It's not fun to say "Bonjour" anymore. I say it a thousand times every day. But every time I hear "hello" my little blonde-look-at-me-i'm-american-and-i-love-english head pops up and I search for the source of those words.
I turned 21 this week! And hit my 6 months on the mission mark. 1/3 of the way done. CRAY. Exactly a few days after my birthday one year ago I read my dear friend Elise's mission call letter and decided I needed to start my papers. Who knew I'd be spending my next birthday in Paris?
Best birthday ever.
Notre Dame. In case you couldn't tell.
I LOVE THIS PLACE.
This was probably one of the best birthday's ever. We set up tons of RDVs because we've been using my birthday as an excuse for people to see us for the past week. Then we also had to go into the middle of Paris to go pick up our new phone. (Happy birthday to me! I got a new phone!) So I got to go walk by Notre Dame and cross the Seine... on my birthday. It was a pretty great birthday present.
Birthday dinner!! With my fake candles. :) Nutella, Dr Pepper, and REAL cheddar cheese.
I was in heaven.
Soeur Poznanski called me in the morning to wish me a happy birthday. Sweetest mission first lady ever? Yes. She told me I was the queen for the day and asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I told her I wanted a family. I wanted to find a family and teach them for my birthday. She told me if I had enough faith I could get my wish. I have seen a lot of what feels like failure lately, but I tried to muster all I had left and trust that God could lead us and make it happen.
A few hours later, the elders called us and told us they had met a lady and had set up a RDV but couldn't find a member to go with them and so they were passing her over to us. They weren't sure if she had a family, but she was expecting us! So we hurried and ran over having no idea what to expect. We walk into her home... and her 4 children are running around. FAMILY. :) We got to know her, gave her a Book of Mormon, and we're seeing her again in 2 days. BEST birthday present ever.
Celine!! After a beautiful lesson about Le Plan du Salut. (Plan of Salvation)
We had a huge last minute conference at Versailles this week! Elder Osguthorpe from the general Sunday School presidency and Elder Ridd from the general Young Men’s presidency came and spoke to us. They talked a lot about desire and doing things for the right reason. It was exactly what I needed and wrapped up a lot of my thoughts over the last few weeks. And I got to sit by Soeur Rhondeau. And we talked and talked and talked. Which was the cherry on top of an already beautiful and spiritual day in Versailles.
BOX #5 in the Paris Opera House! Where the Phantom of the Opera haunted.
Paris Opera House!!
Paris Opera House grand staircase.
With the unknown but probable moving happening this week, Soeur Garrett and I took to talking at every possible moment. And as she is a proud member of the midnight soul searching club, I came away from every talk with my eyes opened and wanting to do better and be better.
One thing I have been thinking about a ton this week is judging others. I am pretty good at not judging others who seem to be struggling. I am eager to help and to love and to lift. If you appear to need me and if your insecurities are apparent, I am right there.
Famous lock bridge in Paris.
Couples travel from all over the world to put their love lock on this bridge.
But turns out... sometimes I am not very good at not judging others who seem to have it all. Let me see if I can explain.
There are people who I sometimes think just have it all. Those who appear to be overly talented, overly beautiful, overly liked. Not that I don't like them for those things, but they already seem to have it all... so what do they need my friendship for?
Soeur Lefrandt saw this and got so excited...and I was so touched because it was our comp initials. Then I remembered that her boyfriend's name is Andrew. Curses.
Beautiful Soeur Lefrandt et Moi. By the Seine.
I LOVE the dirty Seine.
I touched the dirty Seine!!
But here's the thing: NOBODY has it all. No matter how much I doubt that gorgeous girl over there surrounded by boys needs to hear she's pretty... she does. No matter how much I doubt the super popular and funny guy needs to have another person tell him he's pretty cool... he does.
Often times the words that escape their mouths about their own talents are not because they believe those things... it's because they want to believe those things. "I know I'm pretty" and "I am so funny" and "I did that really well" are not arrogant statements of their perceived truth. They are cries of help out of a wounded soul. Desperate pleas for someone to approve of them.
And I need to be that person who approves. Swallow my pride, remember that confidence is like fire not like water (If I give some, I am not diminishing my own), and PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE.
On exchanges... and Soeur Garrett starts cracking up after our prayer.
"YOU LOOK LIKE A MIDGET. I'm taking a picture..."
The Elders in my new ward were a little abrasive to us when I moved in. It felt like we were in a competition, and not on a team. My pride blinded eyes were certain they were just bragging all the time about all of their progressing amis. But Soeur Lefrandt and I made a goal to agree with them every time they said anything they were doing good. It turned into a fun game to praise the Elders as much as we could, and try to do it before they could! Guess what? Those Elders = great friends. They were never trying to rub anything in our faces. They just needed someone to think they were doing a good job. And they are. And we do.
Driving home from our DMP meeting. Nogent Elders. Love them.
Basically, my new goal is to treat everyone like they are insecure. Because I am learning more and more that a lot of people are. We're all just human. We're all just trying. We all just need to be needed.
We had stake conference this week and I got to see my friends I taught on exchanges in Torcy a few months ago. I taught the blonde girl her first lesson... and now she is baptized. AMAZING.
The French lady who lived in SACRAMENTO! Who knows Uncle Bret.
I gave her your info and she wants to come see you guys in Victorville.
Basically, love. (Shocker. Bet you didn't see that one coming.) No matter their appearance, social standing, or the way they treat you. Let the Lord remove your human pride blinders and let Him fill you with His love for His children.
Kill 'em with kindness.
xoxo Soeur Autumn Bradley