We knew that we would have our 45th wedding anniversary while on our mission. As June 3rd approached, we wondered what special thing we might do to celebrate this milestone occasion. Should we go on a little "mission vacation" for the day to somewhere close to Lyon like the Swiss Alps or some little place on the French Mediterranean? Even a day seeing some of the museums and other yet unvisited sites in Lyon would be nice, especially with the scores of wonderful buchons and restaurants that our city has to offer. As it turned out, the decision was made for us by a phone call from the president of the Brussels, Belgium Stake. On June 3rd and 4th they were having their stake conference. He wondered if we would could come and take 40 minutes in the Saturday "our anniversary" session, and then 5 minutes each in the Sunday session. This wasn't exactly the celebration we had anticipated!
So we went to work on our assignment. Speaking in a stake conference is a challenge in any circumstance, especially for 40 minutes. Doing it in French for a congregation of native speakers is a bit overwhelming. But thanks to the topic of self-reliance with which we are now comfortable, thanks to one member of our missionary companionship who is a great French teacher, and because of many answered prayers, our stake "anniversary" conference in Belgium turned out great and was even really fun. This was certainly a very memorable celebration for us.
Making our presentation on self-reliance in the Brussels, Belgium Stake Conference.
The Saturday session of stake-conference was held in the Charleroi chapel.
Our son David served in Charleroi as a missionary 15 years ago.
The Rasolo family in Charleroi were good friends to our son when he was here.
In our mission area that includes both the Lyon and Paris missions, Brussels, Belgium is about the furthest distance away from our home in Lyon. We hoped that we would have the opportunity to visit here at some point, so we were very happy to have received this invitation, especially since our son served here and loved it so much. So in addition to speaking in both Charleroi and Brussels, we took the opportunity to visit a few historic churches and other sites in the area both going to and returning from this assignment.
The newly renovated Saint Barthélemy church in Liège, Belgium.
The baptismal font in Saint Barthélemy rests on the backs of 12 oxen.
The Atomium: A landmark built for the 1958 world's fair in Brussels.
The Grand Place in Brussels is one of the most impressive city centers anywhere.
Just outside of Brussels are the battle fields of Waterloo where Napoleon met his fate.
Just north of Brussels is the city of Antwerp, the home of the Baroque artist
Peter Paul Reubens. Reubens did this painting for his own tomb which is
in the beautiful Sint-Jacobskerk.
A fountain in the city center of Liège.
A statue of brothers Jan and Heubert Van Eyck by Saint Bavo cathedral in Ghent, Belgium.
The Van Eyck's, who are credited with the invention of oil paint, created the beautiful altarpiece "The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb" in Saint Bavo's cathedral. The actual altarpiece is huge and magnificent. But since photos of the original are not allowed, I took this shot of a small replica. *Notice Chris' hands holding the side panels open from the behind the replica.
No trip to Belgium would be complete with at least one visit to a waffle shop!
The road back to Lyon from Ghent goes through the pilgrimage village
The 12th century Laon cathedral includes the oxen who help to build it.
The road home also passed by the city of Reims with its impressive and
enormous gothic cathedral.
The smiling angels on the facade are unique to Reims cathedral.
Some of Reims cathedrals windows that were destroyed in wars were
replaced by 20th century artist Marc Chagall.