Monday, April 24, 2017

Ethiopians and Lost in Translation

p day on lake Geneva! 
I find myself asking how it's possible that time keeps on passing when I am trying so hard to slow it down! Haha another week flew by... it was a good one! It started off in Lyon and then ended up back in Geneve (c'est normal). The work has slowed down a lot since last transfer, as our ami pool kind of shrunk during vacation time here, but we are trying to find some new people to teach! First, I'll give the rundown on my companion:

Elder Hoffmann is a super hard worker, he speaks great English and is really funny. Because my way of speaking and my vocabulary is kind of different than other English speakers, I say a lot of stuff that he doesn't know, so then I teach it to him. For example, this week he learned:

"Howdy buckaroo"
"Hoity toitty"
"I'm gunna punch you right in the sucker"
"Dirty, rotten, good for nothing..."

And I learned this: "T'es dans un etat d'arrestation. Bouge-plus! Jevais te tirer dessus!" But that's only for extreme cases 😉 hahaha

Other than that, we get along great and I feel that my French is really improving!

So, in Lyon we went to MLC, and it was really cool. We talked about a topic that is near and dear to
Office elders (I am the grandpa)
my heart. If you know me, you may know why I liked it so much... FAMILY HISTORY!! So our mission goal for this transfer is to help our recent converts, less actives and members find ancestors to print and bring to the Paris Temple dedication (which will conveniently be the last Sunday of this transfer, May 21!) we have already been able to bring 2108 amis to partake of the sacrament last transfer and 30 baptisms as a mission! The Lord is truly pouring out his Spirit on our mission and His Work. It's amazing to watch! And already, I have been blessed to have found ancestors who need ordinances done, and even to find that some of my ancestors are French! Quel bonheur! Hahaha

church in black and white 
Something else that was fun that happened this week was in the genre of contacting. So I was sitting on the bus and this man comes and sits down next to me. I felt that I should talk with him, so we started talking, but in English. He told me he was from Ethiopia, and is new here. We talked about Christ and families and he gave us his number, his name is Darge. Well, we also fixed a rdv and he came to get a tour of the chapel. He likes what we teach and is down to learn more. He even said that he is going to teach us how to make Ethiopian food and he wants to exercise with us at the park. He's super cool! But then, we started meeting all the Ethiopian people in Geneva! We meet 2 more back to back, one was even when we ran into Darge and he was teaching us some words in Amharic (the language) and this other guy was like "I'm from there too!" It's funny how as soon as you find one type of person, you find them all!

We also did service for the Volpicellis (shrubs have never looked so good), we had 3 giant meals in the course of 8 hours (an African meal, a Mongolian meal, and a Spanish one), and we have had a lot of RDVs with less actives. It's fun to work so much with members!

Geneva Zone!
Something that I want to share is just the power of the gospel. Thanks to the gospel, I have seen lives change, my own life has changed, I am able to testify of the power of the priesthood, I am able to exercise the power of the priesthood, I feel happiness and reassurance that nothing in this world can bring, and I see the eternal perspective on small problems and small successes, I can love those I serve while serving with love, I can overcome any trials, weaknesses and faults that I am prone to have. I love this gospel and everything it has made of me. I am so lucky to be able to share it with everyone!

I love you all! Have a super fantastic week!

Avec amour,

Elder Hall

Your Favorite Missionary

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter Bells

the picture we made for Easter
Joyeuse Pâques tout le monde! I hope you all had such a wonderful Easter weekend! I think I did, haha, it wasn't anything super special but it was okay! I guess the thing that makes it special is that we get to focus on Jesus Christ, so from that perspective, yes, it was very special! Well my first week with a francophone was great! It's funny to serve with someone whose native language isn't English, it leads to a lot of funny "lost in translation" moments, but he speaks really good English so we have a lot of fun. Elder Hoffmann is from Charles-Le-Roi, Belgium and he is basically a Belgian version of Jason hahaha. Honestly all of his motions and even the way he answers the phone reminds me of him! Also in our apartment building, the Spanish elders are both frenchies so I am, for the first time in my mission, the only American, I am the minority!! It's interesting at times when they go off in super French slang I don't know at all so I just sit there like "lol don't judge me" but it's a new experience and I am enjoying it! I asked them about my accent, individually so that they wouldn't be swayed by each other, and they all said that my accent is "cute. Like a little French boy" hahaha oh, ok. 

