Bonjour Ma Famille,
What a wonderful week, but what else could be expected? Especially after having been visited by Elder Andersen. I guess I can start with that. Oh my gosh, it was absolutely incredible--better than I could have imagined. The spirit was unreal. It was a truly unearthly experience that all started with spiritual preparation. Our mission has been preparing for nearly a transfer--with every conference, meeting, and effort pointed toward preparing for Elder Andersen. We studied every talk he has ever given, drafted questions, stepped-up diligence, prayed unceasingly, etc. Everything was set in a way that would invite the spirit to the max. Just as an example to show you how far we went... the conference was in Nice, therefore, I was extremely blessed. As for the rest of the 260+ missionaries, they took buses from all over the country, Bordeaux being the farthest at 12 hours (dodged that bullet). These bus rides were done in complete silence and reverence, with nothing permitted but sleeping and studying. Once at the conference, no one was allowed to talk, hug, or even shake hands. Otherwise, it would have turned into a mission reunion. Complete and total respect was shown at all times. Although it was incredible to see all of my friends and mission heros, it didn't even seem to matter. I've never experienced such an example of the importance of spiritually preparing. And, we definitely reaped the rewards. Elder Andersen later commented to President Roney that out of the thousands of missionary events that he has been to, we were the most prepared and impressive group he had ever seen. Okay, probably the most amazing part of the whole meeting for me was when we sang our mission song, "Angels We Have Heard on High". It was the most beautiful rendition ever--with violins, solos, beautiful choir parts, and sections where pieces of "Bring Him Home" were played. Oh my gosh. So, usually it's a rather emotional thing to sing the mission song in your last zone conference... add to that the fact that it was the first time it had been sung by the whole mission together and that it was done for an apostle of the Lord. Basically, I cried through the entire thing. Definitely didn't sing. That's okay, there were angels there making up for me.
All of the talks that were given were also incredible. Elder Andersen focused mostly on the importance of faith. Having served as a missionary and a mission president in our mission, Elder Andersen had truly amazing insight and felt connected personally to the work here. He said that one of the most wonderful things about being a missionary in France is that it requires such a substantial amount of faith. He explained that all missions in the world are hard in different ways and stretch us in different ways, but faith building was the blessing of France. I agree. I obviously took pages upon pages of notes and would love to fill you in on more of it later.
If not having to take long, hot buses wasn't good enough, another blessing of being in Nice is that we also got to go to the member session of the conference in the evening. Very good also, but not comparable. Anyways, it was so cool because Elder Andersen gave his whole talk in French. Loved it. Also, getting to be there in the evening, Soeur Patrick and I were hostesses to greet all of the members. I got to see all of my friends from Aix. It was so great, I love them all.
Cool side note, Elder Andersen was accompanied by Elder Kearon of the Seventy and his wife...who is apparently a Hulme. Crazy right? Got to talk to them for a bit...special privileges.
As for the rest of the week...
Sabrine is doing incredible. For example, yesterday she came to church and brought her completely less-active sister. Also, we had been planning on calling the bishop this week to plan stuff for the baptism (it will be at his home in his pool because our chapel is under construction). No problem, Sabrine went up to him in church and talked to him about it herself. She also asked him if it was okay if she invited all of her non-member friends...who are now invited and coming. Love her.
Later in the week, we were meant to be headed to Montpelier for an exchange with the STL's. But, there is currently a huge train strike going on in the south. So, it was canceled. We were left with two days with completely nothing planned. That's the worst...but not really because we were determined to find miracles. Which we did. We were able to have a lesson with a less-active sister that went so great that she gave us referrals. Come to find out afterwards, this same woman's husband, who had been working with the elders to come back to church, had recently informed them that they were not invited in his home and that he was done with the church. We were able to really touch his wife in the perfect moment.
On the way home, we planned on doing some porting. We didn't know where to go. So we prayed, of course. The first building we went into, we found a cute girl named Claire. We taught her, left her with a Book of Mormon, and will be heading back in a few weeks after she gets home from vacation.
In other miracles, God has sent me some lovely summer showers to break up the dreaded heatwave. Haha, it really confuses people on the buses when I comment on how beautiful the weather is during a rainstorm. They are usually in Nice for the sun... Speaking of sun, have a wonderful week in Lake Powell. I love you all!
Je vous aime,
Soeur Alisa Hulme