Monday, May 30, 2016

Pig Skins and Lost Buses - Week 51

Hello once again. I hope everyone is going great and are getting their summer tans on. My white shirt tan is coming along nicely. But let's get this week started shall we?

This week starts out last Monday when we actually were down in Aix with the whole zone and we all just spent the day hanging out at the church down there. It's always fun to just chill with other Americans
once in a while since you can't really find that around all the time these days. But we made some hot dogs and threw the old pig skin around. Making the American summer as best we can here. We actually spent the night as a zone contacting around the city and just seeing what we could do all together in a couple of hours. It's pretty cool what work gets done when you're all together somewhere. Then that night we had twelve guys all sleeping in the same apartment which always makes for a fun time.


Aitchison and I have been starting this new thing on Wednesdays where we go and play some soccer, or football for all you Brits out there (@ElderAitchison), with these guys that we contacted on the road a few weeks ago. Well usually how it goes is he is the one who actually plays soccer and gets their respect while I sit on the side and talk to anyone else who is there. It's work out pretty well so far considering we've got some phone numbers and whenever they see us they also ask when we can play with them again. Glad at least one of us can play soccer.

Right now in France there is a pretty big strike going on with a lot of the employees here which has really affected transportation in and out of cities for us missionaries. Well we had a district meeting down in Manosque on Friday but because of all the strikes going on, we actually had to take a bus down on Thursday night to get there. You might be thinking, "Oh that's not bad that you had to take a bus the night before. Anyone could do that." The best part was afterwards. After having the meeting, one of the Elders in Manosque used to work at Pei Wei and made us some really good Chinese food. Then we went back to the train station to try and catch the bus. Well after finding out that one was canceled we tried to run over to the other bus station in town where there was another bus that was supposed to leave. Turns out that one was canceled too, so we waited around for about 3 more hours to catch one that actually came. Oh and I forgot to mention that that was the first hot day of the summer but luckily I had worn short sleeves for once.

I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with mission work but part of it is that all the missionaries who have served in a specific city, they write down the contact info of people they meet on the street so hopefully missionaries later can contact them if they aren't able to. Well we were calling some of the people on these lists and sometimes you get some really funny situations come up. One of my personal favorites this last week.

Me - "Hey is this (enter French name here)?"
Him - "Yeah it is but who is this?"
Me - "It's the missionaries. How are you doing?"
Him - "The whole?"
Me - "The Missionaries."
Him - "I don't remember you."
Me - "Ya know the guys in white shirts and ties who talk about Jesus?"
Him - "Oh yeah. You guys were cool. How ya doing?"

Then I proceeded to fix a rendez vous with him for this week. I'm not sure if it was if I mentioned Jesus or that I mentioned I was nicely dressed that he remembered us. We'll just say both.


Besides all that stuff, missionary work is still going on great. Thanks for all the emails and I hope you enjoy some summer sun for me.

Love you,

Elder Wilson



video
Happy late Mother's Day!


Monday, May 23, 2016

Long Bus Rides and Plenty of Cereal - Week 50

Another week has come and gone. This one should be a pretty short one because not much went on this week but I'll try and squeeze everything I can out of it.

This week started off like most weeks in a small city. Doing all the normal P-day stuff except since this is France, there happened to be some random holiday on Monday so most of the clothing stores were closed. I'll have to hold off on buying some pointy shoes to become like a real French person. But since almost everything was closed, there wasn't anyone around and I guess we didn't get the memo to stay inside all day. That seems to happen when you're a missionary.

The next couples of day we did all the normal missionary stuff. Knock some doors, bother old French people taking a walk down the street that wore berets and make some missionary pasta. Couldn't forget those important details.

Usually on Wednesdays, we go and play soccer with a bunch other people just to try and make friends to see if we could eventually teach them. We were playing for a bit and these two younger kids wanted to play and so of course we took them on our team because if you know me, soccer is the sport I'm least skilled with. It never ceases to amaze me the skill of these little kids and showing me up like it’s nothing. I guess that's what happens when all they do in their free time is play soccer.

A huge part of the French culture is to have strikes for things. Usually it’s for working laws or whatever but they just always have marches going a lot of the time. Well this last week there happened to be a strike on the trains. And just a side note, trains is how the missionaries get everywhere. But we had a zone training down in Aix on Thursday and in order to get there we had to take a couple hour bus ride down to Manosque where we stayed with the Elders there for the night and ate some raclette pizza. If you’ve been to France you'll know what that is but if not, imagine potatoes, cheese and bacon put everywhere on a pizza. Pretty good, eh? But then we just took another bus down in the morning to get to Aix in time for the training.

