April 28, 2014

I'm a Bouncer at a Club, and I'm a Mormon - Week 88

I'm baaaaaack! Back at the internet café on computer 16 running XP with middle eastern men yelling outside.

Well, mother informs me that I've got less than 100 days left, which is a ton compared to Walton's few weeks. We've been waking up early to go running so we can both improve our boyish figures and have a nice little chat every morning. We found a huge public ropes course thing one morning, which we definitely took advantage of. The sign says that the course is for ages 6 and up, but that thing has got to be at least 25 feet high. I just wouldn't let MY 6 year old go on that thing.

Well, Sunday was a fantastic day at church, and we had four (count 'em ... FOUR) investigators come. The first was "J", who's progressing towards possibly being baptized by the end of May. After that came "H" and "D" with their daughter, the perfect little French family that we're teaching. We're going to teach them at a member family's house on Friday. A fourth guy that Oliverson and I taught a month ago and haven't seen since snuck in the back at the beginning of the meeting unnoticed, and everyone was looking. We have some sweet people.

Earlier in the week, "J" came with us to a member family's house for a sushi night. Elder Tai and I scouted out the Chinese store a few days before, bought everything we needed, and prepared the rice and seaweed. We rolled and cut out a big platter of the stuff, then had a really great lesson afterward. We ate enough to be in a rice coma until the following morning, when all four of us Elders got on a train to help out a member family with a move. They live in a NICE place on the outside of Lille, and we worked at tossing all their furniture out the window. We basically covered everything in bubble wrap and dropped it down to people below, who threw it into the truck. We were a pretty efficient bunch.

Wednesday was a zone conference of sorts with the 22 missionaries of the Lille zone, and we all met up at the church. The training mostly involved smashing people's hands with cans of beans to prove a point. Coincidentally, a man in our ward was also filming a fake sacrament meeting that same day for a French church video, so we had to awkwardly have the conference while being as quiet as possible. We got locked in the room a few times while they were shooting scenes in the hallway, but it turned out alright. The guy who's directing it originally asked if I could be an English bouncer at a breakdance club (hey, I look like one, okay?), but I had to turn him down because of the filming times. The other Elders are even teaching two security guards who could have taught me how to rough people up, but oh well.

Elder Tai and I passed by an old investigator from the area book this week. He's really nice and is apparently living off the money he made by being a soccer player for some French professional team. Whether he actually played professional ball or not, we went bowling today and all I've gotta say is that I have some serious potential as a professional bowler. I almost scored 100 in a single game, so watch out.

Whelp, time to get out of here. Thanks for listening in on my life, and I hope you all have a fantastic week.

Elder Wilson

April 21, 2014

Hello, I'm Marvelously Sober - Week 87

Welp. Here we are again! How many of these have I written? Like 90? I feel like I'm back writing emails on P-day every three days, but I suppose I can scrounge up a few things we've done recently.

I'm with Elder Tai instead of Elder Oliverson now, and he's really Asian. The members all love him though, because French people love sushi and they think it's cool that he's the first Japanese missionary to serve in France. We talked about possibly running in the mornings, and he replied by saying he would rather do kung fu. We have a drawer full of soy sauce flavored rice cookies. He's cool, especially because he went to BYU. He gave me a Chinese name, and he said that the characters he gave me for "Wilson" means "marvelously sober" in Chinese. I guess I HAVE been cutting down on my alcohol consumption. If missionaries are marvelously-anything, it's definitely being sober.

Well, on Oliverson's last few days, we went around and had some family home evenings with members. We had investigators and recent converts come to most of them throughout the week, so it was a success. We were wandering around the city of Tourcoing and carried empty cardboard boxes down a few blocks for a slightly crazy woman. She kept commenting on how strong we were to carry the empty cardboard boxes such a long distance. Come on, lady. I know I might be scrawny, but do I really look like I can't handle some cardboard?

Right before Oliverson left on Wednesday for Amiens, we went to Adil and Ashna's house. They're the recent converts from Mauritius. They wanted to make us a meal before Oliverson left town for good, so they made us some awesome curry chicken with pimento. The awesome part was that the whole meal had to be eaten without utensils, so hands only. I've had some African meals like that as well, and it's always fun. 

