Monday, March 28, 2016

Survivor to The Office and an Easter Hallelujah

First things first, HAPPY EASTER everyone! Bonne Pâques! So I have a big surprise to tell you all about transfers, and it actually happened last Monday morning, but alas, I couldn't tell you until today. But before that, I want to thank you all who sent your testimonies to my parents. It was amazing to scroll through and see the testimonies of so many people who have helped build mine, and if you werent able to, I still love you. I will be sure to add mine, but you'll have to wait for a minute for that. I am writing you from Lyon, actually, from the mission office right now. And this is my surprise for you all, because Elder Hall is now... wait for iiittt...  the new France Lyon Office Elder! (please, hold the applause). haha So the thing about being the office elder is that its like a job, we're just missing Michael, Jim and Dwight. I'll get to the details tout à l'heure, but that was my transfer call. I'm excited, and its really nothing special, but I'll make it sound exciting for the faithful readers. ;)

our last minute Easter egg hunt haha 
President called me on Monday and told me that the tribe has spoken and I had been voted off the island, and would be leaving early to come and be trained by the elder I'm replacing (Elder Boynton). I was thrown completely off guard, so I started packing, was able to have a FHE with our group and say goodbye to everyone, and it was hard. When I first got to Corsica, President told me that my heart would break when I had to leave. Well, its true. I had grown so close to these people, they were my family for a long time, and the awesome thing about the gospel is that even if I dont see them again in this life, I will one day! So on Tuesday we were visiting our amis and saying goodbye when President called and said that because of the attacks in Brussels, I couldnt take my plane out of Corsica, told us that our boat left in one hour and then it was a race against time at that point to get to wifi to download the tickets, throw everything in the suitcases, and get on the boat. It was a miracle that we made it and it literally pulled away 2 minutes after we got on. 

me, boynton, lythgoe 
I made my way to Lyon, and went straight to the office. A couple from my ward, the Sweeneys are serving in the office too, plus another couple that I love so it was fun to see them all. My new companion is Elder Lithgoe from Heber City, Utah, and he is just great! We get along super well, he's pretty chill, although a hard worker and his one liners are so simple but they get me every time! Elder Boynton has been training me all week. Hes super funny, and I've had a lot of fun learning from him. I hope I can fill his shoes! I've learned how to do a bunch of stuff that I never knew how to do in english, and am now doing in French. I am over phones and finances among many other things, so its a lot to learn. 

last day
The biggest thing weve been doing this week is transfer stuff. Tomorrow is transfer day, and out of the 90 equipes in the mission, 71 changed, that means that we have been working on getting everyone everywhere. Its like a puzzle because every missionary has to have another missionary on their train with them, then we take the trains, the times and the destinations and mix and match until everything works. The initial process takes us about five hours, and so we were in the office until 1 AM that night, but since then we have triple checked it, and are still fixing things. It makes this really hard because we want to make sure everyone is safe as they travel. Even though France is super crazy right now because of the attacks and stuff, I feel calm. Heavenly Father knows what he's doing, and he will watch over His missionaries, while still spreading the gospel. We are continually praying for the missionaries that were hurt, Elder Wells went to my same high school and I knew him a little, but just the fact that they are missionaries, doing the same thing we are doing, gives us all a bond. 

So in a nutshell, my life got turned upside down in the blink of an eye, and I guess that's just how missions work. I am grateful for this opportunity to help serve the missionaries here, and I know that it is all Gods timing. But as surprising and unsure as life can be, I know that my anchor is the gospel and my faith in Jesus Christ. I have felt so much love for Him this week, and especially today, Easter Sunday, as I have pondered on His sacrifice for me. It means so much to know that Christ suffered for me personally. He was crucified and layed in a tomb. But we do not seek the living among the dead, for we know that HE IS RISEN. I know that is true. Our Savior lives! That sentence gives me unfaltering hope. And in a world where everyone needs a little more hope, my knowledge of the reality of Jesus Christ and his Atoning sacrifice lights the way for me. I love Him. Thank you all. I hope and pray that you feel the love of Christ today and throughout this week. 

