Monday, November 28, 2016

Thanksgiving à la Bordelaise

Bordeaux missionaries (that is the fire place and tree.
We asked everyone to make an ornament for it using the
little candles we gave them.) 
What a great time of year! I love the holidays and everything that comes with them, (for those of you who know me very well, you know how much I love holidays). And all of them can be celebrated while on a mission, it just takes some tweaking (especially when you're in France...) This week we celebrated Thanksgiving. So I'll lay out for you the events of this week in the context of why I was thankful for them.

I'm thankful for opportunities to serve, even if they're just little, because usually the blessings outweigh whatever labor we gave. In this case, our labor was putting together 6 ikea chairs. I don't know if I told you about our amazing part member family, Antoine and Melissa, but they are just such a miracle! She is a member and he is not, but he is a cool young guy who loves extreme sports. He already knows almost everything about the gospel but just hasn't been touched yet. It's cool how the Lord knows these kinds of things and prepares us for them. Anyway, we were able to go with him to his father in laws house who is also a member here and set up the chairs. Then he went to get his wife and kids and when they got back we taught a lesson on the Book of Mormon. They promised to read it and even invited us for an FHE! We know that if we just keep being his friend and showing charity, he will understand when he gets his answer.

Hanging out in centre ville on Pday 
I'm thankful for other missionaries who are so fun! I went on an exchange with Elder Fiala this week (who I actually brought into the mission when I was in the office). It was so fun, he is such a hard worker and a hilarious person. We went porting and when it was apparent that no one was letting us in, he thought it would be a good idea to carol. So we stopped a man and asked if we could sing for him, he said "wait and I'll bring my son." So he brought out his little son and we sang "Les Anges" but he didn't know all the words so it was a solo until "gloooooria". Haha the guy loved it and so did I! Then when we got home, my companion and elder Oborn told us to wait outside until they did something. Then when we got into the apartment, there it was, a real life Christmas tree! They had bought it to make up for the fact that they had forgotten my phone charger so my phone died, then they took the keys, and all the gravy. Anyway, I love those 3 so much!

I am thankful for my zone and the blessing of having thanksgiving on our Zone conference. This was honestly (in all humility haha) the best thanksgiving any missionaries have ever had! So lets start with shopping. We tried to get some good recipes, and then we went with the sisters to go shopping for all of the food. It took a while but we had a big budget. We also decorated the cultural hall so festive! We had a fireplace that the relief society president gave us, we decorated atree and put pictures on the walls and tinsel on the stage! On Wednesday morning, we came to the church and from 9 am to 9 pm we cooked and cooked and cooked. We needed to make enough food for 28 people! At the beginning it was such a mess, we didn't know how to go about doing it! I've never ever cooked thanksgiving! But once we got rolling (that's a roll pun) we got the hang of things. We cooked until we had burns all over our hands, dried batter all over our clothes and a church kitchen that was 3x warmer than the hallway. President and Soeur Brown and the assistants came in later that night so luckily she helped us with the turkey, and then I had a great interview with President. He is an amazing man who is so close to the spirit! We put everything in the fridges in hopes that the next day everything would go as planned. We got to the church and finished the final touches, and our Zone conference got started. I was able to conduct the conference. President and Sr. Brown presented the new Christmas video and it was so touching! If you haven't seen it, you need to watch it. Then we (the zone leaders and STLs) presented. We lanced a challenge to our zone at the beginning of the transfer to teach 130 lessons in the presence in 3 and a half weeks so we could present it to president, and also if they did it, we would have Thanksgiving. So we were able to present President with 135 lessons taught in the presence of members! Our zone worked so hard, I am so proud of them all and the giant goal they accomplished! We finished up the conference, then we had skits from the different districts and the STLs and us did our own as well to the tune of "Baby it's cold outside" but missionary version haha.

our zone!
I am thankful for good food and good friends. When the time came to eat, we brought out all the food (which had all been reheated by our DMP Frere Cadeau) and this is what we made: homemade rolls, jello with whipped cream, funeral potatoes, mashed potatoes, candied yams, stuffing, vegetables, and turkey (and a lot of tarts). It was a true thanksgiving feast! Our DMP sang a Christmas hymn for us with such feeling, it was very touching, and then we ate! It was so great seeing everyone eat and laugh. The room was filled with love as our family of missionaries celebrated the holiday together. It was all I could have asked for, but the gratitude of everyone touched me so much.

