Monday, August 29, 2016

Capture the Title of Liberty - Week 64

Today's email is brought to you by the number 9. Which happens to be a little less than the amount of months I have left until I go home. It also happens to be a couple more days then the amount of days until College football kicks off. #BeatArizona

But it was another solid week up here in Gap. We got a call from the Walkers, the senior couple who used to serve here but were in Lyon to help out in the mission office and it turns out they were coming back 
on Monday and just wanted us to help them unload some stuff from their car. Luckily I had a little experience doing that stuff so on Monday we went and helped them out and they even took us to eat at McDonald's. What nice people. The only problem though is we had already eaten there for lunch but when they asked if they could take us to McDonald's for dinner, we couldn't pass up a free dinner.

For the past few weeks we've been going to play soccer with some guys that we have met here in Gap. We've been talking to this one kid a bunch and this week he said he is interested as to why there was an American and a British kid in Gap. It had come up a little before when we talked to other people but this is the first time he really wondered. Basically we got talking and we taught him the first lesson and he started telling us about his past and how he was adopted and all this stuff. One of his friends who was playing with him didn't even know he was adopted. It's just cool to see what can happen when you start actually talking about gospel things.

Later that same night we had a few hours on our hands so we decided to take one of the bus lines to the end of the line to basically the top of one of the hills in Gap to check on a couple people and to finish off porting (tracting) a neighborhood that we had started before. Well we were pretty successful with that stuff and then we realized that there weren't any more buses that could take us back home. So we just started walking back home before it really got dark. Turns out we saw a couple people that we hadn't seen in a while and so it all worked out in our favor. Except that we had to walk the 3 miles back home. At least it was downhill and not up.

The next day we went out with the Walkers to our branch president's house. The thing is he lives out in the mountains. Like I'm talking we had to drive on winding roads for an hour to get up there. We basically went up there to help him do some service in his yard because his wife is expecting their 5 child and he's been a little occupied with his other kids. But at least I got better at cutting up wood and learned how to mix cement. Those are life skills right there.

Last that night we took a bus down to Aix to go to Zone Conference the next day. I still don't think I'll ever get used to these 4-hour bus rides. But while I was sitting there eating some pizza that we had bought in the downtown area, I came to the realization that I was sitting in the middle of Provence of southern France eating some pizza on a summer's night. It's a pretty cool place where I serve.

We got up the next morning and made our way to the chapel which happened to be across the street from the Elders’ apartment and we had our Zone Conference. It was a pretty normal conference but you know whenever Sister Brown gets up to talk, she always has something interesting up her sleeve. Well the theme of the conference was about the whole Title of Liberty in the Book of Mormon so for her game this time, she thought it would be fun to play capture the flag complete with Nerf guns and everything. I would imagine it was pretty funny watching twenty people in shirts and ties running around shooting each other with Nerf guns in the middle of the day outside of a church. But hey, at least my team won.

That basically wraps up the excitement for the week. I hope everyone is getting all settled in starting school again. Make sure to look your best of course on the first day because it's probably the only day your mom will take your picture before school and when your mom brings out the kid pictures for your future spouse, you need to look good.

Also welcome to the most wonderful time of the year. College football kickoff week. Enjoy some football for me.

EBW














Monday, August 22, 2016

Poppin' Some Bubbly - Week 63

Well I find myself in the same place as last week. Still sitting somewhere in a small city in the south of France. But honestly I realized this last week that I'm currently living in the south of France in the Alps. I'm impressed they trust 20-year-old guys to go out and do things every day.

I learned that France has random holidays that they celebrate. The holidays usually come from the Catholic calendar or a day that some French King decided he wanted the day off. Last Monday we were waiting for a bus to pass to take us to go do our grocery shopping when after a few minutes we realized it wasn't going to come. After walking through town a little bit and seeing everything closed, we asked some people around what was up and apparently it was another holiday I've never heard of. Well at least all the French people got the day off. Except the ones at McDonald's. Thanks for my Big Mac.

