Monday, November 25, 2013

Testimony Changes Attitudes

WHAZZUP!!! I say only because this week was pretty dang epic! To all my friends in the MTC who I've neglected to put into my emails, i apologize. a quick recap of the last couple weeks goes in the following manner. I received my trainer and learned that we were opening a new area. I then learned that it was my trainer's last transfer and that he had been an epic missionary (former zone leader, former assistant to the president, no big deal). The first couple weeks we got here were pretty rough, nobody wanted to listen to us and all that good stuff. Anyways, he got over it and started having a good time and then this week came around.

We had district meeting and we taught a single lesson. That's what the numbers say, but I feel much more like numbers don't tell the success we're having here. During district meeting we learned a ton, we practice taught a ton and we started coming up with better ways of finding people (because what we're doing now isn't working). I had ratatouille for the first time (it's okay, but not as amazing as the movie makes it out to be). I also ate heaven on a slice of bread. they have a strange peanut buttery like substance here that's called speculoose. It literally is the most delicious thing in the entire world. It's a lot like delta flight cookies in a creamy form. Anyways, our lesson that night was with Ian, our investigator sent from heaven. He basically walked into church and knew that everything was true. we taught with a super helpful member and got through the first half of the plan of salvation. It was a very very good day!
Wednesday was a lot of fun, but I cannot for the life of me remember why. A lot of people cancelled on us and it was so cold I thought i was going to die (for anybody that's just gotten added onto the list, I'm in Normandy which is the north western part of France and it rains incredibly cold rain everyday for around 16 hours a day). That was Wednesday though!
Thursday we finally celebrated Elder Hall's birthday by going to a slightly disgusting Chinese buffet. I really don't like buffets for anyone that doesn't know that already. After that we went on exchanges with the only other companionship in our district. It was pretty fun, I went with Elder Garner and we taught two lessons and contacted some people. The first lesson was pretty much me not understanding anything, but I'll talk about the other lesson a little later. Oh yeah, we got a senior couple too, they're pretty cool. Their name is Piepgrass and they're Cannuks (Canadians) The sister is Belgian, but she's lived in Canada for like 40 years so they're Canadian :)
Friday was a day full of contacting, porting, and getting rejected. Same old same old. After me and Elder Hall got off exchanged though I learned that Ian had told them that he wanted to be baptized (exciting!) But he had to talk to his super Roman catholic wife (Scary!)
Epic Saturday in which we got our first opportunity to do service, but it ended up taking all day (which was not what we had planned). It was a lot of fun though! We scraped the wallpaper off of a member's kitchen and they were super grateful (I actually think that was why he agreed to come to our lesson with Ian, it was a righteous exchange). Not much other than that though.
I don't remember when we taught Fahed, but we taught this Muslim kid who is super cool and open. I'm not sure if he wants to learn the truth or convert us to Islam, but so far he's keeping his commitments and he told us that if he thought our church was true he would join. The members are super awesome to us now, even though we keep trying to set up appointments with them so we can pray with them and then go port in their neighborhood. They're starting to give us the opportunity, we have our first trial run on Tuesday
ANYWAYS, we didn't get to do a lot of work on Sunday because we had church and two hours of companionship study and all that, so I thought this week was going to end with a pretty lame sauce porting session, but once again the Lord decided to prove me wrong. We found a really awesome lady who we have a return appointment with on Friday. It's funny how you only find people after you're ready to go home, but you decide to try just a couple more doors.
I'm going to have to say the theme for this week is don't give up! When I went on exchanges with Elder Garner we went to teach a lesson with someone and it turned out that he wasn't home. His wife answered the door and almost sent us on our way before Elder Garner decided not to give up. He taught he the restoration and then the lady started talking and saying how she didn't think our church was any different than any other. I bore my testimony. It's funny because I only had a small understanding of what she was saying, up until this point I hadn't said anything in 30 minutes, and it seemed like the lady just wasn't interested. At this point in my life I can honestly say that there is nothing I have in this world that is more important or powerful than my testimony. This woman changed her attitude completely, Elder Garner succeeded in getting her to a family home evening and I think she's coming to church next week. It just showed me that perseverance is amazing and that this gospel touches peoples hearts. I didn't bear my testimony with perfect French and it was pretty simple, but I know that by small and simple things great things can come to pass. regardless of who you are or what challenges you're having right now, Don't give up. Sometimes overall goals aren't achieved by perseverance and we fail, sometimes we feel that despite our perseverance nothing will change. I don't think it matters, and I know that sometimes we don't change the world or even another person, but I know that trying over and over and over (and over) again without giving up changes us, it makes us better and that is what life is all about.
Have an awesome week everybody, if you made it this far into my rambling letter thanks! Remember not to give up!
Elder Michael Beneamato Bruno

