Monday, December 28, 2015

Happy Hall-idays and the First Noël

a ville we ported
Merry Christmas- Joyeux Noël! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! I certainly did, and I had a Christmas vacation (on peut dire) this past week too! I've always had a certain image of Christmas in France- snow on cobblestone streets, horses and carriages, village choirs- alas, we live in 2015 and not the 1800s... Haha anyway, I had the warmest Christmas of my life, and ate more foi gras than I probably should have. (CONTINUED BELOW)

So this past week we left our island home to travel to Lyon for a mission Christmas conference. We spent a day in Nice, and left on a bus from Aix-en-Provence with a bunch of missionaries headed to Lyon. We got to a place in Lyon and got off the bus and rounded a corner and there were all of the missionaries in our
some old friends
mission. I will never forget seeing the faces of all the missionaries I've come to love so much and haven't seen in a long time. It was like how I imagine reunions in heaven will be. We got to hang out for a little bit until nighttime, when we all went to an aquarium where we'd rented out an indoor amphitheater. There we had the privilege of watching Lion King together! We were asked to think about it in terms of the gospel and wow! What a profound movie! If you want to do that, go ahead, I think it's an awesome idea! President Brown talked to us a little about Christ and about a confluence. A confluence is where two rivers meet, and the aquarium is at the confluence of the two biggest rivers in France, the Rhone and the Soane, where living waters come together. But we know who is our living water, it's Jesus Christ, and the temple is the confluence of heaven and earth, where we can feel the presence of our ancestors. It was a very cool learning experience. The next day we had a talent show and got our presents! Then we returned to our petit lil island on Christmas Eve.

We were fed a Christmas Eve dinner by a member
our mission
and it was delicious! A lot of foi gras, some salmon and baguettes, then chicken and potatoes and some veggies and to top it off a bouche de Noel. We were stuffed (but not like the ducks whose liver we ate). (<<That's really funny by the way) Well, after that, we get to the super fun part of Christmas! My grandma gave me some money to use to help people have a good Christmas, and in our search for people, we asked our recent convert, Marie rose, if she knew anyone poor who wouldn't have a very good Christmas, and her reply was kind of sad, "anyone poorer than me? I don't know."
our secret Santa
So we thought and prayed and had inspiration to start a temple fund for her, and drop off a jar with €80 anonymously as a kickstart for her to go to the temple (because it's expensive to get to the temple, especially when you live on an island and not on the continent). We dropped it off with a note, and ran. The next day, Christmas, we were at her house all day with Sylvia and Noel celebrating and she told us that she had a Christmas miracle and explained it. She said that she's going to put €10 in as soon as she gets some! It was amazing to do it and she has no idea it was us!

It was also amazing to skype my family! I love you a lot and it was fun to spend a little bit of time with you! I will extend the same invitation to you all that I extended to them- go to the temple! It is so important! We have them everywhere in Utah and we take them for granted, but there is nothing more calming, no peace more filling, no place as sacred as the House of the Lord. I promise you will be blessed as you find time to go to the temple!

We also had a surprise yesterday when we showed up to the hotel for church and were informed that it will be closed for a month. Well, our apartment is set apart as a chapel, so everyone came chez nous. But it was a mess and so while my companions ran upstairs to clean as fast as humanly possible and make our Christmas, missionary apartment into a chapel, I distracted everyone haha but after a couple minutes, we all went up and they did an amazing job! And just like that, we held church in our apartment. It was a very unique experience.

Well, that is my week. It was more of a fun, vacation-y week. I saw a lot of France, I saw a lot of friends and I felt the spirit of Christmas the whole time. Also I ate caviar, so I'm fancy now. The next time I write it'll be 2016, my "black-out year", the only year of my whole life where I will be able to devote everything completely to serving the Lord and I anticipate doing just that. I love you all!

Thank you for your examples and service this season. Earth truly did see a little bit of heaven this year.

Avec amour,

Elder Hall

our zone in Lyon

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Big Dix-Neuf

Elder Hall is 19 (dix-neuf) years old, and I would like to thank you all for helping me get to this point in life! I had a great birthday, and an awesome week, I can't wait to tell you about it! It still hasn't snowed down here, but I'm not giving up hope! In fact, we (and all of the missionaries in our mission) are headed to Lyon for a special Christmas conference right now. I'm in Nice, and it's colder
up here than on our tropical paradise so there's a chance maybe! I'll tell you about that next week seeing as it hasn't happened yet it wouldn't be worth it right now haha.

our surprise lunch 
So remember our ami who I took the picture with the dead pig? Micca. Well we passed him this week, got to teach him a lesson, and then we passed him again and he was busy, but he said that his friend had passed away so we got to teach him really quickly about how we can see our loved ones again after this life, we read the scriptures in Alma 40 that testify of what happens after we die. He was touched, and said that he can't wait to meet with us again. He has a ton of potential and I know he is someone that the spirit will help us with a lot.

