Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween II

You can't spell Halloween without Hall (I know I make puns like these very frequently, I KNOW). But it's been such a good week with all the Halloween puns and getting my new comp and gosh so much has happened! I need to get started or else I won't be able to tell all of it!

this is a scary picture I took that is too 
scary for missionaries haha
So on Monday I got my new companion and his name is Elder Sebra. He is so so fun to be around, we laugh all the time. It's been a very needed change haha. He is from California and speaks French so well! Well we have worked harder this week than I have in a long time, and it just feels so refreshing! We even went back to that families house where we sanded the ceiling (or whatever it's called) and painted their walls. *this house is brought to you by the missionaries for the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints*.  We also taught 20 lessons again this week. It's interesting having that as a goal, because it makes us want to use every opportunity to be talking and teaching people. There was one day where we had 4 hours of contacting and porting time scheduled so we went at it. Unfortunately no one wanted to talk to us... we contacted literally every person in our path for an hour and we didn't get any further than 4 words before they all said "j'ai pas du temps" or "je ne suis pas intéressé". In French that means "no." Then there was this one lady who said she already had one of our cards and so I cried out in pathetic desperation "CALL US!" Haha but then we found some good people, because Heavenly Father saw that we needed a win haha.

Also, do you people remember our ami Jordan who is super cool but didn't want to let the missionaries teach him anymore
when you see it... 
because he was 
too integrated? Well we decided we needed to do something, so we talked to him. We told him that we love him, and we want him to be as happy as possible, and we want to help teach him and show him how to find the responses to his questions. It was super heartfelt and the spirit was so strong, and ever since then, he has made a 180 degree change. He loves being with us, and we are even able to teach him multiple times since. He is such a great guy, and you'll love his costume. 😏

here is Jordan as elder hall! 
Also, I think that Halloween has never been so celebrated by missionaries before, ever. Let's start with our attempt at
trick-or-treating. Well, it wasn't really traditional trick or treating, but us and the sisters bought some candy at the store and went to visit several member families with kids and gave them candy and a spiritual thought (D&C 6:33-37). It was super fun and really sparked the members! Right after, we went to the church to make some chili with Jordan! We found a way to make homemade chili with French ingredients that is super good. It was a lot of fun, and we actually made it for a young adult Halloween party we were invited to because Jordan was going. Jordan had a great idea for a Halloween costume and so I helped him out. He wanted to dress up as a missionary! So I gave him a plaque and a tie and he looked like such a good elder hall! Except for the fact that he's black... but hey, it wouldn't be the first time! 😂 All night people mistook him for a missionary. I prayed that he would feel the spirit and want to become a real missionary but we'll work on getting him baptized first haha.

this is us inverse trick or treating to our members
(you can't see the candy in the bag but it's there) 
In other news, we had a great Halloween party with us missionaries for PDay. Elder Sebra and I took it upon ourselves to have a fun party, so we bobbed for apples, did those donut on a string contests, made a pumpkin and played Werewolf. It was super fun! I dressed up as an American missionary with my fat pants haha.

I will return to the scripture we shared and use it as my spiritual thought. It is the Savior talking, telling us to "fear not and doubt not", but asking us to feel the marks in His hands and feet, and to believe. Jesus Christ is our light, brighter than any jack-o-lantern, He is our foundation, His spirit is stronger than any Ghost or ghoul, He is our salvation. With Him, even when everything around us can seem scary, we can be at peace. We have nothing to fear, because with Christ on our side nothing is impossible. Have a Happy Halloween and remember that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is boo-tiful. 🎃

Elder Hall-Oween

Your Favorite Missionary

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Asian Invasion and What Was Found in the Shower

us on a ferries wheel waiting for our new comps on p day 
Another transfer down and time is only going faster. Its absolutely insane to me how the week is already over, and then just like that I am in my 11th transfer! HOW DOES IT DO THAT? Well, we got our transfer calls on Saturday, and I was told I would be staying here in Talence as senior comp, and that my new companion would be Elder Sebra. It's like zebra but with an 's', and yes, I AM the very first and only person to make that joke 😁 haha I'll talk about him really fast before I move onto other subjects and forget. He is from California, he is one transfer younger than me in the mission, and he is super funny and loves to laugh, alors voilà! I have a lot to tell you people about, so I'll get right to it. 

