Sunday, October 15, 2017

Temple Sealing of Friends from Lyon

While in Lyon from 2013-15 we had the opportunity to make new friends with the members, fellow missionaries and friends of the Church we met during our service as missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We have cherished those friendships and hope to always.

One family that we became rather attached to was the Crocq family.  Our bishop asked us to take them under our wing and see what help we could be to them.  We visited them weekly and did what we could for this couple and their three young boys.  While we were of some help we were able to do little to solve the real problem and the couple ended up in divorce not long after our departure.  The positive result from our effort is the friendships we made in the process.  We love them all; brother, sister and their children.

While at the Paris Temple Open House a few months ago we encountered Sister Capucine Crocq and her new husband (Patrick Vieillard) who are now members of the Toulouse, France Ward.  That was a sweet experience for us.

A few weeks ago Sister Capucine texted and asked if we would attend the sealing of herself to Patrick in the Paris Temple on October 11, 2017.  We were excited to accept her invitation and were further blessed with the possibility of delaying our Branch's monthly temple excursion one week so that it would coincide with the sealing.
Capucine & Patrick Vieillard - Temple Sealing - Paris France Temple
It was a privilege for us to participate in the Vieillard's sealing and be reminded of the importance of our own sealing in the Oakland, California Temple many years ago.  What a blessing it is to have the Priesthood of God restored to the earth that Saving Ordinances can be performed and bound in Heaven as well as here upon earth!  The restored Gospel as found only in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints provides us the opportunity to return to live with Heavenly Father as family units for Eternity!  That truly is something!!

After the sealing we understood even more the importance of being there.  Not just the reminder of important ordinances and opportunities but to be a support to and witness of an important event in the life of a Sister we love.  The picture below is the entire company of those attending the sealing - Patrick's brother and sister and ourselves.  It was important that we be there and we are grateful we were!  There are times when we must just ask ourselves; if not us, who?
Vieillard Sealing - October 11, 2017 - Paris France Temple
Visitors Always Welcome

It is always a great pleasure to have visitors in our small Charleville-Mezieres Branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  When we have a visitor or two we see our ranks swell and clearly feel the spiritual strength they add.  A few weeks ago Adeline Bouillon, a daughter of Paulette and Michel Dampt (Branch members) was again welcomed as a visitor and on the same Sunday we were pleased to have Melina Warden with us.  

Adeline we have introduced before - she is the Relief Society President in her Ward in Chambery, France.  Melina, a BYU student, was passing through Charleville-Mezieres on her way to Syria where she planned to study Arabic.  We are grateful that members of the Church, who find themselves away from home and in our city, chose to attend Sabbath Day meetings for they strengthen us greatly.
Adeline Bouillon and Melina Warden - Visitors - Charleville-Mezieres Branch

Coq of the Week

There are an extremely large variety of coqs to be found throughout this part of France.  Yet, at the same time there are one or two that seem to be replicated with some frequency.  We find ourselves much less interested in those that are more commonly found.  Sometime we have to force ourselves to take their photograph - and then we do it just to document the find.  Isn't it wonderful to know people who are different from us?  They make life more interesting, exciting and rewarding.

We are thrilled when we run across the very unusual.  After saying that, the coqs we have for this week are somewhere in between the common and the thrilling.   Yet these two are also unique and have a personality of their own.  The first is unusual mostly in the tail and was found atop the Eglise de la Sainte-Trinite in Regniowez, Belgium.
Coq Girouette - Eglise de la Sainte-Trinite - Regniowez, Belgium
The second, while in a style of some of the more common coqs - meaning seemingly molded - is still unique in his own way.  A little interest par tout; the tail high and more detailed, the body with defined wings and the head.  We leave you to define his physical personality.  He stands atop the steeple of the Eglise Saint-Thibault in Neuville-Day, France.

While physical appearances and personalities of our coqs vary greatly, their significance does not.  We appreciate what has become a symbol of patience, constance, dependability and faithfulness.  We hope to retain the coq as a reminder of how we should live our lives - long after our departure from France.  We hope the coq will serve to help us find the motivation we need to closely follow the Savior.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Charleville-Mezieres Says Good-bye

Tragedy struck Charleville-Mezieres!   Yes, our young missionaries were withdrawn from our small Branch that had become rather unresponsive to the missionary effort.  As our Mission President Sorensen explained, he has a responsibility to use his resources wisely as he fulfills his responsibility to build the Kingdom.

