Temple Dedication Brings Former Missionaries Back to Paris
Contributed By Valerie Johnson, Church News staff writer
“Sometimes when you have to exercise patience, it makes the joys even sweeter. ... The Lord has His eye over all of France and always has." —Rebecca Jones Young, returned missionary who served in France
Rebecca Jones Young of Palo Alto, California, began her journey to France 27 years ago when her father, Charles E. Jones, was called to preside over the France Paris Mission.
“When we got off the plane when I was a teenager, I thought, ‘I don’t understand one word,’” Young said. She and her younger sister, Catherine, joined a French school to learn the language. At the beginning, she said, “We would come home every day and cry for the first six weeks because we would have all of our classes in French. Then we stopped crying, but then the headaches came because we were trying so hard to understand. And by Christmas, we understood everything and were just speaking it.”
Young grew to know and love the people of Paris. “They are such good people. They are really devoted,” she said.
Because her father was a mission president, Young was called to serve a mission at the age of 19. “I think I was the only person that ever received a call to Paris, France, that was ever disappointed because I was actually in the mission home when the call came,” she said. But because President Ezra Taft Benson sent her to Paris, she said she felt, “I needed to stay in Paris.”
Since she already spoke French, Young went to the London, England, MTC rather than the one in Provo, Utah. “I came back and my dad sent me promptly up to Normandy, where I spent the first good chunk of my mission. My dad was my mission president for about the first year, and then he went home and I finished out under the next mission president who came who was also wonderful.”
Missionary work was not easy in France, Young said. “You just work so hard as a missionary, and there are so many difficulties each day with the weather, it’s a very secular country, and they’re steeped in their own traditions. You wonder if you’re doing any good. We really didn’t know how hard it was, but we just persevered and had the Spirit with us and were happy.”
Young described how she and her companion, Sister Alyssa Snow, met Juliette Doumbia-Guioubly. “Sister Snow and I … found a piece of mail with her name on it which contained a paycheck for her. We picked it up off the ground in a western suburb of Paris, and we went and found her home and knocked on her door. She let us in, and we taught her the gospel. She joined the Church, and since then she has had both of her children married in the temple, her son served a faithful mission, and she has been active ever since.”
First, Young and her sister Catherine Faust decided they needed to bring their parents, Charles E. and Anne Jones, back to the country where they had served. “My parents took us when we were little girls, and then we got to bring them back,” she said. “And they probably couldn’t have made it with their health unless we did it. So it’s a full-circle moment for us. It’s been so tender.” They were able to attend the third dedication session together as a family.The Paris France Temple dedication served as a full-circle journey for Young in two ways.
“[My father] has always kept up his French and always had a connection with the French Saints. We knew he needed to be here—he and my mother. They both needed to be here.”
Young was also able to reunite with Doumbia-Guioubly over two decades later, at the Paris France Temple youth cultural celebration at the Vélodrome National, for the first time since she completed her mission. “She’s just the most wonderful woman. … It’s such a pleasure to see her after all of these years. We just embraced each other and cried. I haven’t seen her since I left France. But we were able to connect over Facebook so I knew that she was doing well.”
The people of France have waited so long for a temple, Young said, “and sometimes when you have to exercise patience, it makes the joys even sweeter. … The Lord has His eye over all of France and always has.”
Rebecca Young; her parents, Anne and Charles E. Jones; and her younger sister, Catherine Faust, sit beside the Paris France Temple on May 21, 2017. Young and Faust brought their parents to Paris for the temple dedication. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Young.
President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, greets Juliette Doumbia-Guioubly and her granddaughter, Amelie, during the cornerstone ceremony of the Paris France Temple on Sunday, May 21, 2017. Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.