Friday, February 26, 2010

Belinda, Vera

A yummy strawberry cheesecake tart. How does one resist all these delicious treats?
We had a very wonderful baptism on Wednesday evening. Belinda and her husband are in France from Tonga. He is playing rugby here. Their two little girls are adorable. Sisters Koehler and Gappmaier met her just a few short weeks ago and began teaching her the gospel. Belinda says that she is so happy to find Jesus Christ and the true gospel. She was thrilled to be baptized.

Ben Fahour, the ward mission leader for Lille, baptized her.

Vera is from Belarus, the country between Russia and Poland. She has had a very sad story. She is living in Belgium with her 3 yr old son, Maxim and is expecting a second baby. Her husband (not really) was from Nigeria. Vera has a passport and papers, but Maxim although he has been in the Netherlands since he was a small child has no official papers. Because of this, they could not be officially married even though they searched out all avenues and went to both embassy's, etc. Anyway, they had some sort of a little unofficial ceremony and considered themselves to be husband and wife. About 3 months ago Dixon was killed. It was an act of violence, but the police will not give Vera the details because of their status. She knows there was some sort of foul play involved. The Belgian gov't had him cremated even though she begged them not too knowing that he didn't want that. Also involved is a man named Robert. Before Dixon's death, they had many problems and arguments with Robert. After Dixon's death, Robert began stalking Vera and her son and also sending many strange people to her house. She finally had to get a restraining order against him from the police.
Meanwhile, 2 missionaries met Robert on the street and began talking to him about the gospel. He told them that he was not interested, but he knew someone who would be very interested. He sent them to Vera's. When the 2 missionaries arrived at Vera's door and told her that Robert sent them, she began yelling at them and telling them to go away and not to bother her and to never come back. 2 weeks later the missionaries saw her walking in the center of town with little Maxim. She saw them also and she says that she felt embarrassed for yelling at them and did not want to see them or to talk to them. However, she felt a force pushing her to cross the street and to apologize to them. She did cross the street and as she approached them, she says that she was overcome with a wonderful feeling radiating from them. She did, in fact, apologize to them. They then asked her if she wanted to learn about the church and because of that good feeling she had, she invited them to come over. At this point, the missionaries called us because Vera is Russian. We went to her house and she told us her story. She cried a lot because she feels so lost and because she is all alone now. The missionaries gave her a Book of Mormon which she has been reading and she had many, many deep questions. We were able to answer her questions and also taught her the plan of salvation. It has been a pleasure to teach her. Last Sunday she attended church for the first time and she loved it. She said that she felt so welcomed and that everyone was so friendly to her, but most of all she felt a wonderful feeling and a closeness to the Lord. She said she felt so good that she wants to go back every week. We explained to her that those good feelings that she is having were coming from the Holy Ghost and was a testimony to her that the church is true and that the things we are teaching her are true. We have taught her again and she has told us that she loves the Book of Mormon and that when she is reading it, she has very good feelings and she feels so close to the Lord as she is reading. She says that she knows that "this is a holy book". She's not crying as much and she now has a hope in the future. She wants to be baptized.
I was reading my scriptures today and found a little note that I had written to myself:
Faith helps people by giving them hope for the future which in turn makes this life more pleasurable, happy and joyful with a sense of direction and purpose. Faith has helped me in many ways. It has made me become a more service oriented person, one who is more interested in the welfare of others.
I am also reminded of my daughter Valerie's favorite scripture:
Doctrine and Covenants 14:7 "And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God."

Vera with a happy smile on her face after many months of tears.

Here is Elder Arhets with 2 of the Dutch speaking elders.
The one on the left is brand new from Amsterdam. In the middle is Elder Garrett.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Americaine, Lunch with DeGrave's

Saturday the missionaries put on a super fun activity for the 2 wards. It was American night. We had a great attendance and lots of investigators there. Everyone really enjoyed themselves. We began the evening with western line dancing. Boy, did everyone get into it. They were kicking up their heels (literally) and having a great time.

Elder Harper and Soeur Kohler did a fantastic job calling the moves and showing the steps. They are both awesome dancers.

