Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"The miracles…" 2/17/14

Bonjour Ma Famille,

My life is so fun, I love it.  So much stuff to do, there is never a dull moment.  In the last three weeks, there have only been TWO days (Sundays) that have been solely Soeur Stevens and me without any other sisters.  It's a little bit bizarre and sometimes makes me a little sad that I don't get to spend more time with my friend.  That's okay, I have come up with a solution...now I've printed a picture of Soeur Stevens and stuck it in my scriptures next to the picture of my family...because I almost see her as much as them.
After spending time last week in the city of Pao (a cool city down south surrounded by mountains with glaciers), we had an adventure up north in Limoges.  This city is beautiful and is known throughout the world as the City of Porcelaine.  All of the buildings and streets literally glitter!
The miracles...

Last week I had ported into this lady and taught her on an exchange, so we went to see her for the second lesson.  We knocked on her door and her sister opened and was not happy to see us, she said come back in 10 minutes.  We were with a member so we decided to do some porting for ten minutes!  And literally the second door we knocked on opened.  It was the cutest lady in the world who we are teaching next week, she's Armanian!  The member was SO excited.  Even better, there is an Armanian sister in our ward who is going to come to the lesson with us next week and she thinks that she knows her!  Isn't it incredible how God puts people in our paths?

Dominique accepted a baptismal date this week.

So the other day I was running and hurt my leg.  It was kind of not a big deal but then it got worse.  I woke up one morning after an exchange and literally couldn't walk.  I just had pulled a muscle or something, but I couldn't put any pressure on my right leg (kind of a necessity for walking).  So, we traveled a lot that day and everything worked out being fine, but I was really nervous for what I would do the next day on exchange.  We tend to walk...A LOT.  The next day, I woke up and my leg didn't hurt at all.  Throughout the day, I could tell that it was really tight and should have been in pain, but I didn't feel anything.  Such a miracle, that became even more evident as I came home that night.  As I took off my shoes and placed that foot on the floor, it immediately restarted with the pain felt the day before.  God really helped me be capable to do the work that He needed me to. (my leg is fine, don't stress)

We got a call from a lady this week who essentially told us that she had been taught by the sisters in the past, lost contact when she went on vacation, and wants to start meeting with us again.

We have the coolest new amie!  We contacted Lisha on the street and she came to church (this really nearly ever happens).  She is 19, is from China, and is studying here.  Haha, sound familiar?  Who knew I would be serving my mission in Asia while still getting to eat French bread?  Cool part, her parents and grandparents are Christians from China.  I'm no expert, but I don't think that is very common.  We are teaching her this week and are super excited. The Relief Society just adored her, it was the cutest.

I read a scripture this week that I really like.  I'm sorry I don't send spiritual thoughts more often, I just really feel like I would rather spend time telling you miracles.  Christ taught in stories and I find them inspirational, so there's my reasoning.  Anyways, we'll break the trend this week. In Alma 10:6, Amulek explains that at one point in his life he "knew concerning these things (the gospel), yet (he) would not know..."  I thought this was interesting because there are times when we know the teachings of the gospel, but they're not understood or embedded enough in our heart that we experience change because of it.  I'm really greatful that the gospel is not just an institution where action equals reward.  While it's true that when you keep the commandments you are blessed, I feel that the greatest blessing we receive is the change within ourselves.  The gospel is all about who we become through the things that we do.  I have seen this principle time and time again on my mission, including within myself.  While I still have a long ways to go, I can already see that I am a very different person than I was when I started, all because of the application of the gospel.  Isn't it amazing that Christ permits us to do this?

I love you all, have a fantastic week.  Thanks for all of the support.

Je vous aime,
Soeur Alisa Hulme

Monday, February 10, 2014

"So we prayed and picked a random building…and the fourth door we knocked was her's." 2/10/14

Bonjour Ma Famille,

Isn't being a missionary the best?  Awesome week that all started with zone conference.  Two highlights (not necessarily the spiritual ones...) First, President started his presentation by showing us Super Bowl commercials (I'm not really sure if that would be a good highlight, but I really enjoyed it).  Isn't President Roney the best?  Second, his quote of the conference... We were talking about love and how it is important to love all of the people on the street and he explained, "If you're really having a hard time loving the French people, just remind yourself that they gave us the Statue of Liberty, and that was very nice of them."  Voila, a peek into zone conference.

