Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"It has been incredible to see this miracle unfold." 5/28/2013

Our "Chateau"
We love contacting in the rain.
Bonjour Ma Famille,

So this week has been wonderful.  I love being a missionary.  Honestly, it is unlike any other experience that you can ever have.  You learn so much and are pushed in many different ways.  I have such a strong testimony that my mission is being perfectly catered to me.  I have had to exercise my faith so much more than I ever have in my life.

It's really interesting, a lot of missionaries talk about their transfers as a "bleue" as being the ones that require the most faith.  You're brand new, don't understand anything that people are saying, you're learning how to do missionary work, you're still getting used to being away from home, etc.  That always made sense to me...until I started this transfer.  Being a trainer is absolutely incredible.  I have prayed harder and put more trust in the Lord in the last two weeks than I ever have before.  Literally, as a trainer, He is the only one that I have to fall back on.  There is more responsibility when it comes to...everything and everything that I do is setting Soeur Luthi up for the rest of her mission.  I have been helped so much the last two weeks I cannot even explain it.  Everything that I have been able to do has been all God.  For example, my language skills have shot up insanely.  Before I became a trainer, I had made one phone call in French.  Well, now I man the phone and call people all of the time.  I'm taking over substantial parts of lessons, working a lot more with different people in the ward, etc.  I don't know how to explain in, it is different when you are the only one in the companionship that knows what is going on in any conversation or has a way to respond.  I feel like I was totally sheltered while I was being trained, especially last transfer when we honestly spent a lot of time in the apartment without opportunities to utilize my French.  But now, it is just coming.  God is giving what I need to accomplish the things that He wants.  It has seriously been amazing.  Haha, our bishop is super confused how I can suddenly speak French over night.  It's incredible.

While it has been cool to see the changes in myself, it has been even more incredible to see the changes in our ward.  We had a wonderful meeting with our évêque and DMP this week.  I feel like, unlike other meetings that we have had with this ward in the past, there was an overwhelming feeling of hope and an excitement for what we have recently seen.  Honestly, this ward is doing a 180.  For example, when we first came to Carcassonne, it was a struggle to get into the houses of any of the members.  This week, already, we have planned to see five different families between the two équipes (companionships).  The lessons are good in classes.  The talks are good in sacrament.  The members are just happy.  Most of all, the Spirit is here.  I don't know that I've ever experienced what I did here before.  When I first got here, literally, you did not feel the Spirit at church.  It was not here at all.  The past couple Sundays, Soeur Fairchild and I just look at each other after church with a look of amazement and ask, "What just happened here?"  During this meeting, the évêque looked at us and explained that in his eight years of being a bishop, he has never felt a Spirit like this in his ward.   He told us that, the transfer before I was sent here, he had called President Roney and pleaded for him to send sister missionaries to the ward.  I don't know what we have done, but we have tried to do everything through inspiration.  When President sent sister here, all that he said was, "Carcassonne needs a miracle."  It has been incredible to see this miracle unfold.

Another cool follow-up to a miracle last week...  Remember that random lady that we found while contacting?  The one who just moved here and we helped get to church?  She was called as a ward missionary this Sunday.  How awesome is that?!

Right now, Soeur Luthi and I are focusing not only on strengthening the ward, but finding new people to teach.  I feel like there is a reason the missionaries for the last little while have had struggles finding people to teach here--it's because the ward wasn't ready to accept them.  Now that the ward is starting to look up, we are bound to find more miracle converts.

I hope that you all have a great week.  A mission is the greatest thing ever.  It seriously hurts my heart to think that I have been out here for almost 5 months, I never want to leave.  The church is true.  I love you all, thank you so much for your prayers!

Je vous aime,
Soeur Alisa Hulme

Welcome to our district.  Sister missionaries are taking over the mission.  I'm pretty sure
the only reason there is a companionship of elders is because we needed a district leader.

Monday, May 20, 2013

First Week As A Trainer 5/20/2013

Bonjour Ma Famille,

Oh wow, it has been a crazy, wonderful week.  I spent the majority of it up in Lyon picking up my bleue.  It was great, I absolutely love that city.  It feels like home even though I only served there for six weeks.  There is definitely something special about the first ville that you serve in.  We were there from Wednesday to Saturday and were able to go to conferences and do tons of contacting (my favorite). 
My new companion is Soeur Luthi (like "Lucy" with a lisp).  She is incredible and I love her so much already.  She is from California, goes to school at BYU, and has four sisters.  We are so similar and get along really well.  And, she is 19 too!  We are the only companionship in the mission with two 19 year old sisters, it is seriously so exciting to see the work here explode.  Companionships like this are only going to get more and more common as time goes by.  Soeur Luthi is exactly the bleue that I have been praying for.  Right from the start she told me that her goals were to give the mission everything that she has, work extremely hard, be exactly obedient, and see miracles.  Okay, so basically she repeated back to me my goals for this mutation ("transfer"...weird translation, right?).  She has so much fire and confidence, we're going to see some serious changes here!

