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Monday, February 29, 2016

My top ten!

Hello everyone!! Hope that your week has been fantastic and fun :)

Life here has been GREAT! I just got out of this tour that explained,
in part, a history of Arras, specifically during World War I. It was
very eye opening to learn about all the carnage and horror that was
here about a century ago for people what had about the same age as me.
It reemphasizes the point to live life each day to its fullest!!

Anywho, as for the rest of the week, here are the top 10 or so!!

1. To start, let me tell you about one of the great pleasures of
France. Patisserie and Boulangerie Shops (bread and French baked
treats). They are to DIE for. They start around 5 or so in the morning
with baking all their goods, and that smell stays. Fresh bread and the
goodness of butter... You get a nice wiff of that sweet goodness and
your mind goes into a different world. Cravings for food that you
didn't even know existed erupt in a second... Thankfully, I have
learned a little bit here and there about how to overcome the natural
man and have been able to limit stuffing my face with that type of
cuisine... I mean, I have to find a wife someday... Hopefully... But
anyways, point made-if you ever get the chance to come to France, go
get some French bread and a patisserie. Your life WILL change ;)
2. The second thought is based on a really cool spiritual experience
that I had a church yesterday. One of the lessons that I was in was
talking about how we are children of God, and He has given each of us
special talents! We each have a special mission here. Just take a
moment to think about that. YOU have a special mission here on earth.
That doesn't mean that everything is already set. You have your
choice, but God has put you where you are for a certain reason. He has
given you special talents and gifts that are to help to change the
world! And as children of God, we each have these gifts :) you are
special. I hope that each of you know that, and can find what makes
you you. We cannot find ourselves without coming to know our Father,
the one who knows us better than we even know ourselves. So, if you
don't know why you are here, or what your gifts and talents are, take
a moment and pray/ask to your Father in Heaven. He will help you to
see that you are destined for greatness. It's up to us to choose to
follow that course or not :)
3. Miracles STILL happen!! In the Book of Mormon and Bible, we see
countless examples of miracles! And they aren't over!! We learn from
the Book of Mormon: "33 And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in
me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me. 34
And he hath said: Repent all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me,
and be baptized in my name, and have faith in me, that ye may be
saved. 35 And now, my beloved brethren, if this be the case that these
things are true which I have spoken unto you, and God will show unto
you, with power and great glory at the last day, that they are true,
and if they are true has the day of miracles ceased? 36 Or have angels
ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the
power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall
last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the
face thereof to be saved? 37 Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by
faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear
and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be
unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is
vain (Moroni 7:33-37). This last week we had several miracles, but two
in particular were fantastic! We gave two blessings this week. They
were to less active members in our ward. Both for healing. The first
was to a man who had an issue, with what was thought to be cancer, but
it was a different problem with his kidneys. After being diagnosed, we
offered him a blessing. The spirit was strong, and he was blessed to
be healed if the will of the Lord, and since then, he has been feeling
great! What was also really cool, is that right after, I had a
distinct promoting to tell him how much God loved him. His response
was that sometimes he forgets. I promised him of that love, and I hope
that you nor he ever forget that you have a Father in Heaven who cares
about you. He worried when you worry, and rejoices in your happiness.
He cares about how you feel, even right now :) don't forget it! The
second one was a similar situation, except with a problem in the back.
He was unable to work because of it. He received a blessing and in it,
it said that he would be healed by the will of our Father in Heaven,
and immediately afterward he was able to move more and began to see
progress in how he felt. Again, I had a promoting to promise him that
in the life to come that he would have a perfected body. The spirit
was strong. What I think is really cool is how the spirit worked
through us to address both their physical AND spiritual concerns. They
