Monday, September 30, 2013
God really does work in mysterious ways sometimes! This week I'd like to recount a few examples of this. Number 1---Grocery Store Miracle: Soeur Hilton and Soeur Johns found themselves in Liege centre one evening after being fruged (cancelled on) with nothing to do. It was too late to go out to the suburbs and porte... so they wandered some sketchy backstreets and quickly decided that was a bad idea. Disheartened and a little bored, they walked by Delhaize, a warm, inviting...grocery store. Both Soeurs loved bananas and thus, had run out of them for the week. They decided to just go in a buy a few more. Sr Hilton turned to Sr. Johns and said, "we're still doing missionary work, right? This could be just like on the Best Two Years where they find someone to teach as they are grocery shopping..." So they headed in, but were then immediately escorted out because the store was closing. However as they were leaving they heard someone yelling behind them "sisters! Wait!" The two confused young women were then contacted by a young african man who had been looking for the missionaries. He wanted to meet with the Elders and learn more about the church! Sometimes following the spirit means following your stomach...classic Best Two Years experience. Number 2 --- Recent convert + math major missionary = two prayers answered: This last week in district meeting we all set the goal to try and be "an answer to someone's prayer" this week. Well I never thought that my prayers would be answered at the same time I answered someone else's! Here's what happened: Right before I got to Liege, the sisters baptized a young woman named Joycely. She was very stressed with a big test she needed to take and had been praying for help. Well, it was a MATH test. And which sister missionary did the Lord send to Liege one week before this big test? A missionary who majored in math and tutored college algebra and calculus for 4 years...me. I was also really praying to know why I was here in Liege. Things were going soooo well in Rennes and I'm pretty sure a piece of my heart will always be there. But helping Joycely prepare for her math test answered my prayer...I'm suposed to be here. Also, I felt a little bit like my old self again. I'll admit it...I LOVE math! It was so refreshing... oh my I'm such a nerd, haha. Again, MYSTERIOUS ways. Number 3 --- The tale of three redheads: You all know that there are at least two redheads running around Liege...well there is a third. Her name is Eryn...she 14 years old...hilarious...and as of Saturday...has a baptismal date! We've decided that she is going to be our best friend. Did you know that in Ireland there is a big redhead celebration where you have to be a redhead to go? We all decided we are going to go together! Just imagine it, thousands of redheads!!! Anyways we are really excited to keep teaching her and her mother Valerie and hopefully see them join the church:) REDHEAD TRANSFER Well, that's it for this week! I love you all:) I know that God answers prayers, often times not how we expect. He loves us and will be in the details of our lives if we let Him. He is there! Ask him your questions:)
Monday, September 23, 2013
France est une petite pays entre la Bretagne et la Belgique (France is a little country between Brittany and Belgium)
Yes it's true! I'm in Belgium! And boy is it different up here. For one thing I'm much further north...it's freezing. haha. So I'm going to need lots of letters to warm my heart:)
Here's my new address:
32 AVE ROGIER n°103
Leaving Rennes was pretty difficult. But it was time to go. I was smothered in love before I left. The Delacourts made me dinner (gallettes, of course) and Fatima and Pascal came over as well. I felt so loved! They gave me presents and Bretagne goodies...I love Rennes so much. I said goodbye to Sophie and it was really hard. She is so adorable... Claire Delacourt insisted on driving me to the gare, even though I had to leave at 6 in the morning. Then, Tugsuu and Mandal met me at the gare at 6:30!! Mandal gave me a really cute headband, really nice gloves from Mongolia, and a cute mongolian keychain. Tugsuu gave me homemade dumplings (delicious) and a COAT. Like a really cute one! I was so touched by their kindness...I love them so much. I'll never forget Rennes and all of the beautiful places, miracles, and people.
So then we headed off to Paris, and it was crazy!! Craziest transfer day ever. We aren't allowed to meet in St. Merri anymore, so we were kind of left to ourselves to figure out how to switch companions. Sr. Bitter and I weren't going to wait around in a gare for hours, so we took all my luggage and...rolled it right up to the Effiel Tower...haha. It was more stunning thanI remembered. There we sat, in perfect Parisian weather, eating delicious Mongolian dumplings, surrounded by luguage, reminicing a wonderful transfer. It seriously was a transfer I'll never forget. Sr. Bitter is the best! I'm going to miss her:(
Then we rolled my luggage back to the gare and waited for 4 hours as the ZL's ran around Paris trying to find hundreds of missionaries...it was a mess. But finnally, Sr. Andersen (temporary companion, redhead, future Harvard lawyer) and I made our way to Gare Nord and caught a train to Brussels. She is so awesome! She's really inspired me concerning what I want to do after my mission (not law school, but other things). In Brussels I met up with my new comp, Sr. Johns! We already knew eachother really well (we were in the same district for my first two transfers). We were overjoyed to see eachother! We can't believe President put us together, we are going to have way to much fun. He also has a really great sense of humor because...Sr. Johns also has REDHAIR. We are quite a sight,haha. She is such a good missionary and we are really similar, which makes companionship life easy and fun:)
Liège---This place is exploding with missionary work. A lot of missionaries call Belgium the promised land...it really is. On our first day, Sr. Johns and I found three families to teach... This place has so much potential...the people here are ready!
