Saturday, June 27, 2009


Hey guys...sorry it's been so long! Things have been pretty busy, and by the time I get home and have computer access I'm already half asleep. So, I think I'll let my pictures do most of the talking...

My second week at Chamarande went well. Although it rained the first few days and there, we still had some people show up and a good time was had by all.

An entrée plate I prepared. I'm pretty much an expert French chef by now. Btw, "entrée" in French means the first plate you have, to enter into the meal, not the main dish. Makes sense, no? I don't know how these things get mixed up.

Walking through the park around the château, we found some donkeys. At first they were just chilling in that house in the background, but when the rain let up a bit they came out. Isn't it funny how happy he looks? I would be too if I had a house like that to myself...still don't get how that worked.

A friend of mine from BYU, Brynn, was in Paris and came to visit me my last day at Chamarande. When we got back into Paris that night, we stopped to get some pastries, and made an epic find:

That's right, a PENGUIN PATISSERIE!!!! Epic.

The next day we went to visit Versailles. The gardens were breathtaking!

I got a fellafel from this super famous place, it was heavenly.

I had the rediculously awesome experience of going to Brussels for a "zone conference", just like when I was a missionary! It's the last one that my mission president held before he finishes his 3 years of service, and he invited any former missionaries in the area to come. So I headed up with a few friends from France that I had served with. We spent the night in St. Quentin, a city in northern France, at Céline's house.

The returned missionaries with President Woodland. So surreal to be back there in Brussels!

We walked around our old stomping grounds, and of course we got some frites, at this place right by the mission office where we used to go.

There was a 50's themed dance at one of the churches in Paris...doing the twist!

So I just realized that all the times I take pictures are when I'm having fun. Trust me, I'm working pretty hard too...every day during the week, I'm either helping people move, accompanying people on various visits, and helping out at L'Etape, among whatever other responsibilities they ask of me. It's still super rewarding and amazing! I just can't believe how fast time is going. Such is life.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


I left Monday night to head to the village of Chamarande, which I talked a little bit about at the end of my last entry. It's been such a rewarding experience!

Chamarande itself is quite small...they don't have any stores at all, other than one little restaurant. I have to go do shopping in another town, Etréchy, about 3 km away, or at a farmer's market that is right in the middle of a bunch of farmland a little to the northwest. Luckily, we have one of the cars from Les Petits Frères to use. Check it out on Google Earth.

The house is wonderful. It was donated to Les Petits Frères several years ago by a wealthy doctor, who only asked in return that they take care of his housekeeper until her death. I have my own room to stay in and everything. There's a beautiful garden with all sorts of flowers and herbs, and even a tilleul tree to make herbal tea from.
Although, it is quite creepy at night, especially with all the "forbidden entrance" rooms and even a whole upper floor we're not supposed to go up to because of "rennovations" that they need to do. Of course, I went up anyway:

I found a Coraline-esque door up there...just as I was about to open it, someone called for me downstairs and I didn't have the chance to see what was behind it. Pretty much straight from a scary movie! I'll check it out next week...

I'll take you through a typical day. I get up in the morning and go get baguettes and newspapers in Etréchy, then come back and help cook the noontime meal, which we make large and delicious. There's about 3 volunteers staying there on any given day. The day's vacationers, which number about 5-8 per day, arrive around 11:30, and we would serve them a little appetizer and aperitif. At 12:30 is the meal, and we give them full service! It's great to see these people enjoy themselves...for many of them it's been a long time since they've had such a full home-cooked meal.

For the rest of the afternoon, the time is theirs; we typically go to the huge park just next to the house, and either walk through the woods, relax, or play "pétanque", a game where you try to throw balls to get as close as you can to a smaller ball.

They head back to Paris at about 5 at night, and I spend the rest of the night preparing for the next day and relaxing myself.

I made an apple pie "à l'américaine" one day. Turns out that making American stuff with French ingrediants and measurements can be tricky! It wasn't my prettiest, but it still came out good.