both needed healing in both ways, and as representatives of Christ, we
blessed them to heal, but then the spirit guided us to help them heal
spiritually-in knowing that they were loved by God, and the promise of
a perfect body later. I think that that is what Christ did when it
says that He healed them, but then commands them to be made whole.
4. Alright, another miracle!! We have two new investigators!! Oh yes!!
They are the mother and step father of a member in the ward! We have
been working with this member and her family a lot recently in sharing
the gospel and being strengthened spiritually, and this last week, we
had dinner with the family and her mother and step-father! It went
great! We talked about the miracle of the Savior's atonement and how
it helped us overcome the pains of this life, and enables us to live
again. All in all, we have a rendezvous set, not for this week, but
the next at their home!! (We will be eating with them too!! :D )
5. Another member invited us over for dinner this week, along with an
inactive friend! And the inactive friend actually picked us up to take
us there! It went really well! We are in the process to make a family
home evening for the singles (young and old) here at the church, and
we will be invited him soon! It's amazing to see the impact that
members AND missionaries can have together!
6. The last point brings me to this point as well. We had our
sacrament meeting for our ward mission plan!! (In the email last week,
I may have said that it was this coming week... Well if I did, I was
wrong haha). I gave a talk about the joy of the gospel (Lehi's dream
and the fruit) and how we are simply here as missionaries to help the
members do their missionary work. The members will stay, but we won't,
so if it's going to pick up, then it's by both of us working together.
My companion and a sister missionary did a piano and voice duet, which
was great! All in all, it seemed to really touch the members :)
7. I'm sure that a lot of you have questions about the cheese here,
and let me just say that I LOVE it!! It is AMAZING! It smells like a
foot though... When I got here, I thought that someone died when I
first smelled it... Then I realized that I was going to actually put
the thing that smelled like death.. in my mouth... One of the best
decisions ever :) the cheese is so incredible! It's nothing like our
American slices... That's for sure...
8. We had some fun service!! We went to a member's home for some great
food! They made us a pot roast in memory of our wonderful upbringings
:D and then, we went to help their daughter and her husband. The
daughter is less active and the husband is not a member. They own this
tower... And well the tower fell down.. And there was rumble and brick
in their neighbor's yard... So we helped them move it for a couple of
hours to their property! It brought back the good old memories of
heavy lifting from football!! ...yeah I may have lost some of what I
had... And that French cuisine doesn't help ;) but, it was a great
opportunity to help them out and we will see for the future with
potential teaching opportunities :)
9. This one is simple. Smile. I have been trying to smile a lot more-
and it actually just makes you happier!! Singing works too :) it's
amazing to see how much joy you can share by simply smiling at someone
else!
10. I'm super excited about these two, but we have some news! Elder
Christofferson is coming to our stake conference in two weeks!!
Woooo!!! And we are planning a huge finding day the Saturday before
it. The finding day will be with all the missionaries from the
district (missionaries from Amiens and St. Quentin), and with as many
members as possible. We are sending a blitz for Arras and will doing a
BOM stand in the Saturday market, going on splits with all the members
to visit less actives, contacting, porting, and seeing miracles :) oh!
I guess the third announcement is that we will be doing a music night
in the middle of March, with the goal to have every member bring a
friend or a less active to it. It will be an open mic sort of
activity... But more planned. The work is really going to get going :D
11. So, I had the goal to not be a socially awkward missionary before
I left.. But I think that it may have happened to me anyways... That's
was happens when you don't go on a date for a year and a half.. I have
been trying to figure out how to talk to people more naturally on
busses and get it to the gospel without having to start a conversation
and then cut it in the middle and say, "Weeeell actually I'm a
missionary here..." Or "actually, I'm here because..." Haha, I'm
actually not really that bad at making it flow, but it is one of my
goals to make it better :)
So all in all, miracles still happen today. Christ lives. He KNOWS you
and He LOVES you! You are a child of God with a destiny of hope and
success!! Know its true :) I hope to hear back from all you :) have a
fun week!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Why is Life Soooo Great?

