Monday, December 26, 2016

Stained Glass Nativity - Cathedral Saint-Etienne, Limoges, France
Stained Glass Nativities

Here you have it.....the last of the stained glass nativities for this year.  We regret that we did not get this done on Christmas day, but that is the way things went this year.

We were happy to host our Nigerian members and the young Elders for Christmas dinner and fun this year.  Though it was a bit challenging, we feel blessed to have enjoyed their company and to have been the ones to have served those who also found themselves far from home.

Dinner followed a beautiful Christmas Program with the other members of our small Branch at the Meeting Hall.    We used the recital of the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ that our children have had to listen to for the past thirty years before opening gifts on Christmas morning.  Of course, it ends with the Wise Men offering their gifts.........thus, we too give gifts.  We included many of our beautiful Christmas Hymns in the program.   We enjoyed the Spirit of Christ during the hour we were together!

Stained Glass Nativity - Basilique Notre Dame de Dole, Dole, France
The three nativities pictured here are among those that were taken during the two years we spent in the France Lyon Mission.  We continue to seek out the nativities in the churches in our area but we do not have all the grand churches here as were found in and around Lyon.  We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.
Stained Glass Nativity - Basilique Notre Damed du Pont - Clermont-Ferrand, France
Paris France Temple

We spent the week before Christmas in the Paris/Versailles area attending and helping with the three Christmas Zone Conferences that took place at the Versailles, France Chapel.  It was an extremely busy week as we prepared and served meals for the 200 plus missionaries of the France Paris Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  It was a difficult period to be away from our small Branch in Charleville-Meziers and we had to scramble to recover after our return home.

The opportunity to visit the site of the Paris Temple, which will open in May 2017, was one of the highlights of our stay in Versailles.  We had to pass the Temple each morning on our way to the Versailles Chapel and, as you see in the photos we took, it was still dark.  The darkness allowed us to enjoy the beautiful stained glass windows of the Temple from the exterior.

While the stained glass windows of the Paris Temple may be more simple than those of the grand Catholic Churchs we are accustomed to seeing, we found them extremely beautiful and more inspiring.  They certainly convey a different of calm and peace among other things.

It is with great excitement and reverence that the members of the Church in France await the opening of the Paris Temple.  It is impossible to describe the extent to which this Temple will bless the lives of the Saints in France.  They have long waited a Temple of their own in which to covenant with the Lord.   While the Church has had a presence here in France since just after the organization of the Church in 1830, it has been a long difficult struggle to arrive at this point.

It will be a wonderful blessing for us to attend the Paris Temple on a regular basis with the faithful members of our Branch.  It will be a most beautiful Temple!

Stained Glass - LDS Temple de Paris - Versaille (Les Chesnay), France

LDS Temple - Facing Street - Versaille(Les Chesnay), France

Stained Glass - LDS Temple - Versailles (Les Chesnay), France
The Paris Temple is still under construction; thus, our photos were taken through construction fences.  What a beautiful edifice in a beautiful location!  It is much more beautiful than the Palace of Versailles which is located close by.  Simple elegance is more appropriate for the House of the Lord!
LDS Temple - Street Facing - Versailles (Les Chesnay), France

Pere Noel

The lady who delivers our mail is very much into the holidays.  We missed getting a picture of her during Halloween but we caught her here just a couple of days before Christmas.  She even decorates her electrified bike.  One of the many reminders we enjoyed of the Christmas Season.
Our Mail Lady - Charleville-Mezieres, France
Christmas Zone Conferences

Pictured below are the Zones of the Paris Mission that attended the first of our three Christmas Zone Conferences which took place the 20-22nd of December.  We enjoyed a spiritual meeting and tasty meal with the Mission President.  The young missionaries were full of energy and excited to visit with each other during these special events.
Christmas Conference (multi-Zone) - Versailles Chapel - Versailles, France

Christmas Conf (multi-Zone) Dinner - Versailles Chapel - Versailles, France
Coq of the Week

