Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas 2k15 - Week 29

This last week was crazy. From not sleeping for 40 hours to taking a trip to Lyon to actually experiencing a French Christmas. All this and more is included in the words you are about to read. Buckle up and let's get started.

The week begins in a small town in the French countryside where two young American missionaries wake up excited for the things that lie ahead. They head out of their home to write some emails before taking a train up to Bordeaux  to begin their adventure. Alright I'm not sure how long I can actually carry on this third person point of view. Sorry, but that'll have to wait for another day. But yeah, we took a train to Bordeaux to meet up with all the other guys from the zone at one of the churches. Once everyone actually got there, which was like 5 hours after we had already gotten there since a bunch of the trains were canceled for that day (French people for ya), we then went over to one of the apartments in Bordeaux where an entire other zone was already waiting. Now let's paint a picture real quick. Imagine an apartment with three rooms in it and about thirty-five guys. Now imagine everyone trying to sleep on the floor and looking like a can of sardines because people are literally right next to each other. There were even some people under the kitchen table. But being the thoughtful person I am, I elected to stay up in the other room and play the game Bang with a bunch of guys until 3 a.m. to allow the other guys more room to sleep. Nice right? Well since I knew we would have to leave the apartment at 3 a.m. and I knew we would be on a bus for 8 hours, I thought it would be easier to just sleep on the bus. The only problem was, if you know me, I'm a little bit taller than most people and sitting on a bus trying to sleep doesn't usually work out too well. Such was the case this time.

We initially started out on our journey for 3 hours and we pulled off to a rest stop to let everyone get off and do whatever. Now normally you would think that the stop would be for like 5 or 10 minutes but I guess in France, for every 3 hours of driving or work or whatever, you get a 45 minute break. So we basically just sat around for 45 minutes doing nothing. Finally getting into Lyon an additional 5 hours later, we met up with everyone else in the mission at this really cool place called The Museum of Confluences to take some pictures because it's not every day the entire mission is together. After hearing a short talk from our President, we checked into our hotel and then went over to a park to eat and play some games for a while and just chilled with all the other missionaries. After a little while, we all headed over to this aquarium where there was an auditorium waiting for us all decorated all Christmas-like because ya know, that's the time of the year it is. We played some minute-to-win-it games that the President’s wife had made for us and we did our own mission rendition of Twelve Days of Christmas. The aquarium also closed down so that we could have it all to ourselves. We got to wander around and look at fish and I bet you could guess how exciting that was. So there is this restaurant in Lyon called Master Tacos that the owners know the missionaries really well because they are there all the time and it's basically the closest thing you will get to Mexican food in France. Anyways, the senior missionaries ordered over 200 burritos and the owner of the place hand delivered them to us and wanted to take a picture with us because he sees missionaries in his shop all the time. After watching The Lion King, we headed out to go to our hotel to sleep and boy, was I grateful for that since I had been up for 40 hours with no sleep. Well on the walk over, a couple of guys and I just started a random game of extreme leap frog on this bridge. You're probably wondering why it's extreme and not just regular leapfrog. Well I'll just let your imagination figure that one out. But yes, there is a video of it.

We woke up the next morning and headed over to a chapel in Lyon and we got to hear from the entire mission presidency and their wives and also heard a bunch of musical numbers from other missionaries. We took plenty of pictures and ate more food because that's just what happens with missionary meetings, and we were given our Christmas packages from our families. We loaded back up into the buses and headed back to Bordeaux. Well at least during the ride, we were able to watch Ratatouille since we were in France and all. We got back and basically just went to one of the apartments there and went to bed. We got up the next morning and headed back to Agen to see what fun stuff was in store for Christmas Eve.

We had an invite that night from some members to go and eat at their house. Now this wasn't an American Christmas Eve meal. Like we literally sat at the table and we're eating food for 4 hours. Including more foie gras and I learned how to open up oyster shells without stabbing myself. So if you ever need help, I've succeeded on all 3 that I've tried. That's a 100% success rate if I did my math correctly.  There is this French tradition where everyone brings a log that's either cake or ice cream to eat around Christmas time and they always have a little plastic Santa on top. It's called a Bûche de Noël. Well I was lucky enough to have eaten some kind of yule log four times this past week! We finally got home later that night and looked forward to sleeping in the next morning since it's the only day that happens all year long and let me tell you, I definitely took advantage of it. We woke up Christmas morning, I opened my presents from my family (thanks Mom!) and we spent the rest of our day going to another member’s house to eat. We were there for another few hours since that's just the French way, and then I got to Skype with my family for the first time on the mission so that was fun.

That's basically my week in summary. I hope everyone's Christmas was awesome and that someone enjoyed the snow for me since I have been wearing short sleeved shirts during Christmas time enjoying the 60 degree weather.

Love you all!

Blake



Heading to the bus at 3 a.m. in Bordeaux


Getting off the bus. Good to see good friends in Lyon.


Musée des Confluences 


Aquarium with the some of the MTC district


The whole MTC District


The France Lyon Mission


Good to see Grant (Elder Keller)


 
Jesse Wade from Davis High School. We met my first day in the mission office and have been friends ever since. He is good friends with cousin Elder Barnes.


Elders Arne and Carlson from the MTC

 
The ENTIRE Mission


Elder Wade again


This is how they do it in France!


Christmas Eve family


   
One of the 4 Bûche de Noël



Skype sesh with the fam!