Some of our JA's dancing. They actually had an activity going on in the other room where they played games and ate crepes, but they joined in the ward activity for a while too.

Sylvie had a ball.

Ooops, forgot to turn this picture around.

We drank sodas, juices, and water.

We ate chili, chips, and home made corn dogs. Sorry, no picture. There were lots of cookies for dessert.

Here is a typical picture of me sewing the missionaries clothes. I have repaired lots of pants and jackets, hemmed or let out lots of pants and also taught them how to do it themselves. Wish I had my sewing machine here.

Sunday after church we had a lunch/dinner with the DeGrave Family. This family is soooooo nice. They have 9 children, all grown and all married in the temple. They have tons of grandchildren. Claire and I have many things in common and enjoy spending time together.

Dominique was a Bishop, Stake President for many years and then a Patriarch for many years. He and Dh have tons to discuss having shared many of the same callings. Unfortunately he cannot talk very well anymore and he can barely walk because he is suffering from Parkinson's. He cannot eat or function very well at all. However, he still comes to church almost every week.

We had a delicious dinner again.

These are little crepes filled with a little dab of ginger avocado.

This is a crab tarting. Soooo good.

Little mashed potato balls wrapped in confit de cannard. (preserved duck). This had a strong but definitely good taste. Not sure what made the potatoes orange?

Next we had turkey with a potato/onion dish.

As usual we finished with salad and cheese and ended the meal with a fancy pastry which I forgot to take a picture of.
We enjoyed a very pleasant afternoon together.
Dominique asked Dh to give him a blessing which he was happy to do.
After that visit we went to visit Stephanie and David Goultin, one of the DeGrave's daughters and her family. They had also invited the Membres. Although we were so full, we had to eat a little bit there too. Stephanie made waffles with all the fixins: jams, sugar, nutella, whipped cream, ice cream, sugar, or any combination of those. She also made a wonderful (kind of) apple crisp. I ate one waffle and a bite of the apple. We had a very nice visit with both families.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Baby News

We got very exciting news last night. Our dear daughter Andrea and her hubby Yoho are having a baby boy in July. We can't wait to see him and to hold, hug, and kiss him. He will be grandchild number 14 for us. We feel very blessed.
New babies are the best. I love to see their sweet faces and smell their new baby smell. I love to hold and to snuggle them. There is nothing better. :) I thank our Heavenly Father for this new blessing in our lives.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Each Monday for Family Home Evening with the JA's we have a lesson and then a game followed by some yummy snacks. Elder Harper has been in charge of the games lately and last week we played human foosball (babyfoot in French). He and the others begged me to play with them this time although I usually don't play ball with them. I finally, unfortunately for me, agreed. Well at the end of the game, I got the ball kicked at me from about a 3 foot distance and it hit me right in the knee. At first it really hurt, but I thought it would get better. However after a few days it started to get worse and worse until now it hurts so much that I can hardly walk. I have to do steps one at a time without bending the one knee and I am limping around. I do have artificial, titanium knees, so it's not the actual knee itself that is hurting, but something in there really, really hurts a lot. I am heating it and taking ibuprophen for the swelling, but I am still up most of the nights in pain. Poor me. I guess I just need to complain a bit. I usually have a really high tolerance for pain, but something must be kinda bad in there. I just hope I will recover really soon so I will be able to function pain free.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Train problems

We had just finished lunch and were cleaning up a little and getting ready to go to teaching appts, when Pres. called and told us that due to the 2 train crash in Brussels yesterday 2 of the sister missionaries, Sisters Bagwell and Clark were stranded in Mouscron at the Gare. They had come to France yesterday to do their legality and had to spend the night to finish up today. After they were done they took the train, but it detoured and went to Kortrijk instead. Someone told them to take another train and then transfer 2 times, but the first train actually stopped in Mouscron and they were told that there would be no more trains today at all. So, Pres. asked us to help them out. He actually had to cancel our appts. for us because our Belgian phone doesn't work in France and vice versa and our appts were in France. We happily picked up the Sisters and drove them to Saint Ghislain where Sister Brubaker, pres's wife, met us at the half way point and picked them up. We had a nice ride together and had some fun conversation- an unexpected but pleasant afternoon.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentines Day

