Monday, January 25, 2016

Shalom from Chalon - Week 33

Hello once again. Glad to see everyone has stuck around to read another one of my letters but I just have to tell you, this one won't be too exciting. My comp and I were sick for the majority of the week, so we stayed inside to try and get better but I'll recap a few of the things that happened when I was actually outside. Let's get started!

The week honestly starts on Wednesday when we were able to go out to this outer city and teach a lady who referred herself on Mormon.org. We learned that one of her friends, who is an investigator in Spain, got her to refer herself and apparently they talk regularly about the gospel to each other. Last week, he even sent her a picture of the temple in Madrid and she said she really wants to visit it one day. Cool. Cool cool cool. Well we had a dope lesson with her and she killed it and was bearing a testimony she already had in our third visit with her. Next on the list is getting her to church. That's always an adventure here in France. She can walk the hour car ride to church right?

Later that night, there was a missionary broadcast for every missionary and all the mission presidents across the world. It was pretty cool thinking that there were like close to 85,000 people across the world watching the same broadcast as me and out there grinding to find people to teach. But yeah, that kind of stuff doesn't happen all the time. And I can't say it was everyone since like 10,000 of them were sleeping, but still. All the important people were watching it live. That's the important part.

Thursday I actually spent the day in Lyon with one of the guys there. After the district meeting where we ate burritos with crepes as tortillas which seems to happen pretty often here in this mission, I headed out with Elder Burton where we had an English day planned. Speaking English all day? Count me in. Anyways, we taught this dude from Africa who, even though he was speaking English, I literally only understood 30% of it. Think of someone speaking English who throws in some French words and some words from his African language and also adds lots of "yeah" and "dude" in there. Maybe I should be learning English and not French.

We had a plan to go and eat at this member's house in Lyon. And apparently they have a reputation for legendary dinners. Normally member families from Africa give us some pretty crazy stuff but I wasn't expecting all that much to happen. Well we went with a couple of other missionaries from Lyon and just sat around talking for a while. The mom brought out this massive quiche and massive bowl of pasta and told us we had to finish it all. And when they say you have to eat it all, they actually mean it. Like they won't let you leave until do. Haha. And ya know we ate that portion fairly easily. Four missionaries can eat a fair bit. Well after we were done, she actually brought out the exact same thing again. Now after struggling though about half of all of that, she brought out about 60 or so apple scones she had made and I somehow ate a dozen of them. My comp and I actually had to leave after that to get to an appointment but I hope the other guys made it out alive.

The last guy for the night ended up canceling on us right when we got there so we just headed back to the metro and actually talked with a bunch of people from different countries in Africa, a dude from Morocco, a girl from Australia, a Canadian and of course a bunch of French people. Not a bad assortment for that one metro ride.

The next morning I just got up and headed back out to Chalon to change companions back with the Zone Leaders. We had a full day ahead of us too. We took a bus out to this city call La Creausot to the west of Chalon and met with a couple of members and visited some less actives. We took a bus back to Chalon were we met up with the Senior Couple here and they took us to go and visit a family who lived right next to the border of Switzerland. I almost made it stepping foot in Switzerland but that goal will have to be accomplished another day. This family was actually super cool and it was pretty cool to be speaking English, Spanish, French and German between everyone there. Have to say I got my cultural experience in for the day. Oh, and we had some Swiss chocolate and some Chilean pizza. Enough countries for the day I'd say.

We had this new American couple move into the branch a few weeks back. Well they actually didn't speak a ton of French so I sat there translating for them for a good part of church. But the husband actually graduated from BYU and it's always fun talking with someone who is easy to relate to like that. His wife is training in a French restaurant right now and since he doesn't have much going on, he said he'd be down to work with us. Those Americans going in a clutch. But it should be pretty fun to see what other French things we can make fun of in the next little bit. Only Americans who have lived in France will understand.

That basically ends the week. I hope everyone had a great week and shout out to Trace and Ben for having their birth week last week.

Love you all,

Elder Wilson

Monday, January 18, 2016

We'll Take Four Hot Chocolates, Please - Week 32

This week's edition of "What did Wilson do in the seven days since I last heard from him" includes a trip to a bar, sightseeing more of the countryside and a trip to Lyon. I know you're just dying to find out so I'll get right to it!

