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

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