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 Provo. I enjoy writing about Church life -- "Simply Mormonism" -- which explains the trend in most of my posts.

No more foreigners

Our worldwide missionary effort is plurilingual. The Church has always been involved in outreach efforts to other tongues, now translating material into 185 languages. There are wards and branches, led in the local idiom, in 165 countries.

Why I have a testimony

In my Belgian environment, I’m an oddity. A university professor who is a Mormon. Colleagues and students whisper about it. They can’t place me in the normal spectrum of the centuries old allegiances to our society. They wonder: how can…

Love and a fence

They were all to their love. A silent, suffering love, eyes staring into eyes. Standing at a few inches from each other, the fence between them. A huge fence, of strong wire-netting that would not let a hand get through.…

Folklorization

– And, Brother Decoo, could you come in your native dress? It’s this time of the year again. Circus by the aliens. Officially it’s called Cultural Heritage Night, or International Fashion Show, or LDS WorldFest. Mormons love it.

Sweet spirit

I failed as a primary teacher. No, not in Belgium. Here in my Provo ward. But it cannot be said I did not try. Velcro, scissors, wax crayons, strings, glue, buttons, figurines. Scriptures and stories. We made the armor of…

Auschwitz

Sixty years ago the death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated. Behind the barbed wires, many of the survivors could not stand on their feet to greet the liberators. The average weight of an adult was 77 pounds. Emaciated, with hollow…

Genealogy

My parents died a few years ago, both in their nineties, after a fulfilling life and with the memories of having survived two world wars and sixty years of marriage on the Old Continent.

Opposed, if any?

The sustaining of the second counselor in the Relief Society Presidency in our ward was unanimous. The bishop, who asked the question for opposing votes, had just a quick glance over the audience, while gathering his papers to sit down.…

Tsunami

Belgium, December 29, 2004. For days now I have been confronted with TV-images of bloated and rotting bodies littered along shores, of parents crying over the corpses of their children, of living children staring dumbfounded into a camera and holding…

Dealing with Brother H.

I cannot remember when Brother H. came to our branch for the first time. Somewhere in the late seventies or early eighties. A middle-aged man, single, not too tall, graying hair, with lips drawn between an angelic and an ironic…

Part-Mormon couples

Married, but only one of the partners is Mormon. In the “mission field” such part-Mormon couples are numerous, probably more than in area’s where Mormons have lived for generations. Sociologists study this phenomenon among various affiliations. “Religious intermarriage”, “religious homogamy…

Primitive Church

The missionaries found me when I was 17. That was back in 1964 in Antwerp, Belgium. I read Joseph Smith’s history and Moroni’s promise. I knew it was true. Immediately, fully. The Gospel unfolded like the rising sun.

International Church issues

Thank you, I feel honored to be a guest here! As a “foreigner”, I have been asked to add a Mormon international perspective. That means… non-American. Strange already that in our World Church the perspective continues to be U.S.-centered, with…