Missionary resources are truly more scarce in France these days - the number of young missionaries sent to France continues to decline and Senior Couples are few and far between.  We were not the only small branch to lose the young missionaries, but it still hurts.  We are down to five Senior Couples in the entire France Paris Mission now - two are in the Mission office.
Elders Hunter & Crane - leaving Charleville-Mezieres, France
Elders Hunter and Crane caught the 7:10AM train for Paris on Wednesday the 27th of September, 2017.  We certainly miss them as we find ourselves a little more isolated from things and people American and as we no longer have benefit of their good work.  It was always comforting to know there were two kind and service oriented young me we could turn to should we ever need help.  Also comforting and most helpful with the administration of the Branch as they took care of the Sacrament each Sunday, visited and taught members and spoke in meeting often.  We love the young missionaries, especially those we have come to know so well.  We miss them!

Elders Hunter & Crane - leaving Charleville-Mezieres, France
We find it interesting that in September of 1969; while serving as Zone Leader in Charleroi, Belgium, we helped load missionaries and their belongings into a VW bus and transported them to open Charleville-Mezieres to missionary work for the first time.  Then, in September of 2017, we loaded missionaries and their luggage into our car to transport them to the railway station as we closed Charleville-Mezieres to full-time missionary proselyting for the foreseeable future.  

Our members are very concerned that the next step will be to close Charleville-Mezieres as a unit of the Church when Sister Clark and I leave in nine months.  We are not sure how founded their concerns are but the reality is that the possibility exists.  This has been a bit of a distraction for our few faithful members.  In any case we will be saddened to leave when we do.

Premiere Event of the City of Charleville-Mezieres

One of the more remarkable aspects of the small city of Charleville-Mezieres is found in the prolific schedule of events the city undertakes for it's citizens.  We have shared some in the past and others include the Beer Festival, Soup Festival, Saint Nicolas, Marche de Noel, Nuit Blanche, etc.  There is always an event taking place here in town, but the premiere event of all only takes place every other or every third year  -  that is the Festival Mondial des Marionettes.  Charleville-Mezieres is the self proclaimed (perhaps otherwise proclaimed also) world capital of Marionette Theater.  We have a giant marionette and theater, we have a marionnette institute/school, we have the only building especially constructed for marionnette performances and a museum full of marionettes.  Charleville-Mezieres is the world capital of marionette theater and to prove it we hold the Festival Mondial des Marionettes.

We have to is a big deal!!!  For a full week the city is full of foreigners - some here to perform their marionette shows and others to see them.  The streets and places in the central part of town become extremely crowded with street performers and on-lookers.  In addition there are many in-building performances - many for free but still requiring a ticket in order to control the crowd and other more spectacular events for which one must pay and entry fee.

Publicity - Festival Mondial des Theatres de Marionnettes

One is able to see just about anything marionette in the streets.  Some are interesting and some not so much so.  Performers come from all over Europe, South America, Asia and we even encountered a group from Vermont in the United States.  By the way, the show from the United States was not one of the better ones we saw - in fact, in our opinion it was in effect a protestation against many of the great problems people find in the world today - climate issues, war, crime, etc.   It was just out of place and not that well done nor fitting.
Argentine Performer - using a Human as Marionette
One of the acts we found rather entertaining was a gal from Argentina who uses a variety of marionette media.  Above she is using a man from the audience as her marionette and below she is using a large doll-like prop.  She was extremely funny, especially for Sister Clark......perhaps her use of some English and American music did the trick.
Argentine Performer - using Doll-like Prop as Marionette
There were several acts in the street where the marionettes were playing instruments and/or singing musical numbers.  Below is a picture of a man and women manipulating a marionette pianist and vocalist.  The detail of their stage and props were outstanding.
Street Performers - Pianist & Vocalist Marionettes
Many of the street performances were very appropriate for younger children and these seemed to draw large crowds.  It was fun to see large numbers of young kids seated on the ground interacting with the marionettes.  Below is a picture of a marionette cat as it plays with the kids.  It was uplifting to see the wholesome nature of some of the performances and to see how much the children enjoyed them.  Many large numbers of children on school field trips came to performances throughout the week.
Marionette Cat interacting with Children
There were several performances on the spooky or dark side.  Most of these we found less entertaining.  Below is Eduard rising from his grave.  A little morbid at times but still drawing large crowds.
Eduard the Marionette Rising from his Grave
We caught an interesting Spanish (the puppeteer) man performing near the Charleville Theater.  Interesting what they can get these marionettes to do - even the Elvis moves.  This marionette (below) was an Entertainer who sang and danced on his make-shift stage.
Spanish Performer - The Entertainer
Below is a picture of a man and wife show (only the man for the instant) interacting with the young children.  The kids wanted to get a little more hands on sometimes than the puppeteers would have preferred; however, they handled those occasions skillfully.  One has to think that on a day in and day out basis some of these performances depend heavily on the interest of children.  We enjoyed these performances as well as any we saw.
Man and Wife Marionette Act Entertaining Children
Near the post office we found a marionette that intrigued us.  We first saw this cat between acts and at rest.  It was the great number of strings and joints to be manipulated that first caught our attention.  We went back later to watch a performance - pictured below.   This cat was extremely life-like in its movements and behaviors.  While we found it all interesting, we had difficulty sticking with an act to its end - once we had ten minutes to appreciate the skill of the performer we found it rather repetitive and moved on in search of another.
Marionette Cat - Very Life-like
Below is one of the first performances we saw......a marionette playing base.  The marionnettiste was extremely skilled in manipulating the marionette to the tune of classical music.  Enjoyable!