this is my second thanksgiving in the mission
and I've spent them both with elder wade!
What a stud! Ps elder Mendel is also a stud and
I love them both!
Lastly, I am thankful for Jesus Christ. Our awesome ami Jordan dropped us this week. He said that he didn't agree with some of our doctrine. I know he just didn't understand because he didn't take all the missionary lessons before diving into the mysteries of the gospel, but I was able to bear my testimony of the truthfulness of this church and gospel to him. I was reading in Jesus the Christ about the Atonement and crucifixion of Christ, and felt the spirit so strongly when it talked about how Christ endured unthinkably painful things, was betrayed and mocked and yet He did it willingly for us. Everything I have to be thankful for, I owe to Jesus Christ.

I love you all so much! I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and have a great week this week! Take a look at the church's Christmas initiative, and keep spreading the light of Christ.

Avec amour,
Elder Hall

Your Favorite Missionary

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Family History Mystery and the Spirit Ball

This is the beginning of my email: I ate horse this week. The end. So this week a lot of cool, random things happened. It started off on Monday when we bought a radiator because our heaters didn't work and so I was always so cold, and the radiator is like a dog, where you can just drag it around and it's warm but only warms like 5 inches in diameter so it is always where we are haha. I hope that makes sense.

these two little post blues both bought the
same jacket as me haha 
We saw one of our Chinese amis this week, Ling. He is super cool, and we gave him a tour of the chapel and then tried to teach a very simple Plan of Salvation lesson. The only pamphlets we had were traditional Chinese, and that's not what most Chinese people read and write, they use simplified. So he was trying to read it and we were trying to translate words like spirit and Heavenly Father. It was kind of funny when we were doing the tour because he seemed kind of suspicious of
the whole building. When we showed him the baptismal font, I think he thought we were going to push him into an empty tile pit. Haha anyways, I had a dream that he told us he read the scriptures we gave him and prayed, so I hope that will happen one day. We'll keep trying, and I guess I'll have to learn Chinese! (Haha I'm just kidding...)

On Wednesday we had district Meeting and we talked about goals and how to set goals and how not to set goals. Turns out, I set way too many unrealistic goals for myself and then accomplish none of them, but that's okay because I'm shooting high! Lol but anyway, for lunch one of the French elders brought some horse meat and they made it and made us all try it and it was just gross. Imagine taking your favorite horse and eating him. That's what it was like.

November in France
Also, we went to pass a less active who is also a part member family and they didn't answer. So on the way back to the church, I wanted to stop and take a picture of this empty lot with puddles and old cars, so we stopped but then I decided it wasn't that cool and we were just about to turn around when a soccer ball flew over this tiny stone barrier in between two old large buildings. It was such a quiet little thing and so looked at it because we were as suspicious of it but we went over and threw it back over the wall. We heard some little voices shout praises because there was no way they could have gotten that back, and in reality they lived like 2 blocks away if they wanted to go around. So that was how we were the answer to some little kids prayers. 😊

us with the missionaries and 
an ami in gex
Once we were sitting doing area Book work in the chapel and the chapel phone rang and it was a woman who said she needed help with some family history. We fixed a RDV for the next day and invited our DMP and his wife who is the ward family history specialist. Our RDV came and so did the woman named Corrine and her daughter Clémence. Corrine said that her parents had been married during the war in France, and her dad was from Louisiana but had to go back and left her mom. He got injured and couldn't ever return back to France, and she said that she had always wanted to find out more about him and her family. She has never been to America and doesn't know any relatives over there and didn't even know where to start on the family history,  but her son directed her towards us. We taught her the importance of doing genealogy and temples, and then tried to get on family search but the internet was down. We really wanted to, so we went and looked and all of the internet stuff was turned off for some odd reason. We turned it back on, and got onto family search. She brought her family book and some documents, and we started getting her an account for family search. We typed in the names she had in the search boxes and nothing was coming up. I could tell they were pretty hopeful and I was praying that we could find something, because I love family history, and I was really invested in her family's story. Well, we tried one last ditch effort with a name of her grandpa on her fathers side, and it brought up some old indexed documents. On them, it had the same dates that she had, but it had records for her grandparents, her dad, her aunts, and maybe even some half siblings, as well as addresses that we found later! We were able to put all of this information and more that we found on other documents thanks to this one, and enter it all into family search! The spirit was so strong, and I got chills multiple times. It was such a cool experience, and testified to me that this work is hastening right now in France, because of the announcement of the Paris temple open house and dedication! These ancestors want to be found, and so they are reaching out to help us down here. Corrine was so thankful, and we were able to give them some Book of Mormons and
talk about the temple. I love family history!

elder fiala and I with this holiday bear
We were also témoignes at a baptism, and we flew to Geneva to drive to a little ville called gex to do my comps legality and it was super cool but both of our planes were late and between us two we bought 14 bars of chocolate haha. It was a great trip and France and Switzerland are so extremely beautiful.