I love you all. My P-Days are on Saturday now so thats when I'll be writing. 

Avec amour,

Elder Hall(elujah) :)

Monday, March 21, 2016

Apostle and a Saint (Patrick)

movie night! (Long story)  
Hello everything! What a week! We were on continent for a mission conference featuring Elder D. Todd Christofferson for the first part of the week, then returned to wonderful Ajaccio and nursed it back to health from our separation haha not really, it was all still okay. I can't wait to tell you all about our adventures, because we have had a lot! I am not going to go in chronological order but that doesn't matter because I never do anyway. Now I'm going to start a new paragraph.

So, Angela, our miracle ami, is doing great! She is taking detailed notes of the Book of Mormon, asking lots of good questions and she has a desire to change. So we taught her about the word of wisdom, something she especially wants to follow. And she keeps getting down on herself because she'll smoke a cigarette or drink a cup of coffee. I suggested once that we could throw it all out for her, and she denied the offer. But after one of our rdv's, as we were leaving, she said "wait!" And she came out of her kitchen with her bag of coffee, and we followed her into the bathroom where she dumped it all in the toilet and flushed. It was a lot of coffee and France doesn't have good water pressure so it just kinda got clumpy and wet, but we were all cheering and giving high fives and her son walked by and looked in and saw us all celebrating over some brown stuff in the toilet and he just was like "what the heck?!" It was hilarious and awesome. Go word of wisdom!

We also had an interesting experience while porting. We found a new little outer neighborhood, and most of the people kindly rejected us. We did, however, get let in twice. The first was by a Jehovas Witness lady who let us right in. She was super nice and we were pretty confused, so we told her we are the Mormon missionaries and she said "oh! I thought you were témoigne Jéhovahs!" It's funny because so does everyone else, and not even members of their own church can tell us apart hahaha. The other time we got let in my an awesome family! We got to sit down and teach the parents, but we met their three kids. They invited us back! I love families, and they are truly a gift from God! We've had a lot of cool little porting miracles this week, it's just so cool how magic Corsica is!

st Patrick's day
In other news, St. Patrick's Day was this week, and thanks to my mom and our fun traditions (that people mostly just think are crazy) we had a green meal! I'll send a picture but everything was green, and my comps were kind of worried at first because it's not easy to turn things green, but with some koolaid and some willpower, we did it!

All of our ami's are progressing very well, yesterday President and Soeur Vendassi came to visit Ajaccio and sacrament meeting was great!

my group!
Things on this island are speeding up and it's perfect. So I want to finish by telling about my experience at the Christofferson conference. We were asked to prepare beforehand, to repent and purify ourselves, and then to come fasting. I did that all, and felt pretty prepared coming to it. It was fun to see all of my mission friends and old companions, but I couldn't wait to see an apostle of the Lord. He walked in and we all got a chance to shake his hand, and as I shook his hand, said hello and looked into his eyes, it was like they were staring straight through me, but I couldn't help but smile. He has a light about him that is unmistakable. We presented our engagés to him (remember our challenge of trying to get 187?) and we ended us getting 223! Wow, we were all shocked! All the speakers were incredible, and I don't have time to tell you everything they said, but elder Christofferson spoke at the end, he answered questions and bore a powerful testimony of the Savior. He talked about having the spirit and listening to it, and he said that a blessing of missionary service is becoming better at hearing and acting the promptings of the service. I liked that because that's what I've been trying to do my whole mission! He said that it will be even more important as the years go on. At the end he said "I want you to remember this experience. Remember that I came and bore testimony to you that I know my Savior, Jesus Christ, and I know that He lives." That touched me a lot. My goal is to come to know Jesus Christ, and that comes little by little. You don't have to be an apostle to do it, you just have to be a disciple. I love my Redeemer, He rose from the tomb on that Easter Sunday long ago. We can live again, and we can have lasting happiness thanks to Him. I am thankful for this hope, his knowledge, and this true church. Happy Easter.

