L’Etats-Unis

It has been almost 7 weeks since leaving the beautiful southern countryside of France!  We all left with heavy hearts and sadness as we were leaving the home we grew to love over the last year.  Many tears were shed and prayers were offered in our behalf as we began our journey back to America.

That last day in Sanilhac was a little bit of a blur.  There was a lot of scurring, cleaning, saying last goodbyes and making sure our luggage wasn’t too heavy.

DSC_0011 Thomas et mes enfants!

La famille Darguence came with their camion and helped us transport all 21 pieces of luggage to the Nîmes train station.  Aaron and I were shocked at the number of people who came to wish us well on our journey and to help us maneuver all our belongings up and down stairs, etc. It still brings tears to my eyes as I think of all the wonderful new friends we have and their kindness and love they showed to us that day.  Maria del Carmen et Paul, la famille Jerôme, Jacques Chapus, Sean et Monique Bell, les missionaires, et Jean Louis et Aline Darguence.  It was so wonderful as we all made a line with luggage in tow up to the platform to catch our train to Paris.

DSC_0012 DSC_0013IMG_8836IMG_8834IMG_8832IMG_8838IMG_8839

We were a sight to behold as soon as that train pulled up.  The children and I all jumped on the train as an assembly line was formed to get all the luggage in the train before the doors closed.  We did it!  It was nothing short of a miracle with all the helping hands and love.  The doors closed and away our life in Nîmes slowly passed.  We all found our seats and remained silent for some time.  Reflection and more tears!  It took Aaron 30 minutes to arrange all the luggage in our compartment.

As a family, we were successful traversing throughout the Charles de Gaullle train station and airport to get to our hotel with 21 bags.  We could use les chariots throughout a portion of our path from the train to the hotel.  Other times the boys had to go up and down stairs and/or escalators multiple times.  We arrived at the hotel with 5 chariots and extremely tired children.  We were able to bring all 5 luggage carts into the two hotel rooms, but we had no room to walk.  It was hilarious.  But, we all got a few hours of sleep before the alarms went off and our journey back through the airport/train station began again.  (There is a little shuttle train that travels between terminals that we needed to get on and off with all our luggage.  The doors only opened about 15 seconds.  We got split up coming back from the hotel to the airport, but Aaron and I had divided up with the possibility that the doors to the train would close to soon.)

IMG_3175

IMG_8850IMG_8854

The morning of July 29th was long, with an 1.5 hour luggage check-in for all our bags.  It was a little nerve racking as the French won’t let even 1/10th of a kilo slide for the weight restrictions.  It was like pieces of a puzzle trying to fit all of our possessions in the right configuration per suitcase.  We made it through with a few minutes to spare getting some last minute Ladurée.  Adieu France!  Jusqu’à la prochaine fois!

IMG_8858 IMG_8857 IMG_8856

We arrived in the USA and it was interesting the things that we all noticed: air condition and a water fountain!!!  What an amazing experience we had in Sanilhac-Sagries!  One that will forever be a part of our lives!!!

 

Saying a few goodbyes!

The last few days leading up to our departure we had many friends and visitors stop in and say goodbye.  It was sad as we knew it would be awhile before returning.  Tristan made a lot of wonderful friends this past year and many wanted a few more minutes to spend together.  Our neighbors were so gracious in helping us and sending us off with tears in their eyes.  It was difficult, especially for me!  I will forever be grateful for this past year of growth, trials and amazing opportunities!

IMG_8790 Tristan, Theo et ArnaudIMG_8791 IMG_8793 IMG_8795

Les enfants avec les parents: la mère de Theo et Christophe, le papa d’Arnaud!

DSC_0990 DSC_0991

Caroline, Tristan et Roman.  This is the kindest family!  Caroline had many struggles this past year and she was always making sure we felt welcomed!  Roman’s brother was in Jack and Sophie’s school and always said hello.

!IMG_8798 IMG_8816IMG_8818

Darcie, Thomas, Guillaume, Morgan et Themis.  We were so touched when our neighbors, Thomas and Guillaume were sobbing as we were leaving.  It was so hard for us to get in the car and drive away!  We made lifelong friends this past year that have influenced us for good!

Our last visit to Uzès!

A few days before leaving France, Aaron, Sophie and I went to Uzès for the last time.  I wanted to pick up some fabric and a few other odds and ends before heading back to the States.  We casually walked around and I tried to soak it all in, knowing it would be awhile before visiting Uzès again.  I found the things I wanted and then we found Antoines’ partners boulangerie.  It was right in the heart of the centre ville and, of course, we had to try some pastries.  Bien sûr!  The presentation was so pretty and it wasn’t bad on the taste buds.  It was another lovely afternoon in Uzès!

