Thursday, June 1, 2017

Welcome to the K & D B&B!!!!

With our K & D B&B officially opening for guests in Paris, France on March 6, 2017, we have enjoyed almost three months of continual bookings. Our delightful and distinguished guest list includes:

Our guests' bedroom
Flower boxes add color to your stay

Gordon and Jackie Lambert (March 6-21): although these adventurous travelers only used our B&B at the beginning and end of their time in Paris, they were a great beginning to our B&B experience and our time with them was treasured, indeed.

We received word that the huge construction fences around the temple would be down for about an hour, if we wanted to come see the temple unobstructed. We did! So the four of us jumped in the car and drove to the temple site. Seeing it for the first time was glorious--and who better to share it with than our dear brother- and sister-in-law?

It's so fun to share some of the joys of our mission life with people we love!

Games and French pastries

Image result for french pastries

We were pleasantly surprised that these first guests to our B&B left an unsolicited review that would surely serve to encourage others to come!
"Dear Management of the K&D B&B--

Our experience at this First Class B&B has been above and beyond anything we have heretofore experienced. Not only did it come with fabulous breakfasts, it came with delicioso dinners of every type! The overseers worked very hard and were so pleasant, including prayers! We recommend the K&D B&B to anyone! XOXO --Gordon and Jackie, Midway, UT
P.S. They even sent treats with us!" 

So we were open for business--more visitors and more fun! During the time the Lamberts were with us, we also welcomed the Smith family from Gilbert, AZ. Although our B&B is only designed to accommodate two visitors at a time, the Smiths were willing to sleep on the living room couch and on air mattresses on the living room floor. It was a PAH-TAY!!!!! and we loved every minute of it.
Doug, Karen, sister Tiffani Smith, Gordon, Jackie, and Tim Smith
The day after the Lamberts and Smiths left, we quickly washed bedding and towels, tidied up a bit, and were happy to welcome Karen's dear friend Michele Carr to our humble B&B. She was very self-sufficient, having lived in France and then returning many times, so she took off  to explore in the mornings after we left for the mission office and then we met up again for dinner in the evenings. Karen did take one afternoon off work at the bureau to join Michele at "Cookin' With Class"--French Pastries Cooking Class in Paris. Fun and yum!

Our culinary creations--I shared them with a very eager and discriminating Frenchman, our mission president, President Babin, He verified that they were deliciously 100% French

Two days after saying "Bon Voyage" to my wonderful friend, we welcomed our next guests: The Chris and Krista Wells family (including Gabriel, Eve, and Adelaide) from American Fork, Utah. How wonderful to have our kids and grandkids with us for two weeks!


In the English words of one of my favorite native French speakers:  "They are well arrived!"

Recover from jet lag? No way. 
First stop: Disneyland Paris (Grandma was there but was taking the picture)

Next stop: La Tour Eiffel

We went to the top--Krista and Gabe climbed the stairs as far as allowed and beat us to the bottom by doing the stairs again.

The Eiffel Tower AND crepes--welcome to France!
Family home evening object lesson

"OUR" wonderful missionaries whom we serve closely with in the office due to their assignments as assistants and "Versailles Elders"--a.k.a. our rays of sunshine on difficult days, our support system, our "Who-ya-gonna-call" team, and our heros. They are amazing young men and we love them dearly.
Very good sports playing "Speak Out!" with dental appliances in their mouths.
Like I said, they do anything and everything we "need" and do it with a smile.
Bisous to Elder Griffith,  Elder Richards, Elder Larsen, Elder Blosil and Elder Cummings.

Monet's Gardens at Giverny--one of my favorite places in France (with some of my favorite people)

Our very favorite place in France--the France Paris Temple

Grandpa the Gardener with his flowers
(the ones he planted  behind him are pretty special, too)

We loved the Wells's visit!

I'm so thankful for the knowledge that families can be together forever.

Soon after the Wells left us, we were glad more friends and family came to help us overcome our instant homesickness. Although some of them didn't stay at our B & B, we loved spending time with them and enjoying wonderful French food together.

Sylvia Contesse and her daughter Valerie Umiglia came to the B&B for a few days soon after the Wells left. Thank goodness they both speak perfect English and are willing to include me in their fun conversations. We had so much fun with them. Many years ago (50-ish), Doug wrote the music and Sylvia wrote the lyrics to ten or so primary songs that were later published in the old French Les Enfants Chantent,(The Children Sing). Two of their songs are in the 1997 Primary Children's Songbook. Check them out here: Doug and Sylvia's song about prayer:
Now we want to pray;
We must therefore prepare ourselves
Let's fold our arms, let's close our eyes,
We will talk with God.

Today children
Are nicer than the other days.
They make gifts and speeches,
For it is the celebration of mothers.
I have known for a long time
That to prove my love to her,
I must be good every day--
And not just today.

