Monday, February 27, 2017

God Sent Another Mademoiselle

I think I jumped the gun on the whole spring thing haha... it feelsnice but I remembered that it's not even march yet so I take it backand reserve the right to write the exact same thing in a future email 😉 haha well today is transfer day. I am staying here in Geneva with Elder Pesnell, which I am happy about, because I am coming to really like it here, and I absolutely love elder Pesnell, we have such good times together, and I feel like we are always laughing because our personalities somewhere just clicked! He's a great missionary and a wonderful collègue. And things are starting to finally pick up here! If you want to know how, read on!

this is all for the week! It's not a real village...
So this week we decided to start doing more personalized things for members, to show them how much we appreciate what they do for us, and the first family we started with was the Muellers! What we did was take my ukulele and write a little song for them using a tune that we already knew. When we went over to their house we played and sang it for them and they loved it! It sparked them so hard! Haha we decided to do that because Frere Mueller is blind so he can't see if we have him anything, but with music, even cheesy missionary music, he can enjoy! And he did! It was so fun to make their day.

There was also an interesting experience on a bus this week, I was sitting there and the bus stopped at a stop and an older madame got on. It got starting moving faster than she could hold onto something and she fell back on her back and head. I gasped loudly, and quickly went to help her. She kind of got sitting up and I was like "madame, are you okay" and then I didn't really have any immediate reaction run through my mind of how to help, until I was like "okay... maybe... oh ya! I can help her get up, that would work!" So I got under her arms and helped her sit down on the seat and made sure she was okay. I felt a lot of sympathy because one time in Bordeaux I got laid out on a bus and it really hurt and in that instance there was also another old lady who I fell on top of but my glasses flew off and it was all just a giant mess.

So this week, we have been eating a lot of food at members houses and one night I was so full and when I woke up in the morning I felt like I got hit by a truck, so I decided to fast, you know, so that I would have a good excuse to not eat any more food, and since I was already doing it, I prayed for some help to find new amis. So we went throughout our day and I felt much better at the end of it, and the senior couple here made us homemade mac'n'cheese! Well, the next morning we were en route to a members house and we were kind of late, but we got off of the tram, and I started walking when I noticed a young woman who was looking at me on the tram, and she stopped me and told me that she'd seen my plaque and wanted to learn more about Jesus Christ and our beliefs and I said "well, fine... I guess we can fix a rdv... ugh... 😒" hahaha just kidding, I was so excited to meet someone, especially a young person, who wants to get closer to Christ! It was an answer to my fast, and I am so thankful God let us be late to find her! We had a rdv with her today, she's named Maria, and she is so prepared to hear about the gospel. She said that she doesn't believe in coincidence and thinks she's on the right path. She's super cool!

Also, we were able to talk to Lorrane a lot this week. It seems like nowadays I'm always just talking to young women... it's so stressful haha but she is always on the same bus as we are going home, so we walk and talk and leave her with little tidbits of gospel knowledge. And she's starting to grasp the message! We had a rdv with her and some other elders and she had a lot of good questions, and when we asked her to read in Moroni 10:3-5 in Portuguese, she finally understood that she needs to read and then pray to ask God. We are praying that she will get an answer, because she will be baptized one day, she just needs an answer! But it is funny how Heavenly Father is just sending us all of these madamoiselles, and maybe one day we can teach a man haha.

And last but not least, Elder Gottscheck, the Spanish elder, was sick with the flu this weekend, which meant he couldn't go to church on Sunday, so what we did to help them out is a little exchange. I went with Elder Brady-Haug to church on Sunday, the Spanish ward first then our ward. So I sat through 3 hours of church in Spanish, and learned how to say simple missionary phrases like "que tal" and "appastados una buena semaina" so that the members would trust me. Then I was asked to say the opening prayer in priesthood and I started and ended in Spanish and did the rest in French. It was fun! Then in our ward, we had 4 amis come to church but it was so stressful! Crazy Steve (Roger) came, as did Ali, Lorrane and a part member family ami. Everything was going crazy when Ali left to buy a taco, Crazy Steve wanted to give us the blueprints to his model Arc of the Covenant, and Lorrane showed up late. Eventually all was well, but I was so tired after church! We then went to a Spanish family mangez-vous and I feel so comfortable with my Spanish ability lol.

This week, I just want to testify that I know that God hears and answers prayers! He is a living God of miracles! I know it.

I love you all! Have a great week!

Avec amour,
Elder Hall

Your Favorite Missionary

Monday, February 20, 2017

As I Have Loved You

And just like that it's Monday again, and the last week of the transfer. This transfer has gone by so fast, and its gone from super cold to pretty warm nowadays! Spring is in the air and that's putting some air into my spring! Valentines Day was great, and it kind of continued throughout the week. I guess it can always be Valentine's Day if we tell the people we love that we love them, but then it just wouldn't be as fun! This week we got to go back to Lyon! I always feel like I go home when I return to Lyon, even if it's just for a little bit. Anyway, I'll stop being so vague and hop into the good stuff! 

