September 18, 2017


Le Chesnay, France


The Paris Stake and the Paris Opera House

Dear Friends and Family,

A week ago, we had stake conference and it was a very inspiring weekend. We are in the Paris stake, but its headquarters are at the Versailles Chapel. The Saturday evening and Sunday sessions had talks and testimonies from members who had helped in some way with the temple open house and cultural celebration. Others talked about the consecration (dedication) and how it influenced and changed them personally.

One 16-year-old young man said he did not want to be in the cultural celebration because they would practice every Saturday from January until May 20. He reluctantly participated and was chosen to be King Louis XIV. Getting to know the other young people and making the sacrifice to rehearse changed his life. He said he is now preparing to serve a mission.

A woman who knew nothing about dancing was asked to do the choreography for the celebration. It taught her she could do anything with the Lord’s help.

A younger mother with six children told of going to the open house of the Los Angeles Temple when she was 6 years old and not a member of the church. She felt something different, a great peace. It was not until 20 years later that she was able to join the church as an adult. She and her husband spent a week full-time giving tours of the temple. She realized there were many like her when she was 6 experiencing the temple for the first time.

The first counselor in the stake presidency said that 47,100 people attended the temple open house. There were 746 people who showed an interest in the church. There have been 13 baptisms so far from the open house. Another man was baptized after stake conference on Sept. 16 making it 14 people. The counselor also told about being the interpreter when President Eyring came for the dedication. It was such a special and spiritual experience.

Each of these people expressed the profound experience this temple has made in their lives. The stake president then said “What are we going to do now?” He encouraged the members to bring their friends and neighbors to the temple grounds and introduce them to the gospel. The stake presidents expect an awakening in France like never before. The missionaries all over France are seeing the light that the temple has brought to this country and an increase in interest.

Richard and I went on our P-day to see inside the Paris Opera House. It is an ornate building. If you have seen the “Phantom of the Opera” yes there is a large chandelier, but it doesn’t swing. We enjoyed seeing it and then having lunch in a nice French restaurant.

For our senior missionary home evening, Brother Dominique Calmels and his wife, Françoise, talked about what it took to find the place for the temple. It began 17 years ago when he and his wife were called to direct the church’s public relations efforts in France. He formed a committee that included key church people. One of them was Christian Euvrard, whom Richard knew as a 16-year old when he was in the Nogent branch on his mission. He now has a doctorate degree and has been a mission president in Italy. He is now the spokesperson for the church in Paris.

Efforts were made to develop relationships with the media and key government people. Ultimately the government would decide whether a temple could be built. The committee began to hold meetings with these people and taught them about the church and why they wanted to build a temple in France. They also were able to get a few U.S. senators involved, including Orrin Hatch. Of course, Elder Andersen and Bishop Caussé were involved as well. Two sites in the greater Paris area were denied. The mayors would ask questions about the church’s treatment of women and polygamy. Then it was discovered in Versailles that a building where an electrical company had been was going to be torn down. The city considered building a low-income apartment building. The Church found out and offered to buy the land.

While plenty of opposition developed, including substantial petitions against the Church, the mayor decided to form a committee and investigate the Church and its beliefs. A few committee members attended church meetings and found nothing unusual. Among other things, they were pleased to learn that the church had 12 apostles. Cards expressing well wishes were sent to key dignitaries on an annual basis. The mayor could find no reason to object and allowed the construction to continue, even after it had been stopped at least once. There is more to it than that, but there is no question the Lord had a hand in finding a location and building the temple.

We realize even more as we serve in the temple the importance of temple ordinances and going frequently to the temple. It has been such an honor to be one of the first temple missionaries here and to see what it means to the members in France. There has been a spiritual outpouring of blessings and an increase in faith in the members. During the open house and prior to the dedication, 250 newspaper and media presentations were given on local and national news outlets in France. The church is no longer obscure in this part of the world.

Elder and Soeur Bradford


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