Such sweet primary songs. It was wonderful for me to get to spend time with these beautiful, talented women and Doug's (now mine, too) dear friends.

A few weeks later Sylvia and Valerie were able to return for the Cultural Celebration and the Temple dedication. That same weekend (the B&B was overbooked, again), Brigitte Boutin and her daughter Sophie came as well. Doug baptized Brigitte's family when he was a young missionary in the early 1960's. Brigitte was only seven years old so he didn't baptize her, but they have stayed in touch. It was an incredible day to be with these French and Swiss pioneer women for the dedication of the long-awaited temple.
Valerie, Brigitte and Sophie Boutin, me, Doug, and Sylvia
Doug with cousin Betty Demars who came to France with her husband Kent and two other couples. They took us to one of our favorite restaurants "Le Boeuf a la Mode" in Versailles. We enjoyed the evening so much and loved being a part of their friendship and shared travel adventures.

It's always a delight and an uplifting, spiritual experience when the Proctors are in town! We were so happy Scot and Maurine (Meridian Magazine) found time in their incredibly busy schedule to enjoy dinner with us at "Au Chien Qui Fume," (The Smoking Dog)--one of Doug's classic restaurants from 50 or so years ago. Scot and Maurine were here just before the temple open house to glean wonderful information on the building of the temple. Check out their week-long series of articles (one with Doug's gardening story What We Do For Love) at Paris France Temple
Me, Doug, Maurine, and Scot Proctor at Au Chien Qui Fume in Paris
So, with the K & D B&B in full swing, the spring and summer flew by quickly. Many more amazing and much-loved guests arrived in May and June. Tune in soon for "Welcome to the K & D B&B Part Deux." 
 We would LOVE to add
YOU to our list of honored

Sunday, April 30, 2017

🎶🎶🎶 I love to see le temple de Paris France! 🎶🎶🎶

Beautiful on the outside but beyond description on the inside.

During a meeting in Paris in 1998, President Gordon B. Hinckley told some 2,400 Latter-day Saints, “The time will come … when we can construct somewhere in this area a house of the Lord, a sacred temple. …”

It's been a long time coming, miracles have happened and now the time is here.
We have to say we cried tears of joy when we first saw this sign the day the construction fence came down:

The art glass throughout the temple is incredible and incredibly inspiring.
Impressionistic in nature.
Native French flowers growing upward and reaching toward the Sun (or the Son?).
French in every way. 
Perfect in every way.


Faith, family, friends, and forever...

How I love EVERYONE in this picture.

Doug and Pauline Todd, our dear friends, who have been working
on the temple since construction started over four years ago.

Gordon and Jackie Lambert were visiting when
we heard the construction fence was down for an
hour so we ran over to the temple and got to see
the temple unobstructed AND at sunset. A
highlight of our time with them!

Image may contain: 3 people, people standing, suit, sky and outdoor
Doug's friend Sylvia Contesse from Lausanne where
he served part of  his first mission. He and Sylvia
together wrote ten songs for the original French
"The Children Sing." Two of their songs are in the
current French Primary Songbook.

The week before the temple opened for the public open house, we were blessed to be able to help take the 200+ young missionaries through the temple so they could see it for the first time. Here we are with President and Sister Babin. How we love them and the missionaries and all of their beautiful spirits. We are incredibly grateful for that experience.


When the temple, talent, and timing came together and blessed our already blessed lives:

During the first week of April in the afternoon before the open house for VIP's began, Elder Neil L. Anderson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles visited the temple. As he came out into the gardens, he expressed great concern that the gardens were not French. He said that they were unacceptable as they were and needed to be corrected by morning. (The gardens had small hedge-type plants around each one, some bulbs that were coming up but wouldn't bloom for quite some time and lots and lots of bark. French gardens are very symmetrical, colorful, and do NOT use bark.)

So an urgent call and emails went out to the ward and the missionaries to please come to the temple grounds at 7:00 p.m.--there was an emergency! I received the call, called Doug, and sprang into action (at least Doug did). Chris, Krista, and their three children were headed back to the apartment from Paris and were unreachable. The mission assistants wanted to go but didn't have transportation. So we decided that Doug would take the three assistants in our little car and head to the temple while I stayed at the apartment, fixed dinner, and spent the evening with the Wells, since we didn't have room in the car for all of us anyway, even without the assistants.

When Doug returned home at 1:00 a.m., what a story he had to tell! When he arrived at the temple, there were three big black vans pulled up and people were unloading flowers of every color and combination and setting them on the ground. The temple project manager Ramon (who must have been devastated at hearing that any part of this temple was "unacceptable"), ran up to Doug as he arrived and asked if he had any experience with flowers. Doug, who has always kept a beautiful home garden and sold flats and flats of annuals to many friends and family every Mother's Day weekend for 28 years, said, "Well, I don't have a degree or anything but I do know a little about planting flowers."

