Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"Breaking news (no puns intended), both of the wheels are broken." 9/23/2013

Bonjour Ma Famille!

Wow, the end of another crazy week of being a missionary.  After the rush of last week, I'm excited to settle down and start working.  Here's a little bit of how last week went...

I left Aix.  Before continuing to tell you about the insane travel schedule that ensued, let me give a disclaimer that will make it more comical.  Remember my beautiful, purple, snakeskin suitcase that I love?  Yes, the one that Dad said not to buy because it wouldn't have good enough wheels?  Breaking news (no pun intended), both of the wheels are broken...and have been since getting of the airplane in France.  And, the fact that I've been to four villes in eight months has not helped.  So now, I carry nearly everything (approximately 90 lbs.) in the good suitcase and get to drag the limpy one carrying my lighter clothes across the rough cobblestone.  Now that you can truly picture this, back to the story... Normally you can take one and at the most two trains to get anywhere.  For some reason, the office thought that they would make my trip more fun.

I took a train from Aix to Marseille, Marseille to Lyon, and Lyon to Dijon on Monday.  At this point, I didn't have my new companion nor was I in my new ville.  I spent several days in Dijon with the sisters there.  It was wonderful...but freezing!  I showed up in a short-sleeved shirt, all dressed for the Provence sun.  That mentality was quickly changed as I was adorned in my large winter coat, a sweater, a scarf, and tights the very next day.  

(Note from Jen: I so was not stalking her!)
On Wednesday, they sent me back down to Lyon (snakeskin suitcase and all).  There, I picked up my wonderful new bleue, Soeur Pagano.  Love her!  She's from New Mexico, was studying elementary education at BYU-I, loves cats, smiles a lot, and is obsessed with taco bell mild sauce.  There you go, my new companion.  She is an absolute delight to be around.  President Roney was excited becuase we are going to be quite a sight walking the streets--her hair is even longer and blonder than mine.  I'm excited.  Funny story about Soeur Pagano...appartently Mom has been stalking her.  Several weeks ago she was in San Fransisco getting her visa for France.  While sitting in the airport with all of the other missionaries, this cute missionary mom spotted them and ran over to see where they were going.  Turns out her daughter was in the same mission they were headed to.  They chatted and Soeur Pagano was left with the name of her future trainer on a piece of a wripped airplane ticket.  Thanks Mom, your new friend says "hi".

"My beautiful French kingdom"
After some fun in Lyon, we took a train to Dijon and then another one over to Besancon.  Yes, if you have been keeping track, me and my luggage took six trains before getting to my ville.  It has taken a little bit to get organized, to figure out where things are and everything, but I think I'll finally be able to sleep well this coming week.  This ville is absolutely beautiful, I love it and can't wait to serve here.  Our first Sunday ended up being a little crazy.  One, we're basically the new young womens president(s...?).  We taught that class, but there is only one active girl in the ward.  It's so small!  Two, we had a crazy day for amis at church.  Out of the 31 people in sacrament meeting, 8 were non-members!  Who would have thought that we would have had the mission's weekly record our first week here in one of the smallest branches?  Haha, God sure loves us because we didn't do anything.  It was totally out of the blue, they've had maybe an average of one non-member each week for months.  There were a couple people that we met on the street that came and several members invited people.  So great, I can't wait for work to explode here.  It's been one of the more struggling areas for the last little while.  We are stoked to work with all of these people.

One example from yesterday...  One of the members in the branch has been working to invite one of her friends to church for a while now.  She has come to church several times but her husband has never come.  They've also tried to set things up with the missionaries, but it has never really worked out.  Yesterday, the member felt this prompting to invite her friend again.  She and her husband came and they were totally sparked by the fact that the branch had sister missionaries.  Maybe this is what they needed, God's timing.  We should start working with them this week.

So basically everything (except my suitcases) are doing great.  I'm sorry that I've been so bad at writing you all back.  If all goes as planned, I should get mail this week (everything you've sent since the end of July), and be able to start responding.  Sorry about that.  I still love you and appreciate the support. 

Congrats Liv on your baptism!  I'm positive that you were absolutely beautiful and that it was a great day.  I was thinking of you...and figuring out in my head how I could count it as one of "my baptisms".

Oh, one last thing...  My darling MTC companion, Soeur Bentley, recently went home for medical reasons.  They are hoping that she will soon be able to come back out, but please pray for her.

Je vous aime,
Soeur Alisa Hulme
"All the streets are lined with Sycamore trees"

Monday, September 16, 2013

"We'll have to have a "Lion King Moment..."Look Sister, everything the light touches is our kingdom." 9/16/13

Bonjour Ma Famille,

So, this is going to be a quick one.  Just thought I'd give you an update on transfers.  Apparently God decided to keep this whitewashing/training pattern going.  Third time's the charm.  After my twelve lovely weeks in Aix with Soeur Brimhall, I am headed to Besancon where I will be training yet another new bleue.  I'll pick her up Thursday.  I'm very very excited.  Here's what I know... Besancon is a small ville in the northern-most part of our mission.  Yes, I'm headed north for the winter after spending the hot summer in the south.  There is irony somewhere in this.  It's supposed to be absolutely beautiful.  But, why wouldn't it be?  I only get sent to the most incredible villes.  We are whitewashing a companionship of elders.  It will be my first time serving in a branch, it's apparently really small... maybe 30 members.  I hear there are a lot of cool amis and less-active sisters, though that we'll be able to work with much easier than the elders.  That will be fun.  We're the only missionaries in the ville, which I'm super excited about.  Something tells me that we'll have to have a "Lion King Moment" when we look out the balcony our first night.... "Look Sister, everything the light touches is our kingdom."  Can't wait!

