Saturday, August 27, 2016

Elder Hall in Training

When I look back on this week, it was a lot less tiring and stressful than the others. Today in zone conference, President Brown said that this morning he had 2 simultanious yet contradicting thoughts: one was that this has been brutal, the other was that this has been his favorite transfer. I feel similarly. Even through all of the insanity, this transfer has been a turning point in this mission, a turning point of decision, of obedience and of loyalty. But it's gone sooooo slow... Anyway, this was the first week of training for my office replacement, Elder Johnson. It went pretty well, I have to say. 

us with our DMP Syo (he is from 
New Caledonia and is the coolest!)
Monday was an important day, it was the day that I went with our zone leaders to a ville called Grenoble to get my legality! Ca veut dire that I am legal here in France for a long period of time. Its a cool little card with holograms on it and my pictures. In Grenoble, we went out to eat with the elders, and because it was everyone else's P-Day, they wanted to go up on a little gondola thing to the top of the mountain. So we took an hour to do that. I'll attach pictures but it was so cool. Except at one point there was a giant wasp in our ball on Elder Bouaka's shirt (he's african), and so we all screamed and got into the tightest corners because he was going to flick it right off. Nothing happened, I think it died haha. 

Mac n cheese 
Well also during the week, President Brown brought over one of the most wonderful surprises of my mission... a carton of boxes of Kraft Mac n' Cheese! Soeur Brown knew how much I love mac n cheese and she had accidentally bought an entire carton instead of individual boxes off of the internet, so they gave it to us! 30 boxes! We've been eating like kings for 4 nights in a row haha Then when I got the package from my mom, I was just overwhelmed with joy! It's the little things in life that make everything worth it :)

The training of Elder Johnson is going great! He's catching on, slowly but surely. I never realized how much I do until I started trying to teach it all to him haha So what we did is wrote up a list of everything he needs to know and then just started down the list. I am basically trying to transfer 6 months worth of job experience, specific solutions to problems, and thousands of bits of knowledge to him. Like I said, its going better than it could haha. He is super funny though, he can make me laugh at anything he says, mostly because I envision him as what a real life cartoon character would be. As an equipe, we took over english class because the other elders were too busy, so for our first class, we thought we could just read a simple english story and if they has questions, they could ask them. We were running late so we quickly found Little Red Riding Hood on the internet and printed it off. On the way to the Institute (where the classes are held), we were reading it through for fun, and realized that this was a very interesting version, which involved a weird encounter between Red and the wolf when the wolf was parading as granny. So wierd that we said "We can't let a bunch of people read this at a missionary english class!!" So I hurried and took a black pen and scratched that whole section out. Luckily, no one was supsicious of it, except one guy who said "I guess only the lucky ones dont have this blocked out."

in Grenoble 
Now, today we had zone conference, and I got to have an interview with President yesterday and it was such an amazing interview. I love that man! Zone conference was probably my favorite one Ive ever had. We sang to start it off and the spirit filled my whole body as soon as we started singing 'Je sais qu'il vit, mon rédempteur' (I know that my redeemer lives). It was all centered around titles of loyalty, and putting on the armor of God so that we can be protected spiritually and temporally, as well as being our best selves. The messages that were shared and the spirit that I felt was just incredible. They said that, just like the 2000 strippling warriors in the Book of Mormon, we will all be wounded and scarred in this fight for Christ, but we will all be protected as we trust in Heavenly Father, bind Satan and show France that the work of God will go forth, no matter what is happening around us. This applies for all of us, everywhere! Even in Utah! Standing up for Christ and sharing His message has never been easy, not even for Him, who was scourged, whipped, mocked, until eventually He was killed. It has never been easy, but it has always been true. I know that my Redeemer lives. I have complete faith in Him. 

Have a great week! I love you all! 

Elder Hall 
Your Favorite Missionary 

in Grenoble

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Heavenly Prescriptions

fly air Canada and all your dreams will come 
true (we spend too much time at the airport haha) 
On Sunday we had a mangez-vous with some members, and they are famous among missionaries for making beignets and stuffing us full. Well, I ate 16 of them, and it really hurt. 