I hope you have all had a really great day.
Our day began very early. We left the house at 7:00 and went to Calais. Dh had to do financial stuff and an audit with the ward financial secretary, the Bishop, and some other people. They began at 9:00. Then they went to Sacrament where Dh gave a great impromptu talk. Back to work after Sacrament until 4:00. That was a lot of work and took quite a bit of time.
We finally left church about 4:15 and drove for 2 hours for a Valentine's Soiree with our friends the Janda's. We had such a fun time together, eating, talking, telling stories, and laughing. We finally arrived home shortly before midnight.
I love their lovely home( a former parsonage). Here is a picture of the front of it. Kaye was wearing her sari because it is pink. She looked very nice.

The table setting was so pretty with little Valentines cards at each place and hearts scattered about.

After appetizers and sparkling peach drink we had a delicious dinner.
It started with shrimp in an avacado with a tasty sauce.

Then we had Coquilles St. Jacques, Cauliflower au Gratin, and green beans.
This was followed by salad and then an assortment of cheeses.
Dessert was mango or framboise sorbet and chocolates.
It was all so yummy.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


We have had some interesting news today. Our mission is having it's boundaries changed. The Dutch speaking and the French speaking will now be in 2 separate missions. We are now going to be in the Paris Mission. The changes are taking place on March 1, 2010. We are not sure of anything else. Our new mission pres is President Don Staheli. He will be making all of the decisions. Pres. B. thinks that our calling will probably remain the same, but we will have to wait and see. We don't even know if we will have to move or not. Either way will be great.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

District Meeting -Feb 2010

Each week we have district meeting when our district gets together. We discuss our goals, our activities, investigators, make plans, and have a lesson. This weeks lesson was on companionships. D&C42:6 "Ye shall go forth in the power of my spirit, preaching my gospel, two by two, in my name, lifting up your voices as with the sound of a trump, declaring my word like unto angels of God." Sisters Gappmaier and Kohler were the guest lesson givers today. They did an excellent job. Some of the concepts that we discussed were that companions should support one another in proclaiming the truth and bearing witness of it. They should help each other work and grow and also help one another in times of difficulty. They should study together, pray together, and try to serve one another. They also should celebrate their successes. They had several activities for us to do. One of them was a game to see how well we know each other. Each companionship also had to make up a victory dance or handshake that they could do when they had a success. Oh, it was so funny. Even Dh and I had to make one up. We made up a short little dance and the missionaries got a big kick out of us. Can you just picture us? Everyone had a turn and it really was fun. We got to laugh and clap for each other. Sisters Kohler and Gappmaier.

Sisters Nielsen and Carson.

Elders Bertrand and Carpenter had quite a long and a bit complicated set of moves.

Elders Harper and Porter loved this activity.

Elders Paoli and Shaunig were going to a service project after the mtg, hence their attire. These two love to goof around, but when it's time to teach the gospel, they are serious and awesome missionaries who really have the spirit.
We have been blessed to have really great missionaries to work with. We are in awe of the knowledge and testimony of these young men and women. They are just wonderful. They are clean cut, hardworking, fun loving young men and women who love God and Jesus Christ. They are talented in so many areas and they are a pleasure to be with. I know the Lord is very pleased with their work and their efforts.

We have had a busy week again with lots of lessons to teach. I even surprised myself this week by teaching several concepts in French to a young couple. She just was not understanding the concepts that the elders and Dh had taught her previously although they did a great job. I explained things to her at a very basic level (in French no less:{ ) and she finally understood. I think it's because she had to listen so carefully to even understand my French that she "got it". Also because she is a girl, she could relate a bit better to me and because I spoke slowly, she had time to actually think about what I was saying. I know the Lord was helping me as I was trying to speak in French.
I have also been doing some repairs and alterations for the elders. January is a months of huge sales in France and so the missionaries had some fun shopping on their p-days They all love the chic, french styles. So, I have had several pairs of pants to shorten or lengthen. I also get to repair rips and tears. Good thing I brought my trusty needle.