Author: Wilfried Decoo

I am a native of Belgium – the Flemish side. Born in 1946, I grew up in Antwerp. I obtained my B.A. from the Antwerp Jesuit University, my M.A. from Ghent University – both degrees in Romance languages. As a teacher of French and history I worked a few years in Central Africa for the Belgian Cooperation. Next I went to BYU where I finished a PhD in comparative literature. From 1974 on I spent most of my academic career at the University of Antwerp, as professor of applied linguistics and language education. In 1999 the department of French and Italian at BYU asked me to join their ranks, but I also retained an affiliation with Antwerp. I retired from BYU in 2011.

I am a convert to the Church and have a strong testimony of the Restoration. So does my wife, who is also from Antwerp. We have one daughter, Ellen, born in 1988. We’re a happy little Flemish family, traveling back and forth between our two homes, in Antwerp and in Salt Lake City.

Church whisperers

The buzz pervades the chapel. The whispers assemble to an insistent setting escorting the speaker’s voice over the sound system. The multiple murmurs from all corners of the audience spawn a hum that any outsider would consider disturbing. But we…

Fridays in Congo

I was still single when I was sent to Central Africa as an international aid worker, to work as a teacher in a slum suburb of Kinshasa, capital of Congo. I got a room in a frail school building, part…

Nathalie

This time Nathalie wears a miniskirt. On Sunday, in Church. In spite of last week’s interview. In spite of the one the month before. And other months. For quite some time the matter had been about her bare midriff. Now…

Maria’s treasure

Maria, a seventy-five-year-old widow, member of our tiny Mormon branch, had asked me to meet her at a Notary’s office. She wanted me to be the executor of her will. I reluctantly agreed, remembering the council of a friend to…

The why and when of baptism

How prepared should a person be before being baptized? How long should this preparation take? Recently the permabloggers had a brief e-mail exchange on this topic. The participants found it interesting to submit it to our broader forum.

Earth Day and the Church

Today is Earth Day. A number of denominations have given their support to environmental issues, encouraging their members to be sensitive to the protection of the environment. This not only pertains to the major (and controversial) topic of climate change…

The organ

It was a historic day for our tiny Flemish branch when we replaced the old harmonium with a new electric organ. Nothing could better symbolize our progress, lift the morale of our handful of members, and prepare the way to…

How quick we are to condemn

In Notes from all over a link was added to a news item claiming that the latest Dutch spelling reform requested that the name “Christ” be written with a lower-case “c”. That information was spread on various American news channels…

Martha’s Sacrament

Martha was one of the older sisters in our branch. We counted a scant dozen of them, singles and widows, making more than half of the congregation and being its very backbone. When I got to know her, Martha was…

The right to believe

An Italian atheist, Luigi Cascioli, has started a lawsuit against a Catholic priest, claiming that the priest violates Italian law, which does not allow the abuse of popular belief. Such as when people are fraudulently deceived in believing falsehoods, namely,…

I can’t, he said

I have on my desk a primitive pen holder in ceramic, about four inches high. The figurine, crudely shaped, shiny in its warm terra cotta coat, represents a little man holding a tiny bucket in which a few pens and…

Tax control

The letter we received from the Tax Control Department was preprinted. Handwritten had been added a date, a number and the addressee: Kerk van Jezus Christus van de Heiligen der Laatste Dagen.

Two coalminers

Their story would have made an agreeable Ensign article were it not for that later development that ruined its beauty. Oh, believe me, I was tempted to censor the second part. But it would feel like cheating. Besides, the aftermath…

They govern themselves

A busy downtown intersection. No traffic lights, no road markings, no speed limits, no sidewalks, no pedestrian crossings. Cars, cyclists, pedestrians, all move on the same street level, side by side, carefully merging.