We had a mega exchange with the zone leaders this week, and I ended up being with Elder Oliverson for three days. We had to do one day for the transfer exchange, one day for legality, and we thought it would be dumb to unexchange for a half day in between, so we just stayed together. It was a great time.
So anyway, Elder Oliverson and I got up bright and early and headed to Lille, a pretty big city on the border of France and Belgium. Since we've been in Europe for almost year, our French visas are about to expire and we need to get another ... and let me tell ya: legality paperwork in a foreign language is not the easiest thing in the world.
We got to Lille fairly early in the morning with the intention of catching the prefecture at a time when the lines were short. We would have been there at the opening had it not been for a slight mistake on my part. I slightly misheard the name of the metro stop to get off at, and Elder Oliverson and I accidentally went to a really run down part of town. We got off the bus and found ourselves surrounded by dirt fields on either side filled with trailers and tents with people living inside. The streets and sidewalks were covered in garbage and people were pushing carts of their possessions down the street to their trailers. Needless to say, we stuck out a bit as Americans in suits, leather bags, and paperwork under our arms.
We made a beeline for the closest metro stop and eventually made it back to where we were supposed to go. Suddenly an hour later than anticipated, Elder Oliverson and I got to the government building and descended the stairs to find a nice and welcoming line wrapping out the door. One word: fantastic. Basically it's the DMV, European style. We got in the back of the line and were delighted to find we moved at the lightning speed of four paces an hour. On the bright side, we talked to an awesome guy from New Zealand the whole time and learned quite a bit about rugby, cricket, kiwis, and Maori. Thanks for the conversation, Nick.
The room was cramped and hot enough that a lady at the front completely passed out. Someone caught her and put her on a bench, then got back in line so they wouldn't lose their spot. Classy. Nick sprang into action and went and helped the poor lady passed out alone on the bench. He's a really good guy. Two and a half hours later, we got to the front of the line.
"Hi, we need to stay in France another year."
"Passport, please. . . . . . . okay, looks good. Come back in October."
Two hours for a twenty second conversation. We got out of the place at 2 in the afternoon and since our train to Brussels didn't leave until 6, we had some time to eat lunch and take a quick walk through a park/zoo in the middle of the city. It was funny to see to "Wonders of America" section at the zoo.
The day after, Elder Wood and I went to eat at an African family's house for dinner. We got there when they were about to start cooking, and I made the mistake of asking if I could help them cook. The mother just looked at me and said, "You're a white boy and we're making African food. You'll be of absolutely no use to us." Probably true. I just sat back and listened to African music instead.
Saturday, an investigator called us up and asked us if we could go get drinks with him. He took us to a hip locale in the center of Brussels where all the college kids go. We were so cool drinking our fruit juices.
The last notable event for the week happened yesterday evening. We got out of a lesson with one of our investigators from Ghana, and were walking out of the apartment building when someone yelled at us from behind. It was a 16 year old Ghanaian African girl named Antoinette. "I was baptized recently in Ghana, but since I've moved to Brussels, I haven't been able to find the church. My friend is a missionary, and he told me to look out for the missionaries in Brussels and try to find them. Then, I walked out of my apartment ... and here you are. I need to have the church in my life. I miss it so much."
Well, Antoinette. Looks like you've found the right people. We took her number and promised to help her find the church building next Sunday.
Have a fantastic week, everyone! Go Cougars!