Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Springtime Fair, Waffles, Zone Conf, and More

Ususally on Tuesdays before we have to go to dist. mtg. we go to the Marche to buy veggies and fruit and I always get a couple of tiny chickens cooked on the rotisserie that are so delicious. Well, this Tuesday early morning we went, but instead of the open market, we saw lots of amusement rides set up. We found out that Mouscron has a big springtime festival for 10 days. Today we had a free afternoon, so we went and had fun wandering around, looking at the rides, and watching the kids have lots of fun. I thought it was interesting that all of the little kiddies ride have chairs set up right by them so that the parents can sit down and watch their children.

This statue is in front of the church which I showed in my last post. It is in memory of all those Mouscronians who lost their lives in the war. The church is in the Center de Ville and that is exactly where the fair was too.

They had quite a few food booths. This one sold churros with Nutella. Everyone here just loves Nutella.

This one is a nougat stand which sells lots of nougat candies.

This one sells waffles of all kinds and also some other sweets. There are waffle stands all over Belgium just like hamburger or ice cream places in the U.S.

Typical cafe in France or Belgium. You can sit for hours and nurse a drink while you people watch.

Did you know that Coney Island is right here in Mouscron?:)

This picture is out of order, but it is of a large, old home for destitute people. Inside it is very ornate with old wallpaper, and beautiful wood everywhere although it is very run down and damaged from the war. The Bulgarians live here. I will write about them a bit further down on this blog.

This lovely home is right by Center de Ville. Someone important must live here, I think.

Yesterday we found out that 3 of our Elders are being transferred to new areas. We will miss them a lot. We are going to get 3 new Elders and a New sister too. Here we are for our last photo together. It is amazing how close we become to these wonderful young people who are here to serve the Lord. They are great youth and we are privileged to work with them. We look forward to meeting the new group.

I thought it would be fun to post about some of my everyday products. Here are the herbs and spices that I use all the time. See if you can read their names and recognize them.

Oils, vinegars, lemon juice, vanilla, and almond extract.

My trusty laundry helpers.

Hopefully these new helpers will work better. It's hard to get laundry clean here. We have to do lots of hand pre-washing. No, I do not use the toothpaste to wash clothes. Just thought it belonged in this picture.

Nutella, chestnut patae, and drink mixes.

There are so many sugars here. I just guess and then use them. They are all good.

We have an Italian couple who are here from Italy(obviously). They came to see her son who lives in France, but were only able to travel as far as Lille where they ran out of money. They have a really old, beat-up trailer which they parked in the church parking lot when we first arrived here. After a few months, they were told they couldn't really use the church as a home and so they have moved their trailer across the street in an apartment parking lot. They now are receiving aid from France. The husband, Marco, is an artist. He is looking for work. Maria, his wife, stays with him. She is very emotional and very dramatic. She always has lots to say although it is all in Italian and we do not understand her. They are pleasant and quite nice, but a very unusual couple. Well anyway, they go to eat at a shelter. There they met the Bulgarians. The Bulgarians are here because she, Hairaie, is blind and is waiting to have surgery. The French government is also supporting them because Vasil, the husband, also has problems with epilepsy being one of them. Sorry this story is so long, but I want to be able to remember it. Anyway, these couples met at the home, picture up higher in the blog. They do not speak each other's languages, but Maria speaks some Serbian and Hairaie also speaks Serbian. So they began to communicate and the Italian couple began teaching the Bulgarians the gospel along with the missionaries. Actually, the missionaries would give the lessons in french. Marco, who speaks french would translate into italian and Maria would translate into serbian at which time Hairaie would translate into bulgarian to her husband. Well, this went on for a while, but then they all found out that the Bulgarians also speak some russian. Since the Serbian was only paritally acceptable, they asked me to become the translator which I did. Wow, what a process. Unfortunately I don't know all the ecclesiastical terminolog in Russian, so it was difficult, but now I know a whole lot more. Well, the Bulgarans decided that they wanted to be baptized. DH was given special permission to do their interviews and I was the translator. Then last Saturday they were baptized. I had to give the talk on the sacrament and on the gift of the Holy Ghost in russian. I was so nervous. I guess I did a pretty good job because so many people came up to me afterwards and said how they really felt the spirit and could feel the truthfullness of the things that I was saying. The Bulgarian's loved it and their baptism was a truelly spiritual feast for many. The following day, Sunday, I had to translate again in the investigator's class from French to Russian. Since I am still struggling with my French, it was quite the task. Fortunately I know the concepts and was able to follow along and explain the concepts to the Bulgarians. The first time I hugged Hairaie, she began to cry and said that I felt just like her Mom, who has died. Now she thinks that I am like her Mom. This couple both have very sweet dispositions and they have a firm love of Jesus Christ and of God. The picture is the day of the baptism. Marco baptised Vasil and Elder Bertrand baptised Hairaie. It was a wonderful day. DH and I had just arrived at church and were still in our coats, but they insisted that we be in the picture.

