Marie and I have had the unique opportunity to not only go through the Paris France Temple open house, but also watch the Temple Spectacular and the Temple Dedication. We thought that going to perform ordinances in the temple would be a nice way to end our trip here in Paris.
We woke up and took the train to Versailles and, let me tell you, I was hungry. And tired. The regular train wasn't running so we got rerouted. It was a 40 minute walk to the temple from the train. I was in one of those "why is there so much opposition to go to the temple?" grumpy moods. I just wanted to get into the building.
Then, of course, the Spirit healed my soul and we had a great experience. Everyone was so kind to us and we got to perform initiatories. It was special to do work for people from France in France. It was too short though. I wanted to stay longer, and it was hard to say goodbye. Maybe because it is such a place of comfort and familiarity in a huge city.
It was a good way to spend the morning, before we headed to meet up with Elizabeth, my host mom who I lived with for three months in 2013 when I attended a BYU study abroad in Paris. She taught me a lot of French, fed me a lot of food, and when I picture a French woman in my mind, I see her.
I emailed her a few days before we got to Paris and told her I was going to be here. I was a little worried because it had been so long and she has had a lot of students stay with her. I wondered if she would remember me, or if it would be awkward, or that it would ruin the good memories I had of my time with her.
When I lived with her, I was only 18 years old. I remember feeling very scared and lonely at times because it was my first time away from home and in a foreign country. But while living with her I eventually gained a lot of confidence and found myself, so I just didn't know what I was walking into I guess.
I prayed all day that my French would be good enough and that I would be able to find her house. I had walked from the metro to her house many, many times, but it's a good 25 minute walk with lots of twists and turns. When the moment of truth came, I actually found my way to her house WITHOUT THE GPS! I remembered it. I don't know why, but that made me feel so good. Marie happily documented the streets as we made our way to meet Elizabeth for the first time in four years.
Elizabeth 's apartment was exactly the same when I arrived, and she was so nice and complimentary of me. It surprised me and was a little bit of a dream come true. She caught me up on her life and I happily listened to my French "mother" whom I had learned so much from.
The necklace I am wearing is one she gave me years ago.
She asked me about church stuff. Fun fact: The very first Book of Mormon I ever gave away was to her. I remember working so hard to translate my testimony and give it to her when I left. I was so scared. The coolest part of it all was that she pulled out the Book of Mormon I gave her and told me that she has occasionally read it! It was surreal to hold it again and see my testimony in there. It's hard to explain. It felt like one of those moments when good things are happening and all you can do is ride the wave of joy.
Then, she told us about a free concert she was going to at St. Merry's Church in the center of Paris. We decided to go with her. It was hilarious because the singing was good, but the guy talking...kept talking and talking and talking. She kept apologizing to us, but I was just enjoying the experience. A huge column blocked my view of the main singer and so I started to imagine the column was singing to me.
Finally, she said, "Let's go!" (In French ofcourse). She asked us where we wanted to go and so we decided to walk down along the Seine. IT WAS THE BEST THING EVER. Why? Because I had never walked down the Seine with an actual Parisian before speaking French to me the entire time. It felt so real. genuine. not touristy at all.
So many people were lined along the Seine having picnics and drinking. Here is a picture Marie got of a drunk man wanting to join our picture.
Elizabeth and I
I felt like we had become real friends and I was part of her life again in that moment. It was so weird. So SURREAL! She walked us into the plaza near the entrance to the Louvre near the Tuilleries Garden's and we sat down at a little outdoor cafe there. Marie and I just kept looking at each other like "Is this real life?" She went on passionately about politics, religion,and her family. It was absolutely amazing. Time flew, and three hours later we were still there laughing and talking.
My favorite conversation happened after she told me that she couldn't house BYU students anymore because she smoke and drank. Apparently I was one of her first and last Mormon guests. Anyway, she thought she was so funny because she emailed the professor and told him that she doesn't understand why smoking and drinking is so bad when our members have more than one wife! You should have seen the smile on her face! We were busting up laughing.
The little triangle behind my head is the entrance area to the Louvre.
Don't worry everyone. I got a Coke and Marie got Orange juice. Elizabeth got a Gin Twist. It was awesome though because she thought putting her cigarette in front of me was so funny! She told us that we had to show our parents! There you have it Mom and Dad! Cultural experiences for the win!
I am really excited because she invited us over for dinner, so I will write more about that soon!