Sunday, September 19, 2010

What a Week-end!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday evening we invited David, Stephanie, and Manon, our neighbors over for dinner. They have been wonderful neighbors and we wanted to say good bye. We started out with a shrimp course and then we had beef stroganoff over noodles with a side squash dish. For dessert I made cookies and we also had store bought cookies. Before they left we talked to them about how we have such a good friendship, but that the most valuable thing we could give them was the gospel. We explained the Plan of Salvation to them and talked about the important things of eternity.

Saturday we went to the DeGrave's for lunch. It was so much fun. Claire had to drive her grandchildren to the Gare first and that took about an hour. I went with her and we had the best time talking and laughing and telling each other spiritually uplifting stories. I surprised myself so much. I am now able to have a little conversation iin French. It is awesome.

Domonique was in good form and he was able to be with us the entire time we were there.

This awesome couple were introduced to the gospel by young missionaries when they were a young married couple with 3 small children. Now they are one of the most faithful and diligent families in the Stake with many of their children and themselves in leadership positions .

As usual, Claire made the most delicious dinner. It started out with melon followed by Filet Mignon de Porc au Maroilles. Then there was Patisson au Reblochon a potato/ yellow squash/onion with cheese dish. Next we had green salad with melted goat cheese.

For dessert there was a Fall Cake full of fruits and nuts.

After a while the Boutoilles came over to say good bye to us. We love President Boutoille and his family so much. There are no finer people anywhere. Our visit with them was cut short because the JA's kept calling us and wondering when we would becoming to their meeting. Both the DeGrave's and the Boutoilles' gave us a farewell gift of some beautiful books of that area of France. We had a bit of a tearful good bye with even Patrick having tears in his eyes. We have certainly come to love the people of France. They have all been so kind and gracious to us.

After the meeting, we had one of the biggest surprises of our life. The meeting went really well. At the end of the meeting both Dh and I had to stand up in front and give a little inspirational talks and end with our testimonies. I totally surprised myself by talking for about 10 minutes and I did it in French with no notes or anything. Yeah me! I know I didn't do it correctly, but they all understood me. Happy day for me. Then we had the closing prayer and everyone just kept sitting there in the chapel. In a few minutes Alexandre and Claudine brought in a computer and began setting it up. We didn't think anything of it. We often have training or little things to looks at. Imagine our surprise when our picture shows up on the huge screen. Then the title rolls by and it says that this presentation is dedicated to the Arhets to thank them for all they have done. That was followed by the most wonderful presentation of pictures from our time with the JA's and the Center. It was soooooo touching. We never, ever expected such a wonderful tribute. At the end of the presentation there were pictures of many of the JA's giving their testimonies and leaving the most tender and touching comments and messages to us. Oh my gosh, I couldn't stop crying. Even now as I write I have tears flowing down my face. They all thanked us for setting up the center for them and for helping them to come to Christ. I am overwhelmed. We have loved serving the Lord on this mission, but this is the icing on the cake. After that we were like movie stars. They took us into a room filled with balloons and we took so many pictures. There were group pictures, pictures with individual JA's, group of JA's and on and on The cameras were flashing for about an hour.
Oh my goodness I have no words to express the happiness I felt.

Here are a few of the shots they took with my camera.

The girls are Fanny, Sophie, Esther, and Aurore.

Virginie and Shavaughn

Aurore, music teacher, returned missionary from England. She is a very bright, lovely young woman.

Fanny, me, Sophie, Esther. All 3 of these girls
are attending university. All three are musically talented. Sophie and Esther play piano, direct music and choir. Both of them play the flute. Esther is studying to be a doctor. Sophie is going into law and Fanny is deciding.

Me and Claudine. It was Claudine's birthday so we also celebrated that with lots of food and cakes.
This talented JA plays the violin like an angel. She also directs choir and plays the piano. She is a fantastic photographer too.

Me and Virginie, the example of a beautiful, smart, friendly young woman. Everyone could take a lesson from her.

Rebecca is engaged and she and Jason are planning a temple wedding possibly in Dec.

Nirina is from Madagascar. Oh my, this girl is so smart and diligent. She is always friendly and helpful. She is a great worker.

Remy has been a member for just 3 years. He gave up everything and is now a faithful leader in his ward.

The Duez family, Jacques, Celestine and baby Rose. Jacques is in the bishopric.