For lunch we just decided to bring a ton of cereal and milk and eat them. It’s always fun trying to explain the whole cereal and milk concept to French people because that’s still not really a thing here. I guess they just stick with their baguettes and cheese. Then afterwards, we took our 3 hour bus ride back up to Gap. At least there are mountains the whole time with a lot snow on top of them. Makes for some pretty good pictures.

There is a member in the branch here who actually used to be a professional golfer back in his day. Whenever I learn someone really likes a certain sport, I always try and talk with them for a while. But I will always stand by this point: if you can talk about sports at all, you can talk with anyone in the world who also likes sports, and usually for quite some time. It hasn't failed me yet. I got him to help me out with my swing so we'll see what I can pull off when I get back in a year. Jordan Spieth 2.0 anybody?

That about wraps the week up. Take care everyone!

EBW





Monday, May 16, 2016

Kids Clothing Stores and British Accents - Weeks 48 and 49

Well hello all, once again. I'm now currently sitting in a small church in a town in the middle of the Swiss Alps. Now you may be wondering how I got here because last time I wrote about anything, I was still in Lyon probably driving a car around doing who knows what. Well I'm actually going to talk about this last week and then give a brief recap of the week before at the end. Let’s go shall we?

Well this week starts off with me on a train heading down towards Marseille. As you might have guessed, yeah, I did get transferred. I was transferred to a city called Gap. No, not the clothing store that I went to all the time when I was little where my mom bought me my little polo shirts and plaid shorts but a small town in the mountains. It’s a pretty nice place that is 360 degree mountains and views all around. It is the highest city in France at 750 meters above sea level and it is a valley on the top of the Swiss Alps that was created from a glacier. It is close to the Italian border on the east with Switzerland to the north, the valleys of southern France to the west and the Mediterranean sea to the south. Just up here yodeling and eating Swiss chocolate!

The first weeks in a new city basically just consists of meeting all the members, less actives and everyone the previous missionaries had been teaching. Now one of my favorite parts about it is that I can go up to someone on the street and create the excuse that I'm new and ask them some random questions and they always end up asking what an American with a terrible French accent is doing in a town in the Alps. Not too bad of a way to talk about Jesus.

Missionaries here have set up some weekly events that go on at the church. One of them happens to be an English class that we teach with about half a dozen or so people that come to it. It’s pretty fun to have all these French people talking English with their French accents just as you see in the movie Ratatouille. Except they don’t all have mustaches and wear berets. Speaking of which, I realized this week that there aren’t many movies about French things. Except for that movie. I'll have to watch it again and let you know how similar it is.

One person we did go see this week was a lady who is from Nigeria. Well we initially walked in to the lesson and just had three people in there, one of which was a member. I think within the next 30 minutes that followed, I saw at least half a dozen other people come in including someone with some pink dreads. That seems to be a popular thing here.

A few days ago, the missionaries from Aix came up to spend the day with us and see how things were going. Well as part of it, Elder Szuch and I talked to some guys playing this game called boules that’s really popular in France. Basically everyone has some metal balls, they toss them and try to land them as close as possible to this smaller ball. The game is huge here and we ended up playing with the guys for a bit and talked about American stuff. Usually what happens with older teenage kids.

My new companion, Elder Atchison, comes from England and so I'll definitely let you know when I've learned how to make good fish and chips and learned some British sayings. The accent might be harder but we'll see what I can do.

Now, to just briefly review my week two weeks ago.

That Monday we went to President's house for the day to hang out for P-day with all the other missionaries around and we actually got a picture this time. But what was cool is earlier in the day, we actually got to teach one of our investigators. Well I should say the only investigator that we had. But he's still as great as always. We passed him to the Sisters back in Lyon, since Elder Carlson and I knew we would be transferred, so he should be doing great.

Basically for the rest of the week, we had to move a couple of missionaries to some new apartments. But one of the apartments we moved was some Sisters in Lyon who probably have the nicest apartment now in the whole mission. Sisters have it easy.