IMG_8771 IMG_8774 IMG_8777 IMG_8779 IMG_8781 IMG_8782 IMG_8783

Caca de Pigeon

Last weekend Elias, Aurore, Aaron and I went into Uzès for dinner.  Elias drove his car and he found a parking spot along the Boulevard Gambetta and we were set to go eat.  After a few hours of a fun and yummy dinner we came upon Elias’s car and two other cars parked in front and back of his car.  Each one was COVERED in pigeon poop!  The people sitting at the adjacent cafe were all laughing as we were looking at the three cars, specifically Elias’.  We could not believe the amount of poop.  There were even pigeon feathers stuck to the car.  We were laughing so hard.  As we were pulling out of the parking spot, a family passing by was pointing at our car with disbelief and disgusted looks upon their faces, followed by laughter!  It looked like a war zone of pigeon poop, feathers, and tree branches!

These photos do not do the scenario justice!  We quickly found a car wash at 11:30 pm so the poop would not start “eating away” at the paint on the car.  When we arrived there was another man in the next car wash stall washing his car because of the same problem! We all about died of laughter!

WP_20150718_003 WP_20150718_004 WP_20150718_005 WP_20150718_006

Date Night

Aaron and I love Uzès and we love to spend the evening dining out in this beautiful village. A few weeks ago we strolled along the quaint streets before finding a delicious Thai restaurant.  We are trying to fit in as many leisurely strolls as we can with the time we have left.  Oh, how I will miss Uzès!

IMG_8729 IMG_8732

Friendships

This past year we have had the privilege of meeting and getting to know the Serrano-Milone family.  There is Elias, Aurore, Maëlle, Gabrielle (Dada) and Joshua.  They are a kind, wonderful family who live in Toulouse, about 3 hours north of us.  We love them and we are hoping they will get to America in the next few years.  We have had many weekends and short trips together.  This past 8 days they came to stay with us in Sanilhac, except for Elias who came for the weekend and then met us at the beach on Wednesday.  We all had so much fun together!  Many hours were spent poolside, at the river, jumping cliffs, watching movies, playing card games, catching frogs and crabs, laughing and laughing for hours!  Many tears were shed as we had to say goodbye!  We feel so blessed and grateful to have met the Serrano-Milone’s! The kids all had control of the camera for 8 days and we have hundreds of photos so I have had to go through all the pictures and try to choose a few for my journaling.

2015-07-14 04.58.13 2015-07-14 20.01.04 2015-07-14 20.01.53 2015-07-14 20.20.56 2015-07-14 20.58.18 2015-07-14 21.00.432015-07-14 21.55.022015-07-14 21.55.062015-07-14 22.05.202015-07-14 23.35.252015-07-14 23.36.082015-07-14 23.37.272015-07-15 00.30.452015-07-15 00.33.562015-07-15 00.35.38-12015-07-15 00.38.332015-07-15 00.43.502015-07-15 08.07.472015-07-15 20.22.422015-07-16 07.34.302015-07-16 07.35.342015-07-18 02.01.322015-07-19 23.02.202015-07-19 23.02.222015-07-20 21.17.052015-07-20 21.21.422015-07-20 22.32.182015-07-21 20.53.372015-07-21 22.41.502015-07-22 03.34.412015-07-22 03.34.472015-07-22 03.38.482015-07-22 03.38.56IMG_8743

La Paroisse de Nîmes

Saturday, July 18th, we had a ward party at our house.  We were so happy to have our kind friends from our congregation in our home.  We had a kitchen full of food, laughter and friendship!  It was a hot humid day so the pool was enjoyed by many!  We have made some incredible new friends this year!  We feel very grateful to have served amongst so many wonderful people from all backgrounds!2015-07-18 01.54.392015-07-18 01.59.182015-07-18 01.59.46 2015-07-18 01.59.50 2015-07-18 01.59.58 2015-07-18 02.00.23

Aaron was asking everyone to congratulate Elder Holding (the red head) who was leaving Monday to return home from his two year mission.  And to wish him well on his first “kiss”!  2015-07-18 02.00.31 2015-07-18 02.00.412015-07-18 02.03.202015-07-18 02.09.042015-07-18 02.09.152015-07-18 02.20.252015-07-18 02.10.262015-07-18 02.13.442015-07-18 02.15.342015-07-18 02.20.36

Below is a picture of me and a few of the ladies in our Nîmes ward attending a Stake Women’s Activity in Montpellier.  Left to right:  Aline, Nicole, Isabelle, Darcie, Nicole et Claudette.