Hello loved ones! If you thought that my weeks couldn't get anymore interesting, then you are sorely mistaken. Everyday is just a big surprise waiting for me to open it, and if I dont open it, the surprise just jumps out and scares me haha. I hope that was some good imagery. En tout cas, we went on a moving trip this week, so you can be sure that we had some good experiences, and theres a weird exodus happening right now too, so thats not fun. Overall, I was (and still am) pretty sick this week, but I didn't think anything of it until we were 550 kilometers away from home. 
R&R with the Metcalfe 
We drove to Toulouse. Its a pretty far ways away, but Toulouse was the only zone that I've never spent a large amount of time in. Other than that, I have been to almost every sector in our mission, and the opportunities we've had to travel around the south of France, AKA one of the most beautiful places on earth, have been such a blessing. We went to Toulouse, this time to furnish a new apartment! When we got there, we realized that we didn't bring the keys for this apartment, and the elders there had no idea where their copy was. Seeing as it was also a holiday on Monday, the poste was closed. Oh France... So we took the elders to a fun dinner and planned what the heck we could do all of the next day, since we couldnt do what we were planning on. Well, while we were thinking, Soeur Mahaffey called and said that (because there was basically a mini transfer between 5 equipes of missionaries), some from Lyon were coming down close to us and were bringing the keys! So the next day, we swung by a place called Tarbes to pick up a new bookshelf, and guess who was there? Elder Brown! My second comp ever haha. We werent there very long, but then we left to Perpignan to pick up the keys. By the time we got there, we had been driving for about 5 hours. I couldnt drive because I was so sick, so Elder Wiberg took the wheel all day while I tried to not die. We got the keys and returned to Toulouse, where we spent the next couple hours putting on our best interior designer goggles to try to make the new apartment match and look nice. 

dinner in Toulouse
My condition wasnt much better the next day, and because I didn't have a voice and felt like a sack of tomatoes (emphasis on toes), everyone knew I was sick. So while we were setting up all the IKEA furniture, we got a call from Elder Mahaffey, who had called President who had then prayed and later told us that he instantly recieved revelation that we were not supposed to drive home that night (like we had planned), and that the Lord had prescribed a dose of rest and relaxation. We were instructed to drive to Beziers where the senior couple there (the Metcalf's), would give us dinner, let us sleep as long as we needed, and feed us breakfast in the morning. We couldn't argue with that, so we went and did as the Lord had commanded us! It was just what I needed, and it helped a lot. 

We came back to Lyon, and on the way we were called by President, letting me know that at the end of this transfer, I will be leaving the office, and from today on, I will be training my replacement, Elder Johnson! Wow!! That was a shocker! 

We also got to see an ami. Do any of you remember Christelle, one of my first ami's ever on my mission? She moved to New York, but is visiting Lyon and we got to see her yesterday and have a gospel discussion! It was SOOOO cool to be able to meet up again and testify to her, and tell her that if she has even a tiny grain of faith that this church is true, she needs to pray and take steps towards baptism! It was just such an amazing tender mercy! It's cool how connecting with someone by the gospel creates lifelong friendships. It was just what the doctor ordered. 

We had a lot to do back in the office. Work really piles up when you are gone, but even more than that, we were told that we would be taking 3 more missionaries home this weekend. Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning consecutively. The first one was this morning, and last night we had the opportunity to give him a blessing. I was asked to give it, and it was so cool to feel the Spirit speak through me. Especially last night, the words that I was supposed to say just came so clearly to me, letting him know of the love Heavenly Father has for him, and the blessings he will get as he keeps moving forward with faith. It was his blessing, but it was a blessing for me as well. I have a testimony of God's love for ALL of his children, all of His missionaries. It is hard to leave early from a mission, especially knowing that people on the other side might not be accepting or understanding. My plea to all of you is to just love these people. They need love and support as they work through their trials, use the atonement or try to be healed from plaguing illnesses. The Lord is so proud of them and their work and their faith. So am I. 

Elder Brown!!
That was our week! Don't worry about me, I think I am starting to get better! It helps when you have some earthly as well as heavenly prescriptions to boost your imune system. Thank you for your constant prayers on behalf of missionaries everywhere! I love you all! 

Avec amour (mais pas des bisous parce que je suis malade...)

