Monday, April 29, 2013

Preseverance jusq'a la fin!

That means "Endurance to the end."  This topic has been on my mind recently.  It was the subject we were assigned to write our talks on yesterday.  Also, my companion and I taught the district meeting lesson yesterday on the Gospel of Christ (which includes enduring to the end).  I was all pumped about "jusq'a la fin" and then we were handed NEW schedules.  There are soo many missionaries here that now I'm assigned to eat breakfast at 6:30, lunch at 11:00 and dinner at 4:00.  Also, we only get half a P-day.  It's going to be rough, but there are only two weeks left!  Jusq'a La Fin!  I'm not just going to endure though, I want to make these the best two weeks yet.  The Christlike attribute that my district has decided to focus on this week is "Diligence."  Perfect, right?  Last week was "Humility", which was also perfect.  I've realized that I can't do this alone, but through faith and diligence the Lord will help us do all this.  This is the time to really really work hard, this is the final push!  The last third.  We have to be prepared to hit the ground running in France.  Which, by the way, is going to be a dream.  I can't wait...  I'll be able to "sleep in" until 6:30... and I'll be in France.  It's a fairytale, haha.
The speaker in Relief Society yesterday was Bonnie L. Oscarson, the brand new Young Women's General President.  This was her first official assignment.  Wow, she is an amazing woman.  She and her husband were called to open a new mission in Sweden when she was only...25 years old (and pregnant with her fourth child), he was only 29.  I couldn't believe it! That's only a few years older than me.  Woah.  She said that she felt bad for the incoming missionaries who got off the plane and were greeted by a couple of "kids." She gave a great talk about Jacob 5, yes the longest chapter in the Book of Mormon.  She said that it is one of her favorite allegories because it really demonstrates the love of God for his people.  He worked so hard to "save the tree."  God is there for us, no matter what.  "It grieveth me that I should lose this tree."  He will do anything to save us, even sacrifice His beloved Son.  The end of the chapter is a powerful prophesy of the final days of missionary work.  The last great effort to save the "vineyard" or the world. The laborers are few, but we will work with diligence to bring truth and joy to the earth.  Very cool talk.
This week Sister Cutler left.  She just graduated and moved to Salt Lake.  We all loved her so much and it was really hard to say goodbye!  Right before she left she told us about her first day in the mission field, and expressed her love for her mission.  I was very touched... I hope I can love the people in my mission as deeply as she did.  Apparently, according to all the RM's I've talked to, leaving the mission is heart-breaking.  But the greatest joy ever felt is in the mission field. 
We had a really great speaker for the devotional last night, his name was Steven B. Allen, the managing director of the missionary department.  He was really fun and interacted with the audience.  He asked questions like, "who here has gotten a dear John? Who got here this week? etc.  And had us stand up if the question was true for us.  The best moment of this entire week was when he asked, "Who here has a sibling at the MTC?"  I stood up and saw Evan a ways in front of me.  He said "Now point at them."  We just stood there, beaming, pointing at eachother in front of the entire MTC, (there weren't many people with siblings).  It was epic, I couldn't help tearing up a little.  I love love love having Evan here.  I'm so glad we are doing this together!
Other happy things include, the MISSIONARY FIELD, as in the sports field (It is the best part of the day, I love running around it with Sister Cameron, playing sand volleyball with my district and enjoying the beautiful weather), haha, and we have a new investigator, Marc.  Oh and I love the TRC.  This last week we taught this woman who knows the Wilson's!  She said she'd say hello to them.  I forgot her name though.  She was very excited to find out I was a Hilton.   
I would love to hear from all of you! 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

