Thursday, September 30, 2010

God Be With You Til We Meet Again

Tonight was our last night at Institute. We were in the kitchen with our 2 Elders making the last of the pulled-pork sandwiches when Alexandre comes rushing in and says, "You are needed. Come with me." " Hurry" says Elder Kipp, "and take your tissue." They rushed us into the room and there they were. The moment we entered, the began singing the beautiful hymn God Be With You. As you can imagine, my eyes filled with tears listening to those beautiful words and looking into the beautiful faces of our JA's. Many of the JA's couldn't be there tonight and my dear Natacha was working in the kitchen (helping as always). Oh my goodness. What an honor and what a lovely farewell. After they sang, they presented us with a book that they had printed of us and them, of many of our activities, and of many of their beautiful testimonies. Then they each one by one came and hugged me and cried and told me sweet precious things. They hugged Dh, the wise old owl, too. What a tender time we had together. I will never forget these wonderful young adults. I will always remember their kindness and love towards me. I will always treasure the wonderful moments of our mission.
I remember watching the movie The Other Side of Heaven and in the last scene of the movie as Elder John Groberg leaves the island of Tonga after serving his mission there, the people gather and sing the hymn God Be With You to him. I cried then at the tenderness of it never, ever imagining that the very same scenario would take place in my own life. And yet it has. I will be forever grateful for this wonderful experience. I am grateful that the Lord saw fit to send Elder Arhets and me to his homeland to fulfill a mission in His name and in His honor. I love the Lord so much and am so thankful that He was able to use me a simple, insignificant servant of His to fullfill such an awesome mission. I know that He, Jesus Christ, is at the head of our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I want to serve Him forever and I pray that each of my children and grandchildren and all of my posterity will serve Him too.

Tomorrow we leave our apartment and Belgium for the last time. On Monday we will leave France and fly back to the United States of America and continue our life with our children and grandchildren. I can't wait to see them.
I have many more things to write about from this past week, but these things will have to wait a bit.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sunday Surprise Wards Party

Sunday after church we thought that we were going to have a ward lunch. It turned out to be a 2 ward surprise buffet for us. The hall was so crowded that there was not enough room for everyone. Tables had to be set up in some of the other rooms too. After everyone had gathered, there was a very nice speech about us which Dh totally missed because he was in a Bishop's interviews with one of his families that he had baptized and that are getting ready for the temple. Oh my goodness, they said so many nice things. Then I had to be the first one to go and get a plate of food. We feel so blessed and so honored.

This is a painting that Gregory, one of our investigators painted and gave to me.

I took some pictures of people that I haven't written about before and a few that I have.
First is Anastasie. I love this eccentric African lady. She just cracks me up all the time with her funny stories and ways.

This little lady has so many problems and trials, but she just keep coming and coming. She has a very strong testimony of the church.

People starting to gather for sacrament meeting.

M. Felix, the greffier, is the nicest man. He is a faithful home teacher who never misses a visit. He was so good to the Petrov's. What a valiant servant he is.

The Pieters family plus one of the Bishops boys who always likes to sit with them.

Bernadette with a great smile on her face.

We have become such good friends and will really miss each other a lot

M. Giles Beacourt another wonderful guy who helps so many people and no one know about it. He is so quite and shy, but there is a great big charitable heart beating in his chest.

Marie in the red is not a member, but she is always there causing some trouble and mischief. She has actually improved a lot this year and has stopped causing so much trouble. She often tells people that Joseph Smith is the grandson of one of the King Louis' of France. Of course, this is totally untrue, but she believes it as well as other fantastic stories that she invents. She rides a little collapsible bike everywhere. Last year she told me that she was entering the Tour de France. Then she proceeded to invite me to be her riding companion. Oh yes, can you just see me in the Tour de France along side of Lance Armstrong or Alberto Contador? HAHA. Maybe I should take up biking.

Jean Luc and Gisela with Jerome. Jean Luc was baptised by Dh and they are now getting ready to go to the temple.

My favorites, the missionaries. Elders Firth, Kip, Raco, and Alexander.

Xavier Corselles and M.Demaire two wonderful men.

Soeur Doit.

This lovely Soeur Fiew, pictured with her son, is also raising her grandson who is about 6 because her daughter died a few years ago. She was so sad, but never lost faith. I'm sure the Lord is so pleased with her.

Francoise Mangatia is one of my favorite people. She is wonderful. I love the way she dresses. She knows just how to mix colors and she always looks fancy and kinda flamboyant. She painted this beautiful painting for me. I love it.

The two greffiers, Frere Pieprz and Frere Fiew, one for Lille and the other for Villenueve d'Ascq. These ward clerks always keep busy with the records and other church business.

Esther, Xavier, and Fanny. I will really miss these fine young people.

Emilie with Soeur Beaucourt. These two sisters are in the primary presidency. They are so sweet and nice. The kids just love them and so do I.

Frere Badji and his darling little girl. She is always waltzing up and down the aisles and is very quiet and sooooo cute

I took pictures of quite a few of the tables, but I missed quite a few also because I was so busy talking with people.

Soeur Pieters and Nirina serving themselves. There were so many yummy things to eat with a chocolate brownie type of cake that had Creme Anglaise on top of it for dessert.

Soeur Mangatia is Manu's Mom.

Pierre has been studying the gospel and will be baptised in a couple of weeks. He has the best laugh and is lots of fun to be with. He will be a great addition to our young adults.

Christophe is cooming back to church after a very difficult time in his life.

Jacques with his cute little Rose. He is an awesome guy. He's a counselor in the Bishopric.

Another newly baptised family. They have been so faithfully attending church ever since they began studying and learning about the gospel.

Patrick is a funny little guy. He's always at church and always doing his job just right. Unfortunately his wife does not come to church with him. He is very bright and love to have deep conversations with Dh.

Henry Paul and Jacqueline Doit are faithful members who have had some very special spiritual experiences. One of them was that they weren't able to have children for many, years, visits to fertility specialists etc. After a blessings and a very sacred experience she became pregnant and they now have 3 wonderful children.

Elder Kipp posing in his new coat.

I think our sister missionaries look so beautiful and are so beautiful inside too.

Elise Duez our Bishop's wife with the youngest of her 5 children.

Eat Well!

Good bye Soeur Arhets
Good bye Elder Arhets
They didn't remember how to spell our name.

Elder Roco and Dh are good buddies.

A lovely plaque given us by the Debouver Family. It is the mayrie in Mouscron.

Some books given us by the Boutoilles and Degrave families.

Everyone has been soooooo nice and kind. It has been a very emotional time for us. The Saints in France are wonderful people. They are diligent and faithful. It is not easy for them to live their religion in a country that is now part of Post Christian Europe. Yet they continue on, having faith in the Lord. They travel great distances and don't complain. They want to do all that the Lord expects of them. I admire them for this Lots of tears have been shed by many as we said good bye to our friends here in France and Belgium.
As Shakespeare wrote, "Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say good night til it be marrow." I know this is not a love scene for us as it was when Juliet spoke those words, but I feel that it applies to us in the sense that we are feeling sorrowful to leave our mission and the people that we have come to love. I think that sorrow is a kind of gift because the feeling of sorrow is part of the experience of love.