Monday, June 22, 2015

The last (and best) letter!

Well, well, who'd a thought this day would ever come?  Not I, that's for sure.  To be honest, it still doesn't even feel real and I don't imagine it will until I get on the plane to Suriname early Wednesday morning, even then it won't feel like I am actually going home until I see you all again. 

This week has been crazy, but thinking about it, it may just be easier to tell you about it when I see you.  I feel like I will need to use hand motions and voice changes and all that stuff, written words just won't suffice haha!

So what can I possibly say for a final letter to a long long succession of weeks? 

First I want you all to know that I am so excited to see you again, no matter how hard it may be to leave all this behind.  I love you all so much and am ever so grateful that you will be there when I get home.  It amazes me how much being away for so long in a distant country with a different family culture made me come to appreciate and love the family from which I come.  I wouldn't trade it for the world. 

Second I want you to know that I have come to know for sure that this church is true and that obedience to commandments is the only way to true happiness, temporally and spiritually (Mosiah 2:41) and I want to hold out faithful unto the end.  I have seen on my mission, if nothing else, the reality of the phrases "obedience brings blessings" and "wickedness never was happiness."  The greatest joys I have felt on my mission were the moments where I saw others humbly obeying the laws of God even if they didn't fully understand them.  They may not have always had the easiest of situations, but I could see the light in their eyes and the joy in their lives.  Its a beautiful thing.  However I have also seen the opposite.  When obedience just seems too hard or too inconvenient, it broke my heart to see them not follow what they knew to be right. Often they asked themselves why they aren't happy, but it was much easier for me to see from my point of view.
I want to live with our family in happiness for eternity, and I know that it can only come through this gospel. 

Third and probably greatest of all is that I love my Savior Jesus Christ.  He has shown so much love and patience to me.  I know He lives and loves everyone of us. We can be changed through His grace.  Oh how I want to make good use of the investment of His blood and pains.  I love Him.

Well, I guess that's it.  I can't wait to see you and share all that has happened over the last 2 years!  And by share I mean that you best be telling me stuff too! 

Wish me luck!
avec amour,
Elder Call

French Guiana/Suriname Zone Conference June 2015


      Saturday, June 20, 2015

      The last zone conference


      What a week! I'm going to just have to tell you the most part of it when I get home anyways, but I'll cover what I can. We had some sweet service for our investigater Pirtam, we filled in the canal in front of his house with dirt, it took a long time I got really sunburnt.  Luckily it faded quickly, I didn't even peel. I think my skin is finally getting used to being burnt! haha The family fed us some crocodile which was sweet!  It tasted mostily like chicken.  A little more game-y though... 

      For the Suriname trip... The ride there was all pretty much the same as normal. But when we were over there we went to church on Sunday. I started to pick up a little on the Dutch, I couldn't speak so well but I could tell what people were talking about. I even got to translate for a Haitian member who couldn't speak very much Dutch. bOne of the Dutch missionaries tranlated to English then I translated into French.  It was fun and kept me awake, because if I didn't have anyting else to do it would have been rough...

      Then that night we went on splits with the zone leaders. I went with Elder Hood who went with us on the trip to Trinidad. We are already good friends. That was probably the best part of the whole week and a half. We sat down with the investigators and began teaching the Plan of Salvation in Dutch. The spirit was really strong, so strong in fact that Elder hood stopped translating into English for me, I was able to follow the lesson almost perfectly, he still translated into Dutch however.  But it was a really cool spiritual experience of the power of the spirit. 

      Zone conference was good. I had to bear my dying testimony... I said everything that I had wanted to but whe I sat down I just felt like something was missing.  It just didnt feel right.  It was weird.  But oh well... Pres. Mehr talked a lot about the Atonement but what I got most out of the conference was study techniques as he showed how he learned doctrine of the Atonement from the scriptures.  It was weird seeing that I was the oldest missionary there, and the only one going home this transfer of everyone that was in Suriname, except the Mehrs. They basically talked about how great their mission was and said goodbye to all the missionaries. When I went to the interview I sat down and President asked me if I had any questions, to which I replied, "Oh boy, do I have questions!" and then he told me that he would see me next week to talk about them... I wont lie and say I wasn't a little dissappointed, but I imagine it was best that I wait until next week.

      So I have my flight plans. I leave on Wednesday to Trinidad then the next day Thursday I will be seeing all your bright faces!

      I love all of you!
      à bientot!
      Elder Call

      Last trip to Suriname

      The Dutch church

       Elder Hood

      The long ride home

       We helped our investigator Pirtam fix the bridge to his shack, it was sweet!  There was a canal in front of his house and with all the rain we've had recently the bridge flooded.  We found a bunch of gross things in the canal, including an old TV.

