Lyndi-lou and Eddie too...

Lyndi-lou and Eddie too...

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Seventh Heaven

August 30, 2015 (We are finished our 7th transfer and we were in Heaven doing apartment checks this week)

This week was the last week of this transfer. (Our 7th)  At our district meeting we took our picture.  As you can see we had people with as little as 3 to 15 transfers.  Our District Leader Elder Ericson, who did a great job, was transferred to Brussels.  We will miss him.  He is a fellow Canadian from Saskatoon.  Elder Rivas was made our new District Leader.  He will be wonderful. 

After our instruction a fellow came to talk about the renos they are doing to our chapel which will result in us having 40% less space.  It will be a sad day for our Branch.
Elders Rivas, Adams, Parsons, Hogenson (Hoagie), McDonald, Ericson
Elder Ericson from Saskatoon
The Staircase in our Church Building.  It's an apartment building also.

On Wednesday we went out to the Dampts' house for Home Teaching.  It was nice.  We taught the lesson and then had lunch.  We got to try some Ardennes specialities.  We had Pâte des Ardennes.  This is a flaky pastry with meat inside that is served warm.  We also had Boudin Blanc de Rethel.  This is a white sausage made with pork and milk.  We also had Tarte au Sucre Ardennaise.  This was a cake with a butter and sugar topping.  I know it doesn't sounds very healthy but it was delicious and we had a nice visit with Paulette, Michel and their daughter, son in law and grand daughter.  What a great example this family is to us.

On Thursday we were on the road again.  We had apartments to check in St. Dié, Colmar and Strasbourg.  This is always an uplifting experience for us.  We love the young missionaries.  They are always obedient, diligent and faithful.  They are also models of service, always willing to help others. 

As we were leaving we got a call from St. Dié Elders (Cisneros and Long) asking if we would like to go for lunch with the missionaries and two members of their Branch.  We gladly accepted.  After our inspection we went to a Chinese restaurant for some great food and we met two new friends.  (Patricia and Rosemary) Bonus!
Between St. Dié and Colmar we had to stop at a roadside vineyard.  It was quite cool.  We were  in the Alsace wine making region.  We also stopped for a photo op at a beautiful little village named St. Hippolyte that looked like it came out of Switzerland.
Coolest, best tasting grapes ever!
The top picture shows all the vineyards in the field beneath this cool castle near Hippolyte, France.
St. Hippolyte, France
Because we had changed our schedule a bit to allow us to go out for lunch in St. Dié we got to Colmar a little early and we were able to look around a bit.  This is an area called La Petite Venise, hence the canals and the boats.
Colmar - Petite Venise

Colmar - Absolutely Beautiful City
Another one of Colmar.  Got the horses just as they were headed up the street toward us.
In Colmar we met with our good friend Elder Karl.  This may be the last time we see him as he goes home in 6 weeks.  We have known him since we went to our first District Meeting in St. Quentin.  He is a great missionary.  Because we were saying goodbye to him we took him and his companion out for a kebab for supper.  It was great.
Elder Karl from Pennsylvania, and Elder Schow from Tremonton, Utah, in COLMAR
We left Colmar and headed to Strasbourg.  After an hour of driving we got there and checked into our hotel.  At 8:00 p.m. we Skyped with a new missionary couple, the Purles's.  They are in Brest.  We hope to be a support for them any way we can.  They are also MLS missionaries like us.  He may serve as Branch President there as well.  We had a great Skype session.   
We couldn't resist taking this picture.  Look at the carving in the wood.
There is beautiful craving on this home in Strasbourg as well.
Elder Kaonohi and Rollins(from Belfor) were on exchanges with the Strasbourg Elders.  Elder Kendricks was on splits (from Mulhouse) with Elder Divas, the Zone Leader from Strasbourg.  Confusing but doable.

The next morning we went to the Elders' apartment where there was one one Strasbourg Elder and three non-Strasbourg Elder.  They were on exchanges.  Elder Kendrick was there.  His grandparents Norm and Jolene Gosling are in our home ward.  The apartment check went well.

Before heading home we went to a park and walked around town a bit.  Strasbourg is one of the prettiest cities in France.  You can certainly see the German influence here.  

