This week we had some pretty fun times. Birthday parties. Handicapped people. Bingo. And lots of pancakes.
Basically, we started the week on P-day with some wandering about the city. Val d'Or actually has a pretty cool main street with lots of cool shops and stuff, and we had never taken the time to go around. We went to a lot of stores but the highlights were probably the army surplus store where we got a Quebec flag, some incredibly expensive clothing stores where we were treated very nicely because we were sharply dressed and looked rich, and the Catholic church where we chatted with the curé for a while.
That night at FHE we made some pretty sharp cases for everyone's scriptures by pillaging 5 years of ensigns for pictures and cutting up the boxes from all the cereal we've eaten. It may sound rudimentary, but you'd be pretty impressed I think. They turned out really well, and now we can protect those thousands of French Books of Mormon we're going to hand out.
Also, we discovered (now that the snow has melted) that directly next door to our apartment is a BEAUTIFUL turf field and track. So guess what we've been doing in the mornings! You guessed it! Sleeping in.
Kidding. We're better than that. We've actually been getting up a little earlier than the required 6:30 to get out there and make sure we get our half hour in ;) It's that good. It's actually been quite enjoyable. We usually either go running there or play soccer (which Elder Hunter smokes me at.) The discovery was fun, because neither of us came up here before the snow set in, and one day while driving home, we just looked to our right and this beautiful field was sitting right there. For 3 months I guess I just assumed we lived next to a potato farm or something.
Also, Sister Lacerte provided us with a lot more milk bag mats. I don't know if I explained this before. Basically, there's a member in our ward that is retired and lovely, and she spends a lot of time weaving these used milk bags into mats that can be sent to developing countries. Every time I go over there, her ancient husband is sitting in his chair helping her cut these bags. I'm pretty sure it's all he does. Anyway, the mats are surprisingly comfortable and at this point I think she's made around 30 or so. Well, we've been stacking them in the branch president's office because someone apparently comes in the summer and picks them up. They better, because if not, we're not going to have an office for much longer.
Gwenda has been coming with us more and more to do missionary work. She wakes up at 6:30 to do exercise at the field, which is pretty cool of her. We're talking about a mission quite a bit with her, and obviously even if she did do one it would be pretty far out (she was baptized in December) but it's cool to talk about it. She'll maybe do a mini-mission for a few days with the sisters in Rouyn. We'll have to see :)
We had an really good lesson with the Capississits this week, and Ben talked about how the main reason he hasn't been coming to church consistently is X-box. Well, we had a really good talk about moderation in all things, and the next day he came to church all the way in Rouyn! He had never been there before. Like, he'd never been to Rouyn, and he still came. That was a pretty big step for him :) It was super cool. Also, Angie (his mom) is super cool. She didn't come this week, but she's a good mom and she really wants to help her kids out.
Haha, one of the highlights of this week was definitely Auntie Lynn's birthday party. It's Gwenda's great aunt, and we've been meeting with her for a few weeks now. She's super super nice, and we got invited to come help with her surprise birthday party. It was a wild time. Loads of PFK (That's KFC but in French. Poulet frit de Kentucky), tons of pizza, cake, and overall just a lot of good time. It was all non-members except for Gwenda, and we got to meet quite a bit of her family. One of the funniest parts was that I was on exchanges with an English elder named Elder Hansen, and he didn't really understand what was going on. It was mostly in french, and so he was a little confused. Also, if there's one thing Quebec people like to do, it's swear. Like all the time. And seeing as most of them learn English from watching T.V., they all know a ton of English swearwords. So basically most of the conversation (and swearwords) were in French, but for Elder Hansen, the only part he understood was the swearwords in English. He probably got a pretty interesting impression of Quebec.
I'm totally serious about the swearing thing too. I'm pretty sure I know more swearwords in Quebecois than in English.
Also, earlier in the day, we went to the Club des Handicaps (Handicap Center) to do service. It was tons of fun. I think one of my favorite memories will forever be Elder Hansen trying to communicate with handicapped French people. He was a good sport, so it was fun. We started out by playing bingo, but the way they played it was super complicated and I really had no idea what I was doing. So while Elder Hansen was trying to figure out how to communicate, I was busy getting raked by a bunch of handicapped people for my lack of bingo skill.
