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

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