Well, the whole mission had a bit of a panic attack this Saturday afternoon. Since it was the end of the transfer, we were supposed to go and check our emails to see where we were all getting transferred. But, the email system wasn't working, and everyone flipped out. Luckily, we got calls later that night to tell us where we were going, and I'm getting transferred out of Strasbourg to the city of Toul, which is actually not very far away. It's pronounced like the English word "tool." I can imagine the jokes at zone conference: "Look, it's the tools of Toul." What an unfortunate cognate. Also, it's a small city, so instead of using a tram system, we'll be driving a car.
This is a bit of a problem.
You see, driving in France is insane. All the roads are tiny, and it seems like there aren't too many rules.
Do you wish the two-lane highway you're currently driving on had three lanes? Go ahead! Make another lane! Nobody cares! Even if you have to drive with two tires on the sidewalk, it's okay!
Are you in a rush to pick up a fresh baguette at a boulangerie with no parking nearby? Just throw on the hazards, and you can park your car in the middle of the street! If you stay a little longer, go ahead and park on the sidewalk so you don't have to pay for parking! Who cares? No rules!
I can knock on doors all day, but I'll admit that I'm a bit concerned about driving.
On the upside, we're in the process of getting a new apartment in Toul, and it's supposed to be one of the largest, newest and nicest apartments in the mission. Oh, yes. Very posh.
But, since I'm still in Strasbourg until Wednesday, I'll update you on what's been going on. On Saturday, after the disappointment of not being able to access the transfer email, Elder Manivanh and I went tracting through some apartment buildings near the university. We got to one very large and imposing wooden door, knocked on it, and waited a minute. A 17 year-old girl answered, she saw us, she screamed at the top of her lungs, and she ran away.
Wow, that was sure a confidence builder. We made a girl think we were going to kill her. Come on, I know we're dressed in suits and we're two years older, but we're not THAT scary, are we? We're just two hip, young, good-looking guys wanting to share the good word. She eventually sent her friend to come back and see what we wanted, and we were able to convince them we wanted to talk about Jesus.
The girl who had screamed bloody murder looked at me, looked at Elder Manivanh, then quickly said in English, "Hey, I just made some apple cake. Do you want some?" She must have been swooning over Elder Manivanh's charm, because it was quite the change of pace. Elder Manivanh and I exchanged glances, shrugged, and I said, "Sure, I could use some cake right about now. Why not?" So, we went in and had some cake and Coca-Cola.
As it turns out, this girl was having a party of sorts, because there was a whole group of 17 and 18 year-olds hanging around in the apartment. When we came in and started eating cake, they all gathered around us and sat down like we were going to tell them a bedtime story. It must have been Elder Manivanh's charm at work again. We were astounded by how trained and well-behaved this group of teenagers were, so we decided to share a story with them about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. They liked it, we gave them copies of the Book of Mormon to read, and they sent us on our way. Just before we left, one of the 18 year-old guys posed a question:
"Hey, so you have to be 21 to drink in the United States, right? Here, since you only need to be 18, I bet you've been going crazy. How often do you just go and try as much alcohol as you can?"
We curtly responded that we don't drink, and he was a bit shocked:
"WHAAT? You came all the way to France, and you don't even drink? You guys are crazy."
I guess we're just misunderstood.
Have a fantastic week, and I'll talk to you next from the chapel of Toul.