Rockie Bogenschutz Recalls His Lens, France Mission

Fantastic Alluvial Ward Missionary Rockie Bogenschutz recalls his great Mission experience, finding it much more difficult than tangling with Darth Vader…. yet one the best times of his life in Jesus Christ! His great Mission recount is below…


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When I left for the mission I expected a whole different environment. I had expectations of baptizing thousands. When I arrived the average baptisms was 1.2 per missionary for their entire mission. That didn’t detour me I was determined to make a difference. It wasn’t easy as I’m sure it isn’t for the Missionaries wherever they serve today.
I had just been made senior companion when I was transferred to Lens, France. I had a great new companion from Southern California. This guy was genius caliber. Seriously photographic memory, was on the rowing team in Tustin and just a great missionary. We get transferred to Lens. Absolutely 0 active members. ZERO!! We had church on the 7th floor in our government run apartment that smelled of urine so bad in the elevator we would have to hold our breath. For preparation day we took the sliding closet doors off the track and laid them across several folding chairs provided just in case someone came to church. We then took the broom and mop and put the broom on one side and the mop on the other and took some heavy twine and ran a line from one side to the other and hung Joseph Smith pamphlets over the twine to create a net so we could play ping pong.
We actually had a piano in our apartment since sometime in the past there had been an active branch.
Lens was a coal mining town and on the 50’s had experienced a devastating coal mining disaster to my best recollection. That along with black lung disease had left a lot of widows. You get the picture. Not exactly the France I had dreamed about.
We were blessed and one day while street contacting we met a man who was interested. Right now I cannot remember his name. A great guy. This gentleman was 34 years old if I remember correctly and had been living and working in Australia where his wife and daughter were when we met him in Lens. He had come to visit his parents. I wish I could think of his name. I’m currently on a plane in Hong Kong as I type this recalling experience or I would look it up. This guys dad was the president of the Bank of France in Lens. They actually lived in the bank. It was nice and plush and heavily guarded. We taught this brother in the house inside the bank grounds. His mother was in a wheel chair and she would make certain that a huge platter of pastries were always delivered when we were there. They treated us like kings. It was so exciting. He believed everything we told him and wanted to be the best member possible. He wasn’t going to eat meat sparingly as the word of wisdom requests, he was going to quit eating meat altogether.
We taught the lessons and invited him to Church. Now imagine. He’s driving a beautiful Peugeot, high dollar at the time and a suit which in today’s dollars I would guess $3000. We pull up to our apartment complex hop in the elevator up to the 7th floor and it’s me and Elder Hollingworth, my companion. We sing a song we pray and we pass the sacrament to each other. We then read out of the Book of Mormon together. Now we have been preaching that this is the only true church on the face of the earth. It would be hard for me to accept if I were in his place had it not been for the strong presence of the Holy Ghost during our discussions. We worked hard to re activate members but for various reasons it didn’t happen. We baptized this dear brother a week after attending Church in our apartment. We rented the local swimming pool at noon and baptized this faithful brother. He ended up driving an hour to a near by branch where he could be with some members to attend Church. After 3 months we actually closed down the city of Lens for missionary work. As I reflect back I wouldn’t take back one of the many tough and trying experiences as they all helped make me a stronger person.
I could go on and on with experiences but it’s time to go. I’m jealous that I’m not out there serving in France. I love the language, the people and the food. In your Mission, enjoy the journey.

Brother Rockie Bogenschutz


Until We Meet Again!!