Us Seniors

Elder et Soeur Arn & Jody

Tuesday, September 30


When we went to visit Gwenaelle LeRoy (she is a 20-something young woman from our branch that we home teach) in the hospital today, we parked by this cool statue.

When we looked at the plaque in front of the statue, the named seemed to ring a bell. When we got home, we checked our genealogy and found that we are related to Baudouin IX, which is the name on the plaque. He is Arnold's 33 great grandfather and JoAnn's 2nd cousin 29 times removed. In the process we also noticed many of our ancestors who were either born or died in Mons, Belgium, right where we are serving. We will have to do a little sleuthing to see if there are any cemeteries that old here or other information on these relatives. Heavenly Father continues to help us with our family history even when we are working full time and have no time to do any research. If we hadn't been doing what we were supposed to do by visiting Gwen in the hospital, we would never have found this information.

For Family Home Evening we were invited to the McLarens' home. James McLaren is a lawyer at S.H.A.P.E. (the military base here). Kathleen McLaren is the niece of Dallin Oaks of the Twelve. They have been in Europe for many years, serving in London two times, in Italy and now in Mons. They have a lovely home, which is very big by Belgian standards. Sister McLaren thought it was because of the military and their catering to Americans with larger families. They even have a huge pool and tennis court in their large backyard.

This is a family portrait that hangs on their wall. They have 7 children - 2 of which are in the states (the oldest girl is at BYU). They have 5 of their children with them in Mons. They are a delightful family and we thoroughly enjoyed our evening with them.
Unfortunately, these pictures did not come out too well, but it gives some idea of their family and home.

It was fun being around the children. This one reminded us a lot of Jared. He will be 12 this week and will be ordained a Deacon next week.
Brother Styles from the Branch was also there. He is a chemistry teacher at the base. His wife and 2-year-old daughter are in the states until December. The McLarens are making sure he is invited over often so that he gets some good home cooking.
There were two harps, a piano and several music stands set up when we arrived. This is the 3rd oldest daughter and she plays beautifully. All of the family play an instrument. Brother McLaren (who is Scottish) is learning the play the bagpipes.
He has the most wonderful sense of humor. He is very dead pan in his delivery and sometimes it is hard to know if he is serious or not, but most of the time there is no question and he is downright hilarious. He told us of when he was a little boy he was raised Catholic and was an Altar Boy. One of his tasks was to collect pennies for "Afican Babies." He would walk up and down the aisles in church with a round ball shaped container for people to put money in for this special purpose. He told us that one day he really wanted a toy Aston Martin car that was a model of the one "007" drove in Goldfinger. He wanted it so badly that he stole the African Babies pennies to buy the car. In describing it he said it even had machine guns that came out of the front and a bullet proof shield that came up on the back and an ejector seat that shot an oriental guy through the roof... He said "It was AHHHHWESOME!" When one of his kids asked him where it is today he said, "I don't know... Heavenly Father took it away from me for stealing the African Babies pennies."

Arnold gave the lesson on family history and told of his ancestor who came from Scotland, as the children are all half Scottish (although the second oldest, Stirling, says that he is half American). In the process, we happened to notice that this Scottish ancestor married a woman, Catherine Clark, who was born in Waterloo, Belgium. This is the site of the famous "Battle of Waterloo" where Napoleon was defeated. We got to looking further and discovered that she was born 4 days after the battle, on June 22, 1815. A notation on our records says that her father was in the English army, so evidently the wife was with them going to battle and had her baby shortly thereafter. We are going to do some more investigation when we get home to see if we can find out how and why this was.

Saturday, September 27


Toon, in addition to being the camera operator for the church, is the security person for the Archives, which is below the Mons Expo. The Expo is having a very big event the next two weeks, so they are sprucing up the whole area. They have brought in plants to place on the railings, etc. Because the Archives is directly below the Expo and is viewed by those visiting the Expo, Toon had the responsibility of cleaning up the area around the Archives, which is a large parking lot and their garden area. They have beautiful trees lining the parking lot and throughout their yard. The problem is that now that fall is here the trees are losing their very large leaves. Toon had been gone most of this week for a seminar in Paris, and Elly has had problems with her stomach and is unable to bend over. They needed to do the job in a hurry for the weekend and were worried that they would be able to have the time needed.
Elders to the rescue!!

