Transfer 13, Week 2 David Archuletta and miracles... December 22, 2014

Dear Fam,
What a week! After a slow week last week we really stepped it up this week and saw a ton of miracles and had all sorts of adventures.
I'll start by talking about our trips to Lyon. We went to Lyon twice this week. Once on Thursday and again on Saturday. Its a 2.5 hour trip on train. We leave at 626am.

Thursday we were there with 5 zones and David Archuletta. It was really spectacular. We each had the chance to shake his hand and meet him. He's shorter than I'd imagined, but really cool and genuine. He sung several Christmas numbers including a french one, and shared some thoughts on Christmas and his testimony and experience on his mission. It was really spiritual and moving.
Saturday we had zone training. Really fun, felt a bit odd not giving it, but thinking about all the preparation it takes to prepare them I was grateful it wasn't me presenting.
Other than that we were on our grind. We talked to an abnormal amount of people and found an abnormal amount of people willing to talk to us. It was crazy the people we found that had clearly been prepared to talk to us. Tuesday was really the big day. We fasted. And even though we had 2 rdvs fall through we talked to everyone around us and at the end of the day found 6 potential amis, and a recently baptized man from Canada that had lost contact with the church. Everywhere we turned we found people in some way prepared for us.
Elder Mataalii and I are really clicking together. He is so humble and fun. Its been a fun time already with him. He is so humble that we can be super open with each other and bring out the best each other by expressing our worries or ideas or goals. Its been fun. This week has been one of the most effective weeks of my mission.
One of my favorite miracles was last night. We didnt have any rdvs. After the ward meal, we were asked to go with a recent convert, David to go and administer the sacrament to a sick member unable to come to church. She lived an hour away by car out in the middle of the french countryside, super beautiful. Her name is sister Hughes shes from England and her husband is not a member but really cool. They were happy to have us. She has been unable to come church due to stomach problems for 9 weeks. We administered the sacrament in english and after she just started crying. She told us how she felt so cleansed and purified by the sacrament and how different she felt after taking it. The Spirit was there, it felt really sweet. She told us how people always say you need to go to church cause it makes a difference, that you cant just stay at home and read your scriptures. She told us how she had come to realize how true this was.
 How true it is the scripture: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, as I said unto my disciples, where two or three are gathered together in my name, as touching one thing, behold, there will I be in the midst of them—even so am I in the midst of you." 
We shared with her Alma 7: 10-13 which she told us was the perfect scripture for her considering the fact that it was her bowels giving her problems haha. We talked about the immense love and perfection of the Lord for us. The Spirit was almost tangible, it felt wonderful. And we then got to teach Arthur her husband. It was just a fantastic way to spend our day. I felt assured that we had done the will of the Lord.
I'm so excited to see you this Thursday! I can't wait! It should be around 6pm my time, 12 your time. Stay ready!
Merry Christmas! I love you!

Elder Montgomery

Transfer 13, Week 1 .... December 15, 2014

Chère famille,

What a week!
After getting in Tuesday to Clermont, we spent the entire day Wednesday cleaning the apartment and rearranging. It was in a really bad state. But it feels really good now and is super organized and ready for the transfer.

Because the last transfer was 4 weeks long, this one will be 8 weeks long, so will end in February. We have some extra time to pump up the work here. After doing a complete redo of the apartment, we did an analysis of the area book, what tools we had, and what amis we were currently working with. We'll be starting from almost ground 0. The good news is that the ward is awesome. We have members who really love us and a Ward mission leader who is really gung ho. Plus quite a few awesome young adults. So we have a good base and a bunch of old investigators.

We are currently working with only one investigator. I should say were working with. His name is Yao. He is a young chinese student, who had a baptismal date and has already been taught everything and wants to be baptized, but his work prevents him from coming to church, and he lives with his girlfriend. We saw him twice this past week and he is a really cool and sincere guy. We addressed the problems I just stated on Saturday night and he took them well, but then Saturday night he sent us a text telling us that he thinks we should pause our meetings for a while and never responded after that. So bummer there.

