Monday, May 26, 2014

"You've changed our lives…I hope you know that."

This week was remarkable...  the most frustrating thing about the mission is that it is pretty much impossible to explain what it really feels like.  Only your companion knows exactly what happened and how real all the miracles were...  but I'll do my best to try to express myself!
Karine and Christophe...  I don't even know what to say.  Just that, there is no way that Soeur Tupai and I did this by ourselves...this is truly the Lord's work!  This week we had a family home evening with them at the bishop's house, they started the Book of Mormon and...the ENTIRE family came to church.  They told us the day before that it would just be Karine, like last week...she said she'd be there at 10...but by 10:30 she wasn't there and I was getting pretty anxious.  Then the usher came and pulled us out of Sunday School and I will never forget the sight of all of them, walking through the front doors (dressed in Sunday clothes), with the children Collette and Martin!  They filed into Sunday School and Frère Rulence gave the most amazing lesson, talking about his conversion…the spirit was incredible.  Then sacrament meeting was a tearjerker.  The Primary/Young Men's/Young Women's, did a special Mother's day program (Mother's day in France was yesterday).  Karine loved it.  Then at the end all the men went out into the hallway and came back with roses for all the women.  It was the PERFECT first Sunday for the family!  At the end, Christophe told us, "You've changed our lives...I hope you know that."  Can a missionary hear any sweeter words than that?  He also asked,  "Did you pray that we would all be here today?"  "Yes!" we answered, "like 10 times at least."  Such a beautiful, beautiful day.  I think I can say it was the most wonderful day I've had so far on my mission, (which means the most wonderful day of my life...)
Also I got a Mother's day surprise last night...  I'm going to be a mom! (meaning I'm training a brand new missionary, mission lingo...weird, I know).  hahaha the assistant, Elder Everett, who called me last night, ended by saying... "President, Elder Price and I know that you are going to be a great district lead---- I mean, trainer!  Trainer, not district leader...not yet, haha."  That was hilarious... Yep so I'm excited/nervous to go get my bleue (greenie) Wednesday morning.  I hope I can be a good mom.  I'm also really sad that Soeur Tupai is leaving!  I absolutely adore her...  She is going to Nogent, so we will still be in the same zone!  Wahooo!
Until next time!  Love you all!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Church Tour

