Monday, September 23, 2013

Bienvenue au France!

Well, as you guys pointed out, I DID make it to France! I have so much to talk about I'm not even sure where to start. It's just been a tornado of amazing experiences, French, feeling a little out of place, and more French. Everyone speaks French here, can you believe that?? Haha but seriously, it's just a little weird. Okay, way weird. I suddenly can't understand what's going on around me. You know how, in America, you can kind of catch glimpses of conversations as you walk past people and advertisements just stand out and all that? That doesn't happen to me here. I'm starting to understand what a baby must feel like, except that I'm used to being able to understand so it's worse. Now, I don't mean to say that I'm lost. Not at all. I understand French quite well, for the most part. It just takes some serious focus. Anyway, I'm gonna try to just give a map of my week so I can lay everything out that I want to say.

When I said goodbye to you all at the airport, I went and hopped on the plane. I sat in the back, one seat away from the window, but it's okay, the person next to me was a missionary too, so I still got some chances to look out. The people behind us spoke French, so we talked to them for a little. The flight was very long, especially since I was close to the stewardess ladies, who NEVER stop talking, so I really only slept for about an hour of the whole flight. The sun sets really fast when you're flying away from it, and then night only lasts like, 4 hours. It was weird.
They gave us two meals ("meals") which were decent enough. Oh, and guess what?? We went so far north for our flight that we saw the Northern Lights. Seriously!! It was so cool. Anyway, so we landed, I strapped on my pedometer (yep, counting every single step), and we headed off. Eventually, we got out of the airport, met our mission president, had a French pastry (pain au chocolat, which was SO good), then headed off to place a Book of Mormon on the train, which my temporary companion and I did quite nicely, in my opinion. Anyway, so that happened, and we headed off to Paris! We got off the train and started heading to the LDS church for the area there (Saint-Marie is the name of the building for whatever reason, it's kind of our headquarters. We don't really go to the mission home much). We passed the Notre Dame cathedral on the walk there like it was no big deal! The Assistants (the Elders helping the mission president, they're kind of the head honchos) were just like "oh, and that's Notre Dame, like with the Hunchback and stuff" and that was it. You know, just living in France, it's no big deal.

The Church in Paris
So, the Church. It's really cool. It's a structure that was built in 1624. That's only 132 years after Columbus found America, can you believe that?? The stone steps are all worn down and everything. It's so cool. By the way, SO thankful for the luggage I have. It was pretty much all cobblestone between the train station and the church. I'm amazed that only a couple people had their wheels break. And the cars are so small here! It's kind of funny. Anyway, I'm kind of rambling now, and I want to make sure I have time to finish this.

So that first day, we got to that church, hung out for a minute, had our little interviews with President Poznanski, ate some food (super American casserole, not french at all) and talked a little about some rules and stuff. Nothing too fancy. Then we headed off, half of us to the mission home (they only have 8 beds for us Elders) and the rest to a hotel. By this point we were all SUPER tired, with jet lag and everything (although, I actually never felt too sleepy here. I did pretty good for whatever reason, even though you said I looked sleepy in the pictures. I was, but it wasn't horrible and it only took me a day or two to get used to it), so we went to bed around 9. The next morning we were up at 6:30, got dressed, had some weird French cereal, and headed all the way back across Paris to the church again. (By the way, I apologize if there are typos. I'm typing this really fast and this computer is French so it says everything is spelled wrong, so I'm not even really checking.)

Once we got there, we took a quick walk to Notre Dame, came back and met our trainers. Elder David Evans is mine, he's from Midvale, by Salt Lake. He's been out since January, spent Christmas in the MTC. He's an awesome guy. Very strong spirit and so excited to be doing missionary work. He plays the piano, loves scouting stuff (turned in his Eagle papers even closer to his 18th birthday than me though, can you believe that? He actually got away with turning them in on his birthday), and just a really good guy. We were assigned to serve in the Nogent area (it's secteur in French, so we call them sectors over here), with our apartment in Nogent-sur-Marne (whatever that means, don't ask me). It's just us, and an √©quipe (companionship) of sisters about ten minutes away. We're on the Eastern portion of Paris, so I get to serve in Paris right off the bat! It's beautiful here. Pretty cozy, but that's normal for Paris. On the way to the apartment, we stopped and checked out the Eiffel Tower. It was beautiful, although it was kind of rainy out, so it wasn't the best view of it, but I'm here in Nogent (pronounced no-jant by the way, with a kind of zj sound on the g, it's tricky to explain) for at least 12 weeks, probably more like 18, so I'll be able to go up it and all that stuff. And I'll be in Paris for Christmas! 

I'm actually running out of time now, so I'll have to share some of the great experiences I've already had next week, or in my letter. I'm gonna try to write manual letters home most weeks too. I'm doing great! French food is awesome. I'm learning a lot and working hard. I love you guys. Ugh, I'm sorry I couldn't write more. I'll do better next week. Have fun and keep being good!

Elder Bigler

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