Sunday, July 31, 2016

My Transfer Circle and M'apprivoises

My American buddies (the Mahaffeys grandkids)
What a week! This was pre transfer week, so the second half of the week was pretty crazy with tickets and transfer planning and all that jazz. This is the 4 time that I have done this now, and I think I am becoming a pro! ;) Transfer calls came! They came to everyone but us (that usually happens, because we see the roster earlier), and I will be staying with Elder Wiberg in the office for one more transfer! That will make 4 transfers here, which is more than anywhere else Ive been. Let me give you a brief run-down of my mission so far, just to wet your memory (I don't know if 'wetting your memory' is even a real phrase, it sounds kinda wierd but you get the point). I started in Porte des Alpes for 2 transfers (tiny little bleu elder hall), then I went to Corsica for 3 transfers (with my trainer haha), then I came to the office for 4 transfers (do you see the pattern here?). But in typical transfer fashion, we had a big change even though everything is staying the same. Instead of being in Ecully sector, ward, and zone, we are now in Porte des Alpes sector, ward and Lyon zone (again!). I am just going in a large circle ;) Also, Elder Wade is the new assistant, so I get to spend a lot of time with him! With that, lets get to the week:

the couples 
We went on a tiny road trip this week, back to Besançon to finish emptying out that senior couples apartment. Because of the missionary we sent home last sunday, his companion has been with us all of this week, so we have been a trio! Its been like training a new office elder because we needed to keep him busy. So he came with us and we got everything done there that we needed to. We got some pizza and had a picnic at the park and offered some to a homeless guy who denied it. Rude... We came back and put it all in the new senior couple's apartment so that is all done! 

Now I'll tell you about the miracle exchange day I had. It was on Wednesday and was not expeceted at all. So the Lyon zone leaders needed to go on an exhange to drop off some food to a member, but they also had a lesson, so I went with Elder Thompson to clean out Vivian and then to the lesson with a member. We got stopped in the street by some evangelical guy from Chicago who tried to tell us that the Book of Mormon is false because there is not historical evidence to back it up. Instead of arguing, we suggested that maybe he should read it and ask with faith. He said that faith has nothing to do with anything, even though he was preaching about the New Testament and Jesus' Atonement. We left, but I know that faith has EVERYTHING to do with anything. It is impossible to believe in Christ and His sacred mission without faith.That is why faith is such a key element in anything we do as disciples. 

our taco miracle 
We went to the big park here and taught another lesson to a lady named Lady (haha). She, par contre, has a TON of faith and it was so fun to be out teaching! We came back to the office for a planning meeting with the zone leaders and the assistants, but our exchange wasn't over yet, because now I was on an exchange with Elder Spoors (our ZL), while my comps when with his comp to a mangez-vous. We did the meeting and then decided to go to MasterTacos. On the way, we saw a girl who saw us and basically started praising God. When we approached her, she asked if there was an institute for young adults and a church. She said she had been praying to find the missionaries! Turns out she is a member that moved here from Spain, and the adversary had been stopping her from going to church, so the day before she was in a very dark place and prayed to find us. She needed to turn the street before, but kept walking for some reason, just in time to see us! We all went to get some tacos and she even paid for us! It was such a cool miracle! 

Then Elder Spoors and I did something that I haven't done in a long, long time. I was scared, but in the end it was fun. We went on a public bus... haha I haven't been on a bus in about 8 months! It was so fun to public transport contact again. We walked for a half hour to their apartment where we met back up, and I just got to talk to him. I really needed it, and even though it was a short little exchange, it meant a lot to me. 

this was on a random building 
Other than that, we made a bunch of train tickets, sent them out by hand (because the train website wasnt working), and I am pretty tired! My prayers to Heavenly Father this week have been to "m'apprivoises". That just means to tame me, to help me become humble, moldable, and what He wants me to become. I'm not sure how good I am doing at being those things, but I know that He can help me become them. He can "m'apprivoises". Thank you all for your prayers and love. I love you all! Have a wonderful week! 

