Monday, May 8, 2017

Baptism Weeks - Weeks 99 and 100

Hello. Happy beginning of summer. (at least for school getting out)

Being in the big city of Lyon, you run into random groups of missionaries who just happen to come to the city. We were walking to the office on Tuesday to grab something and we run into some other guys who are from another city outside of Lyon. So of course we just took the occasion to go out to lunch with them. Turns out they lost their keys on the beach the day before and had to come up to Lyon to get their spare set. 

Later that night we took a train down to Gap because Elder Preator had to start his legality papers. The mission knows where to send missionaries because some of the city halls are harder to do legality in then others. But we got to go to Gap the night before and we had a couple of hours so we went and visited some old members from back in the day when I was there. Apparently the missionaries there haven't been able to see this certain family for a few months and they haven't been coming to church but we showed up and of course they were surprised to see us but they let us in and we talked for a bit. I forgot how small of a city Gap is. Being able to walk across it in 20 minutes makes it a lot different then Lyon. We also surprised the family that got baptized while I was there. It was the funniest to see their reaction when I just showed up on their doorstep. I'm still pretty sure that I'm the tallest person that they know. 

We got up the next morning and turned in Elder Preator's papers and then did what any other missionaries would do and went to the only Chinese buffet in town. We caught our train back to Lyon and I had forgotten how cool it is to take a train out of Gap since it's in the middle of the French Alps.

We went and visited this older couple in the ward this week to introduce them to my new comp. We shared a video about the Paris temple and of course they are excited to have one in France but they've actually served in the Switzerland Temple presidency three times so their temple will always be in Switzerland. They're just a really funny old couple who make fun of each other and right when we were about to leave they told us we couldn't leave yet since they made a bunch of crepes for us to eat. So of course we couldn't be rude so we ended up eating all of them.

The Clermont Elders came in for an exchange this week and so we called a bunch of extra people to try and fix extra rendez vous so that both companionships would be busy all day long. Well it turned out that every single one of them fell through. That's missionary life for ya. The Clermont guys left that night and Elder Preator and I went to another visit that we had scheduled and of course the only one where it was actually me and my actual comp, they were home. So it wasn't all bad. 

We had our P-day on Tuesday instead of Monday because every May 1st here in France is their labor day where literally everything is closed. No stores, no transport, nothin'. Since we knew everybody would be home, we just decided to walk around the entire city and visit them all instead which turned out pretty well. We even went and helped the Chinese Elders teach one of their Chinese members he told us about how he just went to the Paris Temple open house. Oh, and we ate a bunch of Chinese snacks. Yum! Which is definitely a lot different then American or French stuff. 

A lot of things are normally closed in France on Mondays so we were able to do things that we normally couldn't since we had P-day on Tuesday. There is this museum in Lyon called the Musée des Confluences, which the thing looks like a spaceship from the outside, and we ended up staying there for 3 hours looking at exhibits ranging from cultural history to the way death is seen around the world to everything you can think or know about venom. It's been a long time since I've learned that much new information so I had a headache afterwards from reading most of the things in there. The best part was that college kids get in for free and I had my BYU ID on me and they said that worked. Cool. 

We had a district meeting where we got this brilliant idea (or something like that) and decided to play the Newlywed Game but with each companionship. Basically the questions ranged from what Disney character would your comp date to what would your comp eat on a romantic night out. And surprisingly one of the companionship got the 2nd question right when they said cereal. Who knew. We ended up making some English food since we have three Brits around to do it and I ended up helping a bunch because of all the time I've been with English kids. 

A couple of our investigators got baptized on Saturday. It was pretty cool because they had invited a bunch of their family and they showed up early so we talked to them for a bit and one of them even came to church the next day. We had a pretty solid turnout of over 50 people there and our investigators even made food for everyone afterwards. 

We ate with one of the senior couples on Sunday. He has been a stake president and after eating and making the brownie mix that you sent, Mom, he told us their conversion story and how to better run the wards here in France. Apparently in his home stake, they have over a 90% retention rate. So we'll see what we can do. 

That's really it for the week. Talk ya soon. 

Elder BAW

Julie and her Mom that I taught and baptized in Gap

The District

The newest members of the church

Monday, April 24, 2017

And Loving Tahitian Food - Weeks 97 and 98

Hello. I never got around to doing a weekly email last week because I just didn't but here ya go. Only have three more of these to skip, uh I mean do. 

Speaking of which. This is the beginning of all the endings. Last transfer, last companion, last city, last everything. It's kind of a weird feeling that keeps setting in the longer the month goes on. Plus everyone makes jokes about me going home so that never helps out. 

Well just like you know, two weeks ago was transfer day and so I said goodbye to Elder Masters which is always weird when you've spent every day with someone for three months. That's a mission for ya. Since we are in Lyon though, we were at the train station pretty early so we saw a lot of people coming in and out of Lyon since it's one of the big hubs in the mission for transfers. We basically just help get missionaries to their trains on time with all their luggage. It might be a sight to see when you see like fifteen people with forty pieces of luggage wearing white shirts and ties and others wearing skirts in a big pack going to a train that leaves in four minutes and you have to shove all their luggage on the train. 

