Serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in northern France, southern Belgium and Luxembourg.

Monday, October 19, 2015

I don't know anyone in Strasbourg

Week one of whitewashing: few immediate results. But that's to be expected. We've got a lot of building up to do, and my companion and I don't know anyone here. We hardly even know each other. He's pretty young and his first ville was very far away, so I had never even heard of him in my whole mission life. 

Elder Dudfield is a quarter-Asian man from Melbourne, Australia. He's in his 5th (two transfers behind me). He writes a lot of girls--though one of them is more special than the rest--and likes to point out differences between Australian and North American culture. But at least he understands what a kilogram is. On that note, this is my first non-American comp. In fact, this is my first comp not from the Salk Lake City area. It's nice, because lots of people assume we're all Americans. They don't understand that the restored Church of Jesus Christ is not an American church. 

Strasbourg is a beautiful city. There are buildings everywhere that look like they belong in a more modern Beauty and the Beast. We live on the river and it is gorgeous. Allow me to attach a picture:

This is what you see when you get off the tram to go to our apartment. We live right by that bridge you see. 
And those boats are actually just floating restaurants. Cool, no?

And this is what you see when you walk from our apartment to the tram stop. The Apostasy was architecturally astounding. 

Here's my comp and me on the bridge. Can you make out what we're fencing with?
That's because we're in France. Pretty sure this is an accurate historical enactment. 

So I've been shifting my focus lately. It's been going from a "contact-until-you-teach, teach-until-you-baptize, rinse-and-repeat-until-you-leave" approach to more of an approach that's focused on the ward members and helping them grow and share the gospel. If they're less-active, I want to get them active. If they're active but only somewhat committed, I want to get them fully committed. If they've got strong testimonies but don't know how to share the gospel, I want to get them sharing. Because those results will last far longer than my time here. Obviously I still need to find, teach and baptize, but my impact can extend much further than that. There's no stat for helping a kid in your ward go on a mission, yet I see it as one of the best things I could do. 

...don't let me skip out on contacting, though. It's essential. 

Anyway, you guys can do it too. You can join me in the work of strengthening the ward. Show someone that you care that they're not going to church. Invite your friend to a ward activity. Strengthen your own testimony..."and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."

I love you all. Strasbourg week 2 coming your way. Bisous!

Elder Stanford

Four-generation pictures: Elder Wheatley (my father), me, Elder Harris (my son) and Elder Barton (my newborn grandson).

PS: A cross-language study of New Testament translations

So I've started a pretty interesting study recently. I've been comparing the two Bibles I use here on the mission: the King James Version in English and the Louis Segond Version in French. Both claim to be translated directly from the original Hebrew and Greek texts. The differences between the two - despite the similarity between the English and French languages - demonstrate how important points and even pure doctrine can be changed with just one or two translations. 

Imagine, for example, that you want to show someone using biblical proof that God presented the Plan of Salvation before the Creation even happened. Easy - Titus 1:2. But in French, instead of saying "before the world began" it says "since the earliest times," which could be taken very differently. (Luke 1:70 is similar.)

Or if you wanted to show that it was Jesus Christ who created the world under the direction of God the Father. Ephesians 3:9 - God "created all things by Jesus Christ." But in French: God created all things. Period. 

In Hebrews 1:2, depending on what language you're reading, you might find that the Lord created multiple worlds, or you might find that He created just one. 

As you can see, doctrinal correctness appears to be found more often in the English KJV whenever discrepancies exist. In fact, the only French difference I've found that I like better is Acts 17:29 - in English, "we are the offspring of God"; in French, "we are the race of God." I think it does a better job of highlighting 1) the fact that God is not a cloud, but more importantly 2) the divine potential of all humans. 

Now, the soul-searching disciple and curious scholar alike ought to pose the questions: If there are doctrinal differences that appear in the Bible from just two translations, how many have been perpetuated over the centuries through the many translations just like them? What if we add that to careless transcriptions by hand, or even the express altering of "original texts" by those whose goal it is to please men rather than God?

The Holy Bible is a good thing containing hundreds of priceless truths - including the firsthand accounts of the life of our Saviour - but left on its own, it makes for a sandy foundation indeed. Do you see, dead reader, the need for a prophet today? Do you see the need for divine scripture translated by God rather than men, scripture which clarifies the plain and precious things that the Bible can only sometimes reveal?

The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is evidence that God loves and speaks to His children in other places than just the holy land. The restored gospel of Jesus Christ is evidence that God loves and speaks to us today, just as He did in ancient times. He speaks to us through chosen prophets - after all, He always has. He can also speak to you, if you ask Him to. Put it to the test. 

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