Transfer 11 Feeling Old .... September 29, 2014

Dear Family,

What a week. It was incredibly hectic. But incredibly productive. We got to see a lot of members and we've seen a ton of progress in the work. It was sad to see Elder Moeller go. We dropped him off at the train station last night and I spent the night with Elder Yeung. Elder Moeller was one the Elders I respected the most that I've ever met. 

Now onto the new adventure! With Elder Moeller dead now I recognize the fact: I'm old now. One of the oldest missionaries in our zone. This transfer I will be serving with Elder Bollard and it will be his first transfer as a zone leader. He is two transfers younger than me and his from California. I know him from when he was in Pau and I was in Bordeaux. He is the man. This will be a really fun and exciting transfer. We received a new companionship in the zone, which means we now have 23 missionaries and a senior couple in our zone. I've spent my entire day at the train station helping missionaries catch their trains. Tomorrow will be the day that we do most of our planning, and then hit the ground running for the next 6 weeks. 

This transfer we'll be focusing a lot on organization, planning, and punctuality. This past transfer we worked super hard, but were all over the place. We have a ton of great progressing amis. Several of which have expressed their desire already to be baptized. These people are named Kevin, Margot, Zahira, Oy, Ruben, Redoine and Marie and then we have a ton of others that we're working with. Lots of exciting progress! Very grateful and happy with the potential we have right now. Nervous and stressed to keep everything moving slowly.

How excited are you for General conference???!!

I love you all so very much! Make it a great week! 
Your Heavenly Father and Savior love you!

Elder Montgomery

Transfer 10, Week 4 .... September 15, 2014

Dear Famille,

What an exciting week! Learned a lot this week. And we saw a lot of awesome progress. We decided to drop a lot of the people with whom we were working. They weren't progressing which was sad, but also their choice. But with this transition we've seen the emergence of some new really great people who are more interested and genuine in their desire. Let me give you some specifics on the week.

We went to Bordeaux early Tuesday morning and returned Tuesday evening. It was fun to be back in Bordeaux and see a lot of good friends. There were 4 zones of missionaries there for the combined zone conference. It was probably best however for the revelation I received. We watched the video recording of the Elder Ballard conference in Geneva. It was so incredible and inspiring mostly because of the simplicity Elder Ballard used in teaching us and his desire to really help the work move forward, it was tangible! We didn't get to watch this part but he had a question and answer session with the missionaries about what they felt like were the problems with missionary work in Switzerland. Everything he taught came from PMG, and he taught it with the intention of us applying it, which was nice. He taught a lot about teaching for understanding through questions, really understanding and becoming the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the importance of each soul to our Heavenly Father. It was great. I really pulled from it that I need to improve my personal studies and be improving my teaching skills as well. It was great because it answered a lot of the questions I had going into it. It was refreshing.

We dropped Anthony, and Zahira, neither of which were really serious about progressing in the gospel. But this week we taught for the second and third time a young woman named Ludmilla, she is from Guadeloupe and is studying geography. Really great. After our third rdv she set the goal to read the first 150 pages of the BOM in the next two weeks to be able to understand our message better! 
How wonderful!
Oy is young father from Nigeria that speaks English that we met on the road a couple weeks ago. He came to church on Sunday and is excited to read the Book of Mormon and come closer to Christ.
Marlgozata is a polish lady that is a neighbor of a member family. She recently got back from vacation. She had been taught once a few months ago before she left on vaca. We taught her twice and she came to church. And she is progressing slowly but progressing.

In other news we did an exchange with the Albi elders. Albi is a small city North of Toulouse. They are a trio of elders there. So Wednesday I was Elder Sneddon from Germany and Elder Mataalii from Diamondbar CA. It was fun and different to be with two missionaries. We talked to a lot of people and visited a couple of old investigators and fixed times to see new potential interested people. It went quite well and was fun to see a new city.

Elder Moeller and I are pushing on. We are doing super well together, but are striving to be more exact. We're trying to manage a shifting teaching pool with member work, less actifs, and zone responsibilities. He is working really hard and is determined to finish his last two weeks very honorably.

We are excited for the coming week. I love being a missionary. I love sharing this good news with everyone! Everyone needs it! And it is so simple and sweet to share.

I love you all,

Elder Montgomery
all my living comps were in Bordeaux!

                          This is MaryJane. An awesome young mother, that was baptized on Saturday. I taught her on exchange with some of the other Toulouse Elders. She is great!

Transfer 10, Week 3 .... September 8, 2014

Dear family,

How is everyone? I don't have a lot tell you. I just asked Elder Moeller what we did this week and he responded "work." 
Lots of new challenges, old challenges continue. 
We had 5 people with a baptismal date, but we dropped two of them this week because they weren't showing any desire to move forward. I'll give you a little break down of our other three.

Juliana- an awesome middle aged Brazilian woman, who lived in DC for 15 years and has been living in France for 10 years now. She has a young boy. she is unhappy living with her boyfriend. She wants to change and feels like there is more to life than what she has. We're focusing on helping her read the BOM and pray regularly, and find the strength to change her life. (that is after all the power of the Gospel. The Lord grants us the power to change our circumstances)

Sara- an awesome middle aged Italian woman who is fiancée to a less actif return missionary in the ward. She already has a firm testimony of everything. We saw her and micheal yesterday. She is wonderful and has a such a pure desire to be baptized and come closer to her Heavenly Father. But they are living together and wont be getting married until December. She is ready to be baptized except for that; so we are working to find a solution with the ward to enable her to be baptized and protect her covenant until the marriage.

