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.

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Bruno

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Bruno is one of our good single friends that we have had the privilege of getting to know while living here in France.  We met him at the church we attend in Nîmes.  He lives in Alès, which is 40 km (25 miles) from Nîmes.  He is a very thoughtful and kind man.  We have had him to the house a number of times and he has come to help us with yard work, rides to and from church, and he has given our children gifts spontaneously.  Bruno would always call and check up on me and the kids when Aaron was traveling.  It has been a blessing to have Bruno in our lives.  We will miss him!

Les Baux de Provence

One afternoon Rebecca, Alexis and I headed to Les Baux de Provence!  I recorded a visit we made to this beautiful village back in the Fall, but this time around we discovered an old church, Saint Vincent, dating back to the 12th century and a few other “nooks” that I want to remember.

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Les Baux de Provence has one of the best savon de Marseille, soap of Marseille, boutiques.  I absolutely LOVE the little shop and when Alexis and Becca went inside they couldn’t get enough of the perfume.  Savon de Marseille is a traditional hard soap made from vegetable oil around the area of Marseilles for over 600 years.  This particular boutique in Les Baux de Provence has soaps in beautiful colors and scents.

Vélodrome d’hiver

The Vélodrome d’hiver was an indoor bicycle track and stadium not too far from the Eiffel Tower.  On July 16 and 17, 1942 the French police, under German orders, round up over 13,000 Jews, 4,000 being children, and located them in this large stadium under terrible circumstances.  The Jews were given barely any water or food, the sanitation conditions were almost non existent and it was extremely crowded.  The Jews were held there for about a week and then deported to concentration camps throughout Europe.  The majority never survived.

I have read many books and histories about this particular historical event.  Our friend, Benjamin, loaned me a french movie, La rafle du Vel’ d’hiv, 16 et 17 juillet 1942, that was difficult for me to watch.  It took me three days to get through the whole film.  It is one of the most accurately portrayed film of these events.

When Aaron and I were in Paris we had a morning to ourselves and I wanted to find the small memorial in the location where the Vélodrome used to stand.  I am so glad we found the monument and plaque.  I felt like it was sacred ground and it stirred more emotions in me in regards to this period of history.  I was happy to see that a future memorial garden is currently under construction.

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Sainte-Chapelle

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Aaron and I traveled to Paris two weeks ago to spend a few days with my best friend from college, Jenn and her husband John.  We were so excited to finally have family and/or friends come to visit.  We spent 2.5 days with them in Paris.  Aaron and I went a day early so we could spend a little time together too.  It was a fun few days in Paris and then we all took the train south so they could spend a few days with us in Sanilhac.

One of the places we visited while in Paris was the Sainte-Chapelle.  Aaron nor I had visited this cathedral before.  The Sainte-Chapelle is a medieval Gothic chapel dating back to the late 1230’s-1240’s.  It was erected under the commission of King Louis IX to house his collection of the Passion relics, including Christ’s crown of thorns.  The chapel was damaged during the French Revolution but it was restored in the 19th century.  It has one of the largest 13th century stained glass collections in the world.  It was magnificent!  My iphone did not capture the vibrant colors of the stained glass.  It is not a large chapel, like Notre Dame, but it is beautiful!  The ceiling of the chapel is a vibrant blue that did not show up in my photos.  The Sainte-Chapelle is a few blocks away from the Notre Dame.

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Cannes

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We spent the weekend in Cannes, France with our friends the Serrano-Milone’s.  Aaron had a business meeting Saturday afternoon, so we all decided to make a fun weekend out of it.  We really wanted to get to Spain and Portugal, but the older boys had youth conference at the beginning of the week and Alexis comes tomorrow (YEAH!!!)!

The Côte d’Azure is beautiful!  Cannes is known for its’ Film Festival:

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The Cannes Film Festival takes place in May so we did not spot any Hollywood stars! That’s okay, because the boardwalk is so crowded anyway without celebrities nearby.  We enjoyed driving through the hills and neighborhoods of Cannes.  Aurore lived in Cannes when she was a little girl and her mom is buried there, so we got to see the “real” Cannes!

We spent saturday on the Med.  Aurore, myself, Noami (the wife of the Serrano-Milone’s friends) and the kids all hung out on the beach while the kids enjoyed the sand and water. It was an overcast day so our kids were the only ones swimming.  It was fun!  Our kids have a great time together!

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When the sun began to fade away we all loaded up and went to Noami and David’s house near Saint-Raphaël.  They live in the beautiful hills/mountains between Cannes and Saint-Raphaël.  The city lights of Cannes could be seen from their backyard.  They had a potato farm just beyond their stone “fence”.  Also, on our way up the hills/mountains we saw a group of wild boar grazing in the fields. It was so cool!  Noami made a delicious spread of food (I wish I had taken photos)!  We didn’t start eating until 9:30pm.  I love how the french take their time in preparing and planning their meals.  She made a few fresh salads, homemade “french” fries, a delicious olive tapenade, sausages, hamburgers, homemade mayo, a cucumber salad…  It was awesome!  We enjoyed great food and great company.

The next day we went to church in Cannes and met Noami’s father.  Fun family!  Her father has one of the largest “The Cure” memorabilia in all of France!  Aaron “died” (the last area he served) in Cannes on his mission.  It was so awesome for him to go back and see the church building and see some familiar faces from 25 years ago.  We had a fantastic weekend!

