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

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