Monday, June 20, 2016

Week 31 - Father's Day and Goodbyes II

Happy Father's Day!! French lesson: the word Père (father) is pronounced like the English word pear. The French word for pear (poire) is not pronounced like the English word father. Isn't nature beautiful?

Though a happy celebration of fathers to everyone! I think fondly of my own. Even though he wasn't and isn't perfect (one time past bed-time he sent me to my room to go to sleep when I wanted to look at the fish in the fish-tank) he did a pretty good job. Parenthood has got to be one of the hardest, most frustrating, and ultimately rewarding things I reckon. So I thank him! Thank you Dad for all the times you offered to help with homework—all of which I stubbornly refused. Thank you Dad for the support you have always given me. Thank you for trusting me to make my own choices, even though sometimes I didn't choose all that well. Thank you for providing me all that I needed to be able to succeed, to find myself, and to be happy. Thank you for all the times you let me take balloons from restaurants as a child, even though you hated them. (It is really imperative here to recognize the  burning, though totally irrational, hatred my father has for balloons.) Thank you for all you other fathers! It is a pretty thankless job sometime but it is so important. Thank you for what you do!

News!! We were such awful missionaries that the team of Elders here in Caen have been closed down. Or it is that there are not enough Elders right now to sustain the team. One of those two options. My companion is going home to Texas (he's done his time), and I am going off to Dunkerque up in the north-most regions of France. My new address will be: 150 Quai des Anglais 59140 Dunkerque France. All the people that we saw regularly: the Russian Constantine, our friend S who has just quit smoking, Olivier, etc... Our friends will be seen by the sisters from this point on.

The traditional change time picture.  The number we are holding up shows the number of 6 week change periods we have now completed.

It is both exciting and sad to leave. I lived here six months sharing my heart with as many people who would listen. I am attached. I love them all so much. The children who make all the noises children are supposed to make during spiritual moments at church. The kinda grumpy old people. The one teenager who slept all the time. Jasmin, Bunel,and their kids—the beautiful couple from the Congo. Everyone. I love them a lot. I celebrated when they where happy and did everything I could to help them when they weren't. I will miss them a lot. Saying goodbyes are sometimes sad, even when you are supposed to leave. I am very excited to go see and explore a new city. To wander another cultural, human, and physical landscape. To go serve the Lord wherever he would have me go. It is the srangest mix of genuine excitement and joy to go see a new place and sadness at having to leave. Huh.

During my last day during the mission in the city of Cherbourg, (potentially my last day ever in the city, if I never happen to visit it later in life) we met a very nice fellow named Harvard. We turned a corner rather violently and almost collided. So we quickly started speaking to him in French. In response to the confused eyebrows being raised we switched over to English. As it happens Harvard is a self-employed fisherman who lives just off the coast of Iceland. He had this almost natural hipster aura, but in a sincere way. I haven't ever heard an accent like his before but as we spoke there was an honesty in him that impressed upon me so much. This man was perfectly honest with us, and with himself it seemed. He seemed at peace. We learned who he was and explained who we were. We offered him a Book of Mormon to read sometime on his boat when he found time. Out short 10-15 meeting ended with a prayer all together, and then a warm goodbye from all parties.

Goodbyes are only bad if they are made prematurely. They are as meaningful as you make them. That 10 minute period where my life interwove with Harvard's life, is as meaningful or as meaningless as we each make it. The goodbyes we say to one another whether they be at the end of meetings, dates, weeks, vacations, 6 months in a foreign city, or lives, are little exchanged legacies. They are resumes, summaries, and wishes. The goodbyes we give are only permanent if we forget, if we don't change after we say them. The endings are just as important and vital as the beginnings.

Thank you for all the time you take to write and communicate and to read. I love you fellas. Have a good week! There will be much to describe in the next email!

Until the next time,

Elder Alex Hacker

Here we are play acting the funeral of my companion Elder Sherren, who in the slang of missionary speak has "died" due to his two year mission coming to its end.  It was really hard for all of us to keep our serious faces (and not smile or laugh) while we took this silly picture

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