The Perks ... May 19, 2014

Dear Family,

This week was super packed with stuff. We found very little time to work.
A quick overview: 
-Two exchanges: one in Pau and one in Bayonne (two dream cities of southern France)
-Two baptisms in our district that we attended, one from the Agen srs and the other here in Lormont 
-A wonderful District meeting
It was rather full. Both Pau and Bayonne are 2 hours away from BDX by train. So we had lots of travel time in there as well.
Its been fun to see baptisms though. There was another one in our ward last week for a man being taught by the other Elders equipe here in Lormont. So things are definitely moving along. 

Summer has definitely come. It is blazing hot yesterday and these seasonal allergies are killing me.
We have been struggling to find people to teach which is rather frustrating. The bomb family that I told you about last week, was busy all week and is kinda giving us a cold shoulderish feel, which is no good. We need to be more creative with our finding techniques and more effective with our time.
The continuous battle.
I think my favorite part of the week after the baptisms was going to Bayonne. I was with Elder Thackeray who is just an awesome guy, and a wonderful missionary, super humble. We went out to Biarritz to work which is along the coast, where I saw the atlantic for 23 seconds as we walked. Just a super beautiful area, among the most beautiful i've been to. Unfortunately, lots of tourists at this time and not a lot of people wanted to talk with us. Interesting cultural note: its a Basque city, the basque are a tribe/culture from the Pyrenees area. (the basque people and arabs do not get along very well so there were practically no arabs there) All the road signs were in basque and french, which was cool. 
Everybody spoke french though.
Its so wonderful to travel and see and talk with people from so many different backgrounds and having the opportunity to influence them for good. One of the great perks of being a missionary.

I reflected a lot on personal courage and integrity this week and how central it is and I thought i'd leave you with a quote from President Monson's conference talk who quoted Robert Louis Stevenson,
"Everyday courage has few witnesses. But yours is no less noble because no drum beats for you and no crowd shouts your name."

I love you so much Make it a great week!

Beaucoup d'amour,

Elder Montgomery
 Elder CAstillo and I with our two favorite members -Fr Monclin and Fr Charles. just hilarious.
The Bordeaux St jean train station

Bayonne, just a beautiful french city

The atlantic ocean that I caught a glimpse of in Bayonne

Staying in Bordeaux! .... May 26, 2014

Dear Family,

Another week in the books. Another transfer in the books. Transfer 7 gone, Transfer 8 on deck. Elder Castillo and I are staying together here in Lormont, which I am very excited about. This is the first time Elder Castillo will have a companion for more than one transfer. And he and I are working really well together.
This week was one of the weeks where everything fell apart, appointments fell through, and it rained a lot as well. Frustration set in. Not necessarily with the work (but a little), but moreso with my self just not being as effective and dedicated as I need to be.
But it is moments like that these that we are given to really change ourselves, prove who we are, and act and become more like the Christ.

Elder Castillo and I had a lot of fun with it anyways, which is part of what makes a great companion. We have great gospel discussions and fun minigames we play while tracting. We went to Pau for district meeting which was great.

We had one really fun moment yesterday as we went and saw an ami in the area book that we had already passed 3 times, but this time they let us in and we had a fun time getting to know this retired couple and their children and their neighbors. What a cool opportunity. We sat and talked with them and drank orange juice with them on their backyard deck. Classic southern france. They were completely perplexed as to why we would leave our homes for two years to be "missionaries". But they just thought we were so cool anyways. Poor Elder McBeth who was with us for it because his comp left already, had an allergic reaction in the middle of all this and his right eye was swollen and juicy. He had about a millimeter of usage out of that eye. It was sad and funny. But he pushed through, classic Elder MCBeth, and just enjoyed the moment.(But dont worry Brother McBeth, he's fine now). The family quickly searched for some allergy medicine to help him out. These people we had never met just let us in to chat and have a good time. They admitted that it wasn't very french to do that. But they aren't your average french family. Jean Paul, the husband and dad, is just great and the only one of the group with good potential. Really funny, open, and the only member of his family that believes in God. He is retired military, we are planning on going back and seeing him this week.
So it continues. Really exciting though, We will be getting to hear from Elder Andersen of the 12 and Elder Kearon of the 70 in 2 weeks!!! The entire mission will be going by bus to Nice. It will be cool to go back to where it all started.

I love you all! Make it a great week!

Beaucoup d'amour,

Elder Montgomery
District meeting in Pau!

A few pics of downtown Pau

A few pics of downtown Pau

A few pics of downtown Pau

One of the longest shopping strips in France- The Ste. Catherine

"And the time passed away with us..." .... May 12, 2014

Dear family,

Gah it was so great to talk to you yesterday!

As I sat in bed last night thinking about all this I just couldnt even believe or even understand how fast everything is going. Ive mentioned this in like my past 13 emails (and 13 journal entries) but geez its just incredible to think about where I am, what I am doing, what I am trying to do, and where I've been. Times where I get to talk with you are kind of markers in my mission time.

And as I forced myself to stay awake for a couple moments last night to ponder and reconcile myself with this time-space continuim phenomenon that is my life of the past 9 months, it reminded me of a scripture in the Book of Mormon spoken by the prophet Jacob, 

"the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed 
away like as it were unto us a dream".  

Thinking about Gex, Perigueux, Nice, BYU, High school! yeah right, its just incomprehensible that these moments actually seem to go faster.

