Monday, July 20, 2015

A Sunday in Paris

I was really looking forward to church in Paris. I was picturing it like a ward in my mission, full of native French people and a couple missionaries. We would walk in and be the unique visiting Americans. Not quite what happened.

We went to a ward that meets right in the center of Paris. We got there a little early, but realized quickly that this particular ward gets a lot of visitors. They had sets of headphones English-speakers could borrow and one of the missionaries would translate what was being said into English.  By the time we arrived, the Chapel was almost full and all the headsets were borrowed.  We were offered option 2 (yes, they get enough American visitors to need an option 2). This was to sit in the overflow with a flat screen tv and the same translation playing. I set Kip and the kids up there and slipped back into the Chapel for the meeting. I went to the back row. As more and more people arrived, the seats filled up entirely.

I enjoyed the meeting. I was able to follow most of what was said. The theme was repentance and I really liked what a couple of the speakers said about it.

The kids were scared to stay. What if no one spoke English? I asked the family in front of me (visiting from Colorado) if they were staying, but their kids didn't want to, so they were heading home. After the meeting, most of the visitors went away, back to the work of being a tourist in Paris. We found some local members who directed us to the primary room and promised that for class time the kids would be split into French-speaking and English-speaking. I dragged the girls into the room clinging to each other, introduced them and ditched them. Kip and I were directed to an English-speaking Sunday School class and William went off to the class for young men.

I worried for the next hour and a half that my kids were miserable. I shouldn't have. They all appeared at the end of the meeting with big smiles on their faces having made new friends and gotten cookies and rice Krispy treats. Best Sunday ever.

We spent a lot of the time after church observing the 'day of rest' concept of the Sabbath. After 6 days of touristing, we were exhausted. Kip and I more so than the kids, who relaxed for maybe an hour, then created increasingly noisy games involving dropping things out their windows and going to the lobby the retrieve them.

Knowing the neighbors would eventually kick us out, we preemptively took the kids to Montmartre. We figured visiting a basilica was a decent tourist activity for a Sunday. And because we were exhausted, we opted to take the metro there instead of walking up from our apartment. What we didn't realize is that the metro doesn't go up the hill. It drops you off deep underground. Then, you can wait in line for an elevator (reminiscent of the Washington park elevator from the MAX in Portland), or climb the stairs. We hate lines. And we weren't thinking clearly enough to realize that if there was an elevator, the climb most likely was a big one. We went up it. It's a spiral staircase, of course, and it goes on and on and on. To make things a little nicer, the outer wall is decorated with some super nice murals. There's no graffiti on them. I think graffiti artists don't want to climb those stairs.

We surfaced at Les Abesses and climbed the rest of the way to Sacre Coeur above ground. We went through the basilica on a speed tour, the kind that's supposed to keep the kids from having time to get restless. But we were stopped as we made the final turn by the arrival of the clergy and the start of the 6pm services. I thought it was neat to be at Sacre Coeur during part of a service. The singing, provided by a local nun, was beautiful. The resonance of the hall was amazing.

Kip, William and Anna decided when we got out that they wanted to climb the tower. Becca heard that there were 300 steps and opted to skip it. She and I got to pass the time looking at souvenir shops and telling the portrait artists 'non merci' when they asked if they could sketch Becca for me.

So our tour of Parisian staircases continued. I'm a little ashamed that I missed out on 300 steps Sunday night, but I will survive without them. Perhaps I can get some more before we leave.

1 comment:

Mumzie said...

I'm glad church turned out so well for you and the girls, but you didn't mention how W. did with his two classes. I've so enjoyed your blogging this trip!