February 24, 2014

Avoid Morbid Obesity! Careful Around Elevators. - Week 79

Well, I officially became an "old" missionary this week as I hit the legendary "6 months to sexy" mark. With 18 months of a mission done, that means that it's time for missionaries to eat better and do exercises in the morning so as to be a physically attractive specimen by the end of the two years. It's a pretty big deal and since Elder Price, Elder Dussere and I all live together AND are all going home the same day, we got to celebrate together by doing some push-ups. Most missionaries drop the ball after a week and start vegetating on the floor for a half hour in the morning instead of working out. For them, their procrastination turns their "6 months to sexy" into a "3 months to not morbidly obese." Then they just give up.

We had an almost-crisis last night as we were going to our apartment. Let me explain our apartment building to you. We live up on the seventh floor, and there's a spiral staircase that wraps around a small elevator going up to the top. The elevator is 100 years old and is essentially a wooden box/cage pulled by a metal cord and enclosed in a column of chain-link fence up to the top. It has a maximum limit of three people, so when all four of us go up or down, I usually volunteer to take the stairs so we don't break it again. This was the case last night, and I made it to the top before everyone else. Elder Dussere, Elder Price and Elder Christensen came up in the wooden death box, but the elevator decided not to stop at the seventh floor and kept going up. FYI, the seventh floor is the top floor, so they were stuck in a stopped elevator seven stories up without any way to open the doors. 

Elder Price freaked out Elder Dussere by shaking the elevator in hopes of getting it un-stuck, and I started running to lower levels in hopes of calling it down to a normal level. I couldn't help but laugh to myself the whole time, but they didn't find it so funny. Elder Dussere eventually figured out how to climb out of the elevator, but it's still stuck up there on the 7 1/2th floor.

The second adventure happened on Saturday while we were moving furniture around in Compiegne, north of Paris. We got a phone call from the other Versailles Elders, asking if we would be able to take them to the hospital. One of them had some kind of infection in his mouth, so we had to take them to dental urgent care. We finished up in Compiegne as fast as we could, but still didn't get back to Versailles until around 7:30 pm. 

We started by taking them to the hospital next to the temple site close to Versailles, but they didn't have anyone who could help with a dental problem. From there, we went to the American hospital in Paris, who told us the same thing and referred us to a third hospital. At this point, it was close to 9:30, so we called Sister Poznanski to double-check and see if we could go, then went to the other side of the city to the third hospital. We got a little spoiled as we drove around the Arc de Triomphe, down the Champs Elysées, around the place de la Concorde, down by the Seine, past the Conciergerie, and in front of Notre Dame all while they were lit up for the night. I had a little reality check after I inwardly complained that I was hungry. Anyway, the third hospital finally accepted us, wrote up a prescription for medication, pat us on the head and sent us out the door with a list of pharmacies open late at night. 

After finding the pharmacy, getting the medicine, and stopping at McDonald's at midnight since no one had eaten that day, we drove home and crawled into bed at close to 1:00 am. After waking up at 4:45 am to go to the airport two days before, the lack of sleep started to catch up with us on Sunday, but we made it through church the next day without falling asleep and everyone is still living! That's a success in my book.

Alright, I have to tell you guys something. Because we had staff meeting and had to go to the dump on Monday, we took P-day on Wednesday instead. We went to the Musée D'Orsay in Paris and saw a bunch of Monet, Van Gogh, Lautrec, and other famous paintings. Yeah, yeah, big deal. Besides that, we went and got real-life BURRITOS. We found the Chipotle in Paris and bought ourselves a big serving of Mexican food. The last time I had Mexican food was 18 months ago in the Salt Lake Airport after going to San Francisco for my visa. It was a big deal, I tell ya. SO awesome. 

Seriously though, the paintings were really cool too. I probably liked it more than the Louvre. We weren't supposed to take pictures, but we didn't find out until halfway through. Oops. Still snagged a few though. 

Well, I guess I'll also report that we went to the airport twice to drop off missionaries, I learned how to make some really good omelettes, we donated a bunch of furniture to a cool place kind of like a European DI and we went to Amiens and Compiegne twice. 

After re-reading what I wrote, you probably all think that we don't do any work at all. I promise we did some tracting and lots of other productive things. Anyway.

It's Fast Sunday this week, so remember to brush your teeth extra well in the morning. Skipping breakfast does NOT give you license to also skip your toothbrush. Quite the contrary.


Elder Wilson

February 17, 2014

Dating Tip of the Week and Companion Gone AWOL - Week 78

Happy Valentine's Day, world. We were in La Rochelle for Valentine's Day and had McDonald's for dinner, and I thought it was funny to see the restaurant completely full of young couples taking their dearly beloved to have a meal with Ronald McDonald. What says "love" more than fries and a Big Mac? I'm picking up dating tips left and right for when I get home. To celebrate the holiday, I got myself a Mcflurry. 

Anywho, last Monday after writing the email, we went over and had dinner with the Elder and Sister Bousseau, who just joined us in the office in January. They had Catherine over with us for the meal, who was baptized in December. Catherine showed up early to help prepare the food and set the table, then insisted she be the one to make the trips between the kitchen and serve us. The Bousseaus commented that they need to have Catherine over more often. She's great.