Noemie, my sweet girl. She is beautiful, smart, kind, and I just love her so much. She finished her studies in landscape architecture and is continuing studying this year

Unfortunately, Natacha, her sister was ill and could not attend. I really missed her a lot. These 2 girls and their sister Marie who also couldn't be there have become a big part of our lives. They are like our daughters and we will miss them oh so much.

Decorating and getting ready.

This family Belinda and Kai and their 2 cute girl got baptised this year. He plays pro French Football although they are from Tahiti.

Claudiine and Noemie being crazy.

And.... being their normal beautiful selves.

After the picture taking we resumed our normal plan for the evening. We had a buffet dinner, which the JA's took care of completely. I only brought a salad.

Many of the JA's changed into costumes for the ball since it was a masquerade.

Gregory a returned missionary from Scotland who is not vice president in a financial institution and Elder Firth.

As I know I have said before, but I can't help repeating it. Our numbers may be few, but the JA's here in France are awesome. They are the cream of the crop. Most of them anyway. And.......our numbers are growing and growing. I love these great young people. I know many of them are the future leaders of the church. The church will be in good hands with them.
In fact, I was talking yesterday with a leader from the Paris Center for Young Adults and he said that our Center is way better even though our numbers are fewer. Our center, he said, "has more activities, more organization, and a better feeling between the members."
I am soooo grateful that we have been able to establish this center and that it is running well and especially that the youth are ready to take over and to run it themselves just We thank Him every day for that.

There were several trays of these little cups about 2" tall filled with various combinations of food. These are carrots and apples.

These were my favorite; tuna salad with peaches.

There were beets with ? There were cucumbers with ham and creme fraiche.

There were a ton of pizzas (not pictured).

Our most awesome President of the JA's, Alexandre. He is ready to be in the Army of the Lord.

Don't mess with him.:)

Noemi was a tree.

Aurore a CAJAF young adult. Since it was held in Switzerland this year, everyone who attended had a shirt with the flag of Switzerland on it.

Virginie is a butterfly

Esther is the little girl perhaps from Loups Garous.

Yesterday we went to JA's sacrament in Arras. Then we had a buffet together and then we watched a great CES fireside in which Elder Scott spoke of marriage. He gave a great talk with lots of good advice.

On the way home, we took our JA Center elders with us and stopped to visit the Cathedral de Arras. This cathedral is only about 200 years old so it is not as ornate or fancy inside. It is however huge.

This is the ceiling in a little alcove. It is very beautiful.

Elders Kip and Firth

The whole cathedral is undergoing reconstruction and most of the humongeous outside is covered with scaffolding and tarps, so this is only a picture of one of the side entrances.


Yvonne said...

O.K. I was sitting here crying as I read about your wonderful slide presentation. What a wonderful gift. You will be missed by those young people so much. It is obvious that he love that you and your husband have shown them has been so appreciated.

I'm glad you had an opportunity to say goodbye to your friends and I hope your neighbors felt the Spirit as you bore your testimony of the Plan of Salvation. (You truly have touched so many.

Your heart must be so full.

(It's funny but the word verification is "bless"

Connie said...

Wow! What a wonderful experience you've had! I'm sure you're going to miss everything! I'd miss the delicious looking food!
It's good you're able to say farewell to the people you love and will miss.

I can't wait to meet you! Looking forward to you arriving in our fair city!

May God bless you!

nikko said...

Amazing! Way to out with a bang! :o)


utmommy said...

I'd love to see that slide show. Maybe they could give you a copy. We can't wait to see you guys. 13 days and counting!!!!!

Love you so much.

The bishop needs a pic of you and dad so he can get a plaque to hang up asap. Please email me one along with your favorite scripture.

Lana said...

what fun pictures and what a lovely weekend!

marcia@joyismygoal said...

What a grand accomplishment for your son I know you are proud mama we are always their moms no matter their age:)-- What more can be said .........What a testament of your hard work and the wonderful kind shiny happy joyful loving spirit you two carry w/you and give so freely to others - Your mission was so worthwhile so full of love and selfless service so lasting your legacy will be felt for a very long time....and you have documented it so beautifully here that you will cherish and be able to relive those heart-tender times over and again and strengthen even more people in the future than you even have already in person and here on your blog because your experiences have brought us so much joy-- Thank you Natalie for sharing w/us w/me