This week was an exceptional week. We had a Couple Missionary Conference. All the Senior missionaries met in Tours, which is southwest of Paris, for a two day conference. The night before the conference we stayed in a cute little Bed and Breakfast (Lit en Loire) on the banks of the Loire River with Elder (Dave) and Soeur (Patti) Redd. We met up with Elder (Richard) and Soeur (Trisha) Fitt, and Elder (Glen) and Soeur (Jane) Steenblik for dinner at the restaurant Courtepaille (Short Straw). Ed had a great time running along the banks of the Loire. It was so beautiful.
|The view from our window|
Our conference was great. Tuesday morning we began with Elder Fitt presenting a compilation of information about new couple missionary orientation and what we'd all like to see. Together we were able to decide on having a mentor couple for new arrivals, as well as another couple helping them to settle into their apartment and surroundings. Also, we'll all be available to field any questions or concerns via the internet before their arrival if desired. Elder Steenblik then led a discussion around apartment concerns and inspections at length. He included a very helpful sheet of information for us, including "Lessons Learned", "Ah Ha! Discoveries", "Amazed At", Helpful Hints and Suggestions" all aimed at helping the Missionaries take a more serious sense of Stewardship of their apartments and "How do we go about painting, repairing etc". President Babin presented as well on security practises, emergency evacuation and the fact that he receives a daily worldwide security summary from the Church. Each apartment inspection is to include a review on emergency rendezvous procedures. Where would you meet in an emergency etc. It's helpful because the younger missionaries are transferred and regularly find themselves in new circumstances. That evening we ate at a very nice French restaurant, "Le Laurenty" with the other couples. The presentation, ambiance, company and food was amazing. Laurent takes care of the service and takes the time to tell the story of all the plates served. We chose between the first two for our entrée, between the 3rd and 4th for our main dish and the last two for our dessert.
|Waiting outside the restaurant|
|Elder Wilson with President Babin|
|All 24 of us.|
|"Carpaccio de saumon mariné a l'aneth et lieu fumé aux agrumes, Tuile de parmesan" (a fancy, French way to say smoked salmon)|
|"Vol au vent périgourdin Copeaux de foie gras frais de canard" (chicken a la king with duck liver)|
|"Emincé de filet mignon de porc braisé, En brochette de citronnelle" (Really Yummy Pork)|
|"Dos de cabillaud rôti sur peau, Crème curry-coco" (Curry coconut Cod)|
|"Chaud froid de fruits rouges", Glace vanille.|
|"Poire rôtie aux cinq baies caramélisée, Glace nougat" (Pear with a five fruit caramelised sauce with nougat ice-cream)|
We began on Wednesday morning at the Church with a testimony meeting that was wonderful. Testimonies were born in French and English but no matter what the language or your understanding of it you could feel the spirit as we had the opportunity to share our faith and love for the Saviour.
As a finale to the conference we visited the Chateau de Chenonceau, one of many chateaux that are in the Loire valley. It was Ed's job as part of the conference organisation to plan this tour and lunch. The Chateau de Chenonceau was an especially beautiful castle built in the 16th century. It was a playground for royalty. There were beautiful gardens and exhibits. Interestingly enough the chateau was on the WWII border between free France and German occupied France. As the chateau actually went right across the river people were able to escape to Free France by going through the chateau. The Chateau, gardens and surrounding buildings were absolutely beautiful.
|Beautiful, fresh cut flowers adorned every room.|
The conference was quite amazing. It helped build a team spirit among the Senior Couples and in the mission. It allowed us to get to know new missionary couples and to get to know other couples better. It also allowed us to spend time together with people who will soon be going home at the end of their missions.
As it turns out we will be organising the next Senior Couples' conference in September which we volunteered to do. We were able to get some ideas for this next conference and things are already starting to percolate for this event.
We got permission to visit La Rochelle after the conference since we were in the neighbourhood. This is where Lynn's ancestors were from who immigrated to Canada in the 17th century. La Rochelle was known as a Huguenot(French Protestant) stronghold. In the early 17th century it was besieged by the forces of Cardinal Richelieu who starved the people into submission. Of a population of 23,000 only 5,000 remained after the siege was lifted.
|Lynn's Ancestors were born in LaFond - top right of the map|
|An old wall in LaFond|
We spent some time with Elder and Sister Fitt who gave us a tour of sites around La Rochelle including Brouage and some Roman sites in Saintes. Elder and Sister Fitt were great hosts. They are from Orem, UT and have become good friends. They packed a picnic for us and showed us some great sites. We went out for dinner together one night in La Rochelle.
Brouage was very interesting and historic. It was the birthplace of Samuel de Champlain. There was a Rue de Québec and a Place du Nouveau Brunswick. There was a store that sold Canadian products. In the church there was a historical display that dealt with a lot of early Canadian history.
In Saintes there was a very well preserved Roman arena. We got to walk where gladiators walked and look at the majesty of what used to be Roman Gaul. We also saw an old Roman arch, as well. It was a great day.
The Fitt's had us to dinner at their apartment the last night we were there. It was wonderful and fun all at the same time. They even offered us a Christmas Tree and decorations for next year, a food processor (hooray) and an assortment of other things that they had and weren't using. Wow! It was like Christmas.
|Elder Wilson and Elder and Soeur Fitt|
|Cool little toilet|
|The Courts of Justice in La Rochelle|
While we were in La Rochelle we also wanted to do some genealogy work on Lynn's family. We looked some things up on the computer and in the end went to the municipal archives. We actually found the names of several of her relatives in the archives including Louis Gezerson, who came to Canada in 1659. We found out where these people lived, were baptised and got married. We were actually able to go to the neighbourhood where they lived and where they worshipped. We were able to visit, take pictures and walk where her ancestors walked. It was uplifting and awe inspiring. Those are the pictures above of La Fond.
Ed was able to conduct some Branch business through the internet while we were there and that was good.
At church today there were 16 people there. We had three visitors from Angers. It was great to see them. We also had a less active member for the second week in a row. There is lots of missionary work happening in Charleville. The two younger missionaries spoke today about that very topic. We have everyone calling them the "younger Missionaries" now so that we don't imply that we are the "Old Missionaries". We have investigators, reactivations and proposed baptisms. It is awesome. You really feel a buzz and the spirit in our Branch as a result. People are excited that things are moving forward.
Ed had his first Branch Presidency meeting since Ed called a new Counsellor. It was vey productive and things are moving forward in a positive way. It is great to have 3 heads together rather than just two.
We love what we do and we do what we love. We feel that we are making a difference. We love the buzz that is present in our Charleville branch now and have to give a big part of the credit to our younger missionaries. They are great!
Bye for now.
Lyndi-lou and Eddie, Too