Keep up on your French

Back in the 90s I spoke French fluently (with an Idaho accent). French is still my preferred language for profanity during heated basketball games, but it’s tough to hold on to vocabulary and fluid speech without many francophones around and with visits to France few and far between. Here are a few things that have helped.

Lessons

Victor Hugo plays the guitar in the metroI’ve tried Duolingo, Memrise, Rosetta Stone, and others. They might be good for learning the basics of the language, but none of them were very engaging to me for improving beyond that. Enter Frantastique. They have the weirdest, most entertaining French lessons du monde. Daily sessions involve aliens who decided to thaw cryogenically-frozen Victor Hugo (after considering Michael Jackson and others) who then has various adventures with old friends, including Quasimodo (who needs help applying for a job). The animation is weird, the voices are weird, and the weirdness really helps the lessons stick. They also feature famous French movies and songs each day.

Radio

TuneIn is great for accessing pretty much every radio station in the world. My favorite is FranceInfo, which is similar to NPR – lots of talk and few commercials.

Podcasts

You can see the top podcasts for several countries at iTunesCharts.com. I tried several before I settled on my favorite: Sixième science. Topics are interesting (why does time seem to pass more rapidly as we age? – are plants intelligent?) and episodes are short and filled with little clips from movies and songs.

Music

News

Le Monde is the biggest. I prefer Le Figaro.

YouTube

I haven’t really found anything I come back to regularly, but check out Top Channels in France. Français Authentique is good for slowly-pronounced discussions of topics like La Bise.

Movies

Have you seen Les Choristes? So good.

Books

Le Petit NicolasLe Petit Nicolas is my favorite easy read. It’s at a child’s level with great drawings and jokes only the parents get. You can also try a French translation of a book you know well in English – I’m currently reading Je Suis Une Légende (I Am Legend). Sometimes I get more ambitious with French classics like Les Misérables and L’Étranger, but those sometimes take more mental effort than I can spare.

Audiobooks

I’ve had mixed success here. LibriVox has a bunch of free French audiobooks, but it can be tough to find a good narrator since they’re all volunteers. My library has a few French audiobooks, including Le Petit Prince. If you have an Audible subscription, they have a large collection of French audiobooks.

Scriptures

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a few apps with French content, including The Gospel Library and The Book of Mormon (a standalone app which I prefer because I can leave it in French every time I open it instead of switching back and forth). There’s also a French website – https://www.eglisedejesuschrist.fr

The YouVersion Bible app is excellent and has French content as well. There are some really good audio versions in English and it looks like some French ones, too.

LDS Apostles when they were young missionaries

I taught a mission prep class this week and gathered what photos I could find of current members of the Quorum of the Twelve back when they were young missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Can you figure them all out? Answers at the bottom.

1 (the one on the right) –

2 (on the right) –

3 (on the right) –

4 (center with the tie) –

5 (with the amazing purple suit and tie) –

6 –

7 (on the right) –

8 –

9 –

 

Answers:

  1. Elder Ulisses Soares – Rio de Janeiro
  2. Elder Gerrit W. Gong – Taipei Taiwan
  3. Elder Dale G. Renlund – Sweden
  4. Elder Gary E. Stevenson – Japan Fukuoka
  5. Elder Ronald A. Rasband – Eastern States. Cool story about this photo here.
  6. Elder Neil L. Andersen – France
  7. Elder D. Todd Christofferson – Cordoba Argentina
  8. Elder Quentin L. Cook – British Mission
  9. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland – British Mission (as far as I can tell, this photo was taken shortly *after* his mission)

Elders Ballard (England) and Bednar (Germany) also served missions but I couldn’t find photos of them.

Changes in YW and YM over the years

On Sunday I ordained my oldest son a priest and my youngest a deacon – both were impacted by the age changes announced in December. In preparation for the Temple and Priesthood Preparation meeting later that day, I did a little research on some of the changes to the Young Men and Young Women programs over the years.

