Monday, April 17, 2017

Week 67 - Toilet Paper, Druids, and a Dying Phoenix (From February 27, 2017)

Yo phat dogs,
(I have exhausted all attempts at creative greeting and I'm stretching it as long as I can)

How was your week, pray-tell? February disappeared awfully quickly didn't it?

I'm so grateful for the emails and support from you guys. Whether it be verbal or transmitted through some other medium: semaphore and smoke signals are preferred. I think the silliness already manifest in the email should clue you in that I'm in a good mood and very excited for the upcoming weeks. I'm just excited for the upcoming in general!

I wanted to take a moment to wax poetic about the charm of French toilet paper! Besides the undeveloped European countries that are probably using thin particle board, it seems like the toilet paper industry has really developed here. I feel like in America it's all about plushness. And extravagance. And how soft the toilet paper can be. Charming Ultra Ultra Ultra Soft. Here in France it's a standard two-ply and there's not much negotiation to be had there either. The variety exists when it comes to colors and scents though! It's the aesthetic and sensory experience that counts here. The toilet paper aisle is no longer a wall of sterile white columns but a myriad of pastel shades: blues, greens, yellows, lavenders, oranges, and pinks. An ironically smelt experience indeed as citrus and pine scents waft about... And I think that's a pretty good metaphor for the American and European approach to life.

Update on our English friend JL:

1) Learned how to correctly spell his name!
2) Set up his WiFi and telephone
3) Befriended him with one of our French speaking investigators who is
coincidently a plumber/électricien/luchador. Two of those three things
are true. I'll let you decide for yourselves.
4) Insulated his upstairs.
5) Learned that fiberglass is itchy.
6) Built walls upstairs.
7) Learned that the famous French bureaucracy extends even to wiring
and requires all sorts of extra little rules and tidbits to be
8) Played some ping-pong in his garage

It's change time and I'm getting a new companion.  After twelve weeks with Elder Deem, on Tuesday we are heading in to Paris where I will swap him out for a different model. An Elder Cheshire that I've heard many nice things about! This was certainly a period of growth and reflection for me.

Another Elder of whom I've been given charge received the news this week that he would be going home 6 months early because of some back pain. The sudden and unexpected halt to everything he knew was a bit of an emotional experience. So come Wednesday and the normal district meeting that I direct rolls about and he asks to have the chance to give a bit of a farewell speech of sorts. This was someone who had been having a hard time lately, and as he started talking about what these 18 months had meant to him, how hard and tough it was at times, the highs and the lows, you could just feel like this was someone who had changed. This was someone who had suffered more than his fair share of problems-- some of which were problems he had created-- but it was someone who had not only succeeded in keeping his head above the water, but someone who had learned to swim despite pretty turbulent storms. He, and all of us listening, were able to see how much this person had grown up and taken responsibility for who he wanted to be and the person that he was. This whole speech was given with a touch of humour and sarcasm though that gave way to the suppressed sentimentality we all knew this person really had. He told us how much he cared about each and everyone of us. That was the last message he wanted to leave. There wasn't an ounce of selfishness or a desire to flaunt achievement. Here, surprised and totally unsure about his future, all this guy wanted us to know, his very parting message, was an expression of love and a vote of confidence. And that is the most basic element of success! It's so simple. It's one of the raw resources, if not the raw resource, of humanity! Of this life! Liking, loving, and trusting one another. It was super beautiful to see that
reflected by this mans speech. May the message of this dying Phoenix whom I'm been blessed to know for 12 weeks resonate with all readers, "aimez vous les uns les autres" or in English "love one another".

Our District/Zone meeting on the beach

Now that the cheese and prétention is over! Look at the cool thing I did this week that none of you did :)

Way back when I was told I'd be moving to this here part of France a sassy old Frenchman named Alain told me that there were a bunch of old megalith sights to go find and see in the area. So I came here and spent 11 weeks looking out for mini-Stonehenge's with no results except for a very small pile of rocks in the middle of a farm. Trespassing is still illegal in France so we didn't go see that. Today though! I found the druids! I found the coolest rocks I've ever seen! And I've seen at least a couple hundred rocks in my 21 years!! See attached photos. It's super weird because they aren't advertised and there isn't much in the way of signage. One minute we were on the road and the next the normal houses on the off to the right gave gave way to stretching fields of rocks!

Love you guys!

Have a great week!

-Elder Alex Hacker

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