This week was another slow week in Pays de Gex. With the new rules about our current curfew, because of the situation in this part of the world, we have to either do our three hour study and preparation block (4 hours for the Bleu missionaries who are in the first 12 weeks of training, which includes me) in the morning and then do work for a few hours and be back in by 5:30 or sundown, or we could wake up and go out immediately and do our studies in the evening.
Monday we did the latter option and it proved unfruitful because everyone in the morning is either headed to university or work and are super busy and don't "have time” to listen to us. We ran into this guy and we tried to stop him to ask if we could talk a little about how families can be eternal. He shrugged us off and walked away. We then left to catch our bus which was leaving in about 5 minutes. We get on the bus then realized almost immediately we were on the wrong bus, thankfully, or we would have crossed the border and been at the airport. We got off the bus at the next stop and headed back to the bus stop to get on the correct bus that would take us back to Gex. As we neared the bus stop, we saw that man again and this time he actually stopped us. He must of thought we were just circling Main Street, Ferney Voltaire, like two "requins" or sharks. He willing participated in our conversation then started ranting about the events in Paris and how that religion is the reason that all of the terrorist acts happened. We told him that this is why we are spreading the message that helps fortify the family so when times like these occur, the family is a tight unit where love and security can exist. He wasn't having any of it and actually pulled out his wallet and held out his money to us. We explained that we were not allowed to take his money and he just threw it at us and walked away. I picked up the 65 euro cent pieces and decided to leave them in the bus ticket machine so someone who could need it can use it. But man that was a crazy day.
A service opportunity came up and a member, Brother Thiesset, picked us up to take us to a house where the inside resembled a rustic 30s style wallpaper and trinkets that used to line the halls. It probably looked really cool at the time, but when we arrived, the house was being remodeled and was having a few rooms added. We were instructed to help out these guys in the basement and to clear/dig up the dirt ground and remove the coal storage and place all the coal in garbage bags for later use. I'm going to paint a little picture for you as the reader with my words. Imagine a kids birthday party at a Chuck E Cheese's or something similar with a large plastic techni-colored ball pit. Now imagine that ball pit wasn't filled with plastic spheres but with noir (black) pieces of coal about a foot deep with the dimensions of 10 by 6 feet in a very dimly lit room and cobwebs tickling my hair and ears. It felt like I was in a mine shaft almost. Now...what made it even more difficult was at the bottom of this coal ball pit was a unidentified water source where water seemed to seep from the ground and it turned all this coal dust into a dark Slushy. I am really glad I decided to bring another pair of shoes and a towel to wrap my "trainers" in said towel. And that was one of the most weird service projects I will probably do on my mission, according to Elder Walters.
After this fun coal pit adventure, Elder Walters and I went to volunteered our time to collect food for a "banque alimentaire " or food bank for the less fortunate at a supermarché near us. It was really cool to see people with shopping carts full of food and give most of that food to the food bank. It was really cool.
One of the last things that happened this week was we had a "mangez"-vous with a family who is half Mallagash, I think, (from Madagascar) and half French and their nephew, who isn’t a member and actually has no knowledge of the Christian religion really at all. We normally teach about the Sabbath day with our member rendezvous and when we taught about this seemingly basic idea to the members of our church or Christianity but is completely foreign to anyone outside of this sphere of Christian belief. We then had a really great lesson with this man about how Sundays or the Sabbath day is a gift from God and a day for rest and respite and used for spiritual "refilling" and a day to leave the world behind and a day for worship. He was very interested and we might possibly teach him again
Anyway…this week has been pretty slow but it has been a productive week.
Love from the South of France!
Elder D. Dakota Stephens
France Lyon Mission
Sept 2015 - Sept 2017