We had district meeting down in Manosque again this week and since we live so far away, we had to come down the night before to sleep there. Well the Manosque missionaries happened to have a dinner appointment with a member that night who said we could come. Basically it was a family with six kids who were all older and they loved playing games. I'm not sure how many of you are caught up in your French card game culture but for those who aren't, there is this game called Werewolf where everyone is given an identity and you basically have a secret role and you have to decide as a town who to kill every day and you go through different night cycles. Anyways, French people love it and it's really fun when it's a mix of a bunch of French people and missionaries speaking different languages try to figure out who to get rid of. Maybe I'll bring it back to America.

District meeting was good. It's always nice just to get with other missionaries and talk and be normal people and share ideas of how to do things. But one guy in our district wants to be a chef when he gets home and so he made us this meal from the Reunion Islands. And luckily we have someone in the district from there and apparently it was pretty authentic. I wonder how many different kinds of food from different countries are on my mission. A lot probably.

We realized this last Tuesday that Aitchison and I have been together for 100 days and it also happened to be his 6-month mark. Well to celebrate, we had got some sparkling cider with one of those corks on it like a champagne bottle and decided to celebrate by blowing the top off and eating some bread and cheese for dinner. That's about as crazy of a party you'll get coming from Gap. Happy 6 months my little British friend.

We showed up to church on Sunday and just like any other Sunday nobody was there until 5 minutes before church started. Well all of a sudden people just kept showing up. And kept showing up and kept coming. On a normal Sunday we have about 20 people come but we had over 45 this week. Like we didn't even fit everyone in the chapel because it wasn't big enough for that many. It was weird seeing so many people at church. I guess that's what happens when I've served in tiny branches for so long. But our Branch President's wife is going to have a baby soon so he somehow was able to gets all four of his kids to church and handle them by himself. Well his two youngest wouldn't let him go during sacrament meeting so I showed one of them how to draw on my iPad and that kept her entertained through most of it. Between trying to listen and drawing some snowmen for her, I'm impressed how parents do it with multiple kids.

That's basically the week in a summary. Keep up the good work and I'll see you next week. Probably.

Elder BW



Train games thanks to Momma Wilson






Monday, August 15, 2016

2 Weeks in 1 - Weeks 61 and 62

Hey. Well looks like it’s been more than a week since the last weekly email. Whoops. Just go drink a large Dr. Pepper in my name and we'll call it even. But there's at least a few noteworthy things that happened from two weeks ago.

Last Thursday, Elder Aitchison and I were on our way to go to the church to drop off some things from later in the week. Well right next to the church there is a Bank of France building and they happened to be unloading some cash into some trucks to ship them out somewhere. Well we ended up being there at the right time right when they were pulling out. They had three huge armored trucks and probably at least a dozen police cars and motorcycles around protecting them. They blocked off all the roads around so nobody could get around anywhere. Good thinking by the French to put the money in three trucks so nobody knows where the money really is. I sure hope they didn't get picked up by the helicopter later down the road. 

We've been working with a member here in Gap to try and get her to invite some of her friends over when we are at her house so we can maybe get them interested to listen to our message. Well we were over at her house early last week and she invited us to come back and eat at her house on Saturday night with one of her friends. The first time we went over, that friend didn't end up coming so she invited us to come over again the next time. This time she ended up inviting four people and they all ended up coming and we got a free meal. Members are dope. We even have an appointment with one of her friends for this week too.

We were walking through the park here in Gap the other day, yeah the park because there is only one, and we got stopped by these two guys playing P├ętanque, a.k.a. the national sport of France. Normally we're pretty happy to stop and just talk with people especially when they start to ask us what we do and what we believe and all that stuff. Well turns out they are both evangelical preachers by trade and so when we said one thing that they didn't believe was true, they basically just tried to prove us wrong. Glad we're out here trying to help others out and not trying and make them feel bad. Anyways, it was just an interesting experience seeing that side of a preacher.

