We hope you are having a good summer. During the second week of the temple closure, we went to Bern, Switzerland, where my ancestor Elizabeth Degen lived before she immigrated with her family to the United States. She and her husband, Martin Bushman, were the first ancestors on my father’s side to join the Mormon Church.
We first stopped in Strasbourg, which over the years has been in German and French hands. It is now part of France. We saw the amazing red colored cathedral, which is different than the ones we have seen before. It has a mammoth clock inside to the right side of the nave. It was hard to get a good picture because of the scaffolding in front of it for restoration. The town square was very quaint with half-timbered businesses and a statue of Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of the printing press.
We then went to Bern and enjoyed the old part of the city with its famous clock and the bears. We found that the Bern, Switzerland, temple was also closed this week and so we just saw the outside of the beautiful temple. I am sure it was difficult for Elizabeth to leave this beautiful area and to eventually settle in dry and arid Utah.
Our next stop was Interlaken, a beautiful Swiss village that we had visited 18 years previous. The lakes and rivers have not changed from their beautiful green/blue color. We went on a lake cruise and then drove to Trummelbach Falls where the water has rushed through carved rock in the mountain for centuries. It is a beautiful area with other falls and a view of the Jung Frau mountain — part of the Swiss Alps. From there we went to Geneva and saw the big spout of water (Jet D’eau) coming out of the lake in this beautiful city.
On our way home we stopped in Annecy, which has canals throughout the city (France’s version of Venice, Italy) and a beautiful lake where we also went on a lake cruise. It has the same beautiful colored water as Interlaken. Every spot along the way was picturesque. You could see Mont Blanc, which is part of the Swiss Alps. It is the highest point in the Alps at 15,777 ft. We had delicious cheese fondue that evening in Annecy.
On June 19, the temple opened up again, and it was such a feeling of peace and comfort to again be there to serve. At the baptistry, we have had many new converts coming to be baptized for their families. It is so touching to see someone baptized for a brother, a father, sister, grandparents, etc. One 12-year-old girl came with her grandmother to do the baptism for her deceased mother. There were many tears shed. For three days, we had a young woman in a wheelchair who is also blind come to be baptized for her ancestors.
On one of our P-days we went to see the charming Marie Antoinette hamlet, which is very charming, as well as the Grand Trianon and the Petite Trianon. The whole grounds for the Versailles domain is massive. It is nice to be so close.
The Church has now announced that Senior Missionaries, effective in July, should stay in their temple district. We are glad that we were able to see Bern and Interlaken before the new direction from the Church. Fortunately, that was the only place left we wanted to visit.
On another P-day we went by train to Angers to see the Apocalypse Tapestry in the Chateau d’Angers. It is a huge tapestry depicting the revelation of John (the Book of Revelations). It is a masterpiece of exceptional workmanship done in the 1300s.
Each panel is about 20 feet tall and the whole tapestry is about 500 feet long. It was very impressive. A building was constructed in 1952 inside the chateau to house it.
Many of the French temple workers have been on vacation the past few weeks and so some days we have about seven to eight sisters serving and about the same for the brethren. Those who are here go home each day exhausted. Many members are coming to the temple on their vacation as well as tourists.
It has been very hot here the past month. Last summer the temperature was in the 70s and 80s, but this year it has been in the 80s and 90s. One day it was 98 degrees, which is very warm as there is not air conditioning in most places in France. It was so hot at Church that Bishop Sherinian bought hand fans for all of us to use! We are very grateful our apartment has air conditioning!
We are grateful to be temple missionaries here. We love the French people and are privileged to work in the beautiful Paris France Temple.
We love and miss you.
Elder Richard and Sister Karen Bradford