Just returned from an amazing trip to southern France. So much to share, so many wonderful people and incredible experiences. The prime focus of the trip was the Nice Stake Young Adult Self-Reliance conference. Many other self-reliance activities and sites we visited are included.
|Participants in the Nice Young Adult Self-Reliance Conference|
It all started on Thursday afternoon, August 13 as we flew into Lyon, France. We were picked up by our Self-Reliance senior missionaries, Elder and Sister Geddes. One of the priorities of our trip was to get to know them better and participate in SR activities with them. We have found this to be an effective training method, to discuss, experience and review. Certainly it worked well again.
We started with a meeting with the Lyon Stake Self-Reliance committee on Thursday evening. This was a special meeting scheduled to coincide with our visit. President Lepore, stake president, conducted the meeting. The stake specialist (and high councilor) and the stake relief society president joined us by Zoom and the stake family services specialist also attended. President Lepore is very positive and supportive of Self-Reliance efforts and is requesting that each ward have at least their first Self-Reliance devotional this year. Most of the units in the stake now have ward specialists. Things are moving well, the first of their ward devotionals was scheduled for the following Sunday. We were be able to participate in this devotional.
|President Lepore, E/S Geddes, Stake family services specialist, Sister Rueckert and other participants joining by Zoom.|
After a successful stake committee meeting we spent the night in a local hotel before heading to Nice, France the following day. The timing of our visit was to participate in the Nice Stake Self-Reliance young adult weekend. Nice is on the shores of the Mediterranean, about a six hour drive from Lyon. The next morning we began the drive with Elder and Sister Geddes. We did take some time to visit a few cultural attractions along the way. We will include that later in the blog.
|Facebook advertisement of the Nice SR Weekend activity|
|Nice stake president addressing the young adults|
|Dorothy, stake specialist, rehearsing with young adults, including the stake president|
|Street sign of the Promenade des Anglais|
|The beauty of the coast of Nice seen from our windshield|
|View of the flowers and the memorials as we drove by|
|View from our car as drove by on the way to the stake center. This shows the armed guards and part of the memorial.|
|Devotional participants watching the initial "I Will Provide for My Saints" video|
|Sister Rueckert during her presentation|
|Sister Rueckert presenting with her translator at the side. Dorothy Houasse, stake specialist, is the first lady to the right of Sister Rueckert.|
After our presentations, lunch was served, another rehearsal was held for the One by One song and then the first session of the Self-Reliance Groups was held. This was based on the groups that were formed in the devotional that morning.
|Lunch prepared for all of the young adults|
We participated in a small Education group that was facilitated by Elder and Sister Geddes. No photo was taken, but there was some personal miracles occurring in this group as one of the young men had some strong spiritual manifestations for his personal life. This is what these groups are about, individuals sharing their feelings and discovering, through the Holy Ghost, what God wants them to understand and do.
|Starting and Growing My Business group|
|Personal Finances group|
|My Job Search Group|
After the Self-Reliance Groups, some additional self-reliance activities occurred. Once again rehearsals occurred for the One by One song and then a light dinner was served. At 6:00 pm a testimony meeting was held, many testimonies were shared. The meeting finished in time to be ready for the meeting with Bishop Causeé and his wife. They were visiting in Preston, England and had arranged to participate by video conference with these young adults.
|Young Adults singing "One by One" to Bishop Causeé and his wife|
They performed the One by One song marvelously. The spirit was strong for all that participated. Then, some graduation certificates were given to some SR participants who had previously completed courses. For the next hour and a half, Bishop Causeé addressed the group and answered specific questions. His wife also participated in the answers. The young adults love Bishop Causeé, wh is from France. The spirit was strong and the comments were mostly centered around Self-Reliance.
|Bisho Causseé and his wife on Video with the young adults|
This was a wonderful way to culminate the two days of activities. We give strong congratulations to Dorothy Houasse, the Stake Self-Reliance Specialist who organized this event. She had wonderful support from other Self-Reliance specialists, the Young Adult organization and from Momo, our SRS manager. Also, the Stake president and his counselor were in attendance at the different sessions. We were so impressed at all of their efforts. Even more, after spending 24 hours with these great young adults, we learned to love them deeply. Some were non members or new members. Many were recently returned missionaries. We learned of many of their challenges and their desires to grow and become self-reliant. We feel like they were more than acquaintances, we truly left friends behind at the end of the day.