Chinese food
We had a lot of rdvs fixed for this past week, both with members and amis. It was such a great week, and we ate very well. On Tuesday, we had some great rendez-vous with our amis, who just so happen to be Chinese! (In case you all didn't know by now, I love Chinese people so much, so whenever I have an opportunity to contact one, I do it). Our first was with a college student named Ling. He texted us and said that he was going to be a little late, and asked if he could bring a friend and we of course said OUI! His friend turned out to be super cool too, his name is Yue. We went to the institute and played ping pong, baby fut, and billiards, then they took us to get a drink, but since we don't drink we all just got sodas haha. We talked about God, who he is and who we are. It's important not to go too fast with Chinese amis because they have no Christian base. When we asked if they believed in God they said "we don't know..." but it was incredible to testify of a loving Heavenly Father! Then we went to our RDV with Junjie, who has only been in France for 1 month so there was a little language barrier there but nothing grave. We took him on a tour of the chapel and talked with him. He is super great! He said that he thinks if Chinese people believed in God, they would be as happy and nice as Americans haha He also said that when he talks to his deceased grandpa about things, his heart is full, so when we explained prayer, he said that it's like when our hearts are full with warmth. We will continue to work with them, and I am so excited to see the miracles that the Holy Ghost can perform for them! 

this is the red fountain and the cool 
JAs who took us to lunch
Otherwise, we visited some members who are older and have a 26 year old son who is pretty cool. They fed us lunch, we talked and then he son drove us back to ville. But we stopped by a store that has an American section and he bought us Reese's to our hearts desires hahaha it was like mana! Some other young adults took us and the sisters out to lunch at this great bistro and Elder Steadman and I split a delicious and huge steak, as well as there were unlimited frites and salad (but who needs salad when you have frites?! *not I says cholesterol*) haha we also walked past a fountain near centre ville that spews wine. I'll send a picture. Then that night, the sisters ami invited us all over (she's Chinese as well), and made us a traditional Chinese dinner and OH GRACIOUS it was delicious! I am mastering chopsticks, I can eat whole meals with them and feel full after haha. Fun fact: in French they're called baguettes haha 

I bet you are all thinking "what was found in the shower?" Thats a good question, and I will respond with a story. Elder Steadman and I both wear contacts, but we take them out to sleep and don't put them in until we are getting ready for the day. Well, one day I got out of the shower and put my contacts in and was looking around at the marvelous, clear world. Well I saw something out of the corner of my eye that made me do a double take, and then because of that I had to do a triple take! I couldn't believe what I was seeing, so I got closer, and confirmed that I was looking at what I thought it was. I called elder Steadman to come and let me know if I was crazy or not, so he came into the bathroom and was just as shocked as I was. Sitting in the corner of our shower on the caulk in between the tile wall and the wooden bathtub plank was a full grown.... mushroom. Literally a mushroom had grown in our shower. It was incredible! I have never heard of that! We laughed and laughed and then plucked it out and cleaned our shower. Well, I learned an important lesson from this: when we are not using our spiritual eyes, fungus can start to grow all over the showers of our faith and testimony. Just as neither of us had looked around our shower with clarity for a time, there are times in all of our lives where maybe we don't see the gospel as important or we put other priorities above prayer, scripture study or church. As soon as we finally start to see again, there may be some mushrooms growing in unexpected places, mushrooms of doubt, discouragement, laziness or even disbelief. As soon as we spot them, we need to be willing to do what it takes to pluck them out! And then, with the help of the Atonement acting as a cleaning agent, our testimonies and our faith can be free of any mushrooms, big or small, and they will be back in daily use! 😉 

I hope you liked the analogy and I'm sure there are many other ways to apply it, but if we are just taking the story for what it's worth, a mushroom grew in our shower and that's kind of weird... 

I love you all! Merci pour votre soutien! Have a great week and I can't wait to write you all on Halloween! 

Avec amour, 
Elder Hall

Your Favorite Missionary 

Parc Piexotto (our contacting park) 

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Plain and The Precious

First off, before I forget, I just want to say a HUGE thank you to the Allison's and the ward members who contributed to the package I got this week! I was super sparked and the stuff in there was amazing (cow tales I FORGOT HOW MUCH I LOVE THOSE!) and the letters were also very kind and appreciated! Thank you all for your love and support of me and all the other missionaries in the world. You are wonderful. Vous êtes géniales!

