Sunday, July 16, 2017

La Famille Ihout - Visiting from Paris - Charleville-Mezieres, France
 Faithful Members

This morning on our way to church we were thinking that our usual small congregation would be even smaller.  The Biver family - three of our dozen active members - is on vacation and would not be attending and our Nigerian Sister Beauty had started work and would on occasion miss meetings.

However; we were blessed to welcome the Ihout family from the Paris area who were visiting Charleville-Meziers for the weekend.  The Ihouts were in Charleville to work on a family property that needed some care.  This morning when they woke up they had no specific plans for the day but, the young daughter asked if they should not be going to Church.  Thus they came.

The Ihouts had been here before but not for a couple of years.  The Dampts and others knew the Ihouts and warmly welcomed them.  We were grateful that they were comfortable in our Branch and that they would participate freely in the Sunday School discussion and offer prayers.  It was a blessing to have them with us - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints truly is a big family.

The Stork Family - Haudrecy, France
 Stork Update

This past week we again visited our Cigogne Family which lives nearby.  We had the feeling, after last weeks experience seeing the more aggressive young stork fly, that perhaps all the young storks might be flying by now.
Then There Were Three - Storks - Haudrecy, France
It took a while, but after some period of observation - with only the four young storks on the nest - things began to happen.  An adult stork circled and flew in low and landed in a field some distance from the nest.  After a couple of minutes, one could hear the beak clacking of the adult.  All this time the young storks attentively looked in the direction of the adult (whom we could not see).  After some fidgeting around, the more aggressive stork jumped and flew from the nest.  Then there were three.
Then There Were Two - Storks - Haudrecy, France
 After just a couple of minutes, the second young stork jumped and flew from the nest.  Then there were two.
Then There Was One - Storks - Haudrecy, France
Just a minute or two later the third of the young storks jumped and flew from the nest.  Then there was one.

And One Remaind All Alone - Storks - Haudrecy, France
The last of the young storks seemed more timid and a bit smaller than the other three.  It was obvious that she (we like to see this stork as the little sister) was very hesitant and fearful as she remained alone in the nest for a long time.  She stayed though the adult and siblings did their beak clacking thing from time to time to encourage her.

We began to discuss how she would not survive if she could not get up the courage to fly from the nest.  The adult stork was no longer bringing food to the nest.  It was obviously a difficult decision for her to make but eventually she too jumped and flew from the nest.  And then, there were none.

Then There Were None - Storks - Haudrecy, France
 With the nest empty all the young had flown from their nest and they began the processes of learning to feed themselves.  The adult stork lead them about as they searched for food in the field nearby.  We did not stay to watch them return to the nest but hope to yet experience that.

Today in Sacrament Meeting our theme was Kindness and as there was a few minutes left at the end of the meeting, we took the opportunity to introduce the Cigogne Family to our members.

We told them about a family we had met three months ago.  They are French, they live in Haudrecy, there are four young (about the same size and appearance) living with their parents. We visit this family regularly each week.  We have witnessed the great kindness they have for each other and they have greatly impressed us.  We asked; "are you acquainted with the Cigogne Family?"

One could see that nearly every member was very interested and anxious to know more about the family we had come to know - one that they did not.  It was not until we explained that this family lived in a nest and were learning to fly that they realized of what we were speaking.

We shared the kindness of this family that we had observed over the weeks.  First, a week ago when the first young stork flew, all of the young storks instantly congratulated their sibling upon his (surely it was a male who flew first) return to the nest - they put their heads together, raised their beaks in the air and clacked simultaneously.  We found that interesting and touching.

Second, this week before the four young storks flew, the bit smaller and more timid stork remained low in the nest while the other three actively preened in preparation for flight.  We began to notice that the three more active storks began to preen the smaller one - each taking a turn to do a bit of the work.  Storks preen before flying and it seemed that the three siblings were helping and encouraging the smaller sibling to fly.  They must have known that it would be hard for her to take the leap of faith and leave the nest.  They showed understanding and kindness towards their more timid sibling.  We like to believe that there was a great clacking of beaks as the last of the young storks landed and joined her family in the field.

