Sunday, April 30, 2017

Paris Temple - Open House - from Boulevard Saint Antoine - 29 avril 2017
Paris Temple Open House

After months, weeks and days of patiently waiting; the Charleville-Mezieres Branche of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was finally able to make the much anticipated trip to the Paris Temple Open House on April 29, 2017.   While adding names as we approached the day of departure, we left at 7:30 AM Saturday morning with a total of thirty one members and investigators on our chartered bus.  We were extremely grateful that two of our less-active members joined us as well as eleven non-members.  Those making the trip included two of the Dampt's grown children; Adeliene Bouillon et Hubert Dampt - Adeliene came from her Ward in Chambery (France) and Hubert from Mesa (Arizona, USA).

The opening of the Paris Temple has already proven to be a wonderful missionary tool.  Sister Karine Dapremont had her non-member husband and four children go with her to the Open House.  The Dampts, who pray constantly for missionary opportunities with there relatives, have been over joyed to receive positive reports from those family member they have invited to go to the Open House.  Both Sister Dapremont and the Dampts were rather discouraged with their missionary efforts prior to the Paris Temple visits of their loved ones.   Now they find themselves energized and optimistic about the prospects for softened hearts.
Paris Temple - Open House - from Gardens
The Paris Temple is undoubtably on the small size physically but is immense in its spiritual impact.  It is extremely but simply elegant and beautiful!  Wall murals reflect scenes of France, the life of Christ is depicted in the many wonderful framed paintings, while floral themed stained glass windows illuminate the white surroundings.  Of particular impact to us were the two domed stained glass windows of exquisite beauty; one over the baptismal font and the other in the Celestial Room (our recollection).  After going through the first time, we were tempted to turn around and go through a second and third time - it is very difficult to take it all in such a short period of time.   At times we felt the Spirit very strongly - we can only image the spiritual experiences that await us and others once the Temple is dedicated and Saving Ordinances are performed therein.  What a great and extraordinary blessing is a Temple in France!
Paris Temple - Open House - from the North
Again, the size of the Paris Temple and its surrounding gardens are not overwhelming but rather well done and beautiful.  The smallness of this special place is a testimony to the challenge and dedication it was to built it.  Many miracles were wrought to pass in order for this blessing from Heavenly Father to be bestowed up the Saints in France and the Church as a whole.   The process of arriving at this day was tedious and encumbered with great and strong opposition - no doubt a sad day for he that was the organizer of all the energy set against it.  For us it is a great miracle composed of numerous smaller miracles.  The dedication of the Paris Temple on May 21, 2017 will certainly prove to be a truly historical day for the Church and France.

Of the Temples we have visited, the Christus in the grounds of the Paris Temple is uniquely hallowed.   For us, it is a statement of the Savior's is gratitude for this place and an indication that He is looking over it and those who will come here.   One might guess that group and family pictures would have been popular in front of the Temple itself; however, the Christus was overwhelmingly chosen for such souvenirs of the Paris Open House.  Like the Temple, the Temple gardens reflect simple beauty and peace.

It proved impossible to assemble our group of 30 once we had completed our guided tour of the Temple, thus we have no group pictures with the Christus.  Rather we have a collection of different members at different locations on the Temple grounds - we will share some in the weeks to come.

We did catch Brother Michel Dampt and his son Hubert ,who made the trip from the United States to be here with his parents for this special day, in front of the Christus.   Picture below.
Paris Temple - Open House - Christus in Garden - Michel & Hubert Dampt
Former Lyon Mission Missionaries and Members

A bonus blessing for us was the unexpected opportunity to see so many of our member friends and fellow missionaries from the Lyon, France Mission.  We will share some of those in future blogs.  For now we share our encounter with Elder Matt Elvidge and his bride.  A very happy couple who came from their home in England to participate in the Temple Open House.   We were also able to meet Brother Elvidge's mother and tease her a bit - we remembered that he was afraid to tell President Roney that he would go to BYU because he felt his mother might be against him leaving home for an education so far away.   Of course, this young couple pointed out that their marriage would not have happened if Matt had gone to BYU.  They will both complete their formal educations in the near future.  Our encounter documented below - too bad the older couple look so worn and ragged.
Elder Matt Elvidge & Wife - Paris Temple - Open House
Charleville-Mezieres Branch - Paris Temple Open House