In our short time together, we've already seen amazing things.  Let me share with you a few miracles...

We've had a little bit of work to do because we are opening up a new équipe (companionship) here.  We're making a new area book, starting with a completely empty phone, etc.  We have spent the past couple days getting organized.  One thing that we did was go through old progress records and set aside a couple names that looked promising.  The next day we got a call right out of the blue.  Long story short, an old investigator wanted to meet with us.  He hasn't been taught for two years and is now interested in retaking the missionary lessons.  He just so happened to be one of the few progress records that we had pulled the night before.  We taught him Saturday, he was at church yesterday and we have another rendez-vous tomorrow.  New amis are literally falling out of the sky.
While we were contacting, we ran into this lady.  She was super nice and explained to us that she was actually a member of our church.  She had just moved to Carcassonne and didn't know anything about our church services here.  We were quickly able to give her the information and she was at church yesterday.  Right place.  Right time.

Soeur Luthi was telling me about one of her friends in the MTC.  He and everyone in his family are members of the church except his grandpa.  This elder will actually be serving in our mission in a few weeks and is determined to teach and baptize his grandpa (because he lives here in Carcassonne).  Although he is the only non-member in his family, his grandpa has had no desire to see missionaries and doesn't want anything to do with the church.  Unfortunately, because there are only sisters serving here, it's not really possible for this elder to work with his grandpa.  So, we decided that we wanted to find and teach him.  After debriefing Soeur Luthi on our sector, we had an "ah ha" moment.  Soeur Fairchild and I actually were invited over by the elder's grandma at the end of last transfer.  We had a great conversation with her and her husband.  And, in fact, the husband invited us to come back another time.  After connecting all of the dots, we realized that we are already set up to teach this man.  How amazing is that?
We also had a little hindsight miracle.  Last transfer we did a lot with the Mulanda family in our ward.  They are a cute young family with 7 kids, they are great and literally fill up half of the primary.  The mom lives here with all of the children and the husband works in Africa.  We had lots of lessons with them last transfer, did family nights, taught the kids primary songs, etc.  The mom was constantly thanking us for the Spirit that we brought into their home and the things we were able to teach her and her children.  Because we didn't have many amis, we had time to meet with them more frequently.  But, more than that, we just really felt like this family needed our help for some reason.  Though not necessarily logical at the time, we continued seeing them several times a week.  Come to find out, the father called for a divorse a few weeks back, he's staying in Africa, they just lost basically all source of income, and he left them with tons of debt.  All of this just barely came out and she hasn't even told the kids yet.  We are continuing to work with them this transfer and are thankful for the inspiration we received to be there to strengthen the family last transfer as well.

Everything is going great.  The ward is continually improving week by week.  It seems slow, but when we look back to see how far it has come, the progress is incredible.  The Bishop and our DMP are overjoyed to have four sister missionaries here.  The work is really just going to explode.  They're calling ward missionaries now to help us too.  God knows exactly what He is doing with this sector.  I'm so ready to work hard and see His plans unfold.

Thank you for all of your love and support.  Haha, while in Lyon I was able to pick up my mail for the last month...  Let's just say that I have the best family and friends in the world because the assistants were literally rolling their eyes as they sat there and handed me letter after letter.  Thanks so much, I feel so blessed.  I love you all, have a wonderful week!

Je vous aime,
Soeur Alisa Hulme  

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Alisa is now training! 5/12/13

Bonjour Ma Famille,

It was absolutely wonderful to get to talk to you all on Saturday.  I loved it and it made me so happy.  I guess I'll just give a little update this week for those who I wasn't able to talk to.

Most pressing, we got our exchange calls... and I am training.  Both Soeur Fairchild and I are staying in Carcassonne.  But, our companionship is splitting and we're both training.  In the U.S., when you are a new missionary, they refer to you as a "green".  Here, you are a "bleue".  You keep that status through your second transfer because you are still being trained.  So technically, today is my first day not in training as a bleue, and tomorrow I will pick up my bleue (fresh out of the MTC).  No lapse time whatsoever.  I've never been a senior companion...or even a normal junior companion.  I guess that all changes soon.  I have just been taking a lot of deep breaths, repeating the phrase "God qualifies who He calls.  God qualifies who He calls..." , and occasionally eating cookies dipped in Nutella when I get too stressed.  It will be great, though.  I really am so excited.  I'm most nervous about my French skills, but this will definitely just push me off the edge and force me to become fluent a lot faster than I would have been.  It's crazy to me that this is happening after the transfer that I just had.  It was not the easiest.  I can count the lessons that we taught in six weeks on my two hands.  But, maybe God needed me to learn other things so that I would be prepared for this next step.  I hope I'm ready.  It has been one of my goals from day one to be ready to train by my third transfer.  I didn't expect it to happen, but I wanted to be prepared so that God could call me to do whatever He needed.  One thing is for sure, I will have Him with me the whole way...and I will definitely need it.
I've had a quote going through my head a lot since that call.  Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, "The Lord does not ask us about our ability, but only about our availability.  And then, if we demonstrate our dependability, the Lord will increase our capability."  My dad has this quote on the wall in his bishop's office.  I always thought it funny and rather clever that he would have that quote plainly in view for everyone that he extended a calling to.  I think that it definitely applies to my situation here.  I am excited to take on this new challenge and watch the Lord work miracles through me.

