Monday, April 29, 2013


Bonjour Ma Famille,

Well, it has been another great week to be a missionary.  Number one miracle of the week, the two Campaner children were finally baptized!  I heard that it was absolutely wonderful and that everything went perfectly.  I am so happy for them.  They will be the first people that I have taught to be baptized, that's super exciting.  Even though I wasn't able to be there for the event, I feel so blessed to have gotten to witness some of the steps of the miracle.

It was another down week in the apartment.  I'm not really sure that things could be more organized and my mind feels a little bit like mush after so many hours of studying the gospel.  I am definitely getting through a lot of material and it's great.  I am learning a lot.  It's kind of making up for my laziness in seminary.  In seminary, I always read.  But, I didn't like my teacher telling me what I had to read (surprise, surprise), so I always went back to just reading the Book of Mormon.  Haha, I got all the way through Exodus in the Old Testament, Acts in the New Testament, and maybe 1/3 of the way through D&C in all of my years in seminary.  This time is giving me the opportunity to catch up on the other scriptures that I previously neglected.  This crazy amount of studying will be a huge blessing, God has to have a purpose behind it.

During my many hours of studying, I came across a cool idea.  Christ performed the Atonement for us.  This is the most wonderful gift.  Through it, we can receive more happiness in this life and have all of the blessings and promises of joy in the life to come.  But, what do we have to do to utilize the Atonement?  Essentially, we must keep the commandments--do the things that Christ has asked us to do.  Okay, so that's logical.  Christ sets the stipulations that we must follow to use His gift to us.  What are these commandments?  They are things that we do in life that bring us happiness, not just because they allow us to utilize the Atonement, but because they are just generally good things to do.  So basically, Christ offers us complete happiness for the price of us being willing to do things that will make us happy.  That seems like a pretty good deal to me.

The several days that we were able to leave the apartment for a couple hours, we visited members and less-actives.  We're starting to create better relations with people and are seeing some changes in the ward.  There were actually seven less-active members at church yesterday, several of which we had visited.  That was exciting.  Haha, church is very interesting though.  Our ward is rather...apostate.  The most apostate ward in the mission, according to President Roney.  Yesterday our bishop, probably the only 100% doctrinally sound member, was out of town.  We've got some work to do. Oh the stories I could tell...  All of our investigators besides Chan Than either moved or left on a two month vacation last week.  This will probably be a blessing, we can focus on the ward.

Things are great, I love my mission.  Thanks for all of you and the love and support that I feel.  The church is true and we're so blessed to be a part of it.  I love being a missionary.

Je t'aime,
Soeur Alisa Hulme

Monday, April 22, 2013


Bonjour Ma Famille,

It has been a great week!  We were able to get out a little more, went to a zone conference (incredible, as always), and are seeing some improvements in our ward.  Work is definitely different here than what I am used to.  After having interviews with President, he told us that our main focus should be on strengthening the ward.  There is very little point to finding and teaching a bunch of investigators, only to bring them to a ward that can't support them.  So, that has been our work here this transfer.  We are striving to work with members, constantly doing "public relations" (most of the missionaries refer to it as "endearing," but I think "public relations" is funnier and it has a nice, little abbreviation when I put it into my planner).  It's great, one of our greatest tools for this is the fact that I can play the piano (thanks Mom), but the skills that Dad has taught me have payed off this week aswell.  We were able to get into the homes of a couple member families and less-actives.  What better way to strengthen our public relations than to introduce them to real American chocolate chip cookies?  They don't know what they are, but they love them.  We are starting to see some progress in the ward.

There are a couple amazing members here that have been such a support to our work.  Our bishop and the DMP (I don't know what that is in English...ward mission leader maybe?) are wonderful.  They are very focused on helping us be successful here and are so willing to help with the work.  It's great.  Our DMP's name is Frere (Brother) Vital, but we affectionately refer to him as Sensai.  He is a karate master and makes us food from Vietnam every week.  He's a convert and is absolutely fantastic.  Our bishop, Eveque (Bishop) Martin, is such a rock.  He has been bishop here for over eight years and literally holds this whole ward together.  He and his wife are both converts and have a huge, wonderful family with several daughters who have served missions.  We went to their house last night for dinner.  For part of the meal, we eat this mushed up thing of stinging nettle.  Who knew that you could eat that?  Actually, it was not bad.  So there you go, we're working with great people who feed us interesting food.  What more could you want?

