Monday, September 28, 2015

Wait ... What is This I'm Eating? - Week 16

Well hello once again everyone! Looks like we all made it through another week. It was another slow week and so I might be stretching to find things to talk about. Just warning you in advance. Let's get started though.

This week started off like any other week. Monday we did some shopping and emails and talked to some more people. Nothing exciting to note there. Tuesday was at least a little different. We built some more cabinets for a family. And yeah, it was the same family that we had gone four other times to do service for them. I'm telling you, working for Ikea is looking like a good option if I ever need some money. But afterwards, we taught them a little bit and headed out on our way. Upon leaving we decided to call one of our other investigators who only likes being called the day of for appointments. Well we gave him a call and set up a meeting later that night with him. Until then, we knock on a few doors with not much success. Well we headed over to our investigators house to talk with him and his girlfriend for a bit. So this guy is super into old school NBA players and teams and every time I'm over there, our conversations always turn into something American. For instance, this time we ended up talking about Disney movies and 80's basketball players, don't ask me how they are related. After he showed me his pretty decent sized basketball card collection, which I'm pretty sure can go for a decent amount of money in America, and a few old school basketball jerseys, we ended up sitting around their table eating grapes from Italy and grapes from France and being lectured why the French ones are superior. They sound like a bunch of Americans out here letting you know that things from their country are better. I have to say that I am definitely one of those Americans. But while eating all the grapes here, I've learned a very useful skill of being able to simultaneously get the seeds out of the grapes while still enjoying them. Life skills right?

On Wednesday this week, we had a multi-zone conference in Bordeaux. All the missionaries from around Bordeaux and Toulouse got together and heard from our President and his wife, of course, and Elder Adler from the 3rd Quorum of the Seventy also accompanied him throughout the mission. It's pretty cool to hear words from a General Authority specifically for my mission at that certain time. Definitely not something you really get back at home. But after hearing everything he had to say and the counsel just for us, Elder Alder wanted to interview some of the missionaries. And using my reasoning I thought he would just interview some of the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders, but boy was I wrong. So after one of the Sisters went into the interview, one of the Assistants came up to me and said, "Hey, Elder Adler wants to interview you." So there I was kind of freaking out that a General Authority wanted to have an interview with me. So a good 40 minutes and a few interviews with with some of the leaders of the zones later, I finally went in to talk with him. But man, if you ever get the opportunity to receive counsel and wisdom from a General Authority, I highly recommend it. There is no way that these guys aren't being directly inspired from God. Not with him saying things to me that directly addressed things I had been thinking about. Definitely a pretty cool experience and not something somebody gets to go through all the time. Consider myself lucky.

Friday last week, we ended up going back out to Mezin to go be with that part member family out there. Well we talked for a little while and as usual, got our strange fruit from the husband, which this time was passion fruit which isn't half bad but different than any other fruit I've ever tasted. Well I also learned that it is a tradition where Muslims get together and buy a sheep and kill it on the 25th of September. So after being told this whole story by the mom of the family, and that this tradition happened to take place right next to their house, we got a knock on the door. It ended up being one of their neighbors who brought over some bread and meat for this member family. We were actually in the middle of dinner and decided to eat this meat. Well after I had eaten a little bit, I got the sense to actually ask what it was. Here's a little of how the conversation went.

Me: "So what actually is this stuff that I'm deciding to eat?"

The mom: "Oh just some of the sheep intestines that they killed from yesterday."

Me after choking for a second: "Hmm well that's good to know" ... as I continued to just eat some more.

Really wasn't too bad. Would eat it again to be honest. I'm surprised that I didn't ask what it was sooner.

At church yesterday, we showed up a little bit early to get the church open and what not. When you go to a church building that used to be a house, you have to actually open all the windows. Well after doing all that we had about 20 minutes until church started. So we just sat around until 9:30 came around. Nobody had come. So we still just sat there, 9:35 ... 9:40 ... 9:45 ... and then finally someone showed up. But don't worry, we had a whopping 16 people come by the end of church. Such is the life of a small branch here in the countryside.

That's all for the week and thanks to everyone who writes me letters. I appreciate all of them!

Love you all and take care this week.

Elder Wilson

Just a random arch thing

One of the member families in the branch

Monday, September 21, 2015

100 Days Without America - Week 15

On Tuesday of this last week, I went on an exchange with one of the Zone Leaders in Bordeaux. And during exchanges, all of the weird things seem to happen. This one was no different. The other Elders came to Agen in the morning and we switched for the day. After just finishing our studies in the morning, we headed out to go check on some potential investigators and hopefully find some others by knocking on some doors. After a little while with not much success, we stopped at this one house and rang the doorbell. This little old lady came out and greeted us and talked with us for a while. She was interested in learning what we had to offer but didn't have the time to really talk then. So she sent us off with some water bottles and cookies. Yeah know that all seems pretty normal right? But the whole time she kept saying that she wasn't being nice to us just to be nice, but she was being nice for God. I think we need to go and find more people wanting to be nice to God more often. I mean, we do share the good word of God so it's kind of the same thing. But that was definitely a mission first experience.