Monday, November 11, 2013

Hard Work in La Harve

Tuesday was actually a lot of fun, we had district meeting and the AP's were there. I really love the AP's and it was a lot of fun meeting everyone in our zone. It kind of felt like a day off too, which was fun except for the fact that I don't think I understand anything that they taught (French is killing me!). I'll get it though, I at least can answer people when they ask me questions now!
Wednesday started out pretty bad, it rained all day (and then it rained all day the next day, and the next, all the way until Sunday where we had a nice day, but we were inside for most of it). All that happened was that we got rejected pretty badly. After a little while I just stopped talking and I let my companion do the talking. He stopped in the Gare for a couple minutes, turned to me and asked me what he could do because something was obviously wrong. I just talked about how it was kind of tough. It makes it harder because my companion had a trainer who told him exactly what to do and he hated it. He promised himself that he wouldn't ever be like his trainer, so now he just kind of leaves it up to the people he trains to figure it out. I don't know if you've ever been in the situation where you just had to figure it out, but trust me when I say it's really scary. I just told him that I'm a little new here and I'll try my best if he gives me a little guidance now and then. From this point on we started doing A LOT better. Since we decided we were going to talk to everyone we saw, we walk down the street side by side and whichever side a person is walking down determines which person gets to talk to them. It makes it a lot easier than trying to decide who contacts who, but it's kind of scary because it turns the 1/10 people that I used to contact to 1/2. It's fun though and on Tuesday we met two or three people. We accomplished the great feat of getting two phone numbers! It was awesome.
THURSDAY WE TAUGHT 3 LESSONS! They were the first three lessons of my entire mission and I don't remember much of them other than the people didn't seem to be very interested after we taught them with the exception of a teenage Muslim boy (we didn't know he was Muslim when we contacted him otherwise we wouldn't have been allowed to contact him) who agreed to read the Book of Mormon and keep meeting with us if we would read parts of the Qumran he printed out in English. It was interesting to say the least and pretty confusing, but we figure if he's going to keep his part we need to keep ours as well.
Not going to lie when I say that Friday and Saturday just seemed like a blur of people being kind of rude and saying no, it was a lot more fun to go out contacting though and despite getting rejected a hundred million times, and a lot of tombe-vous, it actually seems like we set up a solid week next week. We got our first referral from the office and we're going to see her tomorrow and there's a couple people who responded to us when we called REALLY OLD investigators (I'm talking like 5 or 6 years old). I'm pretty excited about next week though! We have interviews with President, Exchanges with zone leaders, and a very busy week ahead of us!
Even Sunday was a lot better, I tried to be more friendly to the members and we asked a couple if we could visit them this week. A random guy showed up to church and we fixed a rendezvous on Wednesday. It was crazy because he just showed up and before he left he told us how much sense we made as a church. Oh yeah, me and Elder Hall taught the lesson too this week for investigators class(Gospel principles is what we call it back home i think) and we rocked it! An old lady invited us over to eat on Saturday too, so I'm pretty excited.
So, what do I want to talk about this week? I guess just talking it out. This week whenever I got frustrated or upset about something I would just let people know. I know a lot of times people can get annoyed of you complaining or think that you're sharing too much information, but I think that's worth getting whatever beef you have off your chest. Letting something fester just leaves feelings of resentment and anger and if you don't talk to people about the problems you have with them with the willingness to compromise on those issues, you're going to blow up eventually. I feel stressed out all the time here and it's cold and wet and nobody will talk to us, but this week has been a thousand times better just because I've spoken my mind. So, my message for this week is don't bury your problems, just fix them. I know it's not easy, but it's better to pay the price to fix things when they break then it is to try to go through life broken.
HAVE AN AWESOME WEEK EVERYBODY, help out your missionaries (Trust me when I say that they need it)
Elder Michael Beneamato Bruno