Mom AND Dad!! So I am combining my letters to you!! Dads is the one
following:

To the MOST BEAUTIFUL and dearest Mother,
Hi :) ...that’s weird that you’re doing homework... My, my things have
changed haha!

It sounds like Kale did phenomenal in basketball :) I’m proud of him!
I think that I am going to look into the Come Follow Me format and
read about it a little bit :) I bet that it can really help me in my
district meetings.

Anywho, so I know that in weeks past I have said that I will write
more about that week at a future time or something like that... But I
can’t remember exactly what I had intended to write about and all
that, so I’m sorry that I forgot to do that.. BUT with that, I am
going to really try to better explain how everything is going here in
Arras. So here are the TOP 15 of the week!! ..they aren’t necessarily
in order of best to worst or anything like that.

1.   THE WARD IS AMAZING!! I LOVE this ward. I am the closest with this
ward than any others so far on my mission! I really feel like a part
of my family and I have so many friends here. It’s AWESOME!

2.   I know that it may seem like the work isn’t going too great here,
but that’s not true! The work is DIFFERENT here ;) but I’m serious!
These last couple of transfers we-the Arras missionaries, and the
Bishop and our Ward Mission Leader- have really tried to find out how
to progress the missionary work here and it’s all through the members.
Too often a lot of missionaries just get stuck with contacting and
tracting, and there is a better way to finding, and it’s the through
the members. In fact, we had a missionary broadcast that explained
that we as missionaries needed to be working with less actives and
members and trying to teach the people that they know. It was a HUGE
confirmation that the plan that we had established here in Arras is
what we need to be doing!! And it’s been taking time to get this going
because before, missionaries didn’t necessarily have the trust of the
ward and so we had to make some way before things will start. It’s the
foundation! But the trust is back and there are miracles happening and
about to happen! I’m certain of it! One of the ladies in our ward- who
we were working with- talked with one of her friends about the gospel,
who felt lost and was searching. This friend then had an incredible
rendezvous with this sister and the sister missionaries about the
restoration! Another family, with whom I really love-the Rulence
family- (the mom) is planning on giving us a referral for one of her
friends. Another lady in the ward is having us over for a message this
week, and then we will be serving her daughter and her husband, by
helping them with their house, and they are less active and not member
:) it’s really cool because we are changing the way that missionary
work is done! We are creating a missionary army with the ward and we
will all be working together to share the gospel! It’s so important
that the members do the work with us, because they are the ones who
are staying! I couldn’t tell you how excited I am! Truth be told, the
missionaries in the future will be profiting from our hard work-but
hey, we all have our roles to play :) it’s not that we are planting
seeds, but helping the people here harvest with us. I firmly believe
that there are people ready NOW, and although I do think that
missionaries will prosper in the future from this, I know that
miracles will happen everyday if we believe and go out expecting them

3.   One example of what I just mentioned is that this last Saturday, we
had 4 groups of members-one missionary in each group- and went up to a
town north with the goal to visit the less actives up there, invite
them to church, see if even the information was right about their
addresses and phones and so forth, and ask them for other people that
they know that we could teach, and it was really great! (That was
organized by us, the missionaries :) ) In fact, I was with a member
couple and although we couldn’t find the less  active’s address, we
spoke with a kind, young man and we shared with him about the plan of
salvation. The members were able to see how to be missionaries and it
was so neat! The spirit of missionary work is really growing :)

4.   Fought for a fire! This one is really random, but every two weeks,
we go serve our DMP (Ward Mission Leader.. In french). Yes, that was
who I helped with the geese... We actually killed those geese and ate
them in goose pie the next week... I believe that I failed to mention
that I killed a goose in that email... With a hatchet.. When I left on
a mission, I never would have thought that I would be killing goose
and eating them the following week... It was really interesting.. (WHAT!!)
ANYWHO! This last week, we helped clear trees and vines and hedge-like
things that were blocking the sunlight from his garden.. And then we
burned the little twigs of them. Well it turned into us fighting for
the fire- trying to get the twigs burned. It had snowed the night
before, so we were struggling to get the fire going.. And we had to
constantly move the huge pile of twigs and wood-like substance to burn
it- I mean a HUGE PILE- like taller than me.. The pile really didn’t
want to die, and well... It didn’t play fair... Twigs were poking in
places that twigs should never be poking!! So to fight back our DMP
out some oil on it... Take that twigs...

5.   Quick note- it’s BEAUTIFUL here! I’m pretty sure that I have the
best mission because it it truly lovely here :) the architecture is
stunning and we had one gorgeous day here last week. The day or so
after that it snowed, but we don’t talk about that ;) I may or may not
have briefly thought about my love for snowboarding that day :)

6.   One of the less actives that we work with came to sacrament with
his two children!! It’s been really cool to work with them! We are
finding ways to serve them and will actually be (more so the sisters
than us) teaching the kids English. The dad is a single man and
doesn’t get off work until 7:30, so we are putting together a plan so
that the kids can go to a different member’s house (preferably one
with kids their same age), one night out of the week, so that they can
have good influences, make friends, and get away from the video games
that swamp their minds.

