Monday, December 23, 2013

T'was the week before Christmas

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3 John 1:13-14
13 I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and penawrite unto thee:

14 But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. 
So since I'll be seeing your FACES in 48 hours I decided not to write this week.

Just kidding!  Too many awesome things happened this last week for me to not write about them:)  But, I am beyond excited to skype you on Christmas Morning!!! Make sure to be up early so you don't miss my call:):):):)
So.  This week was another stellar week in good old Belgium.  Soeur Walker and I are just loving Liege and it is just loving us!  We started off the week with our Monday night soirĂ©e familiale.  We had a good time, all the Elders were there, along with some recent converts and amis.  We watched the Restoration movie and ate prune applesauce stuff with ice cream on was a little wierd, but so Belge.

On Tuesday we started off the day with GIGH.  This girl is the greatest.  She told us all about how she was sharing the Plan of Salvation with her model friends.  She also told us about how the day before, one minute she was buying a hot dog and the next she found herself in the middle of a political debate.  Immigration here is a big issue and a lot of people suffer because of it.  Gigh is brilliant and Soeur Walker and I really think she'll end up being the first President of the World.  She really can see the big picture if you know what I mean.  She understands the way people think and why they act the way they do.  It's pretty incredible actually.  Anyways she has this great desire to share the Plan of Salvation with all of these refugees in the detention centers, many of which may be deported and executed in their home lands.  She said if they just knew that they chose this!  That this life is just a small part of their existence.  They would be filled with hope!  In that way their trials and their deaths can be a inspiration instead of just a tragedy.  It was so beautiful.  She gave a prayer for these people that made me cry.  She really will change the world, of that I'm sure.  She is brilliant and well on her way to becoming internationally famous (because of the modeling), but is FILLED with Christlike charity and empathy, and can see past the shallowness and sin in the world because of the experiences she's had. Yeah, she's going to do big things.

We talked about knowledge with her.  As part of our CHRISTmas, Soeur Walker and I have made it a goal to study one of the Christlike attributes each week.  This last week was knowledge.  And it. was. fascinating.  I really had some profound insights.  Like what does it really mean to seek learning by faith?  I really pondered that a lot and discussed it with Gigh.  I came to the idea that by following promptings and acting in faith, God will give us experiences that lead to knowledge unattainable by just study.  pretty cool stuff. Gigh had some interesting things to say about that too (as usual). I read a really neat example of that this morning in Ether 3 with the brother of Jared.  That chapter is just filled with the words "know," "knowledge" etc.  Well there's a little look into my mind/discussions with Gigh:)

Later on Tuesday we saw our ami Christianna.  She is so sweet and has such pure, childlike faith.  She is also a wonderful missionary.  She has a friend who really wants to meet us and just cried and cried when she missed us the last time. Hopefully we'll get to meet her this week!

WEDNESDAY:  I went back to France!!!  It's been like 3 whole months since I've been in France, it felt so good.  We spent the day in Versailles for a Christmas Multi Zone Conference.  I'm sure Soeur Pozanaski put up/will put up pictures of it on facebook.  It was a great, spirit filled conference.  I was so touched that they had asked our families to write us each a Christmas letter.  My parents sent me and amazing letter that had me instantly in tears.  I ran into the restroom just to find my self surrounded by a bunch of other soeurs.  "We're such Soeurs!" I said. haha.  But seriously it was so sweet:)  I wish I had had time to maybe say hello to the Joly family since I was in Versailles, but we were running to and from the conference and didn't even get back to Liege until very late.  I'll see them someday soon.

Then on Thursday we saw Kelly.  Kelly is just the greatest!  I love her more and more every time I go over there.  We also went over on Saturday and helped her and her children decorate the tree.  I finally got to hear her whole story on Saturday and wow... it is amazing to see the hand of God in her life.  I don't have a ton of time but I'll give you the condencsed version.  Kelly's parents met the Mormon missionaries when they were living in England.  When Kelly was a baby they were sent back to Iraq where they were asassinated and Kelly was adopted by a Jewish family.  She was a tomboy and particuarly liked to watch racecar drving.  Her favorite racer was a Brazilian named Sena.  He died about 20 years ago on Kelly's birthday and she hasn't celebrated her birthday since.  At the age of 23 Kelly's husband and her five children were killed in a bomb.  She found herself alone and with nothing.  She was angry at God.  Then she took in her neighbor boy who had lost his family too.  She lived through "Operation Iraqi Freedom."  She saw many American soldiers and remembered reading about Mormons in her mother's journal...The first Mormons she met were American soldiers....I'm going to have to finish her story later, it's way awesome and I want to do it justice. Until the next week.

We also had an awesome "Family Home Morning" with our less-active Christianne and her non-member cousin Christophe.  I really really was proud of Christianne.  She bore such a sincere, love-filled testimony to here cousin.  I couldn't believe that Christianne, who, when Soeur Johns found her, wanted nothing to do with God, now has such a fervent, passionate testimony of our Heavenly Father's love.  She's so great.  Seriously people I'm so lucky to be able to meet and work with people like this everyday! This is the best Christmas ever.  

So many Christmas miracles...  The two branches just showered us with love this weekend.  And Liege 1's Christmas party "The most important young adults, the missionaries" were invited up to get presents from Pere Noel.  The Liege 2 Branch President gave us each a giant tin of Belgian chocolates and other members gave us more chocolate.  Sunday was really wonderful.  There were lots of amis and less-actives there and even people that haven't been to church in years were there.  We all really felt the spirit of Christmas.  I even had the opportunity to play my violin and sing in French! So fun.  This week we did a lot of "Christmas porting"  I loved it.  This is the best Christmas ever, so focused on our Savior Jesus Christ.  His coming into the world really was a miracle.  And you know what?  Miracles have not ceased today.  Look around us, God is working miracles everyday.  I wish you all the merriest of Christmases.  Remember to think about the miracle that happened on this great day and don't forget to look for the little miracles in your own life.

With all my love,
Soeur Hilton

Monday, December 16, 2013

The end of an era

Hello family and friends!  I hope you are all busy getting ready for Christmas:)  Christmas in Belgium is so beautiful!  Every street is decorated in amazing lights, the Christmas village is stunning and the people are all so happy!  The food is delicious too.  Yesterday we were invited over for Christmas Eve by the Baret family, the Schuerch's invited us for Christmas day and the Luciana's for the 31st!  I'm so excited.  I love the people here, they are so nice!

Well, this week was the transfer....Which means that Soeur thus ends an era.  (See attached photo for the epic moment the dream team was disolved).  But, just like always, I got a new companion!  Her name is Soeur Walker.  She is from Colorado and majored in English and History.  So we have a lot in common.  She is a hard worker and really really nice.  I think we are going to have a great transfer together.

This week was kind of crazy, just like it always is when you transfer companions.  We still got a lot of work done though.  I am really enjoying spreading Christmas cheer and teaching people about our Savior, who's birth we are celebrating this month.  We had a really cute Christmas lesson with Peter and Nadine's family and we watched Joy to the World with Kelly and her children.  I got to see Soeur Bitter this week and this Wednesday I'm going to Versailles so I'll get to see lots of my missionary friends.

Sorry it's short this week.  Remember that I love you all!  Have a great week!

Monday, December 9, 2013

"Do you remember my dear Sofie from Rennes?"

FAMILY--There is bad news and good news.  I'm going to start with the bad news to get it out of the way...

MESSAGE FROM HEADQUARTERS: Soeur Johns is being transferred to the Parisian Ghetto. Stop. No happiness for Christmas. Stop.  But seriously STOP.

So I'm really not that happy that Sr Johns is leaving me for Christmas:(:(:(:( She is the absolute best.  Seriously so sad about this!!!

Anyways on to the good news.  This made me cry.  So do y'all remember Sofie, the Chinese student from Rennes that Soeur Kohlert and I found my second day in the field?  Wellllllll, she has a baptismal date!

Here's the story from Soeur Bitter's email this week:

"So last week, we talked about baptism but she said that she didn't think she was ready. She said that maybe in 2 months. I thought that was acceptable so we left it there. That next morning, she sent us a text and said that she had woken up "really sad because I don't have a baptism". We told her to be praying about it that she would know which day would be good for her. When we got to our RDV, she told us:

"you know, I've been reading this book for 2 hours now"
and this point I've whipped around "QUOI!? Which book? The blue one??!"
Sure enough she had been reading the Book of Mormon for 2 hours straight. Best. news. ever. And in her words "I really like this book". Her favorite chapter is still the one "about the seed that you have to water and then it will grow into a strong tree. I love it because it's like my faith" :) love it. 

We then talked about dates and we decided that the 21st would be the best :) I'm so excited for her. Since then, she has been sharing the Gospel with EVERYONE. She'll ask me often things like:
"How do you say the name of our church in French? I'm talking about it to my French friends." 
she's is already such a great missionary and I know that she will be such a strength to this ward. I'm excited that Rennes gets to have her and I'm excited for how much love she'll receive from these wonderful members."

Wow.  I am so proud of Sofie.  I remember our first rendez-vous when Soeur Kohlert and I taught her about God, her loving Heavenly Father.  And how she thought Christians were "jerks" (she meant nerds).  And I remember when Sr Bitter and I gave her Alma 32 to read and she wanted so badly to develop her faith... wow.  I LOVE THE MISSION so much.  I wish I was in Rennes right now:(

BUT.  Things are so great here.  We are going to Peter and Nadine's tonight for a St. Nicholas Day Family Home Evening and Gigh is still doing great:)

Well everyone, I'm pretty distracted because of transfers today... enjoy the pictures:)

Also a big shoutout to my family for an awesome Christmas package!  You really outdid yourselves.  A Sister Missionary Stocking?!  How did you find that?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"Mormonism is the Perfect Religion" - Peter, the Atheist

Seriously people, I LOVE my mission.  This week was absolutely wonderful...Last night I literally ran out of a rendez-vous and started singing Mariah Carey's version of "Joy to the World!" (...all the boys and girls, joy to the people everywhere you see, joy to you and me!...)

...Right after I wrote that first sentence I remembered that Soeur Johns and I were also so sick this last week...I had completely forgotten!  That is the funny thing about missions, there are really hard moments, but whenever I look back I magically don't remember them anymore because they are overshadowed by all the awesome...and really there is so much awesome.

At this point you are probably wondering what was so awesome about this week?  Well, it all started on P-Day.  It was just a p-day like any other...but was it really?  This last p-day...Sr Johns and I...bought SUPER WARM, matching coats.  I really can't explain how much of a difference they've made.  We are basically in love with them.  I don't even think you can imagine how pleased we were with our content.

Alright that's it! The work is hastening dramatically with our new coats.  Talk to you next week:)

Just kidding.  Do you really think I'd throw up a title like that with no explanation? Buying those coats really was a transcendent experience, but it's pretty much nothing compared to everything else that happened...if you can even imagine that;)

Let's start with GIGH.  So Gigh went to Charleroi this last weekend for the JA activity and absolutely LOVED it.  She made so many solid friends, one of which invited her to be baptized!  Gigh had expressed all her worries to this girl, and she just calmly said, "I know that you're going to do it."  As Gigh was recounting this to us she said, "I know she's right, I need to pray about my baptism." (!!!) Awesome.  Then we taught her the word of wisdom, which she is already living.  It was more like her teaching us actually!  Then on Friday she didn't show up to Institute for whatever reason, we were a little disappointed.  But after we left one of the members texted us to say that as everyone was leaving she showed up, and literally ran into the church to "say goodbye to her friends" because she's going to Bulgaria for a week for a modeling event.  The church is her HOME.  Oh and here's the Gigh quote for the week.
Sariah: "So if the girls from modeling aren't your friends, who are your friends?"
Gigh: (with an incredulous look on her face)  "THE SISTERS! and YOU!"
That just warmed my heart:)

THANKSGIVING.  Seriously thanksgiving was incredible.  Nothing more hilarious than a bunch of missionaries throwing together a thanksgiving feast.  Sr Johns and I made SEVEN PIES.  One of which should have ended up in Sr Johns face.---okay story time:  we sort of had a little tiff during planning one evening because I thought that six pies was plenty.  But she was just convinced that we needed one more banana cream pie.  I finally gave in and we made the seventh pie and she promised that if it wasn't eaten I could throw it in her face.  I have never had such a problematic pie.  When we set it out it looked horrible and one finger lick let everyone know it tasted bad too.  So there it sat completely untouched... Sr Johns looked too nice for me to actually throw it in her face, but that's where it belonged, haha--- Anyways it was a wonderful day filled with turkey stuffing, Elders eating whipped cream until they barfed and to top it all off, a very pinteresting "fruit turkey" brought to us by the Charleroi Elders.  And in the evening we went to the Schuerch's house and had another Thanksgiving (Sr Johns said, what we did with the zone was cute, but this is real!)  and then on Friday we had a "Thanksgiving" dinner for institute.  They tried so hard...But we ended up with "Chicken and applesauce" and another salty pumpkin pie.  I loved it though!

Okay (it's not over) on Saturday we went to Brussels for stake conference.  We had a really wonderful adult meeting about missionary work.  Elder Teixera (Area Seventy) spoke to us and gave us the growth report in Europe.  It is incredible.  The church is really growing in the Europe Area.  100,000 for sacrament attendance this year!  And 1000 missionary calls!  That's the most ever.  So cool.
The next day they reorganized the Brussels Stake.  It was really powerful.  The Stake presidency is really really young.  Just these young fathers with lots of kids and stellar testimonies.  They are going to do great things!

Now I will finnally explain the title of my blogpost.  So do you remember Nadine?  And her family home evening every monday night, strength of youth reading, watching, adorable family of four children?  Well we swung by her house Sunday night with a scrumptious pumpkin pie we made to say "Thank You" for the other night. (Yes...we actually made more than seven pies)  She was just delighted to see us.  Nadine is just a peach.  Sr Johns described it nicely, "whenever we talk with her I feel like I'm chatting with one of my young women's leaders."  Seriously she is so great.  She is quite the chatter though.  We basically just listened to her.  And here's what she said:

"Peter said this last week that 'Mormonism is the perfect religion, but I don't want to stop drinking.'  But don't worry we set it as a New Years' Resolution to stop."
"Do you have any ideas for family night this week?"
"I liked on facebook."
"Are you listening Steve? (her oldest son) Sr Johns and Sr Hilton have read this entire book!"  (The Book of Mormon)
"What are you sisters doing for Christmas?" (yes she hinted at inviting us over!)

This is the rendez-vous that I literally left singing for joy (to the world).  We are going back on Friday!  So excited.

Well, that was my week!  Filled with so much awesome:)