Thursday, September 29, 2016


This last week has been a busy one. We helped teach a French class in our Ecuilly ward for the English speakers. The class was based on the “My Foundation” Self-Reliance course lesson 7 on being united and using our strengths to help others. It was a fun class. One of the sisters in the group shared a dream she had the night before after praying about how to help her niece who is struggling with her faith and the concept of the church. The sister in the class, Rachel, dreamed about a statue here in Lyon; “La Fontaine Bartholdi” near L’Hôtel de Ville (the town hall). Bartholdi is the same sculptor who created the Statue of Liberty given to the United States as a gift from France. Right now the fountain is under repair and surrounded with scaffolding. Rachel woke up knowing that the way she could explain the church was that the scaffolding is the church, and the masterpiece is the family. The family is the most important unit in time and eternity, and the church exists to safeguard and bless the family. We loved the imagery and couldn’t help but see the connection with the Statue of Liberty; the gospel gives us the freedom to become our very best selves by living the way God would have us live and love and care for each other to become more like Him.

We drove to Bern, Switzerland Friday which is where Sister Geddes’ mother’s family is from. The name of the town means “bear” and they have a famous bear pit for the bears. We attended the Bern temple that evening, and were happily surprised to see several of our ward members attending the same session, including Hélène Georges (our darling Sarah’s mom) and our bishop, Frère Pommier. The temple provides lodging for members to come and do a whole weekend of temple work. These beautiful saints are so diligent and devoted! We were able to do the whole session in French which we loved! The Saints bring their families and their food for the weekend and take turns babysitting the children. It was also fun to meet Elder and Sister Fox who are serving their fourth mission in Switzerland. Strangely enough, they are from Brentwood, California, Elder Geddes’ home town, and they know his whole family including his parents. It’s a small world in the Church! We also quickly saw the beautiful little towns of Morat and Thun.

The next day we had an all-day Welfare workshops for the Lausanne stake, including the Self-Reliance workshops that we helped with. Lausanne is a beautiful city and we enjoyed walking around Lake Geneva for a little while. We are hoping that the next time we go in that direction, we will have time to visit our friend, Fabienne in Annency.

Sunday evening we had a “Rentrée or Back to School night for the Institute. Oh the singing of those institute kids! We were amazed by the power of their voices and spirit. Afterwards we had one of our sweetest experiences yet, sharing our testimony of families and the temple with a lovely investigator. She really warmed up when we began talking about our grandkids and families.

Monday night was a meeting with our manager who continues to be so kind and helpful to us and a family home evening with the Institute students.

Tonight we have a zoom conference with the Lyon Stake Self-Reliance committee and a planning meeting with the stake Young Single Adults council.

La vie de missionaire est belle! Life is good, and we miss you all. Please keep those e-mails and comments on our blog coming! We really understand now why the young missionaries crave news from home.

Elder et Sœur GEDDES - Missionaires
France • Belgique • Luxembourg • Suisse

Bartholdi Fountain, Lyon

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Swiss Temple

This week we had a presentation to make as part of a workshop on Self Reliance in the Lausanne, Switzerland Stake.  Since the Swiss temple is only about one hour past Lausanne in the town of Zollikofen, we got permission (the temple is outside the mission boundaries) to go the day before the workshop and visit Bern and go to the temple.  Switzerland is really a beautiful country and going to the temple again was the cherry on the cake!  We met our bishop and another member of our Écully ward at the temple.  Also, as we entered the temple, the brother who greeted us at the entrance, Brother Fox, was a senior missionary like us from the U.S.  I asked him where he was from and he said "California".  When I asked which part, he said he was from a small town near San Francisco.  This got my interest, so I asked the name of the town to which he responded "Brentwood" and then started to explain where that is.  What he didn't know is that I am also from Brentwood!  As it turns out he knew my parents and knows all of my siblings as well.  Small world in the church.

The Swiss Temple

Thun, Switzerland


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Autumn in the Air

(M) We have been in France for exactly one month now and we are feeling much more at home and much less like total foreigners.  We take long walks most mornings, today's being almost 5 miles.  Plus we walk a lot for our missionary responsibilities.  We often shop at the outdoor marchés so our meals are wonderful and healthy.  And we limit our patisserie stops to once a week.  Consequently, after a month in the gastronomic capital of the world, we have actually managed to shed a couple of kilos!

The month of September was very hot with temperatures into the 30's celsius.  But now in mid September the weather is cooling and the leaves are just starting to show hints of color.  The locals are all wearing coats now during the day.  But after 30 plus years in Idaho, I won't have one on for a while.

Our missionary activities are picking up as we are getting a better idea of what to do.  In addition to our major responsibilities in all the French-speaking wards and stakes in Europe we will be doing more here in the Lyon multifunction center that includes the Institute, Young Single Adults, Family History and of course the Self Reliance Center.  But we still are able to find time to discover more of Lyon and the nearby towns and villages.  We also are getting more acquainted with people.

