Monday, May 29, 2017

La Suisse

We were chez la famille Mueller this week when Soeur Mueller said this quote that I think is pretty true: "Les Suisse ont, a la place des cœurs, les montres et à la place des cerveaux, les portefeuilles." (I'll let you translate that one haha). But this week we did a lot of problem solving, which involved a crashed car, abonnements, and service. Between all of that, we were able to see some really cool miracles, and start off the transfer, as always, on an interesting note!

A funny story I forgot to tell you all about was a couple weeks ago, a member asked us to come give a blessing to her sick friend at the hospital, so we showed up in the evening and she told us that he's been screaming a lot lately. So we took the elevator up to the floor, and we heard an awful screaming as the door opened. We walked down to the end of the hall and the screaming was so high, like a toddler, I was scared! The member opened the door, and said, "Bonjour, ça va?" All the while he was screaming until she asked if he was okay and then he stopped very suddenly and just said, in a low, normal voice "ca va". Ok, well it's a lot more funny to me than to you... anyway, we sang for him and were able to give him a blessing and he stopped screaming after that.

We also found this less active family that hasn't been to church in a long time. We were doing passbacks and we decided to go to their apartment. The first thing she said when she opened the door was "Oh, the missionaries, I've been meaning to call you. My son wants to get baptized." It was super cool! We were able to do service for her. The family has some problems, but her son is 11 and he seems to really want to learn more. The sisters are seeing them now, because she's a single woman, but it was cool to find and help a lost sheep!

We were with the Muellers a lot this week, we did service for them, and met their friend who asked us for service as well! We also helped them with genealogy and a surprise party for Sr. Zahnd! They gave me a really cool Swiss wood chess set that we have put to good use! We also went to the Bentele's, who bought us more than 100 francs worth of sushi! They are so cool, I love them, and their dog is giant. Another family we visit often is the Wyss family, an older couple who we are

teaching to do family history. They feed us so well and we are trying to get them to invite their friends as well. The Volpicellis are still amazing and we were able to give them a blessing of counsel to know when they should serve a couples mission! Woohoo!

Saturday was cool, because a member invited us to a Philippine indépendance celebration! We had food and talked with the people and watched their cool dances. I'll send some pictures, but they are so kind and we were kind of like celebrities because we were missionaries and so they wanted pictures with us too!

On Sunday, a man showed up to church who is from Venezuela, who doesn't speak a lot of French, but wanted to know more. His name is Gustavo. We were able to teach him and give him a blessing, then he came to a returned missionary fireside which he really liked. He said that recently he's been feeling God a lot in his life and he knows that God is trying to tell him something, and he wants to know more because he feels something different at our church. We asked him if he wanted to go to the Spanish ward but he said no, he wants to learn French and he also made some friends in ours! We are seeing him again this week and will engage him to baptism. (Funny thing is that I've been speaking a lot in Spanish, so people now think I speak a lot more than I actually do, and my French is at an all time high, so I feel so good about the overall sounds my mouth makes).

I've been reading in the Book of Mormon, where Christ came to visit the nephites, and it's such a powerful passage of scripture. I love how He taught them, then he left them to practice what he taught for a little bit, then he returned to help them more. One of my favorite parts is when He prays for them. I has never occurred to me that Christ prays on our behalf to the Father, but the spirit taught me as I was reading that it's a part of the Atonement, that He would be our mediator, even in prayers. It was pretty cool.

Anyway, have a great week! I love you all! The church is true!

Avec amour,

Elder Hall

Your Favorite Missionary

Monday, May 22, 2017

l'Esprit du Dieu Saint

I spy

Elder Hoffman 
There are times in life that where we visibly see the love of God for us, and this week was one of those times. So many things happened that I want to tell you about, but the obvious climax of my entire mission happened this past weekend and I think that that's probably the most important thing to explain. Also, you should know that I received my last real transfer calls on Friday, and the news (another tender mercy) is that I will stay here in Geneva to finish my mission with Elder Hoffman! I am so excited to work as hard as I physically can and finish off strong in a sector and with a collègue that I love.

