Monday, March 31, 2014

Les Anges sur Terre (Angels on Earth)

Each week I ask myself if the next week can possibly be as good as the one before it...and the answer is yes!  This week was amazing.  Yesterday we had Estelle and Line and church.  If my heart had been hooked up to one of those machines at the hospital, the graph would have made a huge jump the moment Estelle walked through the front door... It was a moment of pure happiness...
Wow, and the way Line described how she felt when she took the a feeling of undescribable peace and was powerful.  And Estelle just loved it!  And she already knows Soeur Riem (the DMP's wife).  Everyone just surrounded her and showered her with love... I love the Arras ward, the people here are really, really amazing.
We taught Estelle on Thursday night with one of the young women in the ward, Anaïs.  It was her first time teaching with the sister missionaries and she was a little nervous.  We stopped just a little before Estelle's house to say a prayer and I saw that the volet was closed and the lights off...oh no...she's not there, I thought.  I really wanted this to be a good experience for Anaïs!  We rang the answer.  We were about to leave when a car came around the corner...Estelle!  What happened next was so beautiful.  We taught the plan of salvation and the spirit was so strong.  Estelle said it was "natural" and "logical," like we were reminding her of what she already knew long ago... What she has been waiting for someone to tell her her whole life.  Anaïs told us afterwards that she's always thought of missionaries as "les anges sur terre."  That night I was just filled with gratitude.  Who else in the world gets to spend 18 months just making people happy?  Reminding them who they are, where they came from, and the wonderful future that awaits them.  We are working side by side with Heavenly Father, his hands, his angels...there's nothing better I could be doing right now! Oh and the next day Anaïs' mother told us that Anaïs has now decided to serve a mission:):):):)
This week we also went to Paris!  I hope you enjoy the pictures:)  Those statues of the ship and Notre Dame are made entirely out of chocolate (hence the look of utter amazement on my face).  And now you know what Soeur Tupai looks like:)
Well, have a great week everybody!  Every week can be better than the one before it, never forget that!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Homeward Bound

I really don't even know where to start actually... how about Monday?  Well Monday night we taught Estelle with one of our young adults Elizabeth.  I just love Estelle!  She said in her prayer the other day that she had "awaited her "petites soeurs" (us) with impatience."  The spirit is so strong in every lesson, she tears up, then I tear's awesome.  Well, we watched the Restoration DVD and she explained how she loved reading the Book of Mormon because of how peaceful she felt after reading it... That's what it is really.  Reading the Book of Mormon is just a wonderful reminder of God's love, that everything is in control and that there's a plan for us.  I think we all take the Book of Mormon for granted sometimes!  It really is, as Estelle puts it, a "precious" book, the proof of God's love.
Let's see, on Tuesday pretty much everything fell we ended up doing some the middle of the afternoon in French suburbia.  I said to myself, this is pointless!  Nobody is at home!  But we decided to keep on going for another hour and then change activities... I started going a little crazy and suggested converting the cows to Soeur Tupai...haha.  Well, you probably see where this is going... it's amazing how many missionaries stories end with a miracle, or maybe it's just those ones that the missionaries tell.  But when you are actually living it, when your feet and head ache and you're tired of hearing "ça m'interesse pas," it really is a miracle when something happens at the end!  Well, we knocked on a door and a young mother answered.  We introduced ourselves and she said, "but I already know you people!" the young men from Canada and Utah passed by a few months ago!  I have your bible and your dvd."  Wow, we didn't expect that...especially because we were deep into our sector (meaning the Elders were over on our turff, haha).  She gladly set up a rendez-vous with us for Saturday.  On Saturday we passed by in the evening, later than we had been planning on, and there was a note for us, the "Edlers" posted on the door, saying they had gone out shopping but were going to back soon.  We called and the husband answered.  He was really excited and said they were going to hurry back!  We had a AWESOME rendez-vous with them.  It was so adorable little French family...complete with red-headed baby girl and a kitten.  The spirit was strong and we are going back again this week!  They even offered to feed us and gave us an enormous apple cake they had made for us that afternoon!  Wow, miracle... I'm still speechless.
Wednesday we went to Paris!!  I.SAW.SOEUR.JOHNS.  It was, in her words "the reunion of all reunions."  Seriously, soul soeurs.  I can't wait to live with her at BYU!  I also just found out that Soeur Kohlert is going to be living right next door to me too, yay!  Happiness.  Zone conference was incredible.  Soeur Tupai and I sang in the choir.  We sang "Homeward Bound."  It is such a beautiful song, you should look it up if you've never heard it before.  It is really special to me because one day in the MTC me and my soeurs (Cameron, Smith, Elliott, and Lefrandt) all sang it together and had a really incredible testimony meeting...Just the five of us.  Wow, I can't believe that was almost exactly one year ago... 
In zone conference we got a new goal!  About a year ago, when there were 77 companionships, President set the goal of 77 baptisms in two transfers for the arrival of Elder Anderson.  We got 82.  Then in the summer the goal was 100 (because there were 100 companionships), for the arrival of Elder Oaks.  115.  Now there are 125 for the arrival of our new mission president, President Babin, the goal is 125!  So excited!  Also, Elder Christofferson came to Belgium last week to talk to the missionaries.  (yes, just as I left...haha) and he said that our mission is "an inspiration to all of Europe."  WOW.  Our mission has made some amazing progress with the Pozanaski's.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Allons-y, Let's go! C'est parti les amis! address is:
22 Rue Doncre
62000 Arras

Okay, I just have to start out with telling you this:  My companion. is. HILARIOUS. haha we seriously just spend all day laughing and having fun.  I LOVE going porting with her, we just tell eachother stories and sing songs...and see miracles.  It's the life.  AND I'm learning so much french.
My favorite though is when she grabs my arm, starts skipping and singing the Dora la Exploratrice theme song in French.  "Allons-y, Let's go! C'est parti les amis.  Vous pouvez la trouvez, je sais qu'on va y arriver!" Seriously, we are having so much fun.  And that is what the gospel is all  Heavenly Father wants his children to be happy, why else would he call his plan, the plan of HAPPINESS.  And as messangers of this happiness, missionaries should be the happiest people out there!  I'm led to think of Joseph Smith's words:
"Now, what do we hear in the gospel which we have received? A voice ofaGLADNESS! A voice of mercy from heaven; and a voice of btruth out of the earth; glad tidings for the dead; a voice of gladness for the living and the dead; glad tidings of great cjoy. How beautiful upon the mountains are the dfeet of those that bring glad tidings of good things, and that say unto Zion: Behold, thy God reigneth! As the edews of Carmel, so shall the knowledge of God descend upon them!"
This week I'm just happy.  And so grateful.  I feel soooo blessed to be here in Arras.  We have an amazing, beautiful ward.  Seriously huge.  I was expecting something pretty tiny, because the ville is small, but no.  We have tons of young families.  I could almost cry thinking about the beautiful primary, our nine awesome young women, all the stellar parents, so many working towards temple sealing.  Our bishop is young, energetic and just a spiritual powerhouse.  I've never seen a ward council so organized and so loving.  A recent convert, Dimitri, was on a mini-mission with the Elders and he attended ward council with us.  He said, wow, this really is the true church. It's exactly as the Lord would run his council meeting.  So much love and, oh my goodness, our bishop has a testimony of prayer!  And the prayers of this congregation has worked some amazing things.
I'm so happy about our amis too.  We have so much potential here.  We are just on the run all the time!  Estelle is progressing amazingly, and there are just people coming out of the woodwork...
And last of all I'm grateful and honored to be God's instrument here.  I really feel like it is a priviledge.  On thursday we went a visited Christelle, a less-active, in the hospital.  We had prepared something to share with her in the Bible, but we both forgot to bring our Bible's...we didn't know what to do...I felt prompted to read her Alma 7:11-13.  I didn't really think much of the lesson, or the words that I had said (I felt like I really hadn't said much at all, in fact).  But on Sunday, there she was!  Even though she was in a wheelchair, and still in pain from the operation.  She pulled us aside before church started, and with tears in her eyes, she said our lesson had been the answer to her prayers... And that's the number one reason why I am so happy.  I am grateful to have this opportunity to run my "beautiful" (and very tired) feet all over Arras, day in and day out, "bringing glad tidings of good things."  And those glad tidings are that Christ lives, and His love for us is real and powerful.  He is there to lead us out of our darkest hours, towards eternal happiness.
Well, I love you all!
Until next week,
Soeur Hilton
Also, I've been thinking a lot about faith and truth lately.  These phrases have been bouncing around in my mind...Faith is power.  Truth is feeling.  I'll explain next week.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Bienvenue Chez Les Ch'tis!

And so the Queen of Liège salutes Charlemagne, ceding her throne and her kingdom among four worthy soeurs.  Wow, It was sort of terrible leaving Belgium...  I really grew attached to that place and those people.  Soeur Walker and I were parcouring up until the last minute.  We were all over the sector on Tuesday.  Out to Verviers, up to Boirs, saying goodbye to everyone!  Sonia and John fed us dinner and I was able to play for them.  I said goodbye to Sariah (twice, we just cried and cried), Christianna, Joycely and Gigh...  Then I got up at 3h30 the next morning and that was it.  Next thing I knew I was in Paris.
Oh my goodness!  As soon as we got there I ran into Soeur Smith!  I haven't seen her since the MTC!!!  And soeur Lefrandt and Elder Ganjanakrit and Sr Holmes and just everyone I love!!  Oh Soeur Elliot toooooo.  Wow it was so great to go into Paris, it's been forever.  I was so happy, just hanging out at the Chatelet metro stop, chatting with everyone...the mission really is true happiness.
Speaking of happiness...I am so beyond happy here in Arras.  I love my new companion, Soeur Tupai.  She is just this adorable (and hilarious) girl from Tahiti.  She just finished getting trained so I'm her "step mom" as we say in mission lingo.  We have just been having a blast here together.  We've already seen so many miracles.  There is so much potential here.  This transfer is going to be unreal.  Oh yeah and she is a francophone, I can already see a huge difference in my french (because we speak it pretty much all the time), what a blessing!
I just want to share our biggest miracle with you all from this week: Estelle.  So it was our second day together and we decided to go out porting for the evening.  We had been going for probably an hour or so and I was just been funny and imitated her trainer who was really dramatic by saying, "ok, Soeur Tupai, ou allons nous?" (where do we go?) haha, she thought it was so funny, but right after that we both headed the exact same direction and I felt really good about the porte we were headed to. We rang the sonnette and a lady and her son answered.  I asked if we could come in a pray with her and she just stared at us for a second.  I felt pretty she thought we were so stupid or something.  So you can imagine my surprise when she immediately invited us in!  We sat down and she started explaining to her son who we were... then she left for a minute and came back with a dusty Book of Mormon.  Apparently Elders had passed by her house fifteen years ago!  Her father told her that she should keep the book, that it was very special.  He said "gardez ce livre precieusement."  She teared up as we prayed for her and we set another time to come back and tell her about the "precious book."  On saturday we had one of the most beautiful lessons of my mission.  Her nine-year-old daughter was there.  She is severely handicapped but so beautiful.  Estelle said that we were an answer to her prayers.  We promised her that the Book of Mormon could bring peace and happiness into her home, we all cried together.  I just have this feeling like I've known Estelle for a long long time.  I'm so grateful to be a missionary and to be able to have the Spirit to guide me all the time!  I'm so grateful to be in Arras...
I've been thinking a lot lately about the mission.  It's really a time when we put our lives completely in God's hands.  He puts us in the places and with the people that we need to be with--where we will grow the most and where we can give the most.  Arras just feels like home.  I think life is like that too.  We need to be willing to go where God wants us to go...there are so many blessings in store if we do.  But how can we be sure we are where we are supposed to be?  That is why having the Spirit is so important.  I'm going to continue think about this...super interesting.
Anyways--Arras.  Arras is in the North of France.  There is this hilarious movie that I watched before my mission called "Bienvenue chez les ch'tis."  If you want a taste of what I'm living watch it!  The ward here is INCREDIBLE.  I never been to a better functioning ward council, and everyone is so involved in missionary work.  I love the members so much already... I'm so impressed by the members in France, they sacrifice so much.  If the members of the church were the only evidence of it's truth that would be enough for me!  They are some of the most inspiring people I've ever met.
Well that's it for this week! Stay tuned for next time

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Goodbye Liege...

Well I guess all good things have to come to an end...but I don't want this one to.  When I told Kelly the news she just groaned for a long time and said, "I'm not happy at all.  I am depressed."  haha, Kelly is kind of dramatic.  I was pretty sure I was leaving so I bore my testimony in both branches yesterday and said thank you and goodbye to everyone.  Seriously, six months is too long in a ville, the members get to attached to you and you get way to attached to the ville!  Aurica and Kelly almost suffocated me with hugs and I got bisoused (kissed) more times than I can even keep track of...I am really really going to miss Liege, but my work here is done.  We worked so hard that ... drum roll please ... THEY ARE SPLITING THE VILLE!  There's just too much to do for only two soeurs!  I really put my heart into this place, working even though I was exhausted most of the time (sickness).  I have been so so so richly blessed because of it.  I can't even tell you how much I love this place...they may have to come and drag me out of here.  I really saw the work here explode.  Liege is truly a miracle.  I'm so excited for there to be four sisters here!!

Well you are probably all wondering where I'm going.  I am going...back to France!  To a city called Arras.  My new companion's name is Soeur Tupai.  All I know is that she is from Taihti and she is suuuuper nice!  We actually got a letter from her last week and it was adorable.  The thought passed through my mind that maybe we would be companions, and here we are.  I've also only heard good things about Arras.  So here I go, onto the next adventure!

My last week in Rennes was absolutely incredible.  Everything seemed to just fall into place and there were so many miracles.  I didn't think I could live a more beautiful week...until this last one.  This week was perfect.
First of all, do you remember Rita from Remicourt?  Well she dropped us a little while ago.  I was so sad about it because I just loved her so much.  Well, I called her and she didn't answer so I left a message saying I was leaving.  She called back and immediately invited us over.  I don't think I've ever lived a more beautiful moment... we talked about our Savior and I played "I know that my Redeemer lives."  I just told her that this is why I love my mission, I get to share Christ's love with others every day.  She said that she would never forget this day.  Today I got this email from her:

Seriously, I just love her. (pop that into google translate, i don't have time to translate it now).

We also had probably one of the biggest miracles of my mission this week.  We found out on Tuesday that there was a member family that just got here from Africa (refugees) and that they had been trying to find the church for awhile with no luck.  President Lucena gave us their number and I called that night.  I've heard anyone so happy to be on the phone with me!  We set up a time to go see them the next day.  We took an hour bus ride to a tiny village named Tinlot and found this amazing family. They had been trying to find the church for three months!  Frere Belanwa said he called the church phone 10 times every sunday morning with no luck.  They were visited by the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Catholics, and many other churches but they said, "No we have a church, and we know that one day our President will come."  Yesterday they were able to come to church, with no small amount of difficulties and take the sacrament.  I've never seen a happier group of saints.  Frere Belanwa bore his testimony, saying now he knows what it means to be thirsty...thirsty for living water. He even sang, "i need thee every hour."  It was a really beautiful experience.

There were so many other amazing things that happened this week.  Amis who came back, Kelly being welcomed into Liege 2, Joycely getting her interview to go to the temple this weekend and so many more... I just have an overwhelming feeling of the Lord is telling me "well done."  I can leave now.  Not that I want to.  I am so, just, honored I guess.  That I was able to spend six incredible months here.  That God trusted me with his children and that he blessed me to see and live so many great moments.  I LOVE YOU LIEGE.  I'LL NEVER FORGET YOU.
Sorry for the drama, it's just how I feel.

Tune in next week for Soeur Hilton's return to France!

"Merci pour les leçons qu'on a apprises, mais pas enseigné..."

This week was well...kind of crazy...

Let me just start with a little story.  It was Sunday night...everything we had planned for the day had fallen through, which is fine, but the entire week was like that.  Tuesday I sat in the Charleroi apartment all day with Soeur Mangum waiting for a new washer while our companions did legality in Paris.  Wednesday we spent all day in Brussels for zone conference.  Thursday I spent getting tested at the hospital and then recovering.  Friday was weekly planning and Branch council and ward missionary coordination meeting.  So we were pumped to actually get work done on the weekend.  Instead we spent all of Saturday walking all over body was home. After all of this I found myself standing in the doorway getting ready to go out and do...who knows what for the last hour of the night.  It was my turn to pray and I couldn't control myself and I said, "Merci pour les leçons qu'on a apprises cette semaine, mais pas enseigné..." which means, "Thank you for the lessons that we learned this week, but didn't teach."  Soeur Walker and I had to stop praying for second we were laughing so hard.  Seriously couldn't breath after that one... We just couldn't believe what had happened to us this week.  We taught just five lessons, but I think some of my hardest work on the mission happened this last week.  It didn't make sense!

As a missionary sometimes we think that we are the teachers.  But that is absolutely false.  Just like I said out of frustration in my prayer, we learned many more lessons this week than we taught.  This is a parallel for my entire mission, and for life in general.  When I look back on my mission it is much more about what I've learned than what I've taught.  On that note, even when I'm teaching, it's not me.  There's nothing I can say to make people want to change, that is all the Spirit's work.  But anyways, life is all about learning.  That is why we have trials.  I have been thinking a lot about trials lately, especially because I see so much suffering here... I've had my own fair share of trials as well.  If God really loves us, why does he allow people to go hungry, or to be sick?  Why do church members lose family members or have other difficulties, even though they are doing everything right?  Why does he allow his missionaries to have hard weeks?

 It's because life isn't supposed to be easy.  We are here to learn.  We have trials so that we can be shaped into the people that God knows we can be.  Trials are blessings in disguise.  Even Christ the greatest of all, he had to suffer the most.  So he could learn and experience everything that we would, so he would know how to take care of us and comfort us.  I've seen how the lessons I've learned on my mission, can immediately bless someone else.  I've seen it over and over again.  Where I've had a similar experience with someone I'm teaching, so I know how to help them through their own trials.  So everyone, when things are looking down, look around you!  What are we supposed to be learning, and how is that going to bless the lives of others?  Last night I helped someone decided to not take her name off the records of the church by testifying about trials, faith and grace.  All because of lessons I've learned throughout my mission and even as recently as last week.  And that was all through the Spirit, guiding my every word and helping me reach into my own experiences and difficulties to bless the life of someone else.  I pray that we can all do this more.  To turn to our Savior in the midst of our trials and see what lessons we are to learn.  He will lift us higher than we ever think is possible.

Weeeeell, that's it for this week, sorry if you couldn't follow my rambling.  Enjoy the pictures!