This week we had Zone conference, and I was kind of nervous because we present there in front of 50 people. We were assigned to talk about recognizing promptings of the spirit from Preach My Gospel chapter 4. We had prepared before hand, so it wasn't too bad. But before that point, President Brown talked to us and gave us the down low on all of the crazy stuff that's been happening in our mission. We talked about safety and he answered some questions. There was a really cool part though. You need some context before I tell you what happened, but I won't give you all the details haha- at the beginning of this transfer in a ville called Aix-en-Provence, there was a scary situation and the missionaries were taken out of the ville, even though there was a lot of success with amis there, and the two elders were sent to Bordeaux. During our conference, President told us the story of Helaman and Antipus, and how the warriors of Helaman weren't afraid to go back to help antipus and his army because they knew that God would protect them. President then told us that we had a choice to make, and we were going to make it as a council: are we going to put missionaries back? There was a few moments of silence, and I felt an answer burn inside of me. It was so strong and I felt so strongly to say it, so I broke the silence, made eye contact with president and said "yes." I felt a confirmation fill the room and I just looked President in the eyes for maybe 10 seconds in silence. Later in the meeting, he stood up during a presentation and we could all tell he had received revelation. He said that it is ultimately up to the Lord, but he feels that missionaries will go back to Aix, and this time they will be stronger than ever. It was such a cool experience! We also gave our presentation, and it was good too (I don't know if I can say that about our own presentation but...) I shared a section of an email I got when I was a blue From my aunt Tracy about imagining the Holy Ghost always right next to us, and then it's a little more visual. People liked that idea. It was nothing big, just plain but filled with testimony and love (like a beignets is filled with Heaven a little haha) En fin, it was a wonderful conference!

I also went on an exchange this week with our district leader Elder Oborn, who I was companions with in Ajaccio! It was super fun, and it's funny to think that I've only gone on exchanges with past comps this transfer! First, all four of us went to a members new house to do service. Elder Oborn and I sanded the ceiling with a heavy machine and all the white stuff fell on me so I looked like an office elder again haha 😉 then we painted. The rest of our exchange was just regular, except we went to a members house for dinner and they are actually the son and daughter in law of the Vendassi's couple. I don't expect you to remember everyone I talk about in my emails,  it they were the new branch president and senior couple on Corsica when I was there. So it was a lot of fun to talk all about Corsica for the soirée!

We had a soirée temple as well. Members and amis came and our DMP (ward mission leader) talked about temples, we showed a video and ate food. I seriously love the temple so much! I can't wait to go again one day!

Here is a good Halloween pirate picture 
One quick experience. We were porting one night, and the people in the neighborhood were pretty nice (and when I say nice, I mean they politely told us to go away instead of being mean about it haha). We knocked on one door and a man opened and started speaking English. He told us he was from Germany but is here as a professor. He had some little kids, and he wanted to talk. So we stood there while he asked questions, but they were questions that he had asked people from other churches and no one could answer them without contradicting themselves or their beliefs. They were questions like, "do you believe babies and children are born with sins?" And "when you repent, do you feel the weight of the sin or does it go away?" At the beginning, he thought he was going to stump us, but as we explained, in English, our beliefs, but more so we bore our testimonies he softened. It was so powerful to me to see that none of the answers to his questions were profound, they were simple gospel truths that can be found in the Book of Mormon. It was so wonderful to bear testimony to him of the truthfulness of the gospel! I love my job! In the end we gave him a pamphlet and our number, and it was one of the most edifying porting lessons I've ever had.

this is when I forgot my shoes and 
Belt at the chapel haha 
That's it for this week. It was a good one, but it went by pretty fast. Everything is going by way too fast! Transfer calls are on Friday already, so I'm preparing for that, seeing as how I'm not in the office to get all the info hot off the press haha Have a great week! Know that it is my testimony that this gospel is plain and precious, and the Spirit is real, He will guide us, help us, teach us, and edify us. I love you all.