The instinctive kindness of the storks is a great example to us!  We pray that we may be  more instinctive and ready to act with immediate kindness to those we encounter.  Kindness without qualification.  We believe that we came to this earth with such an instinct and that we learn, over time, to act otherwise.  We pray that the Spirit of Christ might enable us to take advantage of every opportunity for kindness.  We have much work to do to overcome our self-centeredness but hope to make progress.  May we each make Christlike kindness one of our virtues.  

Empty Nest - All Have Flown - Haudrecy, France
 Coq of the Week

Voila, this weeks coq.  Native to Manhuelles, France and dwelling atop the Eglise de l'Assomption de-la-Vierge.  What can we say - another coq, surely different with its own character.  Constant, reliable and faithful.
Coq Girouette - Eglise de l'Assomption de-la-Vierge - Manhuelles, France

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Verviers, Belgium
Verviers, Belgium Revisited

This past P-Day we took the opportunity to re-visit one of Elder Clark's cities of assignment during his first mission - the Mission Franco-Belge.   The city of Verviers was Elder Clark's third assignment where he served during the Spring/Summer of 1968.  We have a number of recollections of the time spent in Verviers, many are of difficult times.  

Verviers was a city where the missionary labor was challenging and produced few results.  The Branch was small and struggling but seemingly progressing as a local member was made Branch President while we were there.  There was a wonderful older English Sister who frequently invited the Elders to Sunday lunch which normally included a curried chicken.  We grew to greatly enjoy the flavor of curry and we continue to appreciate a good curried meal.  We found few friends of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and struggled to find those whom we could teach.   We were surprised to learn that a lady we had taught on several occasions joined the Church two or three months after we had departed.

Today there is no organized unit of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints functioning in Verviers and Verviers is now included in the Liege Ward.  Naturally, there are no missionaries currently serving in Verviers.

We found Verviers, at least the downtown area, rather depressing as it appears rather neglected and rundown.  There were plenty of people on the streets but they too tended to be a bit downtrodden.  The state of downtown Verviers today is the way we remember it from the late sixties - not vibrant nor attractive.  The main industry in Verviers had been wool and textiles - it appears that it no longer exists.

Still...... we appreciate the opportunity we had to revisit this city.  There are experiences, some very personal, that took place in Verviers that we will never forget and that have made a real impact on our life.
Verviers, Belgium
Stork Update

We have been observing the storks in Haudrecy, France since April and finally we have witnessed the young in flight.  In the photo below, one can see how the baby storks have grown into what seems adulthood.  They seem nearly as large as their parents......we think that there has been only one adult occupying itself with the nest for some time now.
Storks - Young Storks on Nest - Haudrecy, France
During our visit this past week we were able to observe one of the young actually leave the nest and take flight.  It was extremely rewarding and interesting to have been able to have this experience.  We were not prepared for the event however as our experience had been that the storks went through considerable preening before taking flight.  Perhaps the preening took place before we arrived.  There was a bit of wing stretching and testing by a couple of the young but not much else to suggest that flight was near.  Suddenly and without much warning one of the young storks jumped from the nest and off he went.  Below is a picture of him in flight.  He circled the nest several times; ascending and descending in altitude but never straying far from the nest.  He tried it all.....climbing, descending and gliding but seemingly with an eye that never left the nest.
Storks - Young Stork in Flight - Haudrecy, France
He appeared unready to test his ability to take flight from the ground as he carefully avoided descending below the height of the nest.  A short time after his return to the nest (pictured below), the adult stork returned with food and all the young immediately began eating.  Another confirmation that the young storks were likely not landing on the ground yet.  We expect the next thing these young storks must learn is to feed themselves.

We have no idea if more than the one young stork has taken flight or not.  We continue to be interesting in watching them progress and we plan to continue visiting the nest.  We will keep you updated.