They planned on two Elders to help them, but five showed up. Pictured are Toon, Elder Wakefield, Elder Gonzales, Elder Scott, Elder Nielsen, and Elder Peterson. Note the hand accessories of Elder Peterson on the end. These were great for scooping up the leaves after they had been racked up.

Broom Man!

The Big Boss!

Toon invented this giant broom to sweep up the leaves. He attached 6 regular brooms to a cross piece and added a long handle. Elder Wakefield sweeping a large swath of leaves with one run. Now, if we could only figure a way to hitch the dogs to the broom.

Is that a C cord he is playing?

Note the large pile of leaves in the corner. This was a massive job. Toon had to make two trips to the dump with a small trailer filled with leaves. This is a perfect place for Arnold's joke. What did Tonto say to the Lone Ranger when they went to get rid of the trash? To the dump, to the dump, to the dump, dump, dump.

Green with envy?

The two men in green looking over the railing are the workers from the Expo. We think they either thought these young men were taking their job, or they were jealous that the Elders' broom was bigger than theirs.

Work done and all cleaned up, we went into the Toon and Elly's apartment for some refreshment. Elder Scott and Elder Peterson really do clean up nicely.
Arnold, JoAnn and Elder Gonzales relaxing, especially Elder Gonzales.

Funny Elders!

Elder Gonzales, Elder Nielsen and Elder Wakefield, all showing their we did it! faces. They all seemed to enjoy having some hard physical work to do. It was a nice change from their normal work, and it was such a blessing for Toon and Elly. They wouldn't have been able to do it in time without them.

Elly was taking pictures. Arnold handed her the camera and asked her to take pictures of "everyone." So she did. This is the one of her.

She is the funnest lady. We love this family so much. They are basically good, good people - always thinking of how to help others. We are indeed blessed to have been sent here to Mons to work with them.

Thursday, September 25


Hans Fiedler (Jean Pierre Masella's boss), Paul Abbott (software expert and responsible for getting information back and forth between the US and Europe), and Wayne Metcalf (over record preservation operations in Europe and the Western Hemisphere) came to see us this week from the Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU). They were here for a big seminar of all the related employees in this area that was held in Paris. They introduced some important changes in the way the camera operators report their work. They also wanted to meet us and see what we were doing and to check out a new invention Toon had for capturing images (that's the official way to say taking pictures) more easily and quickly.

It was fun meeting them and they took us out to lunch at the Greek restaurant in the mall and then were off to Paris for their seminar.

Paul Abbott knows Whitney and Cathy Clayton, and told us he would tell them hello for us.

Monday, September 22


Saturday night on our way home we decided to try a new pizza place not too far from our apartment. It has a classy Belgian name "Fast-Food Pizza." Whenever we have gotten pizza in Europe they call their largest pizza "geante" (giant) which usually is the size of a medium pizza in America. So we naively told them we wanted a geante pizza. This is what we got.
The plate JoAnn is holding is a full-sized dinner plate. This definitely is "GEANTE." The box was so big that we could only fit one of us and the pizza in our little elevator to get up to our apartment.This geante pizza would not even fit in this little pizza stand in Bordeaux. This is "Kiosque a Pizzas" and is a small shack in the parking lot of the grocery store.
Our greatest find so far in Mons having to do with pizza is a Pizza Hut right across the round-about next to our work. They have an all-you-can-eat buffet that has real American style pizza. We took the Elders there once and they really loved it - even the Elder from Germany. This is the only place in Europe that we have found that has real pepperoni. Usually, they have something called chirozo, which is like a spicy Mexican sausage.

When we first got to Bordeaux we went to a restaurant called "Pizza Pai" which is pronounced pizza pie. JoAnn knew no French then and ordered a pizza that sounded good. She was dismayed when it arrived with a raw egg in the middle. We don't know if the egg was supposed to cook on the hot pizza, but whatever, it was most unappetizing. One thing we have noticed concerning pizza here in France and Belgium - everyone eats pizza with a knife and a fork. You can always tell an American as they just pick up the pizza and enjoy. Also when you order a whole pizza they never slice it for you, and if you get olives on your pizza beware as they do not remove the pits.

