Monday, June 24, 2013

Father's Day Musical Number, "As Sisters in Zion"...wait, what? 6/16 & 6/24/2013

We were out of town last week, so we did not post her June 16th letter.   We posted both today, so please read will not want to miss her report on Father's Day Sunday, it is hilarious.  

Bonjour Ma Famille,

So, guess who just got transferred to the ville with the one "real" Mexican restaurant that exists in our mission?  That's right, I live in Aix-en-Provence.  This must be some kind of joke?  Who lives in Aix-en-Provence?  My mission covers Southern France, I'm pretty sure that no transfer call could be disappointing.  But seriously, you're welcome Mom and Dad.  I have planned the most incredible trip for you when you pick me up...Lyon, Carcassonne, Provence, to be continued...

I actually leave tomorrow and will be stopping by Lyon on the way to pick up, yes, another brand new bleue.  I am training again, which is wonderful because I love it.  I feel like, in my last three transfers, I've covered a huge spectrum of things in the field....biggest city, smallest city, trio, duo, strong ward, struggling ward, being trained, training, opening a new companionship, etc.  How could we step that up more?  Oh yeah, we could have me whitewashing the sector with a new bleue.  This basically means that I will get off the train with a new missionary that speaks no French and is most likely shell-shocked with nothing but a map and keys to the appartment...if they remember to give me those things.  Wish me luck, I'm going into it blind.  Hope I can find the church.  At least I know where to find the Mexican food, we will survive.  I am so excited for this transfer.  Provence is absolutely gorgeous and I've been told that there is a very strong ward.  We are going to see miracles.

Our Bishop and is wife, love them so much!
Sensai and our eveque at our ward cultural activity
My time with Soeur Luthi and Carcassonne is done, I am so sad.  I love Soeur Luthi.  She is the absolute greatest, we got along so well.  She's one of those companions who will definitely be a lifelong friend.  It has been fun to train her and watch her grow.  She will see phenomenal things on her mission.  I feel so blessed to have gotten to serve with her, the Lord sent me one of His best.  Let's be quite honest, my time here in Carcassonne hasn't been the easiest.  There have been many times in the last three months that I would consider trials of my faith.  But, I love it here so much and definitely cried as I said goodbye to the ward on Sunday...half the ward was crying too (that didn't help).  Haha, they lost their pianist and American cookies.  It was especially hard to leave Sensai and our évêque.  Frère Martin (évêque), said that it has never been so hard to say goodbye to missionaries, that we are just like his daughters.  He cried when we told him over the phone.  He couldn't even talk to me, he had to take a day to compose himself.   It's amazing to me how I could fall in love with the people and the place so quickly.  I prayed for members in the ward daily, by name.  Here, most of our effort was focused on strengthening the ward.  I seriously feel like I left my whole heart and soul here.  My life has been changed because of people that I have met and worked with.  I am so blessed.  I cannot imagine my life without having served a mission.

Sister Hulme with Sister Luthi
Last funny note, guess what the closing hymn was this week?  I ended with a bang.  I'm the ward pianist, I can play what I want...I'm also tight with the évêque so he let me choose.  We sang "Angels We Have Heard on High".  That's right, Christmas in June.  So me.  I loved it.

I hope that you all have a wonderful week, I love you so much!  Thanks for all of the support and prayers.  I love my mission so much!

Je vous aime,
Soeur Alisa Hulme

Bonjour Ma Famille,       7/16/2013

This week was great, like always.  I still love being a missionary.  We were in Aix-en-Provence for three days for a zone conference.  We had Elder Richards from the Seventy come, it was awesome.  He talked a lot about the Atonement, faith, and a new way of teaching.  Cool, three things that I need to work on.  That was perfect.  Our leaders truly are so inspired.  It was a beautiful city and we were able to find the one "real" Mexican restaurant that exists in our mission.  Yes, we would.  It was hilarious, there was a tutorial on how to eat a burrito on the menu.  What?  It's sad that that is necessary.

Honestly, I feel bad, but there is not a ton to report on this week.  Lots of contacting.  We still only have one ami, who just informed us that he is leaving for Northern France in a week and will be gone for two months.  So, the work continues.  We will find people, I know it.  Haha, at least my French is being stretched.  I had an indepth conversation with a muslim man about the conception of Christ and a rather long chat with another guy on the street about our church's opinion on same sex marraige.  Oh wow, interesting week.