Maria and Marco

Saturday after the baptism, we had an activity for our youth. We were supposed to watch a movie, but the film didn't work. The youth played pictionary and I made waffles for them. I must have cooked at least 70 to 80 or so waffles. It took me about 3 hours to do it all because my waffle iron(brand new) didn't work, so I had only one waffle iron. While the kids played, I cooked and cooked and cooked. I also made 3 pizzas for them. They love the evening. They loved the food, and they had a great time. I was exhausted. I could barely walk up our stairs my feet hurt so much after being up and working all day. My bed looked really good that night.:)

About a week ago, we had a great zone conference. Elder Robert Oaks and his wife came to talk to us. He, Elder Oaks is a retired 4 star general from the U.S. Air Force. He is now the area authority in Europe and is an awesome man and an awesome teacher. Our day went so fast listening to his fascinating stories. Our day actually began very early. We got up about 4:00a.m. and drove to Lille. There we met 2 of the elders and together with them we walked to the metro. I was worried if I could walk that far, but they assured me that if I had trouble they would just carry me. HAHA. Well, I did just great. We took the metro, transferred to another metro and then met up with the other missionaries at the Gare in Lille. There we had a chartered bus waiting for us. Unfortunately the 3 sisters missed the bus. They ended up taking the train which cost them abt 24euro each. However, they did get there way before we did. We traveled for about 2 hours to Brussels.

We all had lunch together. Sister Oaks is the 2nd one from the right. What a great woman she is. She gave a great talk. She talked about being prepared, planning your day and loving your companion. "How do you want to be remembered by your companion?" Act the way you want to be remembered and be of service to your companion. Christ asks us to be perfect. Act on it and become more and more perfect each day. She told us the story of a woman in Germany with 3 small children whose husband had just left her. She was in despair and had no purpose in life. She decided to kill herself and her 3 children, so she put them in the car in the garage and was about to turn on the gas. At that moment 2 missionaries knocked on her door. She decided to answer. They asked her," Do you know the meaning of life?" Do you know who you are?" She started to slam the door, but one of them put his foot in the door. She let them in and they explained the purpose of life to her. She found the truth and joined the church. She
has now made a good life for herself.

You can't see Elder Oaks, but at the front right is our mission pres. He is one of the 5 founders and chief financial officer of Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream. He is also the retired pres. of Hooked on Phonics. He spoke on setting goals. He talked of how they (Dryers)went from 25 million to a billion dollar business in 10 years by setting goals. He said that he usually doesn't talk about his business activities, but to make the point that day he did. He said that because of setting goals they were able to become the number 1 ice cream company although they never could bet Blue Belle. (Texans, we know what he is talking about.)