Oh, we almost forgot to share the most fascinating thing of all concerning the flight of the young stork.  Upon his return to the nest, all four of the young storks raised their heads with beaks in the air and heads close together and began to clack their beaks.  The noise from the beak clacking was very audible and we rather think it was an equivalent of our clapping.  They seemed to be celebrating an important event.......what an impressive instinct!!  We were touched by their example..........too bad we humans don't have such an instinct.  How wonderful it would be if we instinctively celebrated each success and accomplishment that those around us achieve.
Storks - Young Landing on Nest - Haudrecy, France
Coq of the Week

During our trip to Verviers last week we found a couple of Belge coqs here and there.  We find they are very much like their French cousins........diligent, reliable and constant.  Below is our coq of the week found atop the Elise Saint Aubin in Gouvy, Belgium.  He has character......we find the eye a bit mean..... but who would not be when abused by the birds as he has been?
Coq Girouette - Eglise Saint Aubin - Gouvy, Belgium

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Stork - Mother Coxing - Haudrecy, France
Stork Update

We thought for sure that our baby storks would have been flying by now...... but, it appears not.  It has to happen very soon.  

As we observed the storks this past week, we notice that mother stork had stepped up her efforts to teach her babies to fly.  In the photo above, she is on a platform six or seven feet below her nest where she is trying to cox her babies our of the nest and into the air.  After resting and waiting for quite some time, she made an additional attempt.  

She flew to the ground below (photo below) and walked about, again trying to encourage her young to leave the nest.  After remaining on the ground for a period, always in plain view of her young, she flew about for short distances.  After of brief period of this activity she flew off some distance out of site.
Stork - Mother Pleading - Haudrecy, France
In spite of all her efforts, she did not get much more from her young than she did the week before.  Yet there was greater use of the wings by her young - just not flight.  Below are two of the young on the nest exercising their wings.  We suspect that the babies will take flight very soon.

One thing we are noticing, in close up photos of the young, is that their beaks and legs are beginning to turn more orangish like the adult.

It is interesting and educational to observe the storks and their ways of doing.
Storks - Baby Responding, Kind of - Haudrecy, France
A New Mission President

On July 1, 2017 the France Paris Mission received a new president as President and Sister Babin were released after serving three years.  While we are sad to see the Babins depart we are excited to restart under the direction of a new leader.

President and Sister Sorensen are very young and seemingly full of energy and enthusiasm for the work.  They held their first Zone Conference within 24 hours of arriving in France and that after spending some time contacting on the streets with young missionaries the same evening they arrived.

Pictured below, the Sorensens have wonderful smiles and love to share with all the missionaries.  It is clear that their leadership will bring new ideas and activities to our Mission.  We are grateful to have them here and we pray for their success.  By the way they have four young children with them.
President & Sister Sorensen - France Paris Mission - Paris, France
Our Zone (Paris Est) was the first to meet the Sorensens.  The picture below is of the Sorensens presiding over their second Zone Conference.  First Zone Conference was at 9:30 AM on Saturday, July 1st and the second was at Noon of the same day.  There were others scheduled to follow.  Our Zones consist of approximately 30 young missionaries - - the picture below does not depict that as we were sitting in a demi-circle. 

It is a wonderful blessing to have talented, faithful and devoted members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who are willing and capable of leaving main-stream life to devote three years to serving the Lord and His missionaries as Mission Presidents.  We are grateful and blessed to have the Sorensens here in France with us.
President & Sister Sorensen - 1st Zone Conference - Paris, France
Coq of the Week

The last transfer found a threesome of Sister Missionaries in Nancy, France.  As a consequence, it was necessary to purchase and deliver several items to the Sisters in Nancy.  We spent much of a day last week traveling to Nancy and back in order to make it comfortable for the three Sisters to serve.

In returning home, we passed through the town of Pont-a-Mousson, France where we stopped to get an apple and a bottle of water.  Of course there was a church close by and we took advantage of the opportunity to visit it and the Abbaye located close by.

What great fortune to find a coq atop the Abbaye Church tower.  We really appreciate this coq --- what a great tail he has!  While few coqs are identical, it is always pleasing to find one that is truly unique and obviously different.  It is the tail that sets this guy apart from the rest.

