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

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