Monday, June 27, 2016

Soccer Took Over France - Weeks 54 and 55

Now I don't know how current you are with your world events but here in France, the second biggest soccer tournament is going on. Now in case you didn't know, Europeans really like their soccer and go crazy when it happens. For this whole month, there have been people walking around everywhere wearing their country’s gear, especially on game days. I'm in a small town but there are still TV’s showing the games all the time in the middle of the city. Apparently it’s just crazy in the bigger cities and it’s been affecting the missionaries there. 

We were out contacting yesterday and we soon learned France was playing their soccer game at that moment and it was basically useless for us to be outside since everyone was watching the game. We ended up just going back home for a bit and then going out later with all the Frenchies out waving their flags and honking their horns. Looks like they must have won. At least they were all in a good mood at that point. 

Apparently back in like 1989 or something, the president of France made a law that on June 21st every year, every city has to put on a music festival that’s free to everyone to celebrate the beginning of summer and all that good stuff. Obviously we took advantage of this and walked around for a bit with all the stages were set up with different bands and people singing around town. It was great for us since there were so many people out to talk to but it is always entertaining to listen to French people sing American songs with their French accents. I don’t know if that will ever get old. 

Wednesdays we have this group of kids that we like to play soccer with and talk about Jesus when we can of course. But this week, we showed up and there happened to be 4 black guys and 4 white guys and so one of the black guys yelled out, "Whites versus Blacks for teams." I thought it was a pretty fun idea so we decided to roll with it. Since I don’t really play soccer and we had an English guy and 2 French guys on my team, I decided just to sit in the goal and let them do what they do. Well after playing for about an hour, the other team actually left because we were beating them so badly. Thanks to my goalkeeping of course.

On Thursday we were able to go on an exchange with the guys down in Aix for the day. I went down with one of the guys and we taught a few of their investigators and we walked around the city for a little while too. I have to say, the Cathedral in Aix is one of the coolest I've seen but the city in general is pretty cool. On our way back from Aix the next day, we had to take a train for 3 hours to get back up to Gap. Everything was going great but midway through the ride, the AC decided to break down which left us sitting in a train where it was steadily getting more and more humid. Honestly probably one of the top 10 hottest experiences in my life. Yeah it was pretty rough. I never thought 85 degree weather would feel good when we got off the train.

On Saturday this last week, we taught one of our investigators who lives up in the hills in Gap and the bus that goes up there doesn’t usually happen too often so sometimes we just walk it there and back. Well after having a great lesson with him he told us that the Book of Mormon just makes sense and he thinks it’s better than the Bible because he said he had an experience where he saw a light in his bedroom years ago just like Joseph Smith and so this all makes sense to him. Let’s hope the best for him. On the way back, we had to walk through this wooded area and on the side of the road, we saw this old school America Cadillac so of course we went to go look at it. Well turns out there was an entire car show going on including at least 8 Ferraris and a handful of other super cars and a bunch of old school cars. I guess the blessings of missionary work - seeing a bunch of really cool cars in the mountains of a small city. 

(Side note for you guys, our investigator, he’s like 70ish years old, said he has had visions and midway through talking, he said he saw the assassination of President Kennedy and his killer but he couldn’t tell us that. Ha ha, the people you meet while on a mission.)

That about wraps up this last week. Thanks for all you guys do. Love you all!

Blake












My British Comp!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Year One in the Books - Week 53

Hey everyone. It’s me. Still out here in good ol’ France enjoying enough pastries for all of us. You can thank me later. But this was actually a pretty solid week. With all the strikes and things going on, we didn't leave at all but it’s nice to be able to stick around in your little city you call home. 

Something I did learn this week though, was that France has A LOT of cherry trees. I swear the city changed a couple shades of red this last week. We were out trying to find a couple of houses and then all of a sudden we found a cherry tree full of perfect cherries. And luckily since I'm tall, I was able to get to all the ones that were still there. I guess there is a couple of perks to being tall. The rest of the week we found a bunch of other trees full of them and had our fair share. Another random thing about cherries, a member called us this week and said she was outside our apartment and gave us a bag of cherries. I guess cherries are a popular thing here. I'm not complaining.

Being a missionary in France, the visas we get at the beginning of our mission are only good for a year and so right around the year mark of our mission, you get to go and walk into a French government building, tell them you're a foreigner and then wait in a line to give them all these papers to tell them you are here legally and all that good stuff. I got to the front of the line and realized I forgot a certain part of my visa from when I first got to France back at the apartment. We left, went and grabbed that paper and came back and then she told me I didn't have my birth certificate in my stack of papers, we went back to the apartment again and after searching for a little bit I finally found it to prove that I'm American. If my height and style didn’t give it away already. But luckily I got that all figured out and get to go back in 5 to 9 weeks to pick up the new visa. Just so you do not think I am that absent minded, every prefecture requires different paperwork and I didn’t totally know what I needed to bring with me. 