Avec amour, 

Elder Hall

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Hump Day Mission Show

Hey everyone! Well, if I didn't say I've been waiting a long time to put that as my title, I'd be a big liar! And it's not because I am halfway done, but it's because I thought it would be a good title (given my past with hump days)! Happy Pioneer Day as well! I can't prove anything, but I am almost positive that time is speeding up every day. Everything is going by way too fast! I remember when I was a little boy in the MTC, now I'm a chubby little boy in France haha. As for my week, it was another one for the books. We went on another trip this week, and were as busy as ever, it ended in a bittersweet moment that I didn't see coming, but here we are and all is well! Just like the pioneers, all is well. 

Us throwing away our couch
So, we didn't know if we would be going on this trip, because Vivian kind of broke down at the end of last week, so we took her into the garage and they fixed her up, so we got on the road to Bordeaux monday night around 5. The traffic was awful! (Vacation time here in france is just the worst), but we made it to a ville called Brive and stayed with the missionaries there. The next morning we went to Bordeaux and cleared out an apartment. It was blazing hot so sweat was just dripping down my face just standing there, but we got everything in the car and headed off to Limoges to drop off a couch and Brive again to drop off a table, and spent the night in a place called Bergerac. (I hope you aren't super bored haha) We went to decheteries and missionary apartments and I got a haircut from Elder Bleak, my chinese missionary friend (I'm the only missionary that can drive across the country to get a haircut from someone I trust haha). We drove for a long time and pulled into Lyon around 12 that night to get to the office early the next morning.

our hump day tacos
That was our adventure this week! A missionary and his family came back to visit, and it just so happened that we went to the same restaurant as them for dinner, so they bought us our tacos! It was so kind, and they said it was my hump day taco, so that made it even better! 

We also went to a laundromat to do laundry (all the bajillion sheets we have) and this guy walked in. We talked to him, and it turned out he spoke fluent english and was an astronomer. He said he didn't believe in God, but I told him that when I looked at the stars, I couldn't help but believe there is a God. We had a great discussion and when we asked him if he'd ever prayed, he said no. So we told him, how can he know if he doesn't even try it? At the end, I got to bear witness of Jesus Christ, of His reality, and that He loves this guy. He said, "If I dont believe in God, I can't know if He loves me." I said, "I know it." It was so great to be able to bear testimony like that, and I felt the Spirit go through me like a shock of lightning! 

In other news, I gave a sort of talk today... not really. What happened is that there is a Portuguese man in our ward who was supposed to give a talk. He only speaks Portuguese so a senior missionary, Elder Walker, who also speaks that language (cuz he went to Brazil) was going to translate for him. However, he doesnt speak french, so he recruited me. When it was his turn to speak, we all 3 walked up to the pulpit, and the brother would speak in Portuguese, elder Walker would translate into english and I would translate into french. It was hilarious, and ranks up there with one of the funniest things I've ever done in sacrement meeting! 

Knight Hall 
I was also knighted yesterday at a big castle/fortress we went to. We went with the office couples, the mission nurse and the Mahaffey's kids and grandkids who are here visiting. It was a blast. I got chosen to be knighted, so I was, with a true sword, in french. It was like a big family vacation basically. I'll send some pictures. 

Well, if I can leave you with a spiritual thought, it will be this: There are pioneers in ever land, and since the very beginning of the restoration of this church. They leave everything to follow Christ, to be a disciple of him and his gospel. They stand up for Him, for the standards they know are true. The first pioneers crossed the plains, but we are all pioneers today! The members here are pioneers, even if they don't do things the way we do them, they are pushing their handcarts through the persecution of the world. Keep going! Don't let temptation or discouragement get to you. There are angels behind you pushing you along. The world needs good, strong pioneers who are willing to stand for what they believe! Let that be you, and you can sing, just as the pioneers of old, just as the pioneers of France, "Tout est bien! Tout est bien!"

I love you all! Have a great week! 

