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!
School ended for AJ, Austin and Tristan the week of June 22nd. The last day of school was not until July 3rd, but at their ages the kids do not stay that last week and a half. Schools stay open because most parents work and it is a form of governmental babysitting. Most working families do not have their vacation until the beginning of July. Most French vacations last anywhere from three weeks to six weeks. So, schools stay open until July 3rd so working parents do not need to find another form of “day care” for their children.
The three boys were happy to be finished with school. They had a day that was dedicated to turning in their books and a conseil de classe (class meeting) when all students get to see their final grades. Overall AJ, Austin and Tristan did a great job this school year! Many teachers commented on how well they integrated and communicated. They will miss their friends they have made here, the delicious school lunches, a few of the teachers, riding the public bus, playing the tennis ball game during class changes, two week vacations every 6-8 weeks… but they will not miss the long days of school!
The last day of school for Jack and Sophie was July 3rd. They had field trips, water game days and just a last few weeks of school filled with so many fun activities. It has been sad for these two cuties to say goodbye to the Sanilhac Sagries school. Jack was very disappointed when he was advanced to the next grade (CP) with his friends and he knew he would not be with them next school year. It is a dilemma for Jack. He enjoys his life here but also wants to return to America. Sophie had mixed emotions too. She was a little melancholy the last few days of school. She is so young to be able to understand what she is feeling, but she is taking all the changes with happiness mixed with a few tears!
Aaron and I are so grateful that our children have had this schooling. Most of them are bilingual as the end of our time in France is approaching. Now onto the next challenge… retaining the language!
This is Sophie’s “report card”. It has pages of all the things she accomplished and the page where her teacher advanced her to the next grade, moyenne section.
Sophie et Maîtresse Sylvaine
Sophie et Elza
Jack, le directeur Gault (principle), et Sophie
Saturday, May 2nd we had the chance to go see a reenactment of the ancient Roman Games in the Arènes de Nîmes. The Nîmes arena is a Roman amphitheatre dating to 70 AD. We have visited the arena on a few occasions but this time was awesome (despite the mile long line and heat)! Jenn and John were still in town so we all got to have a new experience together. The spectacle is performed by 500 participants from around Europe. When we arrived at our seats, each person received a colored program with a red handkerchief. This “red” was our team and whoever was in the arena competing, the respective color would be waved in the crowd. The team colors were red, green and white. This Roman Games was based on the famous military commander, Hannibal. Hannibal was considered one of the greatest generals of antiquity. He played an important part in the history of the Mediterranean area.
The Games lasted 2.5 hours. It was a long time to be in the sun, but we did eventually get cloud coverage and it cooled off a little. This was a performance I am so happy we were able to participate in. I don’t know if we will ever get a chance to see a reenactment quite like this in a 2000 year old structure! We were all interested as chariots came roaring out in the arena and started “fighting” each other, or seeing the “fights” against the barbarians of different lands. It was very entertaining and we had a fascinating afternoon imagining life in times past!
Back in the Fall our neighbors, Morgan and Guillaume, told us about the running of the bulls in our little village of Sanilhac. They told us it would be in May and it was really fun and something we did not want to miss. They took us to the bull ranch one afternoon so we could see all the bulls. They have about 20-30 head. We were anxious to see this event but we had not seen any advertisement as we approached the month of May. The children all had friday, May 1st off from school. I had noticed that stores were advertising they would be closed on May 1st and we were not quite sure what the holiday was. Until, Aaron and I returned from Paris with my girlfriend, Jenn and her husband John, the night before May 1st. When we were driving back home from the train station I noticed gates were being set up in certain places in Sanilhac. A light bulb went on and I knew “this” holiday was somehow associated with the bull run. Sure enough, Aaron inquired at the Boulangerie about 30 minutes before the events were to start. The running of the bulls began at 11am and then activities were happening throughout the weekend. May 1st is Labor Day in France. Everything was closed! (We had to buy some eggs from the baker because all the grocery stores were closed.)
We all quickly got ourselves ready and we went down to the centre ville. There was a lot of excitement. People were lining along the barriers and some were, also, just walking in the middle of the roads. I was a little perplexed by this. I had envisioned bulls being herded through the streets of our cute little village and was a little concerned for those just casually walking around in the streets. Jenn and I had to run through a field of waist high weeds so we could reach the boys as they were watching from the side of the road. Right as we got to the road the parade started. I say parade loosely because it was nothing like a US parade. It was just a line of trucks and cars. 3 trucks started this parade and then we see horses all packed together tightly. A few horses were getting a little “wild” and their riders had to reign them in to get control. Within seconds, this pack of horses went right by. We would have totally missed seeing the bulls if we had not been on this little overlook of the road. There were 3 bulls sandwiched in between the horses. This was the running of the bulls. What? Did we miss something? This was fun? We all broke out in hysterics because of the stupidity of this event! I didn’t even have time to take a picture of the 3 bulls that were hidden. We laughed so hard!!!!
If you look at the above photo you can see the hilarity of the moment. There is the parade of horses with 3 bulls in the middle, an old french man on his bicycle, young men running with the parade in their typical french sweatsuits, two kids on a four wheeler right behind the horses… Not shown are the rest of the residents of Sanilhac driving their cars/trucks in this parade. We all looked at each other and asked, “was that it?” Maybe this is one of those moments where you had to be there to appreciate the humor!
After this running of the bulls, all the spectators started making their way to the center square for drinks, fair-type games for the kids, food and music. As we were walking we came across a few of the injured horses that had obviously been hurt by the bulls horns.
The kids enjoyed the few games they had set up. John gave the boys a little money so they could shoot for a prize. It was funny! We all had some great laughs that day!!!
I was so impressed with the organization of the youth Temple trip! All the youth were given this brochure that was made just for them. It showed what group each youth was in and what their activities were for the day.
The groups were divided up by age, so all three of the boys were in a different group. This worked out great because they got to know other youth their same age. Each group did work in the Temple at different times. As you can see from the above photo their time was filled with awesome activities. There were study hours for each group and time in the Temple each day for each group. Then in the afternoon and evenings the leaders had other activities planned. There was a talent show, time to practice for talent show (which I heard was awesome), testimony meeting and other “fun” activities. One activity was a game that included “chickens” with eggs tied to their heads while others were trying to seek them and crush their eggs, while trying to find a hidden treasure.
Two youth were teamed up and tied together and then each person had to get pantyhose put over their head with a real egg attached to the top of their head. The other teams had swim “noodles” and they were the ones chasing after the chickens to crack their eggs. The goal was for the chickens to not get their egg broken while finding the hidden treasure. It was hilarious! If a chicken’s egg broke they had to run back to the starting position and get a new one tied on.
I have to add that no adults other than the leaders were allowed to be apart of the activities, testimony meeting or talent show. Aaron and I commented on how we wanted to observe our boys at these different activities and all the other adults said, “oh no, this is for the youth. They feel more comfortable without other adults there. The youth will open up more if they know other parents/adults are not present.” Once I processed this, I really thought it was a great idea and respectful of the time the youth had with one another. This was about them!
AJ, Austin and Tristan had a blast on the Temple trip. They formed wonderful friendships, had amazing spiritual experiences and had a FUN time! I am so grateful my boys had this experience that they can remember for the rest of their lives. One thing I noticed about these youth was they all wanted to have fun! There were no clicks or bad attitudes, just a group full of teenagers seeking friendship, laughter and spiritual things! There was no pretentious behavior on anyone’s part. It was refreshing and awesome! Bravo to the Toulouse Stake Leaders for doing a phenomenal job!