Monday, November 30, 2015

Wedding Bells and a Cheesy Thanksgiving

I have a lot to tell this week! My dad wrote me a couple weeks ago and told me that missions are like mini lives, and I would have to say that after the last couple weeks I've had, he is completely right! This week I got to see the beautiful and coveted Corsica, but the most amazing things I've found here are the people, and we'll get to them later. (PS sorry that was super cheesy. Truly, I am.) I think I'm
going to like it here, and I know I'm going to grow a ton. So without further ado, I present... Corsica! (I'm going to stop being so cheesy now... oh my gosh that's just WAY too much, wow.)

So, my comps are pretty cool. Elder Wade is the one I have never been with before so we're getting to know each other. We are so different in a lot of ways, and then so similar in a lot of other ways it's
actually really funny haha he doesn't quite understand my humor yet but he will arrive. It's weird going from a 5 man apartment in a city filled with other missionaries to being exiled on an island with only my 2 companions. But it's a lot of fun! We have a car and I'm learning the French road rules so I can drive bientôt! It's a whole different world down here for missionaries. We can and do teach in our apartment, our amis just come over and bring us food and we teach them in our living room haha.

me with Sylvia and Noel after the wedding
Speaking of amis, we have 2 extremely amazing ones right now, they're named Sylvia and Noel. Now, you will see pictures of them, but they are some of the most amazing, faithful people I've ever met, and I just love them so much! They are getting baptized next Saturday but before they got baptized, they needed to get married, so this past Saturday we had a wedding! Just so we get this straight, I had a funeral and a marriage in 2 weeks. If that doesn't sound like my life, I don't know what does! Haha but not only was it a wedding of our amis, but we got to be the témoignes! (Witnesses). So we got to sit in the middle and sign the papers after the lady said that they were married. It was quite an honor and a once in a lifetime experience I think! So then we got to go to the after party and it was there that I realized just how much I love it here.
the room and my beau face
First some background, we have a group here in Ajaccio, that means that there are literally 11 members here. Half of them are old and the other half are young and diverse, but gosh dang it these are the most fun, kind people I've
ever met! You know how much I love diversity, and you know how much I love members, so when I looked around our table at all the members that came to support Sylvia and Noel, all their smiles and personalities, I couldn't stop smiling! I am so excited to get to know all 11 of these people so well and I already love them! I wish you could all meet them! Anyways, there was a lot of good food and some dancing and the family members got kinda drunk but it was funny to look at our table with the sparking cider and coffee things still on the plates! I'll send some pictures!

Thanksgiving was not like thanksgiving back at home, but it reminded me about all that I'm thankful for and gave me so much more to be! We decided to make some cookies and deliver them to the members and then film them saying what they were grateful for. A ton of them said missionaries and the church and that was so cool because it wasn't just to add something spiritual, it was literally the thing for which they loved the most! It was such a testimony builder because to be a faithful member of the church here would not be easy, but they do it and they do it with a smile and a thankful heart! That night, Sylvia and Noel brought over some fruit cake and that (as well as a salad before bed) was our thanksgiving feast! I didn't have a lot to eat, but I was definitely fed. (Ok, that was the last cheesy thing!)

our basketball night
Also, elder Wade loves basketball. We went into a print shop one day to try and get my passport photocopied so that I could legally be a witness at the wedding. Well, the guy working saw I was from Utah and asked if we knew the Jazz. Elder Wade got talking to him and long story short he invited us to come play with his basketball team who he coaches, just of younger teenagers. So we showed up and I didn't want to make a complete fool of myself in front of a ton of strangers so I sat out, but while they were all playing, I took the opportunity to film and add some commentary, and it felt like I was back doing what I love! Haha it was a tender mercy in a situation that I thought could only bring me depression hahaha and hopefully we can teach this guy soon!

the Corsican V 
I cannot believe I'm here on Corsica. We actually went to the beach today with Sylvia and watched
the sunset. It is every France, Lyon missionaries dream to be here. I have truly been given a blessing that I need to do everything I can to live up to. The Lord knows what He's doing. He has prepared people and we are going to find them. It's like hide and seek, but the prize is eternal salvation, so we've gotta be good seekers! I know that with Gods help I can sniff em out! haha I love this church. It is so true! I love my Savior, He came to the Earth and I get to tell everyone about it! I love you all, and honestly thank each and every one of you for your support, love, faith and courage. I cannot wait to see what the Lord has in store for me, but until then I'll keep preaching the gospel.