Elder Hall 
Your Favorite Missionary 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Vive la France

happy Bastille day! 
Hello everyone! I didn't get a chance to write yesterday, but don't worry! Here I am! :) This week was a pretty weird week emotionally for me, and to top it off there was the terrorist attack in Nice, right here in my own France, Lyon Mission. I wish I could say that it was a surprise, but it wasn't. Satan is hitting France hardcore, and it's in large part because of the temple that is near completion. On the night of the attack, President was up all night trying to get into contact with the missionaries in Nice who where fast asleep, tucked away in their bedroom. When they called him back at 6:30 that morning, after not knowing if they were okay all night, he wept. Something that is funny is that KSL reported all the missionaries were safe and accounted for before hours before that confirming phone call. They must have asked President Monson ;) The Lord looks over us and all I can say is that Heavenly Father has wept with many people this week, and I was one of them, yet in those tears and prayers, I never felt alone or abandoned, and I hope that this same feeling was all over France, I know it was among our missionaries and many others. In a world as scary as today's, there is no feeling as profound as that of a loving Father and Brother whispering "peace be unto you" and "fear not little flock", and then gathering you in. There is no peace in this world like the peace of the Plan of Salvation, and the knowledge that our trials are only a small moment, and the impact of that moment can be softened if we remember that Christ has felt is as well, and because of that, He will be there to help us hold it up if we want it. 

fun times with the senior couples
On a lighter note, I went to get my second year legality this week and when Elder Pesnell and I showed up (we are in the same group so we went together) the prefecture was being evacuated. Well thats perfect, since trying to be legal here in france is the hardest thing in the world besides choosing a dessert at a ward function. Well we looked over and lo and behold smoke was billowing out of the side of the prefecture. Great... now its on fire! In my mind I was thinking 'I don't want to be that guy but can there like, not be a fire in this building, so we can go to our rendez-vous?' Well, I guess they got it out because we got in and did our thing! Yay! haha 

We also got a feel of what it's like to be a senior couple as we celebrated with many of them the departing of some couples and welcomed a new couple in! They are from Australia and they are so cool haha We had lunch with the couples and I just sat there and listened to them and laughed so hard! Old people are hilarious! ;) Let me give you an example of the dialogue that happened at one point: 
   Sr 1: I have a member of our ward whose son's cheated her out of the inheritance from her dead husband! 
    Sr 2: Now isn't that special. 

We also celebrated the 14 Juillet (Bastille Day which is French Independance Day). We got to go toour DMP's house who is american and eat with the other missionaries in our ward, as well as the Bishop and his family. All the young people played toilet tag and football, and it was a lot of fun! We got to talk with some non members and actually have a relationship with our bishop, who's wife approached us last week and asked if we were in their ward... The French people have gone through a lot of hard things in the past century (I learned a lot about that this week), and so to be able to celebrate independance was fun! 

Through all of this, though, I had a nagging thought in my mind, a thought that kept telling me that I wasn't successful, I wasn't good enough, a thought that reminded me of all of my mistakes and shortcomings. I couldn't shake it. So I asked for a blessing one day at the office. I knew that I needed my companion, Elder Wiberg to give it to me, but asked if all of the priesthood holders, Elders Sweeney, Mahaffey and Walker, could be there too. Turns out it was my companions first blessing he'd ever given. They gave him some advice and instruction, we prayed before he gave it, but as soon as he started, a feeling of peace washed through me. Heavenly Father said exaclty what I needed to hear through him. It changed me! I am so thankful for the priesthood, that can be used even for me, a priesthood holder. The next day, I even got the opportunity to give a blessing of health to Seour Sweeney. It was wonderful to feel that power work through me, and to know that I am worthy to bear it. The priesthood is such a marvelous thing! A mission is such a marvelous thing! 

I love this country. I love the people, the food, the sights. I love the cities and the history. I love that the center of every ville is a church, even if it's not one of ours. That shows that Christ is in the blood of France. We are here, I am here, to invite others to learn more of Him and bring them closer to Him. There is no better time for that than right now. Vive la France! 

Elder Hall

Your Favorite Missionary 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

"Le Tour de France" by Hands

My email this week is going to be just like my week: different. I am going to tell it through a story. A story from the perspective of my hands. (For the sake of the story, my hands will be named hands.) 

my Fourth of July picture
It was a nice summer day in Lyon, France. Hands were getting ready to celebrate the 4 of July! They loved being filled with traditional american food, even if it would be different from any year previously. They were filing through some credit card reconciliations when all of the sudden there was a pain on the ring finger of poor right hand. A staple had latched itself into the finger and ripped out a chunk of skin. Poor, poor ring finger. A bandaid was quickly applied and before they knew it, they were off to a park! Chili dogs and watermelon were among the items of food they held. Even root beer floats were put in the hands! They caught frisbees and shook hands, and placed themselves over the heart as the national anthem of their home country was sung. What a good day for the hands! Little did they know what the rest of the week held. 

look at this shop we found!!!