We were traveling to Lyon for most of Valentine's Day day, so we didn't have a chance to do a lot with members, but we did sent texts to all of the missionaries in the zone with the reasons why we loved them! In Lyon, we went to the office, because we had a special night planned with the Mahaffeys! We helped out in the office for a bit, then they drove Elder Pesnell and I to a restaurant called Entrecôte for dinner (a double date haha). We talked and laughed and we planned on paying for them but then they stole the bill!! Haha but we gave them a giant goodbye and thank you card because it was the last time we'll see them here. We then spent the night with the assistants because we would be on exchange the next day. Fun fact: not only have I been with elder wade for both thanksgivings on my mission, but for both Valentine's days also! 

So the exchange was so good, I was with elder wade, which is always so fun! I love him so much, and feel so blessed to have found a friend on my mission who is so different from me yet so similar. Also, it was fun to prosélyte together in a different setting than we ever have: just us two, taking buses, contacting. We had a cool experience where we were walking down the street and there was a little girl outside with her dog, so we started talking to her and eventually Elder Wade asked if we could go inside and talk to her mom, so we did, we explained all about what we believe, and left her with a Book of Mormon and a commitment to read and pray about it! We also were able to go pass some members of Ecully ward who I love and haven't seen since I left that ward. Sr. Barachand is an older sister, and we totally surprised her, she didn't know I was coming and we spent some time talking, she offered us lunch and we caught up. She is so cute and sweet! It was an amazing day and I learned a lot from Elder Wade, just like always. 

We had a few parties this week, where we invited amis but no one came :(. They were still fun anyways! One was a Mongolian night that the English elders were doing. A member in their ward from Mongolia made a ton of delicious traditional food and we ate it, did a spiritual thought and played Loup Garous. Unfortunately, all of the Mongolian people that came spoke neither French nor English so the lesson was translated both ways by the member and I think it was good, but I'm not sure haha. We also attended the Spanish ward Valentine's fiesta and there was a lady there who elder Pesnell had contacted so we spent the night helping her integrate and it was also full of fun and food and Spanish music... haha 

Also, quick backstory before I launch into church yesterday... a man contacted us on the street this week and was like "are you the elders?" So we said yes and usually that's not a great sign because the only people that actually contact us are crazies... well... he was. He told us he had a gift for the prophet and we told him we couldn't take it because we don't know the prophet personally so he said he was coming to church on Sunday. He came, and it was ward conference and i sat by him and it was a very... interesting experience. He leaned over to whisper something in my ear every two minutes at least, but they were things like "what is the 24th letter of the alphabet?" Or "to you is the word 'mopo' a parable or a play on words?" He then asked me to be his "bra doight" which is his right arm, and a member of his trinity. Oh boy... unfortunately it didn't stop there because he came to Sunday school (we taught him alone in a different room) and priesthood, but he would go off on things like Egyptian traditions and numbers that relate to Star Wars references and the stake presidency was there and I had a big headache. Ugh... haha but eventually he left, and we had a rdv with Lorrane, our sane ami. 

She came with a lot of questions of things she'd read on the internet. We had some young members who speak English teach with us, and we answered all of her questions by explaining the Plan of Salvation and the Book of Mormon. As we taught, the spirit witnessed to me that it's all true once more, and we were able to testify that we aren't just here to convince people or try to add numbers to our church, we are here because we have felt the life changing hand of God in our lives, we have experienced His love and mercy through the Atonement of His son and we know that it's all true! She said she wanted to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know for herself. She started out with an attitude of "I'm going to prove you wrong" and it finished with a spirit of understanding. It was so cool! 

This week, I've tried to think about love, especially Christlike love. On my mission I've learned that God shows His love to all of His children. There are those that choose to see it and by consequence are happier, more grateful and more full of love themselves. There are also those who choose to ignore it, who become bitter, and angry and who rely on the world to find acceptance. And in both cases, His love is still there. It never stops. I try to love people as best as I can, sometimes it's hard (like with that crazy guy who really tested me), but most of the time it's pretty easy (like with my amazing companions, past and present, the members, amis and missionaries who I have served and who have served me), but it will always be worth it to show, and express our love. Christ commanded us to "love one another, even as I have loved you". I testify that true love, shown sincerely, can do more to help this world and the people in it than any law, holiday or TED talk ever can. :) 


Have a great week! 

Avec amour, 
Elder Hall 

Your Favorite Missionary

Monday, February 13, 2017

No Hablo Espagnol

Okay people. I think I have spent more time this week doing spanish than french, and I realized how much more I actually like French! Spanish is just like.... you know.... taco. Its good, but as for me and my house, we will stick with French lol. So this week was interesting, I dont have a lot of time so I am just going to jump right into everything.

