Lyndi-lou and Eddie too...

Lyndi-lou and Eddie too...

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Castles, Christmas-Market and Charity

This week we had quite a wide variety of events happen.  We both were asked to speak in our branch this week and spent a good chunk of time preparing for this.  Lynn and I have been trying to connect with less active members of our branch.  To do this we went to the neighbouring town of Sedan.  Unfortunately we were not able to find the members we were looking for because they no longer lived there or we had the wrong address.  However, we did find a castle, thanks to our son Dustin, in Sedan that was incredible.

Looking over Sedan from the Castle
Ed in front of the dungeon entrance

It was built in the 1400's by Evard de la Marck whose family ruled Sedan as a separate country for almost three hundred years.  Sedan was recognized as an independent state by the king of France who was a friend of Sedan's founder.  Sedan was the biggest fortified castle in medieval Europe.  We did a tour and found the castle to be well preserved and amazing.  They had many displays that looked at what life was like in a castle.  Sedan was a Calvinist state.  When a Sedannais princess married a French Lord the country came under the control of France and reverted to catholicism.

All in all last week we attempted to visit 6 people from our branch with limited success in an attempt to get a bigger congregation coming out on Sundays.  We are going to continue visiting members of the branch to let them know we are here and that we are there for them.  We continue to love the work that we are doing in Charleville-Mézières and continue to feel of the Spirit as we do so.

We have been looking for a way of helping out in the community since we got here and asked at St. Vincent de Paul society.  They didn't need anyone right now but would later.  On Friday we were grocery shopping and some ladies were handing out bags for shoppers to fill out for the food bank.  That seemed like a good gig.  They were at all grocery stores and I bet they brought in even more food than "Feed the Bug".  When asked if they needed help they said yes and so we start on Monday.  It's exciting and we both are looking forward to it.

We have had a busy weekend.  On Saturday we went up to Liège in Belgium to be with two other couples, one couple who was moving there to work with Young Single Adults.  They are looking for an apartment and wanted to get a feel for the city and the ward.  It took us about two hours to get there.  We had lunch with our friends.  We had some typically local food - a boulet (huge meatball) and frîtes (twice fried French fries).  Not very healthy but it was delicious.  While in Liège we ran across a huge Christmas Fair in the square.  There were booths there selling Christmas crafts, trinkets, food and drinks.  It was quit amazing.  We bought a Belgian Waffle and a crêpe. Before we even started on the Christmas Market, though, I got a call from our Stake President in Lille, France asking me to come to Lille tomorrow to represent our branch at a stake meeting.  When I told him we were speaking in church the next day he told me that the meeting was quite important and expressed that he thought I should be there.  I was able to get out of speaking by phoning the counsellor in the branch presidency who I assume was going to pinch hit for us,  He is also going to arrange some visits for us and him together, so that is good.

So we headed back home to get ready to go to Lille in the morning.  We left for Lille at 6:30 this morning making the 2 and a half hour trip along fog covered little highways.  We were looking for sangliers (wild boars) all the way there and back but found none.   The meeting was great.  I got to meet all the bishops and branch presidents in the stake and got a good picture of where the stake was heading and how our own branch fit into the stake.  Our branch is hosting the stake's Young Single Adults next weekend for a two day activity.  It should be a lot of fun and we hope to be involved.

Until then, it is "au revoir" for now.
From, Lyndi-lou and Eddie, too.

Here are a couple extra pictures.  Some of our apartment and a couple of some cool puppets (remember the marionette centre is just down the street).  Hope you enjoy!

View from our Bedroom window

Cool marrionettes
our apartment
Study area

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Fast Trains and City Lights

Sunday, November 23 - Fast Trains and City Lights

Bonjour de la France!

This last week was a great week.  We visited our friend, Hervé, in the hospital again.  He has committed to coming back to church which we feel is quite a success.  He is a great person and is wanting to do what is right for his life.  We want to support him as much as we can.

We visited a local establishment to see about doing some volunteer work for the needy.  It is a great project. This organisation does not provide meals to people but they provide the food for people to make their own meals.  This is a little bit different than the Soup Kitchen that we volunteered at in  Lethbridge.  We hit a little bit of a snag with this opportunity when we were asked to not have our name tags on when we worked.  This is because it is a non-denominational group.  We filled out the forms to volunteer and we will wait to see what happens.
Elder Cook Conference
On Wednesday we went to Paris to attend a conference with Elder Cook, an apostle of the Lord.  This was an amazing event.  There were 280 missionaries there from the France, Paris mission.  We helped put lunch together and to distribute the food.  Elder Cook was a fantastic speaker.  He had us all amazed.  It was a very spiritual meeting where we learned more about being missionaries and about loving our fellow man.  He spoke from the heart and I know that we all felt inspired and uplifted from his message.  He took the time to shake everyone's hand and he made it feel like he was speaking to each individual personally.

