Last we left her, we knew that Soeur Holt was going to be moving, but we hadn’t said where!
Yes- so the biggest news of the week is that we received transfer calls Saturday night and I will be heading down to French Guiana to serve with Soeur Hansen (I know mummy- that you and Soeur Hansen’s mum are going to be so excited for us to serve together!!) I will be leaving Wednesday morning and get the 2 hour flight to the South American continent!!
Since receiving the call it’s really been a mixture of emotions- on one hand I am really excited to head to Guiana to meet new people- and apparently the members are amazing there and the work is really progressing. Not to mention I have the opportunity to serve with Soeur Hansen finally after she dodged me in the MTC!! On the other I am really sad to leave and slightly scared to leave what I have come to call home in Abymes- the members, the people I have been teaching, my companion Soeur T, etc. I cried on Sunday after Church as I talked to some of the sisters who I love so much!! But that’s the life of a missionary- onto bigger and better things I hope- specifically a really cool Ford truck I have heard a lot about!!
As we did with Guadeloupe, we have done some research about French Guiana and hope you’ll be excited as we are for the next part of Soeur Holt’s service.
If we look at the map of the mission we can see that French Guiana is the only ‘country’ that is not an island but is to be found on the north coast of South America.
We think it is a part of the Barbados Bridgetown Mission because it is French speaking and none of the other countries surrounding it are.
To the French and to the inhabitants of French Guiana it is known only as Guyane which means ‘land of many waters’. Originally there were a number of Guianas including British, Dutch, Portuguese, and Spanish- hence being known as French Guiana to ‘outsiders’.
Lonelyplanet.com describes French Guiana as “a tiny country of cleaned-up colonial architecture, eerie prison-camp history and some of the world’s most diverse plant and animal life. It’s a strange mix of French law and rainforest humidity where only a few destinations along the coast are easily accessed and travel can be frustratingly difficult as well as expensive. As a department of France, it’s one of South America’s wealthiest corners, with funds pouring in to ensure a stable base for the satellite launcher. But not even a European superpower can tame this vast, pristine jungle: you’ll find potholes in newly paved roads, and ferns sprouting between bricks, while Amerindians, Maroons and Hmong refugees live traditional lifestyles so far from la vie Metropole that it’s hard to believe they’re connected at all.”
It seems to be an exciting country to be in- its land mass is 83,534 km2 (32,253 sq mi) with a low population density of 3 inhabitants per square kilometre. In 2013 half of its 244,118 live in the city of Cayenne, its capital. This is where Soeur Holt will be based- as the only chapel belonging to the Church in Guyane is found there. There are approximately 400 members of the Church in Guyane.
We’ve taken some information from Wikipedia to help us understand its history and economy. “The area was originally inhabited by Native Americans. The first French establishment is recorded in 1503 but the French presence didn’t really become durable until 1643 and the foundation of Cayenne. Guiana then became a slave colony and saw its population increase until the official abolition of slavery at the time of the French Revolution. Guiana temporarily became a French department in 1797 but was gradually transformed into a penal colony with the establishment of a network of camps and penitentiaries spread over the coast where prisoners were sentenced to forced labour. It abandoned its status as a colony and became again a French department in 1946. De Gaulle, who became president, decided to establish the Guiana Space Centre in 1965. It is now operated by the CNES, Arianespace and the European Space Agency (ESA).
Several thousand Hmong refugees from Laos migrated to French Guiana in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Nowadays fully integrated in the French central state, Guiana is a part of the European Union, and its official currency is the euro. The official language is French, but each ethnic community has its own language, of which Guianan Creole is the most widely spoken.”
French Guiana is home to many different ecosystems: tropical rainforests, coastal mangroves, savannahs, inselbergs and many types of wetlands. The rainforests of French Guiana are protected by a national park (the Guiana Amazonian Park) and six additional nature reserves. Temperatures seem to be stable throughout the year- hovering around 30oC with the potential to be a lot hotter.
The history of the Church in Guyane, according to mormonnewsroom.org, began with Charles Fortin, a native of French Guiana, who was baptized in France and returned to his homeland in 1980. Rosiette Fauvette, also baptized in France, returned to French Guiana in July 1981. She attended Sunday meetings at Fortin’s home in Cayenne. Charles Fortin introduced the Church to many people before his death in April 1986.
Elder Charles Didier of the Seventy organised a group in March 1988. Followed by the Kourou Branch in May 1989 and the Cayenne Branch in August of the same year. On February 27, 1990, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve blessed the land and with Elder Charles Didier visited branch members in both Cayenne and Kourou. The chapel in Cayenne was dedicated in March 1999.
We look forward to hearing of Soeurs Holt and Hansen’s experiences in Guyane!
Her new postal address is:
Soeur Eleanor R. Holt
Bat E Appt #2
Résidence Pont Maggi
Route De Baduel
Her email address remains firstname.lastname@example.org