I'm sad to be leaving Aix, I loved my time there so much.  Hope you all have an awesome week.  Being a missionary is the greatest!

Je vous aime,
Soeur Alisa Hulme

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"I am even meeting people my dad knows in France...I knew he was friends with everybody." 9/9/13

Bonjour Ma Famille,
I hope that everything is going fantastic for you, it was another wonderful week here in Aix...like always.  For...safety reasons (don't stress, but thanks for your prayers for your missionary in crazy France), we couldn't go to the church all week.  But, it totally ended up being a blessing because we went to lots of the outer-villes and visited less active members.  There were several cool experiences with this...
So in our mission, we have this thing called "The Missionary Game" (I know...really creative).  Anyways, it's a way that President has given us to work with members to encourage them to do missionary work.  It's a game where there are lots of questions, points, scoreboards, etc. with the goal of having the members give us names of people to teach and setting up plans for how to do it.  We used it a lot as a mission when it first came out, but it's kind of slacked off the last couple months.  During the last zone conference he encouraged us to start playing it again.  Personally, I think the game is kind of awkward (random fact: there's not a word for "awkward" in French, it's a bit of a struggle sometimes) and I haven't seen a ton of success with it on my mission.  But, we decided that we would have faith in the counsel from our leaders and set up several appointments to play it this week.  It was because of setting up these rendez-vous and our desire to play the game that we were able to see some cool miracles this week. 
Frankly, we never ended up playing the game with anyone.  But, our first rendez-vous to play it was with the family of the old DMP (ward mission leader).  When we showed up at their house, it ended up only being his wife there.  We finished the lesson, and just as we were pulling out the game, the lady burst into tears.  She told us that she's really struggling with her testimony, that she has a hard time believing that it's true, that she has lots of doubts, etc.  We ended up being able to talk to her for a while and hopefully helped her a bit.  The Spirit was so strong in that lesson.  When I got to thinking about it, it was interesting to observe how the Spirit in that lesson was so much more powerful than it often is when we have lessons in the homes of even the strongest of members.  It reminded me of the scripture in Matthew 9:12 where Chirst explains that "they that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick."  All of us are in constant need of Christ.  We all have need of His Atonement in our lives daily.  However, I feel like when we are teaching lessons to strong member families, we are acting as physicians doing preventative care.  We're strengthening them and fortifying them for the future, while maybe helping with a few of the small current symptoms.  But, when we go into the home of someone who is truly struggling, we are part of their active treatment.  I love when I am able to help the Savior go after them who are lost.

Later in the week, we went to a less-active family that we’ve been working with for a while to, yes, attempt to play the missionary game.  Didn’t happen.  Before we were even done with the lesson, they were bringing up the names of their friends who they wanted us to help.  They had already set up a rendez-vous with them this coming week to meet with the missionaries.  So cool!  They are changing their lives and are ready to share with others the same joy.  Moral of the stories: follow your leaders.

Fun sidenote…  We were able to go to stake conference this week in Marseille.  Presiding at the conference was Elder Leimer of the Seventy, Dad’s old mission companion.  Haha, please take a moment here and laugh because I am even meeting people that my Dad knows in France.  I knew he was friends with everybody.  Anyways, it was really awesome to meet him and get to talk to him for a little bit.  It was especially great because I’m pretty sure that’s the first time that I’ve heard my name pronounced correctly in the last eight months.  He said that Dad was THE best missionary that he’s ever met in his life.  No pressure, but now I’ve got something to live up to.

Speaking of, it’s both Dad and Mary’s birthday this week.  Happy Birthday!  I guess this encounter this weekend is a great representative of my dad.  He is truly the most Christlike person that I know.  He loves the Savior and is constantly in the service of others.  I’m pretty sure that everyone he has ever met thinks highly of him, I’m the luckiest girl in the world to have him as one of my best friends.  Haha, and he’s keeps me updated weekly on football stats. Mary.  Oh Mary.  My funny sister.  When I think of Mary, I think of personality.  She is friends with everyone and constantly is making me laugh.  No one else starts letters to me, “What up girl?” and puts over 100 exclamation points after “write me back”.  I love you both, have a great day!

Je vous aime,
Soeur Alisa Hulme
"This is what you do when you want an interesting day contacting."