An Apostolic Blessing

Bonjour my dear readers!  This week was really great.  I feel like I've hit my stride here in the MTC this week.  French is coming fast and easily, I feel the Spirit all the time, and I feel like our district is more united than ever.
This week started out better than any week.  Last Tuesday night Elder Richard G. Scott of the Twelve Apostles spoke to us.  It was an amazing discourse on prayer.  First of all, he started out saying, "I almost feel like I've died and gone to Heaven....there are so many sisters here!"  Apparently Elder Scott loves coming to the MTC, more than any other apostles.  He specifically asks to come speak to the missionaries as often as possible.  I think we could all feel his love and admiration.  He said, " I wish I could have a personal interview with each of you--listening, sharing, weeping, laughing...That is impractical, but there is one with whom we can have such an interview, whenever we'd like."  He was talking about our Father in Heaven, who loves and knows us perfectly.  His talk on prayer was the best I've ever heard.  I've really tried to make prayer more like an actual conversation.  And the end of his talk he gave us an "Apostolic Blessing."  He blessed us in learning our languages, that we can master them.  He also blessed us to overcome any companion difficulties. "God will hlep make the path smoother."  He also left us with a blessing of peace--our calls are inspired, we won't be asked to do what we can't.  He said we can master these languages as we work hard and ask God for help, desiring to be more effective servants.  He ended his talk by saying, "I know Jesus Christ lives, because I know Him."  Wow.  But it got even better.  After the closing hymn, a sister got up to give the closing prayer, but Elder Scott cut her off.  He came back to the pulpit and said, "Remember the Lord has called you to succeed, not to fail.  He will not abandon you.  He knows who you are and what you need.  This is an opportunity to discover things about yourself you never knew--capacity to love and serve, hidden talents etc....He will fit you to this work."  He must have really meant that to come up a second time!  I feel so blessed to be here at the MTC when this talk was given.  I was also in the Choir that day.  We sang Nearer My God to Thee (did you know that that song is the story of Jacob's ladder?  Very cool.)
Well, I've already seen this blessing work.  Our district has improved dramatically in the language this last week.  We PVL (Parlez Votre Langue--Speak your language) a lot and it is really helping!  Our district has made some very special goals recently and it has really united us.  We decided to pick a Christlike attribute to focus on each week.  Last week was charity and this week is humility.  We've really grown closer through this.  Another goal we made was to "have more fun." Haha I love hanging out with 18 and 19 year old boys!  They are hilarious.  We have these rolling desk chairs and the Elders love to "take a lap," which means rolling around our building in the chairs...very very mature I know. hahah  Also, our Elder from Thailand, Elder Ganjanakrit is great.  The other Elders are obessed with putting his name to music.  It goes surprizingly well with just about any song.  My favorites so far have been the dwarf song from the Hobbit, and "Praise to the Man." haha Elder Eldridge also like to put it to rap and other "gentile" music.  The Elders do many many more amusing things like that, but they'd be hard to explain.  Just know that they keep me well entertained!  Who needs music or movies?  Oh and speaking of movies, nothing is more fun than watching the Testaments with a bunch of missionaries.  It's funny because of all the awkward flirting/kissing in the movie.  Whenever one of the characters did something romantic or flirty, all the missionaries laughed awkwardly.....hahahaha.  I sat by Evan during it and we had a ball!
So every week all the missionaries in our branch have to prepare a talk and then the Branch presidency announces who is speaking in Sacrament meeting.  I had a feeling that it would be me, I don't know why.  So when they called my name I wasn't surprised at all.  I felt really good about my talk and wanted to share it, so I was happy to give it!  A lot of the missionaries in my district said they thought it would be me as well!  Weird no?  The topic was the Holy Ghost.  I had just read all of Joseph Smith History earlier in the week and was astonished at how Joseph Smith described when he received the gift of the Holy Ghost (JSH v. 74).  So I shared that story in my talk and everyone really liked it!  I think by the end of my mission I won't be nervous to speak anymore :)
This week we had our first chance to teach in the TRC.  I absolutely loved it!  These were real people, not just our teachers pretending to be investigators.  We were teaching people as themselves, and wow, I felt the Spirit really strongly.  Especially in our second lesson.  We taught this girl, a student at BYU, about faith.  I asked her about Elder Holland's talk from last conference, where he told the story of the man who had little faith, but Jesus still healed his son.  I bore my testimony that we don't have to know everything, in fact, only one person knows everything and that's God.  I said that we needed to hold onto the faith that we already have, remembering the times when we have felt the Spirit testify to us.  She is preparing to go on a study abroad to France, and she said she was scared about it, I testified that through faith comes power and courage.  Ether 12 is a wonderful chapter on faith, you should all read it.  Through faith we can do all things!
Okay, and last thing---I love having Evan here!!  It is the BEST.  He is going to be a great missionary.  I think I saw him about five times on Sunday.  When we watched Testaments together I felt like I was back at home:)  Oh and BYU men's chorus came for Sunday devotional.  I was able to talk to Tyler Mickelson and Phil Crepeau! So fun to see familiar faces:)  Actually I see a lot of people I know here.  Most of them are teachers, which makes all the other missionaries think I'm really old...hahaha.  I love it here.  I have 2,000 little brothers and sisters.
Three weeks from yesterday I will be on a plane to France.  This is going pretty fast!  Until next week!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sister Tsunami

There is so much to tell!  I'm going to start with Sunday because that was the most important.