Saturday, September 20


We thought when we were first called on our mission that we would stay in Bordeaux for the whole two years. Our mission boundaries are only the southern part of France. We felt bad that we would be so close but not get to see Paris (especially the Louvre). The nearest temple in Madrid, Spain, is outside of our boundaries, so we didn't think we would be able to attend the temple for the two years.

Due to the nature of our work and various projects that have come up that we have been assigned to by the FamilyHistory Department, we have technically served in three missions and have visited four countries and will soon be visiting The Netherlands to go to the temple there. We have been in the Toulouse France Mission for 15 months, with a six-week assignment in the Paris France Mission, and are now serving in the Belgium/Netherlands Mission. We also went through Luxembourg on our way to Belgium and visited Alace Lorraine where our ancestors once lived. This last week we went for one day to Frankfurt, Germany. We have been blessed to have served with three Mission Presidents and their wives, the Merrells in the Toulouse France Mission, the Ponds in the Paris France Mission, and the Woodlands in the Belgium/Netherlands Mission. We have had three apartments and lived with two of the most outstanding families in the Church - the Defranchis in Bordeaux and the Crucys in Paris. We have attended three wards/branches - Eysines Ward in Bordeaux, Torcy Ward in Paris, and Mons Branch in Mons.

Last Wednesday we went from Mons, Belgium, to Valenciennes, France, to inspect the Elders' apartment and back to Mons, Belgium. Thursday, we went from Mons, Belgium, to Brussels, Belgium, for a Zone Conference. This Monday we went from Mons, Belgium, to Frankfurt, Germany, for training and to pick up a new computer, and back to Mons, Belgium, in one day. Tuesday we went from Mons, Belgium, to Bordeaux, France, where we stayed until Thursday, and then returned to Mons, Belgium.

We have had experiences we could have only dreamed of before. Each new surprise has been delightful, and we feel so blessed to have been called on this mission to get to know these wonderful places and people.


As we were getting ready to leave our apartment the other morning, JoAnn came rushing out of the bathroom saying something like... "There's something alive in there and it was about this big." Holding her fingers about two or three inches apart. Arnold went into the bathroom to investigate. JoAnn followed and said "He went running under there." and pointed at the laundry bag on the floor in front of the washing machine. Expecting an exaggeration, Arnold bravely lifted the laundry bag to investigate. Seeing nothing he said, "Must have been a spider or something, probably ran under the washing machine." We gave up the hunt and proceeded to get ready to go. As we were putting on our coats and heading toward the door... Here came "Tim's" brother running at full speed making as straight a path as possible from the bathroom, through our office area made a quick left turn straight toward our front door. JoAnn said, "There he goes." and Arnold reacted with, "Yup, and he seems to know exactly where he's going." He ran right to the front door and stopped for us to open the door. Arnold obliged, reached over, unlocked the door, and opened it and let him run out into the hall, quickly shutting the door behind him to allow our uninvited guest his leave. We waited a few minutes to allow him to go his way. Carefully opening the front door, all the time looking at the floor, we entered the hallway. No where was Tim's brother to be found. He had long headed for parts unknown. We hope he's still running... as far away as he can get.

JoAnn was not exaggerating one tiny bit... He was big, hairy, a fast runner and smart as heck. He reminded us of the spider we had living in the downstairs hallway at our apartment in Bordeaux whom JoAnn nick-named "Tiny Tim." Somehow naming something that scary seems to make them less scary. Actually this was kind of a funny experience... at least we can laugh about it now.

This guy doesn't really resemble the monster that was in our apartment... He was more hairy and much bigger.


We went back to Bordeaux to get Arnold's carte de sejour. We had to appear in person so that entailed another trip. We again rode the TGV train. The only connections we could get made it so we had to stay an extra day. We went up early Tuesday morning and came home Thursday afternoon.

