Christmas Day 2013

William called us by Skype at 1:15pmET - he was an hour late from the original time he said that he would be calling.  But we patiently waited.  We were able to talk to him for about an hour and ten minutes.  It was great to see him and talk to him.  He looked and sounded great.

Here are some fun pictures of the afternoon:

Christmas is Here!!! ... December 23, 2013

Très Chère Famille,

First, Happy Anniversary to Mom and Dad!

And Merry Christmas! I'm absolutely stoked for Wednesday. In order to effectively use our time, I'm inviting you all to bring 3 questions or more that you may have had to ask me to the skype call. #missionary We'll have an hour on wednesday around 6ish. So Dad, make sure you are on skype around 6. Im not sure exactly when yet.

THis past week was a ton of fun!

The Zone leaders came into Perigueux on Friday and us 6 Elders sung carols in the middle of centreville with a big streetboard that said, " Pourqoui est-il ne?" Why was he born? IT was so fun! And a bit intimidating...but a big realization you have as a missionary is that you arent here to be COOL...we got plenty of glares and ugly words...We are to stand as witnesses of what we know to be true, of Which truths the life of our Savior stands at the center. And we got lots of big Christmas smiles which made it all worth it!

We had the branch christmas party on Saturday where the old Single Adults including us 4 elders put on a nativity scene performance with singing. IT was an absolute train wreck....haha it was kinda sad because we had about 16 non members there! THe singing at the end was the high point. AFter the performance, we ate with everybody and had a blast. The members are doing their part, bringing friends to church. THe best way to find the best people is through members. And our job as missionaries is to be friends with everyone. It is such a blast! I love meeting all these random people!
Its great to be here for Christmas! Everyone needs to know WHY we celebrate Christmas! It is truly the time that we thank our Father in Heaven for the gift of the Savior in our life! 
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son...
Be grateful and loving and share the love of our Heavenly Father this week!
I love you all! See you Wednesday! Joyeux Noel!

Elder William Yarn Montgomery

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas ... December 16, 2013

Chére famille,

I hope you all are doing well getting ready for Christmas! I cant waittttt!

Shout out to Randa, finish strong on that last semester baby! :)

This week was spent talking with tons of people. Elder Wilson and I worked really hard this week, and broke our own personal contacting record big time and hope to do so again this week.

We had one lesson this week with the family of the Relief Society President in our branch. She is the only member in her family, but served a mission in Marseille and is soooo cool, speaks decent english. She is just every missionary dream for a member missionary. Her name is Soeur Beau. It was the family of her sister. None of them are believing, but they were super cool and listened intently.

We presented a short message about Christmas and the importance of Christmas in its connection with the Atonement. It was incredible to feel of the power of the Spirit testify as we taught about the birth, life, and sacrifice of the Savior. After which we had a rather roudy Q&A session The dad was rather goofy/ a little off his rocker, so he was asking lots of irrelevant questions. French people love American made cookies, because they are rather rare here, so we had some prepared to give to the family at the end, They were stoked. But in the end it was a really good experience. And Sr. Beau later told us that of the family, Marco the 17 year old son, kept asking questions after we left, and really wants to know more. Its really cool to see how these things work and how the Lord guides us to the work He needs done.

We were street contacting Saturday, and after a whole crowd of people walk by me ignoring my American french, an old man on his cane walks right by me, but gives me an enthuistic "hi!". I stopped, said "hi!" back. He turns around and we start talking. THe man was a butler in for the ROYAL FAMILY of ENGLAND. He told me these stories about him and prince phillip and how he was hired by princess margeret. Haha he was awesome, and really cocky too, which only made him funnier. He asked if I was from Salt Lake. I laughed and introduced myself. He had already met the missionaries before and wasnt too interested, but it was still a cool experience. Im kind of kicking myself for having not pushed for his address or phone number or name to meet with.him. It would've been soo legit!

The primary yesterday had their primary program, and at the end invited us 4 missionaries up to sing, Appelé à servir, Called to Serve with them. It was really fun and really spiritual. And a really awesome testimony to listen to the simple truths of the Gospel coming from such young kids.

As we have continued our missionary concert tour this week to members homes, we've continued to bring the Christmas spirit to their homes, and teach more about the Savior. Remember that the First and Best Gift we have ever received for Christmas was our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ.

I will leave you with the 3rd and 5th verse of How Firm A Foundation which I committed to memory this week and sung to myself as a personal motivation during the harder times of the week:*

Fear not, I am with thee O be not dismayed
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid
I'll strengthen thee, help thee and cause thee to stand
Upheld by my righeous, omnipotent Hand.

The soul, who on Jesus, hath leaned for repose
I will not, I can not, desert to his foes!
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake. 

I love you all! I can't wait to speak to you on Christmas!

