What an adventure! As it turns out, the Versailles team (Elder Clarke and I) are actually the office Elders of the mission. We have a van that we use to get around and transport things through the mission, and we're in charge of moving luggage, missionaries, furniture and appliances around the mission. But we'll get to that.
Back in Brussels, Elder Wood and I went out on the town for our last P-Day together. We cleaned the apartment and bought extra candy to get everything ready for the brand-new blue he's training. While we were browsing expensive pens in a department store, Elder Wood and I got surrounded by a group of high school girls. They heard us speaking French and just ~loved~ our accents. They just cut to the chase and asked for our phone numbers. We made the correct choice and didn't give any traceable information, but we went the rest of the day speaking French in extra-thick American accents.
After packing a bit, we went and taught a classy man named 'P'. We knocked on 'P's' door a couple of weeks ago, and it turns out that he lived in Salt Lake for three years and personally entered tens of thousands of names into the LDS genealogy database. He's already read large amounts of the Book of Mormon and conference talks, and he was taught by the missionaries in Salt Lake. We're still trying to figure out what's blocking him. Anyway, he's a very classy man and served us homemade hot chocolate in teacups with an orange cake as we sat in his study discussing his oil paintings painted by local artists.
I got on a train the next morning from Brussels to Paris and met up with my new companion at the central chapel in Paris. We loaded up all my baggage into the van with the luggage of all the other missionaries going home and headed off to the mission office. First, I have to tell everyone that Elder Clarke does amazing things with that van. Driving a huge car full of luggage straight through the heart of Paris is not an easy task. I felt like I was going to die the first time we went through the Charles de Gaulle 12-street roundabout around the Arc de Triomphe, but he somehow pulled it off. Props, Elder Clarke.
We got up early at the crack of dawn on Thursday to get everyone's luggage to the airport before their flights. The Charles de Gaulle airport parking is an adventure in and of itself that can only be thoroughly enjoyed first hand. All the missionaries going home took the RER trains to the airport, and it's surprisingly difficult to meet up with a small group of phoneless people in an international airport. After a minor meltdown with a lost passport right before the security check, we eventually got everyone on their planes to go home.
By the time we made all the necessary trips to the airport, it was late afternoon and hadn't eaten anything yet. When Sister Poznanski got wind of that, she made us some extra food and we got to eat with her and President. That was fun.
On Friday morning, we left the mission home to go set up a new couple's apartment in the French coastal city of Le Havre. Basically we were told, "Here's a list of furniture we want, the keys to the apartment, and a credit card with an extra high limit. Take the van, buy the furniture, drive across the country, and do and buy whatever you need to do in order to finish the apartment. Be back in two days." Mission accepted. This message will now self-destruct (Ha. "Mission." Get it? Sorry, dumb word puns).
And so it was that Elder Clarke and I went to IKEA, bought the furniture, spent 3,000 euros and took a road trip to Le Havre. We met up with a district of Elders out there who came to help us out, but by the end of the first day, all we had done was taken a load of garbage from an old apartment to the dump. Elder Clarke and I stayed in the new apartment for the night and built furniture on our own until the next night (Saturday). We didn't quite finish it all, but we built so much furniture that all of our screwdrivers broke. We took it as a sign that we should stop, so headed back to Versailles to check in.
Our apartment is right across the street from the mission home, and it's just about as French as an apartment can get: small, an elevator that sometimes works, and a bidet in the corner. Yes, we have a bidet. We're the only ones in the mission with one.
We live with the APs and they left right before we did after lunch on Sunday. Unfortunately, they accidentally locked us IN the apartment. We called a senior couple at the office for help. "Yes, that's right .... nope, our key doesn't work .... No, you heard me right, we're locked INSIDE the apartment." One of the other senior couples lives in the adjacent building, and our windows face each other. We yelled to get their attention and decided to throw our keys over into their window so they would be able to come open the door from the outside. It's only a 15ish-foot gap, so we figured it would be easy. Good plan! Elder Clarke warmed up his throwing arm and tossed the keys ... only to hear them make contact with the wall next to the window and fall seven stories to the sidewalk. Thus, we were not only locked inside, but now had no way to get back in once we got out. Fabulous. We eventually got everything figured out, and we retrieved the keys alright.
And that's the latest and greatest. Life it good, and I'm happy to be in France again. We'll be heading into Paris for P-Day today, so I'll have to leave you here. Same time, same place next week? Cool, see you then.
The aftermath of Ikea in Le Havre
You can see the keys if you look close ...