First of all, Happy 16th Birthday to our oldest grandchild, Jarom! How wonderful.
This week was bookended by two conferences. We started off our week with the Couple Missionary's Conference in Caen, Normandy and we finished our week with the General Conference of the Church. Both of these experiences were spiritual and uplifting for us as members of the Church and as missionaries.
On Monday before we left for our Couple's Conference we had an opportunity to provide some service to a Friend who is interested in our church. She and her son have recently moved and they are gathering things together to furnish their new apartment. She does not have a car but needed some help to get some things. That's where Ed and the young Elders came in. They drove her to look at some things from a house in Charleville that was being vacated. She purchased some bookshelves and a mirror there. We then took her to get a fridge which was about 30 minutes from town way out in the country. Needless to say we got lost and it took us over an hour to find the place but our objective was accomplished and we did get the fridge back to her apartment.
On Tuesday we headed to Caen through Paris. It seems like whenever you go anywhere heading south you end up going through Paris even though Caen is near the west coast of France. On the way to Caen we listened to two books titled "Living With Enthusiasm" by L. Tom Perry and "Gadiantons and the Silver Sword" by Chris Heimerdinger. We find this to be a great way to travel. It makes a long trip go faster and more enjoyable. In addition, travel becomes a learning experience and is much more enjoyable.
We got into Caen in the late afternoon. We went straight to the church where we met the Bishop. What a great man. He showed us around and made us feel welcome. He gave us the key to the church and told us everything we needed to know. As we have mentioned in previous posts we were assigned to spearhead this conference. We set up a room for the entertainment which was scheduled for Wednesday evening. The conference started the next day.
The conference got underway at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday. We started with a hymn and a prayer as we always do. We had 11 couple missionaries present. Every couple had a role in this conference. They were each assigned a task or a responsibility. We covered a number of topics including management tasks related to missionary apartments, finances and paperwork. But we also covered spiritual topics. Our Mission President talked to us about how I-pads have changed missionary work and how valued we Couple Missionaries are. We had a presentation on making Music more accessible to members so they can learn to play and direct music in their wards and branches.
After the formal sessions we had a chance to sit back and kick up our heels with the entertainment. We had planned a game fashioned along the lines of "Minute to Win It" that we called "Wishin' On My Mission" or "Une Vision de ma Mission" in French. The couples had to do a series of fun and funny tasks related to missionary responsibilities, including vacating apartments, cooking, balancing budgets, travel, etc. They had one minute to complete each task. Of course, we had made them as hard as possible but they had fun. After the game Ed entertained us in his alter ego of Jean Dubois singing French Canadian folksongs accompanied by his bonhomme giggeur Alphonse. We had a lot of fun doing this, too, and everyone got involved.
We ended the day with a typical French meal in a typical French restaurant. Ed had a beef skewer with potatoes. Lynn had a filet mignon. We had three courses complete with appetiser, main dish, side dish and dessert. This, of course came with lots of pieces of baguette.
On Thursday we had a wonderful presentation on the Paris Temple which is under construction. There is a missionary couple assigned to oversee the building of and keep a historical record of this undertaking. They gave a slideshow presentation of the project to date. They had lots of information about the progress, the positive reactions of neighbours and politicians. They led us through the progress through pictures from the beginning of the undertaking to today. They talked about the difference this is going to make in the lives of French members and non-members. They testified of the spirit that is already felt around the site by both members and non members, including construction workers. What an uplifting session this was.
Our session about the temple led nicely into a testimony meeting. We heard from most of the missionaries in attendance. They testified how their missions have fortified them and blessed their families. We could see the Lord's hand in their and our work here in France. This was really a spiritual experience. We expressed our love for what we are doing in France and for each other. We really love our fellow missionaries for their support and for their friendship. Our conference really brought this out.
We had a cultural and historical component to our conference, as well. On Thursday afternoon we visited the Normandy D-Day landing beaches. We had a sandwich lunch at Juno Beach where the Canadians landed and where so many of our countrymen sacrificed their lives to liberate France in WWII. We visited the museum there, watched videos, walked on the same beach and took pictures. We were overwhelmed by the significance of the events that occurred here in June, 1944 and of the sacrifice of lives that took place. It was very emotional and pulled at our heart strings.
We then headed to Omaha Beach where the Americans landed. This was a much more difficult beach to land on as the enemy was situated uphill from the landing site and had a bird's eye view of all those who came ashore. The Americans had to fight their way uphill. We visited the American cemetery where thousands of soldiers were buried. What an awe inspiring and spiritual place that was, too. We visited the Visitor's Centre and saw pictorial records of the landing through videos and pictures with eye witness accounts of the battle. We are all fortunate for the efforts of the young men who gave up their lives for our freedom and we are blessed for it.
We then stopped at Pointe du Hoc. This was a site where enemy guns were on top of 200 foot cliffs overlooking the ocean. To take these out was a formidable task but a group of American Rangers did just that with great losses. They scaled the cliffs and were able to neutralise the gun emplacements but many died in the operation.
From here we headed to Mont Saint Michel. This trip was an optional one for our conference. Nonetheless five couples did head down there. We had some problems with our GPS and got lost before finally finding our hotel at around 10:00 p.m.
The next day was amazing as can be see by the pictures. What an amazing site Mont Saint Michel is. It was built as a Monks abbey starting in the 9th century and built in stages. It was built on faith in the Lord but was sometimes done with forced labour. We had a hard time believing that it could have been built on top of a rock in the ocean with the limited technology that existed but we walked the streets and visited the abbey. This was an unforgettable experience. The streets were only about 6 to 8 feet wide. We walked straight up to the top of the mount where the abbey is situated. We toured through the abbey looking at all the different rooms where the monks lived and worked. Today there is, once again, a religious presence in the abbey of Mont Saint Michel but we did not see any of them.
On the way down we visited shops and had lunch at a nice little restaurant. After lunch our group of 5 couples split up and went our separate ways. We headed home. Our conference was a great success. We were well fed physically, spiritually and culturally.
As we said at the beginning of the post our week ended with General Conference and our spiritual banquet was greatly enhanced as a result. In Charleville conference schedule is a little different because of the 8 hour difference in time from Salt Lake to here. We set up two computers at the chapel to watch the sessions in both French and English. We watched the Saturday morning session at 6:00 p.m. local time. On Sunday we watched the priesthood and the woman's broadcast at 11:00 a.m. We had a pot luck lunch together at 1:00. We watched the Saturday afternoon session on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. and we watched the Sunday morning session on Sunday at 6:00 p.m. We are all on our own to watch the Sunday afternoon session whenever we choose. Thank goodness for the internet.
Of course we were well fed spiritually, once again. All the talks were inspiring and uplifting. We always love hearing our prophet, Thomas S. Monson teach us and counsel us. This conference was especially meaningful for all members of the church as three new apostles were called to replace those who had passed away recently - Elder Boyd K. Packer, Elder L. Tom Perry and Elder Richard G. Scott. We heartily endorse and sustain the new apostles, Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Gary E. Stevenson and Dale G. Renlund. We know they were chosen by God through revelation and will carry on the good work of their predecessors.
|Just had to throw this cute costume Lise-Anne made for Polly|
Au revoir de la France.
Lyndi-Lou and Eddie, too