Sunday, September 25, 2016

St Merri Ward Building - Paris, France

Street Entrance to St Merri LDS Chapel - Paris, France

Legality Trip to Paris - September 23, 2013

Legality is the term used by the Mission for the process of validating Visas for long-terms stays in France.  We made our trip from Charleville-Mezieres to Paris on Friday, September 23rd.  We began at 4AM and returned home at 10:15PM - A LONG DAY!  We are now legal to stay in France for a year.

The staging place for our group (3 young Sisters, 2 young Elders, the Christensen Couple and ourselves) to go to the Government Offices began at the  St Merri LDS Chapel in the heart of Paris.

Inside Courtyard of the LDS St Merri Chapel - Paris, France

LDS Chapel St Merri - Paris, France

We were expecting something different, but the St Merri Chapel is very French.  Should have known.  The congregation that meets here is on the large side for France.   This Church building fits the environment of touristic Paris and includes space for Institute, Genealogy Center and Young Adults.  It is just steps from the Pompidou Center and many historic Parisienne sites.

The Chapel - St Merri Ward - Paris, France

Meeting Place for St Merri Ward - Paris, France

This Chapel requires an overflow room to hold all the members of the St Merri Ward when they meet for Sacrament Meeting.  Very modest......but, after all, this is in the heart of Paris.  The Church continues to remodel and convert this building to a more functional space.

If you visit Paris and are staying in the historic downtown area, you will likely head out to this location on Sunday Morning.  It might be difficult to identify; look for the Visitor Center which is adjacent to the Chapel and much more visibly located on the street (not in a courtyard).  You will certainly feel the Spirit as you meet with the amazing French members of the Church.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Musee de l'Ardennes - Charleville-Mezieres

Jours de Patrimoine - Septembre 17 & 18, 2016

Each year in France there is a weekend where the Public Buildings are open to the public free of charge.  This usually includes the museums such as the Musee de l'Ardennes located in Charleville-Mezieres.  Charleville-Mezieres is home to the International Marionettes Institute and has a nice display of international marionettes in the Musee de l'Ardennes.  It did not take long to visit this museum - on the small side - but we enjoyed the marionette displays.  Just three minutes from our apartment.

Guignol Puppets from Lyon, France
Guignol Puppets from Lyon, France

It was interesting to find Guignol or Punch and Judy style puppets from Lyon, France on display in the Musee de l'Ardennes.  We were very familiar with these puppets from our days in Lyon.  Lyon claims to be the birth place of the Guignol puppets and there are a few museums and sellers of Guignol puppets there.  Guignol puppets have carved wooden heads and there continues to be a few artisans who hand make puppets in Lyon.

Rene and Clair Bourt - Charleville-Mezieres Branch
First Baptism in the Charleville Branch Since our Arrival

Rene Bourt was baptized on Saturday, September 17, 2016 in the Reims, France Chapel.  Rene has know the Church for many years, as his wife Claire is a long time member, but just recently decided to enter the waters of baptism.  He was very emotional during the small Baptismal Reunion which was attended by several members and missionaries.  He was confirmed a member of the Church and received the Gift of the Holy Ghost on Sunday, September 18, 2016 in the Charleville-Mezieres Branch meeting hall.

Rene is a very welcome gift to our small Branch.  He and those who attended his baptismal service traveled an hour to Reims.  The faith and commitment of the few members in Charleville is very amazing.  We consider every Baptism a Miracle!  It is very difficult to become and remain a faithful member of the Church in France.  We are extremely grateful for the strength of our members and for the wonderful testimonies they have of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Reims District - Numbers = Transfers Experienced
Transfer Week #1

September 10, 2016 was a day missionaries are notified of transfers.  The first since we arrived in the France-Parris mission.  We were fortunate that neither of our two fine Elders (Hein and Silva) were transferred this time. 
Our district is the Reims District which is comprised of the young Elders here in Charleville-Mezieres and a team of Sisters (Spencer and Tuahine) in Reims.  Of the four, only Sister Spencer was transferred this week. She has been assigned as a Sister Training Leader.

