Monday, February 10, 2014

Love. (What else would I write about, now seriously?)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MARC!!! Younger than my sister.... I remember once Jasmyn was trying to explain to me why Bradley girls always marry younger men... "Well, because you know, there's that thing that says how boys and girls mature at different rates. Boys are less mature, so that's why... oh wait. But Marc and Ben are YOUNGER. So if they are immature, that means Bradley girls are just extra EXTRA immature..." HAHA. 
Maria Messa, an AMAZING recent convert
This week an Elder I have never before spoken to walked up and said "So... last week the elders in my apartment told me that you have never been to a doctor... or school." Yep. That Sister over there has the reputation of being