We are still teaching a couple investigators aswell.  Our main progressing investigator is Chan Than.  He is an older-aged man from Cambodia.  It's definitely interesting teaching him because he only speaks limited French, like us.  We are constantly switching back and forth between French and Cambodian scriptures...not only two different languages, but two different alphabets aswell.  We have really seen a change in him the last couple weeks, though.  While he is progressing slowly, he is getting there.  It's amazing to see God's hand in teaching him.  In any other circumstance, it may seem nearly impossible to teach someone with such a language barrier.  It would be ridiculous, however, that God would let something as small as a language barrier stop His work from progressing.

One thing that I have loved working on since I have been out has been my journal.  That should be no surprise.  I have been a huge advocate for journals for years, but it has been incredible to do it here.  It's something that I have put a ton of time and effort into...doing it during meals and taking advantage of the time in the appartment that we have had lately.  I don't only write down the daily events and the miracles, though.  I have all of my thoughts, impressions, cool things that I have learned, personal progression, etc.  My companions like to refer to it as my "novel" I tend to write quite a bit.  Let's just say that I go through a Pilot G2 pen at least once a week.  It is fantastic and such a treasure.  Even when I wasn't on a misison, though, my journals were a source of so much happiness for me and it is amazing now to have my life completely documented.  They are definitely one of my greatest accomplishments.  It's easy to see the Lord's hand years later when it is recorded.  If you're not a journal keeper, I suggest you start.

This week, I actually had some extra time to study too.  Soeur Fairchild is a little better, but with allergies, things set her back quite a bit.  It's insane.  Going to church and smelling perfume or having the neighbors clean their mirrors can set her back for a whole day.  But it's fine, I'm getting stuff done.  I've made a significant dent in the missionary library.  I have also moved on to Doctrine and Covenants, now that the New Testament is done.  One thing that I studied a lot this week was Zion's Camp.  While the outcome/purpose that the members of the camp had expected were not realized, God had a higher purpose for this band of saints.  The Lord needed future leaders who had been tried, given experience, and had been personally trained.  They needed to be the ones who were proven obedient and faithful to the Lord, even under difficult circumstances.  God promised them that "all victory and glory" would be brought to pass by "their diligence, faithfulness, and prayers of faith" (D&C 103).  This success was not brought about in the way that they had desired or foreseen.  While the whole experience was a trial of their faith, I think that one of the most difficult parts for them would be dealing with the realization that they were not going to have the "success" that they had expected.  Completely submitting your will to the Lord's is the big test of this life.  If you truly comprehend and live according to this ideal, your life and the eternities will be blessed in ways unimaginable.  Those in Zion's Camp had to learn to be content with God's purposes.  The Lord was testing and training His leaders.  Seventy-nine of the eighty-two original leaders of the church later came from this group.  Of this, Joseph Smith said, "He (God) could not organize His kingdom with men...unless He took them from a body of men who had offered their lives."  God needs a strong, dedicated people.  Although He may be "frustrated" at times by the quality of army (yes, I finally read Elder Holland's talk...absolutely phenomenal), we can find peace in knowing that we are becoming who He wants us to be if we are constantly striving to make our will allign with His.

I love you so much.  Thank you for everything that you all do for me.  I am also very grateful for everyone who has been a blessing to my family at home lately.  I am very excited to get to talk to you on Mother's Day.  I will be able to do it through Skype, which means that you will need to set up an account and get me your information.  I'll let you know more as it gets closer, but it will most likely be sometime that morning (as we're eight hours ahead).  Everything is wonderful here and I am so happy to be a missionary!  Have a great week!

