Well, it's December 30th today. There's only one day left of my "blackout year," meaning the 12 months that I don't touch American soil. I technically cheated by going to an American cemetery in France on American soil, but we won't count that.
SO, we finished emails last week, and were reveling in our sense of accomplishment when we were greeted from behind by a smiling Sister Poznanski. She informed us of another surprise trip to the hospital for an Elder in Paris that had recently destroyed his ankle while running for the bus, so off we went. Since he couldn't walk, we went into Paris to drive him to the hospital and deliver some crutches to make him mobile.
We knew that a Sister was still in the American hospital after having surgery to remove a cyst from her brain, but we weren't expecting to have a whole welcome party. There at the hospital in the waiting room, we had Elder Hill, me, the Elder that broke his ankle, his companion, another sick Sister, her companion, two Sisters that accompanied them, and the other Sister that had the brain surgery was still upstairs. We met a couple from Texas, and the slightly confused looks on their faces conveyed that they were probably thinking one of a few things:
"WHAT are they DOING to those poor missionaries?"
"Does membership in that church really involve frequent and severe bodily harm?"
"I knew they have to be with companions, but don't you think eight for one sick person is too many?"
"That's a shame. The bus taking everyone back to the local monastery must have just gotten in an accident."
"Oh, what nice young people. I hope they have something to say to me."
"WHY is everything in this vending machine so dang expensive?"
Seriously though. That vending machine was ridiculous. I'd sooner walk out of that emergency room with a broken leg and severe internal bleeding to find a Snickers bar that doesn't cost the equivalent of 3 US dollars. Anyway. Moving on.
We set the record straight with the nice family from Texas, got the ankle good and fixed up, dropped the Elders back off at their apartment, then went out to buy food for the Sisters who were stuck waiting there all day (they couldn't afford the vending machine). After a few hours more of driving through traffic and waiting, we drove the Sisters back to the train station, found out that there were no more trains for the night, then drove them back to the mission home for the night. And that was only Monday.
The next day was Christmas Eve! We used our P-day to stay home and make desserts for Christmas parties, then we went over to President and Sister Poznanski's house for dinner. That was so fun, and they're so French. We had a bunch of fancy hors d'oeuvres (Ha. That's French too), then started the meal with a plate full of escargot (super French). Mmm. They gave us a feast, dessert, and the gift of a jar of Nutella.
Logically, the next day was Christmas! We beautifully slept in until 8, lounged around, then went off to the Princes' apartment (the office senior couple). A few weeks ago, the French Postal service wanted to charge me a $200 customs fee to deliver my Christmas package from my family, which I was unable to pay because the postal worker would only accept cash and I was unwilling to pay because it was highway robbery! On Christmas, I woke up with the expectation that I wasn't going to be getting any presents for a few weeks, but it turns out that my mother and the office staff were in cahoots. When I showed up to the Princes' apartment, I was bombarded with a truckload full of wrapped presents that they had purchased for me. I don't know how I'm ever going to be able to repay them, but it'll probably involve naming my firstborn "Prince" or "Wall."
(editor's note: I need to let the entire world know how awesome and amazing Elder and Sister Prince and Elder and Sister Wall are and thank them for making this desperate mother, a half a world away, happy and fulfill not only my wishes but Trevor's. They went above and beyond my expectations to make sure Trevor had some gifts to open on Christmas morning, but not just a few gifts, they purchased and made every single thing that I had bought and mailed in his Christmas package, including having the Chinese Elders get original Hi-Chews from China Town in downtown Paris! I will never be able to express how much this means to me. How can I properly repay you? Thank you, Thank you!)
After presents and a fantastic meal, they were nice enough to let us stay to Skype families and watch our yearly allotment of a Disney movie. It was awesome being able to see everyone's family and see how everyone has changed. We had a big debate over the movie and ended up choosing to watch Wreck it Ralph. We all really enjoyed it, but I'm not sure if we liked it for the high quality of the plot and complex story line, or because we haven't seen a movie in a year and a half.
The week finished up with a number of toilet repair projects, which we're getting pretty darn good at. One of the apartments had wood flooring that was severely warping and coming out of place, so Elder Hill and I ended up ripping up the floor, fixing the cracks in the concrete, and laying down new wood flooring. Just learning new things every day! Now I'm not only qualified to work at IKEA, but now flooring companies and plumbers as well. Major life preparation going on here.
That mostly sums it all up! I hope you all had a week as delightful as mine was. I wouldn't mind having another Christmas this week too, but I could do without the accompanying toilet repairs.
Happy New Year!