I was able to go on an exchange this week in the Spanish sector with Elder Gottscheck. It was a lot of fun, and I prayed a lot in Spanish haha. We also were stuffed to the brim with delicious Spanish food. Also, because I was practicing all day, my Spanish even improved a little and I could communicate, but interestingly enough, our day was full of RDVs and we taught in English, French and Spanish. I loved spending a day with elder Gottscheck for the last time. I love that kid!

Our tri lingual display
We were also invited to a lot of members houses, and we helped them find ancestors for the dedication. With one family, an older couple named la famille Wyss, we were able to find an entire tree already done of family members starting from their great grandma that they didn't even know existed!!

On Friday, in preparation for the temple dedication, we asked all the missionaries in Geneva to come to the church and clean it really well so that it would be perfect to act as a temple during the consecration, and we dusted, scraped, vacuumed, mopped, wiped, scrubbed, and organized. Afterwards we felt so proud of the work and the building felt better. I know that all of us were blessed by the small part we did in helping prepare for the dedication.

Saturday was a big day because it was the cultural celebration! I was so excited because I have never seen one before, and because all of the youth from every stake in Francophone Europe would be participating. We invited a lot of people to come, and unfortunately not a lot were able to come, but we took our seats with those who did and it started. It was separated into stake, and each stake had prepared a presentation about their specific area of France, their history and culture, and they presented it through song and dance. It was so so so so cool to watch all of the areas where I have been blessed to either serve or travel through and see be represented. And not only was that good, but the best part was seeing all the kids, the youth with whom I have served and loved on my mission. 

I saw some from Lyon, when I was first a blue and learning how to speak French, who patiently helped me. I saw some from when I was an office elder, who laughed with (and at) me, who recognized my presence even when the adults didn't (you know the life of those office elders ;) ). I saw the youth from Bordeaux, who paid an hommage to missionaries and their work in France, and I remembered teaching them and teaching with them, encouraging them and serving side by side with them. I saw the youth from Geneva, who have inspired me, who have lifted me and whom I have been able to share special moments with. We cheered, we sang along, we laughed and we watched as these youth of Zion expressed their heritage, not only of France, but of the church. It was absolutely incredible.

the temple for a day 
On Sunday, we got up early, fasting, put on our best, dry cleaned suits, our cleanest pair of church shoes, and our nicest ties. Two years ago, I never would have thought that I, serving in the south of France, would be able to go to the temple on my mission. However, we drove in reverence with the Spanish elders, we parked our car, we presented our green temple recommendations, and for the first time in a long time, I was able to enter the House of the Lord. Now, of course it wasn't the real temple, but for one day our chapel was set apart as a special branch off of the Paris temple. I sat quietly while the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sung, and then they showed the Celestial room, filled with faithful members who have been waiting for this much longer than I have, but who were filled with as much excitement and anticipation as me. I watched as President Eyring, Elder Anderson and Bishop Causée, servants set apart by the Lord, walked into the room. The Spirit filled my soul as the choir started singing, and my heart skipped a beat when I saw who was singing in the choir. It was members from Bordeaux, and who else but one of my favorite families of all time: THE VENDASSI'S!! I watched them sing and felt so much gratitude for another tender mercy Heavenly Father gave me. 