Tellement d'amore,

Elder Hall

waving goodbye to the continent 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Of Corse

Elder Hall with Elder and Sister Sweeney at church in Lyon
Today I took my big adventure out of Lyon for the first time. Yes, it's transfer time again, and with transfers came a huge surprise. I'll explain it all a little later but that's a good enough hook I think! Haha but anyway, it's just regular here, the new regular I guess! There were a bunch of cool things that happened this past week that I'm looking forward to telling you all about, so with that, let'sstart off with an awesome miracle!

On Wednesday, Elder Brown and I didn't have a lot planned, we went connecting for a little bit in the park but it was not very successful. We had a rendez-vous planned at our church so we decided we'd go to the church and get some stuff done before our ami showed up. We got there and were sitting in the foyer area for maybe 5 minutes when we heard a sound like someone was trying to open the door. Well, with all the crazy stuff that's been happening we both looked at each other like "psh, I don't know what to do!" So Elder Brown went and opened the door and there was a little African lady standing out there. We invited her in and she told us that she passed this church every day on her way to work and randomly that day she decided to stop by and see if we were having church, and what luck (wink wink) the missionaries just so happened to be there! We sent her away with a Book of Mormon, our number and an invitation to church.

here's my new gang haha

Next, I told you last week about how Christelle's dad passed away, well this past Friday was his funeral. Now, for any of you that really know me, it would only make sense that I would go to a funeral on my mission because it was a little overdue HA. But it was in an old Catholic cathedral and it was so sad! But there was some Mormon aspects which was pretty funny and also very awesome. One of the prayers that Christelle had to write started with "Cher pere Celeste" which is dear Heavenly Father and for those of you who don't know, Catholics don't say that haha. They also read a scripture from Alma and told everyone it was from the Book of Mormon and then the song that was played when the casket was rolled out was MoTab amazing grace! Haha but Christelle appreciated that we went to support her. I felt the spirit so strong when that last song came on and then I figured out why I love our church!

this is Caesar, he's the best! 
Now for the juicy deets! This week was transfer calls and I was really hoping to stay with elder Brown because I love him a ton! We got them on the way to the funeral and president told me that I would be going to.... Corsica! I'm going to a ville called Ajaccio with 2 companions, and here's the second surprise, they are Elder Johnson (my trainer) and Elder Jesse Wade (Utah Mr. basketball last year). I was not expecting any of that! So right now I am sitting in a ville called Toulon, waiting to get on a ferry that will take us over to Corsica and in the morning I will be on an island! This transfer has a lot in store! (It's like spiritual Survivor) You never know with your mission, but I am someone that hates change so I am pretty shocked haha. But I have had several experiences where I knew that the Lord has called me here because I have a specific work to do. And this thanksgiving season I am thankful for the opportunity I have to be here in France serving the Lord. I'm going to do a little thanks-a-mony vit fait, but I am thankful for Heavenly Father keeping us safe, for His ever loving hand in all things, and for the blessings He so mercifully pours out upon me! I'm thankful for my family and friends and the love and prayers I feel from them all the time. I am thankful for chocolate (especially the Swiss kind), for church members, for coats and for warm showers! 

Have a happy Thanksgiving! I love you all so so much!

Gros bisou!

