December 31, 2012

How to Know When Your Attack Dog Isn't Trained Enough - Week 19

Well it's the last day of 2012 and as is usual for holidays, France is in full party-mode. This is especially true in Alsace (the region where Strasbourg is located) since it has been influenced so much by German culture. You see, Alsacians don't celebrate a normal 24-hour Christmas. Here, the holiday is three days long, and they basically never stop eating for those three days. One member told us that they usually start their meal at around 6 on Christmas Eve and eat until around 3 in the morning, then go to bed and do it again the next day and the day after that.

We were invited to members' homes on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, but we unfortunately had to leave around halfway through the multi-course meals to make it home on time. However, I still managed to have some fois gras (duck liver) spread on bread, raw salmon appetizers, and about a dozen of the first courses. There's France and its fancy food for ya.

On Christmas day, President Poznanski gave us permission to watch a Disney movie, and we watched Hercules. It was pretty great to watch something created for no other purpose than just for entertainment.

The best part of the day was talking to my family for a couple of hours through Skype. It was a nice break and it is always great to talk with the fam. I am glad everyone is doing well and that Santa brought some pretty great gifts. Thanks to my family for the early Christmas package (I got it about a month ago) and for the ones that I know are coming. French mail has been pretty slow since the entire country closes down for the holidays, but it's okay that I haven't received the packages yet; it will be like having two Christmases.

After Christmas, we went on exchanges with another companionship of Elders in our district, and I was with Elder Clawson in the little town of St. Dié. I don't know if it's because St. Dié is so small or if it's because the missionaries drive around a lime green hatchback car named Ashley but somehow, almost everyone in the town knew Elder Clawson. I stopped some people on the street and told them we were missionaries, at which point Elder Clawson addressed them by name and asked them how their daughter and family was doing. Somehow, he knows everyone in the city.

At one point during the day in St. Dié, we came across streets with signs calling them "Purgatory," "Way to Hell," and "The Path of Burning." Elder Clawson noted that there was a street called "Paradise" a few blocks away. It seems that we only need a map of St. Dié to make a Plan of Salvation diagram. Anyway, a few minutes after turning down the streets and knocking on the doors, we started having some of the most violent rain and wind that I've ever seen. Coincidence? I think not. Unfortunately, I had lost my umbrella a few days before, and thus got drenched completely through within a few minutes. Curiously enough, the weather stopped soon after we left that neighborhood. 

At the very end of "'The Path of Burning," we met a lady who was a little unhappy to see us. She opened the door and yelled at us to get off her property, then called over her dog and sent him to attack us. I don't know exactly what she was expecting, but the dog just kind of walked up to us and we started petting it. He was a nice dog, and HE at least seemed happy to see us. Upon noting that her original tactic of an attack dog had failed, she just yelled at us some more and called her husband to come out. We thought she could definitely benefit from a message on how to find happiness, but we instead decided it to be wise to leave quickly as she had asked. Maybe if she moved next door to the street of "Paradise", she would be more pleasant. In the meantime, I'll gladly stay here in Strasbourg.

The sister missionaries in Colmar found us a new investigator while they were lounging around our train station in a layover. 'D' is open to scheduling multiple lessons a week, wants to go to church, and didn't freak out when the member we brought to help teach her somehow taught her the Plan of Salvation and the Word of Wisdom in the course of a few minutes. She seems promising.

Since it's cold outside, when we teach people who want to meet in the middle of the city, we usually have to teach them in cafés. This week, I realized how classy I felt to be teaching a lesson in a café in the middle of France with waitresses serving me expensive cups of hot chocolate on saucers with little stirring spoons and sugar cubes.

Yesterday was the last day of the Christmas markets so most of the crowds have cleared out and things are getting back to normal. I will miss being able to get waffles and crepes from the street vendors, though. Instead of buying them on the street from a stand, we now have to go INSIDE the shop next to the sidewalk. I think instead of buying waffles though, I'll start expanding my pastry knowledge.

And that's been my life for the last seven days. Happy New Year, and thanks for checking up on me!

Elder Wilson

Our multi-course Christmas Eve dinner, during a brief eating respite.