Monday, November 30, 2015

Fried Chicken Will Have to Do - Week 25

Bonjour everyone! Yeah, I guess since I'm in France I should throw some French words around to make it look like I actually know French. But that's a story for another day. Let's get started on some highlights for this week.

Let's first of all have a moment of silence for all those brave souls who decided to put their lives in danger and wander to Walmart on Black Friday. I'm a four year survivor, and it definitely wasn’t pretty. But for reals though, it's crazy what some people will do to get a good deal. Advice for next year, get all your shopping done online but go to Walmart just to enjoy the people there. It makes for really fun and free entertainment.

Thanksgiving this year was a little bit different then normal. We thought we would be smart and search out a rotisserie chicken to eat instead of turkey because let's be honest here, chicken is better. Well, after unsuccessfully searching around the city the entire day, we ended up doing what Americans do best, buying a bucket of fried chicken and calling that good for Thanksgiving. Luckily Momma Wilson hooked us up with some actual American Thanksgiving food so it made for a pretty good meal.

So we have this ami (investigator) that whenever we go over to his house, he literally talks about the most random things possible. An example this week of something I learned: the closest city to the South Pole is Ushuaia. For anyone reading this, that is in fact located in South America. Now if your mom asks you what you learned in school today, here's your easy way out.  I'm all game to know random facts of the world but this dude should go and take his fact finding talents and go to school. But that wouldn't be the French way of course.

We had an interesting experience this week of helping another one of our amis with their groceries. So we got a call from her earlier in the week asking if we could come and help her out since normally it was her boyfriend who went shopping for her but since he couldn't that day or something, she wanted us to help her since she also had hurt her toe. Well how she actually hurt it was when she opened her fridge, a piece of frozen chicken fell out. We happened to be around when it did happen and I wasn't sure if I should laugh or feel bad. It ended up being a little of both. But anyways, when we went over to meet her, her boyfriend actually ended up being there so we just went out shopping with him. I should probably mention that they are both very simple people. We went into the store with him and split the shopping list in half to get it all done faster. Well after 15 minutes or so, we had finished our half and he was on item 4. I felt bad that he normally had to do this all by himself every week. Looks like this might be a regular thing with them. Service anyone? Well after making it out with four bags of groceries, and not the small plastic American bags but like big European bags, we headed back to their place. When we got there, the girlfriend had made us dinner and we even got to have a lesson with them. Dope.

Sunday we had stake conference and since France finally figured out how to broadcast things, we stayed around at our church building to help set it up and watch it with the members. Well it was supposed to start at 10:00 but once they hadn't figured it out by 10:30, I decided to just go back to our apartment and grab my speaker so we could just play the sound off the computer with everyone huddled in the bishop's office. And then finally by 11:00 we had it up and running. And yes, the bishop's office here isn't much bigger then at normal churches which about fits our whole branch perfectly.

That's really been it for the week. Glad to see BYU pull off some decent wins this week. College football playoffs start in a few weeks and I'm taking Michigan State as an underdog to take it all. Now that would mean they would have to beat an undefeated Iowa in the Big 10 championship game but since when does anyone from Iowa know how to play football? Michigan State over Oklahoma in the championship. We'll see how good my sports knowledge is from here in France. I'm just hoping for no team named Ohio State or any from the SEC to make it to the 'ship.

Wilson signing off.

The shopping adventure

Monday, November 23, 2015

Still Hangin' in Agen - Week 24

Transfers are today and I am staying in Agen. I get to hang out with Elder Steinbock and have all the major holidays here, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. I also get to eat more of that delicious Algerian food from our friends.

Yesterday was the Primary Children's Program and Elder Steinbock played the piano while I conducted the music ... for all three children. Yep, it's a pretty small branch, the smallest branch in France. And we both sang some songs, taking different parts, like a duet. Now I am not exactly musical and here I am singing and leading music to French children in a language that is not my own, but it all worked out. Primary Programs always seem to work out no matter what. Every other Sunday, I am the one who chooses all the music to sing for church each week and I lead the songs, not just for Primary, while Steinbock is on the piano. He is the only person in the branch that knows how to play.

Crazy story about the mail here. Both Elder Steinbock and I were expecting letters that never came for like 2 months. And then one day we got a letter from Mezin with both of the expected letters in it and a little note with the first receiver's address and saying sorry for opening the letters and whatnot. We knew we would be going out to Mezin again so we made some cookies to say thanks for sending our letters to us, even though we have no idea how they got out there. Well after walking to their house for like 30 minutes, we sat and talked with this old guy and it turned out he actually owns the apartment we live in so it now makes sense why he had them. Two different letters, one from Russia and one from America, from two different people who both put our current address on them and then they were both sent to the owner of our apartment in another town? Weird! Still not sure how he actually ended up with them! 

Gotta go. Sorry for the short post. Too many things to do. Thanks for all the emails and letters. I really appreciate them. Until next week!