Elder Hall

Monday, November 16, 2015

Death and Destruction

I'll start out with what you all want to hear the most: I'm alive!

my Asian reference for the week 
This past week has been one of the craziest ones on my mission. That is not an exaggeration, I was on an emotional roller coaster that basically consisted of a sudden drop and some loops haha.
I gave 3 blessings this week, none in French but in English and that was cool. One was to a sister missionary in my ward, one was to a member of our ward, and one was to a dying man in a hospital. I'll get to that story in a minute, but the one with the sister from our ward was so cool because she speaks English, so it got to give it in English, and I could feel the spirit so strong. I said some stuff that I think she really needed to hear but I don't even remember it haha. Heavenly Father was definitely speaking to her through me and it was amazing. Around this time, I got news of the death of my dog, Reggie, who was one of my best friends. That was so hard for me. I tried not to think about it too much but my heart broke when I did. While all of this was happening, we got a message from Christelle that said that her dad had a stroke and was in the hospital dying. We had prayed for him, and then she asked if we could come to the hospital. Well, he was in a ville about 30 minutes away in another sector and zone, but we got permission from our zone leaders and we got a miracle ride from some elders with a car who lived in that ville and got to go. In the hospital room, we explained to her a little bit about priesthood blessing, and asked if she wanted us to give him one. She said yes, and we anointed and blessed him. During the blessing, I had an overwhelming impression that he was going to die, and afterwards I found out that my companion had the same feeling. We finished it and the room was filled with peace and the spirit. We kept texting and calling her to make sure that she was okay and her family was being taken care of, and we got a text on Thursday that Bernard had passed away. I loved that old man, and it was just another thing that affected me this week haha. But through it all we have been able to talk to Christelle about the Plan of Salvation and a lot of miracles have happened this week too, just some cool small ones but I definitely saw Heavenly Father in my life and even though there's been some sad stuff, we've laughed equally as much!

Now the juicy stuff: live from France this is Elder Hall :)
Me in front of Hôtel de Ville 

We woke up on Saturday morning and started getting ready to exercise when Elder Haskin read the text that we got at 4:30 that morning that said that there had been a serious terrorist attack in Paris and we were not allowed to leave the apartment. Well that's when our minds started racing, and since we have the two district leaders in our apartment we were calling all the missionaries and making sure they knew what the directions were. We thought that the Eiffel Tower had been bombed or something, but we slowly got updates and stuff, but that morning was calmly crazy haha we made crepes and just prayed hoping that everything was okay. Eventually we got permission to go to rendez-vous but under no circumstances were we to take public transportation. So we were walking all around Lyon, which was not crowded as it usually is. We were told to stay away from dangerous places, and one thing you should all know is that in souther France, especially in the big cities, the population of Muslims is extremely high, and so we were pretty restricted area wise. But we walked to the institute and taught English class, then had to walk all the way back home before it got dark.
our fancy night 
We were not supposed to be outside in the dark. Then we heard that the Jihadists had called to all the other extremists in France to do the same thing and so our rules are still in enforcement, but we can take buses and trams. It's been kinda intense but I also know that as long as we are obedient, Heavenly Father has promised to watch over and protect us as missionaries. We are still praying for the people who were affected because it's a terrible thing that happened. In ward conference on Sunday, the stake president taught about how Satan is gaining the hearts of people, and in this day and age, if we stray even for a little bit from the path of the gospel, we are opening our doors for him to come in. I've seen some of that as members of the church are turning away, from what I've heard about with the churches clarification of children of same sex couples. The Lord knows what he's doing, and what he's doing is trying to fortify the members of the church during this time of confusion and temptation. The war is on, and we need to pick a side, because we all know who is going to win, and if we don't choose the side of God, we will be dragged onto the side of Satan. Spoiler alert, satan is going to lose. Choose ye this day.

I love you all! Keep going strong! If there is any time, it is now!

Until next week, keep praying. We all know the world needs some good prayers.


