Stupid World Cup. It's really cool, and I'm glad to be in Europe for it, but it's crazy.
Elder Hansen and I were on exchange on Tuesday night and, after finding that we were locked out of the apartment, had to skip eating dinner and took a bus out to knock on doors instead. The people were nice, but the response 98% of the time was, "I'm watching the world cup." Once, we heard everyone in the neighborhood simultaneously scream and I thought, "Looks like Belgium just scored another goal."
Elder Hansen and I took the bus back to the middle of the city and just happened to get there right as the game ended, with Belgium beating Algeria. What happened in the city after the victory isn't easy to describe. Everyone got in their cars, covered the cars in flags, drove into the city and stopped on all the streets and sidewalks. Thousands of cars full of people all were honking their horns for hours, and we had to take off our nametags as we speedwalked to the apartment. On one street, I walked passed a tow truck blaring it's horn, then looked behind to see two cars with a bunch of girls and shirtless dudes dancing on top with beer and flags. The guys all jumped off the cars, then I turned around to see girls throwing red smoke bombs from the cab of a truck, next to a group of people rolling on the ground in a big puddle of broken glass and alcohol. In a nearby city, my old companion, Elder Wood, got jumped by a bunch of shirtless dudes who forced him and his companion down and painted Belgium colors on their faces. This is the first time in twelve years that Belgium has played in the World Cup, so yeah, they are a little excited.
There was another game last night, and since we weren't invited to a member's house for dinner, Elder Rodriguez and I outsmarted them by doing weekly planning instead. We took a good number of pictures of the crowds from our window as well. Elder Rodriguez wanted to show his pride, so he took my American flag and yelled as he waved it out the window for everyone to see.
Speaking of Elder Rodriguez, everyone thinks he's from South America. "Where are you from?" ME: "The United States." "And you? You must be from Mexico or something with a name like Rodriguez." HIM: "Uh, no. I'm a quarter Korean, actually." He changes up his story every time. Anyway.
The Argentinian and I were calmly teaching a lesson to a nice lady in the park on Thursday. There was a lake in front of us, we were under a tree, and birds were singing. As we started talking about the Book of Mormon, a dozen street youth came from behind with their boombox and started blasting dubstep on the bench four feet away from us. I flipped open to a scripture as they started partaking of the two crates of beer they brought with them, and the poor lady couldn't hear what we were saying very well. I guess we were done anyway.
That night, my Peruvian companion and I were knocking on doors and had just gotten rejected by a dude from Morocco. Someone driving by in their car saw us, stopped, and began mildly making fun of us. I walked up to his car window and started talking to him. When we mentioned we were from America, he stopped and said something like, "What? America? Dude, that's sweet. I live down there on the right. Meet me there and I'll give you something to drink and we can hang out." After declining an offer of wine, we chatted for awhile until we had to go home. Now we're Facebook friends.
Saturday, we went and passed by an old couple who said we could come back a few weeks ago. They were ridiculously nice, and loved me and my companion from Ecuador. They had the missionaries over a few times a number of years ago, but didn't remember too much of what we believed. Right after I reminded him about Joseph Smith, he started spouting complicated doctrine from the Plan of Salvation and the Atonement that he liked from our church. I was really confused why he knew all of what he was describing, and we later found out that he has a copy of Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage that he regularly reads. They invited us to come and watch the World Cup whenever we wanted, gave us cookies and juice, offered to feed us dinner, and even drove us home. They're sweet.
Two more things. Hang in there. Feel free to take a break.
Monday night, Elder Rodriguez and I walked to the train station to look at times for zone conference the next day. I walked into the building, then turned around to see that my companion had disappeared. I went back outside to find that a man standing in front of the door had stopped him after seeing our nametags and wanted us to teach him about our church. As we started talking with him, a second lady came up and said, "Hey, I'm interested in what you're doing here. Could you meet me another time and explain a bit?" Then, she noticed that we were already talking to the first guy, so she said, "Oh, you're already talking to them?" He replied, "Yeah, they're sweet, right?! I want to know what they're here for!" I split and talked to the lady while Elder Rodriguez explained to the man that he doesn't, in fact, come from Venezuela. If only that happened every day.
The last shoutout goes to "B", the ex-wife of a less active member that we taught once. She showed up to church on her own with her little son last Sunday, saying that she just "felt like she needs the church to be a part of her life now." She was already taught almost all the lessons a few years ago, but apparently wasn't that interested. Elder Rodriguez and I taught her with a member on Wednesday, and it went super well. She walked a half hour with a stroller to come to church yesterday, and we're going to teach her again in a few days. The members are excited that she's doing so well.
And there you have it! The World Cup debut, the book is blue, the church is true. See you soon.
European Union building in Brussels