On Saturday we had 2 lessons.  We love the opportunity to teach with the younger missionaries.  It is not unusual for lessons to go a little differently than planned.  Such was the case with one of our lessons.  It is testimony building as we receive thoughts and inspiration from the spirit during these lessons as we help others come unto Christ. 

Church was great today.  We had 21 people there.  The meetings were great.  Our High Councillor from  Lille was there.  We had a Branch meal afterward and had a good time with everyone.  A lot of bonding and friendshipping took place.  Next week we have a baptism and the individual is excited.  Ed will get to do his third baptism.

Ed made everyone happy today.  We ordered some material for our Branch and it came in.  We were able to give a Book of Mormon in Yoruba (an African language) to our new convert.  We ordered a triple combination for the Dampts' grandson's baptism,   children's versions of the New Testament and Old Testament for our one and only Primary child as well as English copies of Gospel Principles for our anglophone Friends.

After our meetings the missionaries and Laurent Biver came over.  Laurent Skyped his family in England.  They are over there attending the temple and spending the weekend in Oxford at their son's and brother's place.  We all had a song practice for a hymn we are going to sing in sacrament meeting.  Then we had supper.  It was a great time.  Lynn said it was almost like we had a social life again.

We are grateful for the support from our family and friends.  We have had good news and sad news this week from both.  We hope and pray that everyone will receive the blessings their hearts desire. 

That's all we have for this week.  May God be with you 'til we write again.

Au revoir de la France.
Lyndi-lou and Eddie, too.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Blitz

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The focus of our week this week was the Blitz.  What is that you may ask.  It happened on Friday.  We had 20 young missionaries converge on Charleville.  Their goal was to be visible, discuss with people and answer any questions.  But let me start at the beginning.

Missions are divided into zones.  Our zone leaders had an idea to help out the missionary effort in Charleville-Mézières. On Tuesday at our District Meeting we worked on the "Blitz" after our instruction.   They wanted to send all 20 missionaries in our zone to Charleville to flood the downtown with white shirts and ties and dresses.  After all we do have two sister missionaries in our zone, along with my wife, Lynn.  Our downtown area has never seen so many name tags.
A week and a half ago I got a call from one of our zone leaders to ask me if I could get a permit to set up tables in the square to provide explanations about what we believe in.  After going to the prefecture, the police station and city hall, I got someone to take me to an office where they could help me.  I found out that we didn't need a permit if we weren't stationary.  But since we wanted to use tables we did need authorisation.  I had to write a letter to request this which I did.  I waited for an answer and waited but did not receive one.  On Tuesday I started going back to the secretary to ask if there was any news.  I repeated this on Wednesday and Thursday.  The answer was always no.  So on Friday we changed our plans and we changed the activity from a stationary one to a roving one.

At about 12:30 on Friday the missionaries arrived - all on the same bus.  They looked awesome as they got off the bus and arrived at our chapel.  They truly looked like the army of the Paris Mission.

When they got to the chapel we had lunch for them.  We had Branch members come and help with this.  We served ham, tomato, cucumber, lettuce and tomato sandwiches on baguettes.  We also had chips, apples, water and Belgian waffles made by one of our Branch members.  The missionaries got a little instruction and headed out.
Here's how it worked.  We had three stations that we all rotated through.  One station was our pre-life stage.  One was our earthly life stage and one was our after life stage.  We had questions, answers, visuals, cards and informations.  We talked to people and shared information with them orally or in a written format.

Overall, 18 members and Friends of our Branch helped out.  Some worked side by side with the missionaries, some helped with the meal and some just came out to support.  We talked to a lot of people and handed out material.  We talked to some less active members.  We shared what we knew and we were well received.  We certainly increased our visibility in Charleville-Mézières.  Afterward we met back at the chapel.  We shared some testimonies and said a closing prayer.  The young missionaries left.  I don't think Charleville will ever see that level of missionary work again.
Of course we did other things this week.  We taught lessons, visited member homes and did some preparation for our upcoming Missionary Couples Conference.  Truly the hand of the Lord was with us in all that we did.  

