Sunday, May 27, 2018

LDS Chapel - Villeneuve-d/Ascq, France
LDS Chapel - Lille, France
While we have visited The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints chapel in Arras, France many times during the past two years, we have not thought to take pictures.  This past Saturday we may have made our last trip to this building for the purpose of attending Stake meetings.  We are glad to have remembered to take a couple photographs.

LDS Chapel - Villeneuve-d'Ascq, France
This chapel, especially for a Stake building, is not that large but nice enough.  In many ways it is a smaller version of many of the chapels we find in Utah and other parts of the United States.  As with many of the French/Belge chapels, there is a real shortage of parking.  This seems to be a general problem in France.  The Paris Temple would face a similar problem if the more than generous underground parking had not been included in the Temple construction plan.

Kennards Visit.
One of the grand blessings of our earlier mission to Lyon, France, was working with the Kennard couple.  They are dear friends and inspirations to us.

After returning home from Lyon, over three years ago, the Kennards decided to revisit France.  Perhaps their last of many visits to a country they love.  Brother Raeburn Kennard breaths and eats french…….he loves everything french and is not only extremely fluent in the language but very knowledgeable of this country's culture and history.  Suzanne Kennard is not quite that enthusiastic, until you turn her loose in a french village with a camera.  Photographing and being photographed are two different things in Suzanne's book; thus no Suzanne in the photo below.

It was an extreme pleasure to see them again and pass a few hours relaxing and visiting.  Their visit has revived our spirits and infused us with the energy we need to continue to work and serve during the few days we have remaining here in France.

Eternal blessings that flow from missionary service………..wonderful friends made along the way!!

Raeburn Kennard - Suzanne Refused - Charleville-Mezieres, France
Spring - Not Over Yet!
Spring is still with us but, no for long, we fear.  One last Spring flower photo to share.  It is getting warmer and the roses are now blooming.  The Ardennes are a beautiful green and flowering.

Spring 2018 - Ardennes of France
Coq of the Week.
This weeks rooster was found atop the steeple of the very small Church located in the small village of Warby, France.  Just a few miles from Charleville-Mezieres.  He is kind of a country boy; solid, not overly complicated and on the humble side.  He has certainly been there for years and will likely be there for years to come.  He draws on the past but looks to the future……….experienced, wise, faithful and enduring.  May we draw upon personal wisdom and experience that will enable us to look to the future with faith and perseverance.  
Coq Girouette - Eglise de Warby - Warby, France

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints - Arras, France
LDS Chapel - Arras, France
We have wanted to visit Arras, France for sometime now but have not had the opportunity until this past week.  Arras was an important part of our first mission in the 1967-69 period when we served in the Franco-Belge Mission.  At that time we had one active member in the very small Branch - a sister who had recently joined the Church.  Following the conversion of this one sister and that of her husband a short time later, the small Branch began to flourish and eventually became a rather large Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  We are ever grateful for the time we spent in Arras during the Winter of 1968 and Spring of 1969 - a wonderful blessing accorded us by the Lord.

This past week following Zone Conference in Lille, France we took a short side trip to Arras.  We easily found the LDS chapel which is pictured in the two photographs included here.   We are not sure of the age of the building but it is not new and is beginning to show its age just a little.   What a wonderful period of progress the Church of Arras has had this past half century!  The Arras Ward is currently very vibrant and is the largest Ward in the Lille, France Stake.  It was wonderful to see more evidence of how the Lord's work is progressing in France.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints - Arras, France
Arras, France Today.
As with most other visits we have been able to make to cities where we worked as missionaries during the 1960s, we were a little disappointed with what we saw.  Thank goodness for the LDS Chapel which compensates well for the rest.

Fifty years brings great change we find and things are not as well preserved as are our memories.  As usual, it was hard to find landmarks that gave us our bearings.  Even after finding the Grand Place, it was difficult to discover where the various streets led or what they held in store.  The Grand Place was found to be rather weary and worn; now serving as a parking lot and with little visible viable commerce surrounding it.  During the 1960s is was bustling and attractive with fountains and all that one would expect to find on a grand place.

Grand Place - Arras, France
Nevertheless, some things were remarkably noticeable.  Particularly the 155 houses which surround the place.  Each one different but adhering to the classical Baroque Flemish architecture of the 17th Century.  Style and size all very similar.   Such Flemish architecture is rare in France and rather unique to Arras and its two main places.

Grand Place - Arras, France
The second major place of Arras is the Place des Heros which is located just a block from the Grand Place.  In itself, finding two major places so closely together is unusual.  The unusual Baroque Flemish architecture found on the Grand Place is repeated on the Place des Heros.  The main difference, we noticed in the two places, is that the smaller place (Places des Heros) is rather alive with sidewalk cafes and other businesses as well as the Hotel de Ville and the Office of Tourism.  This place feels more uplifting and hopeful.

