March 04, 2014

Classy Parties and Metal Pigs - Week 80

This week was i-n-s-a-n-e. It included three countries, a baptism, a sudden need to speak German, and almost losing 14 missionaries. BUT, first of all, this is transfer week yet again, and I'll be leaving the office. Sad. Instead, I'll be taking a train tomorrow to serve in the Villeneuve D'Ascq ward in Lille. It's the third largest city in the mission, right after Paris and Brussels. I'll be companions with none other than the infamous Elder Oliverson from my MTC district, and we'll be leading a Zone together up there. Watch out, northern France. 

Anyway, back to last Monday. After writing emails, Elder Dussere, Elder Price, Elder Christensen and I decided that we were overdue for a trip to the sushi buffet. We ran into President on the way out, invited him to come with us, and he said something along the lines of, "Of course I'd like to come! Good luck convincing Sister Poznanski though." Well, we went over to the house, used our expert persuasion skills and ended up having unlimited sushi with the Poznanskis. As missionaries, we take it upon ourselves to teach the French that for Americans, our goal at buffets is to successfully eat them out of business. Ironically, the Frenchie Elder Dussere ate the most. 

Following, we challenged Elder Prince to another bi-transferly game of boules at the boulodrome. Again, Dussere the king of Marseilles smoked us, but it was a lot of fun. 

Wednesday, we pulled out of Paris in late morning as the advance team headed to Luxembourg to close down the Elders' apartment. We drove up through the Champagne region and passed all the vineyards, up through Belgium, then over to Luxembourg, the grand duchy itself. We covered three countries in 45 minutes, which was pretty cool. The Trifecta! At one point, we got off the freeway to fill up with gas and saw something in the distance on top of a hill. As we got closer, we realized that it was a giant metal sculpture of a boar. Wasn't quite expecting it, but I suppose I won't complain either. I'll send a picture so you believe me. It was huge and took some guy 11 years to build.

Luxembourg is a cool city/country. It was a fortress originally, and it's located on the top of a group of really steep hills with sets of famous bridges connecting the different parts of the city. We walked into the apartment late on Wednesday night and started taking down furniture on Thursday morning until the Princes came to meet us. There were two or three square yards of the wall in the bedroom covered in black mold, so Elder Prince sent us out to pick up chemicals, masks and enough paint and rollers to repaint the whole apartment. 

We searched on the GPS and found the only home improvement store in the area. It ended up being a German store, so I couldn't understand any of the signs or anything that anyone was saying. I didn't really know what to do to find what we needed, but we had luckily brought Elder Watts with us as an afterthought. He's one of the Luxembourg Elders, and as we were wandering around the store he just walked right up to one of the workers and spewed off in fluent German. I had no idea, but we found out that it just so happened that we had brought along one of the only two missionaries in the mission that speaks German. My jaw was hanging on the ground in a "I didn't know you could do that!" sort of face, but we found everything we needed. 

After spending three days re-doing the apartment, disposing of some couches on the street and sprinting out of a Chinese buffet to deliver bags to the Sisters a few minutes before their train left, we packed up the van full of furniture and mattresses in the classic tetris-style and got out of there. We drove with the Princes through Metz and Champagne again, stopped in Compiegne to drop things off, ate some pastries, and made it back to Paris with enough time to sleep in our own beds in Le Vesinet. 

Saturday was a great day. We drove up to the city of Rouen to furnish another apartment before transfers. The city has a really nice cathedral and is famous for being the city that burned Joan of Arc at the stake. We basically just dropped everything off in the living room, then turned back around to make it back in time for Robin's baptism. Seriously, he's so, so cool. On Sunday, he went around the ward inviting people to come and assigning talks, and made a bunch of food with his nonmember parents for afterwards. He just knows everything already, and he's waiting for his girlfriend to get back from her mission so they can get married in the temple. 

After the baptism, we went over to a member family's house, who are some of the nicest and greatest people I've met. I felt pretty classy as a went to an exclusive party with a bunch of French people with suits in the middle of Versailles. 'Tis the life. We binged on tiny eclairs, macarons and quiches. 

Monday, we were in Rouen for the day again, and we ended up getting back really late. President called my replacement, Elder Nielsen, to come in two days early so I can train him on the office and logistics work, and the Versailles Sisters kindly stayed with him for an hour and a half while we were driving back.

Today was the day to go pick up all the new missionaries at the airport, so we drove the van up to Charles de Gaulle as usual. We casually walked over to the arrival screens and, after scanning three or four or ten times, weren't able to find the arriving flight from Salt Lake. We asked the information desk if anything had happened, and the lady at the counter told us that the flight was cancelled. At that point, we went into a minor code red and ran around the airport trying to find out when, where, and if the 14 missionaries from the MTC would be coming in. Other people told us that the flight was cancelled, and we went over to the Delta desk to figure out what was going on. 

Luckily, after six months of going in the airport once or twice a week, I've made friends with some of the Delta workers. We always have a nice chat with Benedicte about the church. Our good friend Karim was there this morning, and he made a phone call for us, only to find out that the flight wasn't actually cancelled. We decided to take his word and waited for all the blues, which luckily ended up coming through. 

Again, I drove the van back to the church in central Paris, we unloaded, then left the blues to eat some KFC with the senior couples in the YSA room of the building. As I was talking with Elder Prince over a big bucket of hot wings, I got kind of sad when I realized that this was probably my last office assignment until I get transferred to Lille. I've had so much fun here and have loved hanging out with and learning from the senior couples and the Poznanskis. I feel like I've been Elder Prince's companion for 6 months since we're with him every single day. President or the Assistants must have said something in the conference call announcements that goes out to the mission, because we've been bombarded for the last few days by texts to our phone from everyone in the mission thanking us for what we do. I'm gonna miss it. Now, here we go on to something new.

Talk to you from the metropolis of Lille!

Elder Wilson