Ramon gathered everyone together, pulled Doug up beside him and said "Listen to him. He's in charge." So there he was--in charge of the temple gardens! He swung into action, designing symmetrical gardens in his mind and then telling everyone where to plant each flower. The children who were there would run to him and he would say, "Bring me two of these, or three of those" or whatever he needed and they would run and get what he needed and run back to him. 

So by 1:00 a.m., all the bark had been dug out of the gardens (mostly by hand), underground watering pipes held down by huge metal brackets had been pulled up, repositioned to allow for flowers to be planted where they needed to be in order to achieve the envisioned symmetry then put back down, and hundreds of flowers planted--they worked until there were no more flowers to plant. Many were saying how grateful they were to be a part of this "gardening miracle." 

Doug came home exhausted but on fire. As he fell into bed (after taking several ibuprofen), he told me he couldn't tell me the whole unbelievable story now, but he did say that he felt that he had probably made the most valuable contribution of his mission here just from his experience that night. Upon later reflection, he talked about how excited he was to be in Paris when the temple was dedicated and how he hoped he might be able to contribute to the temple dedication--probably using his musical talents. But that didn't happen. Instead, the Lord found use for him in a very different, but no less meaningful and wonderful, way. I'm grateful the Lord works with willing hearts in mysterious, marvelous ways.

Oh, and by the way, the next morning, Elder Anderson exclaimed that the gardens were "100% better." He was thrilled with the change and the beauty.

Elder Barnes with Elder Richards, Elder Larsen, and
Elder Griffith along with special "runner" Matthew.
Elder Barnes with three of our many beautiful grandkids
in front of one of his many beautiful gardens.
The garden in the lower part of this picture
shows how all the gardens were when
Elder Anderson  first saw them--definitely
NOT French!
A side view of the temple at night--I don't know if it is more magnificent at night or during the day; but, I do love seeing the light come through the stained glass windows at night.
The temple is located just a stone's throw away from the Palace of Versailles. Because of zoning laws in the area around the Palace, the height restrictions for the temple did not allow for a steeple or Angel Moroni statue. But imagine our joy when this Christus was placed in the outside garden--Paris is the only temple in the world to have a Christus outside the visitor's center.  It's a wonderful testament to the world that we are, indeed, Christians.

A view at dusk of the back of the temple where the fountains and Christus are located

(Thanks to our friend Valerie Umilgia for most of these beautiful pictures.)

🎶🎶🎶 The temple is a sacred place, 

a place of love and beauty 🎶🎶🎶

We feel so blessed to be here at such a time as this in France

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016--A Year of Miracles

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For Doug and me, 2016 can be summed up in one word: MIRACLES! Yes, we believe in miracles.

As 2015 ended with a wonderful Christmas season filled with celebration, laughs, hugs, joy, tears, music, food, traditions, wonder, and mostly love for and from our collective 15 children and 27 grandchildren

Christmas lunch with five of our fifteen darling daughters.
we looked forward with some trepidation, but mostly with great excitement to whatever 2016 would bring. Little did we know what was in store.

In October 2015 we had submitted our application to go on a mission for the LDS Church. We were willing to go anywhere in the world, but with Doug having served a mission as a young man in the French East mission  50+ years previously, we thought it would be amazing and wonderful to go to France. Our hopes were dashed, however, in late October when we received an email from the current mission president in the France Paris mission that the mission had the maximum number of senior couples serving, with more coming in the spring, and that we would not be able to serve in that mission. Also, because of still some puzzling circumstances and events, we learned of another mission we would not be serving in. So we could cross two places off our list of possibilities. What we did know is that six of our friends from our congregation who were being called as missionaries were called to Colorado, Washington state, and California. With all that information, we concluded we would probably be called to Wyoming or Idaho.

So on January 22, 2017, the mailman brought the envelope, we called our families and we invited them to join us at Doug's office in person or by Skype or telephone as we opened our call. Imagine our surprise when we read:

(for the actual opening, check out the video on the January 2016 post on this blog)

I do believe being called to France was a miracle. And then actually being able to go with things settled at home, involved many, many miracles.

Our call packet included SO many pages of instruction and information. We had already filled out the medical part but it asked again about up-to-date testing for routine prevention. I had had a mammogram six months before and so had said on my medical form that all my testing was up to date, which it was.  However, I found myself thinking, "a mammogram now would be covered, since I have new insurance and I won't be able to have one for another year and a half, so I guess I'll go ahead and just have one now." I couldn't have told you at that moment that that thought was inspired. But, as it turned out, it probably saved my life and I believe having that thought and making that decision was another miracle.

