Monday, April 22, 2013

An Organ is not a Piano

So there's this phrase in French: J'ai malcompris. It means 'I have misunderstood.' My companion uses it sometimes, and every time, I think, 'Man, that is a cool way to say that! I've gotta remember that and start using it!' (Let's be real, I'd have like a bazillion opportunities to use it everyday.) This week, though, I got the chance to really use it. It goes like this: last week, a lady in the ward came up to me after church, and from what I understood, she was going to be gone the next week, and asked me if I could I play the piano for the hymns in sacrament meeting. Not a problem. She asked if I needed to know which ones we'd be singing beforehand so I could practice, or if I could just play them on the spot. Yeah, on the spot. Because I'm awesome (aka: I have an overinflated ego.)

So I show up to church on Sunday and they're all 'Where's Soeur Carter? Oh thank goodness you're here, you're playing the hymns in sacrament right?' And I'm all, 'Yeah, I got this.' You know, proud that I can at least contribute in some way to this ward. Maybe I can't speak French, but everyone speaks the language of music, blah blah blah. So I prance over to the piano. Which is when I see that it isn't a piano at all...but an organ.
So there are a few key differences between a piano and an organ, the first of which being that a piano has 88 keys and an organ has 20 billion. Oh and also the two keyboard thing. Oh and also the 50 pedals thing. Oh and also the fact that I have no idea where the sustaining pedal is and my hands are shaking so bad that the music is shaking too because I keep releasing then rehitting notes. Bahahaha, worst and best. Afterwards, the ward member who we work the closest with in our miussionary work, who also happens to be a professor of violin performance out here came up and said, 'Bravo Soeur Carter! You have learned how to play a new instrument in five minutes!' Hahaha, oh wow. In short: 'J'ai malcompris. I thought you asked me to play the piano, not the organ! 
Bayonne is lovely. Still. We run every morning over bridges and down to the river, and past a house that some mornings smells like warm baguettes and some mornings smells like the huge purple lilac bush draped over its fences. I eat toast every morning, sometimes with Nutells, sometimes Speculoos, sometimes butter and strawberry jam, and always with a little tub of yogurt. (The French people are apparently very serious about their yogurt: the grocery store where we shop has--no exaggeration--two entire aisles of yogurt, on both sides.)

We spend four hours studying every morning, and some mornings our apartment is unusually freezing, so I wrap myself in my white down comforter aforementioned, and am completely and utterly happy. We spend a few hours everyday talking to strangers, trying to make them smile, asking them if they'd like to learn about God, teaching them who Heavenly Father is and that He put us here on this earth to learn and become like Him.
We eat a big lunch, usually a baguette sandwich, sometimes an omelet. Nutella usually figures in there somewhere as well. In the evenings we sometimes have teaching appointments, which are my favorite times. This last week a family in the ward invited us over to eat and I had my first real French dinner--four courses! We ate shredded carrots and cucumbers with a simple balsamic vinaigrette, then a gateau de maiz from Chile that had beef and chicken and raisins and cheese and it was sweet and warm. Then the 8-yr old daughter went to the fridge and came back with her arms full of different cheeses, and the mom put a baguette and a steaming loaf of wheat bread on the table. I didn't know what to do, so another of the dinner guests cut me off a huge chunk of cheese (we're talking as big as a regular carrot) and we all sat around eating cheese and hot bread. And then the cakes--a banana bread cakes and a whipped cream and raspberry cake--chantilly et framboise. It was cool and fizzy and had little crystals of sugar all coating the outside. Soeur Pfost and I went home so so happy that night.

I am picking up more of the language. I can follow conversations a little better now...except for yesterday when the best I could make of what one lady was telling me was that because of her first mustache, she helped decapitated persons, and then something about mayonnaise...  (In other words, I've still got a ways to go.)
We're teaching a lot and learning a lot and all's well this side of the ocean.

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