We went on an exchange with the spanish elders, and it wasnt a planned exchange, but Elder Brady Haug was sick for a few days, and they had an engage who needed the rest of the lessons before her baptism on saturday, so I went with Elder Gottscheck and we worked in our sector for a little bit. We actually went to do a service project for a family in our ward with the young men and the elders quorum. We made a ramp in their front yard so that the soeur can easier walk up to her front door, because they are older and kind of sick and stuff so that was fun. It was freezing and we were working with cold water and cement and dirt, but it was still fun! We went to the church and taught the spanish elders engagé. Her name is Beky, and it was mostly me doing the teaching, adding a few spanish words here and there, and Elder Gottscheck translating. The Spirit was there as the teacher so dont worry, she understood that we have a living prophet, and not that I was showing her a picture of my grandpa hahaha. After that, the spanish ward invited us to FHE, so we went and I lead the music but I had no idea what sounds to make so I just followed, but they werent the best singers in the whole world either... Oh well. The spanish doesnt stop there, because the bishop of their ward asked all the missionaries in Geneva to do a musical number for her baptism on saturday, so we sang "I like to look for rainbows" but in spanish. That also took some practicing. At the baptism, which was all in spanish, I fell asleep during the talks haha but it was nice, and the song brought the Spirit and Ive learned how to say a lot of things in spanish this week. Buenos noches.   (par contre, I have no idea how to spell it haha)

We also visited the Muellers again this week, and I was able to again give soeur Mueller a blessing. I love going over to their house! They are so funny! Frere Mueller accompanied us to some RDVs but he is blind, so he held onto Elder Pesnell's shoulder while we walked. Afterwards, when we were taking him home, he was like "les elders, would you mind helping me stock up on provisions?" Which meant taking him to the store to buy chocolate and candy because his wife doesnt like when he eats it, so he buys it and hides it, but he needs help getting it, so we went with him and helped him choose his favorite kind and then he smuggled it in! HA! I was dying laughing!

We also had an opportunity this week that Ive never had on my mission. Here in Geneva, the zone leaders work very closely with the stake and the stake president. He took us to lunch and we discussed how we could improve the member missionary work here. Then, later in the week, we went to the High Council meeting and presented. It was intimidating, and didnt yield the results we were hoping for, but the stake president is a great guy, and he'll help us out!

Amis time!! So when I got to Geneva, our equipe was kinda dead. All of their amis had dropped them and so there hasnt been much on that side for a while as weve been trying to find people and work with members. But we have one ami named Ali, he is from Iran and is the father of a recent convert young woman. He knows that the church is true, knows the Book of Mormon is true, and invited us over to read and discuss with him every week, but he doesnt commit. Its hard because he has his reservations, which are mostly just excuses, and in RDVs, every time he starts feeling the spirit he gets up and leaves to make us something to eat so it will stop. Ugh! He comes to church though, and we hope that he will start making more progress. 

Another ami is a young Portuguese woman we found on a bus. Her name is Lorrane and she speaks English, Spanish, Portugese and is learning French. I contacted her first, and got her number, then she didnt text us back. We saw her again on the bus and talked to her and she started responding to our texts, and then we saw her again, and she said she had some questions for us. We said we would be happy to answer them and invited her to church. She came! But it was in french, which she is working on, and she stayed for all three hours then left quickly, and said it was interesting. But she said she wants to learn more about Joseph Smith and what we believe, and she is really cool. We will probably have to pass her to another equipe, but I know she will find answers to her questions here. 

Last thing, I gave a talk in sacrement meeting here on sunday. My theme was 'Servons notre Seigneur, proclamons la vérité", so basically missionary themed. Well, I felt that I should talk about serving those around us, and as a result sharing our testimonies and beliefs with them. Its something easy we can all do, so I shared the story of my family on vacation in South Carolina when we stopped to help a woman named Liz. En bref, her car needed help, so while my dad and brother fixed it, my sister and I talked to her about the gospel. She invited us to her hotel to give us breakfast (because thats what she did for work) and all of the employees had heard about the mormons that helped Liz. I dont know what the results of all that were, but I do know that those people were able to benefit from the fact that we served our neighbor, and then proclaimed the gospel to a softened heart! Its so simple, but it works! How best to serve Christ than to simply serve our neighbors, and how best to serve our neighbors than to give them the restored gospel which will bless them for eternity? And luckily, the talk was in French, not spanish! haha

I love you all! We have something special planned for Valentines Day, and you'll hear all about it next week! Spread the love like nutella and have a great week!

Je vous aime tous!