Pictured below is the CM Branch members and friends who made the trip to the Paris Temple Open House on April 29, 2017.   From left to right: Claire Bourt, Debora Dapremont, Raphael Dapremont (hidden behind Deborah except for cap), Rene Bourt, Herve Taillard, Karine Dapremont, Cynthia Dapremont, Jeremy Dapremont, Elder Crane, Elder Schow, Dennis Marielle, Lionel Gilquin, Clara Biver, Bettey Guillaume, Hubert Dampt, Sister Clark, Michel Dampt, Jennifer Dapremont, Adeliene Bouillon, Beauty Imhangby, Kate Schuilling, Isaac Peter, baby of Fasasi Minota, Isabelle Biver, Fasasi Minota, Robert Biver, Stephen Lawrence and Laurent Biver.  Not pictured: Lisette Horun and Elder Clark.

This group represents all of our active members (12 - Sister Dampt missing as she had fallen and was not able to make the trip), 2 less-active members, 4 missionaries, 10 non-members and 2 visiting members.  It was a wonderful day and all were inspired and encouraged for having participated.
Charleville-Mezieres Branch - Paris Temple Open House - April 29, 1970
Coq of the Week

Another golden shining example of the fiable coq.   This one was located a top the chapel spire of the Eglise Saint Remi in Matagne-le-Petit, Belgium.   Not many comments to make realizing that the Temple is the symbol of the faith of the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The coq pales in comparison!
Coq Girouette - Eglise Saint Remi - Matagne-le-Petit, Belgium

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Coq Girouette - Eglise - Vireux-Molhain, France
 Coqs of the Week

Sometimes we just need the coq - often more than one is needed.  They a good reminders for us to be constant, faithful and diligent in all we do.  When we think our life becomes a bit of a challenge, the coq can bring us a bit of perspective.  These poor guys have no relief!  More so than the mailman; they must face the day regardless of sun, rain, snow, hail or great storm.   We are trying to learn to do likewise - appreciate each day that comes and make the most of it.  The coq never lets things get the best of him and maintains his good attitude come rain or shine.

We are thankful to be disciples of Jesus Christ serving in France as missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  We could receive few greater blessings at this point in our lives.  We have great opportunities to bless the lives of the Saints in our little corner of France; where health, age, legal status and many other challenges face those who are striving to follow the Savior and qualify for Eternal Life.  It is a great blessing to lose ourselves, to some extent, in the service of those we love and appreciate.  We will ever be grateful for the faith and love of the French Saints with whom we live.  We pray constantly to be up to the challenge and to act as would the Savior.

Coq Girouette - Collegial Saint Ermel - Vireux-Molhain, France
Our members, unlike the coq, are not so inclined or able to remain fixed in physical location.  We are currently lamenting the loss of a couple of our devoted members.  Stephen Lawrence has been rejected yet a third time in his request to obtain asylum here in France and thus finds it necessary to move on.  While he is temporarily with the Dampt family, he feels the need to get to Paris where he can find work and live less conspicuously.  He hopes to be able to remain in France for five years and thus improve his opportunities to gain legal status here.  He has been here for over two years already and we are afraid his real struggles are just beginning. 

Sister Kate Schuiling is pursuing a dream to live on the rivers and canals of this part of Europe by making her home on a small boat.  She is a very persistent and focused person and has been searching for her opportunity to make dream reality since we arrived almost nine months ago.  Fortunately, unfortunately for us, she has seemingly found the opportunity she seeks.  She now has a contract to have a small boat custom built; based on an existing hull.  She is very excited and the boat actually is quite beautiful (pictures and designs).  The boat is being built in the Netherlands and and will be delivered to her in the Namur, Belgium area in about three months.  At that time she will leave our Branch and become a member of the Namur Ward.  She will be a great loss to us!
Spring 20187 - Charleville-Mezieres, France
 Spring has Sprung

We are currently enjoying the beauties of nature around us.  Spring is such a marvelous time of renewal and re-birth!  We very much appreciate the lovely flowers we find around us - some are much like what we find at home in the United States and some seem more unique to this area - they all are inspiring and wonderful reminders of what God has created for the use and joy of His children.  If only we could convince Spring to rest with us a little longer.