As unique as he is physically, he is much like all the others in his devotion, diligence and reliability.  We appreciate his example and hope to become more like him.  Hope you enjoy him nearly as much as we do
Coq Girouette - Eglise Sainte Marie Majeure - Pont-a-Mousson, France

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Storks - Ready to Fly - Haudrecy, France
Stork Update

For one reason or another we had not been able to visit our stork nest this past P-day and had begun to fear that our young storks may have already taken flight.  Finally, on Saturday morning early, we made our delayed visit.

As you can see from the photo above, it is getting more difficult each day to distinguish between the adults and the baby storks.  There are however differences; a) the young storks continue to have a darker (black) beak while the adult has an orange beak and b) there is considerably more pronounced feathering on the neck/chest of the adults.

It really is amazing to us how quickly the stork babies mature......the are huge in just a few weeks.  It is also interesting to observe the storks over an extended period (an hour or so).  It is extremely obvious that some of the young are more aggressive and adventuresome than others.  The young are also very adept at mimicking the adults.  The more adventuresome and aggressive seem to do so the most profoundly.

For example, one always has notice that the adult stork is going to fly from the nest soon.   It changes from simply standing looking bored to actively preening.   The preening continues for a good time but once the preening stops, you can be certain that flight is near, and just before taking off there is a glance or two over the edge of the nest.  The young do the same preening following the standing and walking around the nest period.

Saturday the young closely followed it's parent (not sure if male or female)......walking, standing and preening........and then.......yes, almost flight.  Below is a photo of the most aggressive and active of the young storks practicing flight.  He/she never left the nest but did some exciting hovering above the nest.  They leap up, flap and hover.   The adult flew to a man-made platform just several feet below the nest and waited.  The young stork immediately began his flight practice but never actually left the nest.  We fully expect that at least one of the young flew during this past weekend.  We are interested to see what we find when we return this coming week.
Storks - Practicing - Haudrecy, France
 Friends of the Church

During the months we have been here, many of the friends of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Charleville-Mezieres have been Nigerian refugees/immigrants in France.  The Nigerians are either Muslin or very Christian.  Many have extremely strong beliefs in Jesus Christ and they want to live his teachings.

Juilette, pictured below is one of our Nigerian friends.  She was brought to Church by Beauty Imhangby who has been a member for eighteen months or so.  Juliette is a young mother of a baby boy.  Sorry the photo we took does not do her justice.  She has a very pleasing personality and enjoyed letting us take care of her baby.

We always have hopes that our friends will be able to accept the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ but, even when they are Christian, it is often very difficult.  Since they are such devoted Christians, it is often a struggle to help them understand the need for authority.  Perhaps a little like born again Christians who feel accepting Jesus Christ is the essential.  From their viewpoint Christianity is the same regardless of where it is found.  Communications is also a barrier in teaching for while they consider themselves to speak English they really do not.   Neither French nor English is a strong language for them - they seem to get by with pigeon english.
Juilette - Amie of Beauty - Charleville-Mezieres, France
 Coq of the Week

Perhaps we are too occupied with storks to find new coqs.......though we love them.   Below is a photo of one we took some time ago and we hope that it has not been shared before.  This one was found atop the Church Saint Hubert in Viller-la-Loue, Belgium.  He has a lot going on on his chest and has a rather nice tail - we would have loved to have gotten him on a sunny day when the detail would have shown better in a photo.

We find many qualities in the coq, perhaps the reason he is one of the older symbols of France.  We aspire to follow his example in our devotion and faithfulness to our Savior Jesus Christ.  Steadfast and constant should we ever find ourselves in the Gospel.
Coq Girouette - Eglise Saint Hubert - Viller-la-Loue, Belgium

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Baby Storks - Getting Big - Haudrecy, France
Stork Update

The baby storks are not so small these days!   Wow, they grow quickly!  The storks pictured here are the same ones we have been following for a month or two - they are all the babies.  

When we arrived one of the adults was at the nest and the four babies were calm and fully in the nest with just there heads showing.  One of the four young, seeming to be more energetic than the other three, would come up out of the nest and rather mimic the adult - preening, walking around, etc.  After a little while the mother flew off and that is when things began to happen.