All of the street performers depended on the generosity of the crowd - hats were passed into which many coins were tossed.  The performances were generally worth paying for.
Marionette Playing Base
Below is one we never figured out because it was a night performance we never saw.  Still, an intriguing part of the festival - certainly must have been interesting?  We watched as it took several days to put this head up - heavy still structure underneath which then had to be skinned and painted.
Festival Mondial des Theatres de Marionnettes???
And yes, the vendors of everything marionette were out in force and a part of the festivities.  For the most part, the vendors reminded us of a troop of gypsies.  There were some very interesting things for sale all the same.  Yes, we broke down and got some simple marionettes for the grandchildren.
Vendors were Included in the Festival Mondial des Theatres de Marionnettes
Maubeuge, France Revisited

A few weeks ago, as a diversion on a trip to Stake Meetings in Lille, we took the opportunity to visit another of the cities in which Elder Clark worked as a young missionary.  This time it was Maubeuge, France where we spent time in the Spring and Summer of 1969.

Maubeuge was nearly completely burnt to the ground in 1944 as the Germany armies of World War II retreated back into Germany.  Evidence of a re-built city is found in the picture below where the architecture is much more modern but less interesting than most French cities.  Maubeuge is another small French city that seemingly has fallen on hard times and appears somewhat neglected and less than prosperous.

While the Branch was very small back in 1969, there was one, which is more than one can say today.  The Branch was closed years ago and there are no missionaries working in Maubeuge today. 
Maubeuge, France - Commercial Area
We have been rather disappointed by what we have found in returning to some cities we knew 50 years it was with Maubeuge.  And then to find that one really did not know the city when one was living there is also an interesting experience.
Street Where Missionaries Lived in 1969 - Maubeuge, France
In 1969 the principal church in Maubeuge was still in ruins from WWII bombardments and, as it was one of the few specifics we remembered about Maubeuge, we were anxious to see what had been done to rebuild it.  For ugly!!  It appears they tore down the ancient structure and put up a monstrosity in its place - very disappointed with what we found - pictured below.
Rebuilt Church Saint Pierre Saint Paul in Maubeuge, France 
We don't recall the Chapelle des Soeurs Noires from our time in Maubeuge, but here it is pictured below.  We share this only to make the point that there is not much to see in Maubeuge these days - this was one of the few tourist sites promoted by the Office of Tourism.
Chapelle des Soeurs Noires - Maubeuge, France
We were able to see things in Maubeuge that we had no memory of, even though they were very close to the apartment in which we lived.  We had no recollection that Maubeuge had been fortified, but here you go - fortifications just a few blocks from where we lived.  Some of this area has been turned into a zoo.
Fortifications near Porte de Mons - Maubeuge, France
Nor did we have any memory of a river running through the center of Maubeuge - again just a couple of blocks from where we lived.  These things must not have been important to young missionaries or otherwise one would have retained some recollection........No?
La Sambre River - Maubeuge, France
Coq of the Week

One thing has become clear during the past two months - the coq is more reliable and diligent than are we.   While we took a break from blogging, the coq never vacations - he is constant, ever dependable and faithful.  The coqs we encounter are very inspiring and great reminders of how we must become in our efforts to complete this mortal life successfully.  We hope to stand as firm and persevering as our coqs.

We share two coqs that we found not only inspiring but also very interesting.   The first we have shown before but who was adorned with birds - the coq we presented as "some coqs are for the birds".    He really is one of the more majestic coqs we have found.  He sits atop the Eglise Saint Nicholas in Rethel, France.
Coq Girouette - Eglise Saint Nicholas - Rethel, France
Our second coq hails from Coulommes, France and is perched above the Elise Saint Pierre.  This one has the feeling of being combative and proud - we like his uniqueness.   Regardless of his temperament, he does the job faithfully and reliably.  So it is for each of us.
Coq Girouette - Eglise Saint Pierre - Coulommes, France

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