February 25, 2013

American Accents Come in Handy - Week 27

Well, I just hit my 6 month mark on a mission! I'm already halfway to being halfway. Since missionaries aren't allowed to burn ties at the 6 month mark anymore, Elder Hunter bought me a pâtisserie to celebrate instead. Maybe not as fun, but it was delicious anyway.

Welcome to transfer 4 of my mission life, in the town of Toul. I've gone from Strasbourg's extensive tram and bus system to now walking to tiny villages through grass fields and horse pastures. Yesterday, we found the door to a little trailer in the middle of a farm to knock on. Needless to say, it's been quite the change.

Usually, when missionaries leave Strasbourg, the JA (Young Single Adults) of the ward throw a party at the Family Home Evening the night before. However, since the missionaries aren't able to go anymore, the JA had to be a little extra creative to find a way to have a party and still stay in the rules of the mission. So, instead of having a meal at FHE, we had a meal for lunch on P-Day at a hip restaurant that only young French people would know about that serves all-you-can-eat Alsacian flammkuche. As if that wasn't enough of a party, we got invited to a member's house for dinner on Tuesday night, and the JA gave us another celebration. They're awesome ... and no, the fact that they read my letters is not the only reason I'm saying that. Hopefully they'll be able to get by without me saying "j'ai une question!" Every few minutes. C'est dommage que je ne peux pas vous envoyer des lettres comme missionnaire!

Anyway, after spending a fantastic Tuesday packing suitcases all day, I took a train to Nancy to our apartment, dropped off my things, and went up to our car to learn how to drive a manual car in France. What an adventure THAT was. After an hour and a half of driving around a neighborhood getting used to a clutch and gears, we had to take the zone leaders to a gas station so they could fill up our car. They were understandably a bit apprehensive of coming into the car with me after driving for only an hour and a half, so they desperately offered a prayer for protection before we left. I don't know if it comforted them, but it sure showed me how little they trusted me behind the wheel. I guess it worked, because we're still living.

After winding through a few neighborhoods, we had to turn onto one of the congested streets of Nancy. At this point, Elder Maxwell bent over into a fetal position and grabbed onto the seat in front of him. Elder Reed likewise had little screams escape from his lips every now and then. We made it to the gas station despite Elder Maxwell's apparent lack of faith in my driving skills, and we quickly took a minute to take a deep breath to recuperate. Soon after pulling in, we realized that the station we were at did not offer receipts, so we had to drive to another one. While we were figuring out what to do, an angry man from the Middle East came up to our car and started yelling at us to move. Our American accents came in handy as we pretended to be tourists that didn't know what was going on and we slowly rolled up the window while he was yelling.

We eventually got the gas and everything was fine, until we came to a red light that required me to put the car into first gear going uphill. Even with my extensive training, I succeeded in awkwardly stalling the car half a dozen times through a handful of cycles of the stoplight. There were a few angry people that had to turn around us. But, on the bright side, I can drive now! Not even a problem. After a rather stressful day of riding in the car, Elder Hunter and I went to KFC to reward ourselves. Fried chicken has never tasted so good with 6 months and counting of no American food besides McDonald's.

Alright, I suppose I've rambled enough about a few things that have happened. Have a fantastic week, and if you're in America, be grateful for normal-sized roads.

Elder Wilson