7.   The Tongan less active that we work with came to church this week!!! :)))

8.   COOL NEWS! The Bishop really trusts us and has been working really
hard to help us. We have a sweet ward mission plan and Bishop asked us
to run/plan a whole sacrament meeting-however we want- to present it!
SO SWEET!! I’ll keep you posted on that one :) it’s in two weeks :O

9.   Random story- last night, we got home and were exhausted and were
planning.. And all of the sudden we hear what sounds like a door
slam... Then what sounds like foot steps coming up the stairs... We
had thought that we had locked the door!!  I’m not going to lie, I was
pretty scared.. But I got up the courage to go and look- and it was
just the door to our bedroom... Flapping in the wind of the window..
Thanks a lot bedroom door...

10. I wanted to share a thought about how we need to live our prayers.
I heard in sacrament meeting last week in a talk about how when we
pray, it is then our responsibility to go and make that prayer come
true. How cool is that?!? Too often we pray, but we lack the faith-
because faith is an action- to go and make it happen. By praying we
read the directions for how to turn on the lamp, and God shows us
where the switch is, but WE need to be the ones to switch it. I
thought that was pretty cool :)

11. Miracle! So throughout my mission, one of my biggest struggles has
been feeling like I am different than a lot of other missionaries.
Unfortunately, because our mission is harder, missionaries have not
always worked as hard as they should have... But I have stayed true to
my committee to give my whole heart. I contact on trains, buses, and
trams. I strive to use all of my time to share the gospel :) and
President is now pushing that the whole mission start to talk to
people on busses, trains, and trams now too!! He is trying to change
the culture and amp the faith and obedience of missionaries! I am
sooooo happy about it :) we are out here to represent Jesus Christ,
and give our whole hearts!! :)

12. And well, to be honest, I wasn’t sure of this one was going to be
on the list, but it has turned into one. I went to Paris on Wednesday
and got my new companion. I asked him about his goals and expectations
and all he said is that he wanted to work hard. Sweet! So do I :)
..Well... It seemed like it would be going okay, but then his attitude
plummeted...  And it was just like how it was with my third transfer
companion in Valenciennes... Like almost twins. They were grumpy,
never smiling, had an attitude, not nice in their tone of voice, and
clearly depressed... He wouldn’t really talk to me- was super angry
and ...yeah... So I was been praying for him a ton, and I had tried to
talk to him and he just got really angry at me... But it was clearly
about something else and he was taking it out on me. Mom, I didn’t let
myself get stepped on and told him that I had done nothing wrong and
he needed to it take it out on me. But he didn’t really want to talk
after that. He just wanted to stop talking... It was really weird...
Well Saturday night, he just went to bed early, so I decided to shine
his shoes... Sunday it was a little better, but I could still tell
that he was not doing well... His attitude wasn’t really the best...
Then this morning it was bad again. We were planning during comp
study, and his attitude and participation was really quite terrible. I
asked him what was going on, and he was so angry. Like Anikan eyes.
And he became so angry. I told him that he had no reason to be
treating me like this. But he would really talk. He wouldn’t really
talk at all, and during it, I was praying to know what to do. I
blasted hymns during cleaning to help bring in spirit (he also likes
hymns so it was good), and finally felt prompted to go and talk to
him. He had told me a few days earlier that he just wanted to be work
companions. And so I reminded him of how he had told me that, and then
asked him if he felt like he had even been a good work companion. He
started to cry and opened his arms up for a hug. I hugged him and he
said that he was so sorry. I told him that I forgave him, and he
started to tell me what the problem was. He had been  struggling with
serious anxiety and it was really scaring him, and he was really
scared about what it would mean because of pressures from home. I was
able to talk to him about experiences that I had had where the
adversary was really close and how the blessing from Elder Webb really
helped me. He then said that he felt like the adversary had been right
there- and that I had seen. When he was angry, it was clear that
someone else was constantly influencing him. I was able to give him a
blessing and he has been doing better since. Mom, this week, I have
been doing a TON better spiritually and I feel like I am becoming the
missionary that was spoken of in the blessing that was given to me
from Dad before I left. I am overcoming all the things that before
were really difficult for me, and I feel that the adversary knows that
and he was trying to stop us. I know that this work will go on, and
the field is white here, and I feel that the adversary has been really
trying to stop that as well. How cool is it that my difficultly with
him in the past has helped me understand how to better serve another
of God’s children?! So the last couple of days have been interesting
with my companion, and I would love it if you will keep him in your
prayers.