This week was GENIAL.  There were some really high ups, and some pretty low downs.  But the ups made it all worth it!  We'll just focus on those, mmk?
Tuesday night we had a church tour with Karine and Christoff... it was amazing.  Haha when they walked in, you should have seen the look on their faces.  They loved it!  They were fascinated to learn about geneology, all the different organizations etc.  Christoff just couldn't contain himself, he kept saying things like, "this is a 'vachement chouette eglise' you have here!" haha.  Loved it.  Our lesson with them on Saturday was also really good.  Christoff had a ton of questions, and Karine answered pretty much all of them, because she had read the brochure on the Plan of Salvation right beforehand.  Anyways we explained to them the Book of Mormon and when we read the promise in Moroni 10 and inviting them to find out for themselves, the spirit was so strong. The two of them were just looking at us with an expression I will never forget… it was seriously surreal, Soeur Tupai just stopped midway through her explanation and blurted out "you two are just great!" haha they were like "what? why?" haha.  They are also hilarious, always joking around, seriously--I just love them.  They are just the cutest young parents ever: Karine makes, sews and knits all of her children's clothes, when we showed up Christoff was outside with Collette looking at the neighbors horses, and Christoff works with antique cars.  They are so "cool" (just like Frère Rulence said last Sunday, haha he came up to us and asked, "what's going on with that cool couple you guys brought over a few weeks ago?" haha)  Karine even came to church for the first time yesterday!  (Christoff couldn't because it was in the middle of Collette's nap).  We are hoping to see some great progression this week too!
We also went to Versailles this Friday for a mission conference.  Elder Snow from the quorum of the seventy, and some other general authorities spoke to us.  It was soooooo good to see some of my missionary friends again, especially my mom, Soeur Kohlert!  She is just the best, we got to catch up and reminice about Rennes.  Oh wow, Rennes seems like such a long time ago.  Exactly a year ago I arrived in France and Soeur Kohlert and I were running around finding Sophie and Fatima, baptizing Lucy, Shaina, Gladys....that was just another lifetime.  Anyways, Soeur Kohlert is such a great example to me...can't believe how lucky I was to be trained by her.  Best news ever---we are going to be practically neighbors next year at BYU (both living at condo row), so excited.
There are also some other exciting developments happening with our amis, but I'm going to hold off until next week to tell you about them.  Let's just say that the walls of Jericho are falling pretty rapidly out here in Arras!
I love you guys!  Talk to you next week.
P.S.  This morning we went to a WWI memorial out in a little town not far from Arras, called Vimy.  It was here that the Canadians won a huge victory against the Germans during the battle of Arras in April 1917.  It was pretty emotional...the land has all these crazy hills and craters, remnants of the miles and miles of trenches.  There were danger signs in front of a lot of these fields, warning that there could still be munitions and bombs in the  We got to see the British and Canadian front lines, 'no-man's land,' the German front line, we even got to go into the subterrain passageways.  The memorial is absolutely incredible.  The marble is sooo white, what got me the most was the sculpture of the woman, looking out from the conquered Vimy ridge...representing mourning Canada.  I can't believe all of that happened right here in Arras... so many heros... 
Another interesting note...Canadians speak French WAY diferently than French people!  Ohlalala our tour guide had an amazing Quebecois accent.  Super fascinating/hard to understand at first.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day

If there is something missionaries love just as much as Christmas...It's Mother's day!  I think I liked it even more than Christmas actually!  It was so fun to see all of your faces, even though it was pretty blurry most of the time...haha.
This week we didn't go to Paris, so we were able to get some good work done in the sector.  The best part of the week, however, was that we got Estelle back!  Do you all remember Estelle?  She's the one we found the second day I was here in Arras and who already had a Book of Mormon (given to her by Elders some 15 years ago).  Well after she came to church about a month ago, we totally lost contact and I was pretty sad about it.  We passed quite a few times and she was never home, and she didn't answer our phone calls.  Then last Sunday we went by and she was there!  We shared a message and it was pretty awkward...she just didn't seem the same.  But we set up a rdv with her anyways for this last Thursday, and I half expected her to not be there or to cancel on us...but no...she was there and super excited to see us!  She was completely herself again and she invited us back again on Saturday and even made us teasan (herbal tea).  She prayed, she cried, she was just all around wonderful, just like before!  I had been praying for at least a month that we could get her back...I'm so happy!  I just love her so much!
Things are going really well with our other investigators.  Karine and Christoff, our little family, is progressing.  They agreed to do a church tour with us tomorrow, which is a big step because Christoff is scared of churches...I don't think he's ever been inside of one acutally.  Damien is doing well, the other week his mom told us that she woke up the morning of our rdv, and everything was really calm (usually the kids wake her up, yelling/playing)...but no everything was really quiet.  She tiptoed downstairs to find Damien and Ofelie watching "The Restoration" DVD that we had given them the last week...  That really touched me.  It's amazing what we can learn from children!  Damien really wants to get baptized, but we are waiting on his father's permission.  We've been praying a lot for that!
This week is looking like it's going to be AWESOME.  I'm so excited.  We have a general authority, Elder Snow, coming to speak to us in Versailles on Friday, and we just have great rdv's set up.  STOKED.
Well thank you all for your support, I love you times a million!
Also, thanks Natalie for the best skype picture EVER. haha.  I'm printing that one out and putting it on my wall!

Monday, May 5, 2014

"Shout, for the LORD hath given you the city." - Joshua 6:16

I'm feeling pretty emotional today (like I can't stop crying)...this week has been one I will never forget. I never imagined that my mission could be so beautiful... You'll see what I mean in a second.

