April 22, 2013

Thanksgiving in April ... Only Five Months Late - Week 35

Remember a few months ago when I said that France doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving? Well, I was wrong. It seems that some families DO celebrate Thanksgiving, but instead of once a year, they celebrate it every single day.

Early last week, we called a member family to ask if we could share a spiritual thought with them. The husband answered by saying, "Well of course! Could you please stay for lunch as well?" I wasn't about to decline an offer like that, so Elder Meissner and I went to eat with them on Wednesday. We ended up eating more food during that lunch appointment than I have ever eaten at Thanksgiving, and we both felt like we were going to die by the end. After we left, we counted that we had 14 different dishes and 5 courses. I felt like quite the classy Frenchman as they popped a bottle of champagne (nonalcoholic, of course) into custom stemware and we clinked all of our glasses together. "A votre santé!" To your health!

Following the cheers, we had seafood served in shells, sausages, cracker ball things, celery salad, beet salad, some sort of radish dish, chicken, potatoes, bread and cheese, raw salmon, ham, an apple tart, cake, and some sort of ice cream. 

Remind me. How exactly do the vast majority of French people stay in shape?

Man, being a missionary is tough. I'll write that sentence again, and you need to read it as if I was saying it sarcastically. Man, being a missionary is tough. I'm just kidding though, because it really is. But for those few hours, it was slightly less tough. The meal was made complete when one of them fell asleep in between the 4th and 5th courses and when they pulled out the huge book of family photos.

As they were showing us pictures, they started telling a heartfelt story about the death of the wife's mother. As everyone was grieving for the loss of the mother in the story, Elder Meissner suddenly thought of something unrelated and started laughing. We're hoping they didn't notice that he accidentally laughed at the story of their dead mother, but they apparently weren't offended, because they invited us to come back soon. We had to leave early and they didn't have time to finish the family photo book. You don't have to ask us twice.

The next day, we worked off some of the thousands of calories from the meal by hauling wood in a forest for 4 hours like we did last week. It didn't rain this time though, so the work in the forest was more enjoyable. After the wood, we went over to a less-active member's house to start him on a stop-smoking program. It's been four days since he's smoked a cigarette, so we're hoping it'll work!

After being frujed (missionspeak for being stood up for an appointment) twice on Saturday, Elder Meissner and I took to knocking on doors, as usual. We prayed to know where we should go, and at the end of the night, a family let us in. Again. A FAMILY let us in. I don't know how frequently that happens in other missions, but I'm fairly certain that was the first time I've been let in while knocking on doors to a nice, normal, Catholic, French family. We sat down at their dinner table to share the Book of Mormon with them, and they offered to feed us dinner, as is the French way. Food all the time. We'll see if anything comes from it, but it was a nice reward at the end of a long day.

Well, I hope everyone is having a beautiful 22nd of April. I left exactly 8 months ago from today. What the?! 

Catch ya in seven.

Elder Wilson

We found the Shire! It's in Toul!

Yeah, just the moat and the Cathedral fortress of Toul