Well the week starts off normally on Mondays but since literally nothing happened on Monday, we'll start this week on Tuesday and pretend like that's completely normal alright? First off, let me tell you, having a senior missionary couple in the same city as you is awesome! You get to go and visit some less actives and some members that normally would be impossible because of not having a car. Well on Tuesday we went with the senior couple, Elder and Sister Snow, to go and visit some less actives in this city called Beaune (pronounced like bone). Our first stop along the voyage was to this nice lady who loves the church. Well nothing seemed weird about that whole situation until I walked into her apartment and counted the six cats that she had. That's right six. Also, I could mention the three dogs too but I'll just leave it like that. It's okay, it's not like I'm allergic to cats. Luckily I made it out of there with no reactions. But she was nice and told us a little bit of her life story. What I've learned is that everyone that you meet always has a cool life story.

Then, we had an appointment with another person but we were a little early so we decided to stop by this other ladies' house who apparently is really hard to get ahold of and never answers the door. I should first mention that here in France, everyone has gates and fences around their homes and you have to ring their doorbell and then talk to them through the speaker or just yell back and forth for a while. Well this time the wall was pretty tall but I was just tall enough to barely see over it. We rang her doorbell and I saw her come to the window and so to show we were friendlies, I took my tag and showed it to her and she saw that and let us right in. Being tall does help sometimes. We ended up just briefly talking with her and then met with our last less active at the train station in the city. She said she didn't have enough room back at her apartment for all of us so we decided to walk into the nearest social place where we could talk. Well since this is France and a lot of people like to drink, the bar right across the street from the station happened to be a lovely place to meet. We started talking for a while and the bar owner came over and asked us what we wanted and we all at the same time asked for hot chocolate. Only Mormons would do something like that. But it actually was pretty good hot chocolate. We ended up just sitting and talking with her for a while and then headed back home after that adventure for the day.

The next day we took another trip with the Snows to a city called Macon. We visited a super cool Tahitian member and then went and taught a lady who had referred herself on Mormon.org. That usually doesn't happen. Well we ended up having a nice second lesson with her and at the end she asked if we had any more Books of Mormon (Book of Mormons, Book of Mormon(s) or however you say multiple of Book of Mormon), because she had a friend who asked about it and wanted one too. Investigators already doing missionary work. What a stud. That night we actually ended up teaching an English class at the church. We went over words for what Americans eat for breakfast and it always baffles French people. Like nobody here eats cereal and milk and they couldn't understand why there was no cheese involved. Always funny talking about American things to French people.

What happened the next day? You guessed it. Another car ride out to the countryside with the Snows. We went and visited this super sweet old lady who didn't get visitors a lot and so she was really happy to see us. We just talked for a while and like every French person, she asked me how tall I was and they are always surprised when I say I'm 2 meters tall. That's about 6 foot 6 for you Americans (although I'm really 6'7"). At least it's a good conversation starter. But after that visit, we were driving back and the senior couple said they wanted to take a different, more scenic route home. I'm never going to argue with a drive through the country. Well we drove passed a few castles, a handful of chateaus and decided to eat some pizza at this Italian place right across the street from a pretty big chateau. Can't say I've ever done that before. But it was awesome. We got out at one of them and took a couple pictures just for your enjoyment.

Friday came rolling around and we were able to spend most of the day in Lyon for a zone training. We made it pretty easily there and got our way through the metro. As part of the "training," we played this game that was basically Hungry Hungry Hippos but in real life. Just imagine a bunch of missionaries laying down on skateboards and being rolled into a pile of balloons and being yanked back by a rope while still looking good in their missionary attire. That's about what it was like. Proud to say my team won.

On our way to the train station to catch our train back to Chalon, we were a little hurried and we found our train and got on. After sitting there for a little while, this lady came up to me and asked if we had tickets for our seats because she had tickets for the same seats. After being perplexed for a little bit, we figured out that there had been two trains going north that both stopped in the city we were supposed to get off at to catch a connecting train. Now you wouldn't think it was a big deal but the problem was that the two stations happened to be across town from each other. So yes, we were on the wrong train and missed our connecting one. But luckily we just hopped on a bus that took us to the other station, waited around for about an hour and were back on our way to our original destination.

That's the latest and greatest. Now let's see what's happening in your neck of the woods!

Elder Wilson III





 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Kicking It On the Saône - Week 31

For those uncultured Americans out there, which once was me before I came here, the Saône River is like one of the five major rivers here in France and France takes their rivers seriously sometimes. Along with their bread and weird cheeses. Note to self - don't be making fun of them for that. Anyways, let's get on to the week shall we?

