Monday, May 27, 2013

A missed bus, a roller skating race, and two miracles

The sun is out in Rennes!  For the last few days everyone has been "profiter-ing"  from the wonderful weather.  I love that phrase in French.  Est-ce que vous profitez bien de le soleil?  Literally meaning, Are you profiting well from the sun?  Love it.  Everyone says it :)

Well, in answer to that question.. yes!  The sun has made all the difference.  I'm finally getting over the jet-lag, understanding more French and seeing miracles here in Rennes... The last few days have been dream:)

Yesterday was quite the adventure.  A bit crazy, but the coolest things happened.  I had just gotten back from my first exchange (which lasted from Friday night to Saturday night).  It was with my Sister Training leader Sister Roney.  She is an amazing missionary-so experienced.  Also, she talks to everyone!  We did a lot of contacting and had some very special experiences (teaching and praying with people in the street).  So Sunday morning I was all fired up ready to talk to people. We got to the bus stop right when the bus was supposed to come, but it wasn't there!  It must have been at least three or more minutes early.. I have my suspicions though.  The bus probably never even existed.  There are hardly any buses on Sundays so we had to walk to the Metro and wait a good half hour at Republique for another bus.  But we missed that bus for a reason... and her name was Marie.  I started to talk to her at the bus stop and she was hesitant at first, but it was the best contact we've ever had.  We even went past our bus stop to talk to her longer.  She's ready for the gospel:)

Then we had five amis at church...wonderful.

After church we headed over to the Delacourts to give Claire some banana bread we made her for French Mother's Day.  BUT there was a giant roller skating race downtown so the buses were all messed up.  Our bus was right at the corner and we were so proud that we were on time.  It felt like slow motion as the bus turned right instead of coming straight to get us!  So we had to walk twenty minutes to the Delacourts.  The weather was amazing though, we got to watch a bit of the race AND another miracle occured.  We were just blissfully walking down the rue when we ran into Fatima (a muslim woman we found while porting and taught her a lesson) and her family!  We wanted to continue teaching her, but for muslims you have to ask Presidents permission.  He said we could only if we got her husband's permission.  We didn't know how we could possibly arrange a metting with him.  But there he was!  On the street we were planning on whizzing through on a bus...of course he said yes when we asked if we could teach his wife:)

Then we going to just drop off the banana bread on the Delacourts porch..because we were pressed for time.  But I really felt like we should ring the bell and hand it to her.  Her son Sylvan answered and yelled up to his mom, C'est les Soeurs Mormons! haha.  She came down and we wished her a happy Fete des Meres and said she was our mother here in France.  She started to cry and thank us.  We love her so much!  I can tell that she was really touched, and we were both pretty surprised by her reaction.  Soeur Kohlert said that we are probably a bigger deal to her than we realize...

I just really felt like yesterday, in small ways, I was able to be used by God to touch the lives of others.  It wasn't me, it wasn't soeur Kohlert, it was a loving Heavenly Father who guided us to the right people yesterday.  Nothing went according to our plans... there was obviously a different plan for May 26, 2013 for God's children in Rennes, France.  Great day...

And then we had our DMP meeting in a GORGEOUS jardin in the middle of Rennes.  Soeur Kohlert didn't even know it existed.  It is apparently one of the most renowned parks in France.  It will be a perfect place to pass a p-day or go contacting.  There's an Orangerie and a huge cage with lots of parakeets and other birds in it.  There were so many people out enjoying the weather.  It was a fairytale...

Well loads of other things happened this week, but I'm out of time!  I love you all and the church is true!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Rennes, Bretagne

Greetings from Brittany!  So, I arrived in France and now I really feel like a missionary.  This is the real deal.  Everyone speaks French, I carry a Book of Mormon around with me, I've given up on my hair (there are just more important things), and I'm pretty sure I'm already losing my ability to speak English... yep, it is all very real, haha.