Elder Wilson

Monday, November 16, 2015

That Small Town Life - Week 23

Well hello everyone! First off, thanks to everyone who sent an email out to me this week asking if everything is alright with me after the Paris attacks. Everything is great down here in little Agen. To be honest, without the updates from my Mission President or my parents, I wouldn’t have known of anything going on because nobody has talked to us or told us about anything with Paris. I guess it is just that small town life.

But just a little recap of the past few days with all of that stuff going down. We got a text from our Mission President at 4:00 am on Saturday telling us that stuff had happened up in Paris and we weren’t to leave our apartments until further notice. So we basically just stayed in our apartment until around noon when he said it was alright for us to leave. Luckily we got go out and teach all of our investigators and keep all three of our rendezvous (appointments). The real miracle though is that all three people were there and available when they said they would be. But besides all that crazy stuff that happened on Saturday morning, everything has been completely normal here.

Now for the rest of the week.

Tuesday I was actually in Bordeaux again for an exchange with the Zone Leaders. Basically all we did all day was wander around trying to find addresses that didn’t actually end up existing. But I got to see around Bordeaux a little bit at least! The next day we stuck around in Bordeaux for a District Meeting. Now nothing really exciting to report on with that expect for the fact that we decided to basically do a district photo shoot just because we could. I'll include some pictures for your enjoyment. And the numbers represent what transfer we are on. And compared to everyone there, I was the youngster by far. But I’m probably going to do that for every transfer from now on just for the heck of it. And because they make good pictures too. Well later that night after finally getting home, we got a call from one of our investigators who said that they wanted to have us over to eat. Now that’s nothing out of the ordinary of course but they then had us at their house to eat 3 out the past 5 days. Can’t complain about free food with our investigators.

Friday came around again and you guessed it, we went out to Mezin just like usual. So a few weeks back, we brought the card game UNO with us to play with them and they were instantly hooked and so now they want to play all the time. Well we brought the cards again and played with them but guess who ended up beating us all? Their 6 year old daughter of course. That’s just how things happen I guess.

But besides that, we had the First Counselor in the Mission Presidency randomly show up at church yesterday to see how things were going with us. And we also finally hit 30 people at church for once. Basically all the news there is for this week. And despite the horrific things that happened in Paris, we had a pretty good week.

Shout out to everyone who sends me emails. I love them all. Take care until next week when I’ll learn my fate about my next 6 weeks of my mission.

Love you all, 

Elder Wilson

What to do while in Bordeaux? Hang out at a vineyard of course!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Shooting Boys with President - Week 22

Hello once again everyone! Let’s just get rolling shall we?

Once every transfer (every 6 weeks) the Mission President goes on what is called a mission tour where he goes and visits all the missionaries at the zone conferences and we get to hear from him and his wife and the Assistants and whoever else the President wants to speak with him that day. This time it ended up being one of his counselors of the mission who lived in Bordeaux.  For this conference, the main theme was basically about "taking the shot." Whether that was with missionary work or just with things that we might be scared to do in general and to just take a chance on things because you don’t really know what good things can happen from it. And so to illustrate his point, President brought his bow with him and shot it outside a few times for us. Now I see a couple things weird about this. First, who would bring a longbow with them on their mission? Well President Brown did. And to be fair, it did make a really good point with things. And second off, whoever was walking down the street when this was taking place probably thought we were some weird people all standing around in suits watching some guy in a suit shoot a bow and arrow at some water bottles. And then with Sister Brown, in Sister Brown fashion, meaning there always has to be a game and candy involved with her lesson, after she talked to us a little bit, we went outside and basically just got to shoot each other with Nerf Guns. Such is the life of a missionary here in the France Lyon Mission. 

We also missed our train that night since the conference went too long so we got to spend that rest of the day in Bordeaux just walking around a little bit. Definitely a really cool place if you’re ever out here in France. 

Going to blast you guys with some spiritual knowledge here real quick. So if you take the word perfection and look at the origins in its Latin roots, it actually doesn’t really mean anything like it does today. Normally we associate perfection as not doing anything bad and basically doing everything as good as you can. Or that's at least how I viewed perfection. But from its ancient meanings, it actually used to mean that when you are perfect, you actually just reach a distant goal. That doesn’t mean everything you do is absolutely perfect. So now if you apply that to scriptural knowledge, when Christ is asking us to be perfected in him, it is more meaning that we should use him to reach that distant goal of living with him again one day. Or reaching that distant end. And now you might be thinking, or might not be, "Man Blake is really smart and figured all this out on his own." Nope. Sorry to tell you, all I did was read President Nelson's talk back in October 1995. But either way, it just made a really good point that you aren’t really being asked to be perfect since that's unreasonable, but more that you are just being expected to reach that distant goal of heaven. Whatever that entails.

Besides that, I’ll be chilling in Bordeaux tomorrow and Wednesday and here is a group selfie we took at Zone Conference.

