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.

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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.

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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.)

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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!

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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!

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

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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.

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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!

Speechless!

I am deeply troubled by the headline news stories that I have read today! All I can say is “God help us all!”

1.  Supreme Court rules legality of same sex marriage in all 50 States!

2.  Man beheaded by Islamist and head displayed outside an American owned business on the outskirts of Lyon France!

3.  ISIS suicide bombers kills at a Kuwait City mosque!

4.  ISIS claims responsibility for two terrorists opening gunfire at Tunisia beach resort and killing many!

Le Spectacle “BATUCADA”!

Jack and Sophie had a school musical “spectacular” in the Batucada genre.  I didn’t know what this was until I did a little research.  Batucada is a mix of African and Brazilian samba usually played percussion style.  All the children in the Sanilhac school had been practicing their songs and music for months.  Jack would always note when it was lundi, monday, because that is when they had music class.  Sophie would come home singing a little tune that none of us understood, except for her and Jack!  The children were so excited for their performance and were saddened when it got cancelled last friday night.  Le spectacle was taking place at the centre ville because in this style of music it is performed while walking. So, the program was for the children to begin at la mairie and work their way through the little village and stop at 2 other places, la place du château and la place du Four, while playing their instruments and singing.

It was raining all day friday.  In fact, we had flood warnings again in our area so the children obviously could not perform in those conditions.  Jack and Sophie were so sad the fête, party, had been cancelled.  They wanted to get their “costumes” on and show off what they had learned! :(

On monday when they returned to school it was announced that the spectacle would be mardi soir à 18h, tuesday night at 6pm.  Hooray!!!  Tuesday we woke up to beautiful sunny skies.  You could feel the excitement in the air when I took the kids to school. Around 4pm dark clouds rolled in and it started raining!!!  Jack and Sophie would look out the window every 5 minutes to see if the rain stopped.  It would rain, then stop, then rain, then stop, then sprinkle, then stop…  Around 5:45pm the rain stopped and we knew we had to get the kids to la mairie.  Sure enough, the whole town was there and all the school children were ready to perform, rain or shine!

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When we arrived Jack was trying to locate his instrument that he had made but he could not find it amongst all the others.  He was able to grab a tambourine.  Each class was dressed in a different colored shirt.  Sophie wore white, Jack had green, our neighbor Thomas has blue, our friends Adrian, Rudy, Marie, and Marius had on red shirts.  It looked really festive when they were all marching down the streets together.  Jack and Sophie got to wear colors around their waist, neck, wrists and Sophie had a purple flower in her hair.

I loved watching Jack and Sophie sing, dance and interact with everyone!  I had to pinch myself as I was watching them perform, in the rain at times, surrounded by old stone houses and narrow stone streets.  AJ, Austin and Tristan all knew people and/or friends from the village.  We feel a part of this community and there definitely were tears as I thought about leaving this beautiful place in just 6 weeks.

IMG_3132 Sophie’s teacher, Mâitresse Sylvian

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IMG_3134 Principal Gault

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Evening Springtime Walk

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Aaron, AJ and Austin are away at Stake Youth Conference for 4 days so Tristan, Jack, Sophie and myself are hanging together.  We decided to take an early evening walk Monday evening and took a few photos.  We enjoyed the sunshine and the scenery.  We even spotted a bright ladybug.  We can’t wait to hear all about Youth Conference!

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Our village of Sanilhac is in the distance!

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Prayers for Paris

My thoughts and prayers this day are for those victims and families of the terrorist attacks in Paris.  French President Hollande said: “liberty will always be stronger than barbarism” and appeals to the country to remain united.  “We will win because we have all the capacity to believe in our destiny,” he says, concluding: “Vive la république. Vive la France.”

Hollande has declared tomorrow a day of national mourning and a moment of silence will be held tomorrow at noon.  Flags will be hung at half mast for three days here in France.  I hope and pray the terrorists will be caught before morning arrives.  #jesuischarlie

Vacation

All the children are on a two week school break! Yeah!! We are on vacation in Normandy Region of France and traveling to Belgium and Luxembourg! I only have wifi on tiny occasions. I will get back to blog posts when we return next week!!!

Ladurée

Yesterday was my birthday and I got to spend it in France with my amazing husband, Aaron, our sweet children (minus Julia and Alexis) and wonderful friends!  Aaron had been in Paris Thursday and Friday getting Alexis off to BYU Hawaii.  When we picked him up at the Nîmes train station Friday afternoon he had the infamous green Ladurée bag in hand!