After getting done with that, the next day we took off to go down to Tarbes to do their move. We had like two and a half days to drive 6 hours there, move them and make it back another 6 hours in time for a baptism Saturday morning for one of the Chinese investigators. The whole move down in Tarbes wasn't too bad but I think the highlight of it all was that we brought some bikes for them to use down there and so later one night, we went looking for some food on the bikes and happened to find a skate park type of thing and went and had fun on that for a little while. Yeah don't worry, neither of us got hurt.

We luckily made it back by Friday night to go to the baptism. What's cool about being in Lyon was that all the missionaries come to support anyone getting baptized and so there were over twenty missionaries there for it. 

That morning we got transfer calls and like I said before, I'm going up to Gap for a couple months. The moving companionship of Wilson and Carlson was actually dissolved because President needed us more doing teaching than doing moving. Actually, most of the office Elders were transferred out of the office because our mission is getting smaller and there just is not the need to have so many Elders in the office. So I will be training a bleu (that's what greenies are called) in Gap.

For the rest of that Saturday, we basically just packed and then one of the senior couples invited everyone from the office to eat dinner because they knew so many of us were leaving. It's always fun to have all the senior couples making fun of the young kids as they call us. Then Sunday was church, more packing and then getting to talk to the family for Mother's Day. Happy super late Mother's Day to anyone out there. A week late is still acceptable right?

That about wraps it up. I hope everyone is enjoying their summer and luckily it hasn't gotten too hot here yet. Which it probably won't since I'm hanging out on the top of a glacier for the summer! Catch you guys next week!

Much love, 

Elder W




P-day with the Lyon Zones


The District


The baptism


The last of the France Lyon Mission moving companionships. We will go on the record books as being the final guys. Saved the best for last.


The going away dinner : (


Poor Elder Mahaffey. He doesn't know what he is going to do without us.


Gap here I come!

  






Enjoying the view from the balcony of our apartment

Monday, May 2, 2016

Did Somebody Say Road Trip? - Week 47

Yeah, yeah I know what you're thinking. Does this kid ever go and do the typical missionary work? From everything I've talked about the past 5 weeks, you wouldn't think so but it’s been a pretty good week. Let me explain.

The week started out last Monday like any normal week. But this particular Monday we decided to get the whole Zone together to do some activities for P-day. We all got together at this park and decided to play real American football. Now, you wouldn't think that a bunch of Americans playing football in the middle of the park would be weird. But you forgot that we were in the middle of France with people watching and wondering what the heck we were doing. For some reason, football is just a really foreign concept to French people. They don't understand the whole starting and stopping thing. To make things better, a few of the missionaries' tags kept falling off and so you had like 20 people wandering around looking for stuff in the grass. Now I understand why they all think Americans are so weird. 

Last week at church a member of the ward came up to us and said he had a friend that he had set up a rendez vous with and he wanted us to come and teach with him on Wednesday. So we all showed up to the church and basically just gave him a restoration lesson and all the simple church things. Afterwards, we set up another appointment for the next Monday. Well we showed up to that one this morning and started to teach our new friend more stuff and he was just a super solid guy who seems to just get things which is sometimes a hard thing to come by while teaching in France. He talked about how he wanted to actually get baptized but we still need to teach him first, so if everything goes well in the next couple of weeks, he should be baptized in about a month. Looks like missionary work does get done even when we sit in a car or in the office all day.

We've had this trip planned to go up to Switzerland for a while and fix some stuff, give people more furniture, ya know, the normal stuff we do. But after kind of throwing the word out there, everyone seemed to need something. After figuring things out, we realized there was no way we would be able to fit everything into our single car. Luckily the other office guys happened to be there and after a bit of convincing the senior couples in the office, we got the go to bring them and a second car with us. Road trip anyone? But the only problem was, the Assistants had taken the bigger van that we needed. The van was in Aix so Carlson and I drove down to Aix on Thursday to grab it to take it to Switzerland. We had a nice drive down to Aix and back through the California-esque landscape. Friday morning we loaded up the cars and headed out. 

As part of the trip, we had to deliver these floor mats to basically every apartment that had wood floors. Well turns out most of the apartments do so we had to go and hit almost every city in Switzerland that has missionaries. After going up to Lausanne and to the IKEA there, we brought the guys up there a bunch of stuff for their apartment and then we went to Yverdon, Martigny, Geneva, Annemasse, Saleve, St. Genis, and back to Lausanne again doing random other things. Then finally we got back to Lyon at about midnight on Saturday night and got up for 9 o'clock church like good missionaries. 

That's about it. Transfers happen this next week so we will see how all that goes.

Love you all and have a great week!

Blake