Monday, December 28, 2015

Where are you Christmas?

Friends and family,

This week was insane. There was so much that happened and it was all amazing.

On Monday night, we took a bus to Bordeaux and stayed in the apartment with 22 missionaries. Everyone was sardines on the ground and some of us ended up not sleeping. However, it was okay because we bounced out of that apartment at about 2:45 am in order to get over to the church. Why go to the church at this hour? Good question. It was because we had to catch a bus that was taking us to Lyon. On this beautiful Tuesday morning, 4 chartered buses took off from the edges of the mission full of missionaries excited to go to  a mission-wide conference in Lyon. The buses were very comfortable so we were able to sleep.

We arrived in Lyon just before noon and hung out around the confluence waiting for everyone to get there. The confluence is a museum at the intersection of the Rhône and the Saône rivers. Here I got to see a bunch of people that I knew and talk to them a little. After everyone had showed up, we walked across the river to a park where we played football and soccer and ate pizza. Some of the missionaries also had to go check into their rooms at the hotel. About half of the missionaries stayed in a hotel and the other half stayed in other missionary apartments. After I was done wrecking everyone in soccer, we all went over to the aquarium auditorium for the first part of our conference.

At this time, President Brown told us that to date in December, the missionaries had taught with 1,052 members and that will only get higher as December finishes. He also talked a little bit more about being safe because our curfew is being lifted this Saturday! The mission then had the chance to play some games that Sœur Brown put together. Elder Berry and I had to stack speculoos cookies into the tallest tower. We won because the tower that was the tallest fell down during the judging.

After games, we walked around the aquarium for a little while and then came back to the auditorium. These next events make me feel ashamed, but they were awesome. We sat down in our seats and the lights dimmed. And then, on the projector screen, we saw "The Lion King". Yes, we watched The Lion King as a mission as we snacked on candy and ate burritos. We then walked through Lyon at night with our various Christmas presents, such as CDs and a key chain, in order to get to our hotel.

The next morning, we boarded a bus and went to the ecully chapel. There, my zone and I practiced a song that we were going to sing. Unfortunately, I definitely over practiced and my voice was shot. Oh well, during the musical program, I got up and sang my solo like a 14 year old girl with a cold and one vocal chord. The best part about performing for missionaries is that they will lie straight to your face and tell you it was good. It was not good. Haha. After we had the chance to hear from our mission presidency, we ate food and then they gave us our presents and we boarded our buses to go back home.

On the bus back home, we watched Ratatouille and The Nativity Story. I don't know how we got permission for that, but the mission first counselor was on the bus and he brought the movies. We slept in the Bordeaux apartment.

The next day, we took a train to Périgueux, did some work that didn't amount to much, and then went to our Christmas Eve dinner where we had salmon and roasted lamb. That family with whom we ate is called the Portes family. That night, Elder Berry and I opened each others presents and chose one to give. That was fun.

On Christmas, I ate more food than I have ever eaten in my life. Ever. Our lunch was a seven course dinner and people at the end refused the food because it was just way too much. But, so so good. We ate a pig, foie gras, salad, and cakes. Jut the highlights. I almost exploded.

Afterwards, I had the chance to skype with my fam and that was really fun with Elder Berry. We did that and I was very happy and then we watched How to Train Your Dragon 2 in French and the member at whose house we were gave us homemade hot chocolate and waffles. The Donardier family is the best.

On Saturday, we saw a ton of miracles just because we expected them. To come. We started at a members house and ate lunch. We taught her son who is less active. Afterwards, we called a less active and he told us that we could come over! So, we taught him. Then, we went to meet a media referral who wanted the Bible and Book of Mormon in English. He was so prepared, but he just wants to read the text first. Later, we stopped by a less active that we have been trying to see for a couple months and she was there and we taught her and her mother and boyfriend! MIRACLES!

Sunday, we taught a family who was having a really hard time over Christmas and they are the sweetest. I hope they keep coming to church!

I love Christmas and a special shout out to those that sent me Christmas presents! I love you all.

 Lyon France Missionaries

 Our game we won!

 Just a section of the group picture

 The Confluence

Only Lyon


 Our hotel room







 Mission Selfie

 Elder Lister - a friend of Elder Willits

 Mission Tree

Mille Membres star

 Thank you for the presents!