When we visited one of our member's houses in Belgium we were in for a special treat.  She had made some delicious banana ice cream and covered it with wild fruit that she had collected herself.
On the way back from Belgium after our Home Teaching visit we stopped at a cool spot.  We climbed up to the rock where you could see 7 villages by looking in different directions.  What a beautiful view and an amazing panorama.  Seven villages - wow!  Only in France.
 The other Blitz we experienced this week was a construction job which we watched the progress of from our balcony.  Last week we got a note in our box saying that they were going to redo the sidewalk on the other side of our street.  The project was quite amazing.  On Monday they started.  There was a crew of about eight city workers dressed in orange fluorescent suits.  They literally attacked the job.  They didn't waste any time.  They tore up the sidewalk first.  As they dug up entryways to businesses and buildings they replaced them with temporary ones.  As they rebuilt the sidewalk they constructed new entryways out of paving stones.  They replaced some sewer grates.  They widened the entry to the school.  They used concrete where needed and tarred the sidewalk in a half day.  The whole job took 4 and a half days from start to finish.  They worked like ants.  It was quite interesting to watch.  Most of the work was done by hand or hand held machinery.  

Today at church was great.  We had 28 people in attendance.  We had a Branch Council meeting.  We discussed some things to help support our new members.  We had a Branch meal which was super and we truly felt the spirit in our meetings, our lessons and during our talks.

We love being on our mission and we love what we do.  We thank you for your support.

Au revoir de la France.
Lyndi-lou and Eddie, too.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Chop Chop

Sunday, August 16, 2015

We had a great evening last night.  We participated in our first ever chop chop.  As you are reading this I am sure you are asking what in  blue blazes is that.  In our Branch we have a number of African Friends of the Church.  Most of these are from Nigeria.  This week during one of our lessons one of our Nigerian members asked us and the younger missionaries over for supper for what she called a chop chop.
As it turns out a chop chop is a Nigerian meal with friends.  We walked to her apartment.  She and another of our Friends had prepared a meal that included chicken, beef, a yam dough called poundo iyan and dish made with ground melon seeds, peppers, palm oil, and spinach.  They had bought the special ingredients in Paris at an African store.  

We sat around a table and we got a portion of each food item on our plates.  Before we began we each washed our hands in a bowl of water.  We had no utensils but ate with our fingers by taking the dough, flattening it and scooping the melon seeds with it.  The melon seeds and chicken were spiced somewhat.  We ate the meat with our hands, as well.  It was a great meal and tasted good.  

While we ate we talked and visited.  There was Nigerian Christian music playing in the background.  The younger missionaries brought some drinks and we brought homemade cookies.  We finished off the evening by us giving a spiritual message.  It was a very pleasant time.  We ate well, laughed and shared stories.

Another first happened this week.  We finalised the turn over of the couple's apartment in Nancy back to the owner.  This apartment had been empty since the beginning of the year.  It was our base whenever we had business to tend to in Nancy.  With assistance from the Relief Society president and the Nancy Zone Leaders we were able to empty the apartment out by using some of the items in other missionary apartments and by giving some things away to ward members who were in need.  

Once the apartment was empty there was cleaning to do.  We also had to go through what is called an "état des lieux" which literally means a state of the place.  It is a detailed inspection with an inspector.  He goes through the entire apartment to assess any damages or anything that may be missing.  This was not a problem but was somewhat time consuming.  It was interesting, though.

Since we were in Nancy we decided to do some apartment checks ourselves.  We inspected 5 missionary apartments in Luxembourg, Mulhouse, Belfort and Épinal.  This is always a great time to connect with the younger missionaries.  We brought each missionary team a macaron treat.  These are tasty little pastry goodies.  We were also able to bring supplies that they needed because they were lacking or because they simply needed replacing.