Je t'aime,
Soeur Alisa Hulme

PS-- I can't believe that Patrick was able to figure out where we lived in Carcassonne just by looking at the picture I sent.  Here's my address if you'd like to check his accuracy... 49 Rue Marceau Perrutel, 11000 Carcassonne (but please don't send any mail to it, continue sending it all to the mission office).
PPS-- And yes, Soeur Fairchild is allergic to peanuts.  So the peanut butter that you sent is all for me...not a bad thing.

Monday, April 15, 2013


Bonjour Ma Famille,
City Streets of Carcassonne

This week has been very...interesting.  Actually, this transfer has been altogether interesting.  I guess I'll skip the fluffy introduction and go straight to the climax of my week.  

(Disclaimer: Do not freak out.  We are fine.  Everything is good.)

Thursday night we prayed that we would have a miracle lesson the next day.  Let's just say that this prayer was not answered in a way that we could have ever preconceived.  We were randomly woken up at 4:00 AM (miracle #1) to a terrible, yet familiar smell... like when you are filling up a lawnmower or your car at Flying J.  You get the picture.  Our apartment was completely flooded in gas... a lot of gas.  In fact, it was not just us, the entire apartment building was filled.  We did everything that we could to try and solve the problem.  We opened up all of the windows, turned off the gas lines, worked with neighbors, etc.  Nothing seemed to work, though.  It was only getting worse.  By 8:00 AM, the carbon monoxide detector started going off (haha, not a good sign).  We obviously quickly left the building.  Through working with the mission office, we were able to get a government emergency employee to come and fix the problem.  It turns out that the guy who works in the garage next to our building knicked the gasline the day before and it had been going up and through our ventilation system.  But don't worry, the problem was fixed later that day and everything is aired-out now.  Cool part of the story (miracle #2), the guy who came to fix the gasline had a lot of questions and was super interested in the church.  We ended up teaching him an hour and a half lesson on the restortation.  It was awesome.  So there you go, God answers prayers in interesting ways, but I would definitely consider that the miracle lesson that we had prayed for.

Other than that, the week has been fairly uneventful (as if many things could be considered more eventful than that event).  Sister Fairchild is great.  She is a very good missionary but she has been sick a lot.  She is basically extremely allergic to...the world.  Perfume, all cleaning products, mold, dust, smoking, grass, basically any bad food allergy that you can think of, etc.  I have never seen anything like it, I feel really bad for her.  Because of it, she is sick a lot.  So besides the couple conferences that we went to (which were great), we were stuck in the apartment three days last week.  So, I read my scriptures, studied, and played the piano all week.  It's difficult, especially as a missionary, when you can't be out working with the people.  But, I'm still trying to stay productive.  I really am so blessed that I have been able to stay healthy throughout my mission, most of my companions have not been as lucky.  We're able to get things done here, but just at a slower pace.  I think God is trying to teach me compassion and patience.  If that is His objective, this is definitely the way to do it.

I really am loving my time here and am learning a lot.  A mission is such a wonderful thing.  I hope that you are doing well and I love you all!  Have a great week!

Je t'aime,

Soeur Alisa Hulme
The view from Alisa's window each morning.

Sister Hulme and Sister Fairchild on the Train

At a Conference.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Bonjour Ma Famille,

So this week has definitely been crazy.  I may have moved to Carcassonne on Monday, but I was not there most of the week.  We were up in Geneva Switzerland on Wednesday and Thursday doing Soeur Fairchild's legality.  She was illegal in both France and Switzerland at the time.  Let's just say that I was glad that no one at the boarder control stopped us because I would not have a companion anymore.  Haha, we may have been teaching people in jail right now (just like Aaron...and about a billion other people in the scriptures).  It was beautiful and they had amazing chocolate.  We also got to do some contacting, which was super cool because we stopped people that spoke about ten different languages.  On the way back down to the south, we stopped in Lyon for two days for a conference.  It was for all of the new missionaries starting their second transfer.  It was great, I got to see all of my friends from the MTC including Soeur Bentley.  They are all doing wonderful and it was amazing to see their growth after just a few weeks in the field.  It's nice to finally be back to my sector, but I'm not going to be here for long.  We're traveling to Montpellier for a zone conference and Toulouse for stake conference this coming week.  Haha, it sounds like I'm on vacation traveling around Europe, but I promise that it is work.  It's cool seeing the different places, though.  Even though I probably won't ever serve in most of them, at least I can say that I have been there.  I seriously have been called to the coolest mission ever!

