February 5, 2009

Cousin Sarah

My cousin Sarah (above) is serving an LDS mission (Mormon) in Paris. That means that she takes 18 months of her life to proselytize, to teach and to serve the people in the Paris region. (My brother Paul is doing the same in Miami). Missionaries do not get to choose where they go - they send papers into Church headquarters in Salt Lake City and then they receive a 'call' - essentially their destination for the next couple of years. My dad served his own mission (in the 1970's) in France - in Dijon, Besançon, Antibes, and Geneva.

It was interesting to sit down and hear her perspective on preaching religion in a country that proudly embraces laïcité (secularism) to a degree that often feels rather extreme to me as an American. The majority of Americans believe in God, in fact - the majority of Americans are actively religious. This is not the case in France and religion is often viewed with extreme suspicion and wariness, especially very devout forms of religion. My sister-in-law, for example, can't believe that the President of the United States would actually say the words, "God Bless America." Sarah said that she is always amused and surprised when people shake their finger at her for approaching them to talk about God. Interestingly though, the missionaries in France seem to have great success with African communities in Paris - both North Africa and West African people.


Jill said...

I'm so glad you got to see Sarah. I'm sure it was great for her to see family. Mike had an experience similar to Sarah's when serving in Denmark, although they do embrace religion a little more there (lots of Lutherens). He also taught and baptized a few refuges from other countries that were living in Denmark.

Anonymous said...

I knew your dad served in France, but didn't know where. When I did my teaching internship in France, I went to Besancon A LOT.
Love seeing the pictures. You look radiant as always!
How's that book coming along?

Rosie said...

I bet those "sisters" loved the warmth of your home! Tell Sarah we all say hello.


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