Monday, July 27, 2015

Week Something or Other - Week 7

Oh man! What a crazy few weeks it has been. It's been almost two weeks since the last time I've been able to talk about what's happened. So let's go on a crazy ride in this week's, "What has happened with Elder Wilson?" 

Let's start off all the way back to when I was still at the MTC. The day was Saturday I believe. Saturday the 18th of July. It was the last day of our classes and we were all getting excited to actually leave that prison-like place of learning ... Yeah. It had been a long but fun six weeks and we were all ready to go out and experience the real world here in France. Little did we know that wasn't actually going to be the case. We went about our Sunday thinking of all the things we had done and went around saying our goodbyes to people we might not ever see again. And finally the last Sacrament Meeting I would have in Tahitian. (we were in a Tahitian branch in the MTC) But let me tell you, after experiencing 4 hours of French church, 3 normal hours and 1 branch council hour, I would rather have it be in Tahitian with some English. Side note on this week's Sacrament, the bread we used was from a baguette. Definitely something we should implement back in the states.

Back to the main story. 

So Sunday night finally came and we had a little going away party, as much of a party as we could do in the MTC, and said goodbye to the three other missionaries going to the little brother French mission up in Paris. We woke up the next morning a little before 5 a.m. and made our way to the travel office to get sent off to the airport. Now apparently it's kind of a new thing where we actually take the Front Runner, that's a train for all you non Utah people out there, up to Salt Lake and then take another tram to the airport. Now if trying to get all eleven of us on the trains when we all have three big suitcases isn't fun, then I don't know what is. (see attached picture) Yeah it was pretty crazy to say the least but I'm happy to say, we never did lose anybody or more importantly anything. I might have gotten those mixed up but, maybe not. So after we finally got to the airport, we had a few hours to sit and chill and talk to our families. We also had time to get some real food. And my food of choice at 9 in the morning? Cafe Rio salad of course! My Dad would have approved. That was my last American meal for a while and I am happy to say I was satisfied with my choice. We got on the plane and headed off to New York. With the song Welcome to New York by my girl Taylor Swift playing in my head, great song if you haven't heard it, we went in for the landing in New York. We circled around the airport for awhile and actually got to see a little bit of the surrounding area which was pretty cool. Little did we know that when we landed, it would be a different story. So we touched down and we all got off and met up again, all eleven of us ready for our 7 hour plane ride. Well it turned out we landed early and so we thought we had a little bit of time to just chill but we still had to switch terminals which took a little bit of time since none of us had ever been to JFK before. We actually figured it out pretty easily. Sounds like the start of a joke or something. "How many missionaries does it take to get to the other side (of the airport)?" The answer is eleven in case you were wondering. Well we went to go print off our tickets and then the lady who worked for the airline kind of started to freak out because our airplane was taking off in a mere 20 minutes and we still had to go through security. So nothing like being personally escorted through the airport in order to catch our plane. Yup, that lady was nice. Side note actually, when we initially tried to print off our boarding passes, it said we were too late and so we had to wait in this line to talk to someone. Still not sure what happened there ... Well we made it on the plane somehow but our bags didn't. I'll explain later. So it turns out the plane we were taking was one of those massive air bus ones. Like 3 seats by 4 seats by 3 seats on the bottom floor, and yes you read that right, the bottom floor. It had two stories to that thing. Luckily for me, nobody sat next to me so I had two seats the entire 7 hour flight. It was also one of those planes that feeds us two meals while we were on the plane. We even got to choose what we ate for dinner. Guys, we get special treatment since we are missionaries. Or maybe everyone on the plane got it. Eh, that's not important. Alright. You still here with me? I'll now allow you to stand up and twirl around a few times maybe do some stretches. Don't worry, I'll still be here waiting for you.


Ready? Let's continue.

So after that eternity of a flight, which I had this headache that felt like I had a brick pushing on my forehead for like 3 hours, we finally landed in Paris. So you would think, oh it's Paris, we probably will be able to see something awesome out the windows! Yup nope, it looked like I was in the Midwest with it being so flat. Dang it France, you've disappointed me so far. It's okay though, I shortly forgave the country after eating a pain au chocolat. If any of you go to France sometime, go find one of those in the airports, it's worth your time I promise. So we still had another flight to actually get to Lyon but luckily it was only about an hour. We finally landed in the promised land of thee France Lyon Mission. We got off the plane and waited around for our bags to come out of baggage claim but it turns out, yup they didn't make it with us on the crazy plane adventure in New York. We had to sit around and file some missing bags claims and figure out where twenty lost bags were. So we learned that they wouldn't actually be getting to France for another day or so and luckily I had packed enough clothes in my carry-on just as a precaution for this sort of thing to make it okay for the next day or so. Others weren't so lucky. Well we left the main area and met our mission President and the APs who luckily took us in and loved us and fed us some real food. We took our obligatory pictures, which we of course we looked great in since it's wasn't like we had been traveling for over 20 hours or anything. So while the Sisters got in the car with the President, we made our way with one of the APs through Lyon and to the mission office and sat around and talked for a while. We learned as much as we could after not sleeping at all that day and were taken to the President's house and were given a real meal. Let me tell ya, that was some of the best food I've had after being in the MTC for all those weeks. We finally were allowed to go to bed after spending a few hours at their house. 

