Thursday, August 17, 2017

Le Bonheur...C'est la Famille

This last eight days we have been blessed to have our wonderful kids, Nate and Elisa visit us.  They found one of those incredibly cheap round-trip tickets from Idaho Falls to Paris and took advantage.  We just cannot even express how great it was to be with them!  It was almost as good as going home, except that we got to add Southern France into the mix.  We are so grateful to Dave and Melissa and sweet Grandma Allen for taking care of their kids so they could come.  It was especially meaningful to Nate to come back to where he served as a young missionary some sixteen years ago. On the last day, we were in the Mission offices when Elder Battazatto from Sicily (and one of our favorite Elders) who had been serving on Corsica was there preparing to go home.  He and Nate had a great talk about serving in Corsica and even discovered that one of the people Nate had worked hard to find was there and doing really well.  This was a divine appointment for sure.
We went to the castle at Mornas where they dress in medieval garb and recreate life during the Middle Ages.  The little grand kids would have loved to play at a place like that right out of Robin Hood.  Then we went to Aigue Mortes (that means dead waters) in the Camargue, one of the most charming cities in France.  It is a beautiful old city completely surrounded by ramparts that you can climb and circle around the city.  We also visited the nearby ocean and would have stayed longer had it not been for the wind and sand storm.  We found some amazing restaurants and stayed at Les Arcades, a beautiful hotel inside the ramparts, fashioned out of medieval arches and stone walls.  It had great continental breakfasts with hot tartines, 5 kinds of jam, eggs, fresh, warm pain au chocolat and orange flower coffee cake and of course, hot chocolate and fresh squeezed orange and grapefruit juice.
We day-tripped from Aigues Mortes to Sommières, another beautiful city (they are everywhere in this country) with colorful flags, flowers galore, and a Roman bridge.  Nearby was the Chateau de Villeveille owned privately by a monsieur de Beauregard, a living remnant of the French nobility.  He gave us a private, guided tour that was amazing!  It was truly one of the most fascinating and educational things we have done as missionary-tourists/tourist-missionaries?  M. Beauregard was sincerely pleased to have Americans that spoke and understood French come to his castle. Apparently, it doesn’t happen very often. He  honored the occasion by showing us a piece of the last dress Marie Antoinette wore before she died and proudly showed us the portraits of his ancestors gracing the walls and explained how it came about that he ended up the care taker of the castle among his six living siblings who inherited the castle with him.   Renovations are painstaking and very expensive, but he loved doing it and felt a keen responsibility to his family to continue loving and caring for the place. We got in a traffic jam on the way home because of a fire on the side of the road and took over an hour for a fifteen minute “trajet.” Because our car is a hybrid and automatically kills the engine when you are stopped but continues to power the AC and phone charging, etc. our car was dead as a door nail the next morning.  A very kind gentleman from Holland in a large camper saved us by helping us with his jumper cables.  We maintain that people are generally really good and kind-hearted. 
The next day we headed to a place Lisy had never seen before; Nimes with is Roman arena and Maison Carré.   How these ancient places remain intact is unfathomable.  From here it was on to Aix-en-Provence, Nate’s favorite ville that he served in and easily one of ours too.  The Saturday market is probably the best we have experienced while here in France.  The sounds, colors and aromas are unlike anything else.  They just scream southern France.  And happily, Nate’s favorite missionary eating place was still there—Capri Pizza- ummmm!
Back in Lyon we saw some great architecture and wall murals and ate at Master Taco.  A visit to Lyon is never complete without Master Taco which has absolutely nothing to do with the Mexican Tacos we know at home.  It’s not hard to see (or taste) why it is the missionarys all-time favorite places to eat apart from chez Geddes. It’s more like a kabab with a bready wrap and killer sauces.  And then there is the obligatory tasting of every variety of Magnum bars known to mankind!  We did ourselves proud.
It was terribly hard to say good-bye to our kids this morning when we dropped them off at the gare.  We kept telling each other to stop crying, but it was no use.  We are just so grateful they were able to come, even if it did make us horribly “trunky.”  But when the French vacation time of August where EVERYBODY goes on vacation is over, we will roll up our sleeves and get back to Self-Reliance and other important missionary work that we love.  Ok.  So maybe we’d better roll up those sleeves today and prepare our Sunday School lesson for our French class in the ward this Sunday and get Primary ready since we are doing the whole third hour for the children, just the two of us. 

It’s just so overwhelmingly true that it is all about family, and there is nothing that brings greater happiness than getting to be with those “êtres chers”---precious loved ones. On vous aime!
Nate and Elisa in a vinyard of Provence.
Mom and daughter 
With legendary Lyon chef Paul Bocuse.  After everything we ate here, it felt like we got to know him personally.
The Maison-Carrée, a well preserved Roman temple in Nîmes.
The Roman arena in Nîmes
Nate and Elisa with the Papal palace in Avignon in the background.
Sister Barachant, a sweet sister in our Écully Ward invited us over for a wonderful Sunday meal.
The colorful marché in Aix-en-Provence.
We had to make a couple of trips to Master Taco in Lyon.