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Good Friday

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As I reflect today upon one of the most significant events in the history of the world, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, I am filled with love and gratitude at this time of the year.  I had the opportunity to study in Jerusalem for 3 months back in the summer of 1992.  I vividly remember the Mount of Olives and the hillside that Christ visited where he prayed and bled from every pore.  I distinctly remember the peace and reverence that I felt as I walked around the grove of olive trees.  I have the opportunity almost everyday to run, walk or drive by groves of olive trees here in France.  Yesterday on my run I was overcome by the similarity of the groves that I see here to those I saw 23 years ago.  I am grateful I have both these visual images in my mind that allow me to ponder upon the events of that day so many years ago!

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It is Good Friday!  Because of Christ’s suffering in Gethsemane and on Calvary, I have so much to be grateful for.  Calvary is real!  What He experienced from Gethsemane, to being whipped, wearing a crown of thorns, carrying his own cross and finally being nailed to a cross between two thieves was a selfless act on behalf of the whole world.

There is a green hill far away,
Without a city wall,
Where the dear Lord was crucified,
Who died to save us all.

We may not know, we cannot tell,
What pains he had to bear,
But we believe it was for us
He hung and suffered there.

There was no other good enough
To pay the price of sin,
He only could unlock the gate
Of heav’n and let us in.

O dearly, dearly has he loved!
And we must love him too,
And trust in his redeeming blood,
And try his works to do.

Maison d’hôtes!

Our room accommodations in Zollikofen were simple, yet awesome!  It is a building, like a dorm hall, next to the Temple where patrons can stay for a very reasonable price.  It only cost our family 89 euros for 4 nights/5 days.  We had a discount because our 3 boys were paid for by the Stake.  But, if that was not the case it would have, still, only cost our family of 7, 174 euros for 4 nights/5 days.  Aaron and I had stayed at this maison d’hôtes 22 years ago.  Our memory was vague, but we did remind the children that the rooms would be small and filled with bunk beds.  What fun!!!!

I say that with all honesty!  What a blast we had as a family in this little room of ours!

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The biggest dilemma was deciding who would sleep where!  Each person received linens for the bed and a blanket.  We provided our own towels and any extra bedding we thought we would need.  We did not have room to bring anything extra, so what was given to us was what we used and it was very comfortable for all of us!  Because the room was so tight we had to make sure everything was always organized and in its’ place. Each person had a little locker at the end of the room where clothing could be hung up and shoes stored away.  Jack and Sophie loved this because they had their own locker and could lock it with a key if they wanted to!

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After a day of having our room like the first photos, a friend told us the bunks move and we would have more space if we moved things around.  We did and it gave us more space to move about.  Plus, the extra floor mattress could more easily be stored on top of another mattress with this new layout.  None of us were in the “dorm” room very much so we didn’t feel stressed about the space.  It worked great and everyone worked together to keep their space picked up!

The below photos are of the bathroom space.  Notice one small pedestal sink and a small stand up shower.  There were a few hooks to hang towels, coats, etc.  We really felt like we had to live the law of sacrifice and consecration in this tiny space.  It was a great reminder to Aaron and I and our family to work together so everyone could be happy!

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There was a communal kitchen in the basement of the “dorm” hall.  This, too, was a great reminder how everyone needed to share space, clean up after themselves and respect each others space.  The cafeteria area was lined with refrigerators and metal shelving for people to store their groceries.  Each person staying at the maison d’hôtes could use the needed shelving space.  We had one shelf in one of the refrigerators for our family and two metal shelves for our room temperature food.  Everyone could use the kitchen.  There were 10 small stations, 5 along a wall with a sink, and two stove top burners.  There were no ovens, only one microwave.  So meals had to be something that could be made on the stovetop.  Dishes, glasses, and silverware were all provided.  Everyone had to clean and wash what they used.  There was one wall devoted to dish towels and a large island for cutting and preparing food.  It was such a neat experience to “share” these spaces with everyone in the maison d’hôtes.  The youth had the kitchen every night from 6-7pm.  That was the only time non youth were not allowed in the space.  But, many adults were there helping prepare food for the youth.  It was so fun preparing and eating along side our friends!  It also allowed us to meet new people.  It was a great social setting and we all loved it!  There was a feeling of community that I have only felt on few occasions!  There was a feeling of true Zion that we experienced.  Everyone had to be of one heart and one mind to make the situation comfortable and enjoyable for all.  FANTASTIC!  The boys (all of us) really felt a sense of sadness as we packed up our car and drove away.

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Happy Birthday Tristan!

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Tristan turned 12 on December 27, 2014.  This was a special birthday for him because he received the Aaronic Priesthood in our Church.  This is a big responsibility for a young man, but I know he will honor this sacred Priesthood and the duties that come with it. Tristan is a very smart, fun and loving 12 year old.  We love him so much and we were so excited to see him pass the sacrament for the first time!  Tristan was so anxious to be able to do this.  The Bishop of our ward was out of town and then Aaron was out of town, so it took a few weeks for Tristan to receive the Priesthood.  It is awesome to have 3 young men who try so hard to be good!

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Since Tristan received roller blades for Christmas, he wanted to go to the skate park for a portion of his birthday.  Tristan requested we go to Subway for his birthday and then to a movie!  The boys had been asking for months to be able to go to Subway, but we have always steered them away from it.  We can get subway any day of the week in the States, so naturally we want to enjoy what is french!  But, since it was Tristan’s birthday request we took him.  He seemed to enjoy it so much, as well as the other children.

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These are a few photos from the wet skate park.  It decided to rain on Tristan’s birthday! :(

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After a day filled with fun birthday activities, we headed home for some “death by chocolate”!  Tristan’s birthday dessert of choice!  Everyone says it is 100% better here because of the french pot de crêmes, chantilly (whip cream), and fondant du chocolat (similar to brownies).  After singing and dessert, Tristan opened his cool presents!  We are so grateful to have Tristan in our lives.  His smile melts me as a mother!

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We love you Tristan!