atoussa came! 
So the transfer started off with an interesting morning. We got a call at around 4:30 am, and it was a sister in our zone who was pretty sick all night and couldn't find anyone to help her. So we called the Spanish elders (who have a car) and asked for help. Elder Gottscheck was like "you need help at 4:30 in the morning?!" So we drove to a little ville called Annecy and Inwas asked to give the blessing. It was cool because I was pretty tired, but I felt the spirit speaking through me, and we left. When we called to see how she was doing a couple days later, she told us that everything I said in the blessing was exactly what she was worrying about and had expressed to her companion the day before. That's a testimony of the power of the priesthood! 

We also had a really cool rdv with Ali and his daughter (who was baptized exactly a year ago) Atoussa, and we really were able to connect with them and talk to them about their spiritual progression. It must have really worked because Ali came to church for all 3 hours for the first time ever as far as I know, and Atoussa (who hasn't been to church since I've been here) came to the ward buffet and was swarmed! It was awesome! 

We sang in a cart on the train and a guy joined us, 
ill explain it next week haha 
We also met with Lorrane, who said that she's felt great all week, super calm and peaceful. It made me so happy to see that the Holy Ghost is already influencing her life! 

Also, a follow up on Rodgers: he kind of told us that he is going to make his own church online and then one day when he has enough followers he will combine it with ours. So that's good for our membership I guess haha ;) 

me, a rabbit and a chocolate bunny haha

And then one day we were at the gare helping Elder Pesnell and his blue pass through, and there was a big guess how many chocolate eggs are in this box thing so we went to play it and then this lady came up and was like "you can't do that, that's a vice" and we were like "it's just a game" and then she was like "no" so she took a picture of me standing there probably red like a tomato. Haha but it's okay because then I didn't play it because I felt bad! 

But for Easter, we made a picture with a scripture to give to all of our members. I was able to really study the last week of Christ's life and then I taught the lesson in gospel principles about his life. It was amazing how, as we went through the timeline of his time on earth, how the spirit witnessed to us that he truly did walk here, heal here, teach here and suffered and died here, and how, best of all, he was resurrected and LIVED here! I felt so touched by His marvelous life and ministry, and all he did for us. On Easter morning, I heard the traditional French church bells ringing and I realized that, just as he lived and rose, He will come back, and on that day all the bells will ring, sounding his triumph over evil and death, and we will feel the scars in his hands and feet and truly see our Savior. I know it with all my heart! 

I love you all, have a wonderful week! 

Avec amour, 

Elder Hall 

Your Favorite Missionary

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

When You're A Missionary

Wow. I can't really explain this week, because so many things happened that were all so surprising! I guess on a mission we never really expect anything that happens and that's why it's so darn stressful! But I will get to all that and more, it before I go any further, I'll let you know what's happening with transfers. It was the last week of the transfer so we got our calls, and I will be staying here in Geneva and my new companion is named Elder Hoffmann, he's from Belgium so he's a native French speaker, but his English is great too! I'm excited because it will be my first non American companion, and I guess it's about time. But I was super sad to see Elder Pesnell go. We became such good friends over our 2 transfers together, I learned a lot from him and laughed a lot. Almost everyone in our zone said that we were they funniest équipe of Zone leaders they've ever had, and I think its because we are so weird haha. But he's going to train, so that is super fun!

exchange with Elder Van Woerkom
So, my week started off with a last minute exchange with Elder Van Woerkom. His grandparents are actually my neighbors chez moi, but I've served around him for a couple transfers now and he's so fun! He's a great missionary that speaks the language really well. We focused mostly on contacting, how to talk to people, so we were talking to people all day on trams and buses and all those kinds of places. We were able to talk to a lot of cool people, and we were even full with RDVs as well like a mangez vous chez les Cornettas (our bishops family who feed us every week), and Lawson. The thing we learned was that when we really love the people, there is good to see in everyone, and then we can point it out to them, making it easier and more sincere to start a conversation.