Since we still have the 2nd biggest apartment in Lyon, we house a lot of people in our place the night before a mission conference. Normally we have only two guys in our place and a year ago, there were four people living in the same apartment but we were able to fit nine guys in there. Literally, the entire floor of the apartment had mattresses on it. It's always funny when you're with a lot of people in the morning because everyone has their own alarm that they use to wake up and since they're not all perfectly synced, at around 6:30 am, there were about a dozen alarms with different sounds going off. Maybe a new idea for some new type of music? 

At the conference, since Sister Brown was in charge of a game, she did her normal thing and showed us some type of sports highlights/movie clip/whatever and somehow relates it to the gospel. This time she featured Cinderella. But the funny part of the whole thing was that the game we played was that we were in teams of two and one person was blindfolded and the other person took a shoe off and threw it in a pile. And it's not like there were just ten people, there were at least fifty people so not a bad amount of shoes there. Sister Brown said start and everyone ran to the pile of shoes and somehow my shoe got kicked and it flew into the air and right into the hands of my partner. So he grabbed it and we won! And we weren't just playing for nothing, we won some Lindt chocolate bunnies! And that's expensive chocolate for missionaries. We weren't joking around. Incidentally, I learned that Lindt here is different in America. It's much better here. No surprise there. 

But the whole idea of the conference was about the temple and how to use it more in our daily work. But what's been cool is that President Brown has wanted us to do our own family history work so that when the temple dedication comes around, we'll have found someone that we can do ordinances for sometime. 

After the conference we basically did a wild goose chase looking for a bag of one of the Elders in Bordeaux who was supposed to fly home that day but he couldn't find his bag with his passport in it so he couldn't fly back. Well long story short, the office Elders took it for some reason and didn't tell anyone and so it was in their apartment. 

We had a district meeting, which just turned into a zone meeting because both of the districts come to Lyon and we always eat together. Well since we have three Tahitians in our zone, we got them to make us some real Tahitian food. Basically just a lot of fish and vegetables and this thing called poé (a Tahitian fruit pudding) which is really good and someone should learn how to make it for me. Thanks. I've never really had Tahitian food before and that makes twice in two weeks

We visited one of the older couples in our ward this week and it was one of the funniest lunch appointments I've been to. He is a high councilor and the entire time he was making jokes and they were making fun of each other. He was making everything a lot more dramatic then it needed to be and would pound on the table for his wife when he wanted more food. Everything in a joking matter of course but when you're in your 70's and just make fun of each other in front of the missionaries, I think you've got a good relationship. 

We've got a couple of investigators who are getting baptized in a few weeks and we've had some really cool rendez vous' with them lately. We've been teaching them for a few months now and they've been talking about how they've already been baptized and all that stuff. Well they've slowly been changing that thought and I think a major reason why is that we've made the temple the end goal for them instead of baptism and they see that their decision of being baptized and going to the temple isn't just for them but for all of their ancestors and good stuff. We've found out that the videos that the church has produced has made a huge difference. I'm not sure if you've ever seen How Rare a Possession, a true story about guy in Italy who finds a copy of the Book of Mormon. Our investigator saw it and it changed her mind about being baptized because she thought she was too old and seeing this other guy in the movie change religions and getting baptized again really made her want to. Anyways, I'll keep you updated on that one too. 

After church yesterday, there was a rugby game, a soccer game and the presidential elections going on here so as we were walking about, we saw people wearing a lot of different colors for all the teams that were playing and people handing out pamphlets for different candidates. Every time someone tries to give us something, we just say we're Americans and they leave real quick. Funny how that happens.

Well. That's all folks. 


Monday, April 10, 2017

Becoming a Tahitian - Week 96

This week was a pretty solid one. For some reason, the last week of the transfer, when we don't actually have any missionary meetings and just have plenty of time to do things, lots of stuff happened. 

And also at the end of every transfer, we go to President's house to hang out with everyone in the Lyon area and eat whatever American food Sister Brown cooks up. She always makes way too much and ends up just giving it to us as we are leaving. She also keeps a huge candy jar full and makes sure we have full pockets leaving. She's basically like that grandma that just spoils everyone. I did get to play basketball with Elders Wade and Zhu for like three hours so that was fun.

There is a less active member that we go and visit every week who is Chinese who also speaks English. Every time before we go over to see him, I have the Chinese Elders teach me funny things to say in Chinese. So every time I see a Chinese person, I break out my few lines of Chinese that I have learned and they always laugh. It probably doesn't help when they hear a tall white kid asking them "Am I tall?" when they're already having to strain their neck to look at me. But hey, it works out every time. 