We had fully expected that the babies would stay down in a less obvious state as a means of safety, but no.  Before long all four young were up out of the nest and preening and walking around.  In seeing the size of these young storks it became obvious that few flying predators would bother with such large birds.   When along side an adult, it is clear that the young are a little smaller but not really that much.  It is amazing to us how quickly they have matured.  The only real difference we are seeing now is that the adults have an orange beak and the young continue to have the black or darker beak.  And yes, the adults are flying and the young are not as yet.

However; it seems that it will not be long before the young take their first flights.  Below you can see them testing their wings.   They will take off before long.  We hope to be there to see them fly.
Baby Storks - Preparation for Flight - Haudrecy, France
Branch Party/Fete

It was decided that we needed to celebrate the end of Institute for the year and the beginning of beautiful weather.  Thus, a party was planned and held on Wednesday night - substitute for our regular fellowshipping/FHE.   Every one pitched in; brought food, talents and games to play.  While we are not much for parties, we have to admit it was fun.

One of the things they, particularly the Nigerians, wanted to do was dance.   So Brother and Sister Biver, who participate regularly in a Folk Dance Group, were there to accommodate with instruction and practice.  Everyone had a good time dancing - as evident in the photo below.  We also had some very fun group games played.

We also used the party as a missionary tool and were pleased to have two friends of the Church there with us.  They were a little reluctant to join in the dancing and games at first, but in the end we believe they had more fun than the rest of us.
Branche Fete - Learning Folk Dance - Charleville-Mezieres Branch
Sharing of talents was also part of our celebration.   We were very fortunate that the Sister Missionaries, assigned to work in Reims, would come and join in.   Sister Erasmus is a good pianist and shared that talent with us.  She is pictured below with Brother Laurent Biver as she accompanies his bagpipe number on the piano.  Brother Biver is an excellent musician - extremely talented - and plays numerous instruments and has an excellent voice with perfect pitch.  Sister Reeves (Reims Sister) played a couple of numbers on the flute - we love flute music and she is excellent.

The talent portion of the celebration was a highlight for us!
Branche Fete - Entertainment - Charleville-Mezieres, France
Coq of the Week

Perhaps we will try to find this week's coq again some day - this picture is not great for a coq that is rather interesting.  Heavy overcast days do not make for great photos for our camera.

Anyway, this guy is atop the Church Saint Victor located in Vandy, France.    We are extremely confident that he will be waiting should we return on a brighter day to retake his photo.  As are all his brothers and cousins, he is a model of constance, reliability and diligence but with a bit of a flare.  Not sure if he looks a little wind-swept, ruffled by something or what, but he has a little character.  We pray to become more like him in our devotion to living Gospel principles and following the Savior.   May we all be so.
Coq Girouette - Eglise Saint Victor - Vandy, France

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Frère Christian Carpentier - Lille Stake High Council - Charleville-Mezieres, France
Stake Visitors

The small Branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at Charleville-Mezieres is a good three hours plus from our Stake Center in Lille, France.  As a consequence, our Stake visitors are few and far between.  However; Brother Christian Carpentier, our Stake High Council representative visits us nearly month.

Brother Carpentier became a member of the Church some nearly fifty years ago in Lyon, France.  As a consequence he knows all of the longer-term members that we were blessed to know when we served in Lyon.   Always amazing how small the world and Church is.   He is a very faithful member of the Church and always has a strong testimony to share with us when he comes.  He has had many experiences that reinforce his testimony and commitment to the Gospel.  We are ever grateful for his visits. 

From a selfish point of view, we appreciate his coming because it helps us with speakers in Sacrament Meeting.  It always seems a blessing to have him in the lineup of regular speakers.  Plus, he has an energy about him that lifts our members and provides encouragement.  Never before have we appreciated a High Councilor as much as we do Brother Carpentier.
Branch Meal - Tradition with Visitors - Charleville-Mezieres, France

There are a few traditions that exist in the Charleville-Mezieres Branch.  One such is to have a pot luck type meal after our Sacrament Meeting when we have Stake Visitors.  Everyone pitches in and brings something very delicious and we always have more than we can ever eat.  The young Elders especially appreciate this fact as they are frequently the recipients of many left-overs.