13. Really quick, I have found that one of the keys for me in times
when I have felt spiritually lost is to remember my relationship with
God. I am a son of God! God is my Father and He loves me. I just need
to take a moment and remember that. That’s all I need to focus on for
a bit and then think about how I can show Him that I love Him. That’s
the gospel! The first commandment is to love Him. He wants us to “fly”
and “touch the sky”. He cheers us on to “go the distance”! We are
never alone! We just need to remember this and come to Him! Even if we
are like the prodigal son, He will come running to us and hug you and
rejoice for thou hast returned!! He loves each of us all so much! We
should never fear Him. Satan would have us fear Him, but we should be
strong in the knowledge that He is LOVE! When I remember that, it can
help out things back in perspective :)

Mother, I LOVE you. I’m shining my light and LOVE it here!! Thank you
for teaching me to be grateful and for helping me to feel loved. You
are splendid in every way, and know I am always in your heart!

To the best father in the whooooole world!! (That’s you!)

Daddo!! So, know that the top 10 part of mom’s letter is written also
to you as well.

I was reading your thoughts on charity this morning while my companion
was not talking to me and in a really interesting mood. That was
ironic haha... I hope that I don’t come across negative with my
companion. I wanted to present the situation for how it is, but in all
honestly, I feel positive about it. It will work out! I just want to
make sure that I’m not being negative or degrading towards him at all.

Send my love for the Cahoons and Hazel and Lisa. They are amazing.
I really enjoyed what you said about the talents and missions. However, this is a 5 talent mission ;) we will be having some success!! :)

Dad, I couldn’t tell you how much I LOVE it here!! I love the people!
I love the culture, the ward, the food, and we both know that I love
the challenge!! This mission has helped me in so many ways and I can
see how it is the one of the greatest blessings of my life.

This has to be the greatest mission! I mean it’s PARIS!! The France
Paris Mission! (I don’t know why it’s backwards...) but you can’t beat
that!! I am so blessed. I feel like Ammon who boasts in his God! I
blast of my God in blessing me with this mission :) one day, I will
bring you all back and introduce you to all of my friends here.
Know that I love you!!! I could never be where I am now without you
and mom :) thanks for everything!! And thank you for the package that
is being sent!! :) I am so lucky to have you as parents:)))

Don’t hesitate to write me a letters;)
Love, Elder Jacob Lucas


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Lessons learned from Mission Life

Dad,

We had quite the miracle this last week!! We are working with a man who is less active, and has struggled throughout his life to be active. We will call him Kent. Kent has been wanting to stop smoking for several years, but has really struggled with it. He had a resolution that he would stop this year. This last week, we had an appointment with him, and we asked him about it. He wasn’t doing too great with it, so we talked about how and when he could stop. He said that he wanted to stop when he got settled, which was confusing because we had just helped him move, and we thought that he had just settled. However, he went on to tell us that he had moved because this lady had apparently had a little crush on our friend, Kent, and wanted to get with him, but unfortunately for her... he wasn’t really interested, so in anger, she started to do things to make his life as difficult as possible. She was one of his neighbors and would dingdong ditch him during the night, or blast music as loud as she could.. And just really make normal life hard. So he moved!! ..Only to discover that her brother happens to live above him in his new apartment... And the brother started to do the same thing that the sister had  doing before... So if you ever have a bad day, be grateful that you’re not getting dingdong ditched at midnight... Even after moving! Count those blessings ;) Anywho, so we discussed how to help him, but he still seemed really hesitant to stop smoking. We were able to help him open up with his concerns and then talk about how to address him. Then, we felt prompted to offer to give him a blessing. He said that he would like one. We gave him one, and the spirit was amazingly strong during it, promising him that if he would have faith-shown by his actions-that he would overcome. Kent, before the blessing was doubting and discouraged, but after was confident and had a total change about him. He had a determination to change.

