To Nice and back again ... June 16, 2014

Dear family,

Its weird to think about all that we've done in the past week. Just the vast quantity of things we've accomplished. As we walked home last night, Elder Castillo and I were both marveling that we hadn't fainted from exhaustion yet.

This week was filled with incredible experiences for better or for worse.

First, I'll briefly tell you about our experience presenting to the stake. It didn't necessarily go as planned. We really wanted to impress upon the leadership just how powerful Preach my Gospel is, how much it can help them and the families of their wards improve their testimonies and missionary work and to emphasize the invitation from Elder Ballard in general conference (an apostle of the Lord). We were told that we were going to have 15 minutes to present which really isn't a ton of time to cover the important subject we had. As these meetings often go, after sideways comments and questions, we ended up only having 5 minutes to present. We got up and speedily hit some of the big points that we wanted to, then really bore our testimonies about it. Unfortunately as we discussed missionary work with just us vs. missionary work with members and missionaries as a team, we kind of got some kick back from the certain people, which was sad and annoying. We felt like a lot of the good energy that was building up at the beginning of the meeting really fell apart as we were up there and we left with our testimonies of missionary work and PMG, but we left in a rather tense atmosphere. Like I said we were both sad and frustrated. We really felt like this was the venue to coordinate with the stake leadership, and get them on the same page as us. (The current set up of the current ward structure doesn't give us a lot of leeway to coordinate with the leadership- which we've found is a big problem for missionary work.) But we'll have to continue to push. Thats really our task here is to help everyone (train them, teach them, encourage them, love them) do missionary work, not just us. It goes a lot better when 125 people are doing it than just 2.

The better side of the email period was our trip to Nice. Really just a wonderful miracle that everything went smoothly. Elder Castillo and I were really pleased at how well we all behaved and how well the hotel situation went and everything. We were on a bus all day monday. Left BDX at 830 and got to Nice way early at 630 (Gerald our bus driver was the man). Tuesday we had the conference. It was an odd mixture of emotions all day. Seeing Nice again during the day brought back a lot of memories. I got to see some of my good young adult friends from the Nice ward who were helping out with translating. The conference itself was just incredible. 

We heard from President and Sister Roney, Elder and Sister Kearon, and Elder and Sister Andersen. Elder Andersen served here as a missionary and mission president. He actually started his mission in Perigueux- that was fun to hear). The entire 2 hours were just an magnificent spiritual experience. Elder Castillo and I couldn't talk for 30 minutes afterwards, we both felt really spiritually overwhelmed. It was wonderful. We really absolutely loved hearing from the Kearons, they have quickly moved up our favorites list. They were both just so powerful. 

The major message of the day was faith. haha very simple. Elder Andersen got a mike and walked through the crowd teaching us from the scriptures and answering questions. The cool quote he gave us, "Building the church in France is interesting, however this mission is not more difficult than others- in fact no mission is more difficult than others, they just have different challenges. However you do need more faith to serve in France than you do in most other missions." I really liked that. He really expressed his love and the love of all the brethren, and strongly admonished us to generate more faith and find more success, that it is possible. Really really great experience.
And just like that we returned. Wednesday afternoon we helped all the missionaries grab their trains despite the 3day strike that was going on. And we returned to our apartment pooped from the past two weeks.
But we can never stop. Because the work will never stop, the Lord will always need us. Everyone needs to at least know that Jesus is the Christ and that through this great plan of happiness we can find peace and direction. This quest is not a quest of two weeks or of two years but of lifetimes and eternities. To loosely quote Elder Andersen and to more accurately quote my great movie hero Maximus, 

"What we do in life, echoes in eternity."

I love you all! Have a great week!
Beacoup d'amour,
Elder Montgomery

Elder Montgomery and Elder Castilla at Neil A Anderson Training

A tired bus of Missionaries returning from Nice