We had yet another airport trip on Tuesday morning, which normally requires us leaving around 6:15 am and getting back around 9:30ish. Luckily, we got to the airport in time for the flight, and barely had time to get checked in before being whisked out of the corner of the terminal by soldiers taking care of an abandoned suitcase. After getting back to the van, we found that someone had parked behind us and boxed us into the spot. By the time we got out, we were excited to get home, but the traffic out of the airport stopped to a halt for an hour and a half while the taxi drivers were having a strike on the freeway, restricting the flow to a single lane. We eventually made it back, but I'm just glad we hit all the problems after we got the Sister on the plane.

We took a 10 minute break after the airport, then left to fix a Sisters' apartment in Paris again. Those Sisters just always want their electricity. Don't they know they can just use candles? After a quick lunch, we went down to good ol' Ikea and loaded up on furniture for a new apartment in La Rochelle. No Taylor Swift encounters this time, though. 

With all the furniture in boxes in the van and a newly dismantled couch stacked on top, Elder Christensen and I took the van to La Rochelle on another 6 hour drive while Elder and Sister Prince took their fully loaded car. We all got there just before dark, and since the apartment had no electricity, we rushed to get everything in the building before everything got pitch black. Four Elders in La Rochelle met us at the front steps, and they had half the van unloaded before I could even get out of my seat. Almost. 

And so it was that we stayed in La Rochelle for two days after that, sleeping in the new apartment, building furniture, and living with the Princes. It was fun, and we got everything done pretty quickly. We went to a Chinese buffet one night for dinner, and I accidentally took and ate a helping of deep fried frog legs. I figured I'd eat such a thing during a fancy French dinner, but I guess I can check it off my "to-eat-before-I-leave-France" list now.

We drove around La Rochelle for a good chunk of the day on Friday in search of a Conforama store (like R.C. Willey) so we could buy a rug, but to no avail. We eventually gave up the search, and went home defeated. Elder Prince sent us out the next morning in search of a cable for the stove and after stopping the car in the parking lot of the electronics store, I looked up through the windshield to come face to face with a huge sign for a Conforama store across the street. Thanks, La Rochelle. That was a nice slap in the face. 

Elder Christensen and I drove home soon after that, and I was getting tired so we stopped at a gas station to take a nap for a few minutes. I closed my eyes and after what seemed like a half hour, I woke up to notice that my companion was gone. In my half-asleep state, I panicked and thought, "I lost my companion! He ran away and is hitch hiking through central France alone." I jogged into the gas station to check if he was there. He was perusing the Pringles section, and I must have shown a sign of relief, because he said, "Elder ... It's only been like two minutes since you started sleeping." Time flies when you're taking a nap, I guess.

Other than that, we had a big zone conference in Paris, stopped in Orléans to make a delivery, went to the dump, did research for apartments in Luxembourg, had an exchange, and even went tracting, too. Life is crazy, but it's close enough to the end of the transfer that President has officially started making his, "You're getting transferred soon, Elder Wilson" jokes. "Yeah, but you don't have to worry about that, because you'll be in Brest in two weeks." We'll see, we'll see.

Y'all have a great week.

Elder Wilson

February 10, 2014

Possibly Violent Sisters - Week 77

Well! It's almost like I was just here yesterday. These last few days, in lieu (ha. French.) of being the traveling Elders, we were the  handymen and went around fixing miscellaneous broken things. I didn't know I was such a carpenter.

First on the list was the Versailles Sisters, who broke the doors off some of their cupboards. I'm still trying to figure out if they intentionally took them off because they didn't match, or if they were just really hungry and eager to get to the food. Probably the latter. In either case, we waved our magic drill and fixed everything with a few hinges and brackets. 

The next day, the Sisters in Melun called, saying that their kitchen cabinets "collapsed." Elder Prince was a little skeptical, had them send a picture of the problem, and started laughing when the email yielded an image of what was essentially a stack of boards and a pile of nails. What happened? Refer to possible explanation in preceding paragraph. Actually, whoever built it decided to use packing tape instead of nails, so the Melun Sisters are off the hook. Nevertheless, Elder Christensen and I drove to Melun on the south side of Paris, and made everything better than new in a few hours. Success.

We dropped a big couch off in Orléans last week, but we realized after it was set up that it was missing the back cushions ... so it looked decent, but unusable. We went to the furniture store over next to Versailles to discuss getting some replacement cushions, and we struck a deal with Mohamed to get the ones from the floor model. Couldn't have done that a year ago.

The next few days were full of some office work and teaching myself about spreadsheets. I'll let you soak in all the excitement related to Excel formulas without going into more detail.

Other than that, we got a call yesterday telling us to pick up a missionary from a train station in Paris who was being transferred last-minute. There was a bit of a miscommunication and we ended up being there at 6 instead of 4, but we ended up finding a missionary who was very confused and very ready to call a taxi. We took him back to our apartment, he made us a very nice Tahitian dinner, and we had a good time.