I love you all! I'll tell you all about how thanksgiving goes, next week! But have a great Thanksgiving! Remember to count your blessings and if you do you'll see how much we are blessed, especially to have this gospel! Soyez reconnaissant!

Avec amour,
Elder Hall

Your Favorite Missionary

Monday, November 14, 2016

Times and Seasons

a French tortoise
Let's start off with the hot topic: There's a phrase in French that is "je me suis trompée." It means that I duped myself or made a mistake or something. Anyway, this week the French people informed me of the election results and so we can just say that "on s'est trumpé" haha. I don't really have any opinion on anything because I'm a missionary and I don't know what happens really in the world. But French people weren't very happy, except this one lady who was actually really nice and was a good Christian lady. I think it was one of the only days on my mission where people actually approached us to talk to us. So we tried our best to slyly change the conversation to Jesus and it worked a couple times! It's been a great week, and I want to elaborate so we'll move forward.

if you remember cherry, you'll be 
pleased to meet Framboise! 
We got to fly back to Lyon this week for MLC. I LOVE IT THERE. I'm so lucky I've gotten to serve in the best 3 villes in France. We were instructed by president and the assistants all about how to work with the ward council and the bishop. We were taught about priesthood keys and it really clicked that our bishops hold the keys for our wards, and we are here to help them, not just plow over them. We also talked about the new revelation that President Brown has received, the need to teach and baptize part member families so they can go to the temple! That is our big push now, and we were instructed it is the priority for proselyting time, to work with members and part member families. That also made a lot of sense to me. One more tool we got to help us work is a game that was made by the office and president. It's to help members better use the interrregion plan and gives them ideas for how to better bring amis to church, do genealogy and be autonomous. We've played it a couple times and it works pretty well! Fun story: I taught a lesson on the plane to a guy I was sitting next to and we figured out we had the same flight on the way home, so we "fixed a RDV" and he technically became a new ami! Then we went through security at the same time on the return flight and talked even more. I never thought I would teach a lesson on an airplane during my mission...

Marc Ange! 
We were able to visit a couple different families in our ward this week, la famille Vendassi and Lancelot. I love love love the
Vendassi's! Their son Marc Ange is just so funny! And their daughter Gabrielle is super cute and finally is warming up to us. We talked about my dad birthdays and they died laughing. I think this is my favorite ward I've served in so far, the people are so great, and they even like us! Haha we were challenged by president to visit our bishop and ask what we can do as missionaries to help him and the ward, and just let the spirit guide the conversations because sometimes bishops don't like missionaries. Our bishop is a hard man to read, so we weren't sure how it was going to go. Us and the sisters walked in a rain storm to his house, got lost, and when we got there we just prayed before ringing. He answered, ushered us in, and took our wet stuff to dry by the fire. His wife saw my drenched shirt and made me wear a brand new one she bought for her son who is on a mission but never used. It was so kind! We then spent the next hour and a half laughing and discussing how to best serve our ward, and the bishop even came up with an idea of doing an activity with a full size game of what president gave us! He really trusts us now and I've never actually seen him laugh or smile like he did that night. It's amazing what love and communication can do!

Bordeaux's Belt! 
We had Zone training and we presented and it was super fun. I love our zone and when everyone gets together it's like a family! We made beef stroganoff and we gave out candles. Let me explain. Our theme as a Zone this transfer is Ecclesiastes 3:1 which talks about how there is a time and a season for everything. Because now is a time to work with part member families and baptize them, as well as the season of gratitude, giving, and the holidays! So we gave everyone a little light up candle and told them to make an ornament out of it so our Christmas tree at Zone conference is all lit up for the season! But it's true that there is a time for everything. I've seen that all throughout this year, in my personal life, as well as in the mission. Some people's times are sonner than others, all things will come in the Lords timing, there's no need to worry! I trust that God knows what He's doing. 😉 but for now, it's the time of Thanksgiving, and the season of Christmas, my favorite time of the year! I can't wait to see what it brings. I know it will bring miracles, because if ever there was a time for miracles, it's right now.