Other than that, we saw so many miracles this week, let me share a few...

Sister Hulme and Sister Stevens
On Monday, we decided to spend some of our P-day with this family in the ward.  They've been through a lot this last year, including losing their dad, and we thought they were in need of some love.  So, we went shopping with the mom and her 14 year old daughter, Lauralie.  In one of the stores, the salesman remarked that Lauralie was speaking English (because she had been practicing with us).  Immediately she turned the conversation into a moment to share the gospel.  The contact ended with her leaving him with our card and a Book of Mormon.  She did the entire thing, I'm not sure that we said anything.  It was really incredible and she was so touched.  She couldn't stop talking about how amazing the experience was for the rest of the night.  She wants to serve a mission.  God knew that she needed that moment.

We had contacted a young mom with her son about a week ago and had set up a rendez-vous for this week.  The problem was, she wanted to meet at her house and we didn't exactly have her address.  When we had originally talked to her, she pointed to the building across from the bus stop.  So, we gave it a try.  But when we got there, to our horror (I use this word not to be dramatic, but to show how terribly disturbing this was to someone who is directionally challenged), there were about ten huge buildings with at least seven entrances for each.  And, on top of that, we didn't have her last name so we couldn't find it on the lists.  And, she didn't answer the phone.  We didn't lose all hope, but the chances of us finding her were seeming really slim and the rendez-vous was to start ten minutes later.  So, we prayed and picked a random building to port.  And, naturally, someone showed up that minute to let us in and the fourth door that we knocked was her's.  We were early, the lesson went great, and we will be seeing Stella again this week.
Former Companion, Sister Pagano

Isn't it the best moment in the world when your new amie has an incredible time her first day at church?  Dominique, the grandma we ported into last week, came to church, became very best friends with the sister we've been teaching with, and cried.  She kepted saying things like, "I feel so good here", "I never want to leave", "If I'm crying, it's because I'm happy."  Such an incredible experience.

Darling Lancelot Kids
Member missionary work... Soeur Lancelot, this awesome sister in the ward, really felt like she needed to do more missionary work.  She mustered up all of the courage that she had and called her best friend in the world, asking if she could stop by with us.  Unfortunately, her friend wasn't available, but she worked with us anyway.  She came with us and ported every door in her neighborhood.  It was such a touching experience.  She was so scared and embarrassed, but she did it.  Every single person said no, it was really sad.  But, I was still so impressed with her courage and desire to share the gospel.  If only every member could be like her.  Could you imagine?  Afterwards we stayed out porting for a few more hours in the hail and freezing weather.  No success for us either but it was still a great learning experience for me and showed me the person I want to be after my mission.  We spent the rest of the night with Soeur Lancelot's adorable family.

Soeur Teruhia, the less active Tahitian lady, came to church again!  Another miracle happened with her because of this Tahitian lady in the ward, Soeur Velma.  She is a super strong member but lives so far away she has to stay with people on Saturday nights because there are no trains early enough Sunday.  Soeur Teruhia volunteered to have her stay with her every Saturday and they can go to church together on Sundays!

Oh, and we have a new ami, Mikael, that accepted a baptismal date this week.

Sorry, I feel like these have gotten rather long lately, I just want to share everything.  I love my companion, our ward, our amis, our sector, and all of the incredible sisters that I've been serving and doing exchanges with.  I love you all too, have a great week!

Je vous aime,
Soeur Alisa Hulme
At the Airport


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

"It was like 10 minutes of pure gold." 2/3/14

Bonjour Ma Famille,

Oh my gosh, I feel like my life just got crazy.  I completely crash every night when I go to bed.  I've really got to work on not turning into one of those people who sleep through all of the meetings in church...haha yesterday seems a bit hazy.  But, it's because we have been working so hard.  This last week was wonderful.

First off, Jedi Council was fantastic.  Loved it.  Flying was really weird, we both had these really freaky "deja vu" (French word...)/looking foreward moments when the plane was landing.  I was defnintely not ready for that and would prefer not to have any other flights that would remind me of my eminent fate this summer.  I felt like I learned so much at the conference and was thrilled to be counseling with many of my missionary idols.  

