Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas in Bailleul

Wonderful Belgian chocolates are a great way to start Christmas day don't you think. We each had on about 11:00 and then we took off to pick up the Elders and drive to Bailleul, a quaint little town in France.
We were invited to spend the day with the Degraves a kind, well-respected family in the area.
We arrived to the hustle and bustle of a big family which made us feel right at home.
We had a huge delicious meal which lasted for about 4 hours. We started out with appetizers of little bread rounds spread with pate of olives, pate of anchovies, and pate of eggplant. I didn't try the anchovie, but the other two were pretty good. Then we had raw oysters and escargots. DH did not even eat one oyster. He remembers gagging on as a young kid. He did have one escargot. I ate 2 oysters which I liked and I really liked the escargot although a lot of the kids even here in France said EUH! Then we had boudin blanc or white sausage served with a prune sauce (very mushy) which was just delicious. I loved it. Out main course was chapons. It took us a long time to figure what it was. They said it was a small turkey, but not a turkey. Finally with the help of a computer we found out that they were capons or castrated chickens. They were very tender and tasty. We ate these with green beans and little mashed potatoe balls, about the size of gumballs, fried like mashed potatoes. These were also very tasty. Then many went to the town square for a walk and some like most of the kids for ice skating. When we returned the meal continued. We had salad, a variety of cheeses with bread and finally Bouche de Noel and chocolate candies. The Bouche used to be cake, but now they make them out of ice cream, so they are ice cream cake bouces. They were yummy. We were so full.
After that we still had to take the Elders to another town so they could eat dinner with another family. I don't know how they managed to eat again, but they said it would be no problem. I guess big boys can eat a lot.:)
After we dropped the Elders off, DH got to talk to his french family. They talked and laughed for a whole hour. It was great for him and them too. We also got to talk to all of our family either Christmas day or the day before.
We had a wonderful day, although I must say that I missed my own family a lot, a lot!
But, the work of the Lord must go on, so I must be brave. We are impressed with the testimonies and love of the Lord that these wonderful Saints here have.

We wish everyone a wonderful Christmas. We love you.


This is the wonderful Degrave family with whom we spent Christmas day. To the left is Raquel who married their son Tomas. They have a little daughter, Amaya who is 22 months old. In the middle is Stephanie and then there is Claire, the Mom. The Degrave's have 10 children and 22 grandchildren with one daughter in labor right now and another one due any day. At this time Bro. Degrave is suffering with Parkinsons which is affecting his muscles so much that he cannot eat and has to be tube fed. He also is mostly bedridden although he did briefly get up. At one point he even took a short stroll in his garden with DH, a feat which amazed his family. He is a former Stake Pres. and is also a Patriarch, so I think the two of them had something to talk about. Next is Elise(daughter). She is about to have a baby any day. She and her hubby have 3 children. Marc is the high council rep for Outreach so we will be working with him. He served his mission in Greece and there he learned to speak English as well as Greek. He says that Greece is the most difficult mission in the church and that the people are extremely hard to teach although he did love them. Remember that Greeks are pretty stubborn and also "every word has a Greek root" :) Who knows what movie I'm quoting? Marc and his brother develop, construct and run several day care centers that are centered in large business corporations.

Next we have David, a fireman and Elder Baker from Manchester.

This is Claire and me. Claire says that we have so many things in common and I agree. We hit it off right away.
The final picture is Stephanie and David. They have 3 children. Stephanie served her mission in Scotland and he in England. Both speak great English, so I lucked out. I had lots of people to talk to.


The outskirts of Bailleul where we went to the Degrave's house for Christmas. The church is almost across the street from their house. The next picture is their house.

On the way to the Center of town.

The last picture is of the Mayrie.


Pictures from the lovely French "ville". That is Tomas's head. He is married to Raquel and served his mission in Spain.

A street corner and then pictures of the church.


A castle like building behind the Mayrie and another part of the church with DH and 2 elders beside him.

Still more of the church and then some of the quaint houses and shops. This particular "ville" is very charming with each house cuter than the last.


In front of the Mayrie in many of the towns and cities that we have seen there is a temporary ice skating rink that many enjoy. After a huge 4 hour meal, we went into town and walked around. The children and a few adults skated.