Later on during that day, we decided to take our bikes out to go to this one family’s house that lives a fair distance away. Well this was Elder Sanders first time on a bike on his mission and he just kept saying, "I feel so much like a real missionary now!" I guess we only have fake missionaries here in France. But really though, it's weird thinking I'm like one of the only missionaries here in France riding a bike. That's all normal stuff for me, but for everyone else, it's weird.

So this past week, we got someone to commit to baptism so that's pretty exciting. We're also pretty close to getting her husband/boyfriend to committing. Here in France nobody actually gets married and they still think of each other as husband and wife but we have to actually get them married to get baptized. We're planning for the baptism in a few weeks so we will see what happens here soon! Still trying our best to get out and save some souls here in France.

On Thursday this past week marked 100 days for me on my mission so to celebrate I decided to do the only thing I know how to do - celebrate being American. So here I was thinking of what I could do. I was looking around and I saw the American flag I proudly hang on the wall. I grabbed that and draped it around my shoulders. Next I had to have something to hold in my hands so I got the idea to make some Kool-Aid. Not just any old Kool-Aid but grape flavored. They don't have Kool-Aid here at all so I thought it was fitting to make something from the states. Now I know what you're thinking, "But Blake, you have two hands to hold things in!" Yes I know, I know, I'm getting there. Since I am a missionary and all, I figured I had to bring in the secret weapon that we use - the Book of Mormon. And before any of you say anything, yes I know it's in French and I know I made that rookie mistake. The next time I hit 100 days on my mission I promise I'll do better. But what better object then the Book of Mormon that started this whole church and consequently it was also in America. Seemed fitting. Here are the results of that:

Later this week we're going up to Bordeaux again to do a multi zone conference with Elder Adler there. Someone might have to let me know who he actually is. I think that he is in the seventy if I'm not mistaken. But that should make for a good time and I'm pretty excited for that!

During our mission right now, we are putting this huge emphasis on the temple since the temple in Paris is going to be finished relatively soon. So my comp and I decided to put together a ward activity, with as many of our investigators as we could to come, to be able to talk about the temple and get them to talk to their friends about it. And since this is France and all, there always has to be food associated with the activity. We ended up deciding on making crepes and my mother raised me and taught me how to properly make them. So there I was in the kitchen attempting my best French chef impression and surprisingly more than one person came in and complimented me on them. Like I could understand if one person came in and complimented me because they felt pity for my lack of skills but no, a few people actually. Have to give a shout out to momma Wilson for teaching me that one. Not everyday do you get compliments from French people about your crepe making skills!

Well that's it for the week. Check back in next week for my adventures here in France. 

Love you all!

Elder Wilson

Monday, September 14, 2015

Rugby Playing Fijians and Mormon Wine - Week 14

Hello once again! Here I am tuning in for you in the middle of southern France. I'm beginning to think that me being out on my mission is a good luck charm for BYU football. How many Hail Marys can they make to win a game? I'm more than a little sad I am missing this epic season, but epic things are happening here as well. What I have to report on is pretty sweet. Let's get started.

I'm going to start this week with a joke to mix things up alright? So an Australian, Fijian and two Americans walk into a house in France speaking only English... Okay so after hearing that beginning, I know what you're thinking. Something along the lines of "Oh great, he's going to pull out some kind of bad joke that probably won't end up being funny." Well jokes on you because it's not even a joke to begin with. I know you're disappointed but it just sounded like the start of one. But the real story is that we were porting, a.k.a. the French equivalent of going door to door, and we happened upon this couple. Well the guy is actually from Fiji and when we first started talking to him in French, he was like, "Hey so I don't speak French", and he proceeds to get his girlfriend to talk to us. But before he could do that I told him I could relate because I couldn't speak French either being this new and all. Always a joy to talk to English speakers. But they let us in and we got to talk to them for a little while about gospel stuff and other things in general. Turns out, he actually plays rugby for the team here in Agen. His arms are massive and are probably bigger than my waist. Noted I am some skinny white boy but still, that's pretty big. After talking for a bit, we learned that just the day before, the girlfriend was asking about religion and they also said their first prayer the night before too. Well turns out she didn't grow up with religion at all and that was her first prayer said and he wasn't sure how to explain religious things to her. So here we come down the street, two Americans and we were able to talk and answer their questions for the day. Follow up to come. Stay tuned!

I took on another adventure this week: cutting my own hair for the first time. I know what you're thinking, how could he ever accomplish such a feat alone? But there I was, one man, one goal with a path set ahead of me. Only one thing standing in the way of me looking fly again, all that stuff on the top of my head. There I was a man with no plan and just having the little advice my mom was able to give me. But with luck hopefully on my side, I set off on the journey of a lifetime. (Or more like the week but it's more dramatic if you say lifetime. You get the picture.) There I stood battling for over an hour not giving up for anything. (Also side note, all the mirrors here are set at my neck area so I can't even see my head unless I'm partially doing the splits. #tallpeopleproblems) Going back and forth neither give an inch of space. After a long battle I came out victorious and feeling confident enough to actually leave the premise the next morning. (Yes I really did just try and entertain you while talking about cutting hair.)

