Thursday, April 12, 2018

Things We Will Miss

Before getting ready to leave our mission, we decided to make some fun lists of we would be happy to get back to, things we would miss about the mission, and things we wouldn't miss about living abroad.

Things we will be glad to get back to:

taco bus
Rexburg water
garbage disposal
our big kitchen
spacious home
our children and grand children
certain cooking ingredients
ease of shopping
good prices
clean air
ease of parking
special friends
free highways
living in a house
our backyard
trees and greenery around our living space
eating on our deck
sculpture studio

Things we will not be glad to come back to:

constant sports on tv (one of us)
phone ringing all the time
political correctness
anti-religious sentiment
politicians, actors, athletes who think they are more important than everyone else

Things we won’t miss about living abroad:

dog poop, spit, cigarette butts and trash on the sidewalks
sewer smells
city noise
driving in traffic
parking (or lack thereof)
no space
dumped furniture by receptacle bins
tiny kitchen, no counter space
tiny streets
being away from family
zoom conferences
price of gas, food, everything
bringing bags to grocery store
paying for shopping carts
long lines everywhere
air pollution
nasty water
paying for clean water
paying for parking and bathrooms
French salsa and catsup
French Mexican food (or lack thereof)
beggars, les SDF’s (homeless)  especially little children
French shrug
out-to-dinner pace
separate toilet and bathroom
everyone smoking

And now the longest list of all—What we will miss about living in France:

bakery smells
chaussons aux pommes
100’s of years of history
amazing people
fresh fish
little cute kids speaking French
Christmas marchés
Restaurants of every kind
Écully ward members
young missionary Elders and Sisters
not so young missionaries—great Senior couples
missionary bond and strength and inspiration
mantel of missionaries
missionary plaque
auto route stops
buying European presents for grandkids
drivers who move to the right
round- abouts
driving through cool little towns
sale, sucré
ingrediants for French dishes—raclette, tartiflette
french butter and cream
beautiful fruits and vegetables
les soldes (sales)
wacky styles of clothing- the diversity 
adventure of just walking around the city
the 2 rivers in Lyon- the Rhône and the Saône
view of Fourvière Cathedral and angel “Marioni”
beautiful window displays
cobble stone streets
grape juice
regional specialties and fierce regional pride
pharmacies and pharmacists who are medical consultants
fast medical help
French shrug
watching movies in French
little mountain villages
French hospitality
3-7 course meals
pace of going out to dinner
showing visitors Lyon
learning new French words and phrases
how missionaries are needed and used in wards
new convert baptisms
international flavor of people
French primary-playing piano
JAS-  Single Young Adults
Home Evening with Single Adults in our ward
teaching gospel essentials/ beginning French Sunday School class
social gatherings and trips with other Senior missionaries
inspiring meetings and conferences with other missionaries
French money, coins
constant ways to serve others
bises (kisses on the cheek as a greeting)
feeling of doing something important, always contributing
FRANCE—we love this country!
parking angels
special mission blessings
café terrace eating—eating outdoors

Awesome Senior Missionaries

Mission Office

Amazing Castles

Roman Ruins


The people in these wall murals look so real!

Cool Churches


Open Air Markets

More markets

Bourges Cathedral

Le Pain Français

Feeding the young missionaries

Ward Christmas Party


Christmas Markets

Bishop Marc and Dalilah Pommier

Birthday Diner for Matt

Philippe, Hélène, and Sarah Georges

Only Lyon


Pierrette Barachand

Fish Squeezer's Fountain

Momo and Pascale Djemai

Cathedrals of Fourvière and St. Jean

Young Single Adults

The Church in France

You gain weight just passing by these wonderful places and smelling the fresh goods.