One more highlight of the week, I got to work in a garden!  I was so excited.  At home, we do all of that the week of Mother's Day, it was awesome to keep that tradition alive in France.  We were talking to our bishop about how we could serve him and his family.  They have a massive garden and were planning on planting last week.  We insisted that we help with it.  He was super confused and said that girls in France don't work outside, they do house work (how ridiculous is that?).  Needless to say, we won that argument and spent a wonderful day out in the sun, planting a garden.  I loved it!

Well, that's about it for this week.  I'm getting prepped for a crazy couple weeks to come.  I love you all and hope that you are doing wonderful.  Thanks for everything!

Je vous aime,
Soeur Alisa Hulme

(So, the way I have been ending my letters, "Je t'aime", is not necessarily wrong...this way is just more right.  I realized that about three weeks into my mission but didn't want to change it.  It would hurt my pride too much to admit I was wrong.  But, there you go.  That is better French now.)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Bonjour Ma Famille-

It has been another great week to be a missionary.

I'm sorry, Mary, that you think my letters have become "too spiritual" lately.  I thought I'd start this one out with two stories just for you.  I hope that they are "approved".  I almost killed my companion twice this week.  Just to be perfectly clear, that was a hyperbole.  An exageration.  She was not near death, but she did have allergic reactions.  First story... So we were at the store and I was picking up the toilet paper.  Trying to be economical, I just got the cheapest one.  Who sells scented toilet paper?!  I didn't even know that was a thing.  One thing is for sure, it is definitely a problem for someone who can't handle anything with scent.  Needless to say, we're not using it and have to buy a different kind today.  Second story... The next day I got up and was getting a bowl of cereal (again, another seemingly harmless act).  We had an unexpected guest in the cabinet.  A cockroach.  Yes, I am serious.  Yes, my life is a joke.  This meant that the rest of the morning was spent deep cleaning, sterilizing, and anti-cockroaching the entire apartment.  Luckily, I didn't find any more...hopefully it stays that way.  Remember what I said about Soeru Fairchild having reactions to the neighbors using chemicals?  I had to completely cover the apartment in them.  Fortunately, she didn't have that bad of a reaction because she was able to medicate before.  There are my two stories this week.  I hope that they gave you a good laugh.

I was able to go on an exchange this week and spend a day in Perpignan.  It was wonderful.  We did tons of contacting, had lessons, and even had a porting miracle.  We were planning on stopping by a coordonnée (I don't know the term in English...someone whose contact information they were given while contacting).  As it turns out, the person had given them a false address.  But, because of this, we got into a random apartment building.  So, we ported it.  Out of the four doors in the building, we found this awesome girl that they are going to start teaching in a week or two.  It was great, porting miracles are rare and to have one in such a small building is amazing.

So I have been doing something kind of cool with all of my time in the apartment this transfer.  I've been sending texts out to the members in the ward and our investigators.  It's a good way to practice my French and I like still being able to "teach" people even when we don't have a rendez-vous.  I send them a scripture and a penser spirituelle (spiritual thought).  We've been having great responses to this and even had several members comment on it during testimony meeting yesterday.  They talked about how it has been exactly what they have needed and how the sister missionaries are so inspired.  I'm glad I can still accomplish things for the Lord while not necessarily doing "typical" missionary work all of the time.

I found something interesting this week in my studies of Doctrine and Convenants.  I tend to pick out a lot of patterns when I read and I noticed that the Lord tells us to "harken" a lot in this book of scripture.  So, I mapped it out.  Turns out that if you take all of the first verses of the first 81 sections of D&C, it mentions the word "harken" (or an equivalent..."listen", "give ear to", etc.) 53 times.  I thought this was super interesting.  You'd think that if God were directly talking to you, you would be earnestly listening, taking notes, and eagerly awaiting the opportunity to apply His teachings.  But, I guess that was not necessarily so then, as He was constantly needing to remind them.  It is often the same today.  The scriptures, the words of modern prophets, and personal revelation are God's means of communicating to us.  We would do well to "harken" to those teachings, warnings, and words of guidance.

In other news, it rained a lot this week.  I love the rain.  I occasionally have Les Mis songs playing in my head as I walk down wet, cobblestone streets here.  Oh, and I finished The Book of Mormon this week.  It is true.  The church is true.  I'm so glad I get to share that as a missionary.

I hope you are all doing great.  I can't wait to talk to you this week!  I love you so much!  Thank you for your support, your love, and your prayers. 

Je t'aime,
Soeur Alisa Hulme