The brightside of all this is Elder Mataalii. I don't know if I've had a companion yet with as much faith and humilityand desire to do good as he has. This transfer will be quite miraculous because of him. We set really good goals and decided that we both want to go all out this transfer. Which sounds normal, but its funny how even as missionaries we find the tiniest reasons or ways to not do things the way we should. We decided openly to each other that we are going to everything the right way, or give our best trying, and smile and spread Christmas cheer the whole way. It's been really fun just being in a normal equipe working and focusing on straight missionary work. 
The city definitely has a different feel than Toulouse. It feels smaller and a bit less busy (one tramline our main transport), but with Christmas time in the air, everybody seems in a hustle and bustle anyways.

The Toulouse Capitole ward is one of the "big" wards in France, lots of well known families and names. Clermont Ferrand is just barely a ward (attendance wise) and has a lot more of a small town feel to it. I translated yesterday in Sacrament meeting for the American family we have in our ward. When people ask I now just say I've been on my mission for a year and a half, which seems really weird and I never thought I'd be saying that.

On Saturday was the ward Christmas Party. It went really well turn out of about 40 people and was a good chance for me to meet everyone, and its clear that the missionaries in this ward are really well loved. Just before 9 oclock they had us 4 missionaries come up to the front, and they presented each companionship (us and the sisters) with a tub of wrapped gifts from the ward members. It was really sweet. ITs been really easy to become friends with everybody. After one week I feel well accepted and good friends with most the ward.

This week went well, we talked to a bunch of people and found a couple solid potentials. Last night on our way home, we became quick friends with a classy African man named Bruno who LOVES the USA. haha it was funny, and he's christian. He quickly agreed to come to our english class on Saturday. That was a fun 4th quarter miracle.

I'm really excited for Christmas skype! I'm not sure on the schedule yet, I'll let you know next monday.

Very excited for this coming week. Christmas miracles are coming!!

"It's a Festivus miracle!"

Beaucoup d'amour,

Elder Montgomery
Les Missionnaires
34 rue Niel 
clermont ferrand, France

The Clermont centreville set up

This is what the tram looks like that we take (mom asked a while ago)

The view from our Apt.

Add caption

Elder Mataalii waiting impatiently for the tram Sunday morning. (Its a 30 minute tram ride to the chapel from our apt.

Transfer 12, Week 4...The next turn in the mission story ... December 9, 2014

Dear Fam,

Never thought I'd be here!
I got transferred to Clermont-Ferrand, a medium sized city west of Lyon, close to the geographical center of France. It sits in a valley of dormant volcanoes, and is known for its black cathedral made molten rock. Quite cool!

I'm serving with Elder Mataalii, a young missionary in his 5th transfer. He is from diamondbar, CA. His mom is from ecuador and his dad from Samoa. I actually did an exchange with him in my first transfer in Toulouse. He is really great. Super willing to work and very non assuming. Just excited to be here, and is really quite cheerful. Super Humble. innocent in a good way, doesn't really care who you are or where you're from just wants to be nice to you. He isn't super skilled or competent but has a huge heart, and its fun to be around him.

It was crazy to get the call, super sad to leave behind all the friends and potential in toulouse. It'll be particularly fun to be serving in just a normal equipe. Elder M and I will just get to buckle down and work. This transfer gives me the opportunity to be the best missionary I've yet to be on my missionary and to do a lot of great missionary work. I'm really quite excited. A new adventure!

We did two exchanges last week, both in Toulouse. We had the baptism of a chinese ami named DanYan, the one that I did the interview for, on Saturday. He asked me to give both talks in the service, and thus I gave two talks in the service. haha

We got a chance to see lots of the families I loved this past week. Including the family Serrano-Milone, the fam Janda, the fam Pichon and of course Sunday we spent the evening with the Cuveliers and Margot. We had a super special and spiritual moment with them. It was incredible. In fast and testimony meeting, after Elder Bollard and I had both already born our testimonies, Fr. Cuvelier got up and basically bore his testimony about his experience with us and what smart and impressive men we are. It was really sweet. He also said that he knew we were specifically called to teach Margot. IT's crazy the miracle that she is. As we were parting ways Sunday evening, we were trying to explain to Mami (Sr Cuvelier's mom) what was happening. Margot said, "he's leaving, thats what happens in missionary work, its not vacation, it's work!" Haha it was great and made me really happy, that she gets it. She gets the gospel and she lives, and because she lives she has been seeing incredible miracles in her life. Incredibly sad to leave but it will make for a very happy reunion one day with that group.

I left Monday afternoon and spent the night in Lyon and Elder Mataalii and I just got in along with the sisters at 2 this afternoon. 
I'm stoked to be here. Time to turn up!