Above is a picture of the Branch meal today in honor of Brother Christian Carpentier's visit.  This tradition provides the means of making sure our visitors feel welcomed and appreciated and it also provides the very useful function of fellowshipping.   We had two investigators with us today and a Sister visiting from Paris, in addition to Brother Carpentier.

Our members very much enjoy this tradition and never murmur at the need to prepare something to contribute.  A very positive event for all!  We take our time, a la mode de France, and linger way to long.  Yep, we are still the ones (one) most anxious to leave first.  It is a pleasure to see the members mingle - they live so far apart that spending leisurely time together is a luxury.

Soeur Nadia Kemiche - Visitor from Paris Ward - Charleville-Mezieres, France
Member Visitors

It is not often enough that we enjoy the visits of members from other units in France or Belgium.  However; on occasion it does occur.  If they would give us a little more notice, all of them would have an opportunity to speak in Sacrament Meeting - darn it, most of the time we don't know much in advance.

Today we enjoyed the visit of Sister Nadia Kemiche from the Paris Ward.  Sister Kemiche has visited several times in years gone by but has not be in the Charleville-Mezieres Branch for several years now.  She has been a member for many years and was born in Charleville-Mezieres.  Her visits here are occasioned by visits to her parents who continue to live in our town.  Our older members know her well and were very grateful to see her again.

While she did not have the opportunity to speak in Sacrament Meeting, she was a very active participant in our Sunday School lesson and one could feel the strong testimony she has of the Gospel.  The simple act of her visit helped strengthen us all.  It is a wonderful blessing to have faithful members such as her visit our Branch.
Coq Girouette - Eglise Saint Martin - Givry-sur-Aisne, France
Coq of the Week

We are starting to feel like the coq as we prepare our weekly blog - constant and persistent in our sharing the coq with you.  At times we feel like not making the effort to find another coq in our photo archives - but no one must persevere.   Hopefully the example provided by the coq will rub off in more important aspects of our life.  There really is something to say about the coq and our ability to rely on him.  The coq never ever gives up!  He does what he agreed to do and you can go to the bank on him!  We are working to become more like the coq and pray you might be inspired to to likewise.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Rue des Arches - Charleville-Mezieres, France
La Meuse - Charleville-Mezieres, France
Charleville-Mezieres Revisited

Earlier this year when preparing the annual history for the Charleville-Mezieres Branche of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints we became interested in knowing the origins of missionary work in this part of France.  The existing Branche History provided scant details of the first baptisms, including that of Sister Paulette Dampt (2nd member) in July 1970 and that of Brother Michel Dampt (3rd member) in September 1970.  There was one older Sister, approximately eighty years old, presumably baptized in late 1969 as the first member in Charleville-Mezieres.  

These dates of first members joining the Church gave us cause to wonder when the first missionaries might have arrived in Charleville-Mezieres.  We began to consider if perhaps we had been involved to some degree.  During the Fall and Winter of 1969 Elder Clark was serving with Elder David Christensen as Zone Leaders in Charleroi, Belgium.  During that period of time we took Elders to  open two new cities.  Could one of these two cities have been Charleville-Mezieres?

After checking with local Church historians regarding the origins of missionary work in this area and having received no helpful information, we turned to the Church History Department in Salt Lake City and requested publications of the Franco-Belge Mission for the period of 1965 to 1975.  After waiting approximately three weeks, the requested files were made available to us in electronic form.

The first search of these files was not very productive - they were rather disorganized or random and some of the expected publications were missing.  However, we had the good fortune of being too ill to leave the apartment for a couple of days and were blessed with the time to make a second more thorough search.  While baptisms were usually published on a regular basis, the details were not always specific - meaning there were sometimes by city and sometimes by Mission Zone.  It appeared that the important dates to us fell into times where baptisms were reported by Zone and thus there was no mention of Charleville-Mezieres anywhere in the reporting of baptisms.