We also were able to teach Lorrane the rest of the principles before baptism. We taught with the Austins, they are super! And then on Friday, with elder Pesnell, we went again to the Volpicellis with her and Celine. Well, she told Celine about how she moved her baptism, and Celine was so sad because she couldn't be there because it's Easter vacation and she will be in London (they are bffs now, so that's why it was a big deal). But Frere Volpicelli gave her a triptych (side note: is that really how that's spelt? What a weird word...) and the lesson went well. That night we got a text from Lorrane that basically said sorry for being so difficult, but can I be baptized this Sunday so that her friend could be there? WE FREAKED OUT! We called the bishop to see and he said yes, so we started making arrangements. She had her baptismal interview early Saturday morning, then we had the executive secretary send out an email, we texted people, prepared talks and clothes and the font and luckily it would be fast Sunday so we wouldn't have to worry about food haha

the baptism! 
Sunday came and we headed to the church early to prepare every needful thing haha Frere Volpicelli was going to baptize her, so he showed up, and the members started coming. We had to do it all in the little baptismal font room because there was already the other wards who were going. We all the sudden realized that we had forgotten to tell Celine! THAT WAS THE WHOLE REASON SHE CHANGED IT! So us and the sisters prayed and asked Heavenly Father to inspire and push her to the church, since her phone wasn't working. 20 Minutes later, she came walking up to the door! It was a miracle! So we had Celine, but we were mission something very important... it was 11h30 came and Lorrane wasn't there! So we prayed again, and she sent us a text saying that she was on her way. She got there, got ready and we started the meager service. She was really nervous but Soeur Burton gave a great talk on baptism, and then right before the actual baptism Elder Pesnell and I ran out to get a quick picture, and the picture is a perfect description of the whole situation haha. Anyways, the baptism went great, she said she felt so calm afterwards. I gave the talk on the Holy Ghost and then voila. An hour later, she was confirmed in Portuguese by Frere Cornetta (who is Portuguese) and it was so cool! I actually understood almost all of the blessing, which was incredible, I don't know why or how, but I did! The Spirit was strong and filled the room. After the confirmation, it was completely silent and as I walked back to my seat and saw the faces of everyone that I've worked with here (even all the 29 less actives and amis that were at church), I was so touched. She was so happy and so were we! What an amazing surprise! Haha

So there was the end of our transfer. It was such an emotional rollercoaster because baptism aren't meant to be planned and carried out 24 hours beforehand! But I am so thankful to the Lord for allowing us to see this whole process unfold and letting Elder Pesnell be here for the end. I feel so blessed that I was able to watch the spirit change someone's life completely, and can't wait to see it keep working!

samedi Sportif (but I forgot my clothes haha)
We were able to see a lot of members this week too, the Manseya's, the Fidalgo's and a part member family named the Dudoit-Elkhaims, who invited their neighbor just randomly over and turns out he's already been taught by missionaries before! Wow! But something that touched me this week was what a Soeur in our ward described to us. She said that missionaries are like angels who bring a peace and a light everywhere they go. She said that her kids look up to the missionaries and that when we visit, we recharge them and give them the hope and the force to keep on going. It's so strange because I don't feel like I do any of that... I am just a 20 year old kid with my own problems and weaknesses who's trying his best to serve and love others. But I have felt the power of the Holy Ghost Work through me, and I have seen miracles because of it, but it comes with the job! It's not that I'm anything special, it's just that I am dedicated to the Lord, and that is what makes all the difference. After all, if He can turn water into wine, He can make me into whatever He needs me to be.

I love you all, and thank you for your prayers! Have a great week, and an amazing Easter!