Well that's really all for this week of adventures. I hope everyone is doing great and thanks for tuning into this week’s episode of "Elder Wilson's adventures on the mission."

Take care!

Elder Wilson

Zone Conference selfie!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Hogwarts Express on the Mediterranean - Week 21

Man what a week it has been. I didn't get one normal day of missionary work in my own city with my companion and I also went from one side of France to the other on train. Well, let's get started with this week’s adventures shall we?

This week started off pretty normal with us having our P-day and doing emails and shopping and what not. That night, though, we had a few things planned to go and meet with people and even to eat with a family that we were teaching. Well, one by one, everything fell through so what do guys do when things like that happen? Go and buy an unusually big sized dinner to eat. Luckily after that, we set up some more appointments with people for later one.

On Tuesday, the Zone Leaders came down from Bordeaux and we did an exchange with them. I stayed here for the day and Steinbock went up to Bordeaux to throw down with Elder Garside. Elder Sanders and I went and taught some of our investigators here in Agen and then headed off to go visit some guys who Elder Sanders used to teach when he was in Agen about a year ago. We kind of just surprised them with showing up there and they freaked out when they saw Sanders. Like these guys loved him. We sat and talked for a little while and ate some pastries with them since that's what you do with French people. Well it was all great and then it started to rain. We didn't think it would be too bad so we just decided to tough it out and make our 30 minute bike ride back home to finish up the night. About 10 minutes into the ride, it just started to pour rain. And I mean, it was like a ton of rain coming down, but the thing is, the rain was coming down hard so it basically felt like we were riding our bikes as hail was pouring down on us. Oh, and we couldn't really look forward as we were riding since it was getting blown towards us. Sanders probably thought I was crazy because I was enjoying every part of that bike ride. Even if we did end up soaked and slightly battered.

Wednesday we had a district meeting in Bordeaux in the morning. Luckily this time there wasn't any crazy delays and we actually made it before 1 o'clock. We ended up talking about the Book of Mormon and how it is basically essential to everything that we do. Also, if any of you have time, go look up a testimony of the Book of Mormon by Elder Holland. It's dope.

Thursday morning we woke up and looked forward to our 9 hour journey ahead of us. We had to go to Nice to pick up a legality card for Elder Steinbock. In the morning we had a layover in Toulouse and for some reason we thought it was a good idea to go and search the city for a grocery store to buy drinks for a our trip. It was a lot harder than it should be. After looking for like 30 minutes we finally found a place. But the only problem is that we were in the middle of Toulouse and had no idea how to get back to the train station. After asking 3 people where it was, and sprinting all the way there, we did finally make it without missing our train ... luckily. We had six seats on the train between the two of us so we could spread out and relax. We also had an hour layover in Marseille so I guess I can add that to the list of cities I have visited. 

After finally getting into Nice with only minimal train delays of like an hour, which is better than normal, we just met up with the Elders there and spent the night in their apartment. Now, being my foolish self, I didn't realize how close we actually were to the Mediterranean Sea. So the next morning we woke up and just went for a run and the next thing I know, there we were on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea as the sun is coming up. Nothing like running as the sun is coming up on the sea next to some mountains. Basically one of the coolest things I have seen in my life. If any of you have the opportunity to go to Nice one day, I definitely would recommend that. But after waiting in line for a few hours, we finally had the legality card and basically had the rest of the day to do whatever until our train left later that night. So we decided just to walk by the beach and walk down the main shopping area back to the train station. Also apparently Nice is known for its rocky beaches or something. Definitely have to say I prefer the real sand kind.

We later took a train to go to a city, Toulon, farther down the coast where Steinbock had served for 7 months. We went down there so he could just sort of show me around a bit and so we could go and visit members there. As part of that, we got to take a boat ride across that harbor. And I know what you're thinking to yourself, "Oh a boat ride, there's nothing special about that." Actually there is. That was the only boat that missionaries in France can take. And lucky for us, we got to take it when it when the sun was setting. Pictures included. Toulon is pretty unique since you have a city that is set between some mountains and the ocean. Also, it is the harbor for the French Navy so we saw plenty of massive battleships around. We ended our night by going to an activity at the church and I got to talk to a bunch of members there and now they all want me to come and serve in Toulon. I'm down.

The next morning we took another long train ride back to Agen. The cool part about this one is that, if anybody remembers from the first few Harry Potter movies when they are on the train to go to Hogwarts, they have like the little rooms with seats in it and they have the candy trolley that comes by to sell food to them. Well unlike Harry, I didn't buy the whole cart, but the same exact thing happened to us. Small room on a train with a candy cart rolling by. Basically the only difference is that I can't do magic but the priesthood is kind of the same thing right? Oh and I'm in France not England.

But finally after all that, we made it back to Agen alive and well. 

I hope everyone has a great week and I'll see you next time!

Elder Wilson

A random castle we passed

The guys in Nice