I guess I'll fill you all in on the past week.  Hmm, I can't believe that it was only a week ago I was in the United States.. woah.  That doesn't seem possible, haha.  We had quite the adventure getting over to France with FORTY missionaries!  I sat next to a very nice Muslim lady on the airplane.  Her best friend is actually a Mormon.  Anyway, she was interested in missionaries etc.  She thought that I wasn't allowed to get married, I reassured her that I could after my mission.  She replied, <<Oh good, I find husband for you.>> haha.  I think a lot of people think I'm a nun.  A morcocan man asked me where my headress was the other day when I was on the metro, <<Aren't you a bonne soeur?>>(nun).  I said I was only a missionary temporarily, then he wanted me to come hang out... haha.  This missionary thing is fun.

When we got into Paris, something extremely sad happened.  Elder Ganjanakrit wasn't able to get into the country!  The MTC let him come over here without a visa!  They actually ended up sending him back to Thailand.  My district and I were all pretty torn up about it.  He was our absolute favorite and he was so ready..hopefully he can get back out here soon:(

So, we got off the airplane and the assistants gave us each a copy of the Book of Mormon to try to give out on the train to the church in Paris.  First I talked to a man from Southern France.  His accent was slow so I could understand him:)  He wasn't interested but I had a nice time chatting with him.  I ended up giving it to a woman from the Congo, I think.  I failed to get her number (rookie mistake, I know), but she seemed interested, hopefully she will read it.

Then we endured hours of meetings and walking to the hotel.  The next day we got our assignments.  I still can't believe how big our group was!  They opened, oh probably 10 new areas for us!  Wow.  I was the first assigned (they had us all sitting in the chapel and had the assignments, with a picture of the city, come up on the screen) and my companion is Soeur Kohlert.  I actually tutored her in the math lab!  What a coincidence.  She is only one transfer ahead of me.  Poor girl, she was really nervous to be a trainer, it is a major responsibility.  So basicallly we are both new and have to figure this out together, which is hard because I have jet lag, can't speak French very well, and I don't know anything about how it the mission field really works, let alone anything about the city.  But I'm learning fast and I'm trying to help Soeur Kohlert as much as possible :)  

The ward here in Rennes is AWESOME.  They have all been really nice to me.  They had a Beatles concert on Friday night.. it was really funny to hear these French men singing Beatles songs..loved it.  This last week we have been mainly trying to find people to teach... it's pretty intimidating to try and talk to people, but everytime I have they have been very nice!  Porting (tracting) is kind of fun too.  I've mainly just been trying to love everyone like the Savior does and think about how he would go about teaching the people of Rennes.  Well the work is going forward here!  We would greatly appreciate your prayers :)

Oh and Soeur Kohlert plays the violin too.  Every Sunday we practice with the choir and we are having a ward musical celebration next month!  Also St. Malo and Mont St. Michel are in our we are definitely going to go there on our p-days :)  

There is a lot of bad in this world, I am so grateful for the gospel.  I just find myself wishing that people knew that they had a loving Heavenly Father and that this life has purpose... I hope I can help :)

Much love,

Soeur Hilton

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Farewell to the MTC

I can't believe my time at the MTC is nearly over!  It feels like a year since I said goodbye to my family, but it also seems like I blinked and now it's over.  I have learned so much while being here at the MTC.  I've made some friendships that I'm certain will last a lifetime.  I've progressed so much with my French.  But most importantly, I've felt the love of the Savior and our Heavenly Father stronger than I've ever felt before.  They really are there, and they love us more than we can imagine.  It's a little startling/humbling.
So, we are no longer taking a bus/shuttle to the airport.  We are taking FrontRunner, I'm assuming this is due to the rather large number of missionaries here at the MTC.  That should be an adventure!  We are leaving two hours earlier though.  There are 40 of us in the group going to Paris...That's huge!  I've been told that we are staying in a hotel instead of the mission home.  Also there are rumors that we won't do any of the "first day" activities (like contacting) because they have to just interview all day.  We will see how it goes:)  I'm very excited to see who my trainer is and where in France I'll be sent to.  It may not even be France, maybe Belgium or Luxembourg, who knows?!  The suspense is killing me.
Sorry to be so brief this week!  But there is packing to do!  Au revoir mes amis!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