Brother Gladden (his previous seminary teacher) wrote Jacob and asked him to share an experience he has had in the scriptures.  He shared his reply in this letter:  

I was having a particularly difficult morning with feeling emotionally and spiritually fatigued, and started my personal study with a very sincere prayer for help and to know what to do in my situation. I then started my studies in the BOM, and I was studying Ether chapter 6. In verse three it states, “3 And thus the Lord caused stones to shine in darkness, to give light unto men, women, and children, that they might not cross the great waters in darkness.” It really touched me that it was THE LORD who gave the stones light. I asked myself who the stones were and I imagined how they would feel being alone to shine their light in the darkness. I then cross referenced the scripture to the analogy in John 15, where Christ is the vine and we are the branches. I realized that in a way that I am a stone! If they (the stones or the branches) stay grafted into the vine, then they will have the strength necessary to have the fruit that they need. The Savior is that vine. And look what the Lord does to those who DO bring forth fruit! In John 15:2, we learn that the Lord will purge or PURIFY OR TEST those who bring forth fruit! He tests us- which will enable us to bring forth more fruit. I feel that it is that way with missions. We are given opportunities to be tested and refined because we ARE doing all we can to bring forth fruit. But if we stay grafted to the vine, we will have the strength necessary. I then carried the analogy further and found it interesting that before, all the stones were together. The prophet had brought them to the Lord and in Ether 3, the Lord touched them one by one!! That’s just like me with my friends and family back home. We were all touched and given light one by one. Or as missionaries, we are chosen by the Lord- through the prophet- to go and give light in specific places. The stones had been molten- refined and purified, just as a man should be preparing for the mission. Then, we are separated to go and be lights for the people so that they can reach the “promised land”. What’s also interesting is that the only way to the promise land is through the water. BAPTISM! And in Ether 6:4, the people ACT on their decision to leave and prepare- just like the invitations that we give to people as missionaries. At the end of the verse, it talks about them commending themselves to God. Is that not baptism?? We are promising to take His name upon us in all times, things, and places. We truly commend ourself to Him! And then in verse 5, the Lord sends a wind- which causes waves- or trials- and because of that, the boats would probably go under the sea!
I believe that we each have a wind from Him to help us come to our promised land, and too often we see them only as waves. In verse 10, we learn that there was light continually throughout the whole voyage, and to bring it all back around, I feel that a mission is often like that. Before, all the stones were together and they were touched by the finger of the Lord. I came from a family that had the gospel of the Lord. Together, we grew and were touched. And then I was separated from them to give the light that I had discovered from the Savior to other people. I might feel like there is less light because I am not with them. However, I must remember who gave me the light in the first place! It was He who will continue to give me light, no matter how deep under the ocean we may feel, or how desperate for air we feel. For He is our Savior and Master! And in the situation that I was in, I needed to be more grafted to the vine, and through the BOM, and I found the strength that I needed. Sorry that was really long but in case you missed my long spiritual thoughts, there is one!! :)
Dad, know I love you! Please share that with Bro Gladden, I’m running out of time... But to sum it up, know that I know that this is no small cause that I am here today to share this message of the Savior, Jesus Christ. It is no small task or responsibility. I have been set apart and I will not deny the gift that is in me!! I will fight to the end! I will be strong-even if no one else around me is! I will shine my light to all and never give up!! And I love this mission :)

And love you too!!


Jacob 

Jacob will be staying in Arras for another 6 weeks, his companion Elder Tibbits is being transferred to Paris and he will get a new companion on Wednesday. He sent some fun pictures of their last few days together.

The streets of Arras with Jacob's narration..press the play arrow

Elder Tibbits...press the play arrow

Posing Elder T and Elder L

The "Bad Haircut" place

Arras architecture

Cathedral in Centerville

P-day sight seeing!

Frenchies!