Chez les cornettas!
The talks were inspired, the music was beautiful, all in French (of course) which added to my joy, and when it came time for President Eyring to give the prayer, and dedicate the Paris temple to our Heavenly Father, I prayed to be filled with the spirit as a confirmation that what I have been telling people for the past two years was truly about to be fulfilled. My prayers were answered as I felt an indescribable warmth and love flow from my head to my toes and as I felt this same feeling déverse itself upon the land I have grown to love. France was changed forever in that moment, and so was I. We sang hosanna to the Lord, and at the end, I felt that I was physically there in the temple. It was amazing to feel the spirit so strong. During the prayer, President Eyring asked a special blessing upon all the missionaries, past, present and future, and those they are teaching and the members, so they can invite their friends. It was so touching. It was also incredible to sing "L'Esprit du Dieu Saint" in French with all of the members of francophone Europe. We were able to assist all 3 sessions, I translated the second session from French into English for the English speakers, and Lorrane came to one of them! She loved it, and said it has inspired her to go to the temple. She felt the spirit strongly and loved the prayer.

I cannot begin to express my joy and love for this experience, which took my entire mission, validated it, and, if I may express this in my own terms, put it into a beautiful musical montage that served as a perfect finale of a great season. 😁Now, rejuvenated and full of power, I plan to make the most out of these next 6 weeks, which I'm sure will go by way too fast, but which will be filled with miracles.

I love you all, I know this church is the true church of Jesus Christ, and that He truly has given us the greatest gifts of all: families, forgiveness, and the temple. I testify in His name, even our Savior Jesus Christ, amen.

Avec amour,

Elder Hall

Your Favorite Missionary

Our paparazzi

Monday, May 15, 2017

Green Temples and Tender Mercies

a patisserie that was too expensive but sooo good
So I don't know if anyone reads these besides the people I already saw yesterday, so if you do you I think you're great haha It was so fun to see my family, although I felt like they aren't real, and it was all just staged because after everything went right back to normal missionary life and it felt like a dream. But anyway, that's life as a missionary! This week was so full of things to do, we hardly even had any RDVs yet we were constantly busy.

On Tuesday we were trying to fix some things we had forgotten about in the way of stake business that we usually take care of, but we couldn't use the computers because the room in the church was being painted so we had to go to this sketchy part of town and use a cyber cafe to do all that (haha just writing this makes me sound so spoiled haha but seriously who goes to cyber cafes nowadays?) Then we tried to plan for Zone conference, then took a train to Lyon for our exchange with the assistants. We had a great conversation with this evangelist young African on the train, and it made me again thankful for the knowledge I have in this gospel. Then we were crossing a street and a guy stopped us and talked to us for about 45 minutes. He said that whenever he sees the missionaries we are dressed so well, our teeth are so good and we have a light. He was super funny and at the end he said "I don't know how many people thank you for what you do, but I want to be one of the ones that does. Thank you for making the world a better place." That really touched me, because that was the first time a random person has actually said thanks for the work I have been doing for 2 years here. It was a tender mercy.

exchange with elder underwood
My exchange was with Elder Underwood, and it was really great! I love doing exchanges with the assistants because I served in their ward for 3 transfers so we can go visit members that I love! We saw Sr. Barachant who is as cute as ever, another Soeur who is my friend, and had a great rdv with their ami who just needed to feel loved. Then we saw The Zinn's! They are the amazing American family whom I just love. It was so fun because all the kids remembered me and we were just able to laugh and laugh haha

We came back and the next morning we cleaned a ton for our apartment inspection, and the Austin's did it, and the best part were the cookie bars she brought us! We did some shopping for Zone conference food, then we had our interviews with president. It was great to see them, and my interview was good as always, plus I got my recommend for the Paris temple dedication on Sunday! Elder Menzel joined in our équipe for the next couple days, and it was so fun to spend more time with him!