Elder Hall

our zone p day

Monday, November 9, 2015

Seigneur mon Dieu

Family and friends, tis I, Elder Hall, coming to you from France where the work is going great and we had 2 baptisms this week! Now before you get excited, they were not our baptisms, but we are really good friends with the two who were baptized so that was very fun! We are still working hard on the baptismal front, and maybe one day... Haha This week was one of exchange for me, so I didn't get to see our amis really at all, and I missed my own sector and companion, but it was a good week quand-meme!

To start off, I want to tell you about a taco place here in Lyon called MasterTacos, because I had it twice this week. It is an amazing place that makes delicious burrito things, and the employees all know and love missionaries because every 6 weeks when new missionaries get to Lyon, all of them and their trainers go to eat. Also Lyon missionaries go there regularly, and this week they actually catered Zone Conference! I'll tell you a little bit about zone conference later, but I'm getting to the point here. This is just one example of businesses that missionaries frequent where the owners and employees know the missionaries well. Recently, President Brown has received revelation for the missionaries to start doing "business contacting". At all these places where we go, instead of just getting stuff and leaving, we are now talking to the workers, and building a relationship. It's hard because we aren't allowed to just go start proselytizing (I'm not quite sure if that's a word) in a private
business, but a lot of the small business owners here in France are working while we are working too, and so the only opportunity they would have to hear the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ or the
Restoration is if we talk to them in their shops! And the cool thing is, this is working! We have an ami named Michelle who owns a bag shop by our house. He's Chinese but has lived here for a while. We always have a lesson planned so if we are ever walking by and there's no customers in there we can go talk to him. He is super knowledgeable about the gospel because he's been taught for a couple years already, but it's amazing to feel the spirit that can come into an empty shop when the gospel is being taught.

So Zone Conference was so cool! The theme was "Take Aim" and we were taught about how to better plan and use the tools that have been given to us as missionaries to make us successful! As part of the theme, President Brown (who is an avid hunter) took us all outside, loaded his longbow and shot an empty soda bottle that was thrown into the air! It was so cool! I have the coolest mission president ever! But not to be outdone, Soeur Brown later on in the conference, as part of her message took us all outside, gave us little nerf guns and we played an awesome game of Attack, Defend, Surrender. One thing I really got out of conference was that prayerful planning proceeds perfection. This is important because Jesus Christ commands us all to be perfect (which is a pretty lofty goal) but Soeur Brown always says that he only wants us to become perfect in what we are called to do, it's our end goal, what we are always working towards. And so as missionaries, when we prayerfully pray and exercise our faith in planning for our amis, we will be blessed to magnify our callings, and that's one step closer to perfection! So what a great take-away!

our zone at zone conference (I'm always awkward no matter what I do)
Chrystelle came to church this week! She told us some of the hard stuff going on in her life and we know so firmly that the gospel is the one thing that can help her and her family. But she doesn't smoke, drink coffee, and she doesn't even like to bise! She is progressing but there is still a lot of work to be done. I know that with the help of God all things are possible. That's what I rely on 😊.

So back to the baptism, I actually got to sing with my companion and the sister missionaries in our ward and it was a great experience. We sang "Seigneur mon Dieu" which is the French version of How Great Thou Art. The Spirit was so strong after the baptism and then we got to sing and it hit me. I know this church is true. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and nothing can make me doubt that. I have a testimony of His atonement, it changes us. It can help us every day if we let it. Sometimes that means giving up our pride, but it will always be worth it. Joseph Smith is a true prophet, and I have that reaffirmed to me every time I testify of the Restoration. The Book of Mormon is true and everyone needs to read it! It's true in English, it's true in French, it's true in Spanish, it's true! I love Christ with everything in me, and I love the people (especially the ones who are nice). I also love all of you! Have a great week! I allez-vous you to read the Book of Mormon this week, and then set some goals for how you can be a missionary this week! You will see blessings!

