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

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