With the upcoming dedication of the Paris Temple, May 21st, we are also feeling a renewal and re-birth in the spirits of our members.  It has been one hundred and sixty years (approximately) since the restored gospel of Jesus Christ was first taught here in France.   Our members have waited patiently during many long years and now the moment has arrived.   There are now sufficient members with more than adequate faith to support a Temple in France.   Now all the saving ordinances can be performed in France and the Lord has a House, here in France, in which He can dwell.   It is truly an important and inspiring event in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in France.

This coming Saturday, April 29, our small Branch will take a chartered coach to the Paris Temple in order to participate in the Temple Open House.   We will leave Charleville-Mezieres at 7:30 AM to keep our 11:45 AM appointment at the Temple.  All our active members; including those in wheel chairs, those who are blind and those who are on crutches, will make the trip.   The Dampts have a son, Hubert, who is coming from Arizona to join us on the trip.  We also have a couple of investigators who will be with us and we are hoping to add a couple of our less-active members.

The opportunity to visit the Temple in Paris has been long awaited - the members are excited and grateful for this beautiful building - The House of the Lord - in France.  We feel very blessed to be here to share such a monumental event with them.  The Temple will be a great blessing for the French Saints and will be very significant in advancing the work of Gathering in this country.  One more step in the preparation for the Second Coming of our Savior.
Spring 2017 - Charleville-Mezieres, France

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Rebecca Cooper w/ Sister Clark - Train Station - Charleville-Mezieres, France
Visitor from the United States

We received our first visitor from home since arriving here in France.  Rebecca Cooper, daughter of Sister Clark's youngest sister Connie was in Europe on business and came to visit us last week end.  We enjoyed getting to know her better and catching up on her life and that of other family members.  We were also able to enjoy visiting a couple sites of interest around Charleville-Mezieres while she was here.  It was nice to have her visit and to reconnect a bit with home.

Coq Girouette - Eglise Saint Pierre - Bastogne, Belgium
Coq of the Week

One of our young Elders, Elder Burgogne, was transferred last week after having spent the first months of his mission with us here in Charleville-Mezieres.  He was anxious and a bit nervous to move on to a new experience - hoping for something a little bigger than Charleville.  He had wanted to visit Bastogne, Belgium and the war museum and memorials there as his father had expressed some interest in them.  We made the trip of about an hour and spent a good part of our P-Day there.  We found our coq of the week there atop the Eglise Saint Pierre.  This coq, like all the others, has his unique characteristics.  We like him......of course!

Spring - Biver Home - L'Echelle, France
Spring and Easter

Spring and Easter go hand in hand as the world experiences a rebirth and renewal of all that is beautiful in nature.  These two photos of beautiful flowers express that beauty and rebirth.

We spent a nice Easter Sunday with our Branch Members and young Elders.  It was wonderful to receive messages and testimonies of the hope that the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ bring to our lives.  We are ever grateful for the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and the knowledge that it brings.  We know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and that through his sacrifice, we can overcome all our weaknesses and challenges and live again.  We are ever grateful for the Savior's love!

Spring - Charleville-Mezieres, France

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Wall Painting - Arthur Rimbaud - Charleville-Mezieres, France

Favorite Son of Charleville-Mezieres

Arthur Rimbaud is perhaps the best know person to have come from Charleville-Mezieres.  His name and face are nearly everywhere throughout this town.  The other day we found the wall painting above.  If you can read the writing included, it will give you an idea of his writings.  There are plenty of stories circulating about Arthur and it is difficult to tell which might be true and which might not.  There are few museums here in Charleville-Mezieres and one of them is dedicated to him.

Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud was born the 20th of October 1854 and he died in 1891.   He is known as a French poet who had considerable influence on modern literature and arts.  He began writing at a very young age but completely stopped writing at the age of 21 just after compiling one of his major works - Illuminations.  He was a prodigious student who abandoned his formal education as a teenager.  He had considerable conflicts with his mother and ran away from home amidst the Franco-Prussian War.  He became known as a world traveller and adventurer.  He died of cancer just after his thirty-seventh birthday.

As a poet, Rimbaud is well known for his contributions to Symbolism and, among other works, A Season in Hell, which was a significant precursor to modernist literature.