A guy who works for Les Petits Frères came up one day to play accordeon, he was incredible! I think he knows every song ever written. We totally jammed together for the peoples.

One day after lunch, the park was closed, so we went for a little walk around the village. We followed a sign for a "pottery exposition", which lead us down a little street to this guy's house.

He had some amazing work. I was so thrilled...finding a little artist on a random road in a tiny village and being able to experience his art...that's what life is all about, is it not?

I headed back to Paris and hung out in the city with Emma for a few days. We saw a really funny play, "La Bombe".

The Eifell Tower sparkels for the first 5 minutes of the hour at night.

I'll be at Chamarande again this week, I think I come back on Friday...until then, je vous aime tous!

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Things have been going well, it was a full week of work. I've been spending my mornings at L'Etape, which is such a rewarding experience. It mostly includes supervising the breakfast, making sure there's enough stuff (bread, coffee, milk, etc), and discussing with the people that come. While the average is about 30 people, one day we had a total of 45 people throughout the morning! I'm starting to make some good friends, and learning so much from these wise and experienced people.

With some friends, Eliza and Makou, at L'Etape.

Some other tasks I've been helping with include accompanying a lady to the embassy of Cameroon, and accompanying another guy to a medical visit. I'm there to help make sure 1) they don't forget to go and 2) everything goes smoothly once we're there. One of my coworkers said they were "ravi" that I was there and able to help, so it seems like I'm doing some good!

Here's a funny little anecdote that I think you guys will enjoy. One day while walking to the metro after work, I passed by a young dude who looked super Jewish, and I said bonjour as I typically do to people I make eye contact with. A couple seconds later he ran back up to me and asked, "Hey, are you Jewish?" I laughed and said, heck yeah, I'm a Jewish Christian! He was pretty excited and said he could tell from my face. I felt pretty proud. Anyway, we talked a little, and he asked if I ever had put on phylacteries before. I said no, and he offered to do it for me, so I said why not. I'll let wikipedia show you the rest:

That's what I looked like. So once I had it all on, right there in the middle of the sidewalk, I repeated a prayer in Hebrew. It took about 5 minutes in all, and after I asked the meaning. He said it was an act of consecrating your heart and your mind to God. So cool!!

As it was a beautiful day today, I took a little walk and explored the neighborhood. So dang beautiful.

There's a field with some horses about 2 minutes away from my house here.

The Mairie (town hall) of Conches

I really liked this little road for some reason.

Next week I'll be at Chamarande, a vacation home owned by Les Petits Frères where the patrons are taken on daytrips. It gives them a chance to get out of the city, have a little pause, a good meal, and relax. I'll be staying there all week, taking care of meals and helping them to enjoy their stay. I'll be without internet from monday night to next saturday! Love you guys.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


One thing really quick... in case you were wondering where the name of my blog comes from, it's the name of one of my favorite French albums, "La Dernière Année" from Gérald DePalmas.

So I've had a four-day weekend, thanks to how much the French love their holidays. Definitelly not complaining...turns out I needed a lot of extra sleep. when I was a missionary, on the other hand, all that meant was crappy bus schedules!

Thursday I met up with Emma (a friend from high school, who's studying at the Sorbonne) and some of her friends, and we did the downtown thing. I saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time, woohooo.

We went to the museum of modern art...Jeff, I'll send you the rest of the art pics I took. I liked this one because of the background :)

Yesterday there was a dance up at the church in Lille, where I was a missionary back in the summer of '06 for a total of 6 months. It was SO incredible going back there...I can't describe how surreal it was just being there, let alone getting to see people again who I cared about so much. It was awesome.
That definitelly would've NOT been appropriate behavior in the metro 3 years ago...haha.
Good friends, Manu and Anne-Louise. They're getting married soon! Too cute, eh.
Weird flower things that I always liked, by the train station in Lille

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


You know what's been the most nostalgic thing of all so far? The taste of shelf milk (the kind you don't keep in the fridge before you open it) and muesli (a granola mixture) in the morning. Weird. Anyway, things have been going wonderfully.