We are also doing a ton less-active work. There used to be 6 wards here. Now there are two branches...the plot of land where the chapel is, was originally supposed to be a temple site...to make a long story short, a lot of drama went down here. We have pages and pages of inactives... and the ones they've contacted are starting to come back. Needless to say, we have a lot of work to do here. So there are 6 missionaries in this city. One equipe of Elders for each Branch. And one equipe of Soeurs...for two branches. That's right, we are in charge of both! Yesterday I presented myself in two sacrament meetings, we have two Ward Mission Leaders, two Branch presidents...it's a lot to keep track of... But very exciting at the same time.
Well, that's it for now folks! I'll keep you updating on the exciting happenings in Liège soon:)
Monday, September 16, 2013
Hello dear family and friends! I hope you are all doing well. I just want you all to know that you are amazing and I think of you often and pray for you. Thanks for supporting me, I love you!
So, this week was a little up and down, a lot of cool things happened!
On Tuesday we had a rendez-vous fall through, so we jumped at the opportunity to go try a find a church headquarters refferal. We drove out to this tiny tiny little town called Monterfil. It was pretty surreal. You know when you are in a place so beautiful, you get frustrated because there's know way you can take it all in? That's the French countryside...gorgeous...we spent the ride singing that "Provincial Life" song from Beauty and the Beast. I really felt transported back in time! We tried to find our refferal, but no luck. We met some other nice people though. We really really want to go back because no one has ever seen missionaries out there, and there are tons of young families. My companion and I have a feeling that there are people there who are ready:)
That night we had a fhe with Shaina, her mom, grandparents, and the Arnaud family. It was really fun. Shaina is just the cutest little girl ever. I'm so proud of her decision to be baptized. She's such a good influence on her mother, telling her not to smoke in front of the missionaries etc. I think that Carine really wants to change, but is worried about how hard it will be. I know she'll get baptized though:)
Thursday was really good! We had a rendez-vous with this funny old cambodian lady in the ward - Simone. For the past couple of weeks she's brought corn on the cob to church and given it to the missionaries. She's really quirky, you'll see in a second what I mean. Anyways the night before the rendez-vous Soeur Bitter and I were joking around, saying, "think simone will give us corn tomorrow?" Well, after our little spiritual thought, she went into the kitchen and came back out with the silver, thanksgiving-sized platter filled with...corn on the cob! We each had to eat two and then she packed up a bunch more that's currently sitting in our fridge. It was hilarious. Then she said she made us a gateau (cake) and brought out what looked like a meat pie with neon pink streaks of something gross running through it. Turned out to be rhubarb, it was really acidic. But the best part was that she cut it for us with...scissors... yes...it was the strangest thing I've ever seen! haha and to top it off she had this stuffed Santa Claus in her living room. We love her!
Then that evening we had an appointment with the Grenal family. They are amazing and want so badly to be involved in missionary work. For a long time I've wanted to find someone for them. Well we got to their house about 15 minutes early, and even though Frère Grenal popped his head out the window and waved to us, we decided to go porting instead. They live in a really nice French neighborhood, not usually the greatest for finding. After being rejected a couple times, I said a little prayer in my heart that we could find someone here in their neighborhood, to build the Grenal's faith. Afterwards I felt sure that we'd find somebody. I think it was the 2nd porte--and we found a family! Young, open and we are going back this Thursday. We told the Grenal's and they were really excited. It was a miracle and I know that it was for the Grenals, to build their faith that there are people, right in their neighborhood!
The Grenal's are awesome. We had such a wonderful evening with them. Soeur Grenal served a mission in Temple Square and Frère Grenal told us his conversion story. He has a strong testimony of following the Spirit, because otherwise the missionaries wouldn't have contacted him. Haha he was so annoyed with the missionaries when he first met them. One of them felt he should talk to him, and said the first thing he could think of..."Does it always rain in Brest (rainiest city in France)?" He responded, "Is it raining right now?!" haha. But appartently one of the missionaries had the same birthday as him, so they became friends haha. Frère Grenal really warmed up to us and is very proud of being French. LOVES bread and cheese. Also, Soeur Grenal bakes....like amazing french patisseries and vennoiserie....yumm
So the Delacourt family was robbed twice this summer, so we went over on Saturday to see how they were doing. Claire had'nt even started cleaning up and bawled when she saw we were there. We helped her get started...We are going to go back this week and help some more. It felt good to do service, people here are really hesistant to accept our help...I think this was like the second time I've done service.