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My mouth immediately began to water and I thought to myself, “How can I wait until tomorrow before He gives that bag to me?”  After running a few errands in Nîmes we returned home and Aaron handed me the bag and said, “Happy early Birthday!”  Yeah!!!  He got me an assortment of macarons in one of the beautiful pink boxes!  Side note:  I collect these Ladurée boxes.  Any time I travel, I check to see if there is a Ladurée and I have been lucky on a number of occasions, so I pick up a box full of macarons and keep the decorative boxes for our home.  I love them!  Ladurée originated in Paris; our relationship goes back a while!

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Isn’t that beautiful?  Almost too pretty to eat!  The Ladurée boutiques are so enchanting.  The only one I know of in the States is in New York City on Madison Avenue!  I have not checked their website in a while so there might be a few more opened in the States.  I love Ladurée for the beauty of the macaron, the experience of the boutique and the great delicacies they offer.  In fact, my all time favorite sweet is from Ladurée.  Aaron and I discovered it last spring when we were in Paris.  It is called “Plaisir Sucre” and it is heavenly!  It is a delicate mixture of chocolates and it is DIVINE!

Yesterday was a busy, fun day.  It started at the church so the boys could practice the piano.  Our house we are renting does not have a piano so we are still trying to figure out a solution.  In the meantime, we will have AJ, Austin and Tristan practice on the church piano a few times a week.  We then went and had our first Steak Frites of our stay here with the missionaries.  Aaron found a little restaurant near the Nîmes Colosseum last week and the owner, Michel, loves Americans!  He has traveled to America once and had a positive experience and he loves meeting Americans.  Aaron, being a very personable man, instantly became friends with Michel and Aaron wanted to return to introduce our family.  So, we went and met Michel and ate his Steak Frites.  They were delicious!

What is a Steak Frites?  Simple, steak or beef and fries.  It actually is a sandwich that consists of a sub roll with grilled ground beef patties and french fries. Then you add the condiments which consist of mayo, ketchup, dijon mustard, or horseradish.  The French do not do French’s yellow mustard, it is always dijon. :)  It is a large and messy sandwich but it can be so good!  The consistency of the bread and fries has to be just right or it can be too dry even with the condiments.  It is an overload of carbs, but so worth it!

Michel was not at the restaurant but his employee called him and told him there were a few Americans that were asking for him.  He went out of his way to come from his home to meet us and talk to us. He is so friendly.  He noticed how well Jack understood French and he told us it would take Jack and Sophie only a few weeks in school to make the adjustment and then they would be speaking so well, so quickly!  Michel helped the younger kids get soft ice cream cones and he handed me a “freebie” since it was my birthday.  It was yummy!  Austin and Tristan tried to talk to Michel and make the ice cream transaction by themselves.  Success!

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After our relaxing lunch we drove the boys to Quissac for a Young Men’s activity (this is when the teenage boys from our church congregation, age 12-18 get together for a fun social gathering).  Quissac is about 40km from Nîmes yet it is a beautiful drive.  The boys were excited for the afternoon because it was an “American Game” theme.  They were told by their leader that there would be American Doughnuts.  AJ, Austin and Tristan were so excited to arrive at Diego’s house.  Diego’s step father is the Young Men’s Leader, who happens to be from California.  Hence, the “American” theme.  There were 4 teenage boys:  Diego, AJ, Austin and Tristan!  The Mormon Congregation in Nîmes is very small so we feel lucky the boys have a few friends from church.  They had a great and fun afternoon, playing Signs, Mafia, doughnut on a string, Fruit Basket, something with water balloons and a few others I do not remember.  Tristan complained that his stomach hurt after eating 5 heavy, deep fried, homemade doughnuts!

Early evening we picked the boys up and we went to the Ribera’s back in Nîmes.  Isabelle and family insisted we bring the children by so Aaron and I could go have a nice birthday dinner alone.  Aaron found a delicious restaurant, Le Carré d’Art.

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The ambiance was perfect, quiet and romantic!  We were nestled in the corner of the lush outdoor seating area.  I had to pinch myself because I felt like I was in a painting!

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The food was exceptional.  Aaron ordered a goat cheese appetizer that had a little salad, that was delicious!  The way the chef combined texture and flavor was A+!  It looks so simple, yet it was full of flavor!

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We moved onto the main course and neither of us were disappointed.  I did not order a tartare this time, but a filet mignon ordered very well done.  We laughed because it was still a little too pink for me, but I just set that piece aside and enjoyed the rest.  The chef made a special vegetarian plate for Aaron with rice and 5 small sides of vegetables.  The presentations were fabulous!

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With ended with a tasty dessert that we shared!

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We will definitely return to Le Carré d’Art for future dates!  We returned to the Ribera’s to get the kids and chat for a little while.  It is great being near the Ribera’s.  They are awesome and we feel blessed to live close enough for the next year!  Sophie enjoyed herself so much she did not want to leave!  We dragged the kids home close to midnight and counted it as a great day!  But, missing my beautiful daughters, Julia and Alexis!

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