Saturday, 17 November 2018

Putting Stories Together

The internet sure brings missionaries closer to home. I love that I can read more about the stories Jill tells us in her letters.  She wrote about meeting Sharon Eubank - a RS leader I really admire. I recently have been watching and re-watching a TED talk of hers while I'm on the treadmill:

Another visitor's center missionary wrote this:

This week, on Thursday, we met Sister Sharon Eubank...It was awesome! She is the head of LDS charities, and she is the first counselor for the Relief Society in our church. She just came to the Visitor's Centre because she heard we taught about the temple in a new different way with our model wheels. We found out a few weeks ago that we are part of a pilot programme using new vocabulary and missionary training to teach about the temple, what we do inside of it, and why this is so important for our lives.

 She came right after our Thursday morning meeting and she only had a few minutes so we sang as sisters in Zione, we shook her hand, and then we all took a picture in front of the Christus statue in the garden. She does everything that I want to do Sunday, so I asked her what her major in college was. She said it was English and she was in English as a Second Language teacher before she got her job with LDS charities! We had to leave right after that but it was the coolest thing that has happened so far outside of missionary lessons. It really was an answer to really random prayers.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Romeo and Juliet - the Opera!

Tonight Peirce and I went to the opera! It was a new experience for me. We got tickets from a teacher at my school that was in the production. The costumes and set were AMAZING!! It was fun that it was in French too.

This is a trailer from The Metropolitan opera. I think it was the same production though.

Timely and timeless, Jean Grand-Maitre mixes ballet and opera for Romeo & Juliette

Anne-Marie MacIntosh and Adam Luther in Calgary Opera's production of Gounod's Roméo & Juliette. Photo: Trudie Lee CALWP

Perhaps it’s just a coincidence, but every time Jean Grand-Maitre directs a version of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, the world seems to be entering a period of heightened turmoil.
Grand-Maitre is at the helm of Calgary Opera’s season opener, Charles Gounod’s Romeo & Juliette, which debuts Nov. 17 at the Jubilee Auditorium. It’s a collaboration between Calgary Opera and Alberta Ballet, for which the veteran choreographer has been the artistic director since 2002.
It’s also the fifth time he has tackled the Bard’s tragic tale of young lovers caught up in the bitter feud between their families, the Montagues and Capulets. He directed a ballet in Hartford in 2000 that was based on the story. One year later, he directed a touring stage musical of Romeo and Juliet in Montreal. In 2002, he launched the ballet again, this time with Alberta Ballet. In 2007, he staged Gounod’s work for Opera de Quebec.
“It’s a story that has been with me more than any other story that I have read or staged,” Grand-Maitre said. “Every time I’ve remounted the story, which is five times now, the world has been in a very high-tension point. It’s a story, basically how I understand it, about the sacrifice of the innocent for the education of the masses.
“When they asked the Dalai Lama what the biggest problem was with the modern world, he said, ‘The we and the they.’ It was a short answer for him. That’s exactly what Romeo & Juliette is. So it’s very timely, talking about this hatred that is taught from your parents and almost genetic.”
While some directors have updated Gounod’s work to a different time period, Grand-Maitre wanted to keep it in William Shakespeare’s original setting of the Italian Renaissance, allowing it to maintain a sense of colour and beauty fitting for the opera’s season opener.
New choreography by Grand-Maitre performed by eight students and dancers with Alberta Ballet, beautiful set design and costumes from Montreal Opera’s production and even some swashbuckling and authentic swordplay thanks to training by renowned stage-combat instructor Jean-Pierre (J.P.) Fournier helps give an epic, lavish feel. If you include the orchestra, which will be conducted by Gordon Gerrard, there will be nearly 180 performers involved.

Anne-Marie MacIntosh and Adam Luther in Calgary Opera’s production of Gounod’s Roméo & Juliette. Photo: Trudie Lee CALWP