Then sunday, Sunday is always awesome! The new mongolian couple reffered another mongolian family of seven, the Elders are going to go see them this week! The Patea's have an American exchange student staying with them. We are going to see her this week:) We ate with the Chève's again this sunday, I love them and their adorable little blond boys:)
Well, stay tuned for more exciting happenings next week!
I love you so much:)
Wow. This week was just bursting with miracles...the perfect ending to the transfer. I love my companion Soeur Bitter, we've seen some amazing things together. This is definitely the Lord's work.
On monday we took a long drive to Chateaubriant to see the chateau and the Pahio family. The drive was pretty magical, (through the countryside). The chateau was pretty cool, but I liked the one in Fougères better. The Pahio family though!!! They. are. incredible. I just felt surrounded by faith and love the moment I walked into their home. Soeur Pahio is seriously the most loving person I've ever met. She was also the first convert in her country of Dominique (an island in the French Caribbean), that was 11 years ago, and now there are two branches. And Frère Pahio, he's legit. He kept on looking at the clock so that we would leave on time, he was very concerned about making sure his family helped the missionaires be obedient. He said that his parents taught him to really respect missionaries as the representatives of Jesus Christ. They sent us home with so much food :) Soeur Pahio walked us out to our car, I could tell she didn't want us to leave. One of the most touching moments of my mission was when we looked back and she was standing on the corner, sadly watching us drive away. And then she called us later to make sure we got home safely...so much Christlike love...incredible.
So last week I'm pretty sure I wrote about how we found a family when we were 15 minutes early for dinner with the Grenal's? Well on Thursday night we went back for our rendez-vous. I was worried that the family might forget or that the lesson wouldn't go well, especially because the Grenal's were so excited about it. Soeur Bitter and I were almost hoping that we wouldn't see the Grenal's on our way to the family, but sure enough, they were outside doing yard work. We said hello and they were so excited! Soeur Grenal told us to come by afterwards and she'd give us homemade pain au chocolat and vennoiserie. I was nervous as we walked to the house, but I had this feeling that it would.....
-------We interupt this program for an exciting announcement: transfer emails just came in and yours truly, Soeur Lorraine Hilton, is leaving behind not just Rennes, but the nation of France and heading off to... Leige, Belgium! To serve with Soeur Johns, a fellow redhead. And now back to the story-------
Where was I? Oh yes, I just had this feeling that it would all turn out fine. We got there and walked up to the door, the father, Sebastian, answered and immediately said "entrez," so casually. We got to know the family. They have two adorable little kids, three-year-old Nathan and six-year-old Ilene. Nathan was hilarious, he kept on saying "Bah oui," emphatically. I gave them stickers and they loved them. We ended up only teaching Sebastian because Morgan, the mother, was putting the children to bed. Sebastian had a bunch of questions about why there are so many churches and if there really is truth. We were just like, "that's exactly what we wanted to talk about today." We taught him the Restoration and he was very interested. It was so funny, we told him about how there is a living prophet today, and he said, "Oh, so I could be the prophet." Soeur Bitter and I both just laughed for a second, and then got serious and said "non." He thought that was hilarious. Anyways we left him a Book of Mormon and set a return visit for the next Thursday.
We went to the Grenal's straight after and they were so excited. They couldn't believe it! "And they really want you to come back?" "Do you think we can, I mean if you want, teach them with you?" It was so cute, and we played it off so cool, even though inside we were very excited too. They showered us with food and love. It was great. Frère Grenal gave us some of his favorite bread and Soeur Grenal sent us home with lots of delicious pasteries. But this story leads into another, even better story.
So when we were chatting with Soeur Grenal, she asked us about Fatima. We haven't seen Fatima in weeks, so we didn't have much to say. She told us that Fatima had asked how to become a member when she came to church a few months ago. What?! I didn't know that. So we called her up right after we left the Grenal's and set an appointment for the next day. We went and Soeur Marie Chève came and taught with us. We felt impressed to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ (faith, repentence, baptism, Holy Spirit, endure to the end). I didn't know how this was going to go because Fatima is a non-practicing Muslim. Does she even know who Christ is? How is she going to take this lesson? Will she be confused, or even confrontational? Oh soeur Hilton of little faith. This is the Lord's work and the spirit told us to teach this lesson. Well, it was the most beautiful experience I've ever had on my mission. Fatima basically bore us her testimony of Jesus Christ. She said she didn't even know who he was until Soeur Kohlert and I found her. We only taught her one real lesson during those months, but apparently she's been doing a lot of research on her own, on the lds website and in the Book of Mormon. She told us that she believes in Him, has faith, and she even accepted an invitation to be baptized. She said, "Now that I believe in Him, it's like I've known Him all along." In Preach my Gospel it says that as missionaries we are not teaching people new information, but allowing the spirit to remind them of what they already know. That is so so true. I witnessed that last Friday afternoon in Fatima's kitchen. The way she describes how she feels the spirit is so beautiful, how she feels like she's floating when she prays. She has even started to share the gospel with one of her friends. Incredible, absolutely incredible.