This week was wonderful! We got to do two exchanges both here in our Lormont area. I got to go with Elder Withers from Spokane Valley on Wednesday and Elder Smith from Ogden, Utah on Friday. Its so cool to get glimpses (really tiny minute perspectives) into their lives, who they are, and who they are preparing to become. 

The real highlight of the week was teaching the family Delachambre (of the bedroom- literal translation). Virginie and Gidas are a young couple with a 3 year old daughter. Virginie's mom, Beatrice, is childhood bestfriends with Sister Pittman, of the new senior missionary couple in Bordeaux. On Friday Elder Smith and I got to go teach all 4 of them. They had been so prepared for the message of the restored gospel. They had seen the Pittman's son as a missionary. They don't drink or smoke, and have very very basic beliefs in God (Gidas really didnt have any beliefs), but want to know more. They aren't motivated by any circumstance in their life that is humbling them, but they simple have a desire to make their family happier (eternally so). The lesson was fantastic and fun and full of the Spirit. They ate it up and came to church on Sunday (some iffy doctrine was thrown around #asalways) and we are planning on seeing them again on Friday.

We have some other amis that are in the works:

Victor Hugo our Nigerian friend is on and off, here and there. He is a really funny guy, we just can't quite get a sit down lesson with him.

John is a political refugee from Ghana, 17 yrs old. We taught him this week and he loved it. He is super believeing though. I'm excited to see where he goes.

Maxime our wonderful russian friend still gets in the game every once and awhile, he is hard to get a hold of.

Life is wonderful, especially since I got to talk to you yesterday. You are such a motivation for me. I came out after skyping you and told the Monclins that my family is the best. The mission has made me appreciate and grow in my love for you in just incredible ways.

Have a great week! Beaucoup d'amour,

Elder William Montgomery

Mother's Day Skype Call .... May 11, 2014

On May 11, 2014 we quickly left our church meetings to do a scheduled Skype Call with William at 12noon Eastern time which is 6pm his time.   We talked for just over an hour and had a great time.  It was so great to talk to him and to see him. 

As you can see, Nate and Randa were included from Provo and Rancho Cordova.

Here are some exciting pics from the event:

Mother's Day Skype Call with William, Nate and Miranda - May 11, 2014

Jennifer giving her missionary a Mother's Day kiss

Mother's day around the corner!! .... May 5, 2014

Très Chère Famille

Is it really already mother's day? That snuck up on us geez! How awesome.
This week was maybe just as fast as the last. And we had some really cool experiences, I just love being a missionary. (how many times that thought has crossed my mind)

I got to do two exchanges this week! How lucky! I get to do missionary work in even more places. Both with missionaries that came into the mission with me!
The first was Tuesday with Elder Powell in the other side of Bordeaux, the Talence side.

The second one was in Pau! a 2h30 minute train ride from chez nous. 
And I got to spend the day with Elder Ardeche a frenchman from Nantes. He is among my favorite people. He just is crazy energetic and really well intentioned. And its always being cool with francophone and seeing the differences in how they see the world vs. how I see the world. And I love speaking french all day. Among the many blessings of being a zone leader is that you get to see different parts of the mission. Pau is so beautiful, it is such a wonderful area. Elder Ardeche and I went and taught an ami, Clarisse as she worked in her kebab (the french-arab delicacy) shop. It was quite the experience. We taught her standing up and the shop was so small that the young french couple that was eating in there was very much engaged in the "lesson". Near the end a friend of Clarisse's came in and somehow knew our church or had been before, and was totally backing us up on everything we said. It was both hilarious and a tender mercy of the Lord. In the end we convinced Clarisse to come to the church and do her genealogy, which she agreed to and to which her sympathetic friend agreed to accompany her to make sure she came. It was rather amusing.

Next up was zone conference, where we had a really uplifting experience and it a cool twist up to the mission doctrine. One miracle we saw concerned the lunch for zone conference. Usually a member from the local ward makes food when President Roney comes. However our member bailed the day before, while we were in Pau. Overhearing our discussion, The Elders of Pau, namely the Austrian Elder Hladcky volunteered his efforts to cook a wonderful Austrian dish. Long story short we got some efforts from different missionaries around the zone and had this super good lunch. We still believe in miracles.

My interview with President was enlightening especially as I turn the page into a new part of my mission life. He gave me some good advice that he has given a million times but I just applied it to myself this time. He is a really successful guy like very successful, temporally and spiritually. I expressed my frustration to him with not knowing how to personally progress, He told me: 

"to picture the family I wanted in 20 years. My family, my wife, my kids. How would the man worthy of having that family act? What kind of missionary would he be? how would he treat his wife and kids, how would he act when they arent around, how would he treat others.

He listed off these million questions, then said, when you decide on all that, Do what that guy does. Just do it. If its not you now then make it you. Make goals and plans, down to daily plans. then do it" Changing ourselves is good. That is one of the great myths of our age is we should stay who we are because thats who we've always been. Nope. It was a really wonderful experience to see the application of the gospel in my daily life.

I love you all very much I'm excited to see you on Sunday!!

Beaucoup d'amour,

Elder Montgomery
Elder Ardeche, my french companion for the day in Pau

The apartment crew, Elder McBeth, Brady, and Castillo

Just another Bordeaux sunrise