|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 - Former Lyon France Mission|
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|
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|
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|