As a Mormon missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you meet a lot of people over the course of your two years. (The men serve for two years and the women serve for 18 months.) There are certain people you meet who stay with you. As a faithful member of the Church, I believe whole-heartedly in what we teach. We teach that there are saving ordinances that God has commanded us to do here on earth. One of these is to be baptized by someone holding the proper authority of God, or in other words, the Priesthood. So to me, being baptized and joining the Church is an opportunity to receive many wonderful blessings. It is very sad as a missionary to see people choose other paths. Here is a story about a family we met while tracting, (going door-to-door), which we did quite often. In this particular area, I was trying something new which worked extremely well. We were delivering a “pre-tractor” brochure to the neighborhood telling them a little about us and our message, and that we would soon be knocking on their door, and that we would love to have the opportunity to share this message of Jesus Christ with them if they could give us a few minutes of their time. This really helped alleviate a lot of the misconceptions about why were there and what we wanted when we knocked on the door. It’s no surprise after the history in France of WWI and WWII (World War 1 and 2) where France had been overrun by foreign countries, that people were always a little suspicious of what a couple of foreigners were doing in their neighborhood. This pre-tractor answered the question and consequently opened many doors for us. We tracted out a family one evening. The mother at first said “No merci.” I could see that her daughter and son were in the hall and they encouraged their mother to let us in. We explained who we were and the mother, who was now divorced, said she knew about us. She said that when she was young, she had studied with the Mormon missionaries, but her husband was not interested. She said that we could come back and teach them. The daughter, Marie, who was about 16, really seemed to embrace the gospel and the Book of Mormon and really loved everything about the Church.
17 March 1992 – Angers, France
We jammed as fast as possible to Rue Foche & St. Aubin where Anne DeForge was waiting patiently. She is an amazing girl in the branch a little younger than us missionaries. We went and taught a rad discussion together to Marie. Unfortunately, the rest of the family did not join us and seemed to not be so interested anymore, but Marie had asked if she could continue to meet with us. Everyone else was too busy. We really taught well because we had just taught the same lesson to Pierre. The Spirit was strong there. She understood the importance of baptism. She didn’t accept the invitation to be baptized, but she said she will be baptized when she has a response to her prayer. She has the will to do it. God will answer her prayers, I know it! I love their family. They are so special. We are going to tour the chateau in town with them on Tuesday. Cool! We will then set up another appointment for the third discussion which will explain more clearly why our church is true and the difference between us and the Catholic church. Well, that’s all. We are starting a special fast tomorrow after lunch for her. Love ya tons! JB
22 March 1992 – Angers, France
Marie came to church and liked it a lot! She said, “It’s like a big family!” I said, “Yes. We are brothers and sisters.” She was really feeling welcome and she was. I was afraid that she would do the “baisers” (the French kiss they give you on each cheek). This was against the mission rules but all the kids our age did it so I was afraid she would think it was natural as we said goodbye at the church. All the members give “baisers” to each other as they leave the church. They all know that the missionaries can’t, though every now and then a grandmotherly member will sneak one in and really embarrass the missionaries. I should mention the sister missionaries can give “baisers” to sister members. We always just stick our hand out quickly to avoid the awkward “we are not allowed to baisers”. Marie came to church with the DeForge family. I’m nervous I might get transferred to another city. I want to see all these people get baptized! Marie could be baptized next week if she jammed! We’re teaching the third to her Tuesday with Anne DeForge. Chouette! (cool) We may teach a second to Christophe if he’s read, prayed and seems ready for baptism. I want to bring a member. But who? I don’t know. Well, that’s all. The DeForge family rocks! Love – JB
22 March 1992 – Angers, France
Bonsoir journal buddy! It’s hard to keep you updated! Tonight was rad. 6 p.m. We had the 2nd discussion with Christophe LeFevre. He is elect. It went really well. He had a couple questions. We went over the whole plan of salvation with him. Pre-existence to the celestial kingdom. We then taught the 2nd discussion and invited him to be baptized. He said, “Sure, when I’m ready.” I said that we’d like to have a baptism the 19th of April and would he prepare himself? He said it was too soon. I explained how a goal could help him show the Lord he was serious and show his faith. He said, “Yes, that would be good.” Yannick the member we brought was rad. He helped so much with his testimony, etc. I was nervous to bring him because he’s only been a member for 5 months. But, President Andersen promised us we’d never lose an investigator because of working with members. It was good advice.