On Friday, we took a bus out to this smaller town that's basically in the middle of the French countryside. There is a part member family who lives there that we try to work with as much as we can. We ended up doing a family home evening with them and then afterwards she always has to feed us. So as part of it, we went out to this farm/park thing in the town. Basically it's like an orchard with a bunch of fruit trees and fruit bushes that anyone in the town can come and get. But the cool thing about it is that we were just like picking grapes off the vine in the middle of the French countryside. Like how many people really get that kind of opportunity in their lives? I hope they weren't meant to be used for wine. Meh. It wasn't wine yet right? But still, pretty cool thing to say I've done.

We went to Bordeaux again for some more zone training and of course built our usual cabinets for some families. Not much else has been happening besides talking to a bunch of people and still trying to figure out French.

I hope you all have a great week and I appreciate anything that gets done for me!

Love you all.

Elder Wilson

Sporting the new haircut

District meeting in Bordeaux. Nachos anyone?

In the mission office in Lyon

On one of our many long train rides

One of the many old churches in Agen

Monday, September 7, 2015

Blue's Conference and Burger King - Week 13

Hello all! Looks like we all made it through another week of our lives. Congrats! I have to give a shout out to the BYU football team for pulling through with that win even though I wasn't around to enjoy it. Add that game as one to watch when I'm back though.

Not too much happened at the beginning of this week so I think I'll just start off on Thursday of last week.

In my mission, we do a conference where all the Blues (Greenies in normal missionary terms) go to Lyon to meet with the President and basically just have a conference. So we loaded up on the train on Thursday morning and made our way to the mission office. Well when we first got on the train, we started to talk to this girl next to us in French. After a little while we find out that she is actually from England and we were thinking "Why the heck are we talking in French then?" Well we then continued talking the rest of the time in English. We surprisingly meet quite a fair amount of English people in the middle of the French countryside. But this one in particular was actually from where my Dad went on his mission (shout out to Papa and having his birthday yesterday.) We basically just talked with her and she told us some crazy stories about the history of Agen. Someone might have to tell me what the internet says about that and see if it matches up at all. But after the 5 hour ride, we finally made it to Lyon and just chilled in the office for the rest of the night.

The next morning well all got up, got ready, the usual missionary stuff and headed back over to the office. Nothing like waking up and being able to eat a bunch of French pastries that were made that morning. Definitely something I won't ever get used to. We got to sit around and eat and catch up with with the other guys who were in my MTC district. Always cool to hear all of their experiences even though it's only been 7 weeks. We were then able to listen to our President and his wife talk for a while and see how we could become better at doing what we do. After that whole thing, the assistants had us do a little competition between all of the trainers and all the new missionaries. So we all set out to Lyon to this really cool town square type of place and we saw who could give out more Books of Mormon and do other missionary things in a few hours. Proud to say that at the end of it when all the numbers were counted up, all the little Blues ended up doing more than the trainers. Twenty points for Gryffindor.  Who knew we weren't actually hopeless with only 2 months of French learning under our belts. Also, while we were out contacting for those few hours, we approached these two people and started to talk to them for a bit. After a little while we realized that one of the guys had a CTR ring on. After they realized that we knew they were Mormon, they just chilled and talked with us in English for a little while. Haha. Turns out they both just got back from their missions less than two weeks before. I'm not going to lie but when we first went up to them, I thought for a split second that they totally looked like Mormons but I kind of just disregarded that after a little while. Guess I was right all along.

After that all went down, the guys in the office basically had to kick us out of the office so that they could do work. So what does a bunch of Americans do when they don't have much to do? Go to Burger King of course. What I did notice about it is that yes, Burger King in France is better than in America and also there apparently is only two Burger Kings in France and we happened to be close enough to go to one. The next day, Saturday, we got up to try and catch our trains to make it back to all our cities later that day. During the train ride that day, I saw the Mediterranean Sea, the Swiss Alps and the usual castles along the French countryside. Basically, as most white girls (or the boyz of 1101) would say, I'm #blessed. But really though, it's pretty sweet to be able to see all these things on just one train ride and I did get some pictures for you guys to enjoy sometime too. As part of our train ride, we stopped in this city called Montpelier for a little while and got to see some famous fountain there. Someone will have to tell me about the back story of it sometime.

After we got home that night, we went over to our Branch President’s house to and help him out for a few hours. If you know my history of doing service out here on the mission, what do I do basically every time? Well if you guessed building cabinets, you'd be right! Here take a gold star for your efforts. I'm not really sure what it is with French people and missionaries, but really every service project we do, is building something from an IKEA-esque store for them. So if anyone needs any help once I'm back, just let me know. I'll probably will have built an entire store's worth by the end of these 2 years.

Well that about wraps it up for this week. Thanks to all who write me letters and I'll see you all in the same place and same time next week. 

Love you all!

Elder Wilson

Back together again

The Mediterranean Sea from the train window

Yup, that's our church