They pushed the body out of bed early the next morning, because they had a lot of work ahead of them in the coming days. All packed, they headed out, clasping the steering wheel of the Vivaro, on a trip they knew would wear them down! They stopped in a ville called Clermont, to take a washing machine away and install a new one. They've gotten pretty good at that. They kept going, picking up a snack here and a snack there, driving down the beautiful french backroads and countryside, seeing cows and hills and villages.  After a 5 hour drive, they arrived at their first destination. A little ville called Albi, where they were responsible, with 3 other pairs of hands, to take down all the furniture, throw away all the garbage and old stuff, and load it all into the van. They worked and worked, took stuff up and down stairs and sweated a lot, for it was quite hot. When they thought they had done a good job, they needed to fit it all into the van. It seemed impossible, every way the shelves or the boxes or the ovens turned, but eventually they high fived the hands of Elder Wiberg, because it was a miracle! It all fit! This would be the first of at least a dozen miraculous tetris games in the back of the van. 

They saw a town called Rodez, where they rested, and got up early the next day to go to Montpellier. First unloading needed furniture for the missionaries there, they eventually ended up at IKEA, where they bought some more furniture and tried to fit a couch into the already cramped car. Then the unexpected news came that they needed to go back to Albi and take away more things. They drove to a southern ville called Perpignan (which was blazing hot and comparable to Nevada), and finally pulled into Rodez for the night, again. They spent the next morning hammering desks and hauling wood pieces to décheteries. (They love décheteries because they can dump off all the junk and make more room for more junk lol). The hands turned the lock on the door and were done with the task!

After going in a big circle, and going through several bandaids, the hands found themselves back in Montpellier, eating tacos with the missionaries there. They were super hot, but cooled off in IKEA again. After going in a giant circle TWICE, the hands drove on. Until their next challenge... to completely remodel an apartment in Cannes.   

The hands found themselves in a beautiful beach ville, famous for it's film festivals. There, they would spend hours and hours breaking down more furniture, bringing boxes of new chairs and couches into the apartment, while also taking piles of wood and metal out. They were scratched and scarred, dusty and dehydrated! With a nice milkshake to keep them going, they did it! Another round of high fives! They were getting stronger and buffer! They were serving and helping hands! They were holding up the tired hands that hung down, by working to make their busy missionary hand lives easier.

"the field is white, already to harvest" 
Throughout this process, the hands were often pressed together in prayer. Prayers of thanksgiving for finding parking spaces, for being led to the right places, for the tender mercies given by the hands of a loving Heavenly Father. Even in such tasks that seemed insignificant or unimportant, they saw the guiding hands of God. And not only that, they saw the work of the Creator's hands as they traveled from country to forest to desert to sea. And eventually, poor little ring finger got better! Even though it was hurting itself, it healed through service, and the bandaid came off!

we saw the Eiffel Tower, it was 'sweet' (lol get it?) 
After doing all, and more, that they went to do, the hands headed for home, exhausted and dirty, yet happy and fulfilled. They had shaken the hands of many of their friends, they had taken many pictures, they had liften and driven and thrown. The hands were glad to be home. 

Just like these hands, there have been many others throughout history that have served. Yours have! Your neighbors and ward members! Your family and friends! But the most important hands are those that created this earth. Those that blessed and healed and comforted. Those that were nailed to a cross. Those that are always stretched out to us. The hands of Christ that will support and uphold us. With the help of those hands, the smallest things such as going on a moving trip for 5 days in P day clothes, can be enriching. 

Fin (The End). 


Elder Hall
Your Favorite Missionary

Sunday, July 3, 2016

How to Level Up Your Faith

me sniffing a flower
Hey. Honestly I don't know how to start this email off... Its 18h07. Now that that's over with, I'll just get strait to the point. I only remember a few of the things we did this week, but it was still pretty productive. 