Sunday Morning I went to my first Relief Society Meeting at the MTC.  We started by singing, ¨As Sisters in Zion.¨  All of the older women turned around to face the missionaries, there were tears in their eyes.  They probably never thought they would see such a sight.  This generation will never, ever be forgotten.  I was priviledged to attend the largest Relief Society meeting ever held at the MTC.  These sisters are going to change the world.  The speaker, Sister Edmonds, was amazing!  She said this wasn´t a wave, it was a SISTER TSUNAMI.  She was the first lady missionary to serve in the Phillipines and has served numerous missions.  She said, ¨If we could send you all to the same mission, you´d have it ready for the millenium in a couple weeks!¨  She was so funny, but so powerful.  She talked about homesickness.  She showed us her 700 page journal from her first mission.  ¨I couldn´t have gone home, I hadn´t finished my journal,¨ she said.  With tears in her eyes, she said, ¨I can´t imagine heaven without the people I met and taught on my mission.¨  I can´t either, even though I´ve only been here two weeks.  I already am overwhelmed with gratitude to be here.
The MTC became holy ground for me on Sunday.  After the Relief Society meeting, the sisters and my district and I went into a piano room to play some music.  Sister Cameron started playing homeward bound, and Sister Lefrandt burst into tears.  This was the song she played right after her father died three years ago.  He is here with her, he is here with us.  There are angels supporting us and all the missionaries.  I can´t even tell you how sacred the next hour was as we bore our testimonies together.  Sister Smith, who never cries, said, with unrestrained tears,  ¨This is heaven for me.  Sister Cameron playing Homeward Bound, Sister Lefrandt reunited with her father, Sister Hilton with her family and dear, dear friends, and Sister Elliot with her whole family.¨  Just as Sister Edmonds said, I can´t imagine Heaven without these people.  I already love the people in France.  I pray for them every night.  I want them to have joy and peace and redemption. The rest of the day was amazing.  We had a great devotional about church media.  They are doing a breathtaking campaign in London.  It just started this week.  It will change that city.  To finish the day off we watch the Joseph Smith movie in French.  I loved it.  And I understood so much!  I am definitely being blessed to learn French quickly.
That was Sunday, now I´m going to backtrack and tell you about Thursday and Friday.
On  What a day.  My companion and I were teaching Christopher.  Right at the beginning of the lesson my companion threw her head back (to swish her hair or something), and she hit her head against the wall.  We continued the lesson and it was pretty good.  We introduced the concept of baptism, but Christopher had a lot of questions.  After the lesson my companion threw up and we went to the doctor.  Turns out she had given herself a concussion!  Can you believe it?!  Haha, what the heck?  So the next day I had to teach the whole lesson.  The original plan was to teach the Plan of Salvation, but I felt like I should just answer his questions from the previous lesson.  It.  was.  amazing.  We read some scriptures about baptism and I said to Christopher  ¨I know in our last meeting you said you wanted to be a good example to your daughter.  Christ has set the perfect example for us to follow.  You can set an example for your daughter by following him.¨ And then, although I hadn´t planned this, I extend the baptismal invitation.  I don´t know how to explain how I felt in that moment. The spirit was so so strong.  I felt Christ´s love for Christopher, for all of His children.  All of his doubts melted away and he agreed to be baptized!  I didn´t think we´d get that far, so it was kind of funny because I didn´t know what to say.  So I just kept saying what a great choice he had made and told him to read Mosiah 18.  I know that it wasn´t really an investigator, but Christopher is a real person that my teacher taught on his mission.  And the people I meet and teach will be very real.  I can´t stop thinking about the people of France.
Then on Friday we went to San Francisco!  It was so great to be there.  I just kept thinking of the wonderful day I spent there with my parents and Anna Joly!  We went to the French consulate, Pier 39, Gheridelli (I don´t know how to spell it, nor have time to look it up, haha) Square, and the Golden Gate bridge.  It was sort of a surreal experience though.  It was my first time in public as a missionary.  And let me tell you, the reactions you get are all over the place.  In Salt Lake we were spoiled.  Members took pictures of us and texted them to our families, paid for our pizza when we got stranded in the airport for 2 hours, and even an award winning choir from Washington (that was lead by members) sang us a song in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.  Also, an older couple, when they found out I went to BYU, said that their grandson went there and needed a wife.  So they took my picture, without asking, and somehow got my email address.  I said, ¨ Well he´d have to wait 18 months minus one week!¨  haha.  We got stares, people took pictures of us creepily, and a drunk man yelled at a few of the sisters.  But what surprized me the most was how open people were with us.  I sat by a lady on the plane ride home that told me all of her problems.  Many of the other missionaries had the same experience.  I guess people see our name tags and recognize us as ¨spiritual doctors¨ perhaps?  We have what this world needs... I can´t wait to share it.  One Elder talked to a French lady on the plane and he was so pumped the rest of the day!  When we got stranded in the airport (because they forgot to send someone to pick us up to come back to the MTC), instead of complaining he took off and said ¨I´m going to go do missionary work!¨  He even did a back flip.  It was pretty funny.
Well, I am really loving this whole missionary thing.  I´d just like to give a shoutout to Bruno and the Joly´s.  I got your email and I loved it!  I really appreciated the advice and wonderful mission stories.  I can hardly wait to see you.  I love you all so much!  Hopefully I´ll have time to write a letter to you soon, maybe this afternoon.  Also I got a postcard for Anna from San Francisco, I´ll send it ASAP.  Je vous aime beaucoup et j´adore le langue francais.  Especialement, apprendre l´Evanglie en francais.
Well, that´s it for this week.  I´d love to hear from anyone who cares to write!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Language of Heaven is French