Avec amour,
Elder Hall

Your Favorite Missionary

this is Marc-Ange Vendassi, the funniest French boy you will ever meet

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Good Kind of Grinding

Thus I throw the sand (I am so white if you can’t tell) 
Hello, hello! This week was a grind week, which means that we worked hard because we didn't have anything else to do. In our zone we have an acronym for G.R.I.N.D. God requires individual nonstop dedication. It's pretty true, because when you don't have a ton of ami's, or mangez-vous, or rendez-vous at all, you go out and grind. Alors voila, notre semain! Although there were some cool things that happened, but you'll see what those were as you read on! 

So a part of this week was the fact that we made a big ikea buy to furnish our apartment, which had nothing but two desks, a bunk bed and a kitchen drawer thing that was actually falling down haha. So we took a couple hours to travel to ikea, pick the things we needed and on Friday morning at 7h00 they were delivered to us. It's nice to have places to put our plates and food and clothes :). 

this was our coke commercial at the dunes lol
Also, I don't know if I've talked a lot about our ami Jordan, but he is great! He is 18 years old from Guadeloupe and is too integrated into the church. Oh wait, did I say too integrated? Yup. It's exactly that... It's a funny problem to have, but he is so busy with institute, hanging out with members and FHE that he doesn't have time to see us! We try everything to get lessons in, and that meant that we went to the young adult theater practice night. Oh the things we do to teach him! I know he will get baptized, he just needs to finish the lessons. He comes to church almost every week, at this point he is just a dry Mormon! So we will keep working and waiting and praying and doing French theater exercises until the spirit tells him that now is the time! 

my exchange with Elder Sorenson and Tarzan boy haha
In other news, we went on an exchange this week with a district leader in our zone and his blue companion. I got to go with Elder Sorensen, the blue.  Again, I don't know if I've ever told you how much I love spending time with blues. They are just so fun to be around because they have an energy, a love of missionary work, an unbreakable faith that you don't feel with the average missionary! We grinder all day, ca veut dire we contacted and ported for 8 hours... But we got 8 lessons and 20 conversations during that time! Elder Sorensens French is pretty basic (just like mine was a year ago) but when he bore testimony, it was powerful and I could feel it, but more importantly the people could. I felt a need to work harder when I was with him and to be a good example, which I hope I was! We got to talk a lot, and he is just an all around good guy, also super funny and very sincere. We talked to some funny people, an English speaking woman looking for her 7 cats because it was their dinner time, a painter who I think was black but his paint must have turned him all white, and a little Tarzan boy we met in the forest (you'll see him in the pictures)! We also were guided to talk to a woman at her home who had met the missionaries before and we invited her to pray and we both felt that we had followed the spirit right to her gate. What an exchange! 

angouleme district Meeting (the amazing lunch) 
The next day we went to a ville called Limoges for their district Meeting which was really good except for the fact that I couldn't find my cardigan so when we got there and it was the 2nd ice age I felt like I was slowly dying hahaha. Oh well, one of the missionaries prepared the most ornate missionary Meeting lunch I've ever seen! It was so impressive. 

We also started English class up! We had a pretty good turn out for the first night, and it was so fun to teach and talk to these frenchies in English. 😉 I love the different accents they have, and especially when they try to say words with "th" sounds or "I" sounds because aren't used to it. I think I like it so much because it's like a sweet turnaround revenge for the fact that we have to learn French and sometimes still stink at it! Haha 

Well, because we grinded all week, we were blessed to receive 20 lessons, which is the goal for every missionary équipe but especially the leaders. It felt good to be out working hard, seeing blessings and testifying harder than I have in months. With the inspiration of General Conference still pushing me along and the love of my Savior which is rekindled every time I bear witness of His love to the people of France, I feel great, I finally feel like a good missionary leader, which I am so humbled to be. This next week is going to be exciting and started off well as we went to the biggest sand dune in Europe today for PDay. I can't wait to tell you all about zone conference and any other surprises. But until then, and in every other moment, we will keep grinding, and I invite you all to do so as well, because God requires individual nonstop determination, whether you're a missionary or not. Grind with joy and don't forget, je vous aime! 

Avec amour, 
Elder Hall 

Your Favorite Missionary 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Now We Will Be Pleased to Hear From Elder Landon C. Hall

Rue de l’Abondance
From the Institute on Pessac Square, this is the 63rd weekly, weekly email of Elder Hall. (I hope most of you got that) If you love chocolate and hearing God speak to us through living prophets, then chances are you'll enjoy the following email. Personally, I love those things, and so that's why I liked this past week so much. A lot of great and random things happened, and if anything negative happened I can't remember it so that's nice! Well, without further ado, (whatever that means)...