Our Coq of the week was located in the small village of La Horgne, France atop the local church.  Like all the others, he too is unique.  More unique is the fact that he was low enough to attempt hiding in the trees.  Not many coqs like being in the trees but we find that he is all the more special because of them.
Girouette Coq - Eglise - La Horgne, France

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Nativity Stained Glass - Cathedral Saint Jean - Besancon, France
Spirit of Christmas - Nativities

Just a week before Christmas as we strive to enjoy and appreciate the Spirit of Christ this Season of the year.  We love nativities and are missing the many that usually decorate our home, wherever that may have been.  For us, the nativity of our Savior Jesus Christ has been an important part of our efforts to draw closer to Him this time of the year.

We hope you enjoy the stained glass nativities we have included above and below.  Not something that we were accustomed to seeing at home in the United States.  We think they are beautiful and we are grateful to have them at this Season of the Year.  None of the ones here were taken since we arrive
in the Paris France Mission, but rather come from our days in the Lyon France Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Nativity Stained Glass - Eglise Saint Blaise - Vichy, France
We have been striving to follow the counsel given in the Church program "Light the World"/"Eclairez le Monde".  We go to the computer each day to preview the suggestions for how we can be a Light Unto the World and as we do our Nativity screen saver prepares us as we look for what we can do to become more like the Savior.  This has been an enjoyable and spiritual experience for us as we put into action some small endeavor that might bless another and ourselves.   This has been a blessing in our lives and we encourage you to join us in being a Light to the World - there are still eight days remaining before Christmas.  Go to the or site and begin enjoying the blessings of the Spirit of Christ.  Of course, we know many of you have been doing as we have.

Nativity Stained Glass - Chapelle Paul Couturie - Lyon, France
Wise Men and Shepherds

The magi who came from the Orient were wise enough to be humble.  Their humility enabled them to find the Savior of the World.

The Shepherds near Bethlehem were humble enough to be wise.  Their wisdom enabled them to seek the Redeemer of mankind.

The true wisdom of the shepherds and the magi is found in their desire to seek out the newborn child Jesus Christ.  These two groups represent the fact that Christ truly is the Savior of all the world and that all, no matter their status in life, must seek the Savior for themselves.

The shepherds were poor, unlearned and humble people; thus the angels visited them to help them understand the importance of the birth of the baby Jesus.  Once they understood they went with haste to find the Christ child.

The magi were educated, intelligent and prosperous men who learned of the birth of the Savior through prophecy and revelation.  Once they saw the Star they began a long and difficult journey to find the babe Jesus Christ.

While there is no record of a class of people falling between the humble shepherds and the wise men of the East visiting the Christ child at or near his birth, the extremes in class suggest that all men must seek out the Savior for themselves.  We must, each of us, be humble and wise enough to seek the Savior.
Nativity Stained Glass - Eglise Sainte Blandine - Lyon, France

Coq of the Week

This week we found our special coq/rooster at the top of a church in Le Mesnil, Belgium.  Like all the others we found him interesting and yet he is unique.  We discovered him while helping our single sister Kate Schuiling move from one village in Belgium to another.  Sister Schuiling does not enjoy the coq girouettes as much as we do but we still love her.  Sister Schuiling is doing well as she recovers from her foot operation.
Coq Girouette - Eglise - Le Mesnil, Belgium

Goutee de Noel

This past Saturday, the 17th, our Branch held its annual Goutee de Noel.  (Sorry...we haven't taken time to learn how to put all the accents on the french words....those who know french will know where they go and how to pronounce the words....the rest of you....??)  A goutee is a meal/snack that takes place between lunch and dinner; thus, we held ours at 4PM.  Of course, there were tons of goodies to eat.  Everyone had a wonderful time but we were missing several of our faithful members who had fallen ill with one sickness or another.  Colds and the flu seem to be a bit on the rampage these days.
Goutee de Noel - Charleville-Mezieres Branche, France
While the number in attendance was not great, we did have a wonderful time and we were able to make some new friendships and renew others.