Avec amour,

Elder Hall

Your Favorite Missionary

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

God Given

Our private chef
As always, I will start with the most interesting thing I did this week to explain why I am emailing today: Elder Pesnell and I were asked to go to a church owned property in Geneva to help people park for a UN conference on Freedom of Religion, so we did but no one really came in cars, so we parked four cars and then nothing. So the couple that was over it invited us to attend and it was very interesting to learn about the role of freedom of religion in countries and what is happening to make it available for people all over the world. Then we were able to go to the fancy dinner, but, since we were the peasants, we ate while hidden in the back kitchen where the professional chef was. We became good friends with him, Clement, and he gave us all the delicious, gourmet, French food our little stomachs desired. What a fun service activity! 

Breakfast at the park
Anyway, our week was great! I had a lot of cool experiences this week. Our amis are doing well also! We were able to meet with Lorrane a couple times, and when we do it in the mornings we just go to a park. Well, when we showed up, she had a breakfast there for us and the Austins (the senior couple we were teaching with). It was so kind! We taught fasting and told her of the ward fast and prayers for her to understand and receive an answer. She told us that at the same time, that night, she was trying to sleep and couldn't get to sleep at all. She eventually decided to pray and that's when she got her answer! It was so cool to see the results of faithful fasting and prayers! We also went with her to the Volpicellis house, with another member, Celine, a foreign exchange student from Maine who is the same age and height at Lorrane haha. (Were trying to convince Celine to go on a mission) And then Lorrane came to conference and loved it! She said she really liked President Uchtdorfs talk. She also wanted to move her baptismal date to the Sunday of Easter, so that's what it will be now, and since transfers are on Monday, I hope I'm still here! She also gave us breakfast again, and is going great! She was a little frustrated that MacDo was giving away free coffee last week for the first time ever, but she didn't give in! 

We also had a ward activity on Friday, and the ami of the soeurs came. She knows the church is true and just won't talk about baptism. I felt that I should talk to her, so we talked for an hour about baptism and what's holding her back. It wasn't going anywhere until the end, when the spirit prompted me to ask her if she thought God would tell her the truth if she asked. She said yes. I asked her if she had already prayed about baptism. She said no. (This is where the spirit got super strong) I said "Put him to the test" and all she could say was "Bien dit". I know if she really asks she'll get an answer! 

We also went to lunch with this super nice old member Soeur. But she walks very slow and talks very a lot, so she bought us crepes and then we listened to her, but the only problem was that we were done with ours in 2 minutes and she didn't take her last bite until 45 minutes later haha but everyone needs to feel loved, so it was worth It! 

We also were given a referral of an ancien ami who lost contact with the church for a couple months but is now ready to be baptized! His name is Lawson and he's African, and has a sincere desire. We just need to fix a couple things so it may be in a little bit, but I'm excited to help him! 

A cool little story is that I was contacting a man on the bus who spoke English. We were talking about commandments and how following them makes us happy. He said "what commandments has God given you?" So I started saying love others, go to church, etc. And he stopped me to correct himself. He reposed the question, " what commandments has God given you." I felt the spirit put an answer in my mouth and I said "He commanded me to go on a mission." I received yet another confirmation that this is what I am supposed to be doing right now, and that I have been following God's personal commandment to me for a long time now! It was a cool experience. 

I really loved General Conference. I feel comfortable saying that this is the first conference I've ever listened to where it flew by and i was left wanting more! All of the messages, as always, were inspired and I felt the Spirit so strongly as I listened to the Prophet and Apostles of God bear fervent testimony. I loved President Nelsons talk about coming to know Christ and learning of Him. I also really liked Elder Sabins talk and what made it even better was that I was able to meet him a couple of months ago, and he even made a joke about me in front of everyone so I felt a connection there. And of course, President Monsons talk was so amazing and so full of power. I LOVED IT ALL!! We are so lucky to have this opportunity! 

Other than that, we had district Meeting, were able to give a lot of blessings, ate with members and testified of Jesus Christ as every opportunity! I love this gospel and I love my Savior! I have complete faith in Him and His plan for me and each one of us. I can truly say that these past years have been the best of my life! 

Avec amour, 

Elder Hall 

Your Favorite Missionary