Amy Hirschi » Photography // Travel // Lifestyle

The worst day. Finding faith and each other in Paris.

I’ve decided to write this blog post about how the absolute worst day of my life turned into my most spiritual experience.  I don’t usually write spiritual things on my blog, but it has to do with travel and one of my most defining experiences as a person, so I’m making an exception! If you’re not very familiar with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I suggest you go here to learn more. This story is very spiritual to me and I do reference my religion.

I know my Heavenly Father knows me personally. And he loves me and watches over me. We’ve really only told our families about this experience until we spoke in church a little bit ago where I was impressed to tell it to our ward. So here goes nothing.

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Dave and I had spent the last two days in Paris and it really was a dream. We were celebrating our first anniversary and it was our first time to Europe! The extent of our travel experience outside of the U.S. was just our cruise, which really was so easy, we’d never planned anything ourselves and we never expected anything near this to happen. We weren’t prepared and had no type of plan in case something bad did happen. And because this story ends well, I’ve been able to have good memories about our time in France. But at the end of our second day is when our story gets bad, and it honestly could have ended a lot worse. This is one of my all time favorite pictures of me and Dave. So sweet. It was an accidental picture that I just swoon over. But the Eiffel Tower was the last stop for us that day and just about half an hour after this picture was taken was where our experience began.

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We had planned out our route back to the hotel together, so we go and get back on the subway and it was about 7:00 pm at this point. It was early summer so the sun wouldn’t be setting for another hour at least. We get to the train station, and I swipe my ticket, then I distinctly remember handing Dave my train ticket after. We are walking and can tell that the train is pretty full and ready to leave, so I briskly walk onto the train with Dave in right behind me. I step on the train and look back to the platform and the doors shut in between me and Dave…Dave is seriously right there and it almost shut his arm in the doors. We both start immediately pounding on the glass and trying to open the doors. Sheer panic. When we realized quickly that the door wasn’t going to open we started to yell at each other. Telling each other to get on and get off and wait and come back and it was a terrible mess and we are both pointing at each other and ourselves and it was so confusing.

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Here’s what should have happened

I calmly get off on the next stop and wait for my husband, Dave boards the following train, I get on his train, and we finish our journey. No harm no foul, scary but manageable.

Here’s what actually happened

I frantically got off on the next stop, and without stopping to think for one second I hopped the railing, because I had no ticket, and ran to the other side of the platform to go find David at the first stop where we were separated. Dave boarded the following train, got off on the next stop that I had just bolted from and started frantically looking for me. I had no money, or subway ticket. All I had was my camera around my neck.

I was basically not in my right mind, and too panicked to think clearly and follow situation #1. Clearly.

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My prayer

Of course the first thing I do is pray. I prayed for comfort, peace, and for Dave to come and find me. I made up my mind that I will sit here and wait for my knight in shining armor to come and save me. Dave will know that I will be here and we will find each other. I will be patient and this is how it will work out. Ok, thanks Heavenly Father, I will be ok. What? No. That’s not how faith in our Lord works AMY! Faith requires action. Faith is not you telling God how you want it to go and then everything will work out exactly how it’s supposed to. And that’s exactly what happened. My husband didn’t show up to find me, and I had to start taking action. It had been half an hour and we were only one stop away from each other. Heavenly Father had a lesson for us to learn.

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I finally decided to take some action, I got back on the train and road it to the next stop and looked around for Dave for a few minutes to no avail. So when the next train came I rode it to the central station to take the RER back to our hotel that was about 20 minutes outside of the city. When I got off the train it was about a 5 minute walk through a lot of tunnels to get to the next terminal, Dave and I were both  frantically searching for each other. Running back and forth in the terminal up and down the hallways just hoping and praying that we would see each other around the next corner. By this time it’s now about 8 pm. And the last thing I want is to be is in a foreign country, out alone after dark, with no money or bus pass.

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My Husband’s prayer

Dave is a very nervous person, so I’m sure the first thing that he did was pray. Pray for peace and safety and to calm down. You see, Dave is a much smarter person than I am, and completely trusted in the Lord. He was pretty much doing exactly what I was doing, but putting action to it. And the whole time he was about ten minutes ahead of me. He searched around the second stop for a while and waited for me as well. In the end he also decided it was right to go to the central station to take the other train back to our hotel.

