Us Seniors

Elder et Soeur Arn & Jody

Friday, December 26


On the Friday after Christmas Luis Alphonso Acuna was baptized into the Church. He is 9 years old. Arnold spoke at the baptism. He talked about the gift of the Holy Ghost and likened it to the Liahona and to a GPS that let us know when we are going in the right direction and helping us to recorrect our course when we go astray. Luis family is from Argentina but they speak French also so Arnold gave his talk in French.Luis was baptized by his home teacher, Brother Lopez from our branch, and Sister Lopez gave a beautiful talk on baptism. There were several investigators there and the Spirit was very strong. One of the investigators has set a date for his baptism and is working towards getting himself ready.


The Leroys, one of the Belgian families in the Branch, invited us over for Christmas at their house. They have a large family and included were their married children and grandchildren, sister and brother-in-law and their family, the four Elders and us. All together there must have been about 26 of us. A holiday meal in Belgium is an event and can take most of the day. They started off with a prayer and then everyone came into the living room for hor d'oeuvres. These were a variety of little tiny pieces of toast with various toppings - cheese, crab, etc. - crackers and hard sausages, pretzels, etc.The centerpiece for the table was a creche scene inside of this tower. They put candles in the holders and the heat from the candles caused the scenes to turn around. It was fun to watch, and the kids enjoyed playing with the candle flames.Some of the girls at the kids' table trying not to get their pictures taken.Two of the boys at the kids' table trying to get their pictures taken. Ysaline looks on - you can tell she loves these boys (the one on the far left is her brother and the one in the middle (Bryan Vander Stockt) is her cousin).When all seated at the table, we started with delicious pumpkin soup.Gwen and brother - she had to hold him so he would get his picture taken.Three of the Elders (Curtis, Peterson and Kent) enjoying their soup.Next we were served what they call the "entré" but we would call it an appetizer. Clockwise from the top is a canned peach half with tuna salad, cold thinly sliced salmon, crab, hard boiled egg with crab salad topping, and cooked salmon. Then everyone got up from the table and went their way. Some of the kids played Twister in the living room, some watched a video, some, of course, played with game boy type games, and some were on the cell phone. We thought that the meal had ended, but after about a half an hour or so, they called us all back to the table for the main course.We had roast turkey rolled with stuffing in the middle and yummy mushroom sauce (gravy), pomme dauphine (a mixture of mashed potatoes and cream puff pastry formed into balls and fried), Cesar salad, warm cherries, and applesauce. It was all so delicious. By the time we had finished with this course and visited for awhile, it was time for us to get back to the apartment to get a call from Susan at our apartment.Since we obviously had not gotten enough to eat, the Leroys sent us home with this great assortment of desserts. The red and white cake was raspberries and cream and the other two were yummy chocolate and vanilla icing cakes. They also sent us home with two loaves of bread (one Sister Leroy made herself and another sweet bread), two huge bars of chocolate and a lovely plant that is just about to flower.

It was a wonderful Christmas. We so enjoyed being with the Leroy family. They are so loving and fun. It made being away from our family more bearable. Thank you so much Leroys!

Thursday, December 25


There was a Christmas Marché in the Grand Place, about 4 blocks from our apartment. The Archives closed early on Christmas Eve, so we walked over to the Grand Place to check it out.Arnold at the entrance to the marché standing in front of this great eagle.The marché consists of these little "log cabins" decorated with limbs from Christmas trees and sell a variety of items.Arnold enjoying people watching and dog watching. This cute little dog with a jacket was so excited to be out in the marché. They sell a ll kinds of items at the marché, things that you usually cannot get anywhere else. This one was selling bowls (baskets) made of pieces of wood fitted together in different shapes. They were really pretty cool.Throughout the marché were these "sculptures" made from evergreen branches and various wood products. We'd hate to run into this guy in a dark alley.In the center of the marché they erected a skating rink for the children. Everyone seemed to have a great time on the ice. We thought about giving it a try but decided the last thing we needed was a trip to the emergency room.Nearly half of the shops sold food items. This one sold a variety of sausages and meat products. The long coils in the glass case are sausages. They had all colors from yellow to almost black. We guess that each color has its own unique flavor. We didn't try any though.Another sculpture of what we believe is a pelican.This owl was rather regal and extremely well done. Notice the detail in the feet.There also was this little merry-go-round which the kids seemed to enjoy.One of the more colorful shops. These were all knitted items to help keep out the cold. Arnold couldn't help but barter with the shopkeeper and scored this warm chapeau for half price.With Arnold's new "missionary/military" haircut, this really was great to keep his head warm.This is possibly the most unusual creche we have ever seen. If we read the signs right it was created by children for some art project.This machine has a sign on it which translated says Papa's beard. We think that must be what they call cotton candy here.Another sculpture. This one seems to be some sort of Big Foot stirring a cauldron of something or other. Very cool.

Christmas Marches are very common in Europe. Some are so elaborate that people come from miles and countries away to shop. This was much smaller but perfect for us to experience the tradition and especially fun on a cold Christmas Eve.

Monday, December 15


A very common sight in France and Belgium around Christmas time is Santa Clause hanging from an apartment window. He usually is hanging by a rope or ladder, but we have seen him parachuting down the side of the apartment buildings.We wonder if it is because there are no chimneys for him to come down so it is their way of showing him how to get into their apartments.
This is one of the few apartments that have decorations other than the Santa Clauses.The apartment directly across the street from us is the only one we saw with lights in the windows.
Someone put a "Christmas tree" in front of our apartment where they usually put the garbage on trash day. These are not the kinds of presents we are used to seeing under the tree.
Christmas trees decorating the streets of Tubize.
This nativity is hung on the outside of St. Elizabeths (about 3 blocks from our apartment).The McLaren girls at church last Sunday. They all dressed in outfits that looked like the Van Trapp Family Singers might have worn. The McLaren family performed for the Stake that evening. Kathleen, Heidi (their daughter visiting from BYU), Joanna and Clarissa in the front. The displays in the stores where they sold Christmas decorations shows the unusual color schemes that they seem to enjoy here. This is kind of a cross between burnt orange and copper.This is my favorite - beautiful colors - not traditionally what we think of at Christmas, but beautiful nonetheless.
Not as spectacular but these are our decorations. This is the cute nativity scene we bought. Also, not traditional, but we really love it.Our "bar" housed our decorations and eventually presents and goodies too.
Susan sent us these cute bears. They decorated our apartment, then we shared them with some of our friends here in Mons. The rest we took to the pediatric unit at the hospital. They were thrilled to get them. This tree is in the lobby of the hospital.The Young Women from Hidden Canyon Ward in North Las Vegas sent us these cute handmade cards and presents. Thanks girls!The malls in Bordeaux did very little in the way of Christmas decorations. Not so here in Mons. They really went all out.

We really have enjoyed the Christmas decorations here in Mons.