After the whole transfer day in Lille and moving people around the northern department of France, Elder Tai and I went to mission council in Paris. It's basically a 5 hour meeting on what we want to have happen in the mission over the next 6 weeks, but it's fun to see everyone I know. They called us ahead of time to tell us that we would need to bring a bag to carry mail home for our zone, but they neglected to tell us that a full size pickup truck would be more appropriate for the number of packages we had to carry. We're just popular, okay?

A highlight of the week came as Elder Tai and I were waiting at the doors for church to start. We greet everyone as they come in the building, but "H" and "D" hadn't show up yet even though they had promised they would come. Granted, a "promise" to come to church usually doesn't mean very much, but as we turned to go into sacrament meeting after it had already started, in came "H" with their little girl! It was just a big deal to me since they're some of the coolest people I've taught so far. Having a young French family as investigators is quasi-unheard of. 

Saturday night was Easter Eve, and Elder Tai and I bought a bunch of pizza for an apartment Easter party. It had to happen only because the pizza place is called "speed rabbit." Yesterday for Easter itself, we got invited over to a member family's house for dinner and ate a bunch of lasagna and chocolate cake.

Happy Monday!

Elder Wilson

April 14, 2014

Sure She's a Hairstylist, But She's Got Game - Week 86

Aaaannd transfer 14 begins with a big dose of "sad." Despite subtle hints and bribes of beef jerky to the assistants, Elder Oliverson is leaving Lille and going to Amiens. We all went to a Chinese buffet and ate away our sorrows through a few dozen plates of sugared chicken and beef over noodles. Too bad he's leaving, because we really have a lot of momentum, and, well, don't tell ... we're the ward favorites. Shhhhh ... It'll be okay though, because he'll be with Elder Barr, and we're thinking that they might just be each others' last companion. Dang, Elder Barr has been stealing my thunder since MTC days. As a replacement, I'll be getting Elder Tai from Japan. Stay tuned. Maybe he'll make me sushi and robots?

Elder Oliverson and I got semi-attacked in the metro this week. We sometimes get yelled at or have things thrown at us, but this time, we had a little group of teen punks follow us into the metro. They surrounded us and started asking us stupid questions for a few minutes. "Latter days, huh? When's the apocalypse? Is it tomorrow? Are you Jesus?" Dude, that's a good one. We tried to play off the "Hey bros, chill. We're just cool Americans from New York" card, but a 20ish year old lady next to us got sick of them and just tore the little losers apart with her words. They all thought she was attractive and respected her right away, and they got off the metro. We thanked the lady right after, chatted with her for awhile, found out she's a professional hairstylist, then got her number so we can go get free haircuts from her salon. She said she studies facial structure and style so she can give personalized hair to everyone she cuts for, so we'll be lookin' GOOD. Thanks, Anaise. As far as hair stylists go, she's pretty underground. You've probably never heard of her. (Get it? We were in the metro. Stupid joke.)

In other news, we've been teaching some really awesome people. One is "J" from Malaysia, who is basically the only non-member in his extended family. Chance just happened to smile upon us and Elder Oliverson and I contacted him next to the university a few weeks ago. He's super sweet, gives perfect answers, and is coming with us to the Bishop's house tonight for an FHE. Bishop's a mega boss, so we're excited.

Next in the lineup is "G", the 16 year old I mentioned last week. He's been asking us if he can be baptized and join the church, but his mom doesn't seem to want to give permission. He's willing to ride his bike for 45 minutes or walk for 2 hours to church on Sundays, so he's pretty solid.

Right after the "G-ster" is a French couple named "H" and "D". They live pretty close to the church, and Elder Oliverson found them a while before I came by tracting the neighborhood. Tracting always seems to yield far fewer results, but the few that come are always the most solid. The same is true for this couple. We're hopefully teaching them again this week with some members. Oh, did I mention that some of "H's" family already has members of the church as well? I guess that's what happens when people pray for their extended family to find the gospel.