Place des Heros & Hotel de Ville - Arras, France
Place des Heros - Arras, France
Spring is Beautiful!
This past week we enjoyed another wonderful and beautiful week of Spring.   The weather was sunny and warm with just the right hint of coolness in the air.  Just as it seemed to be getting a bit too dry, we had refreshing Spring showers and short thunder storms.  The rains revived everything, enabling the world about us to remain green and lovely.  Flowers are still blooming, as evidenced below.  We too feel rejuvenated.
Spring Blossoms - Charleville-Mezieres, France
Coq of the Week.
As with most of the rest of this posting, our coq of the week also hails from Arras, France.  We found him atop the steeple of the Church Saint-Gery.  We enjoyed him as we do most coqs.  We need the reminder to remain faithful, obedient and diligent and our coqs do the trick for us.  We try harder.

Coq Girouette - Eglise Saint-Gery - Arras, France

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Senior Couples - France-Paris Mission - Paris France Temple
Senior Couples Conference - Paris
This past Tuesday and Wednesday we found ourselves at the Senior Couples Conference held in the Paris area.  The first session, held Tuesday afternoon, was at the Paris Temple.  Our Mission President Sorensen is placing more and more emphasis on incorporating the Temple into our normal missionary activities.  We have objectives to take each investigator to the Paris Temple before they are baptized and again, within 90 days after becoming members of The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-Day Saints, to perform baptisms for their own ancestors.  While we were there this past Tuesday, the young missionaries were very visible with their investigators.

The picture above portrays the feeling that we have an abundance of Senior Couples serving here in the France - Paris Mission.  However, those pictured above include those called to serve at the Temple Visitors Center, in Family History and other activities that are not directly involved with proselyting/MLS/YSA/etc.  We really do need Senior Couples in the Mission!  We enjoyed renewing our acquaintance with Elder and Sister Baty who we knew from our mission in Lyon.  The Batys are again involved with historical record preservation with their Family History Mission calling.

Eiffel Tower - Paris, France
The last session of our Conference was cultural.  After a failed attempt at a private guided tour of Notre Dame (failed to find our reservation), we ended up taking a Seine river cruise tour of Paris.  It was historically very interesting but challenging due to the crowd of somewhat rude and aggressive visitors from around the world.  Nonetheless, we did manage to take a photograph or two.  Above is a picture of the Eiffel Tower from the river boat.  It was a beautiful sunny day.

Beautiful Spring Bloom - Le Chesnay, France
With the few minutes we had between Conference Sessions we walked a little and visited Le Chesnay, the town where the Temple is located.  Above is a beautiful flower we found in one of the yards along our way.  Below are pictures that give you a feel for one of the neighborhoods were were able to visit.  Le Chesnay is certainly a more up-scale town and there are many larger and more expensive house than found in many of the cities and towns in France.  Of course, Le Chesnay is adjacent to Versailles.  It is, in most respects, a beautiful town……..more so now the Temple is located within it.
Le Chesnay, France
Le Chesnay, France
Coq of the Week
Not sure why this coq surprised us, but it did!  Perhaps it is because we had passed by him several times without recognizing that he was there.  It was during our river cruise tour of Paris that we noticed him high up on the Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris.  It was a bit difficult to get a good picture, but now we know he is there, we will try for a better one next time we find ourselves close by.

We were delighted to find him unique and very unusual.  What should one expect of a coq atop Notre Dame de Paris?   The spread of his wings, as if flapping, make him most unusual.  We have never seen one like this before.  Certainly, he is not intended to be in flight but more likely just startled or posturing.  He would never consider leaving his perch…….but we can see him offering a threatening squawk with a menacing wing gesture.  He, like each of his brothers, is diligent, constant and never faltering in duty.  Still our example!
Coq Girouette- Cathedral Notre Dame - Paris, France

Sunday, May 6, 2018

LDS Chapel - St Quentin, France
Latter-Day Saint Chapel
While we have visited St Quentin, France on a number of occasions to complete apartment inspections we had not visited the chapel of The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-Day Saints until this past week.  Tuesday was our District Meeting and it was held at the St Quentin chapel.  Finding an LDS chapel here in France always comes with  a surprise, as we do not have the standard buildings we find in Utah and other places in the United States.  So it was in St Quentin.  While the building is unusual in many ways it is very adequate for the needs of the Ward and it is as wonderful and nice as one would expect.

Perhaps our last District Meeting, as our time is growing short and traveling the three hours each direction to Amiens (the usual site of District Meetings) is not in the cards for us.  It was nice to meet with young missionaries again.

LDS Chapel - St Quentin, France
Spring is Beautiful
Just a couple of last reminders of how beautiful Spring really is!   We have very much enjoyed it this year and fear that it might not last as long as we would like.  Today is very warm - much like it would be in July or August; however, in a couple of days we have the promise of cooler weather and a return to some rainy skies.  Everything is green again in the Ardennes!