Elder Hall

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Caves, Mountains and Airports

Last week on Elder Hall's weekly email: 
-the case of the missing missionary
-tiredness abounded and so did new missionaries
-President Brown got sick of Satan

This week we will follow up on a lot of those situations, and I'll let you know how it went. Stay tuned. 

cave cleaners 
Before all that, here's a fun example of my OCD, just in case any of you were missing it. As a mission, we have a cave (kind of like a garage under one of the apartments here in Lyon). For two years, all of the moving equipes have stored all of the excess furniture and junk down there. If you remember my first transfer in the office, we also bought a couple storage units, so we use those to store the relatively large things like appliances (fridges, washers, dryers, microwaves), and beds and desks and stuff. Well, because we have been closing so many apartments recently, we needed to make room for the stuff that is actually worth keeping, and throw out the rest that we have stored for 2 years and never used. My area of expertise. So we started on Monday morning down in the cave, and we sorted and organized and destroyed and broke and hauled van-fulls of broken desks and beds with missing peices to the decheterie. The workers were kind of surprised when we showed up, but then some homeless guy came over and started taking chairs and stuff and they thought that was hilarious. I asked if I could take a picture with him but he thought we were the cops and split like a banana. LOL I'll attach the before and after pictures so you can understand. 
Now the stuff you really want to hear about. Earlier in the week, President sent out a text to the mission telling the missionaries not to communicate in any way with the rogue elder. He had been released so he technically wasnt a missionary anymore, but he was still on the loose. On Monday night, we received a call from President saying that the missionary was coming in on Tuesday, and we needed to pick him up. Well, Tuesday morning we took a sister missionary to the airport because her real mission is Salt Lake, so we were up at 3 am, and came straight back to set up the chapel for MLC at about 6h30, then went to the gare to pick him up. He had evaded his trains before, so when we didnt see him on the first train, we were not too shocked, but President asked us to stay for the second train, so after about an hour, we went up and lo and behold, he was here! We made sure to keep a very close eye on him, and never allow him to be in front or behind us, only in the middle. We dropped him off at the office so we could go fulfil our duties at MLC. We had to take Vivian and the little car, so the Port des Alpes elders split up. I got to go with the new blue there, Elder Patton. He is so cool! I love spending time with him because I was a blue there too, so he is living the same experience! 

High on the mountaintop
At MLC, we loaded the all the mission leaders into our cars and drove up to a mountain called Mount Thou. My van got lost because we had the wrong address, but after a prayer and some faith, we got there. President talked, it was so powerful, and he basically told us that we need to be a more obedient mission. He told us that we need to be more loyal to him and to the Lord, at which point he pulled out a Title of Loyalty, and up on that mountain, overlooking all of Lyon, as well as every part of nearby France, we talked about how the Lord reveals revelation to His servants up on mountains. It was so so cool. We got to be by ourselves and just think and receive personal revelation. 

Right after, Elder Wiberg and I rushed back to take the rogue one to the airport. This was the moment that we had all been waiting for. We went to the airport, checked his bags, and ensured that he walked into the terminal. That's all we could do, but we prayed he would just get on his plane. His mother is sick back home, and he wanted to see her, so it was a miracle that he left! We called President, and he said he had been waiting for that call for a long time. We slept very well that night. 

Its fun to be back in my old ward, the member remember me and they love us already! And we are the oldest equipe in the ward :O I AM THE OLDEST MISSIONARY!! Insane... Its a lot of fun to have a blue here, he is so little and naive :). 

We had a zone training about being more obedient, which is always something we can work on, but it was pretty intense. Basically, if we decide to be obedient, we will be on the Lords side, if not, President cannot protect us, and we won't be safe here. Intense. 

dinner with the Port des Alpes elders
We took another missionary to the airport this morning. And we will make several more trips before this transfer is over. In the past 3 weeks, that makes 5 that we have sent away early. So I think what President has said is true. Of course, some of them have been because of sickness, but I am definitely going to try to be a better missionary. I know I have a lot of work to do. But if the battle between Christ and Satan is escalating this quickly, I want to be sure that I can be counted as a warrior on the winning side. It's only by obedience to commandments and the laws of God that we can receive blessings and protection from on high, higher than a mountain and higher than an airplane. Blessings from the Most High. I am finally starting to realize this. Whenever we take sisters to the airport, they give us little breakfasts and it's very kind. I asked Elder Wiberg why only the sisters did, and his response was both hilarious and also chillingly true. He said, "Well, some missionaries give us food, and some give us a healthy respect for the adversary." Amen to that. 