Last Wednesday afternoon felt like a lifetime ago.  My family tearfully waved goodbye as I, with a baguette in one hand, and a violin on my back, was whisked away into another world.  The Missionary Training Center (MTC) is a truly fascinating place.  I wish I could write all of the details, but alas, my time is short.  I decided I would just start with the reasons why I love the MTC.

Why I love the MTC:

1. The Spirit.  The Spirit here is real and it is tangible.  I love the way I feel in this place.  This was by far the best General Conference of my life.  I filled HALF of one of my little notebooks with notes this conference.  As one of my roommates said, "This is our revelation for the next six months."  And what a crazy, amazing six months it will be.  By this next October I will be a seasoned missionary living in France, one third of the way through my mission!

2. My district.  The Elders and Soeurs in my district are all very different, and young.  My district leader, Elder Bates is a tiny, redheaded, eighteen year old from small town Utah.  But, wow, does he command a powerful Spirit.  He always leaves me and the other Soeurs in tears.  He will do great things.  We have another eighteen year old Elder, Elder Stucki from American Fork.  He is really great at French!  His companion is Elder Ganjanankrit from Thailand.  He is an inspiration to us all.  A twenty-five year old convert, he left his native land to come to Utah and learn French while speaking English, which is obviously hard for him.  Then there's Elder Eldridge (which is a pretty fun name to say), and he is hilarious!  He said, our district is a family...and Elder Ganjanankrit and Soeur Hilton are the grandparents...because they are old.  Haha!  He apologized so much after it.  Then there are Elders Saffell and Turley.  I consider them both just goofballs, singing Les Mis and laughing all the time.  But those Elders have amazing testimonies... It's great to watch.  Also, Elder Turley's girlfriend is here at the MTC, so that's interesting:)

3.  My roommates.  Wow these are some powerful women.  Soeur Lefrandt, Soeur Elliot (my companion), and Soeur Smith are all nineteen, and Soeur Cameron is twenty.  They are all very different, but our strengths and weaknesses compliment eachother.  Cameron, who is from American Fork is very good at French and loves to run with me.  Lefrandt, from Alpine, lost her dad a few years ago.  She is so strong, and such a funny girl.  Smith is the nicest girl I've ever met, she always puts others before herself.  Today at the temple a lady in the celestial room was only informing us which side the women exit on, and Smith reached down and gave her the sweetest hug I've ever seen.  She is a great example. 