After doing emails last week, Elder Steadman and I got to go to a super great restaurant with 2 Americans, Jeff and Paul. They were over here teaching for a week and Jeff is a member, but Paul isn't. We translated for them at church and they wanted to take us to dinner, so we went to Entrecôte (the same place we went with the senior couples on my first transfer in the office). SOOO good! We got to talk about our missions and the gospel, and Paul was very struck by what we are doing, and was impressed by our convictions and standards. We left him with a Retab brochure because he already had a Book of Mormon at home! It was great and reminded me what Americans are like (very loud yet sincere :)) 

We went to do service for our DMP with our ami Jordan on Tuesday in his garden. Here in France they have big community gardens (which I always thought were gypsy camps lol) but we went and plowed and weeded and harvested and it was actually so fun! I realized I have always taken doing garden work for granted and it felt like home haha. I wouldn't say I'm a real cowboy but I do better appreciate how my dad helped me to become a good outside hard worker! 

our exchange in clown clothes
We also got to go on an exchange with the assistants! We flew back to Lyon and they picked us up. I got to be with Elder Wade! I love him so much haha it was so fun, and very unexpected because we were planning on going to do service by helping some members friends move, and what was supposed to be a 2 hour service lasted 12 hours haha. Luckily elder Steadman and I were both moving elders so they had the right equipe there to help! The people were super nice and it was fun working with the assistants. Also, at one point elder wade, elder battezatto (the Italian driver for the assistants) and I went to teach an ami of theirs. We didn't have any Sunday clothes with us and we were pressed so we asked the Ecully elders to bring us clothes to the church. They brought me the fattest, ugliest outfit ever and the ami thought I was a clown haha. Anyway, that was great, and just spending time with elder wade was the best part. 

P day with the Bordeaux kids 
I also went on another exchange, but not a real one... Elder Steadman and the sisters and I were in a store called Casino doing some dinner shopping for General Conference, and there is always a stand at the front of Casino that has chocolate. This time, there was a woman working and giving out samples, so of course I made my way to there immediately. We talked and ate chocolate and went on our merry way. About 5 minutes later we passed by on our way to checkout and she stopped me and a sister named Soeur Filbrandt and told us that some people thought we were TJs (jehovas witness) and she told them we weren't and stood up for us. She went on to tell us that there are so many churches that interpret the Bible in so many ways that she doesn't think any of them are correct. So we looked at each other and got a Book of Mormon from our companions and a card. She took the card but said she couldn't take the book since she was working. We told her we understood, but then she was like "maybe I'll just hide it in the stand". So she opened this small door at the back of the stand the put the book in her bag there super sneakily. It was so awesome haha. I'm praying that she reads it and gets baptized. And that, my friends, is the converging power of chocolate. 

General conference was so amazing! We got to watch 4 of the 5 sessions, and in English. There was a separate room for the English speakers. Wow, it was just so powerful! The talks were all so simple, and focused on such simple principles of the gospel. I love listening, taking notes and being recharged. I always feel like that after general conference, recharged and ready to get back out and share what we know with the world! Some of the talks that really touched me were Elder Uchtdorfs talk in Priesthood session, Elder Nelsons about joy, Elder Oaks about member missionary work, and Kahuziko Yamashita who said "Be ambitious for Christ!", but there were a lot of others that touched me as well. Hearing the words of the prophet and apostles is amazing, and it's only in our church that we can! During conference as I was thinking about the gospel, the fact that we have prophets and scripture and the same organization as Christs original church, I wrote this down: Our church has everything! It just makes sense, it is just true. Looking back, it's a simple testimony but it's what the spirit whispered to me. And en plus, I believe it 100%! The leaders of the church are inspired, God once again speaks to His children here on earth, and we have the opportunity to listen! I don't have a lot more time but that is my testimony and my challenge (because I'm a missionary) is for you all to reread Elder Oak's talk and really pay attention to the last 7 points. 

I love you all! Thanks for your prayers, your examples and your continued love and obedience to our Savior Jesus Christ and our loving Heavenly Father! Have a great week! Happy October! 

Avec amour, 
Elder Hall 

(Any reproduction or copying of this without written consent is prohibited 😉😁) 

Your Favorite Missionary