Beaucoup d'amour,

Elder William Montgomery

Me at a charity event that we were at helping a member turn chickens. There were all these biker bros showing off their bikes and I found this one  (see stars and bars)

Me on the right, talking to an old man about the Gospel and his scottish hat.
Out doing some late night porting...In france most homes have gates with sonneries on them, that you ring and talk into while the person in the home talks to you. It makes it rather difficult.

Buffalo Grill in France

Us out tracting in the outskirts of Perigueux THE TRACKS

Christmas Concerts in Périgueux .... December 9, 2013

Tres chere famille,

What a week its been! We got our transfer calls on Friday and nobody in Périgueux is moving. We put it in some solid work this week but there is definitely (as there always is) plenty of room for improvement.

Last monday on our Pday, we went to the "Venice of the Perigord (our region)", a small city named Brantome. Super beautiful, super classic france (we had only baguettes for lunch:). I included some photos, and I have a ton more. 

Elder Wilson is a professional Ukulele player. So us 4 elders decided to put together a little Christmas concert for the members. Elder MC-Beth wows the members with his expert yo yo skills. The other 3 elders have me singing a solo of Silent Night. Haha we've visited about 15 members homes and presented our Christmas concert along with a short message about the beauty of the life of our Savior. I'm not a pro all, especially with a song like Silent Night, but we've had many rendezvous where despite my singing skills, the song has really brought the Spirit, and as we sing and testify of our Savior their is a spirit of peace and love like no other that comes. It has been a wonderful experience for me and for the members we've visited.

We have one member who is really struggling right now. With work, with family, with money, he really wants to leave the city. We went and visited him this week with the ward mission leader, Mario. He asked me to give him a blessing of comfort. It was really cool, I gave my first blessing in french. It was quite incredible. 

This week we really went to town work wise. We talked to more people this week than I have any other week of my mission. We found several people who were interested, but only 1 man who has accepted us to be taught. His name is Yanis, he is the man. He loves us. I cannot express to you after talking to so many people, who don't give us the time of day, how wonderful and how much joy it gives me to talk to someone who believes in something grander and bigger than himself. It is refreshing for my soul. 

This week we've seen an odd amount of opposition arise. People have been meaner, ruder, and colder as the week progressed. But we plunged through it. We, as a mission, are in the middle of working towards our a White Christmas gift that we will present to Savior on Christmas. I know that just as the sunrise comes after the dark of night, the miracles follow the opposition.

This past week during Church, we were invited to be an Angel this week to someone who may be in need of some serious help. I love that concept. That a Loving Heavenly Father will send us as angels, even in very small ways. But thats the beauty of the Gospel. We can all be angels. My invitation to you guys is to be someone's angel this week. Even in a small way ... For By small means are great things brought to pass.

I love you all so very much!!

Beaucoup d'amour,

Elder William Montgomery
Pday adventure to Brantome

My wonderful companion

Talking with some old gentleman on their afternoon stroll. Old french men are the best.

Perigueux at Sunset

Thanksgiving in Perigueux France! .... December 2, 2013

Chére Famille,

Our week was fun. We had a lot of cool things happen.

First, Thanksgiving here was a bit surreal. There was no football. But we got invited over to a Portuguese members home who invited friends and celebrated thanksgiving with us 4 American Elders. It was a lot of fun. And the food was really good. It was even cooler to have the opportunity to share a celebration like that, with people who dont normally celebrate it. It made me really realize how grateful I am for all that I have.

We went to the Branch blacklight dance this past week for 30 minutes to say hi to everyone. It was super awesome! Our branch president so cool! He is a on the side DJ and ran it all. He is also an ex-baller.  We have a Samedi Sportif with him and all the young men in our ward. He goes pretty hard in the paint. (we have 15 young men!)

I'll share one cool experience from this week. Saturday evening we went out in search of a part member family that has been inactive for years. They live a good while away from us. We took a bus to a very rural area to rolling hills of typical southern France. We walked for a while down gravel roads and knocked on the door of the address. We were invited in by the 18 year old son, who we talked with and answered a lot of religious questions he had, until his mom and older brother showed up about 30 minutes later, and they invited us to stay for dinner...yes of course. The two brothers love America, so we talked about that for a while. When we left with a spiritual message, they really ate it up. You could really tell that this family was just spiritually starving. After the closing prayer, one of the brothers was in tears, and we got invited back for just before Christmas. Sister Geurin, who is the member along with her children (her husband is not, he is away in Africa on business for 3 months) was soooo happy to have us. She greeted us like she already knew us and was more than happy to feed us. The last time they've had any contact with the church was over a year ago. But they are such a wonderful family. And it was such a beautiful experience to feel the spirit together as a family, because it is always more powerful when within the bonds of family.

We also visited an old ami yesterday, who is waiting to be baptized until after the custody court case for her 5 children is finished. Literally everything is against her. The judge marked on her file that she is fol (crazy) for taking her kids to church and wanting them to be baptized. Everyone in her family is against her decision to continue learning about the Gospel. And this (the court case) has been going on for 2 years now. (Reminds me of Charles Dicken's Bleak House). She is a rock, her faith is incredible. We encouraged to keep pressing forward and reminded her that is after the black of night that the sun rises.