Sunday, September 8, 2013

"My pasta was completely covered in oysters, muscles, octopus, squid, shrimp, and other stuff that I'm kind of glad I could not identify." 9/2/13

Bonjour Ma Famille,

Hello everyone, I hope that your week has been wonderful.  I thought it would be good to start this letter with something amusing.  Actually, this whole letter should be rather entertaining, you're welcome.  Here's the first story...  So, I was on another exchange in Nice.  It was phenomenal, I loved it.  We were able to get tons of work done and the sister I worked with was great.  At the end of the day, one of the ward members offered to take the missionaries to dinner.  Cool, right?  We were excited and it was going to be great for the Nice missionaries to get closer to this ward member.  I was even more excited when she told us that we were going to this nice Italian restaurant.  Definitely was not an Italian restaurant.  We walk into a room completely surrounded with fishtanks, adorned in ship decor, and with an aroma that was for sure not seasoned marina sauce.  Hardcore seafood restaurant right off the coast of the Mediterranean.  Let me apoligize at this point to all those who would die to have this experience.  Unfortunately, I'm not one of those people.  I don't eat fish.  I don't like fish.  And here I was sitting in an expensive, very extravagent seafood restaurant with this member paying for us.  What can you do?  You have to eat it.  So, I went with the "safe" choice.  I ordered a pasta and figured that there would maybe be fish in the meat sauce.  Nope.  Not the safe choice.  My heart dropped when the waiter brought out my plate.  To start, it was the single biggest plate that I had ever seen in my life.  To make it worse, my pasta was completely covered in oysters, muscles, octapus, squid, shrimp, and other stuff that I'm kind of glad I could not identify.  My plate was full of tentacles, suction cups, and lots of things that I had to shell.  What can you do?  You have to eat it.  In all honesty, it wasn't that bad when I got over the appearance, the smell, the texture, and the thought of what I was eating.  Good experience, but I definitely felt queasy for the rest of the night.

No Caption Necessary...
The rest of the week went well.  I thought maybe I'd give you a little insight to what it is like contacting.  I'm not really sure if I'm doing it wrong, but I like having fun with people and being bold about it.  Soeur Brimhall and I have been working on this all transfer.  It's awesome.  I figure it's more amusing for us and will leave a bigger impression on them.  Here are some recent examples...
We're porting a building and talk to this lady who's not interested.  About thirty minutes later she comes out to find us working on the appartment next door.  She asks, "Are you really still doing this?" (haha, translated for your convenience) Response, "Um, yeah.  Our message is just as true as it was thirty minutes ago when we talked to you."

Word of wisdom is fun, President Roney has told us to call people to repentance on the street.  So, we do.  Soeur Brimhall contacted this guy the other day and told him to dump out his can of beer.  And he did.  He said it was the nicest thing that anyone had ever said to him.  Another day we came up to this young kid on a bench.  He wasn't interested in our message, but we told him to quit smoking and drinking.  His response, "Ah, that's just life."  "Actually, it's totally a choice."  "Yeah, you're right." "If you ever want to quit, let us know." (hand him our card)

But, I'm pretty sure athiests are my favorite people to talk to, mostly because their position on the world and life makes no sense to me.  When someone tells me that they are athiest, I get a really confused "that doesn't make sense" look on my face and ask, "Does being athiest really bring you joy?"

Another example, not necessarily contacting, but during a lesson.  Last week I was teaching a lesson to Suzanne on an exchange.  Just before her baptismal interview, we told her we had to teach her one more commandment.  Turns out they had forgotten to teach her the commandment of baptism.  Of course they had taught it, but it's supposed to be a separate lesson too.  Anyways, at the beginning of the lesson, I pointed to her red shirt and told her it was against the commandments to wear red. We all kind of laughed... then a few minutes later, after talking a bit more, she said, "I have another shirt with me, I can go change, the other one's not red...."  We all burst out laughing and explained that it was a joke.  Haha, opps.  Maybe American sarcasm doesn't always translate well.  On the plus side, look how devoted she was to follow Christ and the things she was taught by the missionaries.  I then followed it up by explaining that the joke about wearing red was actually her baptismal interview, it was a test that she passed.  Haha, that one went over a little better.
So, there you go.  It's a little peak into the everyday life of Sister Hulme.

I gave you an update of some of our more serious amis last week, maybe I'll talk about a couple more.  For some reason, the zone leaders feel like they can pass us all of their "joke" amis.  Okay, no one is really a joke, but some people are crazy.  Fact.  They always give us the excuse that it's easier for us to teach them because we are sisters.  I secretly (but not so secretly because I'm writing it home) think it's because they don't want the members to think that they are teaching crazy people.  For example, one of our old amis, among many things, thought that light drained her of all energy and made her sick.  The couple weeks that she came to church, we had to have our gospel principles class in the dark.  No joke.  This last week they passed us a new ami who is about 65 and believes that bombs are constantly falling from the sky.  We haven't met with her yet, but wish us luck.

I'm sorry, my letter next week will be more spiritually uplifting.  At least, I feel that you understand a missionary's life a little better now.  The church is true, there's no doubt!  I love being a missionary!  I love you all, have a great week!

Je vous aime,
Soeur Alisa Hulme