Monday, August 25, 2014

"It's who you think it is!" - Soeur Bitter

Well everybody, I'm back.  Back in Brussels.  And I am beyond excited to be here.  When I got off the train in Bruxelles-Midi I was overcome with emotions... I felt like I was coming home.  And ever since, I've just had this crazy sense of peace, and energy.  I'm here for a reason.  And Soeur Whistler is just GENIAL.  We are going to work so hard this transfer.  We're already seeing the hand of the Lord in our companionship and in this ville.  There are eight missionaries here.  And we are just ready to go.  Especially the new equipe that just got whitewashed in.  Elder Bailey and Elder Gutelius.  They are just bouncing off the walls.  I feel that way too.  I just can't wait to get out and talk with EVERYONE.  This city is magic.

That doesn't mean that there aren't a lot of problems.  In fact, I've never seen a ward in such bad shape.  We have no ward mission leader or Relief society president, the bishop is leaving in a week, annnnnd they just announced at church yesterday that the building that we meet in is going to be shut down next week.  That means everyone has to travel extra far to the Flemish side of Brussels for church.  This is seriously a trial of faith for the members here.  We had some major freak-outs yesterday. (Mainly on the part of our Japanese Ami, Fujiko).  But I know that this is inspired.  It is going to unite this ward...  Side note: I need to learn Spanish.  Half the ward here is Hispanophone.  Yesterday at church I heard English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Japanese.  My French just doesn't cut it anymore, haha.  Not to mention half the people we contact speak spanish or latvian or some other crazy language.  Welcome to Europe's capital!

So, now I'm an STL...and it's... a lot of planning and meetings... it's good, but right now I feel like it's cutting into proselyting time.  We are going to have to be really, really efficient with our time.  BUT it is such a blessing to be able to work with all the soeurs and to be able to attend mission council and everything.  I'm already learning so much. We were planning our exchanges, and I'm going to be able to work with some really amazing missionaries.  What a dream.  I also am going to be able to go back to Arras next week!!  That is going to be a miracle.  As much as I'm excited to be here in Brussels, my heart just broke leaving Arras...  Such a tender mercy that I get to go back so soon.

I really felt like the Lord was watching over me this week.  Giving me what I need to finish out strong.  The most amazing was on Wednesday when I dropped of Soeur Liabeuf at St Merri to go get her blue.  I was just surrounded by some of the people I love most in this world...Sr Cameron, Tupai, Henson, Holmes, Walker, Hales, Jackson... it was magic.  I even got to see all the new missionaries come in...15 SISTERS.  I felt so old...That was me not that long ago...or at least it doesn't seem that long ago.  Anyways, the only one I hadn't seen was Soeur Bitter.  But we had to go catch our train to Brussels.  As we were heading out I saw her across the street...and there was a Chinese young woman standing right next to her.  I was speechless.  But even from 50 meters away Sr Bitter knew exactly what question was running through my mind.  "It's who you think it is!!!!" she yelled.  Immediately the tears came, it was SOHPIE.  We embraced and thanked God for this tender, tender mercy.  I told her, through tears, that I was coming to Rennes soon.  "I'll see you in Rennes." she said, as I was whisked away to Belgium... miracle.  I felt like Alma when he runs into the sons of Mosiah after 14 years...they were still his brethren in the Lord... overcome with a joy so profound it hurts.  (I didn't fall to the ground like Alma, thank goodness...Paris is dirty, haha.)

I can't even explain to you how beautiful the mission/life is.  Moments like that are... glimpses into eternity.  May God bless you all and may you be able to see the little miracles all around us.  I love you, until next week,

Soeur Lorraine Hilton

Monday, August 18, 2014

Back to Belgium

Yes, you read that right, I am going back to Belgium.  History is repeating itself.  But this time instead of finishing my training, I'm finishing Soeur Liabeuf's training.  Instead of heading to Leige, I'm going to Brussels.  And instead of being a young, inexperienced missionary, I'm going into my final transfer as a Sister Training Leader.  The symmetry is pretty neat.  I am beyond excited.  It's going to be an action packed, high speed, big city end to my mission.  I'll be running all over Belgium and Northern France.  I may even get to do exchanges in Liege and Arras... is this seriously real life?  I feel super blessed.  The Lord prepared me for this one.  When I served in Liege I was in Brussels pretty much every other week...exchanges, zone conferences, stake conference etc.  I already have met some of the amis and I know that apartment like my second home.  It's kind of overwhelming, but I have just an awesome sense of peace actually.  I'm pretty humbled by this, but God's helped me out so far, he's not just going to abandon me at the end:) I feel like it's going to be perfect, and it's going to be just beau, quoi.
In other news, I am going to be a GRANDMA.  Yep, my darling daughter Soeur Liabeuf is going to be training!!!  I'm so excited for her, she is going to do so great.  Soeur Tupai is also training... seriously she's going to be amazing too.
I am really sad to be leaving Arras... I have never loved a place more.  I feel almost like I've had a glimspe into eternity.  Heavenly Father has pushed, stretched and refined me over the last 5 months, and my future will never be the same.  I have learned about Him, and I've learned about me.  I've learned that faith is a REAL POWER that can change the world.  It can knock down the highest walls and collapse the strongest barriers: time, addiction, heartache, unbelief...all is surmountable with faith in Jesus Christ.  And faith cannot be developed until we feel God's love.  Without charity this work is impossible.  We can't do anything.  But with it, we are unstoppable.  I will be forever grateful for my time in Arras.  We've been having miracles up until the last minute.  The Rivierre's are beyond active, Murielle is excited to do her "archeology" (geneology), and Estelle is glowing brighter during each lesson.  Even Soeur Liabeuf's brother and sister-in-law are opening up...  And I just feel so blessed to have been able to see it all happen.  Comme quoi, le Seigner nous connait.
It is amazing to look back at where I was when I arrived in Arras and see how much I've progressed.  Yesterday at church two lost, Australian ladies showed up for church and I was able to translate for them... I realized how far I've come in my French.  But the language skills don't really matter, I feel like it was a symbol of just how far I've come on my mission...  I'm excited to take what I've learned and lift and fortify the Soeurs around me.  This is it.  It's go time.  (haha, yes, I'm being a little dramatic, but that's what happens when you're a missionary, haha)
Love you all,
Soeur Hilton

Monday, August 11, 2014

"My goal wasn't to be technically perfect, it was that they would feel the spirit."

Hello everyone, we had some BIG miracles this week, so buckle up!  haha, but seriously we were really blessed this week.  You know that you're doing it right when you feel like you had nothing to do with it.  Let me explain: There is nothing I love more than just feeling like an instrument in the Lord's hand.  None of this "success" is because of me, or because I'm a "great missionary."  Never is, never was, never will be.  It is such a blessing, exhilarating at times, to wake up, get out the door and just watch the Lord use you in His work.  Once we let go of our own plans, ideas, pre-conceived notions, the Lord is able to fulfill his designs.  And when He is able to use me, imperfect little me...that is the best feeling in the world.  That's why it is so important to have the spirit.  How can we be lead if we aren't listening?  And how can others feel it, if I don't live it?
Going along with that, this last week we watched a David Archuletta return missionary interview/video thing.  It was super inspiring, I'd invite you all to watch it.  Anyways, there was a part that really struck me.  When he was on American Idol, for one of the performances he performed "Imagine," (The Beatles).  I don't know if you all watched that, but I remember when he sang it and that it was pretty moving.  Anyways, his vocal coach recounted the conversation they had the day after:
"That was a really good performance last night David, congratulations.  But you and I both know that it wasn't perfect."
"It wasn't my goal to be technically perfect."
"Oh really, what was it?"
"It was that they would feel the Spirit..."
I was really touched by that.  I thought about it over and over again.  It goes along with what's been on my mind a lot lately.  Perfection and the gospel.  I've come to the conclusion that there are two ways to live the gospel/serve a mission.  The first way, the hard way, is perfectionism.  This way is all about looking inward, cutting yourself down, trying to never ever make a leads to misery and depression.  The second way is to look outwards, it's hard, but it's easier and we are richly richly blessed for it.  This is Christ's way.  As soon as we stop thinking about ourselves and focus on others, forgetting about "technical perfection," that's when we will actually, (eventually) achieve it.  This week, more than ever, I've tried to focus on "helping others feel the spirit" every lesson, every contact, every conversation.  AND WOW, I've felt completely unstoppable.  I've got a long way to go, but the road just gets clearer with every step.
So here are the miracles:
1.  Taught Philippe and Aline about the temple and geneology... turns out they've been doing geneology for YEARS.  Philippe has BINDERS full of it.  "Each sheet of paper is a person," he said.  By baptizing Philippe we opened the door for hundreds.
2.  MURIELLE WAS BAPTIZED!  And Dimitri (her son) baptized her.  He was pretty scared and kept saying he didn't want to, but in the end he did it, and it was really a great moment.  He also confirmed her the next day.  Seriously, Murielle is a completely different person.  She went from 40-0 in just 3 weeks.  She went from hating prayer and religious discussion, to shouting out answers in Sunday School, giving beautiful prayers, accepting principle after principle with ease, and just glowing with the Light of Christ... and Soeur Tupai was there so double miracle.
3. And the biggest of all.  Soeur Liabeuf's brother and sister-in-law came to church yesterday.  I don't even know if I can describe to you what that meant to Soeur Liabeuf.  It really taught me the power of prayer.  Of course Soeur Liabeuf was praying for it.  I talked about it with Soeur Cameron on our exchange, and we decided to pray about it.  AND the bishop, and his counselors prayed about it together... incredible.  This is a huge step, HUGE.  This will change her life.
4.  And a hundred other tiny miracles, like meeting a young catholic family that just GLOWED with the light of Christ, bearing my testimony to Eliane from England who has questions about the church, praying with two teenage girls who have no idea who they really are, the Paulian's friend Latitia coming to church and now wanting to learn about Christ, train conductor Giles says "If you know Christ, you have truly understood. If he is for us, who can be against us?", and our mission president raising the vision of the mission...we need to BECOME not just do, we need to CONSECRATE not just sacrifice...
So yeah, just another week in the life, right?  I am so blessed.
Mark 10
29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,
30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
I love you all!  Have a great week

