Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Week 22 - The Best Food I've Eaten Yet

Hello everybody!

After great fasting and prayer I was inspired to know that it is now in fact week 22 of my mission. I hope and pray you have all had a good week. Remember to wash your hands.

The weather has been getting nicer. There are more people strolling the streets as consequence. They also tend to be slightly nicer and less pressed for time. The wild storm will occasionally come in still. Just like life! But those end pretty quickly.

On Tuesday we were supposed to go down to Paris for a District meeting and interviews with President Babin, but that morning we got a call that he was sick, so we ended up not going.

Our District during our visit to Cherbourg

I've eaten some pretty fine food during my stay here in France. Just this Thursday I had some awesome pizza in Cherbourg. (We went to Cherbourg for a District finding day activity).   My favorite meal of those I've eaten here is not the fancy food prepared by members, nor what I've tasted at restaurants, nor the pastries even. It was some rice. We got invited over to eat with some of our African buddies after church this Sunday. L'andly and Abraham (Who was sporting a styling Obama t-shirt). From Cameron and Ethiopia respectively. We arrive and their place, which is a large apartment complex for refugees. There are tiny little rooms for everybody with community kitchens and showers. These are not nice places, they are very humble. These people have essentially no money either. We came bringing a bottle of Kool Aid to offer up a taste of our fine American cuisine. We are walking up the stairs and you can breath the spice in the air— whatever they are cooking is so spicy that it is making us cough by breathing the air around it. We are joined by three Somalian guys who don't speak much English at all. We all sit, have difficulty learning and pronouncing each others names, then are served a huge bowl of rice. And some spicy peanut butter sauce. We said grace. Then the whole gang started to eat. It took a while to get used to eating rice by hand. I wanted to cry in that moment there. I was overwhelmed by the kindness these people showed me. They could barely feed themselves and all these happy refugees were cheering me on as I burned my hand (from the physical heat of the rice) and burned my mouth (from the absurdly spicy sauce). It struck me that this wasn't about money. This was an act of love. And act of brotherly kindness. An act of charity. My heart melted there along with all my tastebuds. What a beautiful moment.

This week has included a less than beautiful moment as well. We took the wrong bus twice. Nearly missed our train. Left the phone in the apartment. Lost the keys. Vehicular Manslaughter. Lost my companion's iPad. Lost his bus pass. Lost our hope. Had to borrow a stranger's phone to call the other missionaries who we then had to track down by foot because they had the spare key. They didn't have the spare key. Lost our hope again. My companion wore through his shoes and the left one fell apart. No, we are lost at sea with no boats save our friendship. After most of that true narrative unfolded we decided we needed to take a moment to pray and figure out what to do. So in front of a fairly run down apartment building we prayed. And felt that interior peace even in that unfortunate sequence. A few minutes later we get a call informing us that the keys had taken shelter in the back of Lionel Destribois' car and everything worked out. Save that my companion had to buy a new bus pass.

My companion and I at the church

Revenons à nos mutons (which is the lovely French expression literally meaning 'coming back to our sheep' while being roughly equivalent to 'getting back on topic'), let us frolic in the beautiful moments instead. We were walking chatting to folks in the street. There is a row of hedges to the left, street the the right, and a grumpy looking lady inbound. We stop the old lady. Then... The old lady calls us a dangerous sect and sends us on our way. But while stopping to get insulted, I did notice another younger lady sitting in the parking lot through a wee gap in the hedges. One slightly inconvenient walk around shrubbery later we are talking to the wonderful Delphine. We sit down in the parking lot and offer her some of the cranberry juice we had just purchased. Then we asked her if she believed in God. A beautiful conversation unfolded. We talked about the love of our Father in Heaven, the infinite power of hope and faith—and how to find it. We spent an hour and a half just speaking in this parking lot. There were tears shed by all parties. Laughter and smiles had. She told us how she would have normally tell us to go away, but she didn't, and she didn't know why either. How she thought it was no accident we showed up. I might never see this person again, but seeing the joy and hope that our genuine interest and love brought this woman is enough to satisfy my soul.

It is everyone's favorite part of the emails! The part where you get some arbitrary task assigned. This weeks engagement: standing backflip.

Additionally, combining two elements from this email, two basic human needs and rights: food and love, go eat something with someone and express love to them. That is pretty vague, and generic, but intentionally so.

Until the next week my friends!

Elder Alex Hacker
Since I'm talking about food, I'll throw in this picture as well.  We went to Ikea.  To Eat.  Swedish Meatballs.

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