Monday, March 27, 2017

The Best Text I've Ever Gotten

this week we went to the regional church office-
This week we received one of the best texts anyone could ever get! I don't want to spoil it right away, so I will start with the fact that I got the package you sent mom! It was so wonderful, and Elder Pesnell and I have much enjoyed all of the green candy but mostly the samoas! They don't have anything like that here so it was amazing! It's been such an incredible week, I can't wait anymore to tell you the story, so here we go!

You remember last week, I told you about our last rdv with Lorrane, where she dropped us and the spirit was very strong anyways. Well 5 days later, on Tuesday morning, we got a text from her that every missionary wants to get saying that she knows now that God has a plan for her, she believes everything we have taught her and she asked to be baptized as soon as possible!!!!! Of course we couldn't believe it, my jaw dropped on the ground and elder Pesnell ran around knocking chairs over and then belly slid on the floor! We called her right away and fixed a rdv, and she was crying as she told us that she got her answer!

Kebabs with Lorrane
Our prayers were those of gratitude and my smile wouldn't go away (I think I was freaking people out as I said "bonjour" to them grinning like a maniac haha). We have since had 4 RDVs with her, we fixed her baptismal date for the 7 April, the Friday after conference, and in lessons she just testifies and accepts everything! The commandments, the scriptures! She said that within those 5 days she stopped drinking coffee and alcohol and she has never felt more free and happy! She loved church and the members love her, she is so prepared and so humble to have received a response, even if it wasn't what she was expecting. And don't worry, English isn't her first language so when she said "I love you" last time, she was referring to both of us as good friends haha. (That's our bad...) We also went to get kebabs with her, because she's never had one before! Please keep praying for her, because we know that her faith will protect her, but sometimes the adversary tries to creep in. I know that faith, prayers and the power of her ever increasing testimony will bring strength and protection. She's so excited to go to the temple! I feel so thankful to a loving Heavenly Father that gives answers to those who sincerely seek them, and I can't wait for the baptism!

Our green lunch!!! 
In other news, we went on an exchange with Elder Wade this week. It was our last time serving together since he goes home in a couple weeks. And it's funny because he's basically a national celebrity, but he's still just Elder Wade. For anyone who wants to know, he is super humble and hard working even though all that basketball stuff is going on at home. He's a great example to me! It was a different kind of exchange, because he came up with President and Soeur Brown alone and stayed with us for a day so Elder Pesnell and I were with him. We were able to see some members, teach Ali and, let me tell you, it was a lesson that could convert anyone, and Elder Wade did such a good job teaching! For dinner we went Chez la famille Fidalgo, and then Elder Menzel and Underwood (the other assistants whom I love so) and had a great night! It was so fun! We also played a little bit of basketball, so ca va.

We had Zone conference and interviews as well. It was cool to see president Brown and talk with him. He is always so inspired and gives the best advice that I know always comes from the Lord. For Zone conference, elder Pesnell and I did a presentation about how the Atonement leaves no trace. It was cool to prepare, even though it wasn't easy haha. In the end we presented two quotes:

"However late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made … , or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines"- Elder Jeffery R. Holland

"The Atonement, which can reclaim each one of us, bears no scars. That means that no matter what we have done or where we have been or how something happened, if we truly repent, He has promised that He would atone. And when He atoned, that settled that. There are so many of us who are thrashing around, as it were, with feelings of guilt, not knowing quite how to escape. You escape by accepting the Atonement of Christ, and all that was heartache can turn to beauty and love and eternity. I am so grateful for the blessings of the Lord Jesus Christ... for the power of redemption, for the Atonement--the Atonement which can wash clean every stain no matter how difficult or how long or how many times repeated. The Atonement can put you free again to move forward, cleanly and worthily, to pursue that path that you have chosen in life. I bear witness that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, that the Atonement is not a general thing that is for the whole Church. The Atonement is individual, and if you have something that is bothering you--sometimes so long ago you can hardly remember it--put the Atonement to work. It will clean it up, and you, as does He, will remember your sins no more. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen." - President Boyd K. Packer

If you didn't read those, go back and read them haha. I learned that the Atonement is truly something that, if used correctly, has the power to erase any mistakes we have ever done. Of course, we need to allow it to, but when it does, there is no better feeling! It's what Lorrane is feeling, it's what I have felt, it's what we can all feel! Don't just take my word for it, try it for yourself! I promise you it will work.

