January 21, 2013

I Hope the Foot Didn't Belong to the Dog! - Week 22

Transfer 3 is well under way, and I'm sitting here with Elder Manivanh, my new companion. It's pronounced "Mon" as in PokeMON, "i" as in the letter E, and "vanh" as in Avon (that's a makeup brand, right?). He's from Seattle and everyone assumes he's Tahitian because of his last name, but his parents are actually from Laos. I guess we can still speak French 24/7, though ... if we really want. But let's rewind.

After waiting for Elder Dunn to pack bags for a good portion of the day on Tuesday, we went to a member family's house to eat dinner. The father is a native Alsacian, so he made us a traditional Alsacian meal. It involved a lot of very slow-cooked meat and potatoes, and it was pretty delicious. As is French custom, we had multiple courses: the main dish, tea, dessert, salad, and so on. However, the exciting part came when they offered us pig feet... yes, as in the feet of a pig cut off and cooked in sauce. So, after just a little hesitation, Elder Dunn and I accepted the offer and I ate the foot of a pig. And there you have it, one of the more abnormal things I've eaten on my mission. France sells cow tongue in their grocery stores, and I think I'd prefer feet to tongue any day.

Early the next morning, we got on a train to Paris and made it to the chapel down the street from Notre Dame to meet the other missionaries for transfer day. After waiting and hanging out with other Elders for a while, Elder Manivanh came and we headed to the train station to make it back to Strasbourg. Once we got there, we found out that the trains to Strasbourg were sold out for the next few hours and that we had quite a while to wait for the next one available. So, we waited in the train station of Paris with nothing to do for two hours. We were only a 20 minute walk or so from the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Sacré Coeur and everything Paris has to offer, but we couldn't take all of Elder Manivanh's bags through the city because they were too big and heavy. So, we sadly just had to sit in the middle of Paris.

We eventually got back to Strasbourg, however, and have had a good couple of days. For example, on Saturday, we were walking to a lesson when I saw a lady at a distance on the other side of the street. Apparently she saw us too, because she was yelling at us and motioning for us to come over. We were a few minutes early, so I went over to see what she was freaking out about. When I got close, she jumped and grabbed my arm, looked up at me, and said "I just need a young man to help me cross the street." She also had a three-legged dog. So, I helped an old lady cross the street with her three-legged dog. There you have it, it actually happens. Give me the merit badge, because I am an eagle scout. I just hope the foot I ate earlier didn't belong to the dog.

After we helped her get to her car, she asked about our church and requested a rendez-vous. Blessings come from service!

Later that night, we ate dinner at our apartment and went to visit a member family from Madagascar. We shared a spiritual thought and it went well, and they kindly prepared "a little something" for us. That "little something" turned out to be a gigantic meal of sausages, bread, spicy green sauce and salad. So, sitting in an apartment kitchen in France and surrounded by assorted African meats hanging from the ceiling to dry, Elder Manivanh and I ate more African food than any men should have to. That was after we had already eaten as well. Fortunately, it was a delicious Malagasy meal and we were quite happy.

It's been freezing cold and wet every day this week, and it's only getting worse. In fact, there was so much ice that church was canceled for almost the entire northern half of France. It's a good thing I bought a new jacket at Soldes to cope with the weather.

That's the latest and greatest, and thanks for stopping by.

Advice for the week: go give a compliment to someone. It'll make you feel good.

Elder Wilson

Elder Barr (on the left) was my MTC companion and he will now be companions with my trainer and first companion, Elder Dunn, in Cherbourg.

It was great to see several of my MTC roomies.