       Because we helped him out they grilled us some delicious crocodile

      Thursday, June 11, 2015

      Time is running out...


      Well thanks for the update mom! 17 days... wow (gulp)

      I just finished my Returning Home with Honor paper. It was tough answering those questions!  I took a little too much time though sorry...

      This week was a great week for my prayers.  I learned a lot of things. One of the things I learned of which I was most proud of was along the lines of Elder Eyring's talk of the "law of increasing returns" or as I studied it further, the law of the harvest.  I learned that even though my mission is coming to an end, I am not yet perfect.  I was stressed during the week that I have so much more growth that I need to make in my life . But in the long run, what is important is that I get faced in the right direction.  I may not be perfect now, but I am making progress and I will take that direction with me after my mission.  In a sense like after this life.  I may not be perfected at the end of my life but I sure will be in the direction leading to perfection so that afterwords I can continue.  Whereas if I flat-line I would continue afterwords in a state without progression eternally. This life is the time for us to make the choices that give us our eternal direction.  Having received a desire to live the gospel to its fullness during my mission, will give me so much more direction for my life.

      It makes a lot more sense in my notes with all the graphs I drew, it was a lot of fun.  I love studying the gospel and plan on continuing that after the mission.

      I would definitely say I have loved my mission, it is going to be very hard to go, not that I don't want to see you guys or anything, its just going to be weird to going back to normal.  The mission has really been an incredible experience and it's weird that it will just be over...

      Also, this Saturday we will be leaving for Suriname and we will be getting back Tuesday so emails will be Wednesday.  Don't freak out.  You should be used to this by now! haha!

      Last zone conference! woot!

      Love you all bunches!
      avec amour,
      Elder Call

      Me and Elder Bodily

      Hmmm...not sure what happened to his shoes, but it's probably a good thing he's coming home soon!

      Our visit to the fort this morning
      An Aggie and a Ute fan

      Thursday, June 4, 2015



      I've been talking with the senior couple in Trinidad as well as the Turners recently about this and that, and everybody is always so stressed that I started to answer the phone in different ways to lighten things up a bit. The common thing is "Hello this is Elder Call French Guiana" but I was tired of that so I started with Bonjour, then Aloha and Hola and Guten tag and so on. It was a long explination to my introduction but... I thought you would appreciate it. But lets get real, I imagine I could write down my weekly menu and Mom would be all giddy! haha! Love ya mom! 

      I'm finishing sending in my Returning Home with Honor thing, talk about stressful. I had to choose 10 photos from my entire mission to have on it. It took some time...  I actually haven't finished, I took a pause and started writting your letter.

      And now I am just going to finish it next week... It is taking way to long.

      But this week was great. Elder Bodily has really figured out planning on his mission and I'm trying to get as much out of him while I still can, but I would have to say that planning is one of my weak spots... However we had some good planning this week and we got some good results.

      A good story for the week:

      We were walking down the road and a man came up with his scooter. We stopped him and started talking to him. He is from English Guyana and so we were talking in English. He invited us into his house and introduced us to his family. His wife is Native American and so speaks mostly Portugese and Native American but understands French well enough. Their kids speak all three. We shared about the Book of Mormon and they were really excited to get one, one in French and the other in English. The whole family participated in the prayer, it was really cool. 

      and there was Phil Collins playing in the background, super out of place....

      And yeah we will be going again to Suriname for zone conference on the 13th and will be coming back the 16th. And I will be staying one or two days in Trinidad, not quite sure, but it's going to make it really difficult to get that baguette to ya if so.

      I love you all a bunch and can't wait to see you soon!
      avec amour,
      Elder Call

      Tuesday, May 26, 2015


      Bonjour Maman!

      Well I feel like this week went by really quickly and not a lot happened, I'll do my best to explain!  So the first couple days ALL the members wanted us at their house to eat, because half of the missionaries were leaving and they all loved them so much (Elder Sackely and Smith were both here for most of their baptisms, they were here a long while) So Monday and Tuesday we just went to members houses most of the day. Oddly enough, when we went to a different members house, all the rest of the members were there . They said goodbye to the same people at least three times each.  It was pretty tough.  But now they're gone and things move on.  Elder Savard and Elder Bodily got in Wednesday.  It was great having somebody from each island come down so I get some updates!  Martinique seems to be doing really well!  They just changed up the Branch Presidency and my old area is now run by Sister missionaries (bof...) but it sounds like they are doing awesome!  Some of the less active I worked so hard on seem to be coming back, it just blew my mind!

