Us Seniors

Elder et Soeur Arn & Jody

Thursday, May 15

Lourdes and Leprechans - Missionaries and Mother's Day

Jack and JoAnn Metcalfe are from Cokesville, Wyoming. They have been out for about 6 months. They are on a proselyting mission in Angouleme about 2 hours from Bordeaux. They are working with the less actives and he is a counselor in the branch presidency. He was a high school teacher for the last 20 plus years. They have 8 children and a dozen or so grandchildren. They are a terrific couple and we only wish we had more time to do fun things together.

This has been an interesting weekend. The Metcalfes came down to Bordeaux for a day of sightseeing. After some discussion, we decided to take the 3-hour drive to Lourdes (just this side of the border between France and Spain). We figured that this was such a famous site and since we were so close we probably should go and see what it was like. Lourdes is a very famous Catholic attraction. Their belief is that a young shepherd girl (Bernadette) had visions of the virgin Mary at a grotto at Lourdes. The area has been turned into a huge complex which draws thousands of Catholics who believe that the water at that spot has healing properties. They have the grotto marked off with curtains. Outside there are barricade lines (similar to those at Disneyland to keep the lines controllable). There is a line for men, one for women and one for handicapped. They go in, change into white clothing and then are "laid down into the water" and brought up again, hopefully to cure whatever they have that needs curing. We saw hundreds of people in wheelchairs, some coming with family or friends, some with nurses or medical attendants.

The cathedral was at the other end of the complex. There were many things that we did not have time to visit.
There were statues all around the large court area. Some were of saints (I believe) but most were of Mary.

There were places to buy long narrow white and blue candles, Lourdes magazines, etc. We saw many carrying small bottles which we think may have been that they could get some of the water to take with them. Many were leaving with the candles, but we also saw areas where hundreds of these candles were burning.

There were thousands of people there because it was the day before Pentecost. There were people from many countries and we heard many languages being spoken.

Which brings us to Matthew. We were talking with the Metcalfes when this very short slightly chubby man came by, and as he passed us he must have heard us speaking English so he turned and stood a couple of feet from us, just watching us, as if wanting to speak with us. We finally noticed him and began a very delightful conversation. His name was Matthew and he was on vacation from Ireland. He didn't exactly look like this picture, but he did have a delightful twinkle in his eye and this reminds me of him. We had a rousing discussion on religion. He told us what he as a Catholic believed and why, and we in turn told him about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Even though we are serving as missionaries for our church, we didn't feel that we should do any active proselyting at this Catholic attraction, so we mostly just listened and enjoyed hearing his views and delightful Irish accent. He was very intent on telling us his beliefs and was worried that he hadn't relayed them sufficiently, but we assured him that he had done a fine job and thanked him for talking with us.

One thing we both felt strongly while at Lourdes is how much Heavenly Father loves all his children. There are so many good people trying their best to do the right things and to get closer to God.
The next day was Mother's Day. Since the young missionaries here only get to call home twice a year - Christmas and Mother's Day - and since we oldsters can call as often as we want, and since we have the telephone in our apartment that has free international calling, and since the Elders have very limited funds to be able to call home, we invited a couple of the Elders to call home from our apartment. Then when the word got out, some of the other Elders asked if they too could use our phone. We took pity on them and said, "Sure." Then we found out that their calls can last up to one hour each. Unfortunately, that left no time to talk to our kids. When we realized this, we started to feel very sorry for ourselves.

But, wait - in France Mother's Day is not the same as in America. It is May 25th. So, we decided that we would celebrate French Mother's Day and talk to our children on that day. That way the poor Elders were able to talk to their mothers on America's Mother's Day and we will talk to our children on France's Mother's Day.
Elder Mak is from Hong Kong, which is 6 hours ahead of us here in France. He needed to use the phone at 3:00 p.m. Then he and Elder Johnson left to go do their missionary work and Elder Johnson (who is from Kaysville, Utah - 9 hours behind us) was able to use the phone at 8:00 p.m. In the meantime, two other Elders came to use the phone. Elder Hitoto is from Paris and Elder Hill is from Kaysville also. (Before the last transfer we had 4 Elders in our Bordeaux ward from Kaysville, Utah.) Elder Hitoto comes from a family of 13, so he took a little longer to be able to speak with all of them.
As they would be taking about one hour each for their calls, we set up a buffet so they could eat while waiting for their companion to make his call. I made a large pot of French onion soup, blue cheese quiche, and Rice Krispie treats. Arnold made some yummy guacamole and we had chips, salsa, crackers, croissants, cheese and several kinds of juices. Quite a cosmopolitan menu. This way we could easily feed the Elders for most of the afternoon and evening. We have BYU TV on the computer, so we put on General Conference talks for them to watch while they were waiting. Because of the time difference, they were not able to see the last session of conference in April, so that was a favorite. They especially wanted to hear Elder Holland's and Elder Bednar's talks.

Even though we love our children so much and love to talk to them, we were so glad for the opportunity to let the Elders' Moms have this wonderful blessing.

After the last Elder was finished, Arnold drove them home. Then he was able to call his mother. She had been taken to the emergency room the night before, and we were very worried about her. Fortunately, she was fine when we called and was spending the day at Connie's. It was such a relief for Arnold to speak with her and to feel assured of her well being.


Post a Comment

<< Home