Beaucoup d'amour,

Elder Montgomery
Us and the Family Serrano-Milone

Bishop Janda and I

The crew after our Sunday evening crepes :)

Elder Bollard and I in the train station on monday

William Sighting in the Montpelier Train Station .... December 8, 2014

Will sighting!!

Elder Pettingill's mom shared this with me. He's still smiling! Counting the days till we Skype with him! This photo was taken in the Montpelier train station in Montpelier (southern) France. These two just bumped into each other. Fun visit for them.

Transfer 12, Week 3...Thanksgiving and travelling .... November 24, 2014

Chére famille,

A great week. We had to do an exchange yesterday and so are taking our P-day today.

We started off with lots of travel. We went up to Albi on Tuesday to do an exchange with the Elders up there and I was with Elder Poll and Elder Otteson. We spent the night there, then stayed for the Rodez district meeting, and then went up to Rodez and did an exchange with the Elders there. I was with Elder Smith, a blue missionary from Dallas, Texas. It was a long 2 days but incredibly fun and miracle filled. 

Thursday morning we arrived at the Rodez train station at 730am to take our train back to Toulouse only to find that there had a been asurprise strike and we had to take a travel bus from Rodez to Toulouse...a 4 hour ride. That was a long start to our day. But it was great because we got to share Thanksgiving dinner with the VanTonder family. Sr. VT is from Utah, and Fr. VT is from South Africa, but grew in France. We had another American couple with us, the Turley family, and the Van Tonder's neighbors Christina (spanish) and Peter (German) and their baby boy. It was such a fun time. We ate so much food!!!! It was a legit Thanksgiving dinner. And we had wonderful time explaining the strategies for eating as much food as possible to Peter and Christina. They are way cool. They asked a ton of questions about us and our missios. At the end we shared Because of HIm and He is the Gift with them and the spirit was so strong. It was a wonderful evening. I don't think it could've been better.

We did another exchange Friday, I was with my good friend Elder Mattinson. It was a blast. Friday night I did the baptismal interview for DanYan, a chinese ami. He passed and will be getting baptized on saturday. Really great. With his baptism our entire district will have had a baptism this transfer!

Church was so great. Sadly and a bit annoying because of all the travel we hadnt been able to see Margot until Sunday at church. It was so great to see her. She was railing off some great answers in Sunday school, then would look at us and say that she went to a good school. So funny.

In other news, Pierre Fourtina, my buddy from Lormont (RM from Ogden mission) who is doing his studies here in Toulouse was called as our new DMP on Sunday. Its going to be a blast.

Today we just came here from eating a raqluette lunch with the Cuveliers, Margot and mami. It was a huge meal and lots of laughing. I love these people so much. Just my favorite group. What a wonderful blessing to be here. 

The transfer calls are coming on Friday. Nervous for what will happen. I want so much to stay here for Christmas, but we never know where the Lord will need me. 

We already have a ton of stuff planned out for this Christmas month. For those of you haven't gotten on the He is the Gift train. Get on! Its what we are doing as missionaries is going to every member and inviting them to #sharethegift with all their friends. This is going to be to great! I'm so excited for Christmas! Only 3 weeks!

Beaucoup d'amour,

Elder Montgomery
Thanksgiving table

The turkey

Our Raclette lunch!

Transfer 12 Week 2, A week to remember .... November 24, 2014

Dear Family,

Margot got baptized :) Scare after scare and miracle after miracle happened to keep her until her baptism on Saturday and then her confirmation on Sunday. It was an incredible experience and I feel so blessed to have been a part of it.

This week was another busy one. We started by going to Lyon on Monday for Leadership council which was fantastic, and then had zone training on thursday which went really well. And then the baptism on Saturday!
It's all been rather stressful as we've had no fridge and have been putting our cold things on our window sill. (we'll be getting a new one today) and we've both been low on our mission money.

Leadership council was wonderful. We had a lot of really good practical solutions to unifying our mission. That has been the big focus of late. We are a team. I feel like as a mission we've progressed a lot in our desire and faith in the past little bit. 
Zone Training was awesome. We got to present to our zone the He is the Gift initiative. The church's Christmas program for this year. We are stoked for it. It's going to be awesome.
Margot- So we saw wednesday and she was doing great. Thursday the ward council wanted us to make sure that her husband knew and approved of her baptism. It was a bit nervewracking, but friday morning Fr. Cuvelier called us and told us that everything was good to go and that the husband was fine with it. Saturday we had a great crowd, Fr. Cuvelier performed the baptism, I got to give a talk on the Gift of the Holy Ghost. It was incredible to see Margot's countenance after her baptism and then again after she was confirmed on Sunday. She was glowing. I had never seen nor felt such happiness coming from her. Its a big deal. Margot is great, but she is tad odd. Her Polish background makes her french a bit choppy, and you can tell that she has had some emotional problems in her life. But after the baptism and confirmation she was a different person. It was odd and both elder bollard and I noticed it. Fr. Cuvelier is the stake patriarch and he is the one who confirmed her as well. The blessing he gave to her was incredible. I felt a lot of real power flowing in that circle as I stood in it. Margot may just surprise us all and be the best member ever. It was a really special moment.
A little more info on her: Her Polish name is Malgozata, she has two pHds (one in literature or art, the other in psychology) and has a 21 yr old son and a 17 yr old daughter who is extremely autistic and which takes a large portion of Margot's time.

This coming week we are going to Albi and rodez to do exchanges and district meetings.
Our focus will now shift slightly to Marie-Antoinette who has been taught by the missionaries several times in the past 10 years, but now seems like she is really committed to be baptized on the 6th. We had a FHE with a family in the ward yesterday and she loved it. We'll hope and pray she'll hold strong til her date.

I love you!

Elder Montgomery


Transfer 12 Week 1 ..... November 17, 2014

Dear Family,

I've just accepted that life will be crazy. But thats what makes it fun.

Today we are in Bordeaux, we got in this morning and we are going to catch a plane with some of the other zone leaders in just a couple minutes to go to Lyon for Leadership council tomorrow. I'm writing emails back in my home stadium- the Lormont chapel.

Monday we had our first real downtime in the while and we took advantage of it to clean and prepare, however without a working fridge we didnt really have a good place to put groceries.

Then Tuesday out of nowhere our week changed. As we were leaving for the day the office called and explained to us that Elder Bleak a blue in our zone was on his way up to Lyon for his visa appointment but hadn't taken his legality papers, so they had to return to Toulouse to pick it up, but because of that there were no more trains to take him up to Lyon for his appointment Wednesday morning. So they asked me to use the senior's couple car and drive up to Lyon with him Tuesday night. So after some organizing Elder Bleak and I made the 5 and half hour drive up to Lyon Tuesday night. And then because Elder Bleak has already been in the mission for 3 weeks, they wanted him to stay for blues bring back conference on Friday. So they told us to stay until friday. In the end Elder Bleak and I got to do a 4 day long exchange pulling back into Toulouse Saturday morning. 

Margot. Tuesday, we taught margot just before we left. She had had a great day, hadn't drinken coffee, and was feeling really good about her baptism for this coming Saturday. During my sojourn in Lyon, Elder Bollard called me and told me that her husband (who isn't against her decision to be baptiezed but is certainly not for it) showed the recent article published about mormons in some american papers that was picked up by some french newspapers as well. And apparently it was super tough for her. She really was distraught. I was really frustrated that I couldn't be there. They had another lesson with her friday while I was gone and Fr. Cuvelier whom we teach with everytime came up big in explaining a lot of those big issues and really resolved them for her. She still left feeling uneasy about the idea of Joseph Smith being a prophet and President Monson as well. Her baptismal interview was Sunday just after church and all the talks in Sacrament involved testimonies of Joseph Smith and the restoration. It was awesome! Church was great! Elder Yeung did the interview and 30 minutes later told us that she was fine, and ready to go. He said the only thing is her coffee which we were already aware of, but as of Sunday she had drinken a little bit in the past 5 days and said that it did a lot more pain than good. We then went and saw her last night again at the Cuvelier's home. She is great and has progressed so much and is going to be baptized and all the member's are really stoked. I am really really happy.

This week we will have another busy week, with leadership council, zone training, and the baptism. All very exciting!

I'm just very happy right now.

By the way,the mission secretary called me to confirm my release date with me. It will be July 20th.
 Which is still really far away ;)

I love you all so much,

Elder Montgomery
This was the stake conference venue!

Elder Bleak and I with Elder Erickson (one of the busy office elders) on the phone in between us. OUr exchange was really fun!

Back in my old apartment!