Bonjour Ma Famille-
This week has been amazing, everything is going so well! I'm slowly being able to speak more and more French. We've even had several PVL days (parler votre langue jours, AKA: speak your language days). Yes, they are exactly what they sound like, absolutely no English. Wow, they really are crazy and hard. By the end of the first day of doing them my brain was absolutely fried. I couldn't speak French or English....or formulate a thought for that matter. It's crazy how much French is taking over, I literally conjugate verbs into different tenses in my sleep. It has been interesting for me to get to this point where I just let go and speak. The first week or two it was difficult because I didn't want to say things wrong, sound dumb, or stumble over words. I'd always study hard and could unterstand it, read it, and write it for the most part, but speaking was a whole different story. I had faith that God would help me learn the language, but I wasn't progressing as fast as I wanted because I wasn't willing to speak it as much as I could have. I studied faith a lot this week and learned that faith is very much an action word. I realized then that I would be able to progress much faster in the language if I just opened my mouth and demonstrated my faith in God. I think that it's important to show our faith through action. I was able to grow so much more in French this week because I was willing to act on my faith rather than just profess it, "...for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith" Ether 12:6.
Speaking of French, funny story... Included in our array of language mistakes, we had a great one during one of our first lessons. We were praying for God to bless us with His power... "S'il vous plait, benisson nous avec votre force." But, because "bless" is a false cognate in French, we said, "S'il vous plait, blessons nous avec votre force." Essentually, we asked God to "hit/stirke" us with His force. Great times, I think God sometimes cracks a smile when us missionaries are learning a new language.
Another thing that I've learned this week is that there is truly something to be said of "BECOMING a missionary". I feel like when I came here, I thought that I could just will myself to be the perfect missionary. I thought that if I worked hard enough, had enough faith, and through the help of the Lord, I would quickly be able to take on the image of a missionary. While those things can eventually get me to that point, it is definitely a process. Having my will completely aligned with God's, not being distracted by things at home, constantly having the Spirit with me and being able to recognize its promptings, being a good teacher, loving those who I teach, having a posititve attitude, being teachable, having an incredible testimony, always having productive, meaningful study, etc.--there are so many things to be constantly improving on. I think that the process of becoming the perfect missionary is a lot like life and our progression to be like God. It takes time. Once you've done all that you can do, Christ's Atonement steps in and make you closer to the person who God wants you to be. I have definitely felt this as a missionary. It has been incredible for me this week to see little glimpses of the missionary that the Lord is making me into. I've learned the importance of patience and that change is rarely ever immediate. It's a gradual process that strengthens you each day as you are slowly and carefully molded by His hands.
Later on this week, I had the best surprise. Elder Josh Powell came back to the MTC to get his passport for Spain after spending a month in Texas. We got to see each other quite a bit this last week and it was great to have such a close friend here. He told me tons of stories and gave me advice for being out in the field. It made me so excited to get out to France. We had a great time...although it was always quite interesting when we'd be speaking in a mesh of French, Spanish, and English. That got a little crazy.
I am loving my time here and am trying to take advantage of every minute that I have. A year and a half really is not that long, sometimes I just think that I never want to go home (Mom, don't worry, I will). It's an incredible opporunity and I'm so grateful to have it. Thank you all for your love and support. I hope you have a great week, I love you all!
Soeur Alisa Hulme