See original imageEverything had been fine with the mammogram six months earlier so I had no fear at all about getting "the phone call." But in March, while at the "Happiest Place on Earth" with Doug and all his high school students on a band and orchestra tour, I got "the call." No problem--just a misreading or need for further testing, I figured. When we got back home I went for an ultrasound. Hmmm. "Looks like we need to do a biopsy tomorrow." Then the results: "Karen, I'm sorry to tell you that you have breast cancer." Unbelievable. So I called my favorite surgeon who had saved my life and my dignity five years ago when I had a perforated bowel, and scheduled a double mastectomy for the next Tuesday. Thankfully, the surgery went well, they were able to remove all the cancer (it had just barely broken through the milk duct into the surrounding tissue), and also discovered that it wasn't in the lymph nodes. I went home on Thursday feeling very healthy and very blessed. Sunday was Easter and I went to Church--no pain pills, no bad effects, no radiation, no chemotherapy, no cancer.
Penelope, bunny, and I are ready for Church just five days after my bilateral mastectomy.
 It was all truly a miracle and I will be forever grateful. We had to report the new information to Missionary Medical and I was a little nervous about that (I didn't want to tell them). A few days later I got a phone call saying that we could go ahead and leave for France on time. (I found out after we were in France that the protocol for someone in my situation was to allow them to go on a mission but that the assignment should be changed to a mission in the United States--I figure Idaho or Wyoming was calling to me, but was so grateful that France won!)

Next came preparing to leave the house and Doug's business. Both were major concerns. Through a series of ups and downs, we were able to rent the house to a wonderful, clean, caring, responsible couple and also find a solution for Doug's business travel agency due to a chance meeting between two old friends at a funeral and a subsequent call to Doug, who was on the ski slopes. No need for details but we felt the Lord's loving hands in these details and many others as we prepared to leave in June.

My Mom suffered from Alzheimer's Disease for nine years and it was so hard to think of leaving her. Although she didn't know me or seem to know that I was there with her, I KNEW and I didn't know how I could leave her--it was such a hard decision. But I knew my sisters would take care of things and going on a mission was the right thing to do. Thankfully, our prayers were answered and Dad came and took her home just a little more than two weeks before our mission. Another wonderful miracle and great blessing for all of us--especially Mom.

Now that we are here in France, we have witnessed daily miracles--some big and others small, but so important. I've wrestled for the past six months with what to include on my blog as far as things that are spiritual, sacred, and meaningful to me and to Doug. It's a hard thing. I want to share, but realize that some things are not meant to be shared. I know there are people who don't understand my belief in miracles. That's okay. I know what I know is true for me--I know my heart and I know my truth. So, without a lot of detail, I want to share just a few everyday experiences that are miracles to us in the office and to me and Doug personally:
  • A missionary called to say they have someone interested in learning more but their native language is Armenian. They wondered if we knew how to find Armenian-speaking missionaries she could Skype with. We didn't. Just then, four missionaries came in the office for some obscure purpose and heard our discussion. One of them said, "My friend just arrived in the Arcadia, CA mission and is assigned to speak Armenian" (which happens to be the only Armenian-speaking mission in the United States). What a coincidence! NOT!
  • The gift of tongues is real--whether it's computer commands, Excel, or French. Remarkable.
  • So often thoughts pop in our minds that save the day--be it work that needs to be done, a problem that needs to be solved, or a word, gesture, or hug that needs to be given. Out of the blue but critically important.
  • I received an email from a woman that started, "I know this is a long shot and probably impossible, but I wonder if you could help me find two young women who were riding the bus in Luxembourg and spoke to me." She explained how she has been having some severe trials lately and wasn't interested in their message but when they asked if they could pray for her, for some reason she said, "Yes." She said no one had ever prayed for her before and she quit praying herself years ago. She wanted to thank them and tell them how much it meant to her and she was trying to find them--it was very important to her. Somehow her search led to my inbox. A long shot or impossible? Not at all--we only have one companionship in Luxembourg and they are sisters.
  • Doug and I both recently fell and each broke a rib--but we are okay. I fell walking around a cathedral at night in the dark as I stepped off into space, not knowing there was a step there. Major face plant on my right cheek.
    Doug fell UP the stairs a few weeks later and damaged his rib and his pride severely. BUT, it could have been so much worse for both of us. We feel so blessed.
  • The greatest miracles we see are the changes in people's lives as they develop a relationship with Jesus Christ and embrace His Gospel. The worth of souls is, indeed, great in the sight of God.
And so the miracles continue--year by year, month by month, week by week, day by day, and moment by moment. And we are so incredibly grateful to be recipients and witnesses to these wonders and loving hugs from our Father.
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