Friday, May 11, 2007

A week and a half at the MTC

OK--I resisted (blogging) for three days. I want to report that Margaret and I have been loving our work at the Provo Missionary Training Center. We've spent two Sundays there. Julie has come to the 8:00 a.m. sacrament meeting (a miracle in itself), and Misha came with us last Sunday to eat dinner with the missionaries. On our way through the cafeteria to find the missionaries in our branch, we saw President Boone (MTC president), Brother Breinholt, and their wives and introduced Misha to them. Seeing our son in his Sunday almost best, tall, good looking, and with longish hair, President Boone said, "We love to see future missionaries." Misha's future mission (he's now fifteen) was also a topic as we ate with the missionaries.

I'll tell more about the routine later, but just two notes for now, one on new missionaries, the other on visits to the residence halls.

We had only 19 missionaries in the branch until Wednesday, when a new group of 15 arrived--12 elders and 3 sisters headed to the Canada Montreal and Switzerland Geneva missions (plus one to the West Indies). We spent several hours with them Wednesday evening helping to orient them.

Probably my favorite duty so far at the MTC has been visiting the missionaries in their residence halls. We've done that twice now, the last two Thursday nights. (I think it was after our first visit that Margaret said, "This is the funnest calling we've had.") Last night, after dropping Margaret off at the sisters' hall, I went to visit the elders, chatted with them, asked how the new ones (and the older ones) were doing, and then joined them for a hymn and a prayer. I also shared a scripture--and they asked me for news "from the outside world." I mentioned the Romney-Sharpton controversy (in vague terms) and said one thing I was happy about was that, on CNN, representatives from both major parties had defended "the Mormons." (On a side note, I especially liked James Carville's attitude; the Republican representative was good too, but when asked if Mormons were Christians, he hummed and hawed a bit, while Carville said, "I would point out that the preferred name, I think, of their church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They certainly say they're Christians. I believe them. . . . they certainly do believe in Jesus Christ" [click here for more].)

But what the elders really wanted to know is how well the Jazz were doing. (If you don't know who the Jazz are, consider moving to Latvia--when we visited there in 1996 and mentioned we were from Utah, a young Latvian said, "Oh, the Jazz!") I had heard they had won two of their recent games, but I wasn't helpful beyond that. I promised to do better. As Margaret and I drove home, I found out she knew all about the Jazz's latest game, having heard the whole story while working with her co-documentary makers earlier in the day.

The highlight of the evening was probably the hymn I sang along with the elders, one I had never heard before, though the music is familiar (from Dvorak's New World Symphony). Called "Souviens-toi, mon enfant," it is unique to the French LDS hymn book. Here are the words:

Souviens-toi, mon enfant: Tes parents divins
te serraient dans leurs bras, ce temps ne’st pas loin.
Aujourd’hui, tu es là, présent merveilleux,
ton regard brille encore du reflet des cieux.
Parle-moi, mon enfant, de ces lieux bénis,
car pour toi est léger le voile d’oubli.

Souviens-toi, mon enfant, des bois, des cités.
Pouvons-nous ici-bas les imaginer?
Et le ciel jusqu’au soir, est-il rose ou gris?
Le soleil attend-il la neige ou la pluie?
Conte-moi, mon enfant, la couleur des prés
et le chant des oiseaux d’un monde oublié.

Souviens-toi, mon enfant: A l’aube des temps,
nous étions des amis jouant dans le vent.
Puis un jour, dans la joie nous avons choisi
d’accepter du Seigneur le grand plan de vie.
Ce soir-là, mon enfant, nous avons promis
par l’amour, par la foi, d’être réunis.

It's an absolutely beautiful hymn, evoking eternal memories and reminding us of eternal possibilities. For a translation, or my attempt at one, click on the comments.


bruce young said...

I'm making the first comment, simply to provide an English translation for the hymn I quoted. Here it is:

Remember, my child: Your divine parents
held you in their arms, not long ago.
Today, you are here, a marvelous present.
Your gaze still shines, reflecting the heavens.
Speak to me, my child, of the blessed places,
for the veil of forgetfulness is thin for you.

Remember, my child, the woods, the cities.
Can we here below (on earth) imagine them?
And the evening sky, is it rose or gray?
Does the sun await snow or rain?
Tell me, my child, the color of the meadows
and the song of the birds of a forgotten world.

Remember, my child: At the dawn of time,
we were friends playing in the wind.
Then one day, in joy we chose
to accept from the Lord the great plan of life.
That evening, my child, we promised
by love, by faith, to meet again.

(Feel free to suggest improvements and corrections and to make any other comments you'd like.)

Garry Wilmore said...

I read this post with a smile, and I'm glad you and Margaret are enjoying your new calling. Bon chance! :-)

Margaret said...

The hymn Bruce posted is sung to the melodic movement of Dvorzak's "New World"--2nd movement? It's lovely.

My favorite day without question was Wednesday, when we got 15 new missionaries. I saw them in their new suits and ties (or skirts and blouses) and felt the trust being given to us from their parents--who had surely helped them choose these clothes that will be nicely worn out in two years. We are entrusted to care for them and comfort them as they prepare for their time in the mission field. I love it!!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know of a recording - CD - of this song?

Bruce Young said...

There are, of course, many recordings of the New World Symphony, which has the melody to which this hymn is set. But as for the hymn itself, I don't think so. Maybe, though, we could get Kaila to record the accompaniment on her magic piano.

Factotum said...

I've recorded the hymn on my "magic piano" I am however looking for a pretty arrangement--I'll let you know if I come up with anything.

Bruce Young said...

My daughter Kaila has just found an English translation that fits the music. It's obviously not as literal as mine and doesn't entirely do the French justice, but it's not bad. It can be found at (or click here).

Anonymous said...

I can't believe I just found your post, hurray! Have been looking for this hymn for 3 years (since I sang it in a sacrament meeting in Paris). Will introduce it to the ward choir this Sunday!

Bruce Young said...

I'm glad you found it. I should have noted that the link I provided ( ) includes the piano music.

I also seem to have failed to mention that, way back over a year and a half ago, I found a very interesting post about the hymn on a blog titled "The True Face of Birth" (now renamed "Stand and Deliver") put together by someone named Rixa: (or click here).

Bruce Young said...

And here's the piano music (with words) in French from the French hymn book: