Monday, July 29, 2013

...and that's how "Random" became "Matthieu" and a potential investigator. 7/29/13

Bonjour Ma Famille,

It has been a great week, like always.  It was a little different, though-- lots of traveling.  We had an exchange in Nice.  Oh my gosh, talk about beautiful.  I absolutely loved it.  The exchange was wonderful but took a big chunk of time out of our week.  Lots and lots of trains (PS- I love how commonplace all of this stuff is getting.  "Oh yeah, I spent all week on a train."  I had never even been on a train before my mission, not to mention taking one along the coast of the Mediterranean for 16 hours.  "Oh yeah, I spent some time in Nice." of the most beautiful, visited places in the world.).  Ah, my mission is the best.
 Anyways, the rest of the week was spent working with members and usual.  We have so many potentials it's not even funny.  The only problem is that everyone cancels our rendez-vous.  We'll have a week completely rempli (I think that's a word in English too...) with lessons and no one shows up.  Frustrating, but we're working on it.  Fortunately, most of them haven't fallen off the face of the earth and we are still keeping contact with them.  I think, for the most part, people don't understand the urgency and the importance of the message that we have planned to share with them.  It's true, everyone does things at their own timing.  But, if they truly knew what we were bringing them, they would be early to every rendez-vous and want to see us every day.  It's okay, we're working on it.  We have more set up for this week and can hopefully reschedule the other ones.

These potentials have been building up all transfer and I can just feel this companionship that we've opened being on the brink of exploding.  I don't know how to explain it, I can just feel it.  There are so many cool people that are going to turn into amis.  Haha, funny probably miracle of the week.  So we were walking and this guy ran up and contacted us.  He was kind of out of breath and seemed like he was in a hurry.  He demanded to see our bible.  We explained to him that it wasn't the bible, that it was the Book of Mormon.  He grabbed it, started skimming through it, and asked a question or two.  We gave a brief explanation of it and then he gave it back and asked for my bible.  When I handed my bible to him he flipped through the pages, said that he had a question about it, started asking all of these random questions, handed it back, and said that he had to go.  We left him with our card.  If that seemed really spiratic and confusing, that's because it was.  Honestly, I didn't understand most of what went on in that contact.  He left and Soeur Brimhall and I looked at each other really confused, laughed, shrugged our shoulders, and moved on.  It really was so strange.  The next day he called and asked if he could borrow our book.  I still didn't understand most of what he was saying but set up a time when we could give him one.  Literally, no idea what is going on.  He was actually saved as "Random" in the phone because we never caught his name.  So, we met him the next day at the church and gave him the book.  Turns out, he is completely normal.  Completely normal.  He's Catholic and just has a lot of questions.  He's currently reading the Book of Mormon, we're setting up a rendez-vous for later on this week, and he should be at church Sunday.  Still, even while writing this, I'm looking back on this experience with a confused, raised eyebrow look on my face because I'm not really sure what happened.  But, definitely could be a miracle.  Haha, and that's how "Random" became "Matthieu" and a potential investigator.  
Sister Hulme and Sister Brimhall at Zone Conference
Hmm, I found out this week that tons of French people eat cough drop type things as candy.  Odd.  I think it might be because it hurts thier throats to make all of the weird French sounds when they talk.  Maybe...just my guess.

So, that was my week.  It was wonderful, we got tons done.  Thank you for everything, love you all!