Avec amour,
Elder Hall

Your Favorite Missionary

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Law of the Harvest

milk mustaches 
Frankly, I don't even know where to start with this week. It was one of the most amazing weeks I've ever had here! (I know I say that a lot, but I always mean it. They just keep getting better!) I'll just preface this with a little explanation. Do you remember when I told you that president brown and the mission made a goal to get 187 new engagés (people with baptismal dates) before Elder Christofferson comes and speaks to us all, which is tomorrow. Now, 187 is a big number and we've had a month to get there, but this week we still needed to get 90 more, that meant 9 a zone. Our zone leaders did a conference call where they challenged us to try to get 12 more as a zone. Look for what I learned about harvesting and whatnot as you read through, as well. So, with that in mind, here's how this week played out. MIRACLE ALERT!

We had fixed a RDV with a woman in an important looking building on Tuesday. We went and as we were waiting, all the receptionists were whispering about us. We decided to talk to them and pretty soon a big crowd of maybe 12 women were interrogating us and listening to our explanation. Something important to know is that everyone always think that we are témoins Jéhovah, (jehovahs witnesses) and so they initially don't like us, but as we explained, we softened the hearts of them all haha I felt like Abinadi in King Noah's court. I feel like at least one of those women will be an Alma, but in any case we planted some seeds. We went into the RDV and were able to teach a woman who is pretty high up in a social governmental type thing, and she trusts and respects us, though nothing came out of it, but we did make a cool ami!

Now, we have worked pretty hard these past couple weeks porting and finding new potentials and ami's, so we decided that we needed to go through and either make them into ami's and thus engage them to baptism, or to cross them off the list and move on. So on Wednesday we had what we called a "Harvest Day". We went back and knocked on every door of every potential we had. Some answered and said no, some didn't answer, and we did a lot of crossing off. We ended up weeding out a lot more than harvesting, and after a dropped RDV, we were wondering if we were going to harvest anything at all. It was with this mindset that we started walking about to our apartment. On the way, a moto stopped us and a woman under the helmet asked if we were still meeting at the hotel for church. We said yes, then she said that she lived right there, gave us her address and her name and we told her we would pass by in an hour. So, in an hour we passed, we were let in, and Angela, the woman, turned out to be an old ami of the missionaries a couple years ago. She said that when she saw us, she knew that she needed to talk to us. So she did. She said that she knows that this church is the true church and wants to do everything to come to Christ. We engaged her to baptism and she accepted! When we left, we all just freaked! In the end, we DID harvest something, but it was from a seed planted a long time ago!

zone p day in aix en Provence 
We had a district meeting, or what I like to call a "Corsica conference" also, with the elders from Bastia and then the new senior couple, the Vendassi's. We did it in their new super nice house, and it was awesome. They are the new branch president and wife, but Pres. Vendassi is corse. He is so inspired and just what we needed! He talked about the priesthood and told us that we, as priesthood holders, NEED to be using it. We need to be offering blessings to as many people as will accept. So that's what we did! Since then, we've given 3 blessings to ami's, and one to a recent convert. The priesthood is so real, and after every blessing, the person was crying, even if the French wasn't perfect, they felt the calm and peace of the spirit.

at the beach!
Well, we have a lot of stable ami's right now, we are teaching a lot, the group is improving and the members are sorting things out, and we will be having some baptisms pretty soon. I couldn't be happier with where I am, and I am so thankful to my Heavenly Father for the blessings and miracles he gives me. It's incredible, and often I don't feel adequate for them, but I will accept them as they come! As far as I know, our mission has reached, even exceeded the goal of engagés.