Zone conference (sad seeing my friends leave)
On Friday we had Zone conference, and it was all about Eternal Marriages and temples. Elder Hoffmann and I gave a "green temple report" talking about how our zone is doing in helping people find ancestors to bring to the Paris temple dedication. We made a big sign with the Paris temple on it made out of the names of the people our zone has helped, and overall we have found 1117 names to do ordinances for! Then we also made little green temples (like the ones on family search but with the Paris temple instead of the salt lake) and hid them everywhere so they had to find them! So fun! Then the Soeur presented about eternal marriage and it was cool to learn and think about, especially since that's (weird to think about) the next stage of my life. EEEEKKK! For lunch Soeur Austin made my favorites: homemade macaroni and cheese and meatballs!

delicious Italian food
We also had stake conference this past weekend and it was really good. My favorite part was when the stake president said that sometimes the Spirit gives him "un grand coup de pied dans les fesses spirituelle" hahaha

So there, a very busy but very good week. Lorrane is still doing well every week! Geneva is warm and I love it!

This week for our presentation, we read in Luke 15 about the parables Christ gave, when three things were lost and found, we hope much joy the people had when they were finally found. Just like in D&C when we are told that our joy is great when we help bring but 1 soul to Christ, so it is greater when we bring many. I feel that joy as I participate in missionary work for both sides of the veil. I feel the spirit as we teach and testify about temples and families and as I see people change and turn towards Christ. How great has been my joy! I know that this is true and I testify of it!

I love you all! Have a great week!

Avec amour,

Elder Hall

Your Favorite Missionary

Monday, May 8, 2017

En Bref

thug life
What a week, rainy as ever but luckily I found a nice big umbrella that doubles as a walking cane in our apartment. It's super classy (by missionary standards haha) and so it made a good sidekick. This week we did some stuff. I'll cut to the chase because I'm tired now haha

We gave some more blessings this week to missionaries and members, and even blessed an apartment for a member who needed it. As always it feels so great to exercise the priesthood and know that I have been entrusted with such a sacred responsibility. I hope to be always ready and worthy to use it. We also were able to do some service for an older Soeur in our ward. She needed us to do some courses for her, but then we had to go back and forth from the same two tram stops for 2 hours because everything kept going wrong...

waffle party! 
We had a great lesson with Lorrane this week. She is doing super well. She has a lot of great questions and is able to piece a lot of gospel things together. She also has made a kind of commitment to herself to stay with it, seeing as sometimes she tries to leave but then the Spirit makes her not, so she finally said that she will hold to her faith and defend her beliefs. She is integrating well and receiving a lot of blessings. Well, at our rdv we invited Celine (her friend from America who is here as a student) and Sandrina (the bishops daughter who is Portuguese and just got back from her mission) and we taught and talked then we prepared Belgian waffles for them all to get to know each Other! It was super fun and delicious, they are all great! After, Celine didn't have anything to do, so we asked her if she wanted to come do some passbacks with us and she did! We had her first porting experience, we contacted people and did the passbacks. She really enjoyed it and we are hoping that she'll feel the spirit of missionary work and decide to go! She was like our little blue but is a girl haha

service with elder Eklund! 
We also had an amazing district Meeting, we talked all about Christ and his connection to the temple. We talk a lot about the temple but sometimes we forget why, but it's true that it's all really about Christ and how we can become like him and learn from Him. Plus the Paris temple is getting so close to being dedicated! I'm so excited!

I went on an exchange with Elder Eklund, he's in his second transfer and he is such a stud. We were able to visit a ton of members, do some service and has some funny conversations. He's a stud and it's impressive to me how good of a missionary he already is!

some of the African food we ate
Then we finished off the week by eating with Suzanne and her family and the soeurs. She made us SOOO much African food and it was so good. She also showed us some funny African pastor who makes inspirational music videos. They are funny people, and I loved being there with them!

Sorry this isn't super long, but we are doing well! Things here are great, we went on a beautiful hike today and everything is awesome! Keep letting your lights shine and blessing the lives of others!

