So on Tuesday, our équipes (missionary companionship) had a mangevous (eating session = mange and meeting = rendez-vous) avec le évêque or Bishop Cosentino and it was the first time I had both goat cheese and Corsican (an island off the coast of France) cheese, goat cheese wasn't that bad and I'm not a cheese kinda guy but Corsican cheese is like the definition of stinky strong cheese and man that was a challenge!
For dessert they made this thing called île flottante or floating island and it is pretty much, whipped egg whites and whipped cream on top of custard and the whipped part always floats on the top of the custard (hence the name) anyway French food is always amazing.
The next day we had our first blitz exchange (where a whole sector comes to another district for an exchange) with the Chambéry trio elders; Elder Beck, Elder Tomlinson, and Elder Warner ( not the same Elder Warner from our MTC District - he is actually serving somewhere where they speak “real French” – you know Canada) ( I think I need to stop using sarcasm and parenthesis)(I'll try but it's also really fun).
This exchange was also one with a lot of "First's" With Elders Beck and Warner; I was invited to teach a small lesson a family on a subject of making the Sabbath day more holy or sacred. Since Elder Beck and Elder Warner were not from around here and since I'm new I barely knew what I was going to say, lesson-wise and in French, and also I had to lead the discussion because it was in my sector, so it was super stressful however we were victorious and the lesson went really well except the part where the sister didn't actually know that we were going to be there that day and that she literally just got home when we showed but other than that, it went swimmingly.
The other "first" thing that we did was that after this rendezvous, we as a district went to a shop called Gex Burger and before my mission I have never heard of this delicacy called a Kebab. I will describe it to you. It is this large piece of meat that sits on a spit for a long time and pieces of meat get shaved off of it and the cook either puts it in a tortilla or a panini and it has veggies and French fries inside of the sandwich / taco thing and it is like the best thing I have ever had. The owner of the restaurant loves the missionaries because we always stop by so he gives us free drinks and fries on the side but man, I was on like cloud nine after eating this masterpiece.
After we got back to our apartment we had this huge district sleepover with 7 elders in our small apartment because we had something called a zone finding day in the morning. I got to know Elder Tomlinson better and I truly believe if we weren't on our missions we definitely could of been friends. Like he likes the same movies, television shows and games I liked and he loved this online website/shows based in Texas that all my friends back home adores and yea like we totally clicked hopefully we will be in a companionship sometime in the future.
So “Zone Finding Day” was amazing. During ZFD, our zone leaders and sister training leaders gather everyone in a sector and we discuss how to improve our missionary work. Then we have this challenge. For us individual, we had a specific challenge like speak only in English or talk to everyone wearing scarfs or talk to people who are currently smoking (it seems like half the population of France smokes) ( and I used another set of parenthesis). My personal challenge was to ask people how to say thing in French in every conversation, which actually helped me out because I'm a bleu (a new missionary) and I don't know the language. During this zone finding day, I was pair up with Elder McKee in the morning, which was from Frère Adam's infamous district "class of 2015". It was interesting because I always thought he was super "old" or was in the mission for a long time, but in all actuality he has only been out 6 weeks longer into the mission than I am, which was mind boggling. We had a few great conversations and we saw a lot of cool things. In the evening was on an exchange with Elder Tomlinson so that was fun. We discovered this really cool looking tomb on the side of Lac de Genève or Lac Léman and it was a tomb of Charles II Duke of Brunswick and that was really chill looking and we also spotted a nice Italian car (Ferrari 458 Italia I believe) . Most importantly during his own finding day we taught a lot of principles to people that knew little or nothing about the church.
Saturday night we had a lesson with a less active member and that lesson was very spiritually powerful. Probably the most powerful experience I've had on my mission so far. We were teaching about temples and the great blessings they are in our lives and how we have prepare for entering into them and how we have to give up parts of our lives in order to live a better life with regular temple attendance. I felt inspired to talk how I needed to change some things in my life in order to get my life aligned with the gospel to enter the temple. Once I shared this experience, our less active member seemed to open up and we made goals on how she could someday go to the temple. I haven't felt the spirit like that since the MTC and it felt like someone poured warm radiant beams of joy and love on my head like the way the sun feels on a nice Arizona October day. I hope every lesson I have from now on will have the same feelings.
Love you guys and hope you have a good week ahead!
Elder D. Dakota Stephens
France Lyon Mission
Sept 2015 - Sept 2017