Following that, we played cards with some of them, and they were so sweet. None of them really knew how to play the game, and so we just started putting down random cards and pretending like we knew what were doing. The woman sitting next to Elder Hansen thought it was really funny to say curse words in English, but the funniest part was that she was saying them wrong, and so Gwenda and I just started laughing, which only encouraged her. Elder Hansen was pretty confused :)
Also, that night Gwenda got invited to go drinking with her friends. She obviously couldn't because we're Mormon and we're boring, but she didn't know what to say, so we finally got her to tell her friend that she couldn't drink anymore. I think she thought her friend was going to make fun of her, but she actually texted back saying that she really respected that decision and that she wanted to come to church with Gwenda. She couldn't come this week (because she went drinking and was hungover) but she's going to come next week :)
Also, after our exchange with the Temiskaming elders, we stopped in Rouyn for dinner, and no one spoke English. Elder Deweese of Temiskaming speaks a little bit of french, and it was really funny to hear him do his best every time the waiter came by. He was able to say "je veux gateau de fromage", "je suis gros", and "je voudrais l'eau". The waiters thought it was funny, and we were able to translate anything he couldn't say.
Elder Hunter and I have been searching for bikes as well, and it turns out one of our investigators named Henri has some! So we're going to get some bikes soon ;) It's gonna be sweet!
Church was fun too. For the third hour we taught everyone how to share the gospel effectively, but it was a bit like herding cats. All the members here are super talkative, and they were all sharing experiences which were admittedly cool but really off topic. So it was good. Pretty fun :)
Hadley - What a beautiful poem. I haven't gotten the package yet, but I'm assuming you sent it the mission office, which means I won't get it until I go down there for a conference, which could still be a few weeks out. I'll get it though :)
Ellie - What an interesting critique of Ashleigh's play :) Also, that's a lot of emoticons at the end there. Is there some meaning to them that I don't understand. The swimming and the bike makes sense, but I got confused when I saw the handicap sign and the rocket ship.
Hayden - Haha, my comp just looked over my shoulder and got really confused at all the names that you guys call me. Augusta. Elder Auggie Poggie Froggie. Pardner Sabin. I guess I had never really thought about how interesting all the names were :) Speaking of the Jazz, that's usually the only reason people know about Utah up here. When I say I'm from Utah, they oftentimes say "Oh, c'est la place du Jazz, n'est pas?" (Have dad translate). It's funny.
Mom - I appreciate the language compliments, but honestly it's really confusing sometimes. It messes with my head. I'll have memories sometimes, but I won't be able to remember what language the memories took place in. Like maybe I'll think about a conversation I had with you, but it will be in Chinese, and I know for a fact you don't speak Chinese. It's weird. All the active members but 1 speak french, and some of them speak some English too, but the conversations at church are always in French. That's really cool to hear about Stake Conference :) Glad it was so good.
Ashleigh - Maple syrup up here is actually currency. Like, if you want to buy things, you can either give them money, or you can take out a bottle of good old syrup and then pour it down their gullet until they give you the thumbs up. That means you've paid more than enough. Kind of weird. It get's complicated when you try and put syrup in your wallet though. Just gets sticky.
Dad - That sounds really cool about the Stake conference. And don't worry at all about your letters. They're plenty good for me. I'm glad you guys were able to have such a spiritual experience. It sounds like a lot of the meetings as of late have been very spiritual.
Anyway, I've got to wrap up soon. Before I go, I want to leave you with a thought. I was reading a bit this week on the subject of freedom, and what it actually is. In the world's sense, freedom is often looked at as a sense of having permission to do something or at least not needing permission. Doing what we want. Freedom from restraint and responsibility, and in many ways I think these elements are true to the definition of freedom. It is indeed those things, but in a gospel context, freedom is much more a matter of capacity and ability than of permission.
Take for example, a child who is given the opportunity to take piano lessons. Growing up, he may despise practicing. In fact, in this case, lets say the mother gives up and no longer requires her son to practice. Finally, he is free to live his life. He is free from the responsibility of the chore.
However, in 20 year perhaps, the ward choir is in need of an accompanist, and they have yet to see someone step forward to take the assignment, this child, now a grown man, had plenty of freedom growing up. He had freedom FROM piano, but now he lacks the freedom to DO.
I think Adam and Eve knew all about freedom FROM. They were free from pain, sorrow, and affliction in the Garden of Eden, but they had to give that up and leave their idyllic world to have the freedom to DO. To do so much more with themselves than what they could do had they remained free FROM everything.
And so I repeat myself. Freedom is more of a question of capacity and ability than of permission. God intends to increase our capacity, and in many cases that necessitates that we are not free FROM everything. However, we can rest easy knowing that one day we will have the freedom to DO everything. We will have true freedom, the kind that is earned by discipline and deprivation.
Anyway, I love you guys. God bless you!