We have all of our other amis still and we have a new one named Juan, who is a member coordonnée, but I'll explain more next time. I explained all the most important things!

I love you all! Have a great week!

Avec amour,

Elder Hall

Your Favorite Missionary

Monday, March 20, 2017

Make Your Own Adventure

Elder Carlson!
Ok. Well, to say this week brought some of the most unexpected circumstances I've yet to have on my mission would be appropriate. But it was a really good week anyway, and we saw some cool miracles as we went on multiple exchanges and worked as hard as we could! So we shall start from the very beginning, it the very best place to start.

Elder Caramelli! 
We can start with our exchanges! This week we went on 2 of those, and I was able to be with Elder Carlson for the first, and Elder Caramelli for the second. Elder Carlson was in the moving équipe my first transfer in the office (before it got closed and thrown onto our shoulders haha), so we are already pretty close and it was fun to spend some time with him again! 

We went to an FHE chez la famille Volpicelli, the super cool couple in our ward who love missionary work! We also ate at our bishops house, Évêque Cornetta (we eat there every week), and we did some passbacks and contacting in a little place called Bernex, where it's super tranquille. We got to see some less actives we've been trying to get into contact with, which was great, and I was able to learn a lot from him about diligence and teaching. He's such a stud!

Then I was with Elder Caramelli, he's Tahitian but his dad is Italian, so he's a stud too. We spent the day doing a lot of passes, trying to find all of the less active young adults in our ward so we can help them come back to the fold! We found a couple people, some young, some not so much, but a lot had moved. There was one apartment though, where we were able to get in and when we asked if the man lived there, the woman who answered the door said no, but the spirit prompted us to testify of eternal families and ask if she would like to learn more and she said yes! So we will return this week! Then we got to go to our DMPs house for dinner and it was a lot of fun!

st pattys lunch with the holsingers
In other news, we started teaching formerly Crazy Steve, now Rogers, and he is actually progressing. He understands now the importance of church and priesthood lines and authority and everything he needs to do in order to be baptized (which he really wants to be, but he needs to be ready first). He help set out the books before sacrament Meeting and is even wearing a shirt and tie now. The gospel really does change people!

Then we have Lorrane (and this is where all the weird stuff starts happening). She texted us and told us she didn't want to see us anymore, so we convinced her to have one last rdv. We met her in the park, and she asked if she could say the opening prayer so she did but she prayed so that we knew this was the last time we would see each other. She said she was heartbroken to have to stop seeing us, but she has some things she doesn't want to give up. We testified and answered questions, but she wouldn't be swayed, even though she told us she knows it's true! At one point, I was testifying really hard and started to cry and then she started to cry, but super biblically, that is, like wailing, and I was trying to get intelligible words out and she was like "bleingnsjwldkdh" and then she said she loved me and I stopped the waterworks and gave her a pamphlet and we told her when she's ready she can always come back. She felt the spirit to say the least.

tulips for relief society! 
We had a great rdv with our part member family, whose dad is our ami, Michel. We laughed a ton, talked about prophets and he got to know us. He's super nice and has overcome a lot of trials, but is still going strong! He is almost ready to be baptized and the family is ready to be eternal, so we're excited to see what the future brings!

Then we have Maria, who came to church on Sunday and said she really enjoyed it! Today, we got a very unexpected text from her saying that she likes me... oh my... I feel so... flattered? I just don't know what they see in me!! Luckily, our other amis are either married or guys so I think I'm safe now! Haha

Another weird story, we were waiting for our bus one afternoon and a group of kids walk up to us and start shaking our hands. Well, I thought we were going to get mugged, but they seemed nice enough to us. They started asking us questions like where we were from and what "elder" meant, then they cut to the chase and asked us how much we wanted for it. For what, you might ask? Well, they thought we were drug dealers and they wanted to buy drugs. We quickly explained that we, in fact, are the opposite and we have nothing to sell them but if they wanted something that would make them feel good, we had just the thing. They weren't too interested, and pushed a little more just for good measure and the left.