Now finally, after traveling for like 20 hours, going on three planes and being awake for over 34 hours, that was some of the best sleep I've ever had. Except for the fact that there is no A/C in France. That was a bummer but we made it through the night.

My time is running low so I'll continue with the rest of my adventure next week, including my first companion Elder Bake. I only had enough time to send a few pictures, so more are coming. Oh and we had twelve people at church yesterday so that was weird ... It's also in a converted house to a church. But it works great. This has been, Elder Wilson's first week in France. Thanks for tuning in this week and thanks to everyone who writes me. 

I really appreciate it and I love you all!

Wilson out.

Just try to get all this luggage off the train before the doors close!

We have arrived! That was one long flight.

Parting shot with the MTC group before we go our separate ways.

The newest AP, Elder Barnes, who just happens to be my second cousin. We did not realize this at first. We figured out that our Dads are first cousins and we have been to many of the same family functions. I knew he looked familiar when I met him!

 The street that I live on. Word has it that our apartment is one of the nicest ones in the mission.

The stairs we go up and down all the time to our apartment.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

AAAnnd ... Alive!

After a day of checking email, Facebook and blogs about any news of Blake's arrival more often than I care to admit, I woke up this morning with an email from the France Lyon mission office:

23 juillet, 2015

Dear Parents,

Elder Wilson has been assigned a wonderful trainer/companion, Elder Bake.  They are serving in Agen, France.  Their address is:

          Les Missionnaires
          Elder Wilson
          35, rue Montesquieu 
          Apt 31B
          47000 Agen

Please address all mail or packages in this format.  I will send a photo as soon as one is available. Great excitement as they go forth to invite others to Christ. You have done your part and now that teaching, along with the Spirit, will work mighty miracles!

We are grateful to have your wonderful child in our mission!

With Warmest Regards,

Soeur Sweeney, Mission Secretary
Mission Française de Lyon

So happy to get the good news today! Now, I am not the kind of mom that gets overly stressed out, but I knew Blake had landed in Lyon on Tuesday morning and when Trevor got to Paris, we received an email and photo of him with the mission President the next day. So I thought yesterday would be the day. I just wanted to know that he was okay and a little plane on a computer screen could not tell me that! 

Agen is a 6 hour train ride from Lyon, so after all that travel, Blake had another 6 hours before he was able to sleep in his bed. I'm tired just thinking about it!

Agen is on the southwest side of France, just outside of Bordeaux. I knew there had to be a reason I felt prompted to purchase Bordeaux Cherry Chocolate ice cream at the grocery store yesterday! 

The locals say Agen is the hottest city in France because it is surrounded by mountains and in a valley and it does not get very much wind. So this should be super fun for Blake since August is still ahead of him. 

I have already contacted his companion's family through Facebook and I have been chatting with Elder Bake's mom today. We both think it will be a great companionship since they are both easy going, love BYU and when not in a suit, wear BYU t-shirts as their outfit of choice. There has to be some good comments about Blake and Bake being in the hottest city in France in the summer!

I'll post pictures when I get them!

(fyi: for security purposes, I blacked out the actual address. If you would like Blake's address, please click on the "How to Contact Me" link above and I will send you his address.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

AAAnnd ... He's Off! - Week 6

Blake left the MTC at 6:00 am Monday morning to get on the plane in Salt Lake, had a brief layover in New York, and when I say brief, I am not exaggerating (more to come on that) and then on to Paris with another layover and 21 1/2 long hours later he arrived in Lyon. We were able to talk to him for about an hour while he was in Salt Lake and talk for a few more minutes when he was in New York ... sprinting through JFK ... trying to find the correct terminal. All eleven missionaries landed in New York a half hour ahead of schedule, which was a major blessing because had they arrived on time, they would have missed their connection to Paris. Upon landing, they immediately headed to the International Terminal because they now had to fly on Air France. They landed in terminal 4 and had to get to Terminal 1. None of them knew where to go and with lots of help from airport workers, they boarded a tram to take them across the airport. They all needed to print their boarding passes for the next leg of their journey, but when they got up to the kiosks to do it, the time frame was too close to take off, so they were unable to print them out. They had to stand in line at the ticket counter and by the time they got up to the counter and the ticketing agent saw nine young men in suits and two sisters in dresses all trying to make the same flight that was boarding in a few minutes AND they still had to go through security, she knew she had to do something major to make this happen. She started running with them in the terminal toward their plane, called ahead to another worker to grab them on the other side, who also ran with them and had them go through First Class security so they could move along as fast as possible. They barely made the plane on time. Blake said that somehow along the way, two of the eleven of them got lost and he wasn't sure they even got on the plane. He called me while they were sprinting around and then called again when he got on the plane, recovering from all that running. He said that as soon as the plane reached flying altitude, he would walk around the plane to see if the other two missionaries made it on. I'm hoping for themselves and their mothers, that they made it!  