Being a bit frustrated but motivated to learn about missionary work in Charleville-Mezieres, we began to read the less obvious parts of the Mission publication.  Doing so, we feel upon a series of writing of missionaries wherein they were sharing there experiences opening new cities to the work.

Sure enough, among the others was one regarding the opening of the city of Charleville-Mezieres.  You can read the entirety of that writing below.  In short, Elders Massey and Armstrong were brought to Charleville-Mezieres on the 18th of October 1969.  Other information indicated that this newly opened town was a part of the Charleroi Zone.

It was indeed Elder Christensen and myself who had transported Elders Massey and Armstrong to Charleville-Mezieres in October of 1969.  Knowing this, helped clarify some of the remembrances we have of this experience - the hills, river and forests and the time required to travel from Charleroi to Charleville-Mezieres.  

How interesting it is to now be serving in a city that we had some part in opening as a young missionary.  
Excerpt - Missionnaire - Franco-Belge Mission

At the same time that we were at home sick and working through the records of the Franco-Belge Mission sent by the Church History Department, we received an email from a former Franco-Belge missionary who was planning a vacation trip to France and wanted to get in contact with Michel and Paulette Dampt. 

It turns our that this former missionary, Elder Weibell, arrived in the Franco-Belge mission for the first time in March of 1969, not long before Elder Clark returned home to the United States in December 1969.  While Elder Weibell was not one of the first two missionaries in Charleville-Mezieres, he did follow soon after and was involved in some way with the first three baptisms that occurred in Charleville-Mezieres.  He was one of the missionaries who taught and saw Sister Dampt to baptism and taught Brother Dampt but was transferred before he was baptized.
Paulette Dampt, Michel Dampt and Mark Weibell
Brother Weibell made his trip to France this past week.  He came with his wife, one of his daughters and one of his granddaughters.  They were able to spend some time with the Dampts who welcomed them in their home overnight.  Pictured above is the Dampts with "their Elder" and below is the entire Weibell group with the Dampts.

Sister Dampt, in particular, was extremely pleased and over-joyed to see and speak with Elder Weibell again.  Brother Weibell and the Dampts all participated in making our Fast and Testimony Meeting today just a bit more special by bearing their testimonies.

It was very nice to have visitors in our small Branch.  We did our best to convince the Weibells to come back to France as Senior Missionaries.
Mark Weibell and Family with the Dampts
When Sister Dampt first welcomed Elder Weibell into her home in 1970 she had been waiting for Catholic missionaries whom the priest had promised to send.  Sister Dampt had become frustrated teaching catechism to a group of children in her neighborhood and had gone to the priest asking for help.  The priest promised to send her two missionaries - at that time the Catholic Church has a type of missionary to help in such cases.  After waiting some three or so weeks for the promised missionaries, the Elders knocked on her door and she welcomed them right in, expecting that they were sent by the priest.  After teaching a couple of lessons, the Elders introduced living prophets and asked Sister Dampt if she believed in apostles and prophets.  She responded of course, she knew Peter was the apostle upon which the Church was built and that the Pope was the prophet today.  By the time she discovered that these were LDS missionaries and not Catholic, she already had received a witness that what they taught was true. 

Today she bore witness to the above as a blessing form Heavenly Father - she indicated that she would have never let the Elders in her home if she had known they were "Mormon" missionaries and not sent by the priest.  Miracles happen as the elect are gathered throughout the earth!

Our Storks are Growing - Haudrecy, France
Stork Update

What can we say?   The baby storks are growing very fast!  This week they were more visible in the nest and we discovered that the two nest we have been watching each contain four babies and not three.  We still hope to see them more completely - especially as they begin to fly.  We will keep you updated.

Coq of the Week

Here is our coq of the week.  Hope we have not shown him before - we need to inventory our coqs.  This guy was found atop the Church Saint Maurice in the village of Bar-les-Buzancy, France.  This one is just real solid and complete.   Always vigilant, faithful and diligent - may we be likewise.
Coq Girouette - Eglise Saint Maurice - Bar-les-Buzancy, France