Monday, November 4, 2013

Our First Wedding

Well, we've just had another "first" on our mission!  The first of all the sister missionaries who have served with us at the London Temple Visitors' Centre is married!  This past weekend, on Saturday, November 2nd, Sister Virginie Cardona married Alexandre Caby in Lille, France -- and we were lucky enough to be able to attend!!!

The story of Virginie's marriage is a dream come true. She and Alexendre were engaged almost three years ago, shortly after Alexandre found the Church and was baptized. Before they got around to setting a wedding date, they decided that it would strengthen their marriage if Alexandre were to serve a mission. Virginie determined that if it would be good for him to serve a mission, it would be good for her, too, so they both turned in their papers. Alexandre was called to serve in Australia for two years. Virginie was called to serve 18 months at the London Temple Visitors' Centre. She served her entire mission at the Visitors' Centre, never being sent out to another area of the mission. She was one of our most dedicated and successful sisters. In August of this year, Virginie returned to France at the end of her mission. Alexandre arrived in France about the first of October.

Virginie and Alexandre were to be married in the London Temple on November 5th. Perfect! We planned to walk across the parking lot to the temple to attend their sealing. Unfortunately, the London Temple was closed for repairs on the first of September and won't re-open until next week. Plans had to be changed. Their sealing was rescheduled for the temple in the Netherlands, but all sealings in the United Kingdom and Europe have to be preceded by a civil ceremony recognized by the government, so we were invited to attend the civil marriage in Lille.  Even though Lille, France is out of the England London South Mission boundaries, it is in our temple district, so it is part of the area in which Don and I serve and are allowed to travel. Hooray!

What a great experience it turned out to be! We left Newchapel this past Friday with Grant and Emma Neal and traveled to Folkestone, where the Neals drove their mini-van onto the train and we traveled through the "Chunnel" under the English Channel to Calais, France.

Leaving the temple grounds with our trusty driver and great friend, Grant Neal.

The day was rainy (as usual lately).

Ready to board the Eurotunnel shuttle. It's about a 30 minute trip to France
compared to about 3 hours on a ship. 

The first cars in the queue entering the train.

It was a little freaky - and even confusing at first - to be riding on the
right side of the road again.

After a fun stop at the Cite Europe mall in Calais, we drove to Lille and checked into our hotel at the same time as Sister Billikee Howard and her friend were checking in. We invited them to come to dinner and had a great time catching up with her!

Inside the huge Cite Europe mall.

L to R:  Amy, Don, Pat, Sister Billikee Howard and
her friend Kathleen, and Emma Neal.

Saturday morning we had time to drive to Lille to see the beautiful old town centre and walk around.

The old town centre in Lille, France

Ahhh, France. Nobody knows pastry like you do!

Grant & Emma Neal,  Neil and Nora Waring and family,
Kathleen with Billikee Howard, and us. 

At 3:30 in the afternoon, we arrived to attend the civil marriage performed by the mayor in the town hall in the suburb of Ronchin, France.

Before the wedding.

Billikee Howard and Virginie Cardona with us
before the ceremony.

Little nieces and nephews carried the train of the wedding dress for the bride
as she entered the building.  So cute!!

During the wedding ceremony inside the city hall.

ELSM Missionaries:  Don, Pat, Billikee Howard, Virginie,
Sarah Maughan, Louise Paulsen.

The new Mr. and Mrs. Caby

Alexandre and Virginie

Following the civil ceremony, we all traveled to the LDS chapel in Lille for a program and refreshments. Elder Patrick Boutoille, an Area Seventy, and his wife, Benedicte, have been Virginie's adoptive parents for the past eight or ten years. They spoke during the program, along with the bishop and some close friends.

Nothing like a Jaguar to transport the bride and groom ....

Formal pictures followed the program.

The ELSM connection:  Neil & Nora Waring and their daughter,
Virginie & Alexandre Caby, Grant & Emma Neal, Louise Paulsen,
Sarah Maughan, Billikee Howard, Don & Pat Carpenter.

Virginie and Alexandre's reception was held just over the border in Mouscron, Belgium (also in the Lille Stake) at a beautiful restaurant. Following an incredible four course dinner of French cuisine, there were games and dancing until the wee hours of the morning, along with a dessert buffet (Creme Brulee, wedding cake, crepes with ice cream, profiteroles, and more) after midnight. Ooh la la! So much fun!

The wedding dance...

...was followed by a floor show...

performed for the crowd :)

The quintessential bride.

No explanation needed....

Amy and Don shared a dance.

Daddy-daughter time.

Dancing with the bride.

Other sister missionaries will soon follow in Sister Cardona's footsteps. Sister Kitzia Casasola will be married to Jeff Hoover in the Los Angeles Temple on November 30th. (We sure wish we could be there! We were sealed in the same temple.) Sister Sarah Maughan will be married to Richard Scott in the London Temple in April (and it seems strange that we won't be here to attend).

To see the sister missionaries we have worked with move on with their lives and find joy and happiness is a blessing indeed! Whether it is further schooling, a fulfilling job, or marriage, there is nothing sweeter than watching them find their path in life. We love our sister missionaries so much! Without a doubt, Sister Cardona's wedding will be one of our most favorite mission memories.         ~Pat~

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