Brother Pierre Janda of the Arras, France Ward
 Lille Stake Conference - September 10-11 2016

Our first Stake Conference since arriving in the France-Paris mission took place this past weekend.  It was a wonderful meeting with Elder Bennasar of the Seventy presiding. Elder Bennasar was president of the Lyon, France Stake while we served in the France-Lyon Mission.  It was great to see and talk to him again.  He addressed various topics in his talks; encouraging us to seek power in our lives through righteous living and learning to love and serve each other.

We were able to renew friendships with a number of missionaries who had served in the Lyon Mission including; Elder Ganne, Elder Nevell, Elder Leterme and Elder Goutin. Elder Goutin and Elder Nevell are married and Elder Ganne is serving in the military.

It was a great joy to meet and speak with Pierre Janda.  We taught him and his wife in the Spring of 1969 and his wife Nicole was baptized on Easter Day 1969 in Charleroi, Belgium.  Pierre joined the Church a couple of months later and after we had transferred.  Jandas lived in Arras (Pierre and his new wife still do) and were the only consistently active members in the Arras Branch at the time we left Arras. Sister Janda had immense faith and did absolutely everything we asked of her. She had only known the Church for three weeks at the time of her baptism but had attended Sunday meetings three times.  We had long desired to meet the Jandas again some day; especially Nicole as she was truly a miracle in our lives.  Unfortunately Nicole died about nine years ago.  We loved seeing Pierre again! The Jandas had much to do with building the Kingdom in Arras and France as the largest Ward in the Lille Stake has been built upon the foundations of the faith and work of the Jandas.

Place Rihour with Monument to Citizens of Lille - Lille

La Poste, Chamber of Commerce and Opera du Nord - Lille
 Lille France - September 2016

It was nice to visit Lille again after nearly fifty years.  Lille was Elder Clark's first city as a young missionary and he served here from July to December 1967.  Lille has very much changed and Elder Clark did not recognize the streets, buildings and monuments that he had to have frequented during his service in Lille.  He has some definite general feelings and remembrances of Lille but none happen to be the sights and sounds of a city that now exceeds one million inhabitants.  We think Elder Clark has perhaps changed more than Lille has - just a bad memory.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Strasbourg, France - Elder Clark's 2nd City in 1967-8
 First Time Since 1969

Our first trip for conducting young missionary apartment inspections took us to Strasbourg, France.  As a young missionary, Elder Clark lived in an apartment on Rue de l'Arc en Ciel. He recognized it upon arrival but could not recognize the specific building.  The first time since 1969 that we have been able to walk where Elder Clark walked as a young missionary.  It was a wonderful experience!  

Elder Clark served in Strasbourg during the Winter and Spring of 1967-8.  There are currently four young Elders serving in Strasbourg.

Rue de l'arc en ciel - 3 September, 2016
 Time Brings Change

Although time changes many things, some remain constant.  Like ours, the soul of a place remains even though outward appearances show that time has moved on.  In many ways Strasbourg is as it was in 1967-8, yet it seems to have progressed.....or perhaps digressed over the years.

It was a wonderful thing to experience the sites, sounds and scents of a place one frequented many years ago.  Many great memories were made in Strasbourg almost 50 years ago.

We hope to return one day to attend meetings and meet the members - perhaps there may be one or two who were there 50 years ago.

The German Influence and Cathedral of Strasbourg, France
German Influence

The German influence is very apparent in Strasbourg, as seen in the architecture found in "centre ville" - the oldest part of the city.  The German influence is also evident in the Alsacien language or dialect.  Located in the Alsace Region of France bordering the Rhine River, Strasbourg was at times French and at times German.  It is said that the local language was developed in order to confuse the French and the Germans.

They say the first pharmacy in France was located in Strasbourg but when and because it was a part of Germany.  We also noted that Street signs are now in French and German - likely due to Frances inclusion in the European Union. Sauerkraut continues to be a traditional meal served in many restaurants in Strasbourg.

Elder Clark recalls eating sauerkraut with Sister Schneider and her children during the Winter of 1967-8; for which he is ever grateful.  Sister Schneider continues to live in Strasbourg but is not active in the Church.  We served with her grandson Charles Schneider in the France-Lyon Mission.  His father was one of the children Elder Clark remembers so well.  The world of the Church is very small!