Personal tour of the UN

We went back to the UN to take down the exhibit, and then Sr. Holsinger (the couple missionary who works there) took us on a super cool tour that you only get if you are "in" with someone! We got to see all of the important rooms, we walked down the secret hallways and the gardens outside and even got to stand at the UN pulpit! Then, since it was St. Patrick's Day, we went to the UN cafeteria and ate with them, Irish Cornish. It was such a cool experience! After that, we delivered tulips to a bunch of relief society sisters in our ward to thank them and celebrate the 175 anniversary of the Relief Society. They were so thankful, and it was fun to make their days!

fun in primary! 
Something that I can take away from this week is that God never intended for life on earth to really flow smoothly, exactly according to each of our personal agendas. No, our loving Heavenly Father sent us here to learn and grow through experiences and trials that may seem pointless, but that shape us, little by little, into the spiritual and physical beings He knows we can become. That's a reason we all have agency, so that we can choose what we do with the trials and setbacks, and when we aren't choosing the right, those in fact, become more difficult to handle. When we strive to choose the right and look at life's experiences, easy or hard, we will feel ourselves changing, and we will eventually be turned completely to God, and what a great direction to be facing.

I love you all! Hope you had a great St. Patrick's Day and que Dieu vous bénisse!

Avec amour,

Elder Hall

Your Favorite Missionary

Monday, March 13, 2017

Christ's Car Wash

car show 
This week flu by. Literally, flu. The beginning of the week we did a lot of stuff but towards the end I came down with a case of "Le grippe" which destroyed me so hard. Je ne suis pas sure si jamais j'ai eu tant des choses qui sont sorti de mon corps... (that's in French because it's kinda gross haha). Anyways, no need to worry because I'm feeling better now so life is good, plus it's actually starting to be spring here! The flowers are s'épanouir-ing! Hahah

So, ami run down! 

1) Lorrane: this week she sent us this incredible text saying sorry for all the questions she asked and that she really wants to come to church! That night, we saw her on the bus and she told us that she had read in the Book of Mormon where we asked her to and that she prayed and received an answer! She said that she knows it's true, and she looked up the Restoration movie and believes in Joseph Smith. She said that ever since she's met us she has felt happier and has had the feeling of peace in her life, and she started doing things she loves again, like drawing and reading. It all just miraculously clicked, but not the biggest miracle of it all is that on fast Sunday, our ward fasted and prayed specifically for all of our amis, and what we asked them to pray for Lorrane was "so that she can receive a confirmation of the truthfulness by the Holy Ghost"!!!! It was a direct answer to prayers! Unfortunately I was sick for our rdv so we didn't see her, but we will this week! 

2) Vanessa: our Brazilian family is going well also, they seem to have more sincerity and willingness to act. But every time I think of them I get a little sick because she gave us this gross chicken sandwich casserole and it was the last thing I ate before... you know... 

3) Nelson: we have a returned missionary in our ward who has a friend who messaged him one day asking about our church, and we had a rdv with him! His name is Nelson, he is 20 years old and he is Suisse! That's incredible because young people don't usually care! He is super open and came to church and said that he thinks this is the path God wants him to be on!

4) Crazy Steve: He came to church this week and to our ward buffet after and he seems to be getting less crazy. He wore a star tie with a white polo shirt, so at least he's starting to understand a little bit.

We are seeing so many cool things here right now. I feel blessed to see this sector go from almost nothing to so many steady amis! We also had MLC this week, so we were in Lyon for a couple days. It was so fun to see all of my friends, because the district leaders came too, so almost our entire MTC group was there! Plus every companion I've ever had was there! We talked about faith, and how it's something so simple
but how it is the first principle of the gospel, and it brings miracles!

We painted at one of our members houses this week, I have surprisingly done a lot of painting on my mission, and I attribute my experience to being a janitor haha.

Then on Saturday there were 3 baptisms, 2 for the English ward and 1 for the Spanish ward, but I was sick so I just sat there through them, but it was so good!