The apartments were all good.  The missionaries were great.  We were excited to meet Elder Kendrick in Mulhouse.  He is Jolene and Norm Goslings grandson from our home ward in Lethbridge.  He is doing wonderful there and loving his mission.  
Elder Kendrick on Splits with Elder Johnson, one of the Zone Leaders from Strasbourg
Elder Koanua and Elder Rollins in Belfort
Elder Edmunds in Epinal
Elder Adams on splits with our District Leader Elder Ericsson from Saskatoon
Our Elders having a fun moment.  They always love to put funny photo's on our Ipad.
We are very fortunate to work with such great young men and women.  They are always great examples of faith, obedience and diligence to us.  We see this at our district meetings, at our zone meetings and at our apartment checks.  We are blessed and grateful for our associations with these young people.
Mulhouse Center.  We took a stroll just around 8:30 pm after finishing the apartment checks here.  We loved it.
Crocheted Dyed Doilies wrapped around a tree in Mulhouse.  Facinating.
Mulhouse - beautiful city
Mulhouse - All of this is a mural on the side of a building.  AMAZING!
Love this.  Typical French airing out the bedding in Belfort near the Elders apartment.
Epinal view as we were crossing the canal
A fascinating game we want to make.  We saw it in a store window.  They were playing this game in Paris in the Roman Arena we saw.
This week we also said goodbye to my brother, Darrell on Monday in Paris.  He flies home tomorrow.  We spent the morning with him on Monday by going on a river cruise on the Seine, which winds through lots of historic Paris.  Then we had lunch and headed back to Charleville.  We had a wonderful time.  How lucky we were to have been able to spend time with him.

Tuesday was our district meeting.  We had another great lesson and another great meal.  We had pasta, salad, cake and drinks.  This was another great example of the valiant young missionaries that we get to work with.  

We filled out the week with teaching visits and doing some preparations for our upcoming Couples Conference.

Today at church we had 19 people.  We met a new Friend of the Church who was there with her 14 year old son.  They both were amazing.  We got along great and they really seemed to enjoy our meetings.  How awesome!

Well that's all we have for this week.  May the Lord bless all of you!

Au revoir de la France
Lyndi-lou and Eddie too 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Paris Perspectif

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Today we went to church in Paris.  We spent the weekend with my brother, Darrell, before he goes back to New York.  We had a great visit with him which I will detail later in this post but let's start at the beginning of the week.

Monday was a good day.  We spent it with our young Elders.  At 10:00 a.m. we took them to Sedan to visit the castle.  They loved it.  We had a great visit and bought  a book about the castle for our grandkids.  They love medieval stuff.  After we left the chateau we went to Chapelle St. Roger for a picnic.  We had prepared baguette sandwiches, water, fruit and chips.  It was a great lunch in a peaceful setting.  Afterward we took the Elders shopping.
On Tuesday we went to three lessons with the Elders.  We taught about the Plan of Salvation and the Restoration.  At the last lesson we hit a bit of a snag.  The lady we were to teach had a friend over who was not interested in what we had to teach but was very interested in debating with us.  We answered his questions as best we could but it did take away from our real goal.  However, we did leave a blessing on her new home which she really wanted to do.  

We also were able to visit with a senior couple that we visit frequently.  They live in a main floor apartment here and have home care come in several times a day to give their medications and meals.  It's tough because they are quite lonely.  When we go over we try and leave them with a message that can cheer them up and at the same time provide a little respite to their otherwise routine day.  They are the parents of a friend of ours.  Our friend lives in Paris but his parents live in Charleville.

We are in charge of organising a Couple Missionary Conference in Caen this year.  We worked on this on Wednesday.  We finalised an agenda, made some assignments and e-mailed what we had to the Mission President.  On Friday we went over everything with him and his wife.  It' all good.  Now we can start confirming assignments and moving forward.  The conference will take place at the end of September and the beginning of October.

We taught one lesson on Wednesday but we had our Wednesday night activity.  We showed the film "Joseph Smith, Prophet of the Restoration.  Our Branch is becoming so diverse that we showed the film in French in one room and in English in another room.

In the middle of the activity we got a call from our friend from Rwanda who needed some help bringing a washer up to her fifth floor apartment.  Ed and Elder Adams headed over to help.  They both came back quite exhausted.  Apparently it was the heaviest washing machine ever and it took four of them to take it up.