Monday, November 4, 2013

First Week in France

So, tuesday started out pretty crazy. We basically were on the plane until 9 am. The plane ride was rough though, we went through a lot of turbulence and I really thought I was going to throw up everywhere. there was a really awesome spanish lady who sat next to me though and she tried to help me out as much as she could. By the end of the flight I had her and her long time boyfriend talking about what they believed in. First Book of Mormon handed out in France. We met President Poznaski and his wife and all the AP's who are pretty awesome, Other than that we just kind of looked around with really big eyes
Wendsday was awesome! it started out really awesome where we got up (we were sleeping at a hotel) and ate a pretty awesome breakfast (the food here is much different than the MTC). Me and Elder Oviatt talked to a guy from Congo on the Metro with the presidents daughter (I joked that she was a member present) and we gave him a book of mormon. Second Book of Mormon handed out in France. We had an interview with president Poznaski and then we had a slide show interview that showed who are trainers were and where we were going. Right now I'm in Le Harve (which means the Harbor in French) and it's in Normandy and i'm being trained by someone on his second to last transfer (which means I'm going to kill him). It's kind of a weird story. Elder Hall has basically done it all. He was DL, ZL, and AP and then he started training someone. The weird thing is that you usually train someone for two transfers. After Elder Halls first transfer with this super buff, 24 year old Hawian world champion swimmer he got switched. He's training me in something even more difficult than a whitewash. We're Opening. That means that we literally have nothing to work on. We're coming into Le Harve to help another companionship, but we essentially are starting completely from scratch. Anyways, after a very long train ride in which I slept most of the time and at the end we talked to a guy that apparently gotten into doing LSD (Which was one of the strangest conversations I've ever had in my life) we arrived in the very hostile city of Le Harve
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday
I'm going to be honest when I say that these three days are just a blur. I have to say that I don't think I understand anything that people are saying. All I understand is that they don't seem very interested. So far we've had one lesson taught after which a man said he wasn't interested, five tombé-vous (which we call a rendez-vous that fell through) and I don't even know how many people who are just not very interested. Before I left the MTC they said not to worry, French people aren't as mean as everyone says they are. Don't believe people when they say that!!!! French people can be pretty mean. Anyways, thursday friday and saturday are just a blur of cold, windy, rainy (did I mention that that's basically all the weather in Normandy ever is). And getting really good at saying Merci, Au revoir
Sunday was a lot better, we went to church and even though I didn't understand anything that people were saying, they were all really nice. We still didn't have any success trying to contact people, but a lot of people talked to us and we got some rendez-vous set up for later this week, so fingers crossed.
Other stuff!
I have to say, despite being rejected a hundred thousand times, I don't feel too discouraged. There were times this week when I just felt like crying because it was so bad, but I'm starting to feel better about it. There's someone out there who's waiting for us and we're going to find them, We're working hard and doing what we're supposed to and I know that the Lord is out there preparing people for us. This week I think Elder Hall reported the worst numbers he's had his entire mission. I don't know if it's because of me or not, but we almost got a 0 for every category you report for and he said he had never gotten 0 for everything. The lesson we taught was nice and we're doing okay contacting, but I know I can do better. In my interview with President Poznaski he asked "are you a bold missionary?". I said Yes! I'm not a liar and I know I can be bolder and be better in this next week, so boldness! I guess my message for this week is be bold. There's no reason to be scared in life, we just need to bold in everything we do. Be bold, regardless of how you feel or what's wrong, Be Bold!
Au Revoir!
I ate a kebab today and it was delicious