we have a new mission president, and oh boy is he great. he is very sweet and humble and funny. and his wife is like the french version of my mom, so pretty sure i loved her instantly! here is how interviews work: one companion goes in with the president, the other with the president's wife, and then they switch. I went in with President Poznanski first. The interview was in french! It went wonderfully well. After meeting with and talking to him, I could really feel that the mantle of president had been passed on. He is the perfect man for the job!
After interviews, we had a little training all together in the chapel... it was also in french. Usually those things are done in english, so at the beginning Soeur Poznanski explained that they had really felt impressed that they needed to do everything they possibly could in french in order to help us learn it. It was so cool. The experienced missionaries sat next to the newer ones and translated so everyone understood. Soeur Poznanski gave a really cool training:
An event in Europe's history in which Americans participated in is of course, WWII. At the end of the war, in 1947, English and American forces were occupying a part of Germany to protect the country from the dominion of the Soviet regime. A virtual line was created by the Soviets to separate East Germany, who became the German Democratic Republic, and West Germany, the German Federal Republic. It was a splitting of the city of Berlin in a symbolic way, causing the separation of families and loved ones. East Germans began to run away from the Soviet regime because life was so hard. To stop this from happening, in 1961 Soviets decided to build a wall 155 km long and 3.5 m tall that passed through the city. Families were then definitively separated. A lot of Germans tried to pass the wall, losing their lives in the process.
Nearly 40 years after, the world had its eyes fixed on the misfortunes caused by this wall, also called "the wall of shame". The Soviets decided to allow a controlled access to West Germany, but soon enough the guards lost control and the people began to break down the wall. It fell on November 9, 1989. It was a cheerful event celebrated throughout the world.
At this moment, two sets of people relized that one had continued to evolve economically and the other, under the communist regime, had stagnated and stayed at the same economical level of 40 years before.
In the scriptures, there is a similar situation where a wall was stopping the people of Israel to enter in the city of Jericho. Lead by the prophet Joshua, who was the successor of Moses to lead the people of Israel to the promised land, the army used a particular strategy to make this wall fall. The Lord commanded Joshua to walk with his army around the city every day for 6 days blowing trumpets whild being silent. The seventh day, he asked them to do the same thing seven times and then to shout. The wall then fell.
There is something else that was essential that the Lord asked Joshua to do: the Arch of the Covenant had to be carried in front of the army. It was a symbol that the Lord was among them, that they had to put Him first in their actions and lives.
Let's come back to us, missionaries of the France Paris Mission. What is our purpose? For what reason did you accept to leave everything behind you during these 18 or 24 months? To bring the gospel to the children of our Heavenly Father. I'm sure that after receiving your call to this mission you heard things like, "France is so beautiful! But the people have closed hearts and are too rooted in their catholic faith." Did you start building a virtual wall in your mind around this country? In fact, numbers show today and for years that it's hard to bring French, Belgians, and Luxembourgish to baptism. But these people need the gospel desperately! By nourishing and accepting this idea that we won't baptize a whole lot in these countries, we're doing the work of the adversary. We are continuing to solidify this wall, which is not what our Heavenly Father wants.
In East Germany the people, filled with hope, fought against the wall of anger for 40 years. The people of Israel took 40 years before entering in the Promised Land. Today, West Germany has a temple. Twelve years ago, President Hinckley promised a temple in France and we are sure that our Heavenly Father doesn't want to wait for 40 years to see that temple. It depends on our good will to qualify ourselves for that huge privilege. For that, we need more members today. Our Father needs to see that the gospel can come forth a little bit more in France, Belgium, and Luxembourg. We can't succeed alone: we are about 170 missionaries, but there are almost 20,000 members in our mision and we need their strength to unify our shouts so that this work can vanquish.
You are the army of Israel who has to pace up and down the streets of France, Belgium, and Luxembourg with obedience, perseverance, and unfailing faith. President Poznanski is your Joshua who receives inspiration for the France Paris mission and who will know, like every single mission president before him, how to lead you to break open the cracks in this wall. "Preach my Gospel" is your trumpet that you use daily as the tool of success. Our Heavenly Father says to our army, "Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest." He is your Arch of the Covenant. He walks among you and before you and if together we follow Him, the walls around the cities of this mission, around the hearts of the people, and in these countries will fall and the gospel will be spread. We have faith that we are now in the seventh day and that we are about to start the seventh turn in this conquest.
As I pondered on this, I realized how big of a deal it really is that we have a French mission president. It really is incredible. Soeur Didier and I were talking about it and we both got the impression that this is a sign that the flood gates are about to be opened. As Elder Perry said, this is the last harvest in Europe. I really believe that having the Poznanskis here is a huge step towards a temple in France. This is such an exciting time to be serving here!
Apart from the training and meeting the Poznanskis, not a lot happened this week. I was confined to my apartment for most of the time with my foot elevated. No fun! We did get to see Anbu at church yesterday... he had his baptismal interview with the zone leaders. He passed with flying colors! He is so excited for his baptism on sunday. He said he's excited to join the church family :) Edinton is kind of in danger right now, so we're not sure if he will be able to be baptized with Anbu. He can't be in contact with us for the moment because he doesn't want to put us in danger. He wants to be baptized so very badly... please keep him in your prayers!
The missionaries in the other Paris ward put on a concert on Friday night and Anbu came with us. The theme was "Mon ame chante" (then sings my soul) and it was beautiful. The concert was open to everyone-- a few people wandered in from the street, and one of them is going to start taking the lessons! It was such a cool evening. I set up a table with Book of Mormons, passalong cards, and pamphlets in French, English, and Chinese. We have some really musically talented missionaries, like Elder Dick, who is an opera singer, and Elder Rakotondrainibe, who is a concert pianist. Soeur Pearce sang too! Elder Dick brought down the house with the closing number, "His Hands". Holy cow. It was a really great experience for Anbu too! He got a haircut for the occasion :)
as Miranda Priestly would say, that's all.
i love you all so much. thank you for your prayers this week- they have been much needed!
with Anbu at the concert. He refuses to smile in pictures!
the display table at the missionary concert. I used your relief society lesson trick, mom :)
sweet soeur didier made me a heart pizza.