Now, we will be blessed to hear the inspired words of a servant of the Lord, and I am so excited! Whether I am planting the seeds, weeding the garden, or reaping from the "field that is white, already to harvest". For you reap what you sow, and if we reap righteousness and truth, we will sow righteousness and truth. I know that I am in the service of my Savior Jesus Christ, and it is in His life giving light that I stand and boldly pronounce that He lives.

I love you all, have a great week!
Avec amour,
Elder Hall

Your Favorite Missionary

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Sunday of Sunday's

on top of a tower
Hello le monde! It's me again, the one that writes the letters you skim though! 😉 all I can say about this week is that it was like something that starts off slow and then speeds up and takes your breath away. (Something that's not a roller coaster because that's cliché). Basically we had a couple days in a row where we were porting for 5 hours and it then a day where we made a ton of cookies to give to the people we liked haha. As it all wrapped up on Sunday, I saw some of the coolest things yet! I feel so happy that we are seeing the fruits of our labors as we follow the promptings of the Spirit!

So I'll start with the exchange I went on to Bastia (the other end of the island). I went with my comp, elder Oborn and our district leader, elder Szuch. We got a call about a referral, so we went to follow up on it. They said that the lady wanted a Book of Mormon, and there's nothing better than requesting a book and getting three strapping young men! She opened super smile and kind, let us in and we started teaching a little. She said that she went on vacation to Salt Lake City and stayed with some members. She was so impressed with them, with their integrity and happiness and so when the vacation was over she felt sad to leave. So, she wanted to know why and we taught her the restoration and Book of Mormon. She basically said "I believe it" and it was awesome. That's what member missionaries and examples can do! Keep it up!

The rest of this letter will take place on Sunday, yesterday.

Church was so great, we had testimonies and a lot of our members bore theirs! Even a member were working with who said that she never would! The spirit was definitely there. We made cookies for them all on Saturday and told them not to eat them until they were done with their fasts and I guess half of their fasts ended right then haha. We were able to visit a couple members after church and learn more about the history of the church here. These people are truly pioneers.

our group on Sunday! 
I don't know if I ever told you about our ami here named Chrystelle, but she's so awesome! She's going through a lot of hard things right now, and always thanks us for helping her not feel alone. So we went to visit her, and taught her and her 3 year old son the restoration. She asked about baptism and we told her that we can be completely cleansed from sins and guilt through it. It's a new start. She said "that's exactly what I need." So we engaged her to baptism for the 7 of May! She is so prepared. She soaked up the message and the spirit like a sponge! She even said "there isn't a better time in my life for this than right now." SHES SO RIGHT!

Then we were driving back and were discussing whether we should pass micca and Emmanuella with cookies because we haven't seen them for 3 weeks. We decided that we could just do it tomorrow. But as we were driving past their street, I felt something so strong tell me "go visit them right now". So I made a super sharp turn and we parked. We went up and a random man answered the door and told us that micca wasn't there and we couldn't come in. We gave them the cookies and got in the elevator and as we were going down I said out loud "why did I feel so strongly that we needed to come here?" As the door opened on the bottom floor, who was standing there other than micca! He told us that Emmanuella was having some brain issues and thy thought she was going to die. I asked if we could give her a blessing and he said yes, so we were able to go give her a blessing of healing. The spirit was there and they said that they wanted us to pass again on Wednesday. It was such a strong testimony of me of following the spirit. It is so important in this work! We can't do anything without it! We all stood outside with such immense gratitude and joy that we couldn't talk. It was a day of miracles. This is a work of miracles.

I testify that by and through Christ all is possible. We have the priesthood in this church which we should use as much as we can! It's there to help serve others! Please, keep being examples of the believers, please don't take for granted any of the blessings Christs church has to offer! There are too many! I love Him. I love you all!

Have a great week! Thanks for your prayers!
Avec amour,

Elder Hall

PS. My French accent has transformed into a corse accent and I can't
say "or" without making it sound Italian. Pray for me haha

Your Favorite Missionary