My journey

Little did I know that Dave had been on the train to get back to the hotel for about 10 minutes, and I start to think about how late it is getting now. I’m still at the central station and I start to lose it. Until now, I am relatively calm, freaking out, but not hyperventilating. Until now. I get to the platform, look at the train schedule, and don’t see my train. The light isn’t shining that informs me that this train will take me to my hotel stop. How am I going to get to my hotel? A cab? I had no money! Can I trust the police? Queue hyperventalating. Right as I think the worst is now possible, I turn around and right on the platform stand two LDS missionaries.

I know that Heavenly Father knows and loves me. He protects me, cares for me, and knows me better than I know myself. 

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I immediately run to them, and that’s when the water works started! These poor Elders! All the sudden they have this girl running towards them and crying and shouting, “Do you speak English?!” Both missionaries start waiving their hands to up and down basically telling me to simmer down, and tell me they speak English. I’m flooded with emotions and they are streaming out of my eyes. Relief. Someone I trust and feel safe by. I am trying to catch my breath and tell them that I’ve been separated from my husband and I don’t know what train to take now and I’m completely lost and frantic and so scared.

The missionaries very calmly tell me that my train will be coming, just the last one wasn’t going all the way to my stop. Then they assure me that their stop is only a couple before mine and they know what train I should take. So they lead me to the platform and within about 2 minutes the correct train arrived. They got on the very crowded train with me and told me they’ll let me know where to get off, the missionaries also stood close to me and kept an eye on me, I just held on to the railing and tears steadily rolled down my face. I was feeling relief, but also scared for where Dave was, was he still looking for me? But Dave knew I wouldn’t want to be out after dark. So I hoped that I could just get back to the hotel and get some wifi to email him and that he would find wifi as well. And I felt blessed that I finally felt some peace and knew that the Lord was looking out for me. I saw the Elder’s make a few phone calls, but did not know what was said, and about 10 minutes in I was able to take a seat. They followed and kindly started to make small talk. They told me that they had a curfew but that they had talked to who they needed to talk to and they were going to walk me to my hotel. I thanked them profusely and naturally started to well up with tears again.

We finally get to my stop about 15 minutes later and at this time it’s dusk and I’m so grateful that the missionaries are walking the few blocks with me to my hotel.

David’s journey

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Dave got to the central station and prayed, he said, “Heavenly Father, I am going to stop looking, get on this train, go back to our hotel, and you let me know if I’m doing the wrong thing and I will turn around and keep looking for Amy.” This would be really hard for someone who is naturally a very anxious person, let alone someone in the midst of a panic attack because 1) You are sitting still and 2) You are remaining calm. And my husband was able to do both. He got on the train (essentially leaving me behind) and felt complete peace. But he did it, he boarded the train, sat down, and headed towards the hotel.

He took the 20 minute ride then ran to our hotel and ran up to our room hoping to find me there! When he saw I wasn’t, he sent me an email saying, “Babe. If you see this. I came back to the hotel. Ill wait here for you I love you”. Dave decided he needed to go wait at the train stop for me and started back towards the station.

The Happy Ending

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The missionaries and I arrive at my stop and the train is nearly empty by then. We get off the train and our timing could not have been more perfect, it was 9:00 pm at this point. We come around the corner.. and there he is. Dave is at the bottom of the stairs. The only thing that even comes close to comparing how I felt at that moment was getting married. That was honestly one of the happiest moments of my life, seeing Dave, running to him, embracing, and sobbing into his chest as we held each other. Dave and I didn’t let go of each other the rest of our trip and I’ve never been so sure I married the right person. It’s interesting how trials really can bring you closer to your loved ones and our Heavenly Father. Experiencing the unknown brought me and Dave so much closer and it really strengthened our marriage!

I could tell the missionaries were so happy to see us reunited too! I wish so much that I remembered their names or that I would have gotten a picture of them or with them, all I remember is that one was from Arizona and the other from Texas. This was June of 2013, so if anyone points me in their direction, I’d be SO grateful!

The next day we flew to London to spend a couple of days there. When we landed the customs agent looked at where our hotel was and said, “Oh, you better get in before dark! That’s not a very good neighborhood!” We had just had the most stressful and scary experience and that was the worst thing we could have heard. So we decided to make a quick trip to the temple and we knew that we needed it. We thought we could make it to our hotel before it got too late. Once we got to the temple some of the missionaries informed us we could stay at the temple!! It was the answer to our prayers and exactly what we needed. As if we needed anymore validation of our Heavenly Father’s love. We didn’t have to drive on the other side of the road in the dark or anything, we took it easy and enjoyed our night.

We are blessed. God is good.

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