Wednesday, November 21, 2012

An Eerie Remembrance of the Past

We live about 100 yards up the same street from this large entrance sign to Cherbourg, France. Recently, a lady in Amsterdam discovered in a flea market about 300 photographic negatives taken during World War II. Many of these pictures happened to be photographed in Cherbourg. She then searched out and photographed the exact same current-day locations. By superimposing the historical pictures, she was able to evoke the "ghosts of the past." Here is how our street looked 68 years ago as American soliders marched German prisoners of war past our apartment.
Another 100 yards down our street is the location of the following gruesome superimposed picture.
We don't think there was much sympathy here for the German occupiers. Next to our apartment is a commemorative plaque of the death of 23 French citizens who gave their lives for their country. Undoubtedly they were lined up against the wall in the court yard out our kitchen window and shot by the Germans. During the recent equivalent of Memorial Day in France, the local citizenry placed a potted chrysanthemum next to the plaque, which remains in full bloom, watered by the daily rain. We hope it blooms all winter in this mild climate in remembrance of these brave patriots.
Here is the link to the story about the 300 negatives:

Home Sweet Home (away from home)

This building in Cherbourg on an historic street (more on this in another post) is our new residence. We live on the "premier etage" (second floor), the "luxury" apartment with the sole balcony in the building. As you can tell by the photograph, it isn't exactly new construction, but we have ample room (except for a teeny-tiny bathroom) and more furniture than we need.

A glance out our backyard kitchen window is important each morning, especially if our front shutters are closed, to help tell if it is raining or has been raining during the night. Our gauge is to look to see if there our droplets on the clothes line. Because of its location, Cherbourg receives some precipitation about 260 days a year (in Montana we took pride in saying that we had about 300 days of year with some sunshine). One thing that Cherbourg is famous for is the 1963 French movie-musical entitled "Umbrellas of Cherbourg." (Every line in the film "Les Parapluies de Cherbourg" is sung). We hope that the word Umbrellas doesn't portend seven months of drizzle. One entrepreneur has capitalized on umbrellas and his highly undestructable Parapluies de Cherbourg are "tres chic" and are sold in some of the finest shops around the world at prices between $100 and $200.

Once we have completed the daily routine of opening the front shutters (they don't open and close electronically, which unfortunately means the apartment's heat escapes every time we go through the several minute process), this is the view from from our dinning room window when there isn't much fog.  Also, before we put up our lace curtains, we visually got to be good friends with our neighbor directly across the street.

Our Harbor on the English Channel (La Manche)

Our Mission President has assigned us to live and serve in Cherbourg, France. This harbor city and environs has about 100,000 residents. The port in Normandy is the gateway to the D-Day beaches.

We are to largely work in a membership support capacity in the small branch of the LDS Church in Cherbourg with about 30 active members, as well as in a smaller branch over an hour away in Coustances.

As is true for all missionaries, younger and older, we serve with the sole hope of making life better for other people.


After an over-night flight from Salt Lake City to Paris on October 11-12th, without any rest, we were ready for 14 hours of sleep.

But first we met with our new mission president, had lunch with him and his family, and were given some prelimary instructions (most of which we probably needed repeated because of our inablilty to focus). It was only then when we were taken to a hotel and hit the bed about 5:00 pm local time.

President and Sister Poznanski are natives of France, in their mid-40's, with five children.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pre-Mission French Tutor

For 8 weeks prior to our mission departure, Jim "Skyped" twice a week for an hour with a tutor to renew his French speaking skills and LuAnn met electronically with her tutor three times a week to commence to learn French. Here at the mission training center in Provo, we have 5 two-hour language sessions. LuAnn's French has taken off, and Jim's French has improved markedly, but still remains rusty.

Above is a picture of a chance meeting with Honivah (Rafaranirindraibe) Leavitt in the cafeteria at the MTC. Honivah is from Madagascar, a country in the Indian Ocean with very long family names. Her mother tongue is Malagasy, but schooling in Madagascar is carried out in French. Besides having perfect French grammar, Honivah is very strong in English because she served an 18-month mission in Washington D.C., has been a student at Brigham Young University, and has married a U.S. citizen. Whenever Jim didn't do all his homework and preparations, Honivah would be "devastated," so he learned quickly to complete his assignments for the next session.

Friday, October 5, 2012

First 5 Days of Training with 3 Other Great Couples

The 161 senior missionaries of this week's mission training center experience were divided up into small groups for instruction by apt returned missionary instructors. Our "district" included a couple assigned to the Milano Italy Mission for military relations work, a couple called to serve in the Accra Nigeria Mission for mission home support (their second mission), and a couple set apart to serve in the Tampa Florida Mission in member support activities in some small branch (their third mission).

Monday, October 1, 2012

Moving in for 10 days of training

Voila -- our first day at the MTC in Provo to improve our teaching and French language skills, and to see if we can get along with our companion 24-7! Only 300 pounds of luggage for 18-24 months in Europe. Did we underpack? This week's class of senior missionaries is the largest ever, with 79 couples and 3 single sisters, destined to spread out across the globe for humanitarian services, military relations, cultural and historical sites, young adult centers, church education system roles, and member support & leadership. We are, however, the only couple this week being sent to France. Besides the senior missionaries, there are thousands of young men and women here for more extended training.