Monday, January 30, 2017

"Le Jour-J"

This week we had the opportunity to travel with Elder and Sister Mahaffey up to the north of France.  The Mahaffey's are in the Lyon mission office, and along with a myriad of other things, they are responsible for the fleet of mission cars.  One of the cars needed to be exchanged at the Paris mission office near Versailles. While in the north, we went to visit the Normandy beaches where Elder Mahaffey's father landed on D-day in 1944.

The signage at the visitors center of the American cemetery overlooking Omaha beach translates the expression "D-day" as "le jour-J".  A hostess at the center explained that "le jour J" is not only specifically the name for the allied invasion of June 6, 1944, but is also a general expression for any special day or event.  A wedding, a graduation, or a football final might be called a "jour-J".

It is quite a moving experience to visit the beachs and other sites where so many young men and women sacrificed so much.  And they did it for people that they didn't even know.  We couldn't help but see a little bit of a parallel between them and our young missionaries today.  The missionaries are making a very different kind of sacrifice to be sure.  But it is a significant sacrifice; and like those soldiers of 1944, they are young, and their motive is a love for those that they don't even know.  We are kind of proud of our little band of missionaries who make every day a "jour-J".

Elder Mahaffey taking a moment on Utah beach where his father landed in June, 1944.

One of the Higgins boats that landed the soldiers on the beaches.

A Nazi gun bunker at Pointe du Hoc, a strategic point between Utah and Omaha beaches.

Early in the morning of 6 June 1944, American paratroopers jumped to cut off German access to the beaches from the west.  One soldier was caught on the church spire at Sainte Mère-Eglise.

On the same morning, three British Horsa gliders landed within 50 yards of the Bénouville bridge.  Capturing that bridge cut off the Nazi reinforcements from getting to the beaches from the east.  The bridge was renamed "Pegasus Bridge" after the insignia worn by the British glider unit. 

Pegasus bridge.  The first casualty of D-day happened here.

The American cemetery at Omaha Beach.  

Over 9,000 burials.

Many people, especially those here in Normandy, remember.

In front of the Caen War Memorial.  Speaks for itself.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Amazing Architecture

We have never really been city dwellers for most of our lives.  We miss our walks along the river back home.  But there is an upside to living in an apartment in the middle of a big ville like Lyon.   Our strolls here are on the grand boulevards or through the narow cobblestone streets of a city with 2000 years of history, and these are a different kind of visual feast.

The variety and quality of architecture here is stunning.  On a single walk you can see everything from ancient Roman to post-modernism with everything in between.  And there are adaptations of styles that are unique to this area.  Old Lyon has an almost hidden network of over 200 passageways called traboules that allowed the 16th century silk merchants to easily transport goods through the city.  These are flanked by everything from a gothic cathedral to an art deco apartment building. 

The only danger is that when you are on a walk, you can get so distracted by the beautiful architecture that you aren't always totally aware of where you are stepping.  And that can be a real problem considering all the dogs there are in Lyon!

St. Jean gothic cathedral in old Lyon with 19th century Fourvière Cathedral
overlooking the city.

A staircase in one of the many Traboules

Another spiral staircase.

Neoclassic, gothic and modern all in a row.

I wonder how this doorway would look on 38 Hidden Valley Road?
(Our address back home.)

A detail from one of the many bridges that cross the Rhône and Saône rivers.

Palais de la Bourse in Lyon

The romanesque church of St. Martin Ainay

The neoclassic opera house with 20th century additions.

Designing something this complex and making it work so beautifully is
really a difficult thing to do.

The architect left his name and date on this one: F. Giniez, 1857

Almost everywhere you look, you find a Lion in Lyon.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


Many of our friends back home in Rexburg are telling us horror stories about the winter we are missing.  One sent a photo of the comparative temperatures of Rexburg and Anarctica, with Rexburg "winning" the competition at -32°.  Another post showed the difference of 136° between the warmest and the coldest temperatures in the contiguous United States, the coldest being -43° in West Yellowstone, just up the road from Rexburg.  

The photos of the snow this year are also quite impressive.  Our niece sent a photo of a 16 foot high snowman they had built.  Other friends have said that there hasn't been this much snow since the winter on 1983 when several buildings in Rexburg collapsed under the tremendous weight.

Well, we just want everyone back home to know that we are experiencing some of the same here in Lyon.  We woke up this morning to the white stuff and we have to admit that it was a little exciting.  I even went out and built my own little "bonhomme de neige".  It isn't quite 16 feet tall, but it is impressive enough to post a couple of photos so that folks back home will know that we are experiencing some of the same things that you are.

A Lyonnaise "bonhomme de neige"

OK, so the scale isn't that impressive, but it is made out of real snow!

Monday, January 2, 2017

A New Year's Resolution Record

It seems that with the passing of time, our new year's resolutions center around one of two things, eating less and/or exercising more.  Since arriving in France, our exercise regime has actually been pretty good.  Even though we have a car, we choose to walk as much as possible.  A check of the phone app shows us averaging a respectable 5 miles per day.  So with the gastronomic bounties of France surrounding us, we chose the other obvious option for this year's resolution.

The new year arrived on a Sunday.  It also arrived with an after-church dinner invitation to the home of a beautiful family in our ward.  The meal they prepared was from their native country of Congo.  Many of the menu items were similar to the things we grew to love during our 12 years in Hawaii - baked plantanes, manioca, fish, rice, chicken - but the spices were very different, unique, and absolutely wonderful.  There was also a serving of a thick semolina paste that could be pinched off, flattened between the fingers, and used to scoop up the meats and sauces.  In other words, as the head of the family explained, it let you "use the fork that Heavenly Father gave you"!

As it turned out, we set a new personal record for the shortest successful new year's resolution.  But now we can really enjoy France for the next 364 days!

A wonderful couple from our Écully Ward.

The table is set.

Some of their children that let us be "adopted grandparents" for the day.

Someone borrowed Sœur Geddes' missionary badge.