On Tuesday we had the most powerful zone conference I've ever attended. Soeur Pozanaski gave a formation in which she talked about the children of Israel and the walls of Jericho. She compared this story to us--to our mission. The Paris France mission is sterotyped as being perhaps the hardest mission in the world. Like the city of Jericho, it surrounded by huge, impenetrable walls. 1 Now aJericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.

This is what I was told about my mission... that I'd see a lot of castles and artwork, but no success really...the walls are too high. The next verse however says:

2 And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho

This is what Heavenly Father has said to every missionary here! We were sent here by his prophet, we are here to make a difference. He has given us the city of Paris...but how? At this point in the story the walls are still looming, menacingly high above us.

Soeur Pozanaski shared the following verses:

3 And ye shall acompass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. 4 And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets.

5 And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.

Whenever I thought about this story growing up...I thought that these instructions from the Lord were a little, well, odd... Soeur Pozanaski explained that sometimes (a lot of the time) the things we asked to do as missionaries may seem strange, or just too simple (like walking around the walls of a city). Months of talking to strangers in the street, knocking door after door, and following all the little, simple instructions we have been given as a mission, I guess I felt a little like the children of Israel walking around those walls (Sure walked enough to knock down Jericho at least a hundred times, haha). Are our efforts really going to knock down the walls surrounding these peoples hearts?

The key here is absolute confidence in the Lord. The Israelites trusted and had the faith to do what the Lord commanded. Their faith was so strong that even before the walls had crumbled, right after they had finished their last circuit around Jericho, Joshua exclaimed,

16 Shout; for the Lord hath given you the city.

This scripture...I can't even explain how powerful it was to me. I have learned so much about the power of faith this week... And, the walls are crumbling here in Arras. We have people coming back to church, accepting us into their homes, and progressing towards baptism. Members are engaging themselves more fully in the work... the spirit of the Lord is sweeping through the Nord-Pas-de-Calais. In my final interview with President he encouraged me to work on faith, and I've never seen the power of faith more clearly than this week. A sincere prayer of faith in the name of Jesus Christ, can topple the highest city wall. I can't even tell you how many times I prayed for something this week, to have it happen immediately afterwards.

Let me just share a few examples: We were sitting in the home of a partial member family. I had never met the two daughters before, and when I met them I just had this aching in my heart...I longed to teach them the gospel...but the walls are really high around this family. With a prayer, and some inspired words, they let us know that they are ready... We will begin the discussions next week. Another experience...I was sitting next to Phillipe Rivierre in sacrament yesterday (the spirit was really strong) and I had been fasting that day for him, praying that he will start to read the Book of Mormon (we've been working with him for awhile, and he's been married to a member for like 25 years). Right after sacrament his wife, Aline, came up to me and said, "I need to tell you something...(then whispering in my ear), Phillipe and I read the Book of Mormon together this week." Wow. I could go on and on. I feel so blessed. I couldn't even sleep last night thinking about all of this. A scripture that Soeur Tupai and I picked to be sort of a theme this transfer is found in D&C 123:17

17 Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us acheerfully bdo all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the csalvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.

I've had tried to live this runs through my head constantly... I just have to do all that is in my power, with a smile on my face, and then stand still and watch the salvation of as the walls, barriers, and obstacles tumble, falling flat. The France Paris mission is the hope of Europe right now, walls are falling everyday, this is not a vacation mission, this is a baptizing mission. Today I found out that...Gigh was baptized last week. The joy I feel can't even fit into my heart, it's too big. And then I learned that my little Katie (the amazing 10 year-old from Liege), is also going to be baptized soon. I didn't think would ever see those walls fall down...This is HIS work, and we are the instruments in His hands. How blessed can I be?

Speaking of barriers breaking down, I can't wait to skype you all in just a few days!

With all my love,

Soeur Hilton