This morning, we took him back to Paris to send him off again, then had to wait for a few hours before picking up a second person from another train station. It's kind of like we're the professional taxi drivers, I guess! We unfortunately had to fill those hours with something since it was our P-Day, so we wandered through the Louvre again and did some more shopping. Can anyone say 100 dollar shoes for 25 euros? #soldes #hashtag

And that's it for the last five days! Maybe not as exciting as usual, but still been having a good time as always. Have a good one!

Elder Wilson

February 05, 2014

Le Tour de France - Week - 76

I can't believe I haven't thought to use that title before. Seriously.

Yes, yes, mother. I know, I'm late for my email once again. Two days late. Once I leave the mission office, I promise I'll be more timely with these things. Just think: now you have a shorter waiting time until the next one! You're welcome.

So last Monday, we actually had a real P-day, just full of some sitting around, shopping, and going to Ikea again. Yeesh, all these emails are starting to sound the same: "Went to Ikea again, built some more furniture, drove across the country." I'll need to start making things up so you'll be more excited. 

Anyway, we were in Defcon 3 on Tuesday as we had to get the apartment ready for the new Orléans couple before they came a few days later. Elder Christensen and I jumped in the van in the morning as part of the advance team. We were semi-planning to take two days to get everything ready, but we got some help from the Orléans Elders and finished everything that day.

The only mishap came when we realized that we didn't have a bed for them. We're not as dumb as we sound; we got a mattress and bed slats, but just missed the frame. We left the Elders to finish up with everything else, and Elder Christensen and I scoured the city for another furniture store. After finding one, we approached the bed salesman and placed our order. He recognized our American accents right away, and jumped on the chance to practice his English, which was admittedly pretty good. Better than most French people, at least. We chatted in English for awhile, and after explaining why were were in France for such a long time, he invited us over to his house to meet his family, and teach them about the church. You sell us furniture? We sell you the gospel. Merry Christmas, Elders of Orléans. Referral successfully referred.

After a triumphant drive back to Paris, we enjoyed a half-mission conference with Elder Kearon of the Seventy. We have become pretty good friends with the staff at Subway after ordering 800 sandwiches for the lunches, so they made sandwiches for us at 4 in the morning. We doused the van in a heavy saturation of the smell of spicy Italian, then got to enjoy the conference. It was really good, and he was an impressive and entertaining speaker/teacher.

The following day was the second half-mission conference (the other half), and we helped with the set up and food for that one as well. During the conference itself, I joined forces with Elder Walton and Elder Clawson to translate everything into French. It wasn't incredibly easy doing simultaneous translation for a sophisticated Englishman in the First Quorum of the Seventy, so we helped each other out when we couldn't think of phrases or when we had to speed find scriptures. 

Friday, we were calmly getting ready in the morning when we got a call from President, wondering who had gone to pick up the new Orléans couple from the airport. As it turned out, everyone had temporarily forgotten they were coming, so Elder Christensen and I ran into the car to get them. Even with an hour of Paris traffic, we were only a half hour late. Score.

That same day, we were riding in the metros back from district meeting and saw a little crowd forming on the platform ahead of us. Our metro car happened to stop at the crowd, and Taylor Swift got onto our car with a few of her bodyguards and one of her friends. Of course, I had to run over and talk to her and get a picture, and she was actually really nice. 

I 100% made that up. We actually just went to Ikea again for furniture ... only wanted to get rid of the glazed look in your eyes. I warned you seven paragraphs ago!

ANYWAY, enough lying. Saturday consisted of heading up to Compiègne, a city north of Paris. We just got a new apartment up there, but we decided to paint the walls to get rid of the deep smell of cigarettes. We drove the hour and a half, unloaded all the painting supplies, hauled them up to the fifth story of the building, and opened the apartment door, only to come face-to-face with a 90 year old lady and her four-foot tall adult grandson. Of course, our first thought was, "Either someone gave away our apartment and grandma has moved in, or we've made a terrible mistake." We ruled out the first option after we couldn't smell any pies baking in the oven, and we soon found out that the landlady had actually decided to paint the walls for us without telling us and had enlisted the help of her grandson. We left the grandson to do the work and went to KFC instead.

Finally, after church on Sunday, we jumped in the car with Elder Prince to go to La Rochelle. For all you Americans out there, La Rochelle is a city on the coast and is a 6 hour drive away. Yet again, we found out with short notice that a new couple is coming in a few weeks, and we had to go find an apartment for them. The Elders graciously let us stay in their apartment for two nights as we had appointments with rental agencies. In between appointments, we had some extra time and got to explore the city during our demi-P-day, and we enjoyed the warm weather. We stumbled on an 11th century castle and a medieval lighthouse/prison, so no complaining here.

We drove back from the coast to Paris yesterday, and now here we are! Such is the life, and I'm loving it. 

Like I said, I'm sorry I'm two days late, but now you get some pictures of La Rochelle. 

Talk to you again soon! Probably.

Elder Wilson

La Rochelle sunrise

We found a complete double rainbow!

And then we found the gold! It's right there.

Oops! Found a coastal 11th century castle.

Mini MTC Reunion