It is experiences like these that make my time out here so very worth it.

I love you all! I miss you!

Beaucoup d'amour,

Elder William Montgomery

Thanksgiving in France .... November 25, 2013

Ma famille!!

How are we?

This week has been wonderfully sunny for the most part with some rain here and there, but definitely a nice change from weeks past. We are expecting snow at some point...Woooooo.

Christmas time! As much as I will miss Christmas with you, I am very excited for Christmas here. We already have a family who called dibs for having us over Christmas for dinner. And they are so wonderful! La famille Denadier. Super cool convert family with 5 boys (the oldest has his mission call to Benin and Toga?). The mother is an angel, and the dad is a spiritual giant.

We had stake conference this week, along with zone conference, and got a chance to hear President and Sister Roney speak. They are awesome!

We are having thanksgiving this week at a members house who isnt american but does for all the missionaries anyways! wahooo!

Our Ami, Marie is making good progress and ever excited for her baptism.

The major takeaway I had this week from all of our experiences was the wonderful cleansing power of the Atonement. And how through it we progress and can be healed of, forgiven of, and move on from past mistakes, whether they be sins in the strictest sense or simple mistakes that cause regret in our life. Repentance and progression. The Gospel is Glorious!!!! How wonderful it is to have it, and what greater responsibility we have then to share it!

As Ive worked this week Ive realized how much joy it brings the soul to help and serve others.

In the French version of the hymn, Because I have been given much, There is a line that I love,

"Redecrouvant le mot amour, le montrer a tous sans detour"   

which means:

             "Rediscovering the word Love and showing it to all without holding back."

We gain happiness when we labor for the happiness of others. Help others, serve others, lift up your light among men, which light is our Savior Jesus Christ, and be the means of spreading happiness always

I love you all so very much,

Beaucoup d'amour,
Elder William Montgomery

In ville.

On the way out of a members house

The city from the mountainside

So nightime camera fun in the apartment (thats a BOM in my hands)

It Goes Too Fast .... November 18, 2013

Ma Chére famille,
What a rather ordinary week its been in Périgueux. It has been a week of hard nose missionary work. Let me go through some fun things this week.

Yesterday We had branch conference. We have a less actif member who is a big British man. He calls me Elder Monty. Haha. As is so custom here, after all the church meetings yesterday, we had a big meal with the entire branch. I got to sit next to him, Frére Boughton, and listen to some of his cool stories. He told me of a time he was in Atlanta for a business conference and he stopped a bus asking for directions to the airport or something, and it was the bus for the Atlanta Braves. The bus driver told him to get in and hed drive brother boughton to his desination. Well turns out the driver stopped at Mcdonalds for a sausage biscuit, of which the britishman had never heard of such a thing, so he goes and pays for him and the bus driver to have these biscuits. The bus driver was so endeared, that he gave frere Boughton a drive all around Atlanta, before he went to pick the Braves after their game. hahahaha
We taught a woman named Marie-Therese who had been coming to the branch Family Home evening with a friend for the past couple weeks. She simply wanted a copy of the church produced Joy to the World. But it turned into an hour long lesson explaining our beliefs. That was Saturday. She came to church yesterday and absolutely loved it, and now has a great desire to be baptized. We are seeing her again Saturday. What an incredible blessing and how exciting!
Life is going well. It is so much fun to be here! Everyday brings new adventure and new opportunities. My french is very good now, I have been quite blessed with the language. Although I am still working on getting a french accent. It is so very unique, and very different from the sounds we make in English.
We are currently seeing the work come along quite nicely. The Lord is providing us with people He has prepared for us to teach. It is wonderful to see the Lord help us accomplish our goals and bring people into our paths. How beautiful and simple the Gospel is!
We had an exchange this week with the other Périgueux equipe. I got to serve the day with my boy Elder MC-Beth. This is his first transfer and what incredible faith and courage he has. He is fearless. His french is still very much in the works, but he has no problem starting converstations with people. We had worked hard all day Thursday together, contacted a ton, knocked a ton of doors, and saw no success. The last 15 minutes of our evening we prayed in the middle of a cold, dark road to find one person who we could come back another day and pass. The last door we knocked was a funny older couple who spoke some funny english, who had friends who are members here and told us to pass later next week and we could talk then. It was quite an awesome experience.
I'm excited to see what this next week has in store. Much of the world is still in spiritual darkness, and much of the world here has no faith (very admittedly so). Remember, the Lord can work no miracles where there is no faith. It is a natural law that the good result, the sign, the payment, the miracle, only follows the action, the effort, the proof or trying of our faith. We are here seeking those who are willing to show faith and recieve the promised blessings. What an exciting challenge!
Je vous aime tellement!!
Beaucoup d'amour,
Elder Montgomery

French windows

The 4 elders in Perigueux!

Perigueux sunset

The giant cathedrale