We stayed overnight in a hotel and we were able to get some sightseeing in.  We took the train in from Charleville and that was an amazing trip.  We started out on a regional train and then transferred to a TGV which travels at 300 kilometres an hour.  It was awesome.  The trip was fast and smooth and before we knew it we had arrived at the Paris East station.  From there we took the subway and urban trains to Notre Dame Cathedral.

We toured the cathedral and then went to a cool little Café-Terrasse for lunch.  We had a baguette sandwich.  Afterwards we headed to a little district full of small streets, shops and restaurants.  It was a  cool little part of Paris.

We managed to navigate our way to a chapel in Versailles where we helped prepare the meal for the missionaries attending the conference.  There were 10 missionary couples altogether.  A group of us who were staying at the same hotel went out for dinner together.

After the conference we went with the Redds, some friends we had met at the MTC, to tour Versailles and the new Temple sight.  We walked the grounds where Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI had walked.  It was quite extravagant but truly was awe inspiring.  It really helped as the Redds had lived here before and Elder Redd (Dave) is a history and art buff.
Marie-Antoinette had this house brought to France from England.  It is amazing.
The Temple site was wonderful.  It is right by Versailles.  What an amazing undertaking.  They were pouring concrete and working hard.  It's really looking like it's off to a good start.  The spirit we felt was amazing, testifying to us that this is the House of The Lord.

On the way back to our apartment on the train we were able to have a great discussion with other passengers about our religion and about why we were in France.  We really enjoyed the trip and we were able to meet some great people and share with them about what we believe in.

Back in Charleville-Mézières we had some household things to do, one of which was shopping.  Again, we had a wonderful conversation with a Muslim seller at the market comparing our beliefs.  Neither he nor we were trying to persuade the other but we were sharing our beliefs.  It was quite uplifting.
one of the houses Marie-Antoinette brought from England and had reassembled here!
This is a Marionette centre just at the end of our little street.  The puppet is about 30ft tall.
Place Ducal here in Charleville-Mézières
Funny tree down the street
We continue to include our family members in our mission.  We talk to them and Skype them when we can.  They have lots of questions and want to know all about what we are up to.  Their love is a great support for us and we appreciate their involvement.  It makes what we are doing a family affair and we love it that they are part of it.  Today we talked to my brother, Darrell, from New York.  He is going to visit us next summer.

We had a great day at church.  We have both been asked to speak next Sunday and we look forward to it.  Our job is to support the members and the branch and we feel the Lord's hand in our work.

With love we say "au revoir" until our next post.

Lyndi-lou and Eddie, too.  

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Intro to France

Sunday, November 15

We finally have been hooked up to internet but it took a week and a bit to do so.

After a very spiritual experience at the MTC we flew out of Salt Lake on the morning of November 4.  We changed planes in Houston and flew out at about 4:00 p.m. local time.  We landed in Paris the following morning at 8:35 November 5, Spencer's birthday.  It was kind of cool that we started the French part of our mission on our son's birthday.

We were met at the airport by two missionaries and brought to the Mission Home in Le Vesinet on the outskirts of Paris.  Unfortunately, Lynn had lost a piece of her luggage that did not come off the plane.  We met the office staff and had supper with the Mission President and his wife.  They are truly great people and we felt very welcome.
Elder et Soeur Bousseau, Président et Soeur Babin, Elder et Soeur Wilson, Elder et Soeur Wall
We were put up in a hotel in Paris and were asked to help at the Church Visitor's Centre in the middle of Paris the next day.

So the next morning Lynn and I headed there on the train and we spent the afternoon there.  What a great facility this was.  It was manned by a Senior Missionary couple like ourselves.  There were lots of opportunities for visitors to learn more about the Church through tours, videos, discussions, pamphlets and information posted on the walls.  This was also an institute centre for LDS university students.  We enjoyed the afternoon there and got to meet many missionaries who were there for a meeting.

When we returned to our hotel we found out that we were going to go to a town in northern France named Charleville-Mézières.  We felt that the Lord had his hand in this assignment as this is where our son, Dustin, had served for 6 months while he was on his mission.  We truly felt blessed to go there.  That night we got Lynn's luggage.  We also go a phone and a car.  We were ready to head out for to our first real missionary posting.

After a three and a half hour drive we arrived in Charleville-Mézières on Friday afternoon of Nov. 7.  We were amazed at the town.  It was very old and our apartment was in the oldest part of town.  The buildings around us were hundreds of years old.  There were cobble stone streets just around the corner from our building and a large cobble stone square surrounded by little shops.  In a six block radius around our apartment building there must be 25 bakeries.  We absolutely love our neighbourhood.
The view from the end of our balcony

Our apartment was on the 4th floor of a building.  It has 2 bedrooms, a kitchen, a ding room, a living room, a large balcony and two bathrooms sort of.  One bathroom has a toilet and a sink and one has a shower and a sink.  However, that is where the furnishing stopped.  The only piece of furniture set up in the apartment was a bed.  There was also a dresser and an armoire which we had to put together.  Fortunately another missionary couple came to help us get set up.  They are from New Brunswick and we became good friends by the end of the weekend.  We bought the rest of the furniture and things that we needed and started putting them together with their help.