And just like with Trevor, I watched all day and stayed up all night watching the little plane on the screen and getting updates from Delta until I knew that Blake landed safely in Lyon at 3:30 am. This mother cannot sleep until she knows all her kids are safe and/or are in bed. Now just waiting to hear from the mission office about where he will be serving and who his companion will be ... Stay tuned!

Screen shot of Delta flights 444, 1015 and 8320

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Mix Tape Dropping 2k17 - Week 5

Let me explain for a second, so yes I'm in a rap group, and yes we did start it while in the MTC. So this girl in my district, sorry, Sister in my district and I somehow started a rap group. Willy-G (that's me) and Holmgirl (Sister Holmgren). Watch out for the mixtape in 2017 when I'm back. Probably a remix of hymns or Taylor Swift. Either one would be good I think. For those who don't know, I am a big fan of one such Taylor Swift. Not sure if it's my multiple T-shirts, life size cutout of her or my posters on the walls that show I like her, but I do.

So MTC culture is weird. If you've been here for more than 2 weeks you're considered old. By that time you have everything down and you know what to do with most things. So since I've been here for almost 6 weeks, I'm basically a grandpa. Not sure what the 12 weekers are considered then. But by this time, everything in the cafeteria tastes the same and I still savor the one time we had real food from Costa Vida. Thank you First Presidency for kicking us out of the actual cafeteria.

So since I've been here I've been through 53 lessons, endless gallons of Powerade (yes I do drink at least a cup with every meal), 12 devotionals, over 100 hours of being taught only in French, 5 temple trips, multiple games of sand volleyball (gym time activity of choice), a handful of times of going to choir practice (and no I never did actually sing), meeting every French speaker who knows my brother, 22 more months to go and probably a partridge in a pear tree somewhere in there. But the best part of being in the MTC has been learning a new language. It's really fun to talk to someone in another language besides English. 

So last Friday we finally received our travel plans. You always know when people get their travel plans because of how they come strutting out of the mail room with this big old smile and a yellow piece of paper. It's like saying, "Hey look, you actually do get to go to a real place and talk to real people and have real food!" Eleven of us head out on Monday morning for a very long, two day trip. But yeah, at least on the way to Lyon, I get to stop in New York and in Paris. Then I can say I've been to like the 2 most known cities in the world. 

Well nothing exciting really happened this week but stay tuned in 2 weeks when the real "Adventures in France with Elder Blake Wilson" start up. It's bound to be an exciting two years.

Love you all and thanks for writing me!

Until next time,

Elder Wilson

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

America's Birthday-MTC Style - Week 4

MTC life gets super repetitive. That's why this week isn't going to be very exciting. Well I do at least have a few things to report on. 

So how many of you remember watching Annie the movie? No, not the new one, which I haven't seen, but the super old one that I grew up watching all the time. At the beginning there are all the girls scrubbing the floors and working hard for the lady named Miss Hannigan. So we have this teacher here named Frère Adams and he's the teacher that makes us work more so somehow he got the nickname Frère Addigans. Basically we start singing "It's a Hard Knock Life" when we don't want to do something. I think he appreciates our angelic voices but not our actual reasons for doing things. Meh, I'm sure he likes it on the inside. Side note to that, he admitted this week that we are the most fun district he's ever had while working here. Ten points for Gryffindor err... District 63B. Same thing practically.

Now, the 4th of July, a.k.a. the best day of the year because its freaking AMERICA's birthday. I woke up with patriotism flowing through my veins, put on my American flag socks (see pictures) and made sure I was wearing red, white and blue for all to see. We walked as a squad all gleaming with our love for this country; everyone else was jealous of how Freedom shined from us. With our flags in hand and my socks on my feet, we sang all 4 verses of the national anthem in our French class. And yes, those things shouldn't go together but they did. Our day went on like usual except for the fact that we were appreciating our lives and living in the best dang country in the world. We were lucky enough to stay out late, yes 11:30 pm is late here, and watch what only Americans would do and shoot fire into the sky for all to see. Here is where there should be pictures of some fireworks but since you can find some better ones online, I'll spare you the pain of my amateur camera work. Actually, we didn't even leave the grounds to watch the fireworks. We just stood in a parking lot and barely got a glimpse if we stood just right in between some trees. But, we were the cool kids because we snuck all the glow sticks and things that my Mom sent in my Independence Day package with supplies for my entire district and had them with us outside. We ended the day, again singing the national anthem, while saluting the American flag in our room. This day was one to remember.

