Monday, June 23, 2014

Les Petites Choses (Small Things)

So the big news of this week is that it is the LAST WEEK for President and Soeur heart is broken.  We had this zone conference that was perfectly designed to have me in tears the entire time.  First of all the STL's showed us a video that I saw in my very first zone conference exactly a year ago.  It was a talk by Elder Holland in which he talks about how missionary work is hard because salvation is not cheap (Jesus Christ paid a huge price for our salvation, so it is natural that the work of salvation wouldn't be a walk in the park for us either).  Then Soeur Cameron played "Homeward Bound," like she did in the MTC the day that the MTC became holy ground for me and the sisters in my district (impromtu testimony meeting/bonding moment).  And then finally the Pozanaski's.  THEY ARE INCREDIBLE.  I knew that they had turned around the mission, but I didn't realize by how much.  We've baptized more than double what this mission was doing before they got here.  President told us about how the missionaries would just chill in their apartments all day, they had hardly any faith that these people would listen.  A Zone Leader called in and said, "okay, we went porting tonight like you said president...and each one of the 4 houses we knocked on rejected what do we do?!"  This mission is a completely different place now... I'm so impressed by their courage, sacrifice and their willingness to follow the spirit and the inspirations they recieved for this mission.  They inspired me, helped me through some really difficult times, and helped me become the missionary/person I am today.  I'll never forget them.

In other news the Paris temple has absolutely no more obstacles!  Elder Anderson, of the 12 apostles vistited Paris last week, and the very moment that he set foot on the temple grounds in Versailles, Bishop Causé recieved a telephone call.  It was from the council saying that all oppostitions to the construction of the temple had been rejected and that they were free to continue in all haste... wow, miracle.  The temple will be finished in about 2 years...time to start saving up my money for the dedication;)

President shared a really inspiring story relating to the temple here in France that really touched me.  With Soeur Tupai I discovered Alma 37 (I forget which verses) which talks about "small and simple things" leading to that which is great and miraculous.  We loved it and shared it with a lot of our amis and members.  Then when Soeur Liabeuf got here we shared it in ward council.  It's true that in the church there are lots of tiny things that we need to do diligently, prayer, scripture study, calling less-actives, praying for the amis etc.  Sometimes it may seem like we are getting no where, but when we look back later we see the accumulation of our efforts and the amazing things that God has done with our small and simple efforts.  Well the bishop LOVED our spiritual thought and constantly brings it back up in council.  He even announced it over the pulpit yesterday in sacrament meeting.  The following story is a powerful example of "small and simple things."

There was just an ordinary man (American), a member of the church who worked often in England and also found himself in Paris quite a bit.  One evening he was in Paris and his boss called him up to see what he was doing.  He was just sitting in his hotel room so his boss invited him to come out to dinner with him and some friends.  When they arrived this simple man found himself in a very very nice Parisian restaurant in the company of some of the most powerful men in France.  CEO's of AirFrance and other huge companies...billionaires, politicians etc.  He suddenly felt very small and asked himself "What in the world am I doing here?"  This was in 2011, and one of the big topics of conversation that year was the upcoming American Presidential Elections.  The conversation turned to that subject and then to Mitt Romney and the Mormons.  The men asked among themselves, "is there anyone here that can tell us about the Mormons?  Who are these people?"  That's when this man realized why he was there.  For about two hours he answered, as best as he could, as these powerful men barraged him with questions about the church.  After that they started speaking in French, very seriously, among themselves.  This man couldn't speak French, but he could tell that something important was seemed like they were in the process of making an important decision.  He turned to his boss and asked him to explain.  His boss explained that this dinner was actually a meeting for a very important political party in France, and that these men were the leaders of the party.  They had tentatively decided earlier that they were going to oppose the construction of the Mormon temple in Versailles and thattonight they were planning on finalizing the decision.  BUT after the conversation that they just had, they had all unanimously changed their minds....  Wow, what an incredible miracle.  The Lord always always works this way.  He takes the humble and the simple people of this world, and through means discret and almost impercipble, he brings to pass enormous and great things.  It was to a 14 year old that he appeared to restore his gospel, it is through things like prayer and home and visting teaching that he changes hearts, it's through the whisperings of his spirit that we learn eternal truths, and it is through simple young men and women that he spreads the message of his gospel.  God is preparing each one of us to be instruments in his hands.  Every day we are faced with decisions that are small and simple, but that can lead us to great things.  I pray that we can all be dilligent in the "petites choses" so we can be instruments in his hands!

Anyways, those are my musings for the week!  Onward and upward!

Love, Soeur Hilton

Monday, June 16, 2014

Courage brethren and on, on to the victory!!