Christ's car wash 
Today we went to the Geneva International Motor Show and saw some of the coolest cars I've ever seen. I got to sit in them and touch them and even look at them! Haha The most interesting thing I saw was a car wash, it was called Christ Car Wash. I took a picture next to it and as I went throughout the rest of the day, I kept thinking about it. For something so silly, it was actually quite profound, because of the truthfulness behind it. By going throughout life, we get dirty. We sin, we make mistakes, we fall short. However, we know that anytime we need too, if we are looking a little too muddy we can go through Christ's car wash. It is there, waiting for us to use it! Best of all, it's free! The price is already paid, we don't need to scrounge for coins, it is free and open to all who are willing to make the trip. When we come out we are spotless, ready to tackle whatever road lies before us. I invite us all to take advantage of the gift Christ has given us, to repent every day, and make that trip to the car wash. As we do so, we will feel His cleansing power.

I love you all!
Avec amour,
Elder Hall

Your Favorite Missionary

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Serving the World

birthday party for Soeur Burton!
Hello from Geneva! I'm super excited to tell you all about this past week. It was the first week of the transfer and it started things off so well! We taught a lot, we ate a lot, and we did a service project for the whole world (on peut dire... 😉)!

So we had RDVs with a new person almost every day this week! It started with Maria, then we met with a man named Edward, who is from Iran but lived in London for a while. He is Jewish and our rdv was actually kind of interesting because he liked to talk a lot so he would go off on random spiritual things he's learned throughout his life of being Muslim then Christian then Jewish. Well we thought it went pretty well, but alas, we talked to him on Saturday night to invite him to church and he told us he had a dream about cutting an electrical wire and interpreted it as he should stay with the Jews, sooo.... Also, we contacted and met with this family, and when we showed up, it was a bunch of women from Brazil with all their kids haha... one of them was baptized in Brazil and is less active, another is our new ami, and the less actives sister is very skeptical of us. Then the ami, Vanessa, made her teenage son listen and he looked so miserable hahaha They quizzed us about temples and stuff, but we were able to testify of the blessings that they bring to families, and that they can know for themselves if they read the Book of Mormon and pray. En plus, I learned a little Portuguese, and they gave us a lot of food after!

elder Pesnell and I in the Swiss mountains
I don't remember if I told you about the Italian that showed up to church randomly last week as he was walking by to learn more about what we believe in our church... well we taught him and he came to church this week! He said that it was interesting, and he liked the songs because he's a professional singer and he sang so well! Also, Crazy Steve (Roger) came to church, and, although he is still so crazy, he is very, very slowly progressing to a point where we can kind of teach him. Hahaha

We also went with the Spanish elders to a mangez-vous and, because I speak fluent Spanish now, I was the life of the party! "Yo soy muchos guapos", "Yo tengo el dono de polo" and other such phrases spouted from my mouth for an hour haha... when I get home I'll speak 12 languages!! We also got a call from our ami, Ali, and he was like "hey, if you come clean my house I'll give you Chinese food" so we went to his house and I mopped all of his floors... that was definitely a first.

setting up at the UN
And about the service project we did... so one of the couples who is assigned to the U.N. asked Elder Pesnell and I if we could come help set up an exhibit for them. So we met them at the gate and went through security and got a special pass, then we walked through the campus to a building where we would be doing the project. We had about 15 minutes so we got to explore the building, we saw a big conference like the ones you imagine with the plaques of all the different countries, and art that was donated by countries all over the world. Also, it was Mother Tongue day, so everyone was dressed up in the traditional dress of their respective countries, so all the women looked like Disney princesses and all the men looked like spies haha. 
But we started, and what we did was set up the exhibit with all the big posters, arranged them, moved heavy things and made it all look good. The exhibit was on human rights around the world, and one of those human rights is the right to worship whomever, whenever, and wherever we may. That's why it's so important for the church to have good relations with all of the worlds countries, because in order for the gospel to be spread everywhere, the countries need to understand that it is a basic human right. It was a lot of fun, we worked with people from all over the world in helping these world leaders see and understand fundamental rights of all the children of God here on earth. It reminded me of the children's primary song that says, "We are children holding hands around the world, like an army, with the gospel flag unfurled. We are led by its light and we love truth and right, we are building the Kingdom of God." I testify that we are all truly Heavenly Fathers sons and daughters and that in seeking to bring others to this knowledge, whether it's by mopping their floors, inviting them to church, or educating them on the value of each human soul, we can see and feel His love.

chez la famille Fidalgo!
Also, they sell little smoothies with little knitted bonnets at the store by our house and, oh we love them so.

Have a great week!

Avec amour,
Elder Hall

Your Favorite Missionary