We met with the Bordeaux Zone Leaders and they told us that Tracey, one of the amis they had been teaching before we left, was going to be baptized. She and her boyfriend had gotten married as one step towards baptism. They both want to be baptized. Tracey is from Africa so she had to go back to get the marriage legalized there. They will be baptized as soon as that is taken care of. It was an interesting story how she was initially contacted. Elder Warren and Elder Stucker were riding on the bus. Elder Warren had a distinct impression to talk to her, but someone else began talking to him and suddenly it was the Elders' bus stop at their apartment, so Elder Warren thought he had missed his chance. Tracey, however, got off at the same bus stop and began walking in the same direction as the Elders. They struck up a conversation, and, as it turns out, she lives in the same apartment complex as the Elders. In fact, she lives right across the hall from them. She is from Africa but speaks English better than French and was so happy to find someone to talk about religion that could speak English. She had been looking a long time for this. After the Elders talked with her and made an appointment to teach her later, they returned to their apartment. A few minutes later there was a loud knock on their door. It was Tracey's boyfriend. The Elders were afraid he was mad at their talking to his girlfriend. Quite the contrary. He thanked them so much because Tracey had been looking for so long and was so very happy to have met them. She then came to church every Sunday after that. It was nice because JoAnn felt that she could help Tracey with her English at church. Tracey's boyfriend soon started coming to church also and now they are planning to be baptized. The Lord truly does work miracles everyday.
We stayed at the Ibis Hotel near the Prefecture's office. It was a very lovely hotel. The one with the kitchen that we stayed in last time was all booked up. This one didn't have a kitchen, but it did have a lovely dining room with a wonderful breakfast buffet. In the evening they also had a dessert buffet that looked fantastic, but we didn't get a chance to try that one.

This is a view from the window in the hallway of the hotel. We stayed on the 11th Floor. It shows some of the rooftops of Bordeaux and the ever present cranes. Trying to build or rebuild in Bordeaux is very difficult without these huge cranes to maneuver the construction equipment and materials in the tight spaces of the city.Out of another window was this view of Saint Catherine Cathedral.

The tram stopped just outside of our hotel. We bought day passes, and, after completing some business, including finally getting Arnold's carte de sejour, we enjoyed touring the city from the comfort of the tram.
The sights began even before we got on the tram. This is a view of St. Catherine's from the tram stop.
This gigantic dog also enjoyed the comfort of the tram. He was the most interesting color. He almost looked striped like a tiger. He was very well behaved, although he kept people from going down that part of the tram. He just lay quietly with his head on his owner's feet. The only time he moved was when Arnold took his picture and he became instantly alert.
This old tree was one of the sights we saw on one of our excursions around the city. It is covered with metallic pieces and gives it the appearance of an arboreal robot. Arnold said to title this one "The Three Blockheads." Sorry, but JoAnn didn't do it.
There was a large cruise ship docked on the quai by the river. They come into Bordeaux often as a tourist stop. We loved Bordeaux, but never could see the tourist appeal.
This is the Bordeaux that we know. Interesting but not very touristy (is that a word?).
The following bronze plaque was installed in the pavement by of the Bordeaux Train Station. It is a moving and fitting memorial to those who risked their lives to save over 60 Jewish families from extermination camps set up by the Nazis during the Second World War years. It is so large that it took several shots to get it all in and still be legible. A full translation is given below.

(from The Talmud)
The years 1942, 1943 and 1944 shattered the lives of 1650 members of the Jewish community of Bordeaux and Gironde of which 225 were children.

But thanks to the intervention of the RIGHTEOUS, cited hereafter, about sixty families were able to escape the raid and deportation to extermination camps organized by the Vichy Police and Nazi occupiers.

Mr. Alain JUPPÉ, mayor of Bordeaux, wanted to engrave on this bronze slab, homage and recognition to all those who, of all political, social and religious persuasion, at peril to their own lives provided succor and safety to those so persecuted.

This list is but tentative for reasons of discretion, for the many Righteous that will so remain anonymous to this day.

BALLINI Germaine-Therese
BEAUCAILLOU Mauticette et René
BOUSSAT Thérèse et Charles
CADAPEAUD Jeanne et Georges
ELLUL Jacques
ESTEVE Anne-Marie
HERPE Georgette et Emile
LADEVEZE Madeleine
MITEAU Lucienne et Georges
PINET Jeanne
VERGNAUD Marthe et Paul

The 16th of July 2008

Alain Juppé Bordeaux

As the sun sets in the west, we bid a fond farewell (again) to Bordeaux. It has been a marvelous part of our mission and we will miss it and the people very much.

Wednesday, September 17

Labourel Letter

One of our favorite couples in Bordeaux were the Labourels. They are so fun loving and have accepted the Gospel completely. You can just see the happiness in their eyes since their baptism. They were baptized shortly before we left. Brother Labourel is a student of Brother Defranchi and that is how he became acquainted with the church. He felt there was something special in Brother Defranchi that he wanted to have in his life. They are both French, but she speaks a little English and always tried to speak English around JoAnn to make her feel more comfortable.