Sunday this week was definitely my most insane one I've had yet.  I feel like I literally manned the entire ward.  Let me give you a timeframe... Piano in priesthood, spiritual thought in priesthood, piano in relief society, practice the song with the primary children for Father's Day, taught gospel doctrine (We taught about the word of wisdom and had a rather, hmm...interesting discussion with several ward members who are not agreement with the law.  It's okay, it turned out well in the end...when we stopped calling on them for comments.), piano in sacrament meeting, gave a talk, special musical number (All of the women in the ward decided last minute that they wanted to sing a song for Father's Day too.  Cool, right?  Kind of, but there were two problems. 1: I literally had to throw the entire thing together during relief society. 2: They sang "As Sisters in Zion".  Wait, what?  I thought it was Father's Day.  That's awkward.), then there was the primary musical number (That went well, it was actually a song about fathers.), and we ended the day going to a meeting with all of the ward leaders to plan (from square one) the ward activity for this next Saturday (that has been planned and canceled three times in the last five months).  Yup, that's about it.

I am learning so much this transfer.  It has challenged my faith like nothing else.  We will keep working, we are here to do the most incredible work.  I love my mission.  I hope that you all have a wonderful week in Lake Powell.  I love you!

Je vous aime,
Soeur Alisa Hulme

Saturday, June 15, 2013

If the Spirit World is on earth, why would they not want to live in France?! 6/10/13

Bonjour Ma Famille!

Can I just start by talking about how absolutely beautiful my mission is?  Seriously, I'm pretty positive that Southern France is the most beautiful place on the planet (and I'm sure that a lot of people would agree with it and see).  It is unreal, I think I'm in heaven every time I look outside.  We contact and go porting in the most picturesque places.  I'll send you pictures... Every house is adorable--has the stereotypical shutters that are painted the same color as the adorable picket fence, intricate wooden door (I have not seen one yet that is the same), and there are beautiful vines climbing up the sides.  But even more, their gardens are spectacular!  Every flower that you could even imagine is perfectly placed in a yard filled with cute stone pathways, arches to walk under that are covered in ivy, and fountains.  The roses, oh my gosh, the roses.  Every house has at least 50 bushes that are completely covered in roses the size of your face in every color imaginable.  If you can't tell, I'm definitely in heaven.  Mom, you would die.  I compliment the little old ladies on their flowers at every house we port.  At one house, the lady wasn't interested in the Gospel, but she gave me one of her roses--totally made my day.  It was so cute.  I love it here so much, it is gorgeous!  We were talking the other day about how angels work with missionaries and I'm pretty sure that we have the most angels out of any mission because, in the words of Soeur Luthi, "If the Spirit World is on earth, why would they not want to live in France?!"
This is our Italian friend in his beautiful garden...we found him porting.
The weather here is crazy, it finally got hot for a couple days.  It was funny, we were contacting and this guy was really concerned for me. Quote (kind of...a translated quote): "You need to get out of the sun, you're really white.... But that's okay, it's what's in the heart that counts."  After a couple days of sun, I swear we had the Carcassonne version of a tsunami.  It rained so hard that the streets turned into a river with at least 6 inches of water rushing down them.  It was awesome!
I live here!
This week has been a lot of...contacting (if you couldn't tell).  We are still in dire need of amis.  We have set up tons of rendez-vous with potentials this transfer, have gotten lots peoples' contact information, and have placed many copies of the Book of Mormon (sorry I always write "copies of the Book of Mormon"'s because I know that "Books of Mormon" is technically right, but I think it sounds weird).  Unfortunately, no one will respond to calls and every rendez-vous that we have scheduled with a potential amis has fallen through.  I'm not complaining, we have had a great week and I know that we will continue to see miracles. 

