December 4, 2017


Le Chesnay, France


Normandy and Thanksgiving

Dear Family and Friends,
The past few weeks have been very interesting and educational for us. Our two oldest daughters, Cherilyn and Julie, came for a week beginning on Nov. 16. It was such a joy for us to see them and spend some time with them. For Karen to be able to perform some ordinances for them in French was very touching for her. We have people from all over the world attend the Paris Temple, but when your own family is here it is very special.

After our shifts at the temple on Friday and Saturday, we met our daughters in Paris where they had been seeing the sites. We went to the L’Orangerie museum, Saint Chappelle and the Latin Quarter. We ate dinner at Sainte Germain Restaurant where we had a fun waiter who brought out a 4-foot pepper shaker! He was such a ham! On Saturday evening, we ate at a creperie and had a luscious dessert crepe.

On Sunday, we all attended Church and for family home evening Bishop Jean Marc Bourroux did a presentation on what he and his ward have done to help prepare their members each year to receive their endowments for the first time. It was a wonderful presentation and very inspiring and impressive. They set specific goals as a ward council and have helped many of their ward members come to the temple. For two weeks in November, various members came to the temple from the Caen Ward. Bishop Bourroux’s wife, Monique, told me there were 11 members this year who received their endowments. Bishop and Sister Bourroux are very faithful temple workers.

Monday was our preparation day, so we rented a car and drove to Chartres with Cherilyn and Julie to see the magnificent Chartres Cathedral with its Romanesque and Gothic spires. It was very cold and windy that day.

Tuesday and Wednesday, we were able to get the days off at the temple since our family members were here. We drove to St. Malo, which was a fortress built close to the shore to prevent the English from attacking during the Middle Ages. It is a very beautiful and ancient fortress city.

On Tuesday, we drove to Mont St Michel. We went by bus over the causeway to reach this sanctuary and early monastery first built in the 6th century and added throughout the years until the 1770s. It is a steep climb up until you reach the abbey perched upon the top. It was so interesting to see this amazing place by the sea.

We then drove to the Normandy area and saw many quaint little towns and beautiful green countryside. We saw Omaha and Utah beaches where most of the Normandy invasion took place during World War II. It was interesting to see the amazing museum at Utah Beach as well as remember Richard’s uncle, Howard Bradford, who landed there as a soldier.

We also saw the American cemetery where more than 9,000 U.S. soldiers are buried of the 29,000 total who died during the invasion. It was a very sobering site. We also saw the lowering of the American flag at sunset. Everyone stopped where they were and faced the flag to watch the ceremony and hear the Military Taps song playing. We are so grateful for these heroes who died that we may be free.

That evening we drove to a small village called Sainte Mere Eglise. It was here that an American paratrooper’s parachute caught on the church, and he hung there for two hours until a German soldier got him down. He was gratefully not killed, but returned a few times to this village later when the town and church honored him with a parachute and mock soldier hanging as he did.
We also saw the Bayeux Tapestry illustrating the story of William the Conqueror and the Battle of Hastings. We visited a WWII museum and memorial in Caen, which was fascinating. We saw a quaint fishing village near the coast called Honfleur, and then learned about Joan of Arc in Rouen.

We returned home grateful for the brave men and women from all sides of the battles, for the beautiful French villages and for gorgeous landscapes. That day was Thanksgiving, and we were thankful to serve in the temple. At about 8 p.m., we had all kinds of pies to celebrate Thanksgiving with the senior missionaries and temple presidency.

The next morning Cherilyn and Julie left and we served at the temple. It was not as busy, which was surprising to us. The last session of the day Richard and I were to lead the session, but ended up being the witness couple. Richard was the only male in the session. On Friday evenings, it is difficult for members to attend the temple because of traffic and public transportation to get there by 7 pm.

Sunday was a very nice day for all of us. We were invited by Bishop John Hall, the bishop of the Paris Ward, and his wife, Renee, to a Thanksgiving dinner. They are Americans who have lived in Paris near the Arc de Triomphe for 17 years. They were very good hosts with their six children, and it was one of the most delicious Thanksgiving dinners we have had. They picked us up at the temple in their two cars and brought all of us missionaries home.

On Dec. 2, the temple closed that afternoon for maintenance and cleaning for two weeks. That day many people attended the temple. It will be unusual to not be there but most of the missionary couples will travel. Elder and Sister Pitcher will return home for their son’s wedding.

May we all enjoy this beautiful time of year when we celebrate the birth of our Savior. We are so grateful for His sacrifice and atonement. May each of you have a wonderful holiday season filled with the light of the gospel and the celebration of Christmas.

Elder and Sister Bradford


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