More châteaux

Stained glass windows

Self-reliance firesides

Self-reliance presentations

Sweet Sister Saulnier

Tahitian Missionaries

Salade Lyonaise

French onion soup

Our Toyota Yaris


Dinners with ward members

Gorgeous views

Papa Daniel and President & Sister Brown

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Best Thank You

Every now and then, some little thing will come along that totally validates you.  As teachers, this would sometimes arrive in the form of a little note from a student received AFTER grading deadlines were past.  The best ones came from students from many years past, some of whom we barely even remembered.

Yesterday during church meeting in our Écully Ward, we had one of these sweet experiences.  Elder Geddes has had the calling to play the piano in Primary for the past 18 months.  Between meetings, one of the Primary children handed us a little hand-made card.  Translating from French, the card reads:

"Dear Mr. and Mrs. Geddes,  Because of your kindness and your love for others, I would like to thank you for all that you have done for us.  We love you a lot and we hope you will come back to our church at the end of your mission.  I wish you much happiness and a happy new year.  Thank you!!!  From Lenzo"

Missions can be lots of things: challenging, rewarding, expensive, exhausting, exciting, et cetera.  But ours just got paid in full.

Ecully Ward Primary

Lenzo with his hand-made card.

Inside the card.  Love the Cherubs!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Week Before Christmas

For most of our married life, the week before Christmas has been extremely busy and often rather hectic.  We always had a fall semester to finish out, many presents to purchase, and huge meals to prepare.  Our mission pre-Christmas week this year was a radical departure for our norm.  And what a wonderful week this has been.

We began with an experience that is typical in Idaho, a drive in a snowstorm.  But rather than our usual voyage from Rexburg to Idaho Falls, this trip was from our home in Lyon toward Paris.  We checked into our hotel just a few hundred yards from the entrance to the Palace of Versailles and the next morning had the opportunity to go to the "Paris" temple.  It was so exciting for us to come back to the temple where we worked as guides during the open house.  But this time, we were able to participate in sacred ordinances.  It was really amazing that we saw at least fifteen people there whom we already knew.  We probably don't see that many friends when we go to the temple in Rexburg!  It was really special to us to also be invited to attend a temple sealing of a couple from New Caledonia.

The next event of our week was a visit to a self-reliance group in the Antony Ward located in the southern suburbs of Paris.  One sister in this "Finding a Better Job" group admitted that she had been reluctant to join, even though she was dissatisfied with her employment.  But after just two of the twelve-week meetings, after learning how to prepare an effective C.V. and mastering some interview skills, she had found a job that required fewer hours, paid a significantly higher salary, and that she enjoyed so much more.  But the most impressive thing was that the group was now on lesson seven of the twelve-week course, and this sister was still actively attending.  She realizes that the self-reliance initiative is not just about what it can do for you.  It is also about how you can help others.  So there she was, acting as an action partner and encouraging the others in her group even though her own personal objectives had been met.

Before leaving for Paris, we had done a Google search on the best Christmas markets in France.  It turns out that most of them are in the Alsace region between Strasbourg and Mulhouse.  So even though it about doubled the driving time back to Lyon, we made a loop through Alsace.  It is impossible to describe what some of these places look like at any time of the year, but at Christmas it is just magical.  If you have ever seen one of those little medieval looking villages that people often set up under their Christmas tree, that is the portrait of Alsace in December.

On the Paris temple grounds.

The Antony Ward "Finding a Better Job" self-reliance group with our manager, Momo Djemai.

Momo and the Antony Ward sister who found a great job after just two weeks with the group.

One of the many Christmas markets in Strasbourg

Another market beside the Strasbourg cathedral.

Obernai, just south of Strasbourg.

An entry gate to Riquewihr.

The hotel (yellow, on left) where we stayed in Riquewihr was built in 1550.

The restaurant just a few steps from the hotel served wonderful Alsatian meals.

Kaysersberg, just a few kilometres from Riquewihr.

A medieval chateau overlooks the village of Kaysersberg. . . 

. . . and a little stream runs through the middle of town.

Part of the Christmas market in Colmar.

The market at Mulhouse was the last stop before returning home to Lyon.