This is Raquel a daughter-in-law from Madrid, Spain. She lived for a great part of a year in Illinois and speaks great English.

Next, you see one of the charming streets and a picture of the church which is just behind the Mayrie.

The Degraves loaded us down with gifts. We each got a beautiful book. One is of the land and the waters and the other is of castles and abbeys. We also got a box of chocolates and a homemade roll for breakfast the next day. The roll was delicious when we ate it this morning. How kind they were to include us in gift giving. They also gave each of their children and grandchildren a gift and I noticed that they were quite modest, such as a dish towel and potholder, a photo, a book, etc.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Here are our missionaires. First we have Elder Bailey from Seattle, Wash and Elder Neilsen from Tremonton Utah. They are the Zone leaders. These two are the greatest. They are spiritually inclined, smart, and have great sense of humors. Next we have our Sister Trio. Sister Boucout is from Guadelupe. In the middle is Sister Stay from American Fork, Utah, and on the left is Sister Santos from Sao Paulo, Brazil. The sisters are just awesome.

Irene is the girl on the left. She is from the U.S. but has moved a lot. Her origins are in Korea. She served a mission in Toulouse, France and is now on a Teaching Assistant Assignment from BYU. She already has her B.A. and is working on her masters. She is a lovely young woman. The missionary in the midst of the girls is Elder Perez from Toulouse, France. He speaks a little English, but not as much as he first led me to believe. His french is sooo fast. When I ask him to slow down, he says, "No, No" . Well we were doing some role plays at the last mtg and we were doing it in English. He said "Oh, too fast". Well Elder I said now we have the reverse situation. We all laughed. He is full of fun. Next we have Elder Riley from S.L.C. Utah. He is the district leader. He's very quiet and serious all the time, but a real go getter. His companion, in the middle, is Elder Cabrera. He is brand new from Oregon. He is full of fire, smart and the nicest guy. On the right is Elder Baker from Manchester, England. What a great guy. I love talking to him. Actually all of these Elders and Sisters are just awesome. You can really feel the spirit strongly when you are with any one of them. They put the Lord first in all things and they are having very successful missions. We are blessed to be working with them and we have grown to love them even in this short time.
I don't know why my computer is being so crazy. I can't seem to format my paragraphs to go where I want them. Oh well, I figure this is better than nothing. Hope you all understand.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Parties

We invited the missionaries over for a Christmas Buffet. 9 Elders, 3 Sisters, and Irene my special, young adult friend and helpful translator who served her mission in Toulouse, France and is now working at the university as an assistant to an english professor. I made a turkey, gravy, potatoe salad, french sausage hor d'ouvres and bought a Panatone (Italian Christmas Bread), and soda . One miss. brought mashed potatoes from a box that his Mom had sent, another brought dressing, that his Mom sent. We also had yummy french bread, rice salad, 2 quiches that one of the Sister Bouqout. We finished with delicious crepes made by Irene. The missionaries ate every last morsel of just about everything. They all came as a group on the metro, riding and walking for about 1 1/2 hrs.
We had a great time together. We sang Christmas hymns. They sounded so good. They even sang harmonizing parts. We played games, laughed and talked until everyone had to leave. When I brought out the Panatine, Sister Santos from Brazil was delighted. She said they eat that in her country and it was her favorite. She said I made her day by getting it. Of course I was careful to send a big piece home with her.

Just before they left, they presented us with a special gift. They had all gotten together and got us a picture frame with sections and all of their pictures as well as one of the Savior in it. There are empty spots for us and our fam too. I was so touched by their thoughtfullness.

It was a wonderful day.