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that was ever written" - Joseph Smith

Sometimes revelation comes line upon line, precept upon precept...but sometimes it feels like it comes truckload by truckload.  This week I feel like I've gazed into heaven.  My entire mission I've been learning.  I've learned about faith, patience, the Atonement, the commandments, grace, the resurrection, the temple, how to contact people, how to feel the spirit, you name it, I've probably studied it, experienced it, thought about it, taught it.  Up until this point they've felt a little like disconnected principles, floating around in my head.  Now they are beginning to merge together into a beautiful, magestic whole.  I've been searching and praying for answers for awhile now...and seriously this week, God has just been throwing down sacred truths, one after another.  

And I know that they are true, because each one makes life/existence/the gospel, more and more simpleclearbeautiful

 I know they are from God because they make sense, and because I feel like I've heard them before.

"If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal." -D&C 42:16

My mission is not about "changing."  It not a fight against true myself, struggling to reach a perfection that is simply out of reach.  It's not taming the natural man,  It's getting rid of him completely.  I'm not changing into something new or different or against my nature.  Rather, it's giving myself to God, and allowing Him to pull back the layers...the layers of worldly distractions, culture, ignorance, unbelief, appetites, passions, dependancies, all the baggage we collect in this earthly existence, all the walls that we build, to reveal who I really am and what I am really destined to become.  The mission, (life and eternity for the matter) is about becoming who I really am.  

And who am I?  That is a question we must all ask.  And then we must spend the rest of our lives becoming who we really are.

And it's not easy.  That is why God offers His help.  It would be impossible with out Him, we are too weak, too imperfect and too human.  That is where Jesus Christ comes in.  Every day He is there, waiting for us towant to know.  To want to know badly enough that we ask.  And to ask sincerely enough, with the determination to do.  Then he'll take us by the hand, show us the path, and then we will become.  And what will we become?  Moroni says it more eloquently than I ever could:

"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen."

We will become like Him.

And the best part is...that this isn't hard.  This is the easiest way.  The path of discipleship may be rough sometimes, but it's a road of contentment.  It's an exciting path.  It's the only way to true fulfillment, profound joy and lasting happiness... 

Wow, well that's enough of my thoughts.  Anyways, those are just my musings for the week.  In other news.  All those things that I just explained are happening in the lives of people all around me.  And that is profound joy.  I see Murielle not just giving up cigarettes so she can get in the water, but becoming a refined woman, a true disciple of Christ.  I don't see Philippe just giving away Book of Mormon's because it's what "everyone does" in the church, I see a changed man sharing something precious that he's found with others.

This week has been beautiful.  I had the best exchange of my life this week.  With Soeur Cameron.  Yes, Soeur Cameron, my MTC angel.  It was seriously a tender mercy.  Estelle and Charlotte came to the baptism of Rene, Cedric and Yann.  When we showed up for church yesterday morning there was a whole crowd of people waiting to get into the church...who was it?  It was our recent converts...half an hour early.  I felt the Spirit put words into my mouth, I saw wall after wall fall down as the spirit testified to people in the street and in their doorways.  This is real.  This is powerful.  And it is possible for each one of us.

I love you all and I wish you all a great week!

Soeur Lorraine Hilton

"Only as we spend the time to think deeply about the questions asked in 

the Book of Mormon will the Spirit help us find answers - answers that, 

when internalized and acted upon, have the power to help us grow and 

change our lives" John Hilton.