Elder Oaks talked about so many things; what kind of missionaries are we, leadership strategies, principles of compionship, building testimonies, and so many other things. At one point he opened up the floor to questions.
A few of the questions:
How can we have faith in ourselves? Build your confidence, incease in knowledge, be obedient, have unity, listen to the Holy Ghost. Do all you possibly can and the Lord will do the rest.
How do you know the priesthood is true? There are many ways that he knew, but he said that he has personally witnessed the healing power of the priesthood. He told the following story. Sometime back, while he was in the midst of planning a war for the United States, he came home from work one day and got a phone call from his good friend asking him to accompany him to give his wife, Mary a blessing. "What is wrong with her?" "Mary has been in a bad accident tonight and is about to go into surgery. Her face has many broken bones and the roof of her mouth has collapsed. Will you go with me?" Of course he went. When he saw Mary she looked horrible, bruised and broken. They proceeded to give her a blessing. In the blessing Mary was promised that she would be healed. They went home. The following day he thought about Mary, but was too busy at work to visit her. The day after that he went to the hospital. When he got to her room, she wasn't there. Upon asking the nurses, he was told that Mary had gone home. "How can that be? She just had a serious operation?" Well, she has gone home, he was told. So, he too went home. When he arrived at home and walked into his kitchen, he saw Mary there with her children having dinner with his wife. Upon asking her what happened, Mary related the following story. She was all prepped for surgery and the Dr. wanted to take one more x-ray to be sure of which bones he would be reparing. When he looked at the x-ray, he found no broken bones. He took a 2nd x-ray. Still no broken bones and no collapsed roof of the mouth. He then looked at the first x-rays which showed all of the damage. "Oh, said the dr. these x-rays must have gotten water marks on them." Well, Mary knew there were no water marks. It was the power of the priesthood and the blessing that she received that had healed her.
How do we replace fear with faith? prayer, study, understanding See D&C67:1,2,3
How do we work with more power? faith, spirit, careful planning, confidence, unity, knowledge See D&C123:17
How do I know if I am trully converted? This is a learning process all of your life. You must be converte to the principles. Eventually you must say, I will follow the prophet. You must submit yourselves in everything. The most important step is when you can say: I know that Jesus is the Christ, that He is my Savior, that I cannot enter into the kingdom without His atonement. I know that the gospel was restored in the last days. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of god and that Joseph Smith saw the Father and the Son and I know that there is a living prophet today.
I know this so long, so I will post more later.
These ducks live in our backyard and they are so noisy every morning.
This guy tried to peck me through the fence while I was taking pictures.

Spring is here.

This is the rooster who starts crowing at the crack of dawn and gets the geese all riled up. Try to sleep with all of that racket.

We took a little walk in our neighborhood and I thought it would be fun to post some of the signs. The first one is of a little roundabout. They have roundabouts all over the country.

All of the pharmacies have green crosses. Lots of them blink on and off. This one doesn't.

Our stake in Tx wanted a picture of us, so I sent this one.


Yvonne said...


I ate a lot of Nutella the first time I went to France. I haven't had it for a long time.

I think the funniest thing is milk in cardboard boxes and not in the refrigerator. That always seemed so strange.

Love all your stories about the work. You are AMAZING. I can't believe all the translating you are doing. I admire you so very much.

I think Elder Robert Oaks is an amazing man. He looks so stern, but seems to have such a soft heart.

Thanks so much for sharing these wonderful experiences you are having.

I am so glad it is spring SOMEWHERE ; )

Amie said...

Thanks for visiting and your nice comment! Where are you from?

Catherine said...

Bonjour Natalie,
If you're a Marcia's friend, I come and see you : ) She's a very good and attentive person.
First reading your first name, I thought you were French speaking. It's a common name for us. I don't read a lot when I visit English or American blog.
First, the fair. We get just the same in France. Waffles and crèpes.
In Belgium, you can add, French fries, no ?
Your mission in Belgium seems to give you a lot of work and activity, you can't have time for homesick. It gives you also the opportunity to meet a lot of people from all over the world. It "opens mind".
I hope you enjoy your time in Belgium.
I've come three times in Belgium, on the coast, and I like people here. They're very welcoming persons. But it concerns the Dutch language part. I don't know if it's the same on the French language side.
Bon week-end, Natalie.

txmommy said...

those geese are very european looking!

Nancy Face said...

So many great things to read and fabulous pictures to see! Wonderful post! :)

Linda Clark said...

Loved this! I'm so proud you are able to pull up your Russian! Remember so many years ago I told you to teach it to your kids--Lana used a little when she was small and Alec was a baby. Well, how wonderful you are--both of you! It's great reading about your experiences.

Robin said...

How amazing. I love the pictures... hope you didn't get pecked to bad... Still trying to get eh phone number for you.
Have a good love love and miss you