I received so much amazing revelation during the conference.  People always say that inspiration comes through the Spirit and not necessarily the words that come out of the mouth of the speaker.  I had such a cool experience with that.  I remember at one point in the conference getting all of this revelation for worries and questions that I had.  Haha, it was like 10 minutes of pure gold.  I thought the assistants were the most inspired people in the world (maybe they are, but...) and was writing down every word I was "hearing".  After a while, I "clicked" back into the conversation and was super super confused.  None of the comments made sense.  No one knew what the real topic of the conversation was.  Haha, then I realized that it was just me.

Our mission is really putting an emphasis on love this coming year, this is the main thing that we are to be teaching other missionaries.  President explained that if we can truly teach others to love, we will change the entire mission.  It was incredible to recognize what a profound statement that was while working with our sisters this week.  There were several companionships that saw unreal miracles, going from 0 to up to 5 amis with set baptism dates (even in some of the smallest, most struggling villes of the mission).  As Soeur Stevens and I were reflecting on this, it dawned on us that these sisters who were seeing so much success were the strongest companionships in our zones.  While they are all wonderful missionaries, these companionships were the ones that worked so well together and clearly have so much love between them.  We have seen the same thing in our own companionship, we saw so many miracles this week and really feel that it had a lot to do with the strength of our relationship.  We love each other and have such a genuine friendship.  I could not be happier with the companion that I have. 

One of the coolest miracles this week was when we had about 30 minutes before another rendez-vous.  So we decided to go porting!  I've never had much success porting my whole mission, but it's fantastic in Talence.  We did almost a whole building with no success, then a lady opened up!  Her name is Dominique, she is from Africa and maybe in her 60s.  She was with her three beautiful granddaughters, literally the cutest little girls I have ever seen in my life.  Turns out, Dominique has been taking the lessons from the missionaries in Paris where she lives.  And her daughter, Catherine, had a Book of Mormon in the apartment so we think she has been taught before!  It was incredible.  At the end, we all knelt down together in this little apartment, and Dominique offered the prayer and CRIED!  It was so powerful.  We are going back on Wednesday!  Miracle!

The next miracle this week was with this guy named Alain!  So he randomly came to church about two weeks ago because his cousin is a member.  We got his number but he wasn't really interested in meeting with us and a member told us he just wanted to come to church to learn how to teach his students better (apparently he is a Catholic teacher to young children). But, we set up a rendez-vous and taught him right after church and it was incredible!  He said he reads the Liahona during every lunch break and he has been finding all the answers to his questions...  He pulled out about 4 church manuals from his bag and explained that he has so much to learn and doesn't know where to start.  Haha, we knew he had come to the right place.  We just testified about the importance of starting from the beginning and learning the basics and the spirit was so strong. The member with us just kept testifying like a boss and kept telling him to listen to exactly what we tell him.  Now we are teaching him again this week!

One of the biggest miracles of this week was Soeur Teruhia came to church!  She is the Tahitian lady we have been working with for the last three weeks.  She called us because she wanted to come back but there was lots of drama so she was scared.  We have been seeing her a lot and teaching her.  It was her first time in forever coming to church!  We think about 20 years. 

Other than that, we had several awesome exchanges.  We found so so many people to teach.  Up until this week, our sector has been nearly dead for months.  After all of the numbers we received and things that have set last week, this coming week is going to be insane.  For example, we have one day with an exchange coming up where we have 10 rendez-vous set, WITH AMIS!  That one day will more than double our weekly total last week.  Crazy, the Lord is in this work and it is Talence's time.

Oh, funny moment... We were porting one day and knocked on this door.  It took about three minutes for all of the different locks to open and then the door swung open.  No one was there.  Automatic door.  I thought I had seen everything.  The guy talked to us from one of the back rooms, wasn't interested, and then the door closed (and very securely shut all twenty locks).  Haha, it took a second to get the confused looks off our faces and to move on.

Well, as you can tell, I'm loving life and everything is great.  Thanks for everything, I love you all.

Je vous aime,
Soeur Alisa Hulme