Delicate and Beautiful - Charleville-Mezieres, France
 The small villages in this part of France are even more interesting in Spring as they come alive again.  The one pictured below is a good example of what we find in the country side - rather typically Ardenne with its surrounding green fields.
The Village of Mondigny, France
Fete des Confreries
Each May the town of Charleville-Mezieres sponsors the annual Fete des Confreries and it was no exception this year.   A Confrerie is the equivalnce of a guild.   In my experience, we really do not have the equal of the confreries we find here.  Many of those participating in this annual event are from the Ardennes Region of France and Belgium but they do come from other places also.  There are guilds for many of the regional beers, specialty foods and what not.  Cheese, beer, wine, pastry, breads, soups, pig feet, hams, sausages, etc.

Fete des Confreries - Charleville-Mezieres, France
 While we shared some of the Fete des Confreries with you last year, we find it interesting enough to take a second go at it.  We hope the photos, above and below, help you understand some of the unusual nature of this festival.  Of course, tasting and eating the various products of the confreries is a major part of this festival which takes place on Place Ducal in downtown.

Fete des Confreries - Charleville-Mezieres, France
Music is a Part of the Fete also.
Animals Have a Role too.
Each Confrerie has its Costume and Medals of Honor
Men and Women are Represented in most Confreries.

Coq of the Week
This weeks Coq was found in Champigneul-Sur-Vence, a very small village within ten minutes of Charleville-Mezieres.  Regardless of the many coqs we have discovered, we constantly hope to find another around the next bend in the road - the more unusual the better.  Perhaps this one is not so unusual but, one must make place for the more ordinary also.  We appreciate that which the coqs have in common.

Coq Girouette- Eglise Saint-Martin - Champigneul-sur-Vence, Fracne

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Ami de l'Eglise/Investigator
For the first time since the young Elders were withdrawn from Charleville-Mezieres, September 2017, we have un ami de l'Eglise who is interested in learning of the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ.  This past week we began teaching Florent; a 33 year old young man from the Ivory Coast who is trying to obtain legal status here in France.  Florent is a very kind, believing and open person who has friends who have already become members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

We have discovered the greatest challenge in teaching the Gospel to our sisters and brothers of African descent is that of ensuring they have a real testimony of the restoration and all that it encompases.  This results from their willingness to accept and believe what they are taught.  It is at times difficult to know whether a testimony exists or whether they have just found a church they like. We are working to ensure Florent has a genuine and firm testimony of Jesus Christ and His Gospel restored to the earth.
Florent Fahe - Ami de l'Eglise - Charleville-Mezieres, France
Signs of Spring
We find the signs of Spring all around us just now and take this opportunity to share some of that which we are enjoying here in the Ardennes of France.  The farmers or cultivateurs are hard at work preparing and planting fields.  The rapeseed is already in full bloom and often provides a bright and colorful background for the nearby villages.  The variety of greens and browns is amazing…..sorry that it is so difficult to show it all in a single photograph.
Fields under Cultivation - Jonval, France

The villages, typified by their churches and stone buildings seem to show off even more interestingly in the Spring.  These two villages, visible as we travel through the countryside to visit the Dampt family, are good examples.
Village of Baalons, France
The bird pictured below is very much like the robins we enjoy in the United States.  Their size, habits and movements are identical to those of our robin.  These birds are currently busy building nests and preparing for offspring.   We are able to enjoy them from the windows of our apartment and our meeting hall.

More Spring Blooms
Sorry……..we are enjoying the Spring flowers and have more to share with you.  We hope you find them nearly as interesting as we do.  The variety and beauty of God's creation is simply amazing.  We haven't taken the time to discover what each flower is - - - we just enjoy what we see.

Wild Strawberry
Tulip Tree

We do know the apple blossom and have always enjoyed them.  We find them wonderful!
Apple Blossom - Le Chesney, France
Apple Blossom - Charleville-Mezieres, France
Apple Blossom - Le Chesney, France

Apple Blossom - Le Chesney, France

Lilac - Charleville-Mezieres, France
Coq of the Week
Since the young elders were withdrawn from Charleville-Mezieres, no one has known what to do with the couple Clark as far as Mission organization goes.  Finally we have ended up in the Amiens District and Lille Zone.  Amiens is a three hour drive from Charleville…….so District Meetings are not so easy to attend.

It is from Amiens that this weeks coq comes.  We found him atop the beautiful Cathedral Notre-Dame.  Cathedrals with their height pose a problem for coq girouette picture taking, but we did our best to get a reasonable photograph of this one.  He is perhaps a little more refined and in some ways more elegant than many………but what do you expect of a Cathedral coq?  Yet he maintains his poise and humility and watches carefully of the world below……always sure and dependable.
Coq Girouette - Cathedral Notre-Dame - Amiens, France