They sent this wonderful email in English, again being very thoughtful of JoAnn's limited French.

"thank you for your mail; i really appreciate your" thought on a saturday afternoon"; it's so nice to have news from you; we hope that serving in belgium brings you much joy and confort in the spirit! during our holidays, we had the great opportunity to go to madrid's temple with brother defranchi and the diesnis's family! it was really an unique experience, full of emotion, joy and peace; it allowed us to gain a great testimony of the plan of salvation; to serve our ancestors and other unknown people too, allows us to realize how much this work is righteous, divine and necessary !we know today that all these people will be taught by the missionnaries "from high", what comfort it brings to our soul! We're preparing ourselves for our sealing next year and our journey in Kaysville with steven Warren; we're so gratefull for the blessings and for the gospel in our life.
May our heavenly father bless and protect you, and the holy spirit stay beside you, see you soon
Nathalie and Patrick Labourel"
Elder Johnson, Patrick and Natalie Labourel, and Elder Warren at the Labourels baptism.
Arnold captions this candid shot of Brother Labourel and Elder Tran in the hallway at church "Escrime de Pouce" - thumb fencing.

Monday, September 15


Last week we got a telephone call from Jean Pierre Massela, our supervisor in the Family History Department in France. He has a new project that he wants us to begin for him. This required a quick trip to Frankfurt, Germany, for training and receiving a new computer and software system. President Woodland, the Mission President of the Belgium/Netherlands Mission gave us special permission to go. It is outside of our mission boundaries, and unless special permission is given from the Mission President, we would not have been allowed to go.

We left at 6:00 a.m., arrived in Frankfurt around 11:30 a.m., received a quick 2-hour training session, packed up the new computer system, left Frankfurt at 2:00 p.m. and arrived back in Mons at 7:30 p.m. It was a very quick trip, but it was the only time that all parties could get together at the same time. Jean Pierre had to come up from Paris to Mons on the train. He then drove us in our car since he had been there before and basically knew the way. There is a distribution center and office for the Genealogical Society of Utah outside of Frankfurt and the men who invented this software work there. Monday was the only day that the head man was going to be there to explain things to us.

An interesting side note, it looks like the man we are going to be working with via telephone and email is the father of one of the missionaries we knew in Bordeaux. Small world, huh?

It was fun to get to see a different part of Europe, but impossible to take much in with that quick of a trip. We tried to take a few photos out of the window of the moving car, but that was difficult. Here is a short overview of what we saw.

The country is very similar to that of Belgium and France,

with lots of farm land, forests and generally beautiful scenery.
Most of the sunflowers have all gone to seed, except for this small crop next to the road on the outskirts of Frankfurt. For a while there were huge fields of green, then they turned yellow when the sunflowers appeared, and now most of the fields are black with just the seeds showing. There are pretty purple flowers in the foreground of this picture but they are hard to see.
Part of the country we passed through had at one time been filled with volcanoes. There were dozens of dome-shaped hills like this one, which we understand were once volcanoes.And just like most of Europe, there are very quaint houses everywhere.

It appears that that part of Germany is more industrial than Belgium or France. We got a fun picture of this factory making clouds.

Most of Europe use a variety of methods to produce energy. We have seen nuclear plants quite often as we have traveled around.In contrast to these nuclear plants, we also saw many "fields" of windmills.
(Note the GPS in the window. We couldn't have made it without it, but it had issues at one point and we had to stop to get a map until it was straightened out. Of well, it seems nothing is perfect.)
These windmills almost seem like something out of a science fiction movie when you come upon one looming over the tall trees.
Among all the German things we saw, we also came across this "American" standby side by side with the European.
We walked into this gas station convenience store and right by the doorway were 3 slot machines. JoAnn asked Arnold if we were back home. Jean Pierre told us that gambling was legal in German. Who knew?
The Germans also have some very unique cows.

We drove past the Frankfurt Temple, but did not have time to stop. Since it is out of our mission boundaries, we probably will not be able to return, but may get a chance to visit The Hague Temple in Holland.
We will do another blog regarding our new assignment as soon as we are up and running with it. Hopefully, that will be next week or so.