Monday, August 11, 2014

Festival, Festival!

This week, Lorient was all about the festival. THE festival. The biggest festival in all of France, and one of the very biggest in Europe. According to the little headline thing outside our apartment, there were over 750 000 people that came to the 10 day long festival this year, almost breaking a record! To explain a little bit, this was a Celtic Festival. The people of Bretagne (Les Bretons) are technically Celtic people. The Bretagne itself is kind of like the part of France that pretends that it's not a part of France. They wave their Bretagne flag everywhere, and if you ask them, they'll always tell you that they're Breton before they'll ever admit to being French. As part of this Celtic heritage, they hold a festival every year at the beginning of August to kind of bring together Celtic people from all around the world, and then just a whole bunch of other people who like being with Celtic people. We had people from places like Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, and Australia, all Celtic somehow. Then people from Spain, Netherlands, Holland, Denmark, and the good old USA! I hadn't spoken this much English to people besides missionaries on my mission until this last week. Anyway, this massive festival took the usually sleepy, sea-side town of Lorient and turned it into the heart of New York this week, at least as far as population goes. France isn't really big into parking lots so the sidewalks were pretty full (remember what I said about parking on the sidewalk as long as you were still kind of on the road? Well, that rule was out the window this week. People even parked two cars deep on the sidewalks). As part of this craziness, yes, there were a lot of drunk people (it WAS a Celtic festival after all, beer was kind of a staple of the whole thing). One of them even woke us up around 4 am when he was wandering down the street yelling "Festival, festival!" over and over.

The fireworks, as cool as they were, always happened sometime between midnight and 1:30 am, so we usually got woke up to watch those for a few minutes before going back to sleep. So, there were some negative side affects. One of the hardest ones was the fact the, despite the many spiritual experiences we had with people at the festival, almost all of those people have now gone back to other countries and all we can do is hope and pray for them to someday be able to meet the missionaries again. 

But now on to the good stuff! For the sake of time, I'm gonna just cover the couple days that resulted in those pictures you guys saw on Facebook. The rest of the week was just kind of...average in comparison.

So, Monday and Tuesday. After I finished emailing you guys, we had a quick little lesson/dinner with our Malagash amis, who had invited us over. They're so nice and so loving. We ate A LOT. After that, the last bus had passed, and they knew it, so they offered to drive us back into Lorient, about a 20 minute drive, 40 round trip. Just another super nice thing of them to do. After they dropped us off, we started walking around and talking to people, as missionaries do. Since it was the festival, we quickly stumbled across this kind of rag-tag group of guys playing some pretty sweet acoustic funk music, if I had to describe it. All the rest was Elder Lloyd.
Elder Lloyd Jamming with Nanko.
Lorient Music Festival
As we started watching them, he and the guitarist seemed to really be connected quick (the Spirit, I'd like to say). Before I even really realised what was happening, Elder Lloyd stepped into the circle and started freestyle rapping (he's pretty good at it) as the group of guys just kept jamming behind him, but a little softer so the crowd could hear the missionary. I don't really know what he rapped about, except for the part where he turned back and looked at me and said something about President Monson. He used French and English both together a little, and the crowd loved it enough that the guys let him do it a couple more times in the same song! Then, after that, we talked to them for a minute and Elder Lloyd asked if he could play the guitar for a song. The guitarist, who's name was Nanko, gladly let him jam something while he took pictures of the whole thing. After another song or two, we talked for a couple minutes to them about what we do and then left them our card.

We moved on and quickly found the manager guy of the boulangerie (Bakery) just under our apartment! All sorts of crazy stuff happening in one night here. We ended up talking to him and his two friends for about 15 minutes and quasi-teaching (I don't know if that's a real word) the Restoration to them all. Now we get a handshake and a "salut" (the French equivalent of sup) when we walk into the boulangerie. :) Still working on him... But after all that, it was time to head in and call it a night.

Adam and Elder Lloyd with Some New Friends
at the Lorient Music Festival
The Power and Spirit of Music at Work
Tuesday however, we wouldn't have imagined. After a relatively normal Tuesday of district meeting, a lesson with our recent convert Thierry, a quick member visit, and a stop in at SoirĂ©e Familiale, we got a text on our phone. From an unknown number, meaning somebody who we gave a card to was texting us, which pretty much never happens, in all honesty. It was Nanko! He said they'd be jamming again and invited us to come jam with them. Of course, we gladly accepted. What happened next was just...a miracle, I suppose. I'm really running out of time, so I'll have to explain it briefly. Basically, we started playing with them (they had brought some little percussion things for me since they couldn't find a saxophone) and just talking to people in the crowd in between songs. At one point it all ended up raining and us and some of the girls that were watching ended up under the same pavilion thing. While we waited for the rain to die out we all started talking, and since Elder Lloyd and I are missionaries, we started talking about religion and Christ and faith and suddenly it was a really serious, deep conversation. In the end, after jamming a little more in between, we all sat down together and Elder Lloyd and I ended up teaching and sharing testimonies with all 10 of these people from all over the world. It's hard to explain, but we were able to share a spiritual moment together, started from our common point of the music we were playing, where, in my opinion, everyone there was able to feel something. It was an amazing opportunity to really see what they mean by the "power and authority" of our calling as missionaries. After that whole crazy night, there are now a few more seeds planted in England, Ireland, Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany. One of those times (and I feel like we have a lot here in French) where we'll never really know what sort of an impact we made. 

Ugh, I really wish I could explain all that in more detail, but I guess it'll just have to be one for when I get home. One of the more powerful experiences I've had on my mission, that's for sure.

Well, I'd better get going. I hope everybody has a good week at band camp and stays on their dot! There are a lot of lessons to be learned about life from marching band, as nerdy as that is. :) Keep up the good work!

Elder Bigler

Frenchism will have to start again next week...

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