As I've mentioned before, the Villeneuve D'Ascq ward is known in the mission to be the best ward in terms of involvement with missionary work. Our ward mission leader scheduled family home evenings every night this whole week for both teams of Elders and the Sisters, so we'll be teaching amis (investigators) from members' homes. This week wasn't short on involvement either, and we've already been fed three times in the last week. The members made us a few platters of snails, which I'm growing to really enjoy. Pasal with his sons made us a "surprise dish," which ended up being blood sausage. Meanwhile, we helped another family paint their house on Saturday, and they barbecued with us. We had to run to the church right after and teach "G" in our painting clothes, but it was fun. Before that, we went to a ward priesthood activity, and we all totally caught Elder Oliverson and Elder Walton trying to cheat in the game we were playing. Gotta keep an eye on those two.

Well, time to go buy some more clothes. We'll be going to Paris this Thursday, so we need to look nice. Have a fantastic Easter, and send some peanut butter candy to your favorite local missionaries! Speaking of which, here's a special shout out to Aunt Wendy and the Reynolds. Thanks SO MUCH for the Easter card and pictures! I really appreciate it. I'll be able to eat this month thanks to you. Feel free to come stay at our house, no charge. See you soon!

Elder Wilson

April 07, 2014

Have it Your Way - Week 85

This was a week 5 of transfer 13. Week five always seems longer than the other ones.

We started off last Monday by going to Paris for exchanges. Last December, the first Burger King in France opened up in Paris, so BK has been the latest mission craze. Everyone who's anyone has eaten a mythical Double Whopper with fries, and now Elder Oliverson and I can join the crowd. They announced last week that a Burger King is supposed to open up in Lille by the end of the year, and everyone is going crazy. It was the headline on the newspapers when it was announced. Viva America!

Priorities, priorities. I went on my exchange in Versailles with Elder Price, who was also in my MTC district. We went and taught the Restoration to the father of a mega famous French soccer player then went out tracting. We were in the process of being rejected by a man yelling from his porch, when a nicely dressed man walked behind us and said, "Hey, what's up?" Since the first conversation with the porch sitter was going south, we turned around and gave our attention to the English speaker behind us. He ended up being a cool guy in his 20's from England who has been living in France for awhile, and he recently became interested in Christianity. We talked to him for a half hour or so, then went back to the apartment.

We went to district meeting in Versailles the next day and since I was the only one that left last transfer, it was a little district reunion. I got to teach the legendary recent convert Robin with Elder Price afterward, and then Elder Oliverson and I made our way back to Lille. We had an FHE that night with our muscled, Australian ward mission leader, who also gave me a sweet white shirt out of the kindness of his heart. Maybe he was sending a message that I need to go buy some new clothes.

I went on another exchange the next day, but this time with Elder Gee in Valenciennes. We taught some cool African bros and talked to a drunk guy with no teeth who admitted to us that he makes a living from stealing things. We advised him that he should probably find a new hobby, but he didn't understand our reasoning. I guess that's why he's homeless.

And so it was that I took another train back from Valenciennes to Lille in time to once again join up forces with Elder Oliverson and go do some service for a lady in Belgium. We rode up there with a sweet member from the ward, who also happens to own a very nice Jaguar. He sped through the border on the freeway, when we started talking about music. From there, he decided to show us the new 3,000 euro speakers he installed in the car by blasting EFY 2004 down the highway with a decibel level higher than the engines of most military F16s. It was so so fun.

Other than that, we've been teaching "G", a 16 year old high schooler that became interested in learning about the church. He comes to the church during his lunch breaks, and asks for more lessons every week.

We had a nice and relaxing conference weekend in the Lille chapel, and watched most of the sessions in the English room with the 10 other Lille missionaries. All of the recent converts came and enjoyed it, but then we had to eat corn flakes for Sunday dinner at the church since we were out of food for the week.

In between sessions of conference, Elder Oliverson jumped on the bus to pass by a big African family that let us in while tracting through a big apartment building last Sunday. They were there again this Sunday, and they let us in again. They had a bunch of guests over and, in their classic African way, said things along the lines of, "NO WAY! Missionaries! Well, of course we have to let in the men of God! Come pray with us! Come back Thursday and teach us!" Well, if you insist. One of the sweet friends that were over visiting them told us, "Hey, guess what my name is! It's LORD! I'm a good Christian man." See ya next week, guys.

My commitment to you this week is to enjoy your air conditioning just a little bit more while you reflect on how hard your local France Paris missionaries are working away in the French heat of the day. Have a good one,

Elder Wilson