Faithful Members

Emeric Biver is a 30 year old former member of our Branch.  He left our area about a month after we arrived here in Charleville to pursue work in Bordeaux, France.  He is back for the holidays and contributed to the joy of our gathering.  He spoke in Sacrament meeting today, in spite of being sick with a cold.

Emeric has been a member of the Church all his life.  Is the oldest child of Isabelle and Laurent Biver of our Branch.  He served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Ladder-Day Saints in England.  He is very educated and attended Oxford University.  He has a degree in laser technologies but is pursuing a Doctorate degree in Psychology.

It was a great loss to our Branch when he left for Bordeaux!  I was wonderful to see him again and to have him speak in our Sacrament meeting.

Emeric Biver - Charleville-Mezieres Branch - C-M, France

Amies de l'Eglise - Investigators

We also had the pleasure of meeting two women the Young Elders began teaching about a week ago.  Madame Quinet and her daughter came to our Goutee de Noel.   They are both very kind and sweet ladies.  So far it is Madame Quinet who has the greatest interest in learning of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  We will go with the Elders to teach them a discussion this evening.   It is always a great blessing to teach with our hard working Elders.

I hope to learn a great deal more about these women tonight and in the weeks to come.  Sorry I don't have a great deal I can say at present.  The Elders have very high hopes that Madame Quinet will come unto Christ and be blessed by the Restored Gospel, as do we.  Of course, we know the challenges that lie ahead and pray that they are not too great.
Madame Quinet - Amie de l'Eglise - Charleville-Mezieres, France

M. Quinet's Daughter - Amie de l'Eglise - Charleville-Mezieres, France

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Nativity Stained Glass - Notre Dame de Paris - Paris, Fr

Nativity Stained Glass

The Nativity Stained Glass from the Cathedral Notre Dame in Paris is somewhat special to us because we saw it for the first time when our Daughter Elicia came to France as we were on our way home from the Lyon Mission.  The picture above was taken in June 2015.

We hope that the various Nativity scenes that you encounter this season of the year will cause you to reflect upon the birth and life of our Savior Jesus Christ.  The Nativity has always had special significance for us during the Christmas season.  We pray that you might have the Spirit of Christ with you now and always.  We know that Jesus Christ is the son of God and that He is our Savior and Redeemer.  We are extremely grateful for Him.

Coq Girouette - Church at Neufmanil, France

Coq of the Week

The above Rooster is our coq of the week and was found atop the church in the village of Neufmanil, France.  We noticed him as we visited one of our faithful members, Karine Dapremont, at her home in Neufmanil.   This guy is just beginning to understand the challenges of being an ever vigilant Coq.  It is not an easy job most of the time!  It is never ending work and at times rather dirty and disgusting.  

Like the more experienced coq in the picture below, we too need to learn to put up with all the stuff others might dish out.  This coq takes it all day long and never is heard to complain, but it does appear to wear on him a bit.  Maybe would should think of this coq before we "dump" on others.

Many of the coqs have numerous holes in them.  This guy from the village of Givet, France has one or two.... I will find a better example to share in the future.  There is hardly a coq that has been around for awhile that has not taken a few pot shots.  Kind of like us......but they just stand their ground and take it all.  Good examples for us, these coqs!  

May we stand as firm and vigilant in our faith and determination to follow the Savior as this coq stands in his place.  Then, we will get through it all no matter what comes our way.
Coq Girouette - Eglise Notre Dame - Givet, France

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Saint Nicolas with his Donkey - Charleville-Mezieres
Signs of the Christmas Season

There are beginning to be signs of Christmas everywhere.  Saturday we found Saint Nicolas with his donkey in the streets near our apartment.  He was passing out little gifts and posing for pictures with children young and old.  It was rather cute and we had not seen Saint Nick with his donkey before so we took a picture or two.  The actual day for Saint Nicolas to visit the children is December 6th.  It used to be on December 6th that most of the gifts were given to the children; however, today we believe it is more like what we do in the United States - December 25th is the big day.