Je vous aime,
Soeur Alisa Hulme 

Monday, July 22, 2013

"Heavenly Father, don't let me be the one to mess this up." 7/23/13

Bonjour Ma Famille,
So much to write about this week, where do I begin?  Maybe with a couple funny, odd, different experiences...
We stopped this cute girl on the road the other day.  She wasn't super interested in our message, but I complimented her on her earrings at the end of the contact (because I still wanted to make her smile and they actually were really cute).  She was like, "Oh, you can have them.  I got them in Marseille and have another pair."  Haha, she took them off and gave them to me.  I really like them.  Word to future missionaries, compliment jewelry...but be careful what else you compliment because people might just give it to you.
Breaking news... I ate my first crepe in France this week.  It was fantastic, funny that it took me this long to have one.
I translated in church yesterday for visitors from Belgium and Switzerland.  That was crazy, translating is so much harder than I thought it would be.
The elders decided that we should do something to endear the ward this week (AKA: public relations).  They wanted us all to make cookies.  Cool, right?  I've got this.  Hmmm, not really.  The elders that lived in our appartment before thought that it would be the best idea ever to buy a microwave that was also an oven.  Not the coolest idea ever.  It's tiny and, for some strange reason, I don't feel like cookies should EVER be baked in a microwave.  Oh well.  So, we baked about 3 dozen cookies in a bundt cake pan (the only pan that would fit), and could only do about four at a time.  That was an adventure.  Then, when it came to bringing the cookies to the church, the only paper plates that we had were the American flag ones that my mom sent in a package for the 4th of July.  Haha, the members had fun with that one.
Someone went off this week during a contact about how we were criminals because all major wars were started by religion.  That was funny.  I'm definitely grateful for the fact that I don't get offended very easily.  Maybe it's bad, but when people are crazy and mean on the street, I just end up laughing (not to their face, of course).
There you go, now on to some of the miracles...
So we had zone conference this week, wonderful as always.  The best part-- I got to talk to Soeur Fairchild and get caught up on Carcassonne.  Oh my gosh, I was so happy that I started crying in the middle of the conference.  That's embarrassing.  The ward and area are doing so well.  New amis are popping up everywhere, they are teaching so many people.  When I got there about four months ago, the average church attendance was 65 people.  It has been gradually improving until this last week when they were in the mid-90's. Best of all, most of that increase is coming from reactivations and investigators at church.  There were also several incredible families that just moved in.  Everything that is going on there is such a miracle when you look and see where the ward has progressed from.  People have no idea.  Also, Carcassonne had a BAPTISM last week!  Wait, what?  In Carcassonne?  Yes, apparently that happens.  They haven't seen a baptism in forever and any that can be remembered have fallen inactive and off the face of the earth.  His name is Isaac, he is wonderful.  He has awesome faith and understands that gospel so simple yet perfectly.  I was able to get to know him a little bit before I left.  Miracle-- he asked Frere Martin, the fantastic bishop, to baptize him.  Let's be honest, that's where I lost it and started crying in the conversation.  He has worked endlessly for this ward for years and he is finally seeing change.  I am so happy for him to be able to realize these results.  There is a family from Brazil that is lined up to be baptized there in the near future and lots of amis right on their tails.  I am so happy.  It's like I said in previous letters, while I was there, the ward was not ready.  God was not going to give amis and new members to a ward that could not support them and help them continue to progress.  As the ward has improved, missionary work has exploded in a way that they have not seen in forever.  I am so grateful for the chance to be part of this miracle.
This week we had an awesome miracle ourselves.  Well, to start, our only ami here in Aix left us a message during zone conference saying that she was dropping us.  That was rough.  But, we just picked ourselves back up and went back to work looking for more people.  Sunday night we had several member rendez-vous fall through.  Miracle-- the member's house that we tried to stop by was right next to the pizza shop where we met that guy the other week.  Remember him?  Turns out that he is the owner and we found him sitting outside with one of his employees as we walked by.  We asked him how the wedding went, one thing led to another, and we ended up teaching him and his employee for about an hour.  So cool!  We have another rendez-vous with both of them scheduled for later this week, they both have copies of the Book of Mormon (which they're so excited about and referred to as a "precious gift"...Wait, what?  When does that happen?), and they're both very interested in coming to church.  Honestly, that was probably one of the best lessons that I have had my entire mission.  Everything that was said was so inspired, not one thing that left my mouth came from myself.  I have never explained things so clearly in my life.  The entire lesson I just kept praying, "Heavenly Father, dont let me be the one to mess this up."  And, He didn't let me.  These guys, especially that shop owner, are so elect.  God has prepared him, I know it.  He asked tons of questions--- we covered everything from the virgin Mary to the three kingdoms of glory to the apostacy, Book of Mormon, church services, free agency, goal of life, eternal families, prophets, role of Christ.  It was crazy.  I am so excited to see where that contact takes us, God has blessed us with two new amis.
A couple more awesome notes from church... There is this inactive lady that the missionaries in the ward have been working with lately.  She took the sacrament for the first time since coming back yesterday and started crying.  She said that she has never felt so clean.  Isn't that how that Atonement should be?  Also, the four sister missionaries in the ward did a special musical number.  The Spirit was so strong.  One of the members came up to us afterwards and said that the beginning was pretty but that there was a point in the song when there was more than just us up there testifying.  She said that she had only seen that one other time in her life.  God touches people through His missionaries and I am so blessed to be one.
I love being here in Aix!  Our zone is on fire right now and is blowing everyone else in the misison out of the water with our numbers.  It is so amazing and humbling to see what God can do through us.  I hope that you all have a great week and I love you!  I love being a missionary.
Je vous aime,
Soeur Alisa Hulme

Monday, July 15, 2013

"Everything is color-coded, mapped out, organized into different notebooks, etc." 7/15/13

Bonjour Ma Famille,
Another great week here, like always.  The work is picking up and it's wonderful.  We were actually able to have quite a few member visits this week, which is always the greatest.  It's so important for us to be working through members, especially since it's summer and everyone here is on vacation and most of the people on the street are tourists.  Every time we meet with different members, I'm blown away.  They are all so strong.  Nearly everyone here is a convert and, for many, they are the only members in their family.  They travel long distances for all service in the church and have so much less support around them than I am used to.  There are a lot of awesome recent converts in our ward that we have been working with.  For example, we had a rendez-vous with this amazing young couple in our ward this week.  She served a misison at temple square and came back to marry a nonmember.  Two years later, he took lessons from the missionaries, went to temple square and felt the Spirit, came back and got baptized last May, was ordained an elder in January, and they were sealed this last May.  They are extremely strong even though lots of their family members are struggling.  Haha, we actually had a barbeque at their house.  They absolutely love the missionaries and said that they liked to feed us stuff that we miss from home.  It was the greatest.  That's just one example, literally everyone here has stories like that.  I have so much to learn.
Random cool miracle... We were walking home one day and this guy sitting at a pizza shop with his family stopped us.  He asked us if we were the mormons.  After explaining who we were, he said that he had been invited to his friend's mormon wedding and he had questions for us.  It was awesome to get to explain things.  He seemed pretty interested and we may be able to start working with him.  Haha, and he bought us a huge thing of water because he could tell that we were hot from being outside all day.  It's fun to see how there are little miracles everywhere and the Lord often hands them to you at times when you least expect it.
I read a cool scripture this week that I really like.  PS-- I'm obsessed with my studies on my mission.  Literally, I'm getting the reputation (from exchanges and different companions) as the missionary that people get advice from to improve their studies.  I am getting through so much material and am learning tons.  Haha, I take my studies very seriously.  I literally have them tentatively planned out until the end of my mission so that I can cover everything that I want to.  Everything is color-coded, mapped out, organized into different notebooks, etc.  Love it.  Anyways, Doctrine et Alliances 95:1 "Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you whom I love, and whom I love I also chasten that their sins may be forgiven, for with the chastisement I prepare a way for their deliverance in all things out of temptation, and I have loved you."  I think right here the Lord is showing us two things.  One, that he is a just God.  He has given us the law (the commandments) and if we choose to not keep it, there will be concequences.  But, this is because he wants us to learn and to improve because He loves us.  Two, I think it's an awesome example of how we should help and strengthen others in our lives.  If critique or correcting is necessary, do it in a loving way.  It is often as missionaries that we have to "call people to repentance".  We should be following the example of the Savior in the way that we do it.  Because, in all reality, repentance is a great thing.  We are asking people to simply make change that will relieve them of guilt, bring them closer to Christ, and improve their lives.
So, that about wraps it up.  Lots of work...contacting, doing service, visiting members, teaching lessons.  We're still working on building up our area book with amis, but it's getting there.  I hope you all have another great week.  It was fun to hear about all of your church youth activities this summer...EFY, girls camp, trek, etc.  I always felt so spiritually uplifted and ready for the next school year after a summer full of those awesome experiences.  I hope you feel the same.  I love you so much, thanks for everything!
Je vous aime,
Soeur Alisa Hulme

Monday, July 8, 2013

"I received a marriage proposal this morning..." 7/8/13

Bonjour Ma Famille,
I hope that you all had a wonderful week and a great 4th of July.  At first, I thought it would be really odd to be out of the country for the holiday.  Actually, celebrating the birth of America was rather big in France.  They even planned a parade for's called the Tour de France.  Okay, maybe that is a stretch.  There may not have been any huge parades where they throw candy, but we counted it as a parade.  How many people can say that they got to see the Tour de France?  That was really cool.  Also, who can say that they have sung "Battlehymn of the Republic" and done the pledge of allegiance in a zone training (with people from Africa, Ukraine, France, and Canada)?  It was strange, but I felt very patriotic on the other side of the world (despite the fact that there were no barbeques or fireworks).  Oh well, great day anyway.  Definitely unique.
This week was great, lots of work.  We are starting to work with some of our potentials, ward members, and are having more rendez-vous.  It is so fun for me to see this success and I feel like I am appreciating it a lot more than I would have after my last few transfers.  Literally, until this last week, I had not taught one lesson to a progressing investigator in over 3 1/2 months.  That is a long time.  This realization has helped me really take advantage of every lesson that we are able to have.  In a way, I think I am better able to appreciate the worth of each person that we teach now.  Our lessons are not turning into just another number on the sheet to get counted with tons of other amis.  Where I think it's easy to sometimes get complacent when your schedule is full of several lessons a day, every lesson that we are blessed to have is just that, a blessing.  I love these people so much.  I don't know how to explain it.  The people we teach, the ward members, the people on the street.  I don't think that I have ever felt love like this in my life.  I know it's a cliche missionary thing, everyone says that you will love the people, but it is so true.  The longer I am out here, the more love that I feel.  I think it's cool because that is what I have been praying for since day one, charity for the people of France.  At the beginning of my mission (six months ago tomorrow, isn't that crazy?), I wrote out goals that I wanted to accomplish.  At the top of my list, the overarching goal, was that I wanted to come to know Christ.  I think that as I have been striving to become more like Him, I am starting to feel His love for these people.  It is amazing to see the correlation between all of these things.  The more I serve the people, the more Christ grants me love them.  The more I love them, the more I love and know Christ.  The mission is awesome!
Three random sidenotes of the week...
Since being in Aix, I have acquired the best tan of my life...and the absolutely worst tanline.  Haha, my forearms are pretty dark from holding the Book of Mormon all day.
This week we ported into nuns.  That was funny.  We talked about Jesus and then ended by saying we'd pray for each other.
I received a marraige proposal this morning.  That was awkward.  Weirdly enough, that's not an abnormal thing.
Well, that's my week.  Sorry if it's a little short.  I am absolutely loving my mission and feel so blessed to have the gospel in my life.  Thank you for everything and I love you all!
Je vous aime,
Souer Alisa Hulme

Monday, July 1, 2013

"Yeah, Contacting for six hours at a time can get frustrating, but it's moments like that that make an entire day worth it." 7/1/2013