Another member that we've been working with a ton lately has been less active for a few years and we've been able to get him to come back to church a lot lately and he's probably going to be coming to the temple dedication next month which will be sweet. He had us over to his place for a BBQ with one of his buddies. They both play professional rugby so when they do a BBQ, they mean it. Like at least 15 pounds of food and we ate all of it. It was pretty funny seeing these two huge islanders around this tiny BBQ with two American guys in white shirts listening to some Reggae music. Such is the life here sometimes. But the other guy is from New Zealand and his whole family is Mormon and he even has a couple cousins who play volleyball for BYU so that's sweet. We'll see what we can do with him.

The next day, the guys from Clermont came down and we did an exchange with them and I went with Elder Thomas who is in his first month on his mission. New missionaries are best. They're still trying to figure things out and if you're older in the mission, they just think you're the best missionary ever. Well, we took the car that they have and tried to go and visit a few people who live a little ways out. One of the people we tried to visit didn't answer their door and then she actually pulled up right when we were leaving and yelled at us and said "Hey, I know you. You're the Elders. I have to go now but come by some other time." We didn't have to say a word. Well at least she's interested. 

Later that night we went with all the Elders in Lyon that are in our zone and ordered some pizzas and we all slept at one person's apartment and played some card games and just had some fun. As much fun as missionaries can while going to bed at 10:30. And no we don't have parties every day, we had transfer calls the next morning. I am staying in Lyon for my last transfer and I get a new companion, Elder Preator.

After playing our usual basketball on Saturday morning, we went and visited a few people through out the day and then we had our Tahitian night with the ward. They went all out and made real Tahitian food and had real instruments from the islands and did real dances. And then that's where the missionaries come in We danced the Haka in our white shirts and ties. The ward was definitely entertained. Haha. 

That's about it. Have a good week. 

Practicing the Haka

Monday, April 3, 2017

Birthdays all Around! (and lots of pictures) - Weeks 94 and 95

Hello. Another quick update from the middle of France.

One of the senior couples that works in the office are from Australia and they invited us over to eat with them last week. They actually had just come from serving in Chalon so they gave me a nice update of everyone and of everything that was going on up there. They're actually converts and they told us their whole story and I think the coolest part was when he told us his the story of when he was called as a Stake President. He had some pretty sweet experiences with some apostles and the things about the temple since the temple is in his area. Basically I think we need to take a trip down to Australia one day because they make it sound really cool. Not that it wasn't already. 

A few weeks ago, a member here was talking about how he had found some basketball hoops that were shorter then normal ones and he wanted to go play on them. And of course, being tall and being told of these said hoops that I could dunk on, I was down for it. We went and found the hoops on P-day and played for a few hours and since everyone was shorter then me, everyone on my team just threw the ball up in the air and I would go and get it and dunk it. Pretty awesome!

My birthday was on March 19th and I got pretty good at just kind of casually dropping the information to people that it was my birthday and not being that guy who just tells everyone they meet it's their birthday and it worked out pretty well for me. The weekend of my birthday was full of free food. Between eating with missionaries a few times, going out to lunch with some investigators and having a member from the other ward take us out, it turned out being pretty great. Even the Sister missionaries brought a cake to church to celebrate and made party hats to go along with it. And everyone who we have been working with came to church that day which almost never happens.
We also got to teach all the young men in the ward about what it's like to be a missionary. Being in France, there aren't as many people who go on missions and come back to the wards so it was pretty fun explaining to them what life is like as a missionary. "Yeah we get up at 6:30 am everyday." "No we don't get to take a Sunday nap." "Yeah we do go and talk to strangers all day on the street." 

My mission President's birthday was actually the day after mine and so he invited all the missionaries in Lyon to go to lunch on Monday. Before we all went to lunch, we went on a tour around the old part of Lyon by an older ward member and he explained the history of the area and took us through all these passages and tunnels through buildings. It was pretty cool. And then afterwards, we all had lunch and President even bought us ice cream. What a nice man. 

Later on in the week we had a Zone Conference and I had my interview with President Brown. I was able to ask him about how he decided what to study in college since that's basically what I've been thinking about lately. Sometimes you just think these people who have had a lot of success in life had it easy but usually it's the opposite. It's always enlightening talking to President.

The next day for Zone Conference was fun. Zone Conferences are always a good time to be with other people and friends that I don't get to see very often and just sit around and listen and talk for a while. We also had a District Meeting where we took a field trip out this place called the Confluence in Lyon. You could just look it up and see some of the pretty cool pictures I would imagine. That's where the Only Lyon sign and where all the pictures come from. We then went and made French toast (shout-out to Trevor for the best district meeting meal idea ever) and of course everyone loved it.

I thought my moving days were over but a counselor in the bishopric asked us to go and talk to this family who was moving and so we spent one morning packing this huge van for a family in our ward who is moving to Bordeaux. At least I was well practiced. It's always cool being in a small city in the French countryside. 

And of course we just watched General Conference all weekend. It's always funny since it's all the members are together watching it and then all the missionaries are usually sitting in some small room together all watching it in English. It's just not the same when it's not in the original language. 

Happy Spring!

Zone Conference

The District

Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me...

President's birthday lunch and tour