Zahira- a great young student, our age, from Algeria. She has testimony already of the gospel and the book of Mormon, but is too busy to see us. School and work consume her time. She has a sincere desire to be baptized, we just need to find a way to see her more and for her to come to church regularly. 

Besides these three we are working with lots of others to help them grow in their relationship with Heavenly Father and the Savior.

We had one moment in particular this week that stuck out to me. Saturday evening, We had been invited to eat at an amis home, a couple who really liked us and had seen us 2 times before. They are an odd couple, Gilbert is from Toulouse, Emma his wife is Bulgarian, they areintersting, both over 50 yrs old. Their home was rather messy. But we had a great evening eating dinner with them and their 2yr old daughter(?) and phillipe their friend who came for the last 30 minutes. They are really sweet and full of love and just wanted to get to know us. Towards the end of the evening as we finished dessert, so gospel questions came up...death, the Savior, who is God. We got scratch the surface a little bit and there was a good spirit there as we taught very simply. They accepted our invitation to hear our message in full another time. I said the closing prayer. Just after the prayer it was silent in the room and Gilbert said," you know, its moments like these, when you are with friends and you have a wonderful night together, that time stops and it seems like our problems and worries are gone, and you know that there is something there above watching over us." It was really sweet and the Spirit was really strong.... We left and as we turned the street corner they called us and asked us about the book we wanted to give them! haha we ran back and gave them a Book of Mormon for our next visit and they were more than happy to accept it. It was special. I felt really blessed and loved.

Our work continues and we are doing our best to follow the Spirit. Another week!

I love you all!

Elder Montgomery

Transfer 10, Week 2 ..... September 1, 2014

Dear Family,

Once again this week we are just living on a different energy level. Its really quite something. 

We had mission leadership council this tuesday in Lyon. It was probably my favorite one so far. What we learned and discussed was just directly in line with what I had been praying for and pondering the whole week before. I felt really inspired and we fixed some really great goals. We discussed how the mission needs to have fresh faith. Keep doing what we already have been doing but with new energy and new faith. And the results have been incredible. 

Thursday we gave our zone training. We really struggled planning for it, but it turned out really well and both Elder Moeller and I felt like we made a lot of progress as a zone in the two hours we spent together. As a zone of 22 missionaries we discussed ridding ourselves of doubt, bolstering our desire, deciding on who we are and what we want to do and translating all of that theory into action through our plans and goals. A major focus of the training was on the new standards of excellence that President released about 3 weeks ago. The most eye opening standard is now to teach 20 lessons a week. THat is huge in our mission. Really quite rare in even the "best" areas. But very possible with better planning and diligence. Elder Moeller and I have a goal to crush that standard. We want to double in week 5. 

If there is a time in which we can accomplish that feat it would be now with the teaching pool that we have. Yesterday we did our weekly planning. We planned for 17 amis for this week. Along with 10ish members we need to follow up with on their friends they know and other projects we have going on. This is rather unheard of in our mission. We feel very overwhelmed. Never in my mission or Elder Moellers have we had so many people to teach and to worry about. I have been pondering a lot about organization. We feel like there just aren't enough days in the week. We'll be relying on the Lord a lot these next couple weeks. So today and throughout this week we'll be evaluating and adjusting our organization and efficiency techniques to see how we can adapt. (If you have any tips please feel free to send them).

Its been nice because we've seen this explosion of work in our zone as well. Our numbers have improved dramatically in the past 5 months. Which is exciting.
With our zone we have been doing a Nothing Toulouse zone challenge, where we have assigned points to the standards of excellence and altogether as a zone we are working towards a grand total. Our goal was to unify the zone and help us all work on a higher level. Its seems to be working. I've really gained a testimony of brief daily contact with others and what a huge effect that can have. This is a principle taught in Preach My Gospel, that when applied works miracles.

We did two exchanges this week. One with one of our district leaders, Elder Olsen. It was quite fun and rewarding. And we had one with the assistants on Saturday. I was with Elder Elvidge. He is english, and he and I have been friends since I arrived in Gex early this year. We had a great exchange as well and it was fun to be in the presence of a really great missionary. The real counsel I got from him was to keep learning from Elder Moeller. Who is one of the most experienced and highly skilled missionaries in the mission. And he's right. I need to keep pushing myself in all areas including my french and teaching skills.

This morning I was studying in 2 Nephi 25 about the Savior and Nephi's experience with the Savior. 
One thing that really struck me (as it as many times) the centrality of the Savior in our lives. There are no other "messiahs", or in other words, there is no other way to find relief, peace, deliverance from the problems in our lives, except through the Lord and His infinite Atonement. And surely He carries my burdens and my griefs day to day. I've really worked on in the past couple months to just trust him and choose to be happy and choose to have peace. Its often in our most stressful and difficult moments that we get to choose to be like Him. That is when we choose to forge a real Christlike character.

I love you all so very much!  Make it a great week!

Elder Montgomery