Ben reluctantly answers some questions from his family:  Haha Dad, I have little time to answer all these questions! I'll try, but please ask less questions in the future haha. My French is good, perfectly fine. I can follow the talks perfectly well. I get tongue tied sometimes and use English words but that's fine. Elder Garside is a district leader, Yes, it's us, an equipe of elders and an equipe of sisters from Perpignan in the district. We eat pasta, sandwiches, and breakfast food. Our ward mission leader (DMP in French) feeds us very well. He is a retired Vietnamese chef. We eat a lot of Frère Vital leftovers because he makes us lots of food. Members feed us a little bit after service projects. We never have any dinners that don't follow service haha. Carc is small, we walk everywhere. I sweat a lot. So it goes. We met with the [new mission president] Browns. If there is any way to be just as awesome as the Roneys, they have found that way. We have an hour of personal [study], hour of comp, hour for language, and I have first 12 weeks study with Elder Garside; so we have about 4 hours every day when we can manage it. All of our study is focused around our investigators' needs. 

Ben at La Cite Carcasssonne

La Cite

More Ben at La Cite

Gargoyles at La Cite

View from La Cite Carcassonne

La Cite

More La Cite

And more La Cite

And finally, more La Cite

Monday, July 6, 2015

6-29 to 7-5

Bonjour everybody!

I have little time today. I have been writing lots of people and my sister Anna got engaged so I was losing it over that as well. Congrats to Anna and Stephen!  I am very happy about it. Pas de soucis pour moi. Stephen is wonderful.

Things I experienced:
An exchange with elders in Perpignan. Service at the Boyault's. People called us a cult. *sigh*

An all you can eat Chinese buffet. Indigestion. Bloated feelings.

Lessons with J, our ami with a baptism date. All good things.

Things I remarked:
The little things mater! They make all the difference. In that sense, sweat the small stuff.

We have been given everything and FOR-given everything! So be grateful, and forgive others, because Christ forgave us much more.

Lessons I learned:
Enduring to the end is not just enduring, it is enduring well!

See people for who they can become, not who they are.

Love Heavenly father and His Son above all else.

(free) Advice I have:
"Three Towels and a 25 Cent Newspaper" by Richard Edgley & "The First Great Commandment" by Jeffrey R. Holland.  Both excellent talks that will uplift you!

I love all of you! Have a great week! Thanks for all of your emails and letters.

Love, Elder MacArthur

Dandelion jam homemade by a ward member


Chinese buffet

Elder Garside and Ben with S, "the best member missionary out there"