IMG_3150

Château d’If

Today we got up early and went to Marseille.  We had plans to go to Château d’If. Château d’If is a fortress (later used as a prison) that was built in the late 1520’s to early 1530’s on the island of If.  It is the smallest island of the Frioul archipalego about a mile off the coast of Marseille in the Mediterranean Sea.  Alexandre Dumas made the Château famous in his popular novel, The Count of Monte Cristo.  This is the reason for our wanting to see the Château d’If.

We were all in the car by 8:45am and made it to Marseille in less than 2 hours, quickly found a parking spot and headed to the Vieux Porte.  We walked up to the ticket counter and posted on a white piece of paper that looked like it had just been torn out of a notebook, was a handwritten note, “No chateau d’if today”!  Aaron lost his cool a little bit with the lady.  Customer service does not exist in France.  This woman could have kindly said, “We are so sorry for the inconvenience!”  But instead, she just said, “No, it’s closed.” She didn’t give us an explanation, except that the wind was too strong.

French websites are terrible!  No explanation needed.  If you have experienced it, you know what I am talking about.  I had checked the Château d’If website and there was nothing about weather conditions or a possible cancellation because of wind, etc.  I looked at it in French and then I did the English version so I wouldn’t miss any important information.  Clearly, there was nothing posted about closures.  We were disappointed and irritated to say the least!

Well, what to do on a hot day in Marseille!  We took the ferry boat to a different island, Frioul, and passed right by Château d’If.  We walked around Frioul, had lunch and enjoyed the beautiful views.  We did not pack any bathing suits or towels so none of us swam.  It was a bummer because there were beautiful coves where people were swimming.  Over all we made it into a fun day, but we were disappointed that we didn’t get to visit the famous Château d’If!

2015-07-12 20.38.12 2015-07-12 21.53.45

Marseille has a beautiful Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde Marseille.  It is a church that sits atop a hill that overlooks all sides of Marseille.  Aaron took me there on our honeymoon many years ago!  It is beautiful!

2015-07-12 21.39.48 2015-07-12 21.40.06 2015-07-12 21.40.15 2015-07-12 21.54.31 2015-07-12 21.56.23 2015-07-12 21.57.16

This is the Old La Major Cathedral.  I have never been inside, but it is an amazing site.  It is a Roman Catholic Cathedral that seats the Archdiocese of Marseille.

2015-07-12 21.57.23 2015-07-12 21.57.34 2015-07-12 21.57.45IMG_31602015-07-12 22.00.502015-07-12 21.59.452015-07-12 22.03.55

AJ was the most disappointed in not being able to get to Château d’If.  We still got pretty close, just at a distance!

2015-07-12 22.00.452015-07-12 22.00.392015-07-12 22.04.032015-07-12 22.05.202015-07-12 22.05.482015-07-12 22.06.012015-07-12 22.07.552015-07-12 22.08.16IMG_3161

After we arrived on Frioul we walked around a bit and then found a little restaurant for lunch.  Alexis ordered a plate of petits poissons, little fish, thinking it would be a little sampling of a few pieces of fish.  After she ordered it and asked the waiter a few questions about it I realized it was not what she was going to be expecting.  She then ordered a salad but we kept the order of fish.  The fish plate arrived and as we expected it was a huge mound of little deep fried whole fish.  Alexis still ate a few, but AJ and Austin enjoyed most of them.  Jack and Tristan both tried one but they could only eat the tail side, not the eyes!

2015-07-12 23.30.15 2015-07-12 23.30.20 2015-07-12 23.30.24 2015-07-12 23.33.46

While walking around Frioul we came upon a sculpture.  It was a metal rhinoceros with a clear plastic box in its’ open stomach area.  Inside the plastic box were books.  It was a little library for those who would dock their boats and needed something to read.  It was the coolest, yet oddest of ideas.  I guess the oddity comes from the location.

2015-07-12 22.23.04 2015-07-12 22.22.51

We had a fun day in Marseille, even though it wasn’t what we had hoped to see and do!

2015-07-12 22.27.01

Adrien

2015-07-05 05.27.55

This is Adrien, one of the school children in Sanilhac.  He is also the grandson of our neighbors Patrick and Denise.  Adrien and Jack enjoy playing together, especially soccer in our yard.  The two of these boys have sometimes acted like siblings, arguing over who won/lost.  Adrien’s mother, Carole is a working single mom.  Her parents, Patrick and Denise, are the ones who would get Adrien to and from school and Carole usually would not be able to pick up Adrien until 7pm.  This is very common in France to have the mamie, grandmother, and/or papi, grandfather, take care of their grandchildren.  I will miss seeing Carole, she is a very sweet lady who has always made me feel very welcome and comfortable!  Plus, she has a contagious smile!

2015-07-05 05.57.47