Probably the summary of my week.
I have never cried so much in my life. Who knew I was such a sentimental person? Turns out I hate change. (Mince. That's basically what missionary life is.) And then couple that with all the stress of speaking a foreign language 24/7 (even when I'm panicking and we're about to miss our bus. "Soeur Lai, c'est pas ça! C'est pas ça! Attendez!") "being the one who knows the ville" and is in charge and knows the rdvs and the amis and the members etc. etc. etc... and it manifested itself in a very watery way.
But it was strangely so so good. The Lord is always aware.
I don't think I could do this without my companion. Of all the native French speakers, I needed her. Soeur Lai is the kindest person in the world. Our second night together I broke down during our nightly prayer and just sat on the floor, bawling my eyes out. And she sat next to me and listened while I franglaised my frustration. Then she said "I don't know if this is an expression in English, but we are in the same boat. You learn French. I learn English. We can help each other. I understand you. English is hard." And I realized...yeah. At least most of my companions will be able to speak my native language. Soeur Lai may be able to communicate well with the members and our amis, but how frustrating that the person you are with all day every day speaks only a little French! I can do this.
Thursday I had been speaking French all day long and was just tired and didn't feel like I could really express myself. As we walked out the door I thought "Heavenly Father, please just send me SOMEONE who speaks English."
We walked to our bus stop and just missed it, so we decided to walk to the next bus stop and contact while we waited for the next bus. We saw a family and Soeur Lai began speaking to them. Then the mother looked at us and hesitated not having the words. I knew instantly she must not speak French and said "Do you speak English?" And in the most wonderful southern accent she said "Yes, we do. We're from South Carolina." I probably frightened them with how quickly I was grinning like the Cheshire cat. Ear to ear.
Turns out the dad was in France playing basketball and they are going to live here for a few months. We started talking about families and there I was, standing on a street corner in Nancy, bawling my eyes out in front of a 1,000 people, testifying about how the gospel has blessed my family. They don't have a phone right now, just a house phone. But we gave them our card and the mother looked like she would like to talk with some people from America. I hope hope hope she calls us!
Then the next day, we got on the tram to go to Vandoeuvre and some of our Chinese friends got on too! Zhangshan has two friends who came to church a few weeks ago, and they are wonderful. Their names are Ice Cream and Orchid. Orchid doesn't speak any French, so dang it... I just HAD to speak English. We got their numbers and they want to come to church and F.H.E. again soon!
Every time I get into little "ME" ruts, talking about the gospel gets me out. Every time I testify, my mind is set free and I remember clearly why I am here. I didn't come here just to live in a foreign country and learn a new language. I came to share with people the God I know. I came to share myself.
God sent me here knowing perfectly well how hard it was going to be for me. He sent me here knowing that I am a wordy person and think far too well of myself and my way with english words. He knew I needed to come to a place where I really would need to rely on the spirit 100%, because not only can I not be eloquent, but I can barely get across the point of my message.
Somebody here needs me. I don't know why. I don't know who. But somebody needs the scared little American girl in France who can hardly speak the language, but is trying so so hard.
I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!
Soeur Autumn Bradley
Our last nights together we got ridiculous.
KITTIES!! It's official: My favorite animals are cats.
Last picture in the metro.
A daughter of the most WONDERFUL family in our ward. First members I ever met here.