Turns out in my little suburban home I'm kinda far away from where I work in the 11th arrondissement of Paris; I wake up at 7, get ready, catch a bus at about 730, take the RER (metro lines that are a little newer and cover a lot of the outskirts), switch over to a regular metro, and walk a few blocks to get to the "fraternité". the main building where I work, by 9. I can't get over how amazing all the people that I work with are. They've been so kind to me, and care so much about the people that we work to help.

So basically, the goal of Les Petits Frères is to help people between ages 50-75, who for one reason or another, don't have anyone to turn to. Could be because they lost their job, could be because they lost their family or had a falling out...whatever the case may be, there are some people who need a jump start. Their motto is "des fleurs avant le pain", "flowers before bread". It's one thing giving someone a meal so they can survive, it's a whole other thing to give them what is necessary to live-- friends to talk to, things to do and to make them feel like they're worth something in this world. That can be hard to remember if you're aged and alone.

I spent a few hours on monday at a building called "L'Etape" [lay-TAHP], which is opened in the morning for the patrons. They can come there to take a shower, do laundry, read, play games, go on the internet, tend to some plants, have a light breakfast. I got to talk to some really interesting people...with age comes wisdom and awesome experiences! I was quick to become friends with a lot of them. I told one guy, Alain, that I had lived in Amiens, and he was all excited to show me a book he had with a picture of the tomb of Jules Verne there. He brought it by the fraternité the next day and gave it to me to keep! Too funny.

So, what have I been doing? So far, fairly miscellanious tasks, since my main contact person Eve-Marie has been gone a few days and I've yet to lay out a solid program. Most notably I spent a lot of time moving one of the patrons from one hotel to another. Turns out being able to drive (and willing) is a rare commodity at Les Petits Frères, so they plan on working me there! Oh man, driving in Paris is nuts though. If I didn't have the experience I do having driven in the big European cities of Lille and Bruxelles, I'd be screwed for sure. But I've got a handle on it.

So as myself and Elodie, another intern, were helping this dude Patrice move, we came to find that there was quite the cockroach problem in the old hotel... I lifted a book and instantly about 3247 exploded from underneath onto my hand. Man, no one should have to live in such conditions. Hotel is a loose term... it was more like a hole. Well, after several hours of loading the car and trying to manuver the one-way streets with our mismarked map, we finally unloaded in front of the next hotel. As the manager was showing us up the stairs, he notice a cockroach that happened to have made it out with us on the bag I was carrying, and he immediately took them and threw them outside, saying he wanted nothing to do with us anymore. Poor Patrice, who's already depressive, was crushed, and lamented that "life is nothing but misery". I tried to cheer him up, and called it an, he didn't want to stay there anyway, TV's were forbidden. I took him back to the frat and with one of the workers, Christophe, figured out a plan for him.

Boom. I've got a couple days off thanks to the abundance of French national holidays...more sweet pictures to come!

Sunday, May 17, 2009


All I can say is...WOW. I can't believe I'm here! From the time I got off the plane and heard everyone around me speaking french, it's felt like a dream. The street signs, the architectural style, the's like I never left.

So everything went pretty smoothly as far as travel goes, I got my stuff and took a couple metros to the place where I said I would meet my host family, the family Crucy. They're all so cool...the dad is hilarious, the mom is motherly, and there are two sons at home, Chester (22) and Amaury (20). We've become instant buddies (they think I look like Art Garfunkel).

Despite my lack of sleep for about 36 hours, last night I went out with the guys to Disney Village, which is maybe about 7 minutes from where I'm staying (a suburb called Conches sur Gondoire...check it out on Google Earth). We met up with a few girls, two German exchange students and one French girl, and had fun walking around and eating at an American 50's style diner. Frenchies trying to do American food...hilarious. I came 10000 kilometers for dinner, and I could've just walked two blocks to the Malt Shoppe!

Life is good. I've had a great time interacting with people and just soaking it all in again. I start my internship with Les Petits Frères des Pauvres tomorrow, so I'll let you guys know how that goes!