Stolen Missionary Journal

I served as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) in the France Bordeaux mission from May 15, 1991, to May 5, 1993. As I have thought about some of my experiences on my mission, I have thought that it would be good to share a few select experiences on my blog.  I will reference some of my journal entries from time to time.

Jason La Rochelle.jpg

This is not our mission car! We passed it every day on our bikes going to the church building in La Rochelle. I had to get a picture.

I hope you will enjoy reading about my mission to the France Bordeaux Mission.  It was an exciting time to serve in France. Our mission had just been recently created and President Neil L. Andersen had promised us we’d see miracles if we worked hard and had faith.

One miracle that I experienced makes it possible to share some of my journals with you. At the end of my mission, I was leaving Pau in Southern France on a train to Bordeaux. A sister missionary was coming home at the same time from Pau.  When we got to the Bordeaux train station, I got off with my bags and there were missionaries waiting for us.  I sat down my bags and boarded to assist the sister missionary with her luggage.  The train station (la gare) at Bordeaux is massive and there were hundreds of air force soldiers boarding the train as we were de-boarding. The missionaries that met us there had already started carrying luggage to the mission van and we followed them.

When we got to the van I looked around for a large duffel bag I had recently purchased for the flight home.  It was stuffed with presents for my friends and family, some chocolates from a member who had asked me to deliver them to their daughter living in Salt Lake, a camera with pictures on the film of all the people I wanted to remember, cassette tapes of recordings all the members and investigators had made for me, and most importantly my missionary journals.  I asked everyone there about it.  Nobody seemed to know anything.  I raced back to the platform which was now empty and watched the train leaving on a non-stop trip towards Paris.  My heart sunk.

When we arrived at the mission home, I told President Oveson, (I served under both President Andersen and Oveson), what had happened. He quickly called the Paris Mission president. The Paris Mission President asked the Assistants to the President go to the train station to see if they could locate the bag on the train.  I was helpless at this point.  I went into the bathroom, locked the door, and got down on my knees and offered a fervent prayer that at least my missionary journals would be found.

It seemed like forever, but later that day I received news that the missionaries in Paris had found my empty bag. They had even stolen my worn mission shoes that I’d polished one last time as a missionary in preparation for my homecoming.  Everything was gone except for my two mission journals.  What a miracle. They sent the journals home with an Elder from their mission who was returning to Salt Lake where I was able to be reunited with my journals.

Now 24 years later, the mission and everything seems like a dream. As I said, we entered the MTC May 15th, 1991 and came home May 5th, 1993.  We spent two months in the Missionary Training Center (MTC) then traveled on to France July 16th.

My mission was a life-changing experience that I treasure greatly. I draw from those rich experiences even still today. It helped shape the person I have become.

Over the past 24 years since coming home, I’ve referred back to my journals. I’m so thankful I have them. A few years ago after the announcement of the France Paris Temple, the Church asked for voluntary submissions of digital copies of missionary journals who had served in France. I went through and typed up all of my journals and submitted them to the Church on a thumb drive. It will now be stored in the Church archives. It seems like the Lord’s hand was in it all along. My journal is of great worth to me, and maybe it will be to my posterity one day as well.

Follow my blog to hear of more experiences I had on my mission!

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