I won't be giving a whole lot of updates on my blog; probably just a bit now and then to let everybody know I'm still alive and doing well. But today I thought it might be important to say something regarding the rioting in Paris and how it's affecting me. Frankly, I haven't seen any effects from Limoges (where I'm serving right now); we're really far away from Paris. The only effect it's had on us so far is that it's become a common topic of discussion with people we talk to. We are always careful about avoiding situations that could be dangerous, and since we're always indoors at night, there's really not much danger to the missionaries.
Following is an excerpt from a letter from our mission president to parents:
We are aware of the extensive coverage being given by the news media to the events in our mission over the past week and a half. We are certain that these reports have caused you an extra degree of concern for your son or daughter. Therefore we want to provide this report of what is currently occurring and what steps we have instituted for our missionaries’ safety.
As we understand is heavily reported worldwide, demonstrations in the form of burnings of cars and some buildings began in the northeast suburbs of Paris to protest the accidental deaths of two youths by electrocution on Oct. 27 as they ran from the police.
These acts are directed against the police and the French government in general, primarily by immigrants and their descendants who feel they are being denied the rights of French residency and citizenship. They are occurring during the nighttime. At first they occurred only in the northeast suburbs of Paris but have now spread to other suburbs and, to a lesser extent, to Paris itself and other outlying cities. For the most part, they are occurring in neighborhoods of low-cost apartments occupied primarily by the immigrant population.
Accordingly we have taken the following safety measures:
1. All our missionaries are instructed to stay out of the neighborhoods where demonstrations/burnings are most likely to occur and to avoid all gatherings that could turn into demonstrations.
2. Paris-area missionaries are to be home in their apartments by 7:00 PM on weeknights when the heaviest commuter traffic on public transportation subsides unless they have a teaching appointment with members who will return them by private automobile to their apartment after the appointment. On weekends our Paris-area missionaries are to be in their apartments by dark.
3. We are working closely with local priesthood leaders who are assigning suitable members to take our missionaries into their homes if conditions escalate and require it.
4. Each apartment has a week’s supply of food should it become prudent to keep our missionaries in for several days. Missionaries are also to have cash on hand and a reserve of funds on their electronic cards.
So, like he said, we're taking appropriate precautions, but it honestly isn't affecting the work where I am. Things are going great. I hope you're all doing well, and I look forward to receiving and responding to your letters.