I guess I haven't sent home an update in two weeks so this might be a little long...
So last Sunday we performed our song in sacrament meeting. It went very well and it was definitely fun. The Spirit was so strong as all of the departing missionaries were able to share their testimonies through song. Haha, it was quite a bit of work to teach a group of 10 elders their parts, however. I guess it was good practice. The funny part was, after practicing the song tirelessly all week (I guess as much as we could have while still maintaining the rigorous studying schedule at the MTC), the song was not all that I had to do in sacrament. Every week they pick two missionaries from the whole branch to give talks, you don't know about it beforehand, they just randomly pick you. Yeah, you guessed it. I gave a talk too. It was pretty intimidating, especially as the entire thing had to be in French...and I had only outlined it (because that's how I'd normally do it in English and I assumed that they wouldn't have me do a talk and the musical number). I was definitely wrong with that one. But, I think that it went well, it was probably more heartfelt because it wasn't all planned. There was definitely some poor grammar in there, but I was happy with it. It was actually a very cool experience to talk about the Gospel and share my testimony in French my last day of the MTC. I am in no way fluent in French, but it was a nice blessing to see how far I had come and to be able to share that testimony with others. And...I cried. I would not consider myself an emotional person. I do not cry often, didn't cry at my farewell talk, haven't cried from missing people while I've been here (even though I do), etc. But, for some reason, I just feel the Spirit so strong when I'm speaking in French. This mission has broken me. Hopefully I can pull it together when I get home, but it really is amazing to feel the Spirit so strongly and to get to share my testimony with others.
I loved my time at the MTC, but it is fun to finally be here in France. It's definitely different. I have two great trainers. That's right, I'm in a tripanionship again. I guess that God knows that I need a lot of help because I've had four companions in the last 6 weeks to teach me. My trainers are Soeur Pfost and Soeur Hyrkas. Soeur Pfost is 22, is from Ogden, UT and is at Utah State studying elementary education. Soeur Hyrkas is from Finland, is 24 years old, and is studying finance. I'm definitely the young one. I'm the first 19 year old sister to come into this mission. And, as far as I know, the youngest sister to come to France as a whole. I've already learned so much from my trainers and am anxiously trying to gain all of the knowledge that I possibly can (but I'm not writing down every word that comes out of their mouths...if you get that reference). We have so many new sisters coming into the mission in the coming transfers that we have to be prepared to train after the first two transfers (three months). That is super intimidating and I hope that I will have more time than that, but I have to be prepared. I absolutely love President Roney, I already feel like we are very close. It didn't hurt that he chose "Angels We Have Heard on High" as our mission song. How perfect, I would have a Christmas song as a theme song for the next year and a half. He also did something really cool the first night that we were here. He took each of the new missionaries to his office and polished their shoes. It was symbolic in so many ways. It made me excited to have the opportunity to start serving others 24 hours a day.
I am serving in Lyon. All of the other new missionaries got sent to different places in Southern France, but they kept me right here in the middle of the big city-- tons of big buildings, public transportation, and endless, very confusing streets. It's definitely something that I am not used to. But, it's great. I'm starting to get it all down. Oh, and I brought the snow with me. No one has seen this much snow here in forever, and it's almost spring! I guess I can't escape winter. As far as the language goes...hmm... I'm definitely still learning. I can maybe understand about 5% of what the people say (if they say it slow, repeat it several times, and my companions translate for me). It's an adventure. I am seeing progress, but they said that it usually takes a few transfers before you feel really comfortable with the language. I figure that the only way to learn is to just put myself out there, which is exactly what I'm doing. I can't wait until I will be able to talk to these people more. Surprise, surprise-- I actually spoke in church this last Sunday too...and taught the Sunday School lesson. Crazy stuff. But, they're just throwing me in. I really love the ward that I am getting to serve in. It's incredible to be in a place where there are not many members and being able to see how those who do have the Gospel are truly converted. They give everything they have to the church and supporting the missionary efforts. I have also come to love the couple investigators that I have had the privilege to teach lessons to. It has been amazing to see people in the way that Christ does as I have been acting as His representative in this city.
With all of the new things to learn, there is no way that I could do it without the Savior. When it's frustrating not know the people, the language, the culture, the city, etc., it's nice to remind myself that Christ is fluent in France. Christ knows these people absolutely perfectly. He knows everything and knows how he can best help me to accomplish everything that he has in store during this mission. If it were in the plans, He could make me fluent in French right now. He could make all of the stresses and worries go away. He could give everyone the Gospel. But, that's not part of the plan. That is not the way that it is supposed to work. I'm so excited to see what He has in store for me and the people that I am going to meet here in France. One scripture that I found this week was in Mosiah 5:13 where it asks, "For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served?" I thought that was an awesome question. I have found that I have come closer to the Savior in these past 7 weeks than I have at any other time. It's such an amazing time to focus on bringing others closer to the Savior through service and in turn receiving a closer relationship to Him myself.
Thank you all for your love and prayers. I can truly feel them. It is so incredible to feel that extra strength as I'm walking down the freezing streets, teaching a lesson in broken French, or contacting random people on the street who can't understand what I am saying. I can really feel of your stength and the help of the Lord. This mission is truly amazing. I am loving it, it is the most amazing experience that I have ever had. I know that this is where I am supposed to be. Je peux faire les chose difficile avec Dieu. I love you all!
Soeur Alisa Hulme