Anyway, Rimbaud is big time around Charleville-Mezieres.
Spring Blossoms - Charleville-Mezieres, France
Spring is Passing Too Quickly

We fear that Spring is passing way too quickly.  It is so refreshing to feel the warmth of the sun and the coolness of the air on your face at the same time!  We wait for Spring to come just to watch it pass much too quickly.  We hope that you are able to enjoy it this year...while it lasts.  Plan a day out just to enjoy the beauties of the season.
Coq Girouette - Eglise Saint Arnould - Haudrecy, France
Coq of the Week

We not only found the storks we shared with you last week in Haudrecy, France but we also found this week's coq of the week there amongst them.  While we enjoyed the storks very much we were also very please to see that they enjoy the company of this interesting coq.  This guy really has an attitude - look at his face and tail feathers.  He looks a bit ornery...perhaps he does not enjoy being buzzed by the storks.   The storks really do have a large wingspan and they were seen flying very close to this coq's roost...perhaps that is intimidating to him.  We do enjoy the attitude and know that despite it, he is just as faithful and diligent as his brothers.  We too can have attitudes as long as we don't let them detour us from being faithful and diligent in our efforts to follow the Savior and return to live with our Eternal Father.  Steady as the coq!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Coq Girouette - Eglise Saint Jacques - Namur, Belgium
Coq of the Week

This past week we helped Sister Schuiling move to her new abode in Jambes (Namur), Belgium.  We are extremely saddened to lose such a faithful and important member of our Branch in Charleville-Mezieres.  Sister Schuiling has a very strong desire to live on the water and is working to purchase a boat as her next home.  Her quest has taken her to the Namur area where she has begun to take navigation lessons and where she hopes to maintain her home port.  The Sambre and Meuse Rivers converge at Namur and thus there are some very nice port facilities for noncommercial boats and barges.

While in Namur we found our coq of the week above the Eglise Saint Jacques.   Again, unique and interesting in its own way.  We also found the Wallonie Coq through the city.   Wallonie is a department of Belgium bordering France.  The red coq is found everywhere - flags, signs, government buildings, etc.   The Wallonie Coq is pictured below.
Wallonie Coq - Departmental Symbol - Namur, Belgium
Spring Blossom - Charleville-Mezieres, France
Signs of Spring

This week-end we were able to watch the 187th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  We received Conference via internet and met with our members in our Chapel to listen to the counsel of our inspired leaders.  We received inspiration on how to better live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and hope to put our learning into practice during the days and weeks ahead.  We pray that you were likewise inspired.

Each Conference we are given a brief look at the beautiful grounds surrounding the Salt Lake Temple and the Conference Center.   We find the beauty of Spring blossoms also inspiring as they present their signs of renewal and hope for brighter days.   

We too have been enjoying the beauty of Spring here in Charleville-Mezieres.  The tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and other flowers are much the same as we enjoy in the United States.   Others seem more unusual and but equally beautiful.  We share a couple of the beautiful blossoms we noticed this past week or two.
Spring Blossoms - Charleville-Mezieres, France
More Signs of Spring

There are signs of Spring that we see here in the Ardennes of France that are not seen in Utah and most other parts of the United States.  Storks on the nest are one of these.  These storks were nesting in the countryside near Charleville-Mezieres.  The local members seem to feel that the Storks have returned and are nesting earlier this Spring than normal.   We have had a week or two of very nice days but have since returned to a bit cooler temperatures and more rain.  It is all good as the world turns more beautiful!

Signs of Spring - Storks on the Nest - Ardennes, France
 Boules or petanque is another sign of Spring that has recently appeared in our neck of the woods.   The other day while on our daily walk, we saw a statue of a petanque player from a distance in a little park along the Meuse River here in town.   It was a picture we had to take so we could share it with Raeburn Kennard back at home.  Realize that our first view was of the back of the man below.  
Pentanque? - Charleville-Mezieres, France
 Right posture but wrong tools!   As it turns out, there was no fun in what this man was doing.   Far from the fun we had imagined him having.  Perhaps, after his work is complete, he will have time for a little boules.

We have plans to teach our young Elders the game of petanque - neither of them have played before.  After all, they could use the "boules contacting technique" in their repertoire of tools.   We are very much feeling the need to play and Spring feels like such a good time!
Poor Man!  No petanque today. - Charleville-Mezieres, France