Monday, December 26, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016--Paris, France

Our Christmas this year was wonderful in very different ways than any Christmas we have ever experienced. At age 67, one wouldn't think this would be my first Christmas away from home, but it was. How we missed our children and grandkids! We are so grateful for FaceTime, Skype, and telephones. Although there were some hard moments, we made it through with few tears and lots of smiles.

We started our celebration early in December by attending 42nd Street in Paris with our friends the Todds. The theater was beautiful, the show was great (and in English!), and the company was extraordinary.
Pauline and me at intermission

After the show, we went to "The Smoking Dog" for dinner--one of Doug's favorite restaurants from years ago

The weekend before Christmas weekend, we went to brunch on the Champs Elysees with three other missionary couples--it was a delicious, somewhat extravagant treat. After brunch we went to the markets, saw the windows at Galleries Lafayette and Printemps (what a show in every department store window) and had chestnuts that had been roasted on an open fire while Jack Frost nipped at our noses. Wonderful!
Delicious roasted chestnuts
The week before Christmas was filled with the mission's Christmas conferences--200+ missionaries spread over three days. Bishop Gérald Caussé (presiding bishop of the LDS Church) spoke each day; beautiful musical numbers performed by extremely talented missionaries; ham and turkey dinner served; letters and presents from home, caroling, pictures, and so much joy in the season it was hard to imagine or contain. 
Tables ready for 80+ missionaries
French salad served before dinner
Feeding the masses our homemade potatoes and gravy

My companion and me

Senior sisters and forever friends
Our Zone

 We spent Christmas Eve at the Todd's with the Bendios and Monsons, before we all hurried home to Skype or FaceTime with our families.
Pauline is the hostess with the mostest--
wonderful appetizers before dinner.

This is after cooking--tastes kind of like a mixture of
broccoli and cauliflower. Delicious!

We love this edible Christmas tree
This is before cooking

Christmas morning we went to church and then had the Todds over for brunch. THEN, we got to "open presents" with some of our grandkids in the States. It was just like being there. Well, almost.

It was a Christmas we won't forget. Merry Christmas to all! We love you and miss you!

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Are you enjoying your mission???

Rather than spend several thousand words (a picture is worth a thousand words, right?), I'll opt for the easy way and post a few pictures to answer that oft-asked question. Draw your own conclusions:

Look me in the eyes and tell me this: are you as happy as I am?

The Friday morning ritual when Doug arrives at the office and greets the lovely Cecilia, a convert of ten+ years who makes us smile and keeps our office looking good.

A few of the  missionaries who make every day joyous:

Our mission's amazing assistants--Elder Pieksma and
Elder Stephenson who are both leaving next month.
So sad for us!
Our Elder Nagloo who always brings light and life into the office--
oh, that smile!

And, especially enriching our lives...

The incredible Président et Sœur Babin--always teaching, enjoying,and loving.
This day at Consecration Hill
Then there are the P-days (preparation day) in Paris--why stay home cleaning, doing laundry, shopping, etc. when you could go to Paris?


The Pantheon

Voltaire--love the look on his face.

A really fun bookstore (so small that only a few people can go in
at a time--hence the line)

Love walking across the bridges over the Seine

Luxembourg Gardens--so beautiful         
This Saturday we were asked to help with the children while the adults enjoyed celebrating the 50th anniversary of the church building in Versailles. Doug made it fun and easy--for ALL of us! VOILA!

We love going to dinner with our friends and this night was especially memorable. Doug's mission president from over 53 years ago, Henry D. Moyle, Jr., came to town and invited his two former missionaries--my Doug and Doug Todd--and the wives to dinner. What a delightful evening!

The Dougs with The President
Doug Barnes, Henry D. Moyle, Jr., and Doug Todd

A lot has changed in France in 50+ years, as I constantly remind Doug. But, I don't think these three have changed THAT much! Still such handsome missionaries!

So, there in a few more than 17,000 words, is the answer to the oft-asked question:

Are you enjoying your mission?

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Sunday, October 23, 2016

A step back in time...castles, castles, and more castles

King Doug
I'm really a Renaissance woman at heart
 Last weekend we took Friday off and went to see the Chateaux de La Loire river valley for three days with our friends Doug and Pauline Todd. Absolutely amazing!
"Why won't they share with me?"

We saw seven castles, including Leonardo Da Vinci's home where he spent the last three years of his life. Pictures tell the story best, so here you go:



Gorgoyles galore!

Glad someone (or something) is looking over the manicured gardens at Villandry:
The interiors of the castles were often as impressive as the outsides. 
Walls and walls of incredible tapestries--beautiful works of art that also served to help keep the castles warm


The abundance of orchids was incredible--this one is 50 years old
My knight in shining armour

Please join us for dinner!
Arrangement made with fresh vegetables

I was especially enamored of Leonardo da Vinci's chateau. He spent the last three years of his life here 500 years ago when the king of France invited him to move here from Italy. IBM undertook a project to convert his drawings and plans into actual models: a drawbridge, parachute, airplane, helicopter, car, and catapult are a few of his inventions. Roaming through his study and seeing his drawings, paintings, and quotes on the walls felt like being in sacred space to me.  
His actual notebooks and sketches of segments of his paintings.
Legend is that King Francis I of France was with him when he died in this bed. His last words were reported to have been: 
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It makes me wonder if anyone is ever satisfied with what they accomplished in their life.
And now, "Adieu," from our castle to yours.