December 03, 2012

Rats Can Be Taught Too - Week 15

Hello! It's already been another week, so it's time for another email!

It's now snowing in Strasbourg, which means that everyone brings out their winter scarves and hangs up their autumn scarves for the year! I only have one, so it doesn't really make much of a difference to me. Maybe snow will be a bigger deal for me next year after I've purchased a wide variety of scarves. Here's what's happened since last week: 

We found out that Strasbourg is being reduced down to two Elders instead of four. Elder Mahieu is going off to Liege, Belgium and Elder Cooper is going to die in Le Havre in Western France. In the mission, going home means you're "dying," and the MTC is supposed to be the womb, and coming into the mission is being born. The first missionary you're paired up with on the first day is your mother, your trainer is your father, and anyone else who helps raise you is a stepfather or godfather. Thus, each missionary can construct a family tree. Sometimes, however, your mother can also be your father, and you could technically have your son later be your wife if you later raise the same son. We're all about family history.

Because it is just Elder Dunn and I now, we suddenly have a huge apartment with four desks, four beds, a couch, two IKEA poang chairs, two refrigerators and six chairs all to ourselves. We have the entire city to ourselves, and I think the closest missionaries are an hour or an hour and a half train ride away. Our area is huge, and we could never possibly see all of it. Strasbourg is one of the biggest cities in France, all for us. In fact, one of the major headquarters for the European Union is here, and we knocked on some of the doors of ambassadors last week and this week on accident. 

Also on the bright side, the other companionship is leaving us with a handful of investigators and a few dozen potentials. We're going to be busy next transfer with lessons.

I've been told from members that there used to be 8 Elders and 6 Sisters in Strasbourg a few years ago. I suppose Elder Dunn and I must be doing the work of 14 missionaries. 

Last P-Day, we decided to go to around the city to all the Christmas marchés, which are just street markets set up everywhere. We refrained from buying the hot wine, but we couldn't resist dropping a few euros on Belgian waffles smothered in Nutella and dinner crêpes. Elder Dunn wants to keep going back, and I'm not complaining. 

On the same day, we also climbed to the top of the famous cathedral in the city, Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg. It was apparently built in 1400 or something, and it overlooks the entire city. If you have the means to visit, I highly recommend it.

I went on exchanges again in Nancy, and we ended up teaching a man on the street. He seemed really normal, until he turned his head to look the other direction and we saw a rat living in his hair. The man's hair was long, so the rat just snuggled up on top of his shoulders and was kept warm by the long locks of hair. I was only a little distracted the rest of the lesson by the rat tail hanging down by his mouth. There's always interesting people in Nancy.

At least the man with the rat in his hair had normal religious beliefs. It's always interesting to talk to people like the man a few weeks ago who said he believed in "water." His reasoning was that everything in the world is made of water. The trees are made of water, the dirt is made of water, and even we are 99% made of water, or so he said. When we told him that the sun was definitely not made of water, he replied by yelling, "You don't know that! Have you ever been to the sun?!" I have to admit that I've never been to the sun. Maybe I'll find out that trees are actually made of water and I'll drink one one day, though.

We ate dinner at a nice member's house last night, and she happens to be from Africa. She fed us a bunch of crazy African food and French food mixed together, like soup with a bunch of bones in it, a whole fish, raw ham, chestnut pudding, Belgian fries, tea, gingerbread and European chocolate. It was quite the mix of different food, and also quite delicious.

One night when we were out tracting, we taught two lessons... ironically both in English. The first lesson kind of happened by chance. Since there's so many doors to knock on in Strasbourg for so few missionaries, we sometimes only knock on the doors with lights on inside so that we waste as little time as possible. However, when we found a mailbox whose owner had the same last name as my companion, we decided we had to knock on the door even though the lights were out. Mr. Dunn ended up being home and, upon sticking his head out the window to talk to us, he let us come in and teach him.

And that's my life up to now. I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season and has a more impressive Christmas tree than the tiny fake one in our apartment!

Elder Wilson