Monday, December 30, 2013

Home is where the heart is.

Bonne Nouvelle Année!! (Happy New Year!)

k...Christmas was pretty be prepared for BEAUCOUP de photos.
Last p-day was spent on the Champs-Élysées gazing at all the Christmas markets.
 And then l'Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower.
Soeur Lefrandt and me
My new soul friend Soeur Elliott!
President Poznanski is WONDERFUL so all of the missionaries got Christmas eve night and then all of Christmas day completely off. So Christmas eve night we went to visit La Famille Bouchiquet! We sang Christmas songs and wore our Christmas sweaters and they were so sweet and gave us little presents and cards. Then we ate a truly French Christmas meal: duck liver and toast, smoked salmon, a light salad with vinegar and olive oil, and mini quiches.
La Famille Bouchiquet!
Our presents
Marianne Bouchiquet!
Marianne Bouchiquet's hilarious mother!
Our amie Christianne on Christmas Eve!

Christmas we got to sleep in. (Hallelujah!) and then stayed in our pajamas until the last possible moment while we ate cold ham (bought for us by our amazing American member friend, Soeur Lam Yam), did puzzles, and watched Anastasia! (Everyone got to watch one cartoon for Christmas. It was WEIRD. The only thing I have watched in the last 8 months is Legacy and Together Forever.) Then we went and Skyped our families and ate another very very French Christmas meal: oysters, smoked salmon, duck liver, snails, 8 different kinds of cheeses, and about a million pastries.
CHRISTMAS PAJAMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Christmas day puzzles in pjs. I LOVE puzzles.
Our ginormous pile of chocolate. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO US!
Homemade eggnog thanks to mom's cookbook. Thanks Mom!
[Mom insert: Before leaving for her mission Autumn put together an abridged copy of the Bradley Family Cookbook, the one she illustrated for me when she was nine years old. ]
We also have new years eve night and new years day off. Yesterday at church Claudia asked us what we are doing for new years. She doesn't have any plans yet and wanted to hang out with us! (!!) And us silly sister missionaries got really excited and said "We get to go over to a members house and eat and stay there all night!" And she looked at us like we are complete freaks. "And after?" "Um... sleeping?" "...I don't think I will come." Oh, missionary life and the things we look forward to. :)
Eating snails and oysters. :)

La Famille Lethuaire! (well...two of their kids.) We skyped you from their home.


All of our amis were out of town this week, so we have basically zero progressing investigators. :( But that meant lots of caroling to people on streets and knocking on doors! And God placed so many people in our path. We only had a few minutes, so we decided to do porting at a building near the gare (train station). We knocked on one door, no answer. Next door. And this young African girl named Idara answers and lets us come in and we sing Christmas songs and share a message. Then we ask if we can come back. "Yes, of course. Thursday? Let me give you my phone number." 

So we come back Thursday and teach her again! Then we have a few extra minutes after the RDV (rendez-vous... which is what we call all of our lessons and meet-ups with people) so we decide to do a little more porting. And we go to the next building. And Martine answers her door and invites us in. And we begin talking about her family and what she did for Christmas. And it turns out she has had a lot of people who were close to her die. And we begin testifying about the plan of salvation and that she can see her husband again. And she begins crying. And I'm crying. And we have a beautiful lesson. And as we're leaving she says she knows she was supposed to meet us and gives us oranges and chocolates for Christmas. 

Marie-Rose, a member here in Nogent. She is from Haiti and LOVES us!
And... I'm pretty sure my favorite food in the whole world is Haitian.

Her neighbor Wilna (I know my outfit is ridiculous...
you get pretty creative/desperate as a sister missionary. No making fun.)
And her daughter Tanya, who is a future missionary!

Then a few days later we go porting and we knock of the first door. Completely not interested. Door slam. Next door. And Olympia answers! She is all smiles but at first tells us she is a lost soul and it's not worth it for us to talk to her. But we just offer to sing her a song. And that leads to a lot of talking. And then she invites us in. And we all sit around and she shares experiences how she knows there is a God because she has seen His hand in her life and knows He is watching out for her. And it's beautiful. AND I LOVE THAT THIS IS NORMAL LIFE FOR US TO WALK AROUND AND GET INVITED INTO HOMES TO TALK ABOUT THE HAPPIEST THING ON EARTH!

It was SO wonderful to speak with my family on Christmas. Every time I have ever felt homesick, I imagined sitting on the puffy pink chair in my Mom's room just talking, talking, talking. And it just comforted my soul to remember that the puffy chair is still there and I'll be venting my life frustrations to my ever patient and wisdom filled Mother someday very soon. And what do you know? When I talked to Mom, she carried the iPad into her room and sat down on that beloved pink chair while she talked to me. And we laughed and cried and it was all just the same. I love that nothing has changed. No matter what, my family loves me. No matter what, I get to spend eternity with them. 

And it makes me even more grateful that I have the opportunity to share that with the people of France! Everybody has a homesickness of the soul for their heavenly home, and we're here to help them relieve it. We're just reminding people of what they have forgotten.

God, the Father of our spirits, is loving and kind and there. Christ is our Savior and He came to earth. They live. They love us.

We're all just on our journey home.

Beaucoup d'amour, Soeur Autumn Bradley

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