I love his girl!
I'm slightly competitive... big shocker there.  It's one of those "Non-Christlike Attributes" that I am obviously still working on.  We had time on our hands this week and decided that we would just double the mission's standard of excellence for contacting.  Cool, the only équipe of 19 year old sisters, in one of the smallest villes in the mission.  So, we did.  We talked to over 660 people this week.  We calculated that we have walked at least two marathons.  We literally talked to everyone.  It was a good week.  We wanted to show God that we were willing to work hard and give it our all.  It was fantastic.  I swear I say this every week, but this week it has been particularly pertinent...I am coming to know my Savior in a way that I never have before.  I know that this is the mission that I am meant to be serving in, I cannot imagine gaining a relationship this strong in any other circumstance.  My heart literally breaks with every person that chooses to reject the message that we have to share.  I'm not personally offended, I shrug it off easily.  But, I'm so sad for the people and I know that Christ mourns over their decision.
We had a cool miracle this week.  While we were contacting, a lady actually contacted us on the road.  She's an inactive member that I had never met.  She married a non-member and has wanted absolutely nothing to do with the church, refusing all calls from the missionaries.  We had a nice chat with her and then she ended it by inviting us over.  We were stoked and set up the appointment for the next week (tonight).  The best part was, we received a text from her later in the day that explained how great it was for her to see us and to have a second to talk.  She said that that experience on the road made her realize that she wants to get reactivated in the church.  She acknowledged that it would not be easy, but that she was excited.  She's inviting tons of her family to this rendez-vous tonight.  God truly places us in the places that he needs us to be to find the elect and prepared.  We are praying that this is one of the miracles that God has in store for us.
A couple more random, funny things to leave you with...
I can't believe I live here.
Mission life, we all love spicy food and have been craving it since we have been in France.  So, we bought the spiciest African peppers that we could find at the store and put them in everything.  It's basically a contest to see who can make the food that makes your lips numb for the longest after eating it.  I made fajitas the other day that left our mouths on fire for two hours.  It's so funny.
It was a little sunny outside.

Soeur Luthi and I have been asked to teach primary the last two weeks.  The lessons... "The Law of Concencration" and "Joseph Smith's Translation of the Bible".  Are you kidding me?  These kids are six.
Well, that's about it.  I'm glad that you are all doing well.  Haha, your letters this week were absolutely fantastic.  I am still laughing.  You may want to print this out for Maddy so she can read it several times (with her short term memory loss and all)...kidding.  I love you all, thanks for everything!

Je vous aime,
Soeur Alisa Hulme

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Another Wonderful Week In France 6/3/2013

Bonjour Ma Famille,

It has been another wonderful week here in France.  I seriously feel like I have the most incredible life ever, I am so blessed.  This week we have again been focusing on finding people.  While our teaching pool remains small at the moment, we have been able to see many miracles while contacting that will transform into tons of people to teach (hopefully sooner rather than later).

We spent tons of this week contacting and porting (my favorites).  It's actually really funny to me that I enjoy these things so much.  I was looking back in my journal at my last entry in the MTC.  I had written that contacting was my biggest fear for my mission, not necessarily because of the language, but because I was scared to think of myself walking up to random people and starting conversations.  I'm not quite sure when the transition for me took place, but I'm so glad it did.  I am only a full-time missionary for a tiny portion of my life, why would I not talk to everyone?  When I am talking to someone, it is literally an out of body experience.  I am not myself, I am a representative of Christ.  It reminds me of a scripture I found this week in D&C 58:59, "And let no man return from this land except he bear record by the way, of that which he knows and most assuredly believes."

We received a lot of contact information from people this week and placed tons of copies of The Book of Mormon.  Let me tell you about one of these cool miracles...  One day we planned to go out to Castelnaudary (a smaller ville outside of Carcassonne).  We had gone through old lists, found all of the addresses of old contacts that lived there, and planned to go and track them all down.  We ended up finding all of the addresses; it was nice because they were all fairly close together in the center of the town.  But, we had one left and decided that we would make the long walk to the other end of town in hopes of finding this last person.  After about an hour of walking, we found the road.  Unfortunately, the house that we were searching for didn't exist on that street.  The only solution that we could come up with was that someone with bad handwriting had written a 15 that looked like an 18.  So, we ported that one house.  It turned out not being the person we were looking for, but an absolute miracle.  It was a lady with a cute young family, she took the Book of Mormon, said she would read it, and gave us her number so that we could set up a rendez-vous.  It was so incredible.  We actually had several similar experiences to this throughout the week.  We are praying now that they work out and we will be able to begin teaching all of these people that we have found.

You asked me to put in a plug for the piano this week.  Perfect, I was going to anyway.  We actually did a special musical number yesterday in church, "How Great Thou Art".  I was able to play while the other sisters sang.  It was beautiful, half of the people in the congregation were in tears.  It really has been amazing for me to touch the people in this ward through bringing them music.  When I came out on my mission, I could play probably five hymns.  Now, I can basically play most of the book.  I have been very grateful for the opportunity to develop this talent and use it in the work of the Lord.

So, that about sums it up for this week.  I am absolutely loving my mission, Soeur Luthi is amazing, and it is incredible to see the hand of the Lord in the work daily.  I hope that you are all doing wonderful, thanks for you thoughts and prayers.  I love you.

Je vous aime,
Soeur Alisa Hulme