Well friends, that's not even the end of all that happened this week! Friday night we went and saw Sophie. She is a cute Chinese student that Soeur Kohlert found our first transfer. She back from two months of vacances, so we've started teaching her again. We gave her Alma 32 last week and she LOVED it. She said that it took something so abstract (the idea of God and faith), and made it very concrete (she is highly intelligent, getting a master's in mathematical finance) so she really likes logic. She even said, I think this is good (what we are teaching her), I want to continue and see if I can grow a beautiful tree. "So, what's the next chapter?" she asked eagerly. She has really found faith in God and Christ since we met her. I feel so priviledged to see things like this:)
Then the next day we went to Paris!! There was construction on the line, so it took FOUR hours to get there. But we had a fun little picnic on the train with our awesome elders:) That night we just meandered by the Notre Dame, it was magical. There is something very energizing about Paris. I just really felt alive, I don't know how to explain it really. Soeur Bitter took me to an awesome crepe place too. We stayed that night with the Paris Lilas Soeurs, a trio. They are great!
The next day was the big conference! We saw two prophesys fulfilled. In 1978 President Kimball prophesied that one day the nation of France would be covered in stakes and that a temple would be built there. Well France officially in just stakes, the last mission district was closed and put into the newly created Rennes stake. And then a third stake was formed in Paris. Elder Oaks spoke, and said that the temple is now under construction. The foundation was laid this week!
President Pozananski told us that this week we would see miracles because
1. Only stakes in france
2. There were two apostles, Oaks and Ballard, on French soil all week
3. The temple foundation is being laid
And wow did we see miracles. I felt so honored to be with the French members yesterday. They are so strong and they are going to receive so many blessing from the temple soon.
THEN THE BEST THING EVER HAPPENED. This is a big big shoutout to my dear dear friend ANNA JOLY. We met up by Notre Dame after the conference yesterday. She was looking adorable in her cowboy boots we bought together last summer and her beautiful smile. It was a fairytale. She is one of the most loving/Christlike people I've ever met. I'm so happy we got to see eachother. We'll be friends forever:) She is headed off to Germany this Friday for university( so excited for her), so I'm really glad I got the chance to see her, especially now that I'm to Belgium. Love you Anna! and p.s. I listened to your voicemail and it was super cute, haha.
Well everybody, that's it for this week, that's it for Rennes...I guess that's it for France for awhile too. I'll post my new address asap so you can drown me in letters (hint, hint). I love you all!!
Monday, September 2, 2013
YAY!! I have never been so happy that vacation is over! We have sooo many rendez-vous planned for this coming week, I'm so excited. The early french migration has finally come to an end. Shops are opening back up and the city is flooding with students. The only person who isn't back yet...is our bishop...haha I wonder where he is...
So on Monday, I think I wrote about this last week, we went to the castle in Fougeres and had dinner with the Moquard family. Soeur Bitter showed a lot of enthousiasm for their gigantic boxes of cereal and asked where they found them...Then yesterday at church they gave us 3 huge boxes of cereal. Seriously the members love us. Frere Mocquard, in front of a bunch of people, announced loudly, "Mes Soeurs, on vous aime!" (my sisters, we love you!)....so cute. Then the ward was taking a picture after church and we weren't sure if they wanted us in it, but everyone started chanting and yelling for us, we ended up front and center! Such a great ward.
What else happened this week? We ate gallettes with the Trahmel's. We wandered around their garden eating rasberries and then had a wonderful, powerful spiritual thought. These older couples are truly truly pioneers. Their conversion story is amazing. They told us that frere trahmel quit smoking in 8 days. After they learned about tithing, the were worried about making ends meet, they were young and had lots of little children. But they found a paper route to supplement their meagar salary. Frere Trahmel described it as a miracle, a blessing for paying tithing. They worked from 3am to 10pm everyday for years. And they both had major callings in the branch. Their faith is amazing. We played our violins for them and Frere Trahmel said we were angels. I think they are the angels. I'll never forget that night.
We also visited a less-active named Jocelyne. It's always a little wierd with less-actives because you don't know if you are welcome there or why they don't come to church. But with Jocelyne she was literally just forgotten about! It was heartbreaking. She feels lost and confused at church. Looking at the teaching record it looks like the missionaries taught her quickly and then promptly forgot. So sad! President Hinckly was right, new converts need a calling, and a friend!
Dang, there's so much more I'd like to say! I have to go though. Have a wonderful week everybody!