Avec amour,

Elder Hall

Your Favorite Missionary

top of the mountain 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Soggy Socks and Hot Milk

It's been a rainy, slightly dreary week here, with soggy socks and hot milk. Let me explain, and as always, we can start with the beginning! Well, we will start with the before the beginning beginning. Here in Swiss, after Easter, the stores put all the chocolate on sale for 1/2 off, so I bought a bunch of chocolate, and one of them is a blueberry one and wow, it's wow. Hahaha, also, if you saw a video of us singing in a train with a random mec, ya on our way to Lyon we were standing in the back of the train because there weren't enough seats and there was a ukulele so I started playing, then a couple other missionaries did, then this guy came back and was like "I like to play too" and he pulled out this belt and I thought he was going to kill us, but it was just a ton of harmonicas and a guitar and we just jammed for an hour and a half! It was so so fun!

Elder Curtis!
Ok, now to this week. It started off with an exchange with the English elders here in Geneva. I was able to go with Elder Curtis, who is from Arizona. He's super funny, and I've known him since the beginning of his mission. We had to go to a doctors appointment for my head, because (I didn't want to say anything until I got a professional opinion so now I can tell you all) we went to get my haircut by Vanessa, our Brazilian ami, and she was cutting it and then was like "you have a mushroom on your head" and her husband, who is a geimocologist (wow I don't know how to spell that) was like "ya, that's going to eat your skin and your hair will fall out" so I fixed a rdv chez the doctor and we went. Fortunately, the doctor looked at it and assured me that it's just a mole hahaha so don't worry!

Fun fact: mushroom in Mongolian is "moog"

But then we were able to do some passbacks on our exchange and we contacted some cool people. It was super rainy so not a lot of people wanted to talk, and the hole in my shoe made my socks all wet, but it's okay! Then I lost my contacts because they fell out of my eyes so I was blind for the rest of the exchange, but we got to our RDVs ok. There were some sisters in our zone who needed some blessings, so we were able to help them. They both asked me to give them the blessings, and as always, I love the feeling of letting the spirit speak through me, even if I am nervous. I know that with faith, everything will be okay, and one of them is already free of her problem!

hot milk
On Wednesday night, we were invited to mutual to talk to the young men about missions. We should them our schedules, the app, we talked about experiences we've had and answered their questions (which were all about the scariest things that have happened to us haha), then we did role plays with them on how to respond to questions and criticisms from friends and strangers. One kid didn't quite know how to respond, so he told us that we cannot disprove him if he's doing push-ups and then proceeded to start doing push-ups hahaha. It was fun to teach them, and it made me realize how much I have learned and grown on my mission, and how I can comfortably talk to people about the gospel now. They were all super excited about the idea of serving a mission, so it was great!

samedi Sportif ft. Darge! 
On Saturday, Darge (dar-gee) came to samedi Sportif, and played volleyball with us! Then he asked us to help translate for him to buy a bus pass, so we did. He is so great, like a little child, very trusting and humble and willing to learn. We explained a little bit about the word of wisdom when he asked if we wanted some coffee as a thank you for helping him. Then he insisted on taking us to a cafe and that we would all drink hot milk instead! So we went to a cafe, sat down and ordered hot milk hahaha surprisingly it was super delicious and now I'm hooked! He is progressing well and came to church (even though he was supposed to go to the English ward haha). He also told us that in Ethiopia cows wander around like dogs and then come back at night to sleep haha Also, his favorite new food here is cereal, but with cold milk. ;)

me finding my ancestors haha
We also have been working on helping people find their ancestors, and even finding our own! I have been finding many of my ancestors, including French ones, who need the ordinances of the gospel! As we have been doing this, it's been so cool to see miracles happen and people's hearts turn towards their fathers, just in time for the temple dedication! I LOVE FAMILY HISTORY! There is really such a cool feeling that comes when we find a member of our family we didn't even know existed. They are so anxiously waiting to be found and to be helped, and it's only us that can help them! I can't wait to go to the temple and be a small part in helping save my family. I feel so close to them. I know that it blesses all those who engage in the work, and so I encourage you all to take some time and find out where you are from! It will bless you so much!

Have a great week! I love you all! Try some hot milk.

Avec amour,

Elder Hall

Your Favorite Missionary