 Making Christmas cookies

Lunch at a members house

Love,
Elder Marshall Underwood

Monday, December 21, 2015

Ash Rain

This was a beautiful week that started with 2 exchanges.

On Tuesday, I went to Brive to be with Elder MacArthur.


He is a really cool guy and also an audiophile, so we got along well. During this exchange, I contacted people on a bus and that was fun because I don't get that opportunity very much. It went well. People on the bus have most likely been contacted by the missionaries before so it is hard but there were a bunch of old ladies who loved me.

Wednesday, we had a district meeting and that was really fun. We practiced a little bit of this acapella Silent Night song that we are singing at the big mission conference. That might be a train wreck. But that's ok. Elder Menzel and I then bounced out to Bergerac. He is from Germany and he is just such a homie. I love that guy. He tried to teach me how to say squirrel in German, but it was way too hard.


Thursday we had a service project in the morning. Basically what we did was that we took all of the branches and leaves that were in this guys yard and we burned it all. Right there in the yard. They do that in France. So, we were picking up branches while ash fell on our heads. It was crazy.

On Friday, we called a referral that we received and it was just this guy over in Marsac who wanted a bible and a Book of Mormon in English. Apparently, he had been researching on hsi own and he was very interested. We are meeting with him this week.

Saturday was the day that we taught this guy named Ishmael. He's very cool. He said he had a lot of questions and we answered 3 questions that he said he has asked himself all  of his life. With the gospel. BAM. Easy. But then he was still firm in his belief that no one could answer his questions. Haha. Oh well.

Sunday was the day of a baptism. We had a member bring 2 friends to sacrament meeting and they loved it. They both cried during the meeting and I knew that they felt the spirit. Now, it was a baptism day, but it was the bishop's daughter. That was really fun. Elder Berry and I got to be the witnesses. They then had the most amazing food ever. I ate way too much. Way. Too. Much.

But that's okay because we waled a ton this week. We found some good people, talked to some interested in our message, shared our testimonies of Jesus Christ, and we were very happy. Very happy her in Perigueux.


Family Home evening white elephant party


Us modeling our new ties (thanks dad) and also new socks (thanks Kaelan)


Gifts the members give us

Adler Testimony for December. Watch the video or click on the link to be directed to YouTube.

video


video


Love,
Elder Marshall Underwood

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Elodie



This is a member Elodie. She wrote about Elder Underwood on her blog. 


Mardi : eh bien, rendez-vous avec les Elder's. Y avait un échange Elder M. est rester sur Brive il eut pour compagnon Elder Underwood. Elder U. est super cool comme missionnaire, il est en France depuis quelques mois, et il a déjà une superbe notion de la langue, il parle extrêmement Bien Français. Au début, j'ai été surpris, je me suis dit, il doit être en fin de mission, eh bien, non je m'étais tromper. Vraiment, sa Foi est grande, il ira loin, c'est certain !

Elder Underwood translated for me:

She said that I was cool. I spoke French well. She thought I was at the end of my mission. And il ira loin means he will go far.

Monday, December 14, 2015

It's all raclette and foie gras

Greetings, what a week. What. A. Week.

This week started with me and Elder Berry carrying a shelf thing. We helped someone move some things in their house and they said that they were going to throw it out but we totally needed it! So, we carried it 1.5 km through Périgueux and up the spiraling stairs to our 4th floor apartment. Intense Huh? Well, the day only got better because then I cut my own hair! It's awful.





Side note for Philly: the family that I taught got baptized and so did another kid that we found. Also, one less active that we taught has been going to church and  another lady that lives 30 minutes away from the church and that doesn't have a car has been coming too. That's incredible. Shout out to Elder Martinez for all of the hard work that he is doing!

This week was full of exchanges. We didn't wake up this week at 6:30 ever because we were just going around and catching buses. I didn't take pictures with the people because we will have a district meeting and I will get a big picture there.