Next off...General Conference!  I have always absolutely loved General Conference, but it was a little different this time.  I only got to see two sessions in English and still haven't seen the Sunday afternoon one (so if Elder Holland was insanely incredible, don't tell me.  I want to read it myself).  Also, I watched the first session in French...which was definitely interesting.  If there was some crazy announcement made (like sister missionaries are now allowed to extend and serve for two years), please tell me because I didn't catch that but definitely think that it would be an inspired moved.  It was cool to watch a session in French.  I was able to understand most of it--except translation is always a little funny, especially when the speaker deviates from his original script for the talk.  Haha, like when Elder Ballard was making a joke about President Packer at the beginning of his talk.  The translator was going on fine but then was like, " for your talk President Packer."  Everyone in the Conference Center was laughing, but none of the French people understood why.  It was also interesting every now and then when I could catch a little of the English that was dimmly being played in the background.  Let's just say that I'm excited to read that session to make sure that I understand exactly what the speakers intended to be said.

I still thoroughly enjoyed Conference, as usual.  It was super interesting to look back and picture myself just six months ago during the last sessions of Conference.  I've always tended to use General Conference as my time to make new resolutions, rather than making them "New Year's Resolutions" like most people.  It made more sense to me because I could renew my goals twice a year and I was always more inspired after hours of hearing the words of God than I was after a long New Year's Eve party with tons of games and food.  Imagine that?  But, besides being on the other side of the world, it has been cool to see my own spiritual growth in the last few months.  Just six months ago I didn't know that a mission would be possible and now I'm about to start my fourth month of this crazy adventure.  I am so grateful for the gift of modern revelation.  We are so blessed to have servants of the Lord on the earth today who can be His mouthpieces.  Likewise, we are able to receive our own personal revelation.  Obviously God wants to talk to us and direct us in our lives.  Why not take advantage of that?  I hope that I can continue to improve and find myself in an even better place by the time that the next General Conference rolls around.

One thing that I have been working on lately is my testimony of the Book of Mormon.  For me, the Book of Mormon has always been true.  I can honestly say that there has never been a doubt in my mind of its truthfulness.  It is just one of those things in the Gospel that I have been blessed to know with certainty.  The coming forth of the Book of Mormon has always been so logical to me.  Prophets of old recorded the words of God, the record was barried in a hillside for centuries after the destruction of the people, it was brought forth and delivered by the power of God through an angel to an unschooled young man, and was then translated through the power and guidance of God.  Even though the history may sound crazy to some, it didn't to me.  I have also had many experiences where I have been reading from its pages and have had questions answered, revelation received, and comfort granted through the words on the page and the spirit that accompanies it.  The Book of Mormon is true.  Lately however, for some reason, I have felt like I needed a stronger testimony of its truthfulness.  At first I was confused, I knew it was true.  But, I figured that it wouldn't hurt to have a more powerful testimony, as I testify of its truthfulness daily here.  I came to realize that I had never really taken Moroni's challenge.  I had never really prayed to know that it was true.  I decided that if that was what we were challenging our investigators to do, I should probably do that myself.  So I did.  It has been amazing to me to see how the testimony that I didn't previously believe could be stronger could be strengthened even more.  We can always be improving our testimonies.  Even if you are a lifelong member of the church who knows that it's true, you can always strengthen that conviction.  That could be by praying for that assurance, more thoroughly studying the topic, or by choosing to live more fully according the things that you already know.  You can always become more converted.  That's what this life is all about.

