November 19, 2012

Becoming an Artist Was the Best Option - Week 13

Dear everybody in the world,

We had a mission conference this week, which doesn't happen very often ...  I've been told that the last one happened over two years ago. So, we hopped on a train to Paris early Friday morning and met up with all the nearly 200 missionaries at the Versailles chapel. After taking a picture as a mission, Elder Neil L. Andersen spoke to us for a few hours and told us how to be better missionaries. It was great! There were two seventies there that spoke to us as well. It was especially fun to see everyone from the MTC and hang out with them for the day. However, since the conference was so long, we didn't have much time to do anything else except travel back through the metro to the train station. We had some really great views of below Paris though! Lots of concrete, vending machines and escalators. Maybe next time?

There's a few park benches across the street from our apartment, and a few homeless guys sit on them all day, every day. Usually, they talk to each other or drink beer and play chess. Elder Dunn and I have been stopping and talking to them every time we go in and out of our apartment, and they like to talk about philosophy and religion with us. They're funny guys. A few days ago, they asked us our opinion on what moves they should make next for their chess game. The next day, we went and bought an extra baguette for them on the way back to our apartment for lunch. Too bad they don't want to get baptized.

It was Elder Mahieu's birthday this week, so I made him a birthday cake. I made Texas Sheet Cake while he was gone, and we shared it before we went to bed. In France, desserts from the Elders are famous because American desserts have a lot of extra sugar in them. So, when Elder Mahieu from southern France tried my American cake, he basically thought it was one of the best things he's ever had. We bought him a birthday card as well. Actually, it wasn't a birthday card, but a baptism card we found at the store. It said "Happy Baptism" on the front with pictures of a newborn baby, and we thought it was particularly appropriate for a missionary. We told him in the card that we hope he has a lot of happy baptisms and that the girl on the card is actually just a young-looking 8 year old.

On Saturday, Elder Dunn and I were tracting in a neighborhood of apartment buildings a few tram stops away from our apartment. We only had an hour or so available to go knock on doors, but we were exhausted. Towards the end of our hour, we decided to go and try one more building of twenty or so apartments. On the very last door of the last building we had time to knock on for the night, the man opened and let us teach him. He was really interested and was taking notes about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. He then told us that he's been studying with the Jehovah's Witnesses for the last year, but wants us to come back and teach him some more while his "Bible friend" is there. We'll see how it goes.

There's been two Americans, Brother Stokes and Brother Johnson, who were sent by the US government to live over here for a few weeks and learn French. It was so refreshing to talk to and hang out with two nice, normal Americans. They were great and helped us out all the time. They contacted with us, taught lessons with us, and even took Elder Dunn and I out to a nice restaurant for dinner. America is full of good people.

Lastly, I went on an exchange with Elder Hall and spent the day in Nancy, which is about an hour and a half train ride from here. On the train to Nancy, a man came over and talked to us in English for a while. He said that he was given three options: to either go to a mental hospital, to jump off a bridge, or become an artist. He chose to become an artist. He taught us his secret symbol (which is really just the boy scout salute) and we took a picture with him. There's all kinds of interesting people here in France.

That's all I have time for today, but I hope everyone has a fantastic Thanksgiving! Thank you family for sending me a package with an entire Thanksgiving meal inside ... I'm glad we'll be able to celebrate! You're the best!

I'm thankful for all of you. Eat twice as much turkey for me. Have a fantastic few days off of school.

Elder Wilson