We had one of our friends from Nigeria who got a letter from  the French government saying that she had to have an interview and depending on the outcome of that interview she may have to go back to Africa.  She was visibly shaken by this news and Ed gave her a blessing of comfort which helped her feel better.

Wednesday was a great family day, too.   Lise-Anne phoned us first thing in the morning and shared some great news.  They will welcome a new baby into their family in the Spring. They are really excited and so are we.   

Dustin is in California attending a 2 week dental implant course.  We talked to him before he started for the day.  We then skyped with Spencer who was just returned from a holiday to Victoria.  Then we had to phone Ed's Dad about his teeth and we were surprised that Amy was there.  What a great bit of luck for us.  

At the end of the day we realised that we had talked to all 4 of our kids.  It was truly wonderful.  

Thursday was a big day.  After scripture study in the morning we had a Branch Missionary Meeting, discussing the missionary needs and progress of our Branch.  After our meeting we fed the Elders lunch.  We then had a weekly planning meeting.  At 4:08 we took the train to Paris.  Little did we know that there would be something on the track in the middle of nowhere which held us up until they cleared the track.  As a result we were two hours late getting in.

We had gone to Paris for our Zone Conference but at the same time, we were going to visit Ed's brother.  This was his last week in Paris before going home.  Our conference was great.  We did some practice teaching on the principles of the Gospel.  We participated in this as investigators of the church.  

We also participated in another aspect of the conference.  This week Ed was asked to interview a new convert in our Branch.  He asked them how the faith of the missionaries who taught them influenced their conversion.  We then gave one of these interviews to our Zone Leaders who used it as part of their training with the other Elders and Sisters at our Zone Conference.   It was a reminder of how much our Faith affects those we teach.

After the Zone Conference Darrell took us to a cool little restaurant in Le Marai for a falafel.  This was great.  We had a falafel in a pita with pickles, condiments, vegetables and sauce.  They were quite delicious.  We ordered them to go and ate them in a little park where we fed the pigeons and birds our leftovers.  The little birds would fly right up to Lynn's hand and eat all the while beating their wings furiously to keep in the air.  It was really cool.
On Saturday we walked and walked.  We started off by going to the open air market right by Darrell's apartment.  It was great.  we bought some good stuff.  For lunch we went to visit the Grande Mosquée de Paris.  We ate at the mosque's restaurant.  We had a couscous vegetable dish and a chicken tazine.  We had a tour of the mosque which was beautiful.  After this we walked to the Luxembourg Garden and watched the children sailing boats in the fountain.  Darrell and Ed remembered doing this when they were kids in France.  We then walked to the Tuileries Garden next to the Louvre and then finally headed to home.
This is how we refill our water bottles throughout Paris.  It's awesome. 
In front of Pantéon
Luxembourg Gardens
Diana the Hunter.  Lynn thought of her Mom when she took this.
Beautiful quiet spot just to sit and reflect right at the Luxembourg Gardens
Couldn't resist this old metal sign outside of a little corner store near  Darrell's apartment.  Love it.
Church this morning was at the same chapel where we had the Zone Conference.  While we were there we ran into the Hills from Lethbridge who were visiting Paris with their son Brad.  It was great to see someone from home.  The ward was quite different.  English members outnumbered the French members thanks to tourists.  There were translators for sacrament meeting and Relief Society and Priesthood.  Ed translated in the Priesthood lesson.  Sunday School had separate French and English classes.
We passed this on our way to Church this morning. Great idea for a dragon costume.
After church we had a great lunch with Darrell's and then we went to the famous Père Lachaise cemetery which is just a short walk from here.  We visited Jim Morrison's grave from the Doors, Moliere's grave and La Fontaine's grave, as well as Héloise and Abélard.  We loved it and it was apparent that  a lot of others thought the same as there were lots of people visiting there today.
unbelievably cool looking crypts and 
Pierre Abélard and Héloise d'Argenteuil - 12th century cool true story of lasting love
We have had a great time with Darrell and will be heading back home tomorrow.  This is his last week in Paris.  It was great seeing him and we will miss him but we expect him to be teaching in Paris again next summer.

That's all we have this week.
Au revoir de la France.
Lyndi-lou and Eddie, too.