It has been a great week.  I'm very excited to be serving with Soeur Fairchild in Carcassonne.  We are going to see miracles here.  It is an area that they seriously considered taking missionaries out of last transfer, but we are going to turn it around.  We are God's hands here and we are entitled to inspiration for what we can do to strengthen this sector.

I hope that you are all doing wonderful.  I am sorry that I am so bad at writing you all back but I really appreciate all of the support that you give me.  I love you all and feel so blessed for the amazing people that I have in my life.  Also, happy birthday Mom!  You are truly one of the greatest blessings in my life.  You inspire me, you direct me, you listen to me, you love me, you make me laugh, you obsess over Christmas with me, you forced me to take piano lessons (definitely helpful now), and you are always there for me.  But, more than anything, you are one of my very best friends.  Thank you for all that you do.  I love you!  I hope you have an incredible day!

Je t'aime,
Soeur Alisa Hulme

Monday, April 1, 2013


Bonjour Ma Famille,

Well, it is the end of my first transfer....and I'm writing this letter from Carcassonne (yes, just like the game!)  Anyways, I'll tell you the backstory and then explain more.  We got transfer calls on Friday.  I was pretty positive that I would stay in Lyon, it is a huge sector and no one leaves in less than 2-3 transfers, especially a new missionary.  Because of this preconceived notion, I was freaked that they would take away both of my trainers (which they did) and leave me alone in the city with someone new.  So, I memorized the whole metro and all of the trams, trains, and buses.  I reorganized the whole appartment and finally emptied the rest of my suitcases just last week.  Needless to say, I was absolutely shocked to get the call from President.  But, I am very excited about this new assignment.

Carcassonne is absolutely nothing like Lyon.  It is down south and our area covers all the way down to the coast.  Yes, I am being sent to the hot, humid south without air-conditioning for the summer months.  Prepare to receive tons of pictures with an extremely cherry-red face.  But, I'm pretty sure that it is one of the most awesome places in the mission (no bias).  There are over 163 castles just in our sector, including the biggest one in the mission (which I can conveniently see through my bedroom window).  Lyon was a huge, international city.  It was full of college students, we had a large ward, everything was public transportation, etc.  Carcassonne is very cute, old, small, and is very much a tourist town.  It's basically just like Old Lyon but that's what the entire city looks like.  They just barely opened this area to sisters last transfer so we're basically starting over.  The ward is small and struggling.  Guess who is the new ward pianist?  Yeah, that's right, it's a good thing I practiced in the MTC.  Apparently the ward also has a problem with the mission sending sister missionaries to the ward.  They were super offended because their ward wasn't "worthy enough to have missionaries that held the priesthood".  Haha, they got a very strongly worded letter for Elder Anderson of the Twelve about two weeks ago...hopefully that helps.  We're definitely starting from the ground up.  I'm super stoked, we're going to see miracles.  Oh, my new companion's name is Sister Fairchild.  She's from Idaho and seems great.  I just barely arrived a few hours ago, so I will definitely give you more updates next week.  

Last week in Lyon was great.  Unfortunately, the Campaners moved their baptism date to this next month, so I won't be able to see the baptisms.  Oh, well.  I'm happy for them.  Funny story of the week...  So we were teaching a lesson to one of our amis.  We were teaching the word of wisdom.  When we told her that we don't use tabacco, she gave us the strangest look and then asked, "Wait, so I can't have ketchup anymore?"  We quickly corrected her and let her know that eating tomatos is definitely not against the word of wisdom.  Apparently I need to work on pronouncing things correctly.  Another story to prove that... Yesterday I bore my testimony in church because it was my last Sunday.  My French was pretty good and the grammar was fine, but again, I have a very strong American accent.  I had several ward members thinking that I was being transferred to Pakistan instead of Carcassonne afterwards.  Don't know how they got that interpretation, but I'm definitely glad that that is not the case.

I have absolutely loved my time in Lyon.  Though it has been short, I have learned so much.  I have loved the missionaries that I have been able to work with too.  It has been a great time and I can't wait to start this new adventure.  I hope that you all had a wonderful week and a great Easter!  I love you all!

Je t'aime,
Soeur Alisa Hulme