This week was...crazy.  Our week was greatly affected by one of the great traditions of the nation of France... a train greve(strike).  If there is something the French love as much as wine and cheese, it's striking.  haha...yeah, we take the train A LOT here in this week was kind of a headache...I mean a culturally informing experience.  But Heavenly Father was right there to make up for it!
On Wednesday all of our plans fell through because of the greve.  So we had to improvise.  We decided to stop by our ami Vi (she's from Vietnam).  We've passed by numerous times lately and she was never there.  but this time, she was!  And her husband Florent was too!  It was a really cool lesson and they are excited to see us again and learn about more about the Book of Mormon.  Yay!  A new friend.
Then that afternoon...another tender mercy...exchanges with the sister training leaders...none other than Soeur Linton and Soeur Cameron!!!!!!!  Yes, you heard that right, my dear friend from the MTC, Soeur Cameron spent 24 hours in my ville!  My exchange was actually with soeur Linton which was equally cool.  But it was fun to reminisce about the MTC with S. Cameron:)

Soeur Linton and I seriously had a BLAST.  What a great Soeur.  She is just one transfer ahead of me and we've served in neighboring villes pretty much our whole missions.  She is super chill and we really learned a lot from each other.  We set some exchange goals and Soeur Linton decided she wanted to work on being more courageous.  I really jumped on the idea, because I need more courage too.  So in the morning I studied courage in the scriptures and it was really inspiring and motivating.  My favorite scripture I found was in 2 Timothy 1:7
"7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
I have really learned the power of scriptures during my mission.  This one just fueled my and Soeur Linton for the rest of our exchange.  We were invincible.  We just contacted and ported like crazy, and we didn't get down when we were rejected.  We had Joseph Smith's battle cry in our heads, "Courage brethren and on, on to the victory!!" And we had a miracle together.  We were porting and a lady named Doriane answered.  She seemed like she was going to say no, but Soeur Linton courageously asked a second time, "can we come in and pray with you?" and surprisingly, she said yes!  The spirit was super strong and I could really tell that Heavenly Father loved this woman.  We fixed another rendez-vous for the next week and she even gave us chocolate :)  Yay for an exchange of courage with Soeur Linton!
Soeur Liabeuf and I did a lot of porting this week... and we found some really neat people.  A lady named Antonia from Italy and a cute older couple named Florence and Immanuel.  I feel like Arras is exploding.  The Lord is preparing people, even in tiny Arras, France.  Not even a major French train greve can get in the way of the work;)  even if we were packed like sardines for an hour in the gare du Nord in Paris and then the told us to all get off and wait for a different train... and the greve is continuing this week too.  Courage brethren, and on, on to the victory!  Gonna need it this week too:)
Love you all, have an awesome week everybody!
Soeur Hilton

Monday, June 9, 2014

Great reason to rejoice

Hello everyone!  This morning I was reading in Alma 26 the first few verses basically explain my feelings today:

Alma 26
1 And now, these are the words of Ammon to his brethren, which say thus: My brothers and mybrethren, behold I say unto you, how great reason have we to rejoice; for could we havesupposed when we started from the land of Zarahemla that God would have granted unto ussuch great blessings?
 2 And now, I ask, what great blessings has he bestowed upon us? Can ye tell?
 3 Behold, I answer for you; for our brethren, the Lamanites, were in darkness, yea, even in thedarkest abyss, but behold, how many of them are brought to behold the marvelous light of God!And this is the blessing which hath been bestowed upon us, that we have been madeinstruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work.
I have been feeling so blessed lately!  I truly feel like I am an instrument in God's hands.  I feel his spirit guiding me, giving me words to say and places to go... it's an amazing feeling.  It's the best feeling.  And speaking of being an instrument, I received this email from my dear Gigh today:
OMG........sister Hilton, i am in tears.. i miss you sooooo muuuucccchhhh.
Thank youuuuuuuu, you and sister Jones basicaly were my everything...
My great daddy God helped me take that one hard step darling, right now he is growing and helping me the 99steps left.
Nothing is easy but i wish i could tell you how much satisfied and peaceful i am inside... nothing can beat it!!
I can't wait to see you and ofcourse it will mean a lot to me if you stay in my life.
I love you to bits...God bless you.
Sis. Gigh

I had emailed her congratulating her on her baptism.  I'm just so grateful that Soeur Johns and I were prompted to turn around from that bus stop so many months ago in Liege.  What a miracle!
Well, things are going great in Arras.  On Saturday evening we went up to Villeneuve D'Ascq for Stake conference and SOEUR KOHLERT was there!  So obviously we had to take a "Three generation" photo.  It should be attached, Soeur Kohlert (my mission mom) is on my left and Soeur Liabeuf (my mission daughter) is on my right.  I think that was the last time I'm going to see Soeur Kohlert as a missionary!  Crazy.  She goes home on August 4th.
This week we saw some really cool miracles.  I'll share a couple.  On Friday the sister training leaders texted us and challenged each equipe to contact 1000 people this transfer.  Other mission leaders have done this challenge before, so my first reaction was...not again!  haha.  Not super positive I know.  But Soeur Liabeuf and I decided to act with faith and start contacting as much as possible.  We had quite a bit of rejection.  But then I saw a lady at a bus stop across the street and I went over and talked to her.  She LOVES Jesus Christ!  And was really excited to talk with us and set up another appointment... I was shocked.  It was almost immediately after we decided to act in faith  Super cool.
Then yesterday we were porting and we knocked on a door.  A man answered and said he wasn't interested.  I asked if he knew anyone that might be interested.  He said...hmm no not really, and definitely not in the neighborhood.  My first thought was, are we wasting our time here?  But we continued on... the next door that opened was a mother named Carole and her two sons Jean-Baptiste and Benjamin.  She said that she wasn't believing and wasn't interested.  At this point they usually close the door and we move on.  But for some reason the door stayed open and the conversation kept going...  I testified about prayer and we had a good chat about faith etc.  At the end I said, can we come by another time?  She said, "whenever you like!"  Miracle.  Thank you Saint-Esprit.  Then we knocked on another door and a young mother and her 4 year old daughter answered.  We asked if she was believing and she said "un petit peu" (a litte bit.)  She said that they were in the middle of dinner, but quickly asked if we could come back another time:) miracle.  We set up a rdv with another family too...  So much for no one being interested in that neighborhood:)  Nothing is impossible because this is His work.