After the activity we decided to go with Elder and Sister Geddes and have dinner that evening. As we drove by, we saw a Hippopotamus restaurant, so we had to eat there. All that know Sister Rueckert know that she has a passion for Hippopatami ( Plural?).
|In front of the Hippopotamus restaurant|
|The beautiful door mat|
|Olive tree with a few of the remaining olives|
|Several trees in the area behind the church|
After this stop we continued on to the city of Valence where a My Path Devotional was scheduled at 2:00 pm. The drive was an additional 3 hours and we arrived just in time to participate. Elder and Sister Geddes were to facilitate their first devotional. The ward had prepared well, sharing the My Path booklet with all of the members even before the devotional. We had four tables complete, about 25 participants. In the end, 3 self-reliance groups were formed. There was plenty of success and certainly lessons learned. The following are photos of the time at the end while the groups are being formed.
|Sister Rueckert organizing the Starting and Growing My Business group at the back|
|Appears chaotic, but a lot of good organization is going on|
After the Devotional, we drove back to Lyon, France, arriving at about 8:00 pm. The next morning we spent a few hours with Elder and Sister Geddes, as they showed us a few sights in Lyon before we went to the airport and returned home to Frankfurt.
We feel like this trip was a total success. Besides participating in SR Devotionals and groups and committees with Elder and Sister Geddes, we were able to spent 12 hours in the car with them, traveling around southern France. During this time, we had many conversations about processes, preparations, review and many opportunities to get to know them on a personal basis. They are an amazing missionary couple. They both taught at BYU Idaho before retiring as they were beginning their mission. She taught the French language and he was the Dean of the Art department and took annual trips of students to Europe to study art. They are well qualified to serve this mission in the French speaking countries of Europe. More than that, they are an amazing couple with genuine love and kindness for everyone, especially to each other. We learned so much from them and look forward to serving with them for the remainder of our mission.
On the day that we arrived in Lyon, we had a few hours to see some sites. On the trip to Nice, we also stopped at a few locations. On Monday, we took another few hours to see the sites of Lyon. On the first two days we had constant rain, but we made up for it with good company. The following photos are from some of the sites that we visited:
|In front of Roman ruins in Lyon, France. This was a stronghold of the roman empire.|
|Better view of some of the Roman ruins|
|View of the Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourvière in Lyon, France. Note the golden statue of Mary on the top of the Basilica. Sister Geddes calls it the "Angel Maryoni".|
|One of many photos from the inside of the Basilica of Notre Dame|
|Ceiling of the cathedral|
|In front of the Le Papais des Papes, palace of the Pope based in France during the 14th century . This is the largest Gothic palace in all of Europe.|
|Another "Angel Maryoni" at the top of this palace|
|On the Pont d"Avignon in front of the Papal palace. This was the location of the famous french song "Sur le Pont d'Avignon". This is a song the Sister Rueckert learned when she studied French years ago.|
|Another photo showing the river on both sides of the bridge.|
While on the bridge the rain started coming down faster and continued most of the rest of the day. We were able to visit another fort at Les Baux-de-Provence.
|Approaching the fort|
|This is the fort from a distance|
|Inside the Fort area on a rainy day|
When this fort was built, significant blocks of stone were taken out of the mountainside. They have now taken the quarry where the rock was taken out, and turned it into an amazing art exhibit. There are multimedia shows of the works of different artists and display them on the walls, ceilings and floors of the stone quarry. The following photos come from this exhibit, with paintings superimposed on the open quarry.
|Outside the Quarry|
|Inside the Quarry in between shows|
|Another view in between shows|
|Art appearing on the different faces of the quarry|
|Other images on the stone|
|Additional images of paintings|
|Another view of the quarry in between shows|
Lyon, France on Monday morning:
This morning we had a special guided tour of the Lyon Cathedral by Elder and Sister Geddes. Their experience in art and cathedrals made this tour of a cathedral of the 1300s be true educational experience. I learned to see so much symbolism throughout the cathedral which made it so much more meaningful. A few examples follow:
|The statue of Stephen, the martyr. You can see the stone by his feet symbolizing that he was stoned. The Palm branch in his arms shows that he was martyred. He is looking into heaven where he saw Jesus Christ and God the Father.|
|Sculpture of John the Baptist with course clothing, a lamb at his side, signifying the Lamb of God and his hand pointing up to Jesus Christ.|
Finally views of the Notre Dame cathedral visited the previous week seen from below:
|Overall view of the Lyon Cathedral,Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Lyon . Elder and Sister Rueckert next to the statue of John the Baptist sprinkling Jesus Christ.|
We finished our morning with a wonderful French lunch of Crepes: