Monday, August 26, 2013

"No joke, this guy looks like a future bishop...if I'm allowed to say that." 8/25/13

Bonjour Ma Famille,

Oh my gosh, what an incredible week!  I really don't know what to do with myself.  Yes mom, I'm pretty sure I'm the most happy sister missionary in the world.

A fantastic week with zone conference, exchanges, lessons, and service projects ended perfectly in the baptisms of two of the other Aix sisters' amis.  It was so incredible to be there, they were actually the first baptisms that I've seen on my mission.  I feel so blessed to have gotten to be there because I've worked quite a bit with one of the amis, Suzanne.  I've been able to teach her several of the lessons because of exchanges and have really become close with her.  We're definitely friends.  It has been amazing to watch her change her life.  There is a light there that wasn't there before.  I loved getting to watch her (as I sat on the piano bench in the front of the chapel) and see her eyes get watery during the talks.  Haha, she's your typical relief society sister.  And, if you wouldn't have known better, you would have thought her a member weeks ago.  She has a strong love for Christ and will be solid for life. 
I thought I'd give an update on a few of ours amis...becuase apparently I tend to mention finding them and then don't keep you posted...

Frederic is doing well.  He has been taught all of the lessons and has a very strong desire to follow Christ.  He knows that he has found the truth.  It has been a little unreal teaching him, almost too easy.  He's always available to see us, accepts everything we teach him, keeps engagements (commitments), etc. He's more than halfway done with the Book of Mormon, prays every day, comes to church.  However, we hit a slight bump in the road this week.  His baptism was actually scheduled for this last Saturday--he had asked someone to baptism, picked out things for the program, etc.  Obviously it didn't happen.  At the moment, he is scared to make the change--he's not sure what his family and friends will think.  He just doesn't feel ready.  But, everything is still going well.  We've been able to have lots of good conversations with him and should be fixing a new date to work towards this week.  It's not about us as missionaries getting a baptism, it's about him.  There is no way that he'll be baptized if he doesn't feel ready-- he needs to be "clapping his hands for joy" (Mosiah 18:11).  He will get there.

Matthieu--awesome miracle this week.  So he is very eager to understand but we're trying to work with him on learning with the Spirit and not just with logic.  He really just wants to understand everything, takes thorough notes in all of our lessons, comes with lots of questions, etc.  He's truly the epitome of an honest seeker of truth.  Slowly, he has been getting there and is becoming more and more open to the feeling the Spirit.  It has been so cool to watch.  This last week we were able to teach him about baptism, he accepted to start working towards a date, and he even came to the baptism on Saturday.  He felt it.  He had the biggest smile on his face and there was this light in him that hadn't been there before.  So cool, we were able to have a lesson afterwards where we emphasized God being our father and the importance of prayer,  I guess that's one of the things that he has a harder time grasping.  The Spirit was so strong.

New ami as of this morning... So this guy, Arnaud, was a referral from Temple Square.  He, his wife, and his two kids (ages 9 and 11) were in Utah last month.  They were using all of the church's family history databases to do research on his huge aristocratic French family (haha, I only mention that his family is aristocratic because it makes me laugh that his full name takes up literally an entire line).  Anyway, they ended up having a tour of temple square while there, which apparently finishes in the tabernacle.  He described that he really felt a peace, loved that our church is centered on the family, and noted that the members of truly live their religion.  So legit!  Sorry, I'm still a little bit freaking out.  We taught him this morning, gave him a tour of the church, etc.  He's already been reading the Book of Mormon that he was given by the missionaries in Utah and is anxious to work with us more.  Ahh, miracle.  No joke, this guy looks like a future bishop... if I'm allowed to say that.  We are very excited to be teaching him...and, hopefully soon, his whole family.  Haha, I'm pretty sure even the member that we were teaching with was a little bit shocked at how incredible he was after the lesson.  Loved it!

So, there's a little overview of the work that's going on here.  We're also working with several non-pratiquants, ward members, and have a couple really cool potentials that we should start teaching when they get back from vacances.  It's crazy to think that just nine weeks ago we were sitting here with a completely empty area book, no ward list, and no idea how to find the church.  Haha, God has definitely blessed us.  Thank you for your prayers!
Hey, it's Liv's birthday this week!  Haha, oh what to say about Liv...  Liv and I are buds, it has always been that way.  We do everything together.  I loved that she would always help me pick out my outfits and get ready in the morning, I loved reading "Junie B. Jones" every night with her before she went to bed.  I loved all of our cute chats and secrets.  Haha, Liv sends the best letters and always makes sure that she includes a picture of herself with I don't forget her, of course.  Have a great day, I love you, and have fun getting prepped for your baptism!
Well, I think that's about it.  Oh, I did learn something this week...  Sometimes it's difficult to run downhill on cobblestone.  Haha, it's a good thing missionary skirts have to cover our knees.
I love you all, have a wonderful week-- I know I will!
Je vous aime,
Soeur Alisa Hulme      

Monday, August 19, 2013

"Seriously, I feel like a mom...'Is he making friends?' 'Is he making the right choices?' 'Have we taught him what he needs to know?"

Bonjour Ma Famille,

I guess I will start with three things that I learned this week...

We are often told the importance of being prepared for emergancies by having a decent amount of food storage.  I never realized, until this week, that this counsel was also relevant for missionaries.  Remember those 180 euros that weren't reimbursed last week?  Well, we literally went through the entire last week without money because the reimbursements hadn't come in (pray that they come in today).  Completely broke.  We had to live off of the odds and ends in the appartment.  Guess who has been living on a diet of herbal tea and oranges?  Haha, oh well.  At least I am not in the Philippines eating frogs.

Spanish accents are really hard to understand.  Why do they roll their "r's" and make their "j's" sound like "y's"?  Oh the fun adventures of meeting with recent converts from Honduras.  I'm glad I'm learning French.  I'm convinced that my ability to do any other accent besides a French one has been ruined for the rest of my life.  Even when I'm reading out loud in English it sounds wrong.

Be a missionary with a firm handshake.  Please.  So many sisters and even elders don't know how to give a good handshake.  Disappointing.  I'm determined to change this.  When I give handshakes to all of the little primary kids on Sundays, if they give a weak one, I keep shaking their hand saying, "plus fort, plus fort" until it's a strong one.  They laugh.  Dad, no joke, you should do a workshop or something with the youth in our ward before they go out on their missions.

There are so many incredible experiences that you have as a missionary.  I think that some of my favorites are the small ones where you know that God placed you in someone's path just to brighten their day for Him.  For example, we were walking through a park and saw this cute old lady sitting on a bench.  So, naturally, we went over and talked to her.  Turns out, she had spent the entire day in the hospital.  Her husband of 55 years has alzheimer's disease and was down to the last days of his life.  She was with him all day but he couldn't remember her at all.  So hard.  We just sat and talked with her, obviously bore testimony of the plan of salvation, left her with the Book of Mormon, etc.  But, more than anything else, it was wonderful just to be there for her and be someone to listen.  That is what the Savior would have done.  Those moments are the ones that stick out to me the most.

With all of the changes in missionary work coming about, our mission is putting a lot of emphasis on working with the members.  This week we were able to do a lot of that, it was great.  We helped several ladies with visiting teaching (awesome, two in one), shared lots of messages, and did service.  It's so important to build up the members here and build thier trust in us.  They do so much.  We as missionaries are here for 1 1/2 or 2 years and leave, but the members are the workforce that is always here.  I love the members in Aix.  Every time we meet with a family I can't stop talking about them all day.

It has also been wonderful to be able to be teaching several amis right now.  It's so cool to have amis because they really become your focus.  You're constantly worrying about them.  Seriously, I feel like a mom... "Is he making friends?"  "Is he making the right choices when he's not with us?"  "Have we taught him what he needs to know?"  "What else can we do?"  There were several cool experiences this week where we were able to help certain amis in difficult situations.  It's still an ongoing process.  But, there's nothing like feeling the peace when you know that you have said what the Lord wanted said or when you handled the situation with His child the way He would have.  It's truly incredible.  I love being a missionary.

Have a great week, I love and pray for you.  Thank you for all of your support, it means so much!  I have the best family and friends in the world.  Haha, speaking of, I'm beginning to see a pattern in a lot of the letters that I am receiving.  The line, "Sorry for my grammar and spelling mistakes" shows up in a good portion of them.  Let's be honest, I don't notice.  Haha, I can't even remember how to spell in English.  I plan out these weekly letters and look up big words I plan on using in the dictionary beforehand because there is no spellcheck on this computer.  Oh well, thanks for the love.

Je vous aime,
Soeur Alisa Hulme

Friday, August 16, 2013

"I got to spend a little time in Paris...were we suppose to be there? Absolutely not." 8/12/13

Bonjour Ma Famille,
This week was wonderful, as always.  I actually even got to spend a little bit of time in Paris.  Yes, that's right, Paris.  Definitely not in our mission boundaries.  Were we supposed to be there?  Absolutely not.  Funny story... So Soeur Brimhall and I were heading up to Lyon for her bleu's conference (a conference that all of the new missionaries go to at the end of their first transfer).  We went to the Gare (train station) and checked for the voie (platform) that we would need to go to for our train.  Long story short, there were several monitors that were confusing (you can tell where this is going).  Then we realized that the train we needed to take, the one that was marked "Lyon", was leaving--so we ran out and jumped on.  Not the right train.  The second we got on I knew we had made a mistake, we were headed to the Lyon Gare in Paris.  Sidenote: Why is there a Lyon Gare in Paris?  Anyways, we turned around to get off just as the train pulled away.  Trainer's worst nightmare as we watch the Gare get smaller and smaller in the distance.  Not only were we on a train to Paris, it was a nonstop train from Aix directly to Paris.  Let's observe this situation...  Two young missionaries that don't speak good French, inevitably headed outside of our mission boundaries, there is sketchy cell service on the moving train going across the French countryside, our tickets will not cover the cost of the trip, we are completely broke (because the day before we had spent 180 euros on train tickets that the office had not yet reimbursed), we would not be pulling into Paris until nearly curfew, and the train conductor in walking down the aisles at this moment checking tickets.  Haha, it was so bad.  So, we just prayed...a lot.  Miraculously, the conductor did not charge us.  He just laughed at us, which wasn't even offensive because this was a funny situation.  We were able to find enough service to call the office and have them send us new tickets back to the REAL Lyon.  So, everything worked out.  We spent 40 lovely minutes in Paris (no you can't see the Eiffel Tower from the Gare), we got back to Lyon that same night (unfortunately a little past curfew... 12 AM), and President Roney got a nice laugh out of it the next day at the conference.  The worst part was, I knew beforehand that there was a Lyon Gare in Paris.  I had heard stories of missionaries accidently going there.  I had laughed at those stories.  Oh well, I'm glad that this seemingly horrendous situation turned into such an amusing one.  Once everything was sorted out, I asked Soeur Brimhall if I react well in pressure situations.  Her reponse, "Haha, you just laugh."
Next to that, the rest of the week seems really anticlimatic.  It was great, though.  We have a couple progressing investigators and several other awesome potentials that we should be seeing this week.  It's really odd, I kind of don't know what to do with myself.  We are actually teaching lessons, people are, for the most part, coming to rendez-vous, we had an ami at church, the members are phenomenal, etc.  I'm just very happy right now and am trying to really enjoy this point in my mission that is busier.  It's wonderful, I love Aix!
Thanks for all of the support, love, and prayers!  Have a great week!
Je vous aime,
Soeur Alisa Hulme
The beautiful streets I walk in Aix. Is there a better
place in this world to search for the Lord's elect?
Look who I found at the conference.  Sister Bently.


Monday, August 5, 2013

"Their house is made completely of glass...COMPLETELY, BATHROOMS AND ALL!" 8/5/13

Bonjour Ma Famille!
Sister Hulme and Sister Brimhall, still in Aix!

Transfer calls!  Transfer calls are just like Christmas for missionaries.  You anticipate, predict, have a hard time sleeping the night before, etc.  It seems to be the norm that the older you get, the less your anticipation is for Christmas-- I figured the same would be true with transfer calls the longer I was on the mission.  False.  Just like me with Christmas, I still get stoked for the calls every six weeks regardless of my mission age.  This time, I'm happy to say, there was no monumental change like all of the previous transfers.  I'm still in Aix and will finish out the last six weeks of Soeur Brimhall's training.  I definitely was not ready for change and am glad that we will be able to hit the ground running this transfer (and at least know what way we are running on the streets).  We spent all of last transfer trying to build up our sector and it would have been hard to leave now that work is picking up.  We are both very excited to be staying together.
Aix District
And our area book continues to grow... On Tuesday we were out contacting and talked to this guy.  It was literally a three minute contact, we gave him the Book of Mormon, and set up a rendez-vous for Thursday.  We would have never thought after that brief encounter that it would turn into the miracle that it is.  Frederic came to the rendez-vous Thursday (miracle!) having read the intro, all of the testimonies, and was through 1Nephi.  Wait, what?  I've never read the Book of Mormon that fast.  He said that he thinks the Book of Mormon is true, that the story of Joseph Smith is totally possible, and that he wants to know these things for a fact because he wants to be baptized.  So, we told him how to receive his answer and set a date for him to work towards for baptism.  I think that I was a little bit in shock.  Rendez-vous on Saturday...  He had read almost all the way through 2Nephi, had basically prayed for two straight days, and said that the response that he got was joy.  We gave him a church tour, answered his questions (about church services, the word of wisdom, how we perform baptisms, etc.) -- all of which he completely accepted, and taught him the second lesson.  Yesterday he came to all three hours of church, was even there early, and absolutely loved it.  He is fully determined to be a member of this chruch, constantly talks about how he wants to be truly converted, and is willing to do whatever it takes.  Talk about prepared.  It blows my mind that there are people in our lives, just walking down the street, that are so willing and prepared to accept the gospel.  We just need to find them.

Alisa has never had a tan before
and keeps sending us pictures
of her tan line.
Next cool story... Several weeks ago we went to the house of some older members in our ward and shared a message about the priesthood.  We used the example of when Christ came to the Americas and healed all of the people after his resurrection.  We then explained that we are so blessed to have this exact same power on the earth today.  At one point, the husband made a comment about how it was difficult to believe that miracles the magnitude of those the Savior performed are possible today.  There are several people in his family that have really difficult health challenges.  We ended up having a good discussion about how miracles like the ones in the scriptures are still possible, but they are dependent on our faith AND the will of God.  Yesterday this man got up and bore his testimony.  Apparently last week he fractured some of the bones in his spine.  He was stuck in a bed and couldn't move at all, definitely could not walk.  But, he was given a priesthood blessing and testified that it was because of the priesthood that he is able to walk again.  He mentioned the lesson that we had several weeks prior and said that he had a hard time having faith in the priesthood.  But, through this experience, that faith was strengthened.  So incredible!

Let's see, a couple random/funny things for the week...  

We went to a family in our ward's house yesterday after church.  They are fantastic-- he's a convert for Belgium, she's from California.  He's a radiologist, she's an architect.  They're both super strong in the gospel, we had an awesome time and the food was delicious.  Cool-- their house is made completely of glass.  COMPLETELY, bathrooms and all.  It was crazy.  I'm not sure that I'd ever want to live in a house like that, but it was really incredible to see.

French missionary problems... someone brings American cheese for the sandwiches at district meeting.  Haha, poor elder.  He'll never hear the end of that one.

I don't know what it is, but I'm really not a fan of all of the hymns that we sing about sunshine.  Call me crazy, but can't we just sing about Jesus?  Every week when they text me the songs to practice on the piano for sacrament meeting, Soeur Brimhall gets a good laugh as I relay to her that we're singing, yet again, another "sunshine song".

Well, I think that's it.  Being a missionary is the best and I'm loving it.  Thanks for everything, I love you all!

Je vous aime,
Soeur Alisa Hulme
Sister missionaries in Alisa's district