After my whole 10 hour train adventure last Monday, I finally got all settled in to my new apartment. Right after I sent my email last week, we went off to FHE with a bunch of the members in the branch. I should also make a side note that this city is famous for making missionaries fat because of how much food they give us. But anyways, after FHE was over, everyone brought dessert to eat and one tradition here is that, in order to be a proper member of the branch, the new guy has to take part of eating a piece of cake. It's just a piece of cake right? It looks like a nice innocent piece of delicious cake but then they take a can of whipped cream and literally put at least 6 inches covering the entire thing and you have to finish it or else you basically get shamed for a while. I should also mention that they decided to do this after I had already eaten the other plethora of French desserts. After barely surviving that, I was officially welcomed into the branch. Apparently it's not like a one time thing either, it's a weekly thing. I guess I'll sacrifice.

But for the rest of the week we visited a bunch of members and literally left every single one of their houses with a bag of food. It's great.

It also rains literally all day long here. I actually only saw the sun twice last week. Let's hope my luck increases to at least four times this week. Is this too much to ask?

Yesterday at church was Branch Conference and so the Stake Presidency showed up with their families. Now you wouldn't think that's very exciting at all but the thing is, all of the Stake President's family is American. His wife and all five of their kids. The best part though was that his wife just looked like a Utah Mormon Mom. For those of you who actually know what I'm talking about, here's a gold star. But it was nice to be able to talk to some real Americans who aren't missionaries for the first time on my mission. We just got to sit there and talk about how America is so much better. Only the usual.

The Elders that were here not long before me actually baptized someone and he comes to all the activities and stuff and is super cool. But we were at the church last Saturday night and we were singing with some people from the branch and we heard some other people come in to the room so we looked and didn't recognize them. They introduced themselves as the parents of our recent convert. Well after talking for a bit, we learned that they didn't even know that he had been baptized and we went on to teach them all the missionary lessons pretty quickly. But at least now they know we are normal people who do normal things. For the most part of course.

Besides those things, I've been sick all week and so we stayed inside one day and tried to avoid standing outside in the rain as much as possible which is kind of difficult here but I'm getting better at least.

I also forgot to mention that I began my blackout year last week. A.k.a. I won't touch any American soil for all of 2016. Enjoy it for me will ya?

Love you all!

Blake



My new companion Elder Guyaux. We just learned that his Dad grew up with my Dad in Riverside, CA. You never know who you are going to meet while in France!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Chalon-Sur-Saone - Week 30

This email is going to be a quick one this week because I don't have a ton of time since I actually got transferred this week to this city called Chalon just above Lyon so I literally took a train across the entire mission today. That's about 10 hours on train for those of you wondering at home. But yeah, the new city should shake things up and should be fun!

Now this week features going grocery shopping with one of our investigators again. That always turns into a fun time. Somehow we end up with like 3 bags of groceries and I'm not sure how she was able to carry those by herself before our help. Some things in this world will just go unanswered. But afterwards she bought this new raclette grill that she wanted to use with us and so naturally we said yes. But for those Americans wondering, raclette is basically when you take some potatoes and pour cheese all over them and eat them with grilled meat. It's delicious. After stuffing ourselves full, we headed out and cleaned the church for a little while.

We were invited over to this less active's house for New Year's Eve and he had a friend come over as well. His friend's hobby is cooking so it made for a great night. Like I'm talking four courses and some of them looked like the fancy kind of plates with like lettuce underneath everything and there was even caviar that was featured. Along with duck and the normal fois gras. Just the French way I guess. But we actually ended up giving the less active a blessing and after working with him for the entire 6 months I was there, he finally came back to church for my last week. Basically the best thing that could have happened for my last week there. His nickname for me is actually little Blake too. Not sure where he got the little from ...

Also at church I had one of those moments that reminded me why I am on a mission. So it was testimony meeting during Sacrament and one of the members got up to talk for a bit and she had been the member that I had been with probably the most in Agen. We would usually go to her house every Friday and we spent a lot of time with her family and trying to work with her husband to come to church. But basically she got up and started to just talk about how much she appreciated missionaries and thanked me for everything I had done and started crying. One of those heart wrenching things since I knew I was going to leave the next day.

But besides all that, I rang a Catholic Church bell this week and that basically concludes my ramblings for the week. Chalon is turning out to be great so far so we will see what the future has in store. Enjoy some pics of my new area.

Love,

Blake



Inline image 4


Inline image 2


Inline image 5




Chalone1


Inline image 6
Displaying image.png