Funny: So as an office, we call everyone on their birthdays. We have a list and at a point in the day, we gather everyone up and sing to the people. It started off as a surprise for everyone, but I think word has spread so people expect it. It always makes them super happy though, and all the missionaries like it. Well, we called to sing to an elder one day this week, and his companion answered. We are always on speaker phone, but I am the initiator, so I said, 

     "hey is elder so and so there"
     and the one elder said, "no, he's in surgery"
     *silence* "... why?"
     "he has a hernia"

So everyone kind of felt bad but started laughing anyway because laughter is the best medicine. I told him we'd call back later in the week. Well we made our next call and this elder didn't have very good reception. We sang and he loved it and after we were trying to talk to him and he said "you're cutting out". All the senior couples died laughing because I guess its a hernia pun but I didn't understand that because I don't really know what a hernia is. 

elder wade and I needed to settle who is taller... 
He is (that’s why he's playing for Gonzaga and not me) 😉
We also had MLC this week, where we, as office elders do a lot of behind the scenes work in getting all the food, setting up, cleaning up, getting more food, etc. We also got to fill up water balloons for Soeur Brown's activity! Well, it went pretty smooth, and I guess at one point, the assistants told everyone to tell us thank you (which we appreciated very much), but we didnt know about it, we just had some questions to ask some people, so we waited until the end of the presentation out in the foyer, and when everyone started coming out, we were right there and they all started shaking our hands and saying thank you and I was thinking 'what the heck is happening?' but I figured it out, and then felt weird that we were just right there almost like we were waiting for people to come thank us... haha oh well. 

the disembodied leg
Today we spent all morning and afternoon helping one of the best families in our ward, la famille Brenders, move into the other ward. :/ It was fun but pretty tiring. But next week we will be doing more missionary moving out of some closed apartments, so it was a good warm up! At one point, Soeur Brender let slip that she had her dead grandmothers leg in one of the boxes. It was just a prosthetic but we laughed pretty hard. When we took that box out, I asked if I could take a picture with the leg. I'll send it haha, Frere Brenders did a pretty good job in the picture too. While we were unloading all the boxes and furniture into their new apartment building, there were a ton of little Muslim boys that swarmed around us. Some of them were helpful, some of them weren't, but it was pretty funny. They were like monkeys, just being crazy and asking us questions and wanting to play on the moving truck. They are so opposite from the Brenders' kids. They have 6 all under the age of 11 who are the most angelic little things. They sit so quietly in church, in general conference. They are obedient, and so cute. Every Sunday I look forward to going up to their row and shaking their hands and talking to them. They compliment me all the time, but they're my little buddies. I'm pretty sad that they're moving. 

us in walking down the streets of perouge...
We didn't see any of our ami's this week. They aren't answering, though we did do some good porting and contacting. I did a good study this week on faith! In Moroni 7:33, it says "And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me." Meaning that with faith, Jesus Christ will give us the strength, the determination, the mindset to accomplish the things in life that we need to. As we believe in Him and His Atonement, He can work miracles for us, because He knows that we will recognize them. 

... and a church there
As we continue to act with faith and act on faith, we receive witnesses of His divinity, as well as knowledge of the truth of the gospel. Eventually, our faith will sprout into a nugget of knowledge, and as we grow knowledge, we wont have to consciously work on following with faith, because it will come naturally. We will have a everlasting hope, which with it will bring positivity, optimism, and happiness. We will "believe in God... that he is, and that he created all things... that he has all wisdom, and all power..." (Mosiah 4:8), and we will "...come to a knowledge of the goodness of God, and his matchless power and his wisdom and his patience and his long-suffering towards the children of men; and also the atonement which has been prepared from the foundation of the world..." (Mosiah 4:6) Faith is the beginning of knowledge, and ultimately, we are here to gain knowledge. It all starts by following that tiny voice inside thats saying "Trust in Him. Test it out. He can make weak things become strong." I testify that Christ waiting and willing to bless us. I testify of the power that comes with faith, and I can say with a surety that I know Jesus Christ is my Savior.  I know this church is true, and it's a knowledge unlike anything else. 

Have a wonderful week! I will have more to tell you next time! :) 
Avec trop d'amour,

Elder Hall
Your Favorite Missionary