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

Your Favorite Missionary

the office elders (I'm the oldest one in the mission right now!)

Monday, November 7, 2016

How Many Frenchmen Does it Take..?

It's already November... I can't believe how fast October went by and the whole year! Well, it's not over yet, because Thanksgiving is coming still and we have big big plans for thanksgiving 😏I don't know what it feels like at home, but here it is very cold. My fingers get pretty frozen, but the work must go forth! Yesterday we were contacting for a couple hours and by the time we taught the last guy my French accent was completely gone because I couldn't feel my nose and it's impossible to have a French accent when you can't use your nasal. Anyway, let's get on with it!

we were planning on the floor
This week was groundbreaking for our mission, because we got a Area Book Planner App. So now we are in the process of going through our area books and transferring all of the information into the app. It takes a long time and it was frustrating at first because we had no idea how to use it, but I think we're getting the hang of it. There's still weird little things, but something that I like is that when we put in our lesson descriptions we always get to put a title, and so, seeing as I love titles, I got to go pretty creative all over our amis lessons. That actually sounds pretty lame when I write it out... WE HAVE TO BE EXCITED ABOUT SOMETHING!

We got to go to a members house for FHE this week, I hope you remember the Vendassi's! They are so cool, they have two little kids, Marc-Ange (who is the funniest kid I've ever met) and Gabrielle (a little girl who was sick and is suspicious of the missionaries haha). They had us give the message and then we drew a big picture together and ate. We gave Gabrielle a blessing and when a couple days later, we asked Frere Vendassi how she was doing and he said that when she woke up the next day, she was back to normal! The priesthood is so great, and so is being a dad probably haha.

Angouleme District!
We went to District Meeting in a ville called Perigueux. President Brown sent out a video for us all to watch there. He said that starting immediately, and taking precedence over anything else, we need to start working with part member families. He said that this is how we are going to reach our goal of 250 baptisms by the end of the year. We still need 111 but I have faith that we can do it! We got the ward council involved with helping us get the names of the families and fixing RDVs with them. I can't wait! Then we had a super great lunch, and I told a lot of stories from my life and everyone was laughing for so long it made me feel so happy haha.

Then we went on an exchange with the Angouleme district leader Elder Duffy who came into the mission with me and his blue, elder Sorensen, who I was with last time. Elder Duffy is so funny and so naïve so it was a fun exchange. We talked to a ton of people and taught them, we even gave out of Book of Mormon to a 17 year old girl who gave us her number (but it actually turned out to have one too many numbers so we had to try every combination to invite her to church but apparently none of them worked haha...) Elder Duffy and I taught English class and we did speed dating talking about personality traits but mostly no one did it right. It was fun anyways.
We also helped a family in our ward move (that family who we've basically built their whole house) and it was impressive how many elders and high priests came, and even Jordan came! He is basically a member!! WHY WONT HE JUST GET BAPTIZED?? We had to stay behind with Sr. Catherine because there weren't enough places in cars, so us three helped move the fridges and machines, then we had a lesson with him. He had to leave, but we went to help unload everything at the new house and when it was all unloaded someone noticed a big hinge on the moving truck was broken off so all the men tried to fix it by hitting it with weights and hammers. How many Frenchmen does it take to straighten a hinge? The answer is 9.
This is the super cool train info board at the Perigueux gare (it's like olden times haha)

I want to talk about true Christianity for a minute. There are a lot of Christian's in the world, people that proclaim to follow Christ and live by his teachings, there are a lot of those in France. But very few Christians today are actually Christian. Often, when we try talking to people, they look at our plaques, see Jesus Christ and something like "no, I'm already catholic. I don't need that." I have been thinking a lot about that lately, about how when we are truly followers of Christ, we love him and want to "talk of Christ, rejoice in Christ, preach of Christ and prophesy of Christ." It's not enough to say "I believe in Christ so blerg." and do nothing. I've met some amazing Christians on my mission, people who love him, and it shows. We are His disciples, and as such, we should always be willing to see His name and praise it. As we do so, we will be blessed with "a remission of our sins" knowing that it is by, in and through Him that we are saved. Let's be true Christians!

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

Your Favorite Missionary