In the evening DH and I went to visit a neighbor with a little Noel gift. We visited about an hour and then asked if we could come back to tell them about Jesus Christ. They said sure we can, but that they really didn't believe in anything. Well, we are happy to go and teach them about the most important person ever to have lived, our Savior Jesus Christ. Keep David and Stepanie in your prayers. They also have a daughter about 14, whose name neigher DH nor I could understand.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Reverse Order

I just realized that my apartment pictures are in reverse order. I guess I should have started at the bottom and worked up. Well, anyway one last picture. This is our washer and dryer. They are tiny. They only hold 6kgs or 2.2 lbs each. They are both brand new, but the dryer has never worked. As I mentioned before, no customer service here. We called many times and finally someone came to look at the dryer. We had to also call the day of delivery to make sure he was coming. Then we had to sit by the front windows to watch for him because our door bell doesn't work. He finally came and said it is unrepairable . Now we are waiting for a new dryer as this one can't be fixed. We have made several calls. Today we called and they said they will probably come on Wednesday the 24th. Of course this is the day we have invited all of the missiaries to come over for a party at noon. Oh well, he will just have to deliver in the midst of the party. :) We don't dare put if off. As an interesting side note, the repairman who came was a young guy of 21. He was born in Canada and lived there until he was 8 yrs old. Then his parents got divorced and they all moved back to Belgium. He still speaks perfect English and in fact prefers to speak English. He hopes to move back to Canada as soon as he can. Well, I talked to him about the church and offered him a Book of Mormon. He was very receptive to it all. However, he lives very far from him. I asked if he would like to have the missionaries and he said yes. So, my very first giving away of the Book of Mormon and now he will be having the discussions. How great is that!!!!!!

Final apt pictures

Our bedroom. I am still going to buy a bed eggcrate or something as the bed is kind of hard. No closets in any of the rooms, so we have an armoire. This is very typical of homes here.

Far side of our bedroom. You can notice all of the radiators in the rooms. They are quite efficient.

Our little toilet room. You flush by pulling up on the knob in the middle of the tank.

The bathroom and tub/shower.

More apt pictures

Look at this table. Have you ever seen anything like it? The fish are made of brass. When we arrived it was proudly displayed in the middle of the room. I like it much better kind of hidden by the window. Looking into our kitchen. When you rent or buy and apartment here in Belgium and in France, it comes completely bare. No cupboards, floors, appliances, fixtures, nothing. I think our kitchen is rather cute. It's small but it works well, although I am still trying to learn how to use the oven.
My first experience with the oven was rather sad. I still didn't have my pc, so I didn't know how to check the temp convertion to adjust the heat. Well, I guessed and put the chicken in. About 1/2 hr. later I went to check it. When I opened the door, a huge cloud of steam and smoke came out of the oven setting off the fire alarm, which we didn't even know we had. DH went to search for the fire alarm while I was opening all the windows and doors to air out the place. Before 5 mins had passed the police were here to check things out. Luckily we were able to shut off the alarm and before the police got to the 3rd floor all was quiet. The chicken was not burnt, but it was the toughest old hen I have ever tried. We really couldn't even eat it. The next day I made soup out of her. It made me remember when a few friends of mine and I went to Sister Tongs farm to help her slaughter and clean her old hens. There were about 100 old chickens in that pen. That was the most disgusting afternoon! Each person had a job. Some had to kill the old hens, others had to hand them up upside down so the blood would drip out. Ugh! Others had to dip them in water and pluck the feathers. My job was to clean out the innards and there were other various jobs. I remember the Sisters taking turns killing the chickens. I just couldn't do it although Sister Ferrari tried and tried to have me take a turn. It was too gross; chickens running all over the pen, flapping their wings, squawking, etc. I guess I would not be a good farmer.

More of our kitchen. I am taller than the refrigerator. Can you imagine that? I am finally taller than something.

The other side of the kitchen and a view into the living room. the door to the right leads to a storage room where we have the water barrel and an old cupboard that I use as a pantry.

The spare bedroom. It is waiting for some curtains.

Our Apartment

These are our neighbors geese. I am not sure if the are guard geese or if they are waiting to be someone's yummy dinner. Although you can't tell in the picture, they are huge! They are the fattest geese I have ever seen. They also make a good alarm clock early in the morning. In the late morning after they have been out quite far and for quite a long time, they come running back to the house at top speed, honking and flapping their wings. I think it is dinner time for them.
Our front room, study, dining room combination. We are ordering new carpets for this room one day this week. Let's see how many weeks it will be before they will come and install it.

Our study area. The table on the left has to be propped against the wall and by the table on the right. Otherwise it will fall right down. Even so, it is quite wobbly.

Our dining room table and bookshelf. The chairs will need to be painted and seats re-upholstered when we get some time and the proper equip. to do it. Do you love our Christmas tree?