99% of Baptisms come from 1% of the Missionaries

99% of Baptisms come from 1% of the Missionaries (not really, but you'll see my point in a minute)
Well, it's official.  My mission call to Paris wasn't some practical joke, I have in my possession travel plans for next Monday4:50 p.m. depart Salt Lake, 11:55 a.m. arrive in Charles De Gaulle Airport (Paris).  WOW!!  I just burst into tears when I read that, it's really happening....wait, what?  I'm going to Paris? Am I dreaming?  I'm excited that it's a direct flight, so awesome:)  There are 40 of us... so we won't be staying at the mission home the first night, but in a hotel in Paris, I believe.  Usually they have the new missionaries do some contacting when they arrive, but that probably won't happen for us. President has to interview all forty missionaries, and they would have to bring in 20 companionships to contact with us...bummer.  But i'll be doing missionary work for the next little while anyways ;) haha
This last week my district focused on the Christlike attribute of "Diligence."  We didn't want to blow off our second to last week.  We all worked really hard and spoke French as much as possible.  Saturday was the crowning moment of our diligence week.  We did an "English Fast."  We tried to speak nothing but French the whole day.  It was amazing, and I felt richly, richly blessed for my efforts.  So many tender mercies, especially as the day came to a close.  We got a new teacher this week, Frere Wilcox, and he gave the best lesson we've had here at the MTC.  For three hours he talked about what it meant to be a conscrated missionary.  Success in missionary work is a blessing predicated on obedience, not a consequence.  He pulled the stats when he was on his mission and he noticed that most of the baptisms came from just a handful of missionaries.  It's not as dramatic as my title makes it sound (I was just making a play off the Occupy Wallstreet slogan, haha).  He said most missionaries cluster right before the tipping point of great success.  He said it had to do with obedience and consecration.  If we would just give up the one or two things holding us back, every missionary can be a powerful instrument in God's hands.  It was such a good lesson.  Frere Mayne has also taught some pretty powerful lessons lately.  He encouraged us to pray for confirmation about each area we serve in.  If we feel, through the Spirit, that there are people in our area looking for the truth, then it won't matter how tired we are, or how many people turn us away, or how many blisters are on our feet, we will keep going until we "find those willing to recieve us."
This week, as a district, we are going to focus on the Christlike attribute of "Hope."  So for personal study this morning I read about hope in Preach My Gospel and read some scriptures about hope.  My favorite was Ether 12:4, which reads,
"Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God."
Isn't that beautiful?  The world out there rages in storm, but hope will anchor our souls.  That doesn't mean that we will be taken out of the storm, but that we will be safe through it.  I like when it says with hope we can "with surety hope for a better world."  In my opinion, that doesn't just refer to heaven, or the world after this one, but it is also talking about right now.  We can achieve peace in this life, through the knowledge that there is One who knows us, understand us, and can comfort and save us.  There are many in this world, as it says in Preach My Gospel, who's "hands hang down hopelessly..."  I think that if I can just bring hope to people, I will have suceeded.  "Charity never faileth." I was pondering that today and had a thought.  Every missionary is worried whether they will be a sucess or a failure on their mission.  Charity NEVER faileth.  If we missionaries strive for charity above all, pleading for it in our prayers, then there is no way we can fail.  We are representatives of Jesus Christ--numbers don't matter, love matters.  If He were here serving this mission, He would just love and serve everyone, inviting them to follow His example.  That's what we are supposed to do.  That's what everyone, not just missionaries, should strive to do---then we really can hope for a better world.  We would already have a better world if we all tried to have Charity.  Okay, I've rambled long enough...There you have it, my missionary musings.  There are so few distractions here...there is just a lot of time to think:)
Alright friends, this is the final countdown!  I don't know if I'll be able to email next week, so my next correspondence may be coming from across the pond.
Soeur Hilton