4.  My teacher.  My teacher is Soeur Cutler!  (Emily)  She was in my singles ward in Provo.  What a blessing it is to see a familiar face everyday:)  She's a great teacher and example.

5.  My companion.  My companion is the youngest in our group, and we are complete opposites.  It has been pretty rough on her this first week, so keep her in your prayers.  She has a strong conviction of the gospel and feels very deeply.  I think that that will prove to be a strong attribute in the mission field.

6.  I also love hearing people speak a dozen different languages.  I can't help feeling like we are an army.  Like it was said in General Conference, we are not any army going out to bring "world peace" but the peace of Christ, one person at a time.

7. FRENCH.  I love love love the language and it is coming pretty easily.  I felt on top of the world after my first lesson, which was in French, last Friday.

A big big thanks to mon ami Ryan Hansen.  I really have a leg up, and I've ended up teaching the other missionaries on many occasions.

Next, I'll list the things that I could love more about the MTC, haha.

1.  The food.
2.  The sleeping schedule.  Today I "slept in" until 6:30.  Usually I've been up at 5:30 or5:45

Okay, that's enough complaints!

I really love it here, and I can't wait to go to France.  Also, this Friday I am going to San Francisco to get my Visa!  It will so fun to have a break.  Can't wait. 

Au revoir!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Called To Serve

It has been nearly five months since I stood, surrounded by friends and family, holding a big white envelope from Salt Lake City.  It was with trembling hands that I opened that letter.  When I read that I would be serving in the France Paris Mission, my heart stopped.  I couldn't believe it!  I don't know why, but I have always felt a connection with France, especially Paris.  I really hoped that I would be able to share the gospel with the French people.  And now I am going to!  It was a miracle.  I can't explain it any other way.

I remember feeling very anxious about opening my call--where was I going for the next year and a half?  There are over three hundred LDS missions throughout the world, I could have gone anywhere.  For days I wondered, stressed and hoped.  I really wanted to go to France, but I didn't want to get my hopes up.  I distinctly remember thinking, a few hours before I opened my call, "I just can't wait until it's opened, then I'll know I'm going to Paris and I can stop worrying about it--Wait, I can't think that, I don't know that I'm going there!"  Most of my friends and family guessed that I would go to Paris.  We were all shocked when I opened my letter and it was true.  

I don't know why I feel so strongly about the Paris mission, but I know that God is sending me there for a reason.  I feel very honored to be able to serve as a missionary.  I hope that I will do my best and live up to this call.

It has been a long wait, so much has happened these past five months.  Just last week I turned in the final draft of my capstone paper for my history major.  At twenty-eight pages, I've really put my heart into this paper--I am proud of what I've written.  I spent the last semester researching and writing about LDS "Lady Missionaries" in the early Twentieth Century.  And let me tell you, these were exceptional women.  Their stories deserve to be told.  I enjoyed writing this paper immensely; I spent hours pouring over journals, articles, etc., reading stories of courage and faith.  These women have inspired me.  I even found my great grandmother's journal.  She served a mission in the Eastern States from 1914-1916.  By doing this paper I feel like I know her now... that we are friends.  I won't be serving this mission alone.  There are generations of women that have served before me.  Through their stories, they will be beside me to buoy me up during the hard times.  I am so glad that the age restriction for women has been lowered, now many, many more young women will have the opportunity to serve as missionaries, joining the ranks of the amazing "Lady Missionaries" that have gone before!

I can't believe the time has finally arrived!  I am going to the Missionary Training Center (MTC) this Wednesday, April 3.  I'll be there for six weeks.  Then, I will arrive in the mission field May 14.... Is this real life?

Right now I'm listening to "One Day More" from the Les Mis appropriate!  I will miss all of my friends and family terribly.  I would like to thank all of you for being so supportive.  I have really felt your love these past few weeks.  I love all of you!  Send me letters/emails:

Sister Lorraine Nicole Hilton
MTC Mailbox # 297
FRA-PAR 0514
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793

France Paris mission
23, Rue Du Onze Novembre
78110 Le Vesinet