This week we were invited to dinner at the Georges family home in the nearby village of Grézieu-la Varennes.  The Georges' daughter Sarah recently returned home from BYU-Idaho where she was Sœur Geddes' teaching assistant.  The escargots sister Georges prepared were wonderful; way bigger and better than any we have had before.

We are enjoying our mission very much and so far it seems to be going very quickly.  We will see if that continues when it gets to the point where WE start wearing coats!

Leaves just starting to show color in the Parc de la Tête d'Or, Lyon.

Escargots at Chez Georges

A group of "Bleus" (new missionaries) fresh off the plane.

The Roman temple of Augustus and Livie in the nearby town of Vienne.

Lyon "Hôtel de Ville" (city hall).  Open to the public one day per year (yesterday!)

Hôtel de Ville interior.  Some of the interior done by the same architect who did Versailles.

Our apartment!  (Actually another chamber in the Hôtel de Ville)

Morning walk in the Parc de la Tête d'Or.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Firesides and Institute

(M) We are starting to learn our new responsibilities as missionaries.  We actually have two different assignments, our primary one being the Self-reliance initiative and the secondary one to help the local leaders with the Institute & family history programs.  When we go into a ward to conduct a self-reliance "coin de feu" (fireside) it takes about five hours in all.  We set up media equipment and tables & chairs for small discussion groups, attend a preliminary ward council meeting to go over the assignments and then have a two-hour very interactive fireside.  So far we have met with two wards for firesides (Saliève Ward near Geneva and the Versailles Ward near Paris) and have many more scheduled.

This week Frère Simonet, the Institute director, had a conflict so he asked us to take his place teaching an evening 90 minute Institute class.  It was kind of a last minute thing and a little scary at first since the whole thing was in French.  But Sœur Geddes is a pro!  The lesson went so well and the 18 students were really fun.

Our fireside in Versailles required us to drive a day early since it takes about 5 hours each way.  So on the day before, we left Lyon early and stopped in Vézelay and Auxerre for visits and lunch.  The romanesque church in Vézelay contains the reliques of Mary Magedeline.  It was an very important medieval pilgrimage stop on the route to Saint Jacques de Compostelle on the coast of Spain.  The later gothic church in Auxerre is dedicated to Saint Étienne (Steven).  It is really nice visiting these places in September.  The weather is great and the tourist crowds are gone!  While in Versailles we also had a chance to go by the L.D.S. temple that is nearing completion.  Everyone here is so excited to have a temple in France.  What a beautiful and significant addition this will be for the saints in France.

Coin de feu in the Versailles ward

Ward Barbecue in Versailles - a literal "coin de feu"!

Our Institute class

"La Madeline" church in Vézelay


The Paris Temple

Paris Temple window

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Amazing Members

Amazing Members  (Des Membres Génials)
We have visited three different wards now and have been greeted warmly by local members.  They are amazing!  They are friendly, diligent, and valiant.  It is not easy to be a member of the church in France, but these saints are so full of faith and trust.  Their sincere testimonies are powerful. Many of them are converts and so they are able to bear witness to the huge changes that the gospel has brought into their lives. They haven’t all grown up in the church so in a sense, they are Pioneers.  They are not steeped in LDS culture but just step into the Red Sea and expect the waters to part. We admire them so much and are touched by their strength and desire to come unto Christ. 
In French the word for sunflower is “tournesol” which literally means turn towards the sun.  That is exactly what these good people are doing in the figurative sense.  They are “turning towards The SON.”

And their eyes are bright with that turning.  We are blessed to be among them!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

End of Week Two in France

Yesterday we had our first fireside with a ward group in Annemasse, France, about a two hour drive from Lyon right on the border with Geneva, Switzerland.  Since the fireside was in the evening, we went a few hours early and visited the little village of Ivoire, France, right on Lac Leman or Lac Genève depending on where you are from.  Ivoire is a beautiful little "Ville Fleurie" or flowered village.  With its setting on the lake, this has to be one of the most beautiful places ever!

Since today is Saturday we set out on foot to find an open air marché.  We ended up finding two!  So at the second one, the Marché St. Antoine, right along the quay of the Saône River, we bought a few things for our lunch including peaches, a multi-grain baguette, two different cheeses and some exotic olives.  I love the marchés!

Yvoire, France

Lunch from the Marché St. Antoine, Lyon

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Officially Retired

(M)  Today is September 1, 2016.   After over 40 years of teaching, we are officially retired as of today.  Somewhere in the back of my mind I had envisioned retirement days as alternating between golf, fishing and exercising my thumbs on the TV remote.  Looks like I'm zero for three on that pipe dream. . . at least for the next 18 months anyway!  But the reality is that I can only go a couple of days with nothing to do before I start to go berserk.  I'm really glad that we timed this mission as an overlap with our careers. 

So any of you who may be reading this and approaching your own retirement time and wondering "WHAT NEXT?". . . why don't you start filling out a missionary application?  We highly recommend it! 

Took a walk last night to the Place Bellecour in old Lyon

My cute companion on our way home from the marché.