Also this week, we had interviews with our President but since it’s a little hard to get everyone up to Lyon to do face to face ones, we've just been doing them over Skype. Well just as my luck has it, my comp and I were the last two to do interviews with him. Good thing I have a last name that starts with a W and was always last in line in elementary school so I'm used to it. But they ended being about a half an hour behind schedule so we sat and talked with Sister Brown, President's wife, for a good 10 minutes about BYU sports. For those who actually follow it like I do, they used to be next door neighbors with BYU’s new head football coach. Mormons have a small world. 

As part of our week, we have our weekly crepe night that we do at the church for anyone who wants to come. Normally it’s just members and a bunch of our investigators. You may be thinking, yeah what’s so special about that? Well you see, one of the regulars who comes just had a friend come back from England and bought some peanut butter for him. Well it turns out he doesn’t actually like it so I got to enjoy about half a dozen peanut butter and jelly crepes. Man that stuff is good. You realize how good it really is when you don't eat it for a year.

Friday happened to be the exact date that I went into the MTC a year ago. To celebrate it, I decided to do one of the most American things I could think, for lunch we ate at a Chinese buffet. Man that stuff is good. And this wasn't any of that Panda Express Chinese food, which I learned Chinese people like to make fun of Americans for calling it real Chinese food, but some real Chinese food. After eating 6ish plates of food later, we hobbled out of there and couldn't do a ton of walking for the next hour. Definitely going back to that place again. 

The rest of the week we did a lot of contacting on the street. One really cool thing that did happen was we were walking down the street and this guy comes running out of a store asking what we did. Somehow people just know we talk about Jesus without reading our name tags. We ended up talking with him for the next 20 minutes and giving him a Book of Mormon and teaching him the Restoration. He said he had tried all the different religions and hadn't found the right one for him yet. It’s always pretty cool when things like that happen as a missionary.  Let’s hope for the best with him.

That about wraps it up here. Hope everyone has a great week and you can hear from me at the same time and same place next week. Bye!

EBW











video

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Beginning of the End - Week 52

Now hold up. I know that probably sounds pretty dark and dreary but I found it fitting for this time in my mission. This week officially marks my 1 year on a mission and the beginning of the 2nd year here in France. Time has gone by really quick and it's going to be a fast last year.

Now to get on to the week I guess.

Right now in France, there is this huge strike that's going on which has basically canceled almost all of the trains which all the missionaries take for transportation so there hasn't been much traveling going on here for once in my mission! That didn't keep us from leaving the city though. But first to the beginning of the week. We went knocking doors earlier this week and after a few doors we knocked, we actually got let in for one of the first times in my missions. And let me tell ya, I've knock quite a few doors. Well after talking with them and getting through the restoration lesson with them, they basically said they let us in because they wanted to know what we really did but they weren't interested in what we shared. They said they had their beliefs in nature but they were really nice when we talked with them.

We had this rendez vous with a newer-ish member here in Gap. I'm still trying to get to know everyone here since about 80% of the branch lives way outside of the city. But we got talking with her and got to her conversion story and it never ceases to amaze me how there always seems to be a lot of things that brings them to the church somehow. French members always love to share their stories of their conversions too. But the rendez vous ended with us translating an American cookie recipe she has into French.

We have been going through our area book a lot recently with all the people who missionaries have contacted over the years and tried calling a few. We ended up getting through to this guy who is a coach of the hockey team here in Gap, which happens to be the best in France apparently. He is actually from Rhode Island and has known the missionaries for like 40 years or something. Pretty crazy. But after talking for a little while, he went and showed us all the service that missions have done for him over the years. Built him a sauna and dug out this huge cave under his house and a few other things. Crazy stuff. I mean it's free service so why not right?

Thursday I actually spent down in Manosque with one of the guys there. We did some contacting and all that good stuff but we were mostly looking for someone they had talked to a few days earlier and said they'd meet outside the post office the day before but the missionaries forgot to go. Well after eating dinner, Elder Strong showed me a little bit around the inner city that actually used to be a castle with some huge walls around it and we went down this random alley way and on the other end of it was the guy we were looking for. We ended up teaching him again and I think he even went to church down there yesterday. Pretty cool stuff I'd say.

Our apartment here is a little bit older and so our stove actually runs off of propane from a gas tank that is hooked up in a cabinet right next to it. Well we were cooking dinner on Friday night and our tank ran out. After carrying around this empty tank for an hour looking for somewhere to exchange it, we eventually gave up and hid it in the bushes to grab in the morning and went and got some fried chicken for dinner. Then in the morning we went and grabbed it again and actually found a place to exchange it. At least the gas stove cooks things faster.

At church yesterday, we had a broadcast that was done in Salt Lake for all of the stakes in Western Europe. Well one of the speakers for it was Bishop Caussé, who originally did his talk in English but actually rerecorded it into French. It was pretty sweet to actually hear French from him instead of the normal guy who translates all the church things into French.

Well that about wraps things up. I think I'll be spending all week here in Gap so we'll see what we can do! Love you all. Have a great week!

Blake