Monday, December 26, 2016

Charity is the Pure Love of Christ(mas)

our Christmas card!
Christmas Eve!
It's December 26. The presents have been open, the dinner leftovers are stored away in the fridge, Christmas music has been replaced on the radio, and it's all happened way too fast. Well, of course none of those things really apply to me but Christmas always comes and goes in the blink of an eye, especially while you're a missionary. This Christmas was maybe my favorite Christmas ever, and it's interesting how it worked like that.

Zone training 
So we had Zone training on Wednesday, and it was up to us to do what we thought our zone needed. So we came up with an idea- we would talk about mission past, present and future, in showing all the new missionaries what kind of mission this is and what they have to look forward to. I was the narrator and the sisters and my comp were the ghosts. It turned out pretty good, we just had the missionaries sit on blankets and pillows while we were on the stage. We showed everything that has happened this year in our mission, all the challenges President has given us and everything we accomplished, then we talked about our current goals, and about looking forward to the future and the Paris temple. It was great! Then I went on an exchange with a little blue, Elder Encarnacion, and it was a fun exchange. Short, but fun!

santas workshop! 
We were also able to play Père Noël thanks to the generosity of my grandma! Me, my companion and the sisters in our ward went to the store after having the bishop pick out 2 families that would need Christmas and we started getting things. We got games and stuffed animals for the kids, as well as candy and chocolate. We got some nice chocolate for the parents and put €25 in a card for each couple. Then we bought chocolates to give to all the single elderly people in our ward. We wrapped it all, and we went caroling and delivered the older people their presents, and then we gave the bishop the presents to deliver secretly for the two families who are both less active. There were two older ladies who really appreciated the gifts, as well as the families. 

home theater
As one sister was leaving church unnoticed, I ran after her and asked her to wait, then i went and got a present, and giving it to her i said "thank you for everything you do for us and for the savior. Merry Christmas." She looked down, back up and started to cry. All she could get out was "thank you, thank you." My heart swelled with love and gratitude for the opportunity my grandma gave us to give these people at least something for Christmas.
Also, my mom sent beautiful paintings of Christ to give away, and so we went caroling (yet again) to members and we gave my favorites a painting, and they appreciated it so much. It cool to remind people of the true meaning of Christmas, which is what we did as we shared it with them. I love all of these people!

Christmas with the Vendassi's 
For Christmas Eve (Le Réveillon) we were able to watch Finding Dory or in French, Le Monde de Dory! We had all four equipes in Bordeaux come to the church, we brought popcorn and treats and we watched it together. It was hilarious, but the fact to be surrounded my beloved Bordeaux missionaries was so fun! We all laughed together during it, what a treat! Then we went to eat with a member family. They gave us oysters (which I slurped), shrimp, raw salmon, fois gras, and chicken and veggies. It was a lot of fun. They are half Peruvian so we had some Peruvian soda too, and the kids were so excited that the missionaries were there!

On Christmas, we had a sleep over with the Eysines elders and we were able to sleep in until 7h30 and then we opened our presents! We got ready and went to church to sing as a prelude. Sacrement Meeting was so special as I remembered the birth of our Savior, then His life and His sacrifice for me. Afterwards we handed out candy, and then went to a members house for dinner. The Picards are the parents of Sr. Vendassi, so they were there too, with one of their nonmember neighbors so we did some good missionary work while celebrating! We ate really well and then I got to skype my family!! I love my family with all my heart! I'm glad my real family got to see my French one!

However the best Christmas presents I received this year were seeing my newborn baby niece on skype, and the amazing video that my brother, Jansen made for me. It was a rollercoaster of emotions as I watched all my loved ones (and some strangers) wish me merry Christmas! All the other missionaries were jealous and they loved the dancing part (no one saw the good stuff except me haha). Thank you for that!

Christmas with the Vendassi's 
A special thing happens at Christmas when we give without expecting in return, when we open our hearts and let the spirit of Christ permeate it. I was able to live the principle I've heard my entire life, that there is nothing better to give at Christmas than ourselves. And in doing so, we are blessed with hearts that grow 3 sizes bigger, and miraculously, are completely filled with love and charity. I think I found what Christmas means, and I discovered it on my last Christmas as a missionary in France.

Have a great week! I love you all! We will talk in 2017!

Avec amour,

Elder Hall

Your Favorite Missionary

Christmas morning! (Ps I gave almost all of this away happily :) ) 

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