Have a wonderful week! I love you all! 
Elder Hall

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Simultanious "OH NO" and the Miraculous Happenings of Transfer Week

thug life chose us
There was a point this week where everyone in the office let out a singular and simultanious "oh no". It was hilarious, but in a way that's all that can sum up this past week. It was transfer week, but a lot of interesting things went down. Miracles on the one hand, and situations on the other that made this week one for the books. I'll give you the low down of everything thats happened, while being as general and inconspicuous as possible, because I don't know how much I can tell you.

me at the airport after having been awake for 26 hours 
So all of the returning missionaries came into Lyon on monday. We were getting them all set, weighing bags and all that fun stuff. In the mean time, we were assigned with the task of getting some certain missionaries here to Lyon. We drove all of the  returning missionaries to President's house and went to the gare to pick up the specific missionaries. It was a miracle they showed up in the first place, so we quickly took them back to our house with another missionary. We continued on with the departing ones. We had dinner, and then waited for the parents to come (because, as you know, we are the ones to greet the parents outside). There were 3 families that came, and it was a lot of fun to talk to them. Its always cool to see the missionaries reunited with their families. In some ways its hard, but I know that I will be there soon enough! We took the missionaries back to our place, and spent the next hour (11 pm) loading up the suitcases into our van. Because of the way August is in France (everyone travels but no one works), in order to ensure that the missionaries made their flight, we had them get to the airport at about 2 AM. The usuall way, a small train from Lyon Centre to the airport, was closed, so we had to get creative. I won't tell you exactly what we did, but we got everyone there on time! ;) They got to their lines, we helped them all through, checked their luggage and sent them off. If we'd have gotten there any later, we would have been late, because we were at the very front of an extremely long line! 

welcome to France! (Half of the group) 
It felt nice to have everyone out and gone by 7h30, and we got to go home at 8h00 and get a couple hours of sleep. We had stayed up all night, and to get everything done, we enlisted the help of a couple of the trainers who were staying chez nous. It was just a little miracle after another that helped us get everyone onto their planes. Well we woke up to a phone call saying that one of specific the missionaries who came up here had booked it, and might come back to our apartment to get his luggage. So we got up and ready pretty quick, but got another call saying that the police had gotten him, and had stormed into the office. After a prayer of everyone there, they lightened up. He was sent with some other missionaries, so we could go pick up the new missionaires coming in by train from Paris, because there was a flight greve and their flights all got cancelled. There were so many miracles that happed to just get them here, without all the problems that were happening hours earlier! We got them all back to the office, and let me tell you, this group of 17 is awesome! They are so much fun, and I can already tell they are going to make amazing missionaries. There is even a blue that started in Porte des Alpes (where I did), and we are in that ward now, so I am so excited for him! 

We took them all to Presidents house that night, taught them some french culture along the way, and had a great evening. Unfortunately, the missionary had bolted again, and was no where to be found. He had gone rogue. We took the bleu's back to the apartment, tucked them in to bed (haha they're like little kids ;) ), and we crashed too. It had been a long, stressful, 2 days. We barely woke up the next day, but we did, and we got the bleus to their conference, watched them get their trainers and got lunch all ready! Then we took them to legality. It didnt take too long this time, but I am getting pretty good at it! We got most of them home that night, and went to eat with the rest. We went back to our house, and had a little bonfire singalong type thing haha it was so fun to sit back, relax and listen to one of the singer/songwriter missionaries there sing. The next day, everyone left, and we got to do some office work. 

We would get some updates on our rogue missionary, and even went to get him from the gare again yesterday, but he had escaped again. There is some crazy stuff going on here, and president is just sick of Satan trying his best to ruin things. He told the bleu's that it is time to bring out the big guns and show Satan what we are made of. I say amen to that! 

paparazzi trine catch me eating all those patisseries
I don't know if this email made any sense. I left out a lot of stuff for the sake of time and discretion, but basically the most important thing is that only God could have gotten us through this week. It was Heavenly Father watching out for us and helping us all along the way. I love Him, I know He is there. I have only been able to do anything I have done here in France because of His blessings. It is humbling, yet also empowering! Here's to a calmer week and a happy Sabbath Day :) 

I love you all! 

Elder Hall