We were just walking down the street this week on our way to go visit a member when all of a sudden we hear "Oh MISSIONARIES!" coming from a car driving down the road. They pulled off to the side of the street right where we were and it turned out it’s a Mormon family from Canada who happened to be driving through Gap right when we were on the street. We ended up just talking for a bit and speaking good ol’ English with them. Man I love Mormon families from North America.

We went back down to Aix again this week for another meeting with our district. That usually means 3 hours on a train down there and a 3-hour bus ride back up. Looks like I'll be pretty used to road trips when I get home. Anybody down for a trip?

I've learned that throughout my mission, as a missionary, you will just meet some interesting people. For this week, we went over to a less active’s house to visit him. Well when we walked in, he was doing a puzzle and after kind of having small talk for a little bit, I realized he wasn't going to give us his attention until he was done with the puzzle. Well I can now say someone has been too busy doing a puzzle to talk to me.

That's about all the exciting things this week. I hope you're all having a great end of summer. If anyone sees my sister this week tell her happy birthday since she turns 16. 

Have a great week!

Blake



Fish and chips for the Brit!





Hanging out on our balcony


Monday, August 1, 2016

Katrina 2.0 - Week 60

Good morning!

This week basically starts on Wednesday when we were out contacting for a while. We walked up this not too popular street that was mostly just a short cut to go and visit some old investigators and stuff but we ended up stopping this guy named "L". He's from Senegal and has been studying in France for over 10 years. He owns his own business that makes Senegalese food and offers other Senegalese traditions for parties. But we basically started talking about eternal families with him and he told us he was feeling something on his skin a few times. There's something about when someone who is not a member starts to really feel the spirit and actually acknowledges it. We ended talking to him just on the street for a while. He has a stand at the weekly market and so we went and visited him again for a bit and he let us try some of the Senegalese food he made. Pretty good stuff.

Earlier in the day, we went and played our weekly soccer game with the usual guys. I'm pretty sure we know all the young guys in the entire city who play soccer. When we are walking around all the time, we always see some that we know and stop and talk for a bit.

Being in the middle of the southern Swiss Alps makes you feel decently isolated sometimes because the nearest missionaries are 2 hours away on train. But luckily we went out to their area this week and helped them out for the day. We ended up just doing some contacting with them and going to play this French game called Werewolf for a little while with a bunch of less actives. But there in Manosque, they have these boxes that the library sets up that anybody can put books in and take them anytime they want. We ended up walking around for a bit and putting Books of Mormon in all of them that we could find. That'd be one cool conversion story if something ever happens with them.

We slept the night there in Manosque and got transfer calls in the morning. I'll be staying around Gap with my same companion, Elder Aitchison, for another 6 weeks. With all this time spent with a British kid, I'll probably start singing "God Save the Queen" every now and again instead of just "My Country 'tis of Thee."

Saturday we had some extra time and decided to go and visit some less actives who weren't usually home but we decided to go and try anyway. Well actually a few weeks ago, we were walking down the street and one of these less actives we've been trying to get ahold of, drives up next to us and started talking to us for a bit and told us to come by sometime. We gave him a call Saturday and he was free and so we went and talked for a little while. He must have liked us because he wants us to come back and to "bring some of those American cookies we make."

That night, a member had invited us over because she wanted to have us to be there with one of her friends to try and introduce us to him. Well turns out he couldn't come so it was just us and her and her son all night eating together. Every time I eat with a French family, I swear they always eat way more food than any American usually eats. I guess it helps when you eat for 2 hours unlike in America. But luckily they said they'll try and get him to come again next week. More free food? Count me in.

After church yesterday, we went back home to eat lunch and to change into some other clothes for the day. Well we were going to go back to the church to do some things and right when we left our apartment, Hurricane Katrina 2.0 decided to come down on us. Like we had our umbrellas but Aitchison's broke from the wind and we were thoroughly soaked through in the 10-minute walk. We had little puddles of water under our seats at the church. At least it was a nice break from all the heat we've had here.

That's about the week. Here's to another 6 weeks in Gap. Love you all. Take care.

Elder Wilson