History of Age for Priesthood Ordinations

  • Before 1877: No age specified; mostly adult men and some boys, ages 8 and up
  • 1877: No age specified; young men between ages 9 and 19 begin to be ordained
  • 1908: Deacons: 12; Teachers: 15; Priests: 18
  • 1925: Deacons: 12; Teachers: 15; Priests: 17
  • 1954: Deacons: 12; Teachers: 14; Priests: 16

There’s a great little article in the 1916 Improvement Era where they gathered feedback from a bunch of bishops about duties and activities of the different age groups. Among the expected duties you’ll find that young men were asked to “haul gravel,” “make cement walks about meeting houses,” and “help with teams to level public squares.” Each had a musical assignment: priests as ward choristers, teachers as choir members, and deacons as organ pumpers.

Priesthood duties in the 1916 Improvement Era

A few notes from a Young Women organizational history article at BYU

The Young Women program had various names over the years:

  • The Young Gentlemen and Ladies’ Relief Society of Nauvoo, 1843
  • The Young Ladies’ Department of the Cooperative Retrenchment Association (Young Ladies’ Retrenchment Association), 1869
  • Young Ladies’ National Mutual Improvement Association, 1877
  • Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association (YLMIA), 1904
  • Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association (YWMIA), 1934
  • Aaronic Priesthood MIA, Young Women, 1972
  • Young Women, 1974

Heber C. Kimball organized the first group in Jan 1843. Youth met at his home to talk about “the frivolous manner in which they spent their time—and their too frequent attendance at balls, parties, etc.” The name was shortened to “Young People’s meetings”

Brigham Young in 1869 –

All Israel are looking to my family and watching the example set by my wives and children. . . . I desire to organize my own family first into a society for the promotion of habits of order, thrift, industry, and charity; and . . . to retrench from their extravagance in dress, in eating, and even in speech.

I have long had it in my mind to organize the young ladies of Zion into an association. . . . There is need for the young daughters of Israel to get a living testimony of the truth. . . . Retrench in everything that is bad and worthless, and improve in everything that is good and beautiful. Not to make yourselves unhappy, but to live so that you may be truly happy in this life and the life to come.

From 1880-1904, YW meetings included the following:

  • Singing (Association choir), prayer, roll call
  • Miscellaneous business
  • Bible lecture
  • Historical narrative or biographical sketch
  • Musical exercise
  • Book of Mormon, alternating with Church History
  • Answering of questions
  • Declamation, alternating with select reading
  • Report of current events or an essay
  • Scientific lecture
  • Distribution of queries and reading program
  • Closing exercise, singing, benediction

“Because the Mutual year only ran from September to June, leaders sought a new endeavor for the summer months. Patterned after the Camp Fire program and considered a sister organization to the Boy Scouts, the Beehive program, announced in 1915, involved girls ages fourteen to eighteen. Requirements for advancement included knowing “the proper use of hot and cold baths,” mending and caring for clothing, doing “one good turn” daily, and memorizing Doctrine and Covenants 89. [11] The Beehive experience, so well received, was incorporated into the general program.”

1930s
“As many older Primary girls wanted to attend Mutual, parents could choose whether their daughters attended one or the other or both. At this time, the twelve- to thirteen-year-old group was called Nymphs. Later, the entrance age was determined by a girl’s twelfth birthday. Over time, the older girls were divided into Seniors and Advanced Seniors. Then a Junior class was added. From the story of Ruth in the Bible, the Seniors were renamed the Gleaners.”

The Gleaners were renamed Laurels in 1959.

Thomas S. Monson:

The Church moves on and programs change, but the basic responsibility of helping youth to choose the right . . . is as cardinal a rule today as it has ever been.

More changes to come!

Mormonen at Vienna Central Cemetery

We came to Der Wiener Zentralfriedhof, the Vienna Central Cemetery, to see dead musicians. The German-only map showed some Konfessionelle Bereiche (“sectarian divisions”) and featured a photo of a “Mormonen” monument – middle right below. How curious!

We made our way to section 57C and saw this statue of Christ and a child facing, presumably, the child’s parents. Given its location, the parents are apparently being welcomed into heaven where the child has already been for some time.

Vienna cemetery – LDS monument

I found an image of the original concept, which will be very interesting to temple-going Latter-day Saints. Note the yin and yang color differentiation at their feet.

The words around the base of the monument are: ich bin die Auferstehung und das Leben; wer an mich glaubt, wird leben, auch wenn er stirbt. In English: I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live (John 11:25).

Vienna cemetery – LDS monument

The statue is at the center of several family headstones:

This Mormon section of the cemetery has room for 165 graves and 6 crypts. More info here if you’re interested.

Vienna cemetery – LDS monument