Also, this week we wanted to give back to our amazing ami's and recent converts, Marie-Rose, Sylvia and Noel, so on Saturday we had an all American burger lunch featuring some intense rounds of uno and a heartfelt testimony. We spent a couple hours making the food (which we had bought before hand but Sylvia unknowingly brought us everything we needed for it) and they showed up and we feasted. They really do so much for us, I don't know if we could survive so alone on an island without them, and even if we could it wouldn't be as happy as having such loving people with us all the time!

my breakfast
Now my birthday! I actually kinda forgot about it until the night before, but when I woke up and got ready to exercise, I went into the kitchen and surprise! They had woken up early and made me breakfast! It was really good, and I felt spoiled haha. After a great rendez-vous where I was sung to, we had a little three man party with the decorations and stuff mom sent me and we made a muffin cake and ate patisseries. Then Sylvia came over and we played uno. (Uno has been in good use here haha). It was wonderful and I felt loved all day so don't worry. 

We also had a ward Christmas party after church yesterday and we had 18 people show up. We brought a member down to church who lives pretty far away. He's blind so we usually give him the sacrament at his house but he was so excited to come down. It was a great meal with fois gras and a ton of desserts! I'm trying so hard not to get fat this month haha. 

my breakfast
We are seeing some cool things here. I can't wait to skype my family and tell you all about it face to face! I hope you all have an amazing Christmas! Remember that it's about Christ. He came for us. We was born so we could live. He is the light and life of the world. He is our Savior and Redeemer. I love Him.

Joyeux Noël!

Love, Elder Hall

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Glad Tidings of Great Joy

Fear not! For behold, I bring glad tidings of great joy! Ça veux dire that this week was full of little tender mercies and a couple big ones! First off I want to just express how much I love the Christmas
season and all the feelings that come along with it. The world turns into a better place at Christmastime! Well, for the most part. And I know I say this every week but time is flying by and I can't believe I am almost 19! I have some good things to raconté this week.  Buckle up! (That's a pun... You'll see).

the before and after of our tree
D'accord! So let's start off with a little Christmas cheer that my dear friends and recent converts brought to the pathetic missionaries this past week. I told you about the Christmas tree made from lights that my mom sent us, and how it stopped working (we loved it while it lasted). Well, our ami's, Sylvia and Noel, saw the poor thing, and being the amazing (and when I say amazing I mean these people probably spend $50 a week on bringing us food and treats, even when we tell them not to, they do it because of how much the gospel has changed their lives. 
Keep that in mind) people they are called and told us they had a surprise. Well, they came to our apartment for our daily rendez-vous and what do they have? A Christmas tree with ornaments and tinsel and lights, and even a little crèche to set up! It was more than any missionary could ever ask for! They literally brought us Christmas. We set it up with them, then turned off the lights and sat in its glow while we talked about Jesus Christ. I was close to tears as I looked at these two humble Corsicans and felt the pure love of Christ overflow in my heart. We weren't on the giving end, we were the ones who received the blessing, but the spirit in that little multi-colored flashing room was incredibly strong.
Noel and I at this birthday party

Now that we've baptized all of our ami's, we needed to find some new ones, so we went porting in an apartment building that Elder Wade felt like we should go. Well, we got a bunch of doors slammed, one guy thought we were the police and when he found out we weren't, he slammed the door twice as hard haha. But on one etage, we had knocked and no one answered so we waited for a little bit just hoping someone would and as we turned to give up, the door opened and a man was there. We taught him at the door and he took a Book of Mormon and invited us back! We actually went to visit him today and he is very open and receptive to the gospel. He has been prepared I think. He's also a charcuterie maker and salesman, which is to say that we raises Corsican pigs, then kills them and makes delicious sausage things. Well he wanted to show us a pig he'd killed so we went down to his
car, he pulled out a bag and voila! I'll send a pic. I can't wait to see him more!

me and a dead pig and micca 

Also, I'm driving a lot nowadays. We went to pick up our ami so we could take her to our house for to teach, and the traffic was pretty stop and go. So I come to a stop and then all of the sudden our car lurches forward twice and my stomach dropped. We got hit. I pulled over and the other car did too and a young mom gets out with her baby. Everyone was ok and the car wasn't too badly hit, even though it was pretty hard. But figures that would happen to me haha that's what my lame pun was from earlier

And just some interesting stuff about church down here. Our group meets in a hotel for 2 hours on Sunday's. Sacrament meeting is first and then there is 30 minutes of Sunday school and 30 minutes of priesthood/relief society where everyone is together. The missionaries are in charge of bringing all the supplies and basically any priesthood aspects of church, but there are a couple priesthood holders here who help out. In terms of relationship to the stake, it's hard but a member of the stake presidency comes down every once in a while. Corsica is an unconventional place logistic wise, but the church is the same anywhere you go, and the members are strong and awesome!