I'm sorry this email wasn't the funniest, but I learned a lot this week and it's made me better! If you have any complaints, bring them up to the Big Man upstairs 😉

Elder Hall

Monday, November 2, 2015

Happy (Elder) Hall-oween!

I love puns! Good day everyone! Does anyone else feel like time is speeding up? Well I definitely do and I wish it would stop. But this week was so interesting and fun, and Heavenly Father gave us some pretty cool blessings. So without further audieu... let me tell you a little about my Hallo-week. 

I made some funny halloween decorations and then another elder got sent some, so our apartment was pretty festive! We had a halloween party that Ill explain later and so for that our apartment was in charge of making some cake and some pinatas.

Our bat piñatas and costumes
Elder Brown and I made the cake, and then we helped the others make some awesome bat pinatas. I cut out the eyes, and Ill attach a picture so you can see how cool they are! Haha also, we even got to dress up (a little at least), but I tied a couple of ties together and then switched tags with Elder Bleak, the chinese speaking elder, so that Elder Brown and I were the Chinese equipe for Halloween! Haha also, for our morning hymns, we sang a Christmas song but replaced all the christmas words with "hal-ween!" It was all just a ton of fun! Ill explain the climax of our awesome party later on, but first I want to tell you about food.

Elder Brown and I got to eat ratatouille this week, and it didnt look anything like the stuff in the movie, but in fact it tasted a bajillion times better (I assume haha). It was at a members house, and speaking of members, we have been receiving some inspiration lately that our ward needs to be motivated to do member missionary work, so we spent some time coming up with a family mission plan that will be fun and also spiritually motivating. We are going to put it into action this week and hope that maybe we can help some of the members to increase their desire to do missionary work, or at least to grow their faith! 

I want to tell you all about Chrystelle, our ami. Ive already told you a little about her, but we are just becoming best friends with her and its so fun! So her dad, the old french one, saw her Book of Mormon just lying on the table and tried to steal it so he could read it, and she texted us saying "do you think that you can bring a Book of Mormon to our next rendez-vous so that my dad doesnt keep
A member of our ward took this pic of us in the fog on Sunday morning! 
trying to steal mine?" hahaha I was dying and of course we never turn down a chance to give out a Book of Mormon so we signed it as "les missionnaires patissieres" (the baking missionaries) and gave it to her for him. Well anyway, she is progressing so fast and so well! Every question that comes out of her mouth during lessons is perfect! Its amazing! There was a time this week that we found out that her husband might not be ok with her taking lessons, so we were pretty scared. Then God started working miracles and the coolest thing happened! 

Happy Halloween from Elder Hall! 
So the sisters of the other ward put together a Halloween party for saturday night and so we invited a bunch of our amis. The night of Halloween, we went to help set up, and as members, missionaries and amis started trickling in, we were waiting and hoping that ours would show up. Finally I saw a familiar face, and it was Chrystelle and her husband, Joel! We got to talk to them a bunch and introduce them to some of the other missionaries and members, and it was just what they needed! At one point, we even got to explain to Joel about baptism and what exactly we do as missionaries, and asked him if he would like to join us for some lessons with Chrystelle, and he said he would love to! THAT IS A MIRACLE and it was just an answer to our prayers and worries that maybe he wouldnt let her keep going, but he is and Heavenly Father must have big things in store for her! Also, she is going to help me learn French because she speaks french and english and perfectly! She is just the best, I wish you could all meet her and her family! And that was my halloween miracle. Also, some people just thought that we were dressing up as Mormons for Halloween, which in some way is kind of true haha.

So it was a wonderful week, and I hope you all had a good one too! I also got to go porting for the first time this week and it was so fun! We saw a couple miracles there, met a guy who hasnt seen the missionaries in 40 years and gave away 2 Book of Mormons! God loves us all so much! He just wants us to be happy, but we have to do all we can for that! This week, see if you can write down all the little tender mercies you see and I promise you will be happier, see more miracles and appreciate the little things in life more than you ever have! 

I love you all! 

Elder Hall