We have been seeing large colonies of mistletoe since late Autumn after the leaves have fallen from the trees.  Mistletoe is a hemiparasitic plant in the order of Santalales and is rather common in this part of France.  For us, it was one of our first reminders that Christmas and the New Years will soon be upon us.  The plants seem to be mature now and are currently bearing their white waxy berries.  We are itching to harvest a specimen to use during the holidays.

The colony of mistletoe pictured below is located on our usual morning exercise walking path right along the Meuse River in Charleville-Meziers.  If this colony continues to spread it will eventually kill the trees.
Mistletoe Colony - Charleville-Mezieres
Another reminder of the Christmas Season was the Young Adult event of the Pieu de Lille (Lille Stake) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  This holiday event, which was held here in Charleville on Saturday and Sunday the 3rd and 4th of December, brought the young people of the Church in Northern France together for a day of celebration.  Saturday was spent at the Christmas Market in town, ice skating at Place Ducale, enjoying Christmas lights and fireworks just after dark.

Pictured below is part of the group our small Branch hosted.  They ended Saturday with a meal and an evening of games and videos.  We had four of the young women in our apartment overnight as our members shared in lodging the group.  Haven't had that much excitement here in Charleville-Mezieres for quite some time!
Young Adults - Lille, France Stake
Old Friends from the Lyon Mission

Amongst the group of Young Adults who celebrated the Christmas Season here in Charleville were two Elders we knew while in the Lyon France Mission.  Both happen to be from the Branch of Arras, France.

Elder Leterme is still single and working on his education.  He still speaks pretty fair English and brings energy to the Young Adult program.  It was nice to see him again.
Elder Leterme - Former Lyon France Missionary
 Elder Ganne remains single and is serving in the French military.  He is as enthusiastic as ever!  He always seems to have a good time and is enjoyed by most everyone.  It was good to see him again.
Elder Ganne - Former Lyon France Mission
Faithful Members

Clara Biver, pictured below, is the youngest child of Laurent and Isabelle Biver of the Charleville-Mezieres Branch.  Clara is twenty two years old and serves as our only Primary Worker and has responsibility for producing our weekly Sacrement Meeting bulletin.  She has been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints her entire life and is currently preparing for a mission.

Sister Clara is one of the two young people enrolled in the French Institute class.  We also teach an English Institute Class which currently has three attending on a regular basis.  It is interesting to note that Clara is engaged to be married - not too uncommon here in France that the young people enter into engagement before serving a mission.  I don't believe we shall be adopting that practice any time soon in the United States - there would simply be too many failed engagements.  Somehow it often turns out as planned here in France.
Sister Clara Biver - Charleville-Mezieres Branch
 Coq of the Week

First, a revisit to a coq previously introduced.  This time we caught him in full sunlight early one morning on a clear and cold day.  In his first appearance we could not see that he was golden nor that his comb and trailing star were red. We had never guessed that he was so bold and it was only by chance that we decided to focus the camera on him again.  Yes, this is our "Star Coq" dressed for Christmas!
Star Coq in Full Sunlight - Eglise - village of Moncy Notre Dame
Now for the coq of the week.  Found atop the church in the village of Gespunsart, France; we think he is a cousin to our "star coq" for he too is golden and has a trailing star.  Unlike the star coq, there seems to be no red comb or red trailing star.  We still found him beautiful, and as we never pass up a coq, we took his picture.  We are not sure that we have ever seen the same coq on more than one church/eglise - they all seem to be unique in some way.
Cousin to the "Star Coq" - Eglise - village of Gespunsart, France
 Stained Glass Nativity

Though stained glass is not our current photographic passion, we always look for a nativity when visiting the churches in and around Charleville-Mezieres.  While these nativity scenes depict the birth of the Savior a little differently than we might, they are still wonderful reminders of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  We found this window in a small church in the very small village of Les Hautes Buttes, France.  Having animals is always a plus for us.  We pray that the scene below might help you feel the true Spirit of Christmas.
Nativity Stained Glass - Eglise - Les Hautes Buttes, France