“We are going to try to create large tableaus, like paintings,” Grand-Maitre said. “To see it like emotional paintings and movement. For me, it’s always an interesting challenge to work with grand opera or grand performance of that size because you’ve got so many elements coming together and you want to make it very organic. I look at it like I’m trying to create living paintings from the Italian Renaissance. It’ all about balance and construction and using movement a lot, because that’s my specialty.”
For tenor Adam Luther, who is tackling the role of Romeo for the first time, the demands of such a lavish production are daunting. The French language (there will be English subtitles), Romeo’s dark and doomed fate, the stage-fighting and sheer volume of music makes the role a major undertaking, both emotionally and technically. But Luther says Grand-Maitre’s focus on movement has actually been key in creating a greater understanding of his character.
“He’s very unique,” said Luther. “He’s a master of body movement. I’m very grateful that he has that expertise. He can give you subtle suggestions for your body that really make a big impact on the emotion your feeling. It really portrays it through your body and he is really an expert on how to manipulate your body in certain ways to imbue an emotion. And a lot of times it’s a very subtle thing, you tilt your shoulder or the way your move your head. It’s very inspiring.”
Soprano Anne-Marie MacIntosh, also taking her first stab at Shakespeare as Juliette, said she returned to the original play and even some of the vast volumes of academic studies surrounding it when she landed the role, but was also keen on offering her own interpretation.
“Everyone knows the story of Romeo & Juliet,” MacIntosh said. “But I think what’s exciting is that she is a 14-year-old girl who’s in love and I think we all can remember our first crush or our first love. We can bring our own ideas to it and own interpretation of that character. It’s exciting to be able to play such an idealistic and famous character. But to be able to put my own stamp on it and my opinion of her character. I think that’s really freeing.”
“It’s terrifying, but it’s freeing,” she added with a laugh.
It’s the universality and familiarity of the story that makes it such a fitting opener for an opera season. Tragedy, first-love, sword fights, suicide, ballet and fantastic time-tested music all conspire to make it a dramatic but relatively accessible opera, perfect for aficionados and newbies alike.
“It’s going to be a really grand opera in every sense with the set design and the opulence,” Grand-Maitre said. “But also the drama and the emotion and the music and the intimacy of Romeo & Juliette brings us to something really human and real.”
Romeo & Julliette will be performed Nov. 17, 21 and 23 at 7:30 p.m. at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium.

Swim Practice

It's amazing how quickly we slip back into the routine of morning swim practices. It is fun to be back at the pool.

Monday, 12 November 2018

District Quiche-Off and Armistice Day

France was really in the news this past weekend with it being 100 years since the end of World War I. I asked her if they had seem any of the happenings. 

Here are some excerpts from Jill's letter this week.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

A Week of Highs and Lows

This week got off to a rough start because I was sick, but then is sure shaped up! We had amazing lessons and even asked some people to be baptized! We're all so excited! I don't have much time to write because we went to the temple today. I love the temple and I know it's going to give us the strength and help from Heavenly Father that we need for the transfer ahead.

 Family home evening! Antonina is on the far right, Soriana is beside me,
and S. Angelique and Edna are there too. 

 The stained glass at night
 This is a cat that apparently lives near the Paris temple.

 And for the rest of the story, Jill's companion's version of the week can be read here. She has much more to say than Jill did this week! Oh the blessings of the internet!

Always Prepared

Today in seminary we talked about how Heavenly Father puts people into our lives to help us when we have tough things to do (and even when we don't). We were reading section 34 where Orson Pratt joined the church and was called to be a missionary. He had left (been sent away?) from home when he was 11 and started working, so clearly, he had limited reading and writing skills, yet he served faithfully, crossing the ocean 16 times for various mission assignments. Doctrine and Covenants 35:24–25 says that if we keep the commandments, God will help us accomplish our work.
We did an object lesson where one person was blind-folded and had to make a play-dough creation I gave them. One person used their hands, the other used their voice. Others from the class chimed in to help them know what to do - and that's how life is - we often need others to chime in and help us out. Some of us are limited in our skills and abilities, but together, we can do hard things.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Missionary Mom Connections

The internet makes it easy for missionary moms to connect. Jill's companion's mom is great at updates and I appreciate her for it. I borrowed these pictures and updates from her blog:

Raspberry pie from amis (French for investigators). 

Amis is such a nice word for the people missionaries work with! I definitely prefer it.

Soeur Ackroyd and Soeur Ethington with Elaine S. Dalton, Soeur Woods, and the 
architect of the Paris Temple (Ian Wood)

Soeur Ackroyd and Ethington with the Antony Ward Relief Society sisters.

Miracle of the week: Janet
by Soeur Ethington
A few days ago, a woman walked into the Visitors' Center. She introduced herself as Janet and immediately asked, "how do I join your church?" The sisters who were on shift (not us, unfortunately) started teaching her about our message. Janet said she wanted to meet with the missionaries, which is awesome because she happens to live in the Antony sector! Soeur Ackroyd and I met her yesterday when she came to church, and we love her already. 
After a rocky sacrament meeting where the talks were about deep doctrinal topics and our hymns were "The Millenium" and "O My Father," we taught her about the Restoration. At the end of the lesson, we invited her to be baptized, to which she responded that she was already baptized into the Catholic church. For those of you who have served missions, you know that this is a pretty tricky topic to navigate, so I was suddenly very nervous. I said a silent prayer to God to guide me, and I carefully explained to her why she would have to be baptized a second time. It took a few minutes, but she finally understood. I was praying that she wouldn't be angry or confused, and my prayer was answered when she exclaimed, "oh, what a blessing! I get to be  baptized TWICE!" Anyway, Janet is precious and we set a baptismal date with her for the 24th of November.