Elder Berry just gets me. One day at lunch, I said "Woah. Elder I am on a mission. That's INSANE." And then he just sat there patiently with me as I tried to wrap my head around it and then he said, "I know." On that same day, we ran into a friend of our recent convert that we have been trying to see for weeks. He was just on the street and he invited us into a bar to get a drink. I got some orange juice. But after we talked to him, Elder Berry went potty in the bathroom. This wasn't a very great place to be so he must have really wanted to go. While I was standing there, this guy came up to me and told me that what I was doing was illegal and I needed to leave. It was just his crazy drunk homeless guy, so I said "franchement, je fais rien." Naturally, he didn't listen to me and then started yelling at the bartender because I was there. Elder Berry came out of the bathroom and things were blowing up. As we walked to leave, someone said that Mormons don't believe in Jesus. So, Elder Berry turned around, gave the room the most confused look that I have seen anyone muster, the room went quiet, and then we left.

I went on an exchange with Elder Joly and it was really fun. I didn't let anyone walk past me without trying to talk to them about Christmas and the true meaning. Elder Joly is ancient (almost time to go home) and it's weird because we are basically opposite.

The next day, a member family invited us over to eat raclette. I'll let you research that on your own. The food here just blows my mind.

The stores give out these Star Wars cards here and I found a pack on the ground. I kept it in my pocket to try to get some blessings by talking to people. We tried to contact a guy and then two Jehovah's Witnesses and then I decided that the blessings were stored up. I opened it up and we got General Grievous. Oh how the Lord blessed his missionaries.

Saturday ended with an incredible Christmas party. There were 9 non members - including our investigating family of 6 - there that had a blast. We got the opportunity to teach a lesson to the group and then we played games. there was a Disney song guessing game and Elder Berry killed it. He guessed the Tarzan Two Worlds song and we got a point, but you get an extra point if you sing the song for at least 5 seconds. Elder Berry looked to me and I don't know the song in French. The bishop said I could sing it in English so I broke into singing Tarzan in front of 50 people.




Sunday was branch conference and so we had a bunch of stake leaders at church and the first counselor in the mission presidency. Afterwards, we had a beautiful branch counsel and figured things out in terms of missionary work and then we had a branch lunch. I had foie gras. I'll also let you research that one on your own, but I will tell you that Foie gras means fat liver. It was incredibly good also.

Life is beautiful. Still working hard. Still being obedient. Still being happy. In fact, I couldn't be happier.



P,S, There has been a really big push to get members to teach with us. This is the announcement that President Brown sent to the mission. Elder Berry and I are now famous I guess.



Love Elder Marshall Underwood

Monday, December 7, 2015

Let's See How Far We've Come

The subject line of this email is due to the fact that I have been thinking a lot about how much I have accomplished so far on my mission. If we look at numbers, it has been pretty average. But, looking at the change that has happened internally and the change of the ward here, I am so happy. A mission is basically a fast track to improvement. I have the opportunity to do the Lord's work for 2 years while He helps me change and develop Christlike attributes. It's seriously amazing. The members here are doing all kinds of missionary work. Many of them have found some friends that have a desire to come to church. Others have asked us for Book of Mormons to give to their neighbors.

The faith of the members in France is something amazing. They are in France where everyone either has no clue who they are or thinks they're a cult. France says officially that we are not a cult, but no one knows that. It must be so hard to keep doing what a Latter-day Saint does when people hate you for doing it. They are so strong and I can't believe how willing they are to share the gospel.

This week was a pretty normal week with an exchange, zone training, lessons taught, contacting, and all that jazz. The best thing that happened this week is that we got new pass along cards that say "unsauveur est né" that we get to give to everyone! There is also the new video that came out about the birth of the Savior and it is beautiful. We have met many people on the street that believe in a Savior, but they want to know why it was necessary.

The pictures that I sent were taken during our morning run today. It is jaunt a little taste of the south west of France in late fall. I realize that back home, there is probably snow all over the place. Not in France. In fact, the only reason that I am wearing a coat lately is that I got sick of people pointing out that I wasn't.

You may wonder why I haven't been doing a ponderize scripture. It is becaue I don't really have down time as a missionary. But, also, I do a morning mantra that is very simiar to the young women's theme because I like it. Also, Elder Berry and I have memorized The Living Christ in order to strengthen our testimonies.

I hope that during the Christmas season, your hearts are turned to God. Because, in fact, to catch the true meaning of Christmas, we only need drop the last syllable and itbecomes the spirit of Christ. (paraphrased President Monson)

Love Elder Marshall Underwood
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