      Right before Elder Smith left he gave me the run down of everything I needed to do...  It's a long to do list, but Elder Bodily and I are going to be taking it a little at a time.  This week we need to apply for French long stay visas for Sister Winter and Elder Chidester, as well as Suriname visas for zone conference the 15th for everybody else (except for me of course, I've got a free 5 years ;)  Then we need to pay a bunch of bills for apartments, buy the truck and get it insured, talk with Trinidad to get finances for all of that, replace the Tahitians bikes, get Elder Savard's visa renewed, and the list goes on and on.  But I am excited to be with Elder Bodily.  Its a big change coming from Elder Smith, who was very open and talkative, to Elder Bodily who is a little more quiet.  He's hilarious when you get him talking haha.  During church he was telling a bunch of jokes to one of the members to try and lighten her up a bit, and she just ignored him the whole time.  He told me about it and said it bothered him that she just shut him down hard.  He thought he said something wrong and ruined his first impression with the member.  I just laughed and told him that she's deaf!   haha!

      I saw a lot of cool miracles this week trying to find people to teach.  Everyday the first person we talked to ended up turning into a lesson of at least 15 minutes.  Possibly the most effective contacting of my entire mission.

      Well, I love you all like crazy and can't wait to see you again real soon! #nottruncky

      avec amour,
      Elder Call

      Living the good life in the Caribbean!

      Last night with Elder Smith

      At the airport

      Elder Bodily

      The turtle

      Monday, May 18, 2015

      The last transfer

      Bonjour ma famille, et ceux qui lisent le blog s'il y en a...

      Well, things are pretty excited down here but I don't have time to talk about it so I'll  just see you next week! Love ya bye!

      Just kidding, It was an AWESOME week though!  Valdir got baptized!  His wife was so excited for him! haha! President D'abreu baptized him and we got the whole branch involved for everything else, couldn't have gone better!  Now his daughter is being taught by the sister missionaries and she seems pretty willing to be baptized.

      Other Big news.  Transfer Calls.  The Last One..... (gulp)  Elder Smith is headin' out!  He's going up to Morne-à-l'eau on Grande-Terre Guadeloupe to Replace Elder Bodily who is coming down here to be my last companion.  For Guyane Elder Sackley is leaving too, to go to Martinique to be zone leader.  He's really young for a zone leader but I can't say I didn't see it coming.  Sis. Vance has finished her mission and Sis. Teney will be training.  Elder Savard is replacing Elder Sackley as District leader.  Lots of change down south.  There are also 4 new Tahitian missionaries that come in on French side. Tahitian Take-over!

      I have really enjoyed that book with daily reflection on the atonement you sent me.  I've been reading a page almost everyday, and sometimes I skip to later days in the year to read because I won't get to them on my mission haha.  But I have learned a lot about the Atonement recently, especially as I have been focusing on making the sacrament a spiritual experience for me personally every week.  Its something Pres. Mehr told us to do.  To block out the stress and problems that don't affect us directly and to really turn our thought to the Savior and to think about his Atonement.  He told us to ask ourselves the question "Am I right with thee, Lord?" and to seek inspiration about what we can do more and commit and engage ourselves to work on it during the week as we take the sacrament.  I have found it very helpful and a lot more meaningful as I have gone to church recently.

      Its sad to see Elder Smith go so soon.  We had some good times.  But I think it should be pretty good with Elder Bodily, I was with him the whole time in Martinique so it should be good.

      I love all of you!  Have a great week and I'll see you in 5 more!

      avec amour,
      Elder Call

      Here's a lot of pictures for you this week!

      Helping Valdir move

      Directions for eating corn flakes! haha

      Our new car

      We found a guy walking down the street holding this big old fish.  Fr. Léno bought it from him and we ate it yesterday 

      We had a celebration with all the branch Priesthood.   We had a HUGE BBQ and had a ping pong tournament

      Valdir's baptism

      The Guyane gang

      Pres. D'abreu's butcherie at La marché‏

      Sr. D'Abreu

      We went out working with Fr. José‏.   He took us across this sweet bridge across a swamp to a little village that had some of his friends in it

      Tuesday, May 12, 2015

      Mother's Day


      Well what can I possibly say now?  I'm out of words!  It was absolutely great to talk to all of you yesterday, you haven't changed a bit, and it's kinda weird... Sorry I'm not able to get you any pictures. I forgot to grab my adapter... Next week!

      So if you can pull the "we just talked yesterday so it's a short letter today" card, I can too right?  Because I spent a little to much time writing stuff for returning home things and what not, things I don't want to think about yet... anyways its going to be short for me too.

      Think week was great, like I said we did a ton of service and are helping Valdir get ready for baptism this Saturday . He's doing well and I am really excited to see him get baptized, they are going to be a great family in the church!

