Wednesday, September 27, 2017

"Noah's Arc for our Day"

When we first came on our mission, we really had no idea what a call to serve in Self-Reliance meant.  Now that we have rounded the ¾ mark of our mission time spent here in France, Belgium and Switzerland, we can truly say that we are 100% converts to the initiative. We can also say with conviction that the concept of Self-Reliance is a principle of salvation. The initiative is inspired and must surely be the “Noah’s ark for our day.”  The Lord is in charge, and He knows what is needed for his people to prepare them for the Second Coming. Doctrine and Covenants 104:15 “ And is my purpose to provide for my saints for all things are mine.” 

The Self-Reliance Initiative through its many facets and courses teaches spiritual as well as temporal self-reliance.  To the Lord, all things are spiritual; they are at no time separate and are interdependent. President Uchtdorf explains that they are like two sides of a coin that cannot be pulled apart. At first I had a hard time with the term “spiritual self-reliance” because it seemed to imply that we could do it all ourselves without the Savior.  But now I understand that it means that we have our own strong and lasting relationship with the Lord without relying on other human beings for the foundation of our faith. Our faith is in Christ and we realize that we are totally dependent on His power and grace. Becoming self-reliant makes us more like Him, the supreme example of self-reliance who wants us to have the peace, hope and sense of progress that come from working on and achieving our self-reliance goals. This is in direct opposition to what the adversary wants for us; dependence, slavery and misery.

Elder Ballard’s conference address in last April’s 2017 General Conference entitled “Return and Receive” states that those who are most successful in this life and most prepared for the next  are those with a strong vision of where they are headed and tactical goals to keep them focused.  He reminds us that God, the Father has given us the perfect example of goal setting and planning.  His goal is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man [and woman], and His means to achieve it is the plan of salvation."

Self-Reliance courses have an impressive goal setting component with regular evaluations of where we are, where we are headed, how we are planning to get there, and then, the crucial element of “returning and reporting” is featured.

We have planted many seeds on our mission but don’t always get to see the fruits of our labors.  Last week we were blessed to see the fruits. Last March we had participated in a ward council meeting where members who could benefit from a Self-Reliance devotional were identified and invited. We went with the Bishop of the Nancy ward to find and invite three inactive families to church and our Self-Reliance fireside.  All three families came to church the next day, stayed for the ward luncheon, and participated in the fireside that we presented. Better still, one couple signed up for a self-reliance group and then completed the course.  We were privileged to return for the ceremony months later where participants received their certificates of completion.  We were very moved by the testimony of this same brother who said the course brought him and his wife closer together, got them coming to church again, and helped them learn to pay their tithing among other important goals.  We are grateful to have come full circle, sharing this thrilling moment with visible, unforgettably delicious fruit!   

Self-Reliance Certificate Awarding Ceremony

Jessy bearing his testimony about his Self-Reliance experience

Jessy's wife receiving her certificate

Jessy paying his tithing

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Le Bonheur c'est des amis! Happiness is wonderful friends!

Le Bonheur, c’est des amis!  Happiness is wonderful friends!

It has been such a joy to welcome wonderful friends to Lyon.  We have been blessed to have Jeff and Lori Anderson from Rexburg, then Candy Miller and Judy Steiner from Chester and Rexburg, and after that, Rob and MaryLou Hardisty from Hawaii.  It’s a strangely wonderful and wonderfully strange to experience the colliding of two universes like this.  You become so involved in your life and service here which is all-consuming, and then suddenly you get to be with special people from home and blasts from the past. We have loved every minute of this Geddes B&B life and feel extremely blessed to love and be loved by such amazing friends! And to be able to share the charm, beauty, cultural and historical richness of this beautiful country with them… Oh là là!

Lori and Jeff are figuring France out.

She's even got her own shop in France.

You have to try all the Magnum bar flavors!

Too many Magnum bars?

A new kind of crown for the Queens!
Magnificent sights.  And the Cathedral isnt' bad, either.

A view of Lyon from Fourviere

Diner at Le Petit Ogre

Ain't she sweet!

Hardistys having a religious experience in St. Martin Ainay without pastries!

Rob's favorite part; Chateau de Germolles

Roman Aquaduct --Gier

When there is a demonstration and the roads are blocked to cars, pas de soucis!

Place Belcour at night

Friday, September 1, 2017

Sowing and Harvesting

Sixteen years ago, while on his mission in the France, Marseilles mission, our son-in-law, Nate, served for some time on Corsica.  His mission president gave him a particular assignment to look for a certain member who had fallen out of activity and moved to Ajaccio on the island of Corsica.  Nate and his companion finally located the brother who was not at all interested.  Throughout his time on Corsica, Nate and his companion continued making attempts to bring this brother back but with no success.  He was sorry to have to report back to his mission president that they were totally unsuccessful.

Fast forward sixteen years.  Our daughter Elisa and her husband Nate came for a visit.  We took them into the office to introduce them to the office missionaries.  All the departing missionaries in the last rotation had just left for home except for Elder Battazzato who was in the office waiting for his later flight home to Sicily.  When Nate learned that Elder Battazzato had just finished his mission on Corsica, he was excited to talk with him.  In the course of their conversation, Nate asked specifically about this brother whom he had labored to reactivate without success.  Elder Battazzato's face lit up as he told Nate that this man was a stalwart member of the branch and is currently serving in the branch presidency.

There are so many times that missionaries feel like their efforts have had little or no success.  We just have to remember we are often harvesting crops that were planted by others and won't get to see the fruits of many of the seeds we are now sowing.

With Elder Battazzato who is on his way home to Sicily.

Our good friends from home, Jeff and Lori Andersen, came for a visit.

We took the Andersens on a day trip to Annecy.  Sister Geddes and Lori were apparently trying to color-coordinate while they were here!

The château of Menthon overlooking Lake Annecy.

Château Menthon dining hall and fireplace.

A bedroom in Château Menthon. (Self-portrait and photo-bomb by Jeff in the mirror!)

The music room.

Part of the château's extensive library.

A beautiful courtyard.

The château kitchen with a rail-car connecting directly to the dining room, 30 feet away.

The château guard looks like he has been standing there for a long time.