Didn't have much time today but there wasn't much that happened. 

But I'll talk to you all soon and by this time next week, I'll have my travel plans to finally get out to France. Stay tuned for the updates again next week.

Love you all!

Elder Wilson

Gotta love the socks!

 Thanks for the flag, Mom.

Decorations in our classroom. Everyone tried to steal our stuff because we were so much cooler. 

Madsen...I mean Elder Cheever, my BYU roommate, going to the California Irvine Mission.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The President and the Eleven - Week 3

Oh boy. What a week it has been. From having the Prophet and all the 11 Apostles less then 100 feet from where I sleep to meeting my new mission president to getting real world food, it has been one to remember. 

Alright, now to explain this week.

So if anyone has been to the MTC around July 1, you'll know that's when the new mission presidents come and have a seminar to get trained before they go out to their missions for the next 3 years. All of the important people in the church show up and teach them or do a presentation and so the MTC is locked down, especially the main building, and none of the missionaries ever see the VIPs. I guess because I live in Utah with several of the General Authorities, Apostles and first Presidency members living close to my home, I don't think of them as celebrities. You should see some of the people here when they found out they were all on campus. Basically like if a teenage girl sees Harry Styles (or man crush of choice) in person. That's about accurate. 

With part of the training for the new presidents, some of them come teach classes to the missionaries. We not only got lucky enough to get a mission president and his wife come teach us, but he so happens to live in my mission in Provence, and yes you do have to say that in a French accent. If any of you happen to be in the Congo in the next 3 years, tell Prez Baehrel that the tall missionary says "Hi!"

Because of all the training that happened this week, we were kicked out of the cafeteria so they could use the room and it wasn't too much fun. We were served just regular sandwiches and salads every meal. Until THE day happened! We were all tired from being in a classroom for hours on end and we walked into the makeshift cafeteria, that was really the gym,  and what was in front of us? Costa Vida! (the lesser known, not as good little brother of Cafe Rio.) We all cried tears of joy, not only for the opportunity to be able to eat real outside human food again, but because of the delicious food about to touch our taste buds. They have been deprived of such tasty food for almost a month. Thank you mission presidents. Also included last week: Taco Bell, Subway and Chick-fil-A. MTC life isn't always bad. (Side note: there were 3,600 Chick-fil-A sandwiches made for that day.) 

So this morning we went to the temple as a district and cleaned part of the temple. We were all just sitting there waiting to be told what to do and this head housekeeping lady walked in and was like, "Alright Sisters, you should all go up to the Celestial Room and clean the crystals on the chandelier." Obviously all the Sisters were excited now. So all the Elders were sitting excitedly waiting to see what cool thing we would do. After all the Sisters left, the head lady told us, "Alright Elders, you get to go and clean the ladies locker room." So if any of you go to the Provo Temple in the next while, I cleaned that room for 3 hours ... you better enjoy it!

Allegedly it is a tradition that all the missionaries from the MTC march in the 4th of July parade in Provo. I have to find out if that's true or not so check back next week. Not allegedly, so factually, the MTC allows us to go up to the temple to watch the Stadium of Fire fireworks on the 4th of July so that will be fun to actually be able to celebrate the best holiday there is, the freaking independence of the best dang country in the world. Plus all the fireworks get shot from Lavell Edwards stadium which is basically my second home. 

Well that's all for the adventures of Elder Wilson this week. Half way through the MTC and I can almost taste those French pastries on my lips. 

Love you all and catch you next week! 

Elder Wilson

Everyone that's going to Lyon with the new Mission President and his wife, President and Sister Brown. They start their mission today!

(Scott Douglas Brown, 58, and Traci Lee Bruce Brown, four children, Union 3rd Ward, Sandy Utah Cottonwood Creek Stake: France Lyon Mission, succeeding President Blake M. Roney and Sister Nancy Roney. Brother Brown is a former bishop, branch president, high councilor, stake Young Men president, elders quorum president, gospel doctrine teacher and missionary in the France Toulouse Mission. Attorney, Nuttall, Brown and Coutts Law Offices. Born in Salt Lake City to Lawrence Martin Brown and Marilyn Allred Brown. Sister Brown is a former ward Relief Society and Primary president, ward Young Women and Primary presidency counselor and young single adult adviser. Born in Los Angeles to Leland Egan Bruce and Glenda Glee Geer Bruce.)