Monday, November 25, 2013

Raising My Ebenezer

We finally moved! HURRAY!! My new address is: 2 Rue Du Lieutenant Ohresser 94130 Nogent-Sur-Marne FRANCE. But we don't have a doorbell system...which makes packages tricky. So if you want to send packages, you can just send them to the Elders apartment! Which is my old address.
La Famille Lam Yam. Windy Lam Yam is from Tennessee and I ADORE her! Her husband is chinese, but was raised in France. Their Son, Ryan, is 4 years old and speaks a very hilarious and constant stream of Franglais. 
Our new apartment is SOOOO adorable!! Creaky old wood floors, windy staircases, blue doors with ancient door handles, windows with shutters, and a real live fireplace.
On my new bed with some home made squash soup.

  Our fireplace with our Christmas tree we found in a closet and our little fake fire (made from little fake candles that my mom sent me in my birthday package).
I gave my first talk on the mission in church yesterday! In French. Just a few notes and my PMG [Preach My Gospel]. I am usually pretty terrified of these sort of things, but even with only about a days notice I was feeling pretty calm. I think my pride and any sort of fear of what other humans think of me has been smeared all over the streets of France so much, I don't know if I have much left. And now it's all becoming very, very clear why returned missionaries can be so awkward. When you have to push through the awkward and the abnormal for that long, you become immune. This probably means I am turning into one of those weirdo missionaries. Well.
It can't be too bad because people still like us. :) Especially Australian girls named Katherine who woof in far away lands and then hang out with you on P-days. She was seriously the most adorable girl ever. We talked all about our families, our normal human lives, and then also about how many girls are serving missions. I hope she serves. I know it's not for everyone, and girls aren't mandated. But this has seriously been the best decision of my entire life. Someone gave me some really great advice when I was trying to decide whether or not I was supposed to serve. "You will never regret serving a mission, but you might regret not serving." It's really true.  If the Lord prompts you, just do it.
So last week at stake conference... we met a girl named Katherine from Australia who is just here by herself doing this thing called woofing. (Which I am doing after my England...with Soeur Garrett.) So the next day, we met her at Disneyland Paris and hung out! We can't go in, but we just hung out in Disney village and wandered through the shops and talked. LOVE THIS GIRL.

Our feet...on the world in Disneyland.
 Disneyland with our Australian friend and the Torcy Soeurs.
But I'll be honest, missions are incredible and also really hard. When I arrived in Nogent, I felt like things were slow starting. I felt so out of place. Nancy was my home. Here in Nogent, I didn't have that deep profound love for my city and my investigators that I had in the east. I felt like a blue again... but minus all the miracles. 
Where had the miracles gone? I was feeling pretty discouraged and just wanted to see even just a few fruits of our labors. I just wanted to feel like I was in the right place, here with these people for a reason, and even making a dent. I spent a week praying about it, thinking about it, and mulling it over in my mind. Then one day, I got a random letter from my dear beautiful Soeur Rhondeau in Versailles. Inside was a little birthday letter and a talk.
The talk was called 'Raising your Ebenezer.' It talks about the story in Samuel where the Lord saves them from the Philistine armies. After this great miracle had occured, 'Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Eben-ezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.' (1 Samuel 7:12) On the footnote of this verse it says that eben-zer means stone of help. The stone was a reminder to everyone of the great miracle they had seen and how the Lord had saved them.
Like all humans, without reminders of what the Lord had already done for them, they were prone to forget. Prone to wander. As I was reading this talk, this voice ran through my mind:
Maybe you saw more miracles before because you expected the miracles. Maybe you saw more miracles before because you were looking for the miracles. Maybe you saw more miracles before because you counted the miracles. Maybe you saw more miracles before because you were grateful for the miracles.
And I realized that it really wasn't that I wasn't seeing miracles. I have seen incredible things here in Nogent. From teaching a lady living with her boyfriend about something completely different... but then after the prayer, her stopping us and saying that she realized during the prayer that she needs to either marry her boyfriend or move out. To opening up to random chapters in my French book and learning a handful of new words... and then having my amie use those exact words later during our lesson and being able to understand clearly the worries and needs of her heart. But how soon I forget... if I don't acknowledge it and show my gratitude.
So this is my new goal this week. I'm raising my ebenezer. Making sure I don't let any little miracles slip by without me writing them down and thanking God for them. This is for my family. This is for my children. This is for my grandchildren. And this is also for me. If I ever find myself doubting my testimony years down the road, I hope I remember to come back and read my journals. 
It's like the story in Joshua 4 where the children of Israel cross the river Jordan after the Lord parts the waters again. And then Joshua builds a monument of stones so that they can always remember. 'That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.' (Joshua 4:6-7) 
I want my children and grandchildren to know that God brought me through my river Jordan on dry ground. He has done it over and over and over again. And he will do it again for you.
Christ lives! He is our Redeemer and Savior. God love us! He spoke yesterday, he speaks today, and he will always speak to His children.
Happy Thanksgiving! Show God you're grateful and raise your own ebenezer.
Soeur Autumn Bradley
  [Mom insert: On Facebook, at the France Paris Mission Poznanski page, there is a video of Autumn singing with a group of missionaries. She is on the left in a white blouse and blue skirt. You can't miss her. The video was uploaded November 22nd. ]

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