Bonjour Ma Famille,
Wow, what a crazy, wonderful week!  I absolutely love Aix, I don't even know where to start.  I guess we'll start with my companion.  My new bleue is Soeur Brimhall.  She is awesome, we get along really well.  I'm pretty sure that God only sends me the best missionaries to train (pressure).  A little bit about her... Soeur Brimhall is 19 too (I love being in a companionship with two young missionaries, I feel like we are just bursting with energy for the work). She grew up in Ukraine and lived in an orphanage for most of her life until she was adopted and brought to the States at age 12.  She was adopted into an LDS family and that is where she found the gospel.  Haha, she's funny, loves cleaning and is perfectly fine that I have two huge fans going at all times in the appartment (and strategically place them on chairs, with extension cords, about two feet away from me every is so hot)--- those three things alone will ensure a happy companionship.  But really, she is amazing.  We are different in many ways, which is to be expected with such different backgrounds, but I think we compliment each other really well.  I know that this companionship is inspired and have already learned so much from her. 
A little clarification from last week, we are actually not "whitewashing" in Aix.  As it turns out, we are opening a new companionship.  Basically everything that I described before applies, but we also start with an empty area book, no potentials, and we didn't even have a ward list until Sunday.  Luckily, we did have a map.  Although, I'm pretty sure that reading maps is going to be one of those skills that I acquire this transfer.  I never thought of myself as being bad at directions.  But, I've come to the conclusion that this is because I have lived in Utah my entire life.  French streets are confusing, but I'm starting to get it down.  Let's just say, we've had a couple...adventures the last few days.  On another note, I think I am destined to contact.  Training and opening up new companionships two transfers in a row, bring it on.  So, we're starting from square one again.  It's so exciting!  This week was full of getting organized, filling another empty phone, and yes, contacting.  Good thing I love it so much.  We had some really incredible, powerful discussions on the road this week.  I love the look on someone's face when you know something clicked or that they felt the Spirit.  It is the coolest thing ever, every time we speak we are just restoring truth that they already know.  One contact this week was particularly cool.  We stopped this guy and talked to him for almost an hour.  He was very into theology and spent a good portion of the conversation trying to, well, make us look dumb.  He asked a lot of difficult questions trying to trip us up, using all of this logic to prove that God doesn't exist.  It was tempting to let my "debater side" take over...but I didn't, luckily (If I didn't spell "debater" right, please don't laugh.  I literally tried it 5-6 times different ways.  That's terrible, oh how French can ruin an English major.).  But, all that we could do was testify to him of truths.  It was so cool.  By the end, he was astonished.  He went off for about five minutes about how he wasn't sure that there was a God, but if there was, he was sure that we were His servants.  He talked about the divine power that he felt in our words and went on and on about the light in our eyes.  Yeah, contacting for six hours at a time can get frustrating, but it's moments like that that make an entire day worth it.  That is why I love contacting.  I know that we are going to find people here who are prepared here.
On another note, the ward in Aix is so incredible!  It is large, strong, and everyone is stoked for missionary work.  As much as I love Carcassonne, it is cool to see the opposite end of the spectrum.  I feel like God is rewarding me.  After one day at church I'm totally in love with all of the members.  It's seriously unreal to me.  I cannot wait to start working with them more.  Because of how great the ward is, they have been blessed to actually have 3 companionships of missionaries (we are with the zone leaders and the sister training pressure).  We are going to see so many miracles here.  What a perfect situation to put into to practice all of the guidance just given to us by our leaders.  We watched the broadcast yesterday, wasn't it amazing (and not just because I understood all of the French this time, as opposed to General Conference)?  The lines from one of my favorite primary songs have been ringing in my head during my mission, "We hear the words our prophets declare, let each who's worthy go forth and share."  I always felt like that was very applicable to this generation of missionaries.  We were a generation that was brought up in a way that made us worthy to serve when called upon by the prophets of God (quite literally out of the blue).  My mission, as I'm sure it is for many missionaries, has served as a wake-up call, if you will.  It has given me perspective on this life and more of a vision of our purpose.  It's amazing to me that the whole world is getting this "wake-up call" the same time that I am.
I hope that you're all doing great, thanks for all of the love and support.  I love you so much and pray for you often.  I love being a missionary!
Je vous aime,
Soeur Alisa Hulme