I'm excited for this next week as we approach Christmas! I hope you are all taking advantage of the amazing spirit that comes with it. Something cool is that I found this morning is the link between Luke 2:10-11 and D&C 31:3. As a missionary, I am able to declare the same glad news that the Angels did on the night Christ was born! It's that He lives! He's come to save us, to love us, to help us! This is truly glad tidings of great joy! There is nothing quite like being a missionary here at this time of the year. We sang a Christmas carol to an old lady who didn't want anything to do with us while we were porting and she was actually smiling and laughing before she slammed the door! What fun!  I love you all, have a great week!

Avec amour,

Elder Hall

Monday, December 7, 2015

A White Christmas

What a week! Spoiler alert: we had a baptism this week and this was my first one on my mission, but you get to wait a little bit to read about that. I'll start with some not so spiritual stuff so that when I
tell you about the baptism it's even better! D'accord? D'accord! So this week I got to cut my own hair. I always promised that I would never, but it's just come to that point haha I was pretty scared as I was seeing large chunks of hair fall on the floor, but when it was over and I looked in the mirror, I was surprised to find that it was actually REALLY good! The best one I've gotten on my mission so far! So I was feeling pretty good, and the next night Elder Johnson asked me to trim up the back of his neck. So I go and as soon as I shaved the first part I knew that I'd made a terrible mistake. I cut off probably two inches from the back of his hair. My face was utter terror and Elder Wade and I both lost it. I ended up finishing but it looks pretty funny and I felt bad. That's what pride does.
I hope this picture doesn't scare you, but now you can all remember the real me haha

Also, I got to know Elder Wade pretty well this week because we had to drive up to the top of the island a couple times and then Elder Johnson got sick and while he was sleeping we just had some good heart to hearts. He's a great guy, very funny and stuff, but remember how I said that we are so different yet so similar, that is COMPLETELY true! Also, he taught me how to drive so I've been the conducteur this week and let me tell you that driving in France is basically doing whatever you want and then putting your emergency lights on while you are doing it! Haha but it's fun to drive again. Also, we went running on the beach one morning, and as much as it killed me, it was something cool that I've never done! Especially in December...
This week my family sent me a birthday package with a make-it-yourself Christmas tree and so we decorated and are all in the Christmas spirit! But then the tree died... But it's still awesome and brings happiness and a little home-ness to our apartment. And the Christmas season is so cool! It's pretty warm here so I feel weird, but I can't wait to see the miracles that come from the spirit of Christ being poured out upon the earth. I'm going to talk about Christmas in a little bit too, so hang in there!

The baptism!!

So, at the beginning of the week, we were supposed to have 2 baptisms this week, Sylvia and Noel, the ami's that got married last time. Well, there was a series of events that happened and it turns out that Noel didn't have to be baptized, because he is handicapped in some ways, and is already basically innocent. If you could see the amazing amount of faith that these 2 have, you would love them as much as I do! But Sylvia still got to be baptized, and because we don't have a chapel here, we do baptisms at the beach. I was asked to give a talk on baptism so I did, then elder Johnson and I were witnesses and elder Wade baptized her. Wow, the spirit was SO strong! She was so prepared for this! I actually got the opportunity to confirm her at church. I was super stressed all week and especially Sunday morning because this would be the first blessing I'd ever given in French and it was in front of a ton of people. I had been fasting to give a good blessing, and really was leaving it all up to the Lord. I gave the blessing, and the important parts were perfect because I had tried to memorize it, and the rest of the blessing was good, I felt the spirit so strong, but I was so disappointed in my French. It wasn't what I thought I would be blessed with. As I was think back on it, I realized what a blessing it was to get to confirm someone as a member of Christs true church. I am not perfect, but luckily our Heavenly Father works through imperfect instruments. And the thing that matters isn't my French, it is the fact that a soul was brought unto Christ. That is what this thing I'm doing for 2 years is all about. It's not about me, it's about sharing the amazing message of Christ, and helping Him bring salvation to the children of God who don't know where to find truth. Voila! My first baptismal experience here was just perfect! I feel truly blessed to be here on Corsica.

our little group
And now just a thought about Christmas. What a wonderful time of year where we get to have everything centered on our Lord and Savior! If you haven't seen the new Christmas video the church released, you should. This season, I would ask you all to look for some gifts you can give to Christ. Think of all the gifts He's given you! I promise that as you do this, you will feel the spirt of Christmas stronger than ever! I love you all, I love Jesus Christ, and I love the truthfulness of this church! Have a great week!

Elder Hall