Avec amour, 

Elder Hall 

Your Favorite Missionary

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Fermentation and Reconstruction

 elder Duffy exchange ft. Indian place 
Wow... I don't even know where to start with this past week. The reason I'm writing today is because we had our Zone conference yesterday and our interviews on Sunday and I'll get to that, it was really good! I guess to sum up this week, I will just say that I went on 3 exchanges and weird things happen on exchanges... who am I kidding? Weird things happen when your a missionary!

So the week started off with an exchange with Elder Duffy. He was in Bordeaux Zone with me and I love him so much, he always makes me laugh so it's a lot of fun to be around him. We went to visit a less active member of the English ward who needed yogurt but was sick. We went and got her some yogurt and we thought of a good message to leave with her: we are like yogurt. Ça veut dire, the process that makes yogurt begins with a perfectly fine dairy product, and then they let it grow bacteria and ferment a little bit. Finally after a while of the yogurt going through a tough process, it turns into the wonderful thing we all love to eat! (It sounded a lot better when we explained it haha) and as with us, sometimes in life we have to go through some processes that may ferment us a little, but in the end we are better for it. (Little did I realize that I needed to learn this lesson myself as well). We passed some less actives and potentials in our ward as well, and in Suisse, there are not sonneries, there are only codes to get into buildings. If you don't know the code you can't get in unless someone lets you in. Well, miraculously we were able to get into every building, and then get the code for them! We found some less actives that haven't been seen in a while and a couple told us they would come to church, and they did! For dinner, we went to a "nice" Indian restaurant, except there was no one else in there and they had some weird Bollywood going and we just ate our food so fast and ran away haha!

Elder Wall and our marine faces
We were also able to go give a blessing to a little girl in the hospital. She has some mental handicaps, and her mom is less active, but she had surgery on her back, so her mom called and asked us to come. I was able to bless her, and it was such a cool thing to bless a little child, especially one that's already perfect. I was able to relate through the spirit to her and her mom that she chose to come to this imperfect body, and that she is a blessed daughter of God.

On the way out of the hospital, we met a Sri Lankan man who needed help finding the hospital so we helped him. We got on a tram and then a few minutes later took our connection and he was just sitting on it somehow and he was like "bus 10" and we were like "uh... ok come with us" so when we got to the stop with the connection for the bus he was like "no way José" and then he didn't get off and we are sure he never found the hospital haha.

I love elder Pesnell so so so much!
On my second exchange, it was with a younger elder named Elder Wall. As we were talking, we figured out that we have the same birthday of the same year. Then we found out that we were born in the same hospital. It was a lot of fun. He's a marine, so he told me all about boot camp. We were able to pray and follow the spirit to find people to talk to and pass. One of which was a super cool woman with a baby that we contacted on the tram. We talked about eternal families, and Christ and she gave us her phone number with a commitment to come to church! It was a great exchange, and we topped it off by eating raclette in our apartment. Raclette is a traditional regional food, boiled potatoes with cheese that we melt ourselves in a little machine. Then you add meat and whatever else. It's really heavy haha. The next day for lunch, we ate a ton at a members house and I felt like I was going to pop.

Zone conference!!

So President and Soeur Brown came for interviews and Zone conference, and they came with an assistant, Elder Underwood. They called and asked us if we wanted lunch and we said yes of course, so Elder Pesnell and I went to a Mexican place with them and it was so fun to catch up and have great fajitas! I love the Browns so much, and I am so appreciative of the chance I've had to get so close to them on my mission. On Sunday I was able to have my interview with him, and I asked some questions I had. For the last part of this week I was really discouraged and confused. Elder Pesnell really helped, and my interview with President changed everything. He shared with me a quote by CS Lewis that I wish I had but don't have yet. 

It talks about how God is making us from small cottages into large palaces or temples. If someone could look that up and send it to me please, I would love that. It's a much better analogy than yogurt hahaha! I finally figured out in my interview that my whole mission, my whole life actually, Heavenly Father has put me in situations where I feel helpless and then He changes me and qualifies me for them. I can't believe I've never figured this out before! He knows so much better than me what I need, and it's only by Him changing all of the things that make me comfortable that I realize my dependence on Him, and that's when I grow. It's a process that I'd take the privilege to compare more to destroying and constructing a building than making yogurt hahaha. In any case, it's always for our good, I have no doubt of that!

He is such a funny guy and an amazing missionary!
Zone conference was good, and it was so fun to have the zone together! I love them all! We presented for an hour, and it was completely conducted by the spirit, because we didn't get to half of what we planned! Haha it was a great ending to a super week!

I love you all! Happy February! I can't tell you how much I love my frenchies, my faith, my family, and my Father. I am eternally grateful for this mission, and this life I have been given to fulfil! Hooray for fermentation, hooray for reconstruction!

Avec amour,
Elder Hall

Your Favorite Missionary