Thursday, April 29, 2010

Vimy

On March 29th, the missionaries invited us to go along with them to visit Vimy. We were so happy to go and it was a very interesting trip. We had so much fun together. We took 2 cars. In our car we took 4 sisters, but since there are only 3 spots in the back, one of them had to lie across the laps of the other 3. They didn't care. They laughed and giggled the whole way. The elders had to put one of the missionaries in the trunk. Luckily we were not that far away, only a bit over half an hour.
Vimy is one of the points on the battle line during WWI where the German forces were the most advanced inside French territories. They had entrenched themselves and held that position for 3 years until 4 Canadian divisions concentrated on the most advanced peak of the ridge and finally broke through the lines, forced the German forces to retreat and allowed the Allied Forces to move forward and reconquer French territory.
Of the more than 60,000 Canadian soldiers killed throughout the war, 7,000 died there in Vimy.
World War I is characterized by trench warfare where the soldiers dug themselves into trenches to hold their positions and to protect themselves from enemy fire. It was especially horrible in the winter time because they were always in mud and water in the trenches and this caused their feet to rot. Thereby the name trench foot.

As one drives through the pretty French countryside and through many villages, one suddenly sees a huge monument in the distance. This is the monument to honor all of the fallen Canadian soldiers at Vimy. It is all white and very, very impressive.











Here is our district posing for a picture. In the back are Soeur Kohler and Soeur Carson. Then Elders Neidhart and Shaunig.
In the front are Soeurs Neilsen, Pobst, me and Elders Arhets, Porter, Dalton, Jurrus, and Bertrand.


When we first got there we all had a picnic lunch together. Everyone brought things to share; baguettes (of course), cheese (of course), ham, potato salad, chips, cookies, brownies, cake, drinks, etc. We all gathered around and talked and ate while looking at the beautiful surrounding countryside.

















































































There was a busload of students from Canada on a trip to Europe. They posed with their flag and also left little tiny flags everywhere; lining the walkways, by the headstones, by statues, etc.















































































We were able to walk into the tunnels and trenches. Lining the way were sandbags to hold up the walls, but now they are actually cement bags to preserve the site.









These hills are actually craters that were made everywhere in the area by the exploding shells from both sides. It was unbelievable to see so many large craters covering the entire area. These craters don't look very large in the pictures, but in reality they were quite deep and large.








































































































Walking down into the trenches.















It was very, very dark in the tunnels and the trenches. In fact they turned off the lights for a moment and we couldn't see anything at all. The tunnels and trenches are also lined by the cement bags and in reality they were often also lined with dead bodies. As the soldiers would be running through the area, they would come upon their buddies who had been killed. They would pick them up and shove them into the walls to help hold the sand up. What a horrible thing!

















Here is a little bedroom which the soldiers were able to sleep in 4 hr shifts round the clock.















Officers quarters right next door. It was dark, damp or wet, dreary, and awful.





















Some artifacts on display in the trenches.


























There was a museum on the grounds and it was very interesting to visit.


































Here are Soeur Kohler and I. After our visit the rest of the group went to get the cars. She stayed with me to wait for them because by then I was pretty tired. We had done a lot of walking and stair climbing.
















This is one of the cemeteries in the area. It had a very reverent, solemn kind of a feeling there. I think it was probably generated by the ultimate sacrifice made by those brave soldiers for the freedom of mankind. In the words of President Lincoln, "They gave their last measure of full devotion." He actually said that about those who gave their lives in the battle of Gettysburg, but I think it applies here as well.



















Rows and rows of headstones. Some of these were young boys. I saw some as young as 14. All of them giving their lives so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we do today.





















































































So many of the headstones said what regiment they were in and then: Known unto God













It is here that Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae wrote the famous poem In Flanders Fields which I love and have memorized.


















































This is one of the churches we drove past in one of the towns. All of the cities, towns, and villages in France and Belgium have lovely churches and cathedrals.















Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Well, it's 12:45 am and we were rudely awakened by our alarm. It was beeping and beeping so loudly that I'm surprised it didn't wake up the entire apt building. We had to put cotton in our ears it was so loud and went on for so long. At first we thought that the bell that was malfunctioning again, but after quite a while we figured out it was the fire alarm. Not really sure why it went off, but anyway since we're both awake now for a whilea I decided to blog a bit.
Dh is reading.

The street sign is especially for Tanner. It is "his" street.:)

Our days are so busy. Today we meet at church early so that Dh could give the missionaries a french lesson. This was followed by district mtg and then we stayed and had lunch together as a district. I had left over Tortilla soup from institute that I had the Zone leaders freeze for today. I brought all the toppings today and we enjoyed a nice lunch together.
Then we had to drive to Faubourg de Bethune to make a visit and give a lesson. Soeur Gigant made apple/pear tart and we enjoyed that together after reading a chapter with her, Stephane, Manu, and a visitor Tomas. Dh explained each verse and we had a very productive visit.
Afterwards we went back to the church and gave 2 more lessons, made phone calls, talked to the DMP and to the Bishop and finally came home around 8:15.


One of the families we visit are Jean Luc and Gisela. This is Joseph, her son who recently came to live with them from Ecuador. She has been apart from him since he was 3. Jean Luc is Belgian and a new convert to the church. We are helping them do their genealogy and helping them prepare to go to the temple.
The Hulk and Dinosaur are toys of Jeremy. While Dh was giving the family a lesson I was keeping Jeremy busy. First there were several battles between the Dinosaur and the Hulk. I had the Hulk and he usually was the loser although there were a few battles where Hulk actually had a little victory. When it was time to read the scriptures I made Hulk and Dinosaur a little bed out of a tissue. Jeremy and I put them to sleep and Jeremy was able to calm down and listen to the scriptures without making any noise. Notice the little pillows under their heads. Ha























This young man is Ulric. He is from Gabon and is studying for his PhD in engineering. We are teaching him the gospel.










Anne is a French girl who is also studying the gospel. She has a baptismal date for the end of May.