Next. we taught Marie the 3rd discussion. Her brother David was there. It went well. We talked about the re-establishment and reorganization of The Church of Jesus Christ, the apostasy, etc. It was tough for her to swallow. It will be tough. Her family is all Catholic. It goes against everything she was brought up in. I hope she can overcome all of the opposition. We pray always for our investigators. I love this missionary work. I love Jesus Christ and all He has done for me. It’s the least I could do, to share the true gospel restored today. We teach the 4th discussion tomorrow. Love ya – JB
31 March 1992 – Angers, France
Hello! Yes, it’s me. We watched Together Forever with Marie. Sometimes I feel that I don’t have the education or knowledge to help these people to get baptized. Marie hasn’t committed to baptism. I don’t know what to do. I’m lost. I’m scared and I don’t want to do these people wrong. I need the Lord, His wisdom… Stress!!! Au revoir (good bye) J-Man
3 April 1992 – Angers, France
Hey, well I’m on a lunch break. We are doing well! We set a baptismal date with Marie! She received an answer to her prayer! I’m so happy for her. We taught the 5th lesson yesterday. She really took it well. She’s going to be the best member. Then we bore testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel.
6 April 1992 – Angers, France
Brief update. Not too happy this evening. We lost the baptismal date with Marie. We got shined on two appointments. I got my eyes checked and my left eye is worse than my right which I figured out already. In France it is a 10 if it’s perfect. My left is an 8 and my right is a 10. I did start wearing glasses that Elder Lidster gave me. We have the same vision. My left eye is a little worse. I see perfectly with these glasses. It would have cost over $100 to buy on my own. He sold them to me for about $7. We are really bummed out about Marie. Her parents won’t let her get baptized. I may never know if they make it into the church. We left the video “Together Forever” with them. They said that they will watch it. Marie is going to invite her mom to church and to hear the discussions. I hope she can persuade her. I love ya! JB … Life & missions are tough…
That’s where things ended. I was transferred to Tours, another city in France about an hour and a half away from Angers. Both cities were about the same size. Between 130,000 to 150,000 people. From what I heard things really never went anywhere and the missionaries lost touch with their family.
25 August 1992 – Tours, France
You’ll never guess who we found tracting! Marie from Angers who we had set a baptismal date with at one point! Elder Buist and Duersch were tracting on one side of the street and I was on the other with Elder Criley. Elder Buist yells, “Elder Bringhurst, come here!” (The male missionaries are referred to as “Elder” and the women missionaries are referred to as “Sister”) I went across the street to where they were. Marie walks out. I about died! This is such a blessing! We may be able to work with her father a little and that will A.) Open the door so she can be baptized. B.) he can join the Church also! I still can’t believe it. What are the possibilities? I mean really! She is visiting her father in Tours from Angers and we, two Elders she knows, Elder Buist and myself, tract her out the very time she is here. The Lord’s hand is clearly in this work. I was going to write the sister missionaries in Angers to have them give her the Tours address of the church and let her know I was here. Elder Herfel will freak out when I tell him! I’ll have to write him. I was happy, to say the least! She returns to Angers tonight. I told her to say hello to her mother and her brother David. Oh, how I wanted them to be baptized and experience the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This gives new light to all. I know one of the reasons I am here in Tours now. Well, otherwise we had a good morning. We taught one discussion to a skater. We got an appointment to meet again set up. I worked with Elder Criley. He is a good egg from Canada.
Now some might say that was just a coincidence. I don’t think so. I think the Lord is very aware of who we are, and where we are. He knows us personally. Each of us. He knows our name. He knows our heart. I fully believe that out of the 150,000 or so people living in Angers, God led us to that very neighborhood back in Angers where we met Marie and her family. My companion and I had looked at the map of the city. We prayed over it and asked to know where the Lord would have us go work. We were inspired to use the pre-tractors, something I had never done before. We had so much success in that little area in Angers. We were teaching so many people we couldn’t keep up with all the work. And then we meet this family who needed our message. I don’t think that it was a coincidence that out of the 130,000 people in Tours, that we happened to knock on the door where Marie was while I was serving in Tours. (I only served there 3 months. Maybe that is the main reason for my service there.) I pray that wherever Marie is today, that somehow she finds the missionaries again, or that they are led to her. I know that God knows her and cares deeply about her as He does each of His children. The rich blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ are available to all to come and partake. The gospel of Jesus Christ brings a joy into your life that is worth giving up our carnal and selfish desires.
“And he gathereth his children from the four quarters of the earth, and he numbereth his sheep, and they know him; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd; and he shall feed his sheep, and in him, they shall find pasture. 1 Nephi 22:25