On Sunday we were privileged to attend church in the local branch.  We could not believe the reception that we received.  The members were not expecting us and were elated to see us.  The Charleville-Mézières branch is extremely small.  There were only 8 members there besides us.  Imagine their surprise when they discovered 2 sets of missionaries when they arrived at church.  We were an answer to their prayers.  They did not know at that time that our friends' the Gionets were not staying.  They had not had missionaries here for 8 years and were overwhelmed that they had received some.  We were greeted with tears of happiness.  Everyone was elated.  I would be remiss if I didn't mention what a special little brach of the church our new congregation is.  There was a sweet spirit of the Lord present during our entire meetings.  That very first day the branch president asked us both to speak and introduce ourselves.  Lynn did an amazing job with her limited French and is making huge strides each day.

Our first week here has been very busy.  We spent a good part of the week buying and putting together furniture and appliances.  But we have also had a chance to visit some less active members, one non member and give a blessing to a less active member who was hospitalized.  We were very well received by all whom we visited and we hope that this will be a first step to growing the branch.

On Saturday our branch held a dinner meeting with a focus on genealogy.  There were lots of displays by the members and both members and non members were invited.  Seventeen people showed up.  This was great exposure for the church and the branch.  We had a typically French meal with course after course starting with soup, salad, pot au feu (stew), sausage and sauerkraut, beets, tons of desserts, breads and cheese.  We also had some "Mormon Champagne" and finished up with herbal tea.  A meeting that I thought would take two hours took six but we all had a great time and we learned a lot about the members, their families and genealogy.  Of course, there was so much food left over that we were able to have another meal after church today.

Our little branch received some sad news today.  Our Branch President who has a long history in the branch will be moving this coming Friday.  He and his wife will be moving close to Grenoble to be with their pregnant daughter whose husband is in Africa with the French military.  We are trying to grow the branch and so this was a big hit but as we understand it, it might be a temporary move for about six months.

We are extremely blessed and we look forward to getting more involved in our missionary efforts.  We are hoping to get more involved in the mission as whole.  We have been asked to inspect young missionary apartments throughout the mission and hope to start that this week.  We are also hoping to be involved in meetings with missionaries in our district to help in whatever way we can.  We are also looking forward to providing service in Charleville-Mézières in a meaningful way.
Some wonderful members of our Branch
As you can see we have been truly blessed already on our mission and we know that our family will be blessed as well.  One blessing we have received is the accelerated pace that Lynn is learning the language.  She is holding conversations, bearing testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel and saying prayers in French.  It is really quite amazing.  We are both looking forward to what the Lord has in store for us.

Lyndi-lou and Eddie too

Saturday, November 1, 2014

France, Paris Mission - MTC

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Our mission officially started on Thursday, October 23 when we were set apart by our Stake President  at his home.  It was a very spiritual setting apart and a great blessing that encouraged us to be positive to work hard and to listen to inspiration.  As a followup we went to the Dairy Queen to celebrate with friends and family.  It was a very special evening for us.

On Saturday we started our journey.  We left from Lethbridge.  Imagine our surprise when a large group of Lakeview students and parents showed up with a sign to wish us farewell.  We were able to get a last hug from them.  It was a very touching and emotional scene.  We have been truly blessed to have worked with such great students and families.    We flew to Calgary where we were met by our son Dustin, his wife Lindsey and their four kids for another emotional goodbye.  It's hard to say goodbye to those you love.   We next flew to Salt Lake and then finally to Provo by shuttle.

We have spent the week at the MTC (Missionary Training Centre) learning how to teach and doing role plays on the different aspects of the church out of Preach My Gospel.  It was an incredibly busy week and we worked hard.  We have attended some great devotionals that were very inspirational.  We finished our official training yesterday.  The food is great here but much too plentiful.  We are housed in a building that is much like a hotel right here on campus.  We were also blessed to meet some great new friends including a couple who are going to the same mission as us.  There are two Canadian couples here - ourselves and the Gibbons from Kelowna.  Besides about 60 senior missionaries, as we are called, there are about 1800 young missionaries, male and female.  They all seem to be great kids, very polite, kind and respectful.  They are going all over the world from Zambia to Scotland to Christmas Island.  There is a very special spirit here.
Good-bye at the Calgary Airport
Elder et Soeur Wilson
We have had the opportunity to visit with friends that we know here on a couple of occasions.  Yesterday we went for supper at Bruce and Carol Selk's house and then we went trick or treating with their grandkids.  Today we are going out with Caroline and Curtis Fletcher - shopping, dinner and a movie.  We have also gone over to BYU a couple of times which is just down the road from us.

On Tuesday we fly out early in the morning to France and then our adventure will certainly kick into high gear and we will let you know how that is next week

Lyndi-lou and Eddie too