Also, one more experience.  Yesterday we had a ward lunch after stake conference.  Since it was stake conference there were quite a few unfamiliar faces.  I noticed one family however that was speaking English.  I went up to the mother and asked where she was from.  With a huge smile she said, HIGHLAND UTAH.   What?  I'm from Highland Utah!  It was the Quigley family, apparently they are in our stake! (they are in the 4th ward)  They were just in France on vacation. how fun!  It was cool to speak in English, and the ward members were amazed that we were from the same city, the same stake, and that we live just a few roads away, but we'd never seen each other before!  It was fun to talk to them, I even wrote them a little cheat sheet with french phrases and told them some cool places to go see.  It was great!
Well, that's it for this week folks.
Love you!
Soeur Hilton

Sunday, June 8, 2014

"Je pense que le portail est ouvert pour NOUS." (I think that the gate is open for US.)

This week was... crazy.  First of all... Soeur Tupai is gone!  I'm so sad.  I miss her so much.  But, fortunately, she is still in my zone, so I get to see her pretty often.  In fact, I get to see her tomorrow!

Secondly...I'm a MOM!  This is the first time I've trained, so I didn't really know what to expect.  It was super intense.  We had a big training meeting for all of the trainers (everyone was freaking out...which made me freak out).  President and Soeur Pozanaski then laid on the pressure, saying that they saved the best for last (this is their last transfer).  And that we have a huge responsibilty, not only to train these new missionaries, but to be the trainers for when the new mission president arrives.  President Pozanaski said that the first thing he did when he got on his mission was to look and see who the trainers were... it's true, all of the sisters who are training are old/experienced in the mission.  So if that wasn't stressful enough... they do this huge slideshow ceremony thing, where they show a picture of the ville with the trainer's name on it and then...drumroll...they announce the trainee!  It threw me back to over a year ago when I was on the left side of the room, nervous and excited about where I was going/who I would be with.  This time I think it was even more stressful...haha.
Well, a gorgeous picture of the Arras Beffroi came up and I knew that it was my turn.  I stood up excited/nervous as president announced that Soeur Liabeuf would be serving with me!  I looked over and waved to a tiny little french girl.  FRENCH, ahh!  haha.  Soeur Liabeuf is amazing.  She grew up in French Guiana (next to Brazil), but has been living in Aix-en-Provence (Southern France) for the last four years for her studies.  After being in Aix for a year, she was contacted by two funny look Americans in suits and ties...8 months later she joined the church.  Yep, she is a recent convert of just three years.  She is the only member in her family.  Her family is having a hard time understanding her decision, especially the mission.  They don't even really know what it is that she will be doing for the next year and a half.  She told them that she is working for the church (doing service etc.)
The craziest part is that her BROTHER lives in Arras...  President had no idea.  When he found out he simply said, "I felt really strongly that Soeur Liabeuf has a work to do in Arras, and that she needs to do it specifically with Soeur Hilton."  Yep, pretty crazy stuff.  I'm stoked!  Yeah, so yesterday we stopped by and surprised her brother and sister-in-law.  hahahaha it was hilarious.  Her sister in law said, "great! we found babysisters!"  haha
Anyways, training started out a little rough...we had a lot of things fall through and ended up doing a lot of street contacting and porting.  We had no success for the first few days and Soeur Liabeuf was getting pretty discouraged (kind of a tough wake-up call for your first week as a missionary!)  But then Saturday night we went to do some one was home... As we were heading towards the bus I saw a little gated neighborhood.  But something was different...the gate was OPEN.   Soeur Liabeuf suggested that we go porte it.  We were worried that the gate might close, however, and we'd be stuck inside.  I was really impressed with what Sr Liabeuf said next, "Je pense que le portail est ouvert pour NOUS." (I think that the gate is open for US.)  So, with the faith of my blue, we pressed forward.  It was amazing.  TWO families said that we could pass again, and we had a great conversation with an older lady, left her a brochure, and fixed another rendez-vous.  Talk about walls breaking down...or I guess, gates opening (poetic, right?)
Other than that, this week was great.  Phillipe finally admitted he wants to get baptized!  After seeing missionaries for 22 years.  AND Karine and Christophe are still progressing like crazy.  I LOVE Arras.  I'm a little "french fried" (soeur Liabeuf's English is minimal) and tired, but other than that, still going strong!

Until next week!

Soeur Hilton