      This week Elder Smith and I are really going to be focusing on finding some new people to teach, so I'll tell you how it goes next week.

      We get transfer calls this week, I bet Elder Smith is outta here! haha, just kidding I have no idea, but he has been here for forever!  So anything could happen.  We do have (should have) a lot of new missionaries coming in, because with these next couple transfers we'll be losing quite a few missionaries, around 20 these next three transfers, and that's about half of the missionaries on French side...

      Well I am out of time, désolé, not the best email, but it could be worse right?

      I love you all so much and I can't wait to see you soon!

      avec amour,
      Elder Call

      Monday, May 4, 2015

      Zone Leadership Conference in Trinidad


      What a week!  Talk about missionary vacation! haha  We were gone for way too long this week... We left Monday and got back Friday late afternoon.  I am going to speed through this rapidly because, I know you want to hear all about it but I am a little behind with all those pictures I sent, your welcome ;) haha Anyways, we drove all the way over to the border of Suriname and crossed the river again without problem.  The boat driver charged us way too much and the river was a little choppy so one of the ladies crossing with us was screaming at every rock and bump, but other than that I didn't have a problem.  Sadly I didn't end up getting them to accept the mustachio-ed visa at the consulate, so I had to get a picture that was mustache free, it would have been legendary if it had worked...  But now I have a visa that lasts 5 years to Suriname, not sure what I would possibly use that for...  In Suriname we stayed with Elders Hood and Helm.  They're good guys.  We called them the day before and we brought them some Guyane souvenirs and they got us some things from Suriname and we had an exchange, including root beer and Reese's and other American goodies :)

      We left pretty early the next morning to get to the airport 2 hours early (which is mission rule for all international flights) The airport didn't even open for another hour... so we all hung out for a good while eating some goods that we picked up with the Euros we brought (We're rich in Suriname)

      The first day of the conference we were all DEAD from traveling but we leaned a lot of cool things about the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood and watched a training for the Quorum of the Seventy by the Twelve Apostles that Pres. Mehr got special permission to watch.  They talked all about the Sabbath Day, not going to lie, I felt guilty about a couple things . The Sabbath Day is really important and there are many blessings that we could miss out on if we don't use it to its most.

      That night however, we stayed in the nicest Bed and Breakfast I had ever seen!  When we walked in, we just died at how nice the room was.  Man, I slept so good...  They even made us breakfast in the morning, pancakes and eggs mmmm...

      The next day we focused on branch council and getting them set up and running smoothly in our respective branches . It was really cool hearing all the insights from all the corners of the mission who come from branches with different cultures and different problems and also different solutions.  I think Elder Smith and I represented French Guiana really well.  I feel like the branch here is a lot farther progressed then some others.

      It was also great to see everybody again.  Most of them for the last time before we head out.  Elder Fraley, Elder Lever, Elder Johnson, Elder Glover, and all my other good buds from the mission.  The worst part of all of it was that it felt like a practice for the returning missionary fireside.... (gulp)  They had a testimony meeting and everyone was talking about how great the mission was...  I had to keep telling myself, "Whoa, whoa! hold up, I'm not done yet whats going on here?!  I've still got some time left!"  I'm not ready to die yet...

      Well the rest of the time was about the same as getting to Trinidad.

      At home we taught Valdir.  We had fasted for him and we saw an incredible miracle.  He had a complete change of heart and is now super excited for his baptism  on the 16th.  We were even thinking of moving it up a week, but I think we'll just leave it.  He is a great guy!

      Things are all fine and dandy, I'm happy to hear that I'll be home for the wedding, you had me scared there for a little while.  I thought you didn't want to tell me because I wasn't going to be happy with what I heard... haha!

      Love you all!

      avec amour,
      Elder Call

      Yeah, so I had all of these pictures I use to get visas, and I didn't think I'd need them any more since I'm in my last area, so I had a little fun with them.  Well, it turns out I needed to get a visa to pass through Suriname on my way to Trinidad for Zone Leadership Conference.  The following picture is the visa application I submitted...

      Needless to say, it was rejected.  Too bad because I look very French...

      And in other breaking news...the tooth finally fell out.

      This is something the Brazilians eat, it tastes like de-flavored raspberries.

      On our way to the Guyane/Suriname border

      The canoes to Suriname

      Morning in Suriname

      Night in Suriname

      The Dutch Elders got us root beer!  

      Gift exchange with the Dutch Elders

      We stayed in the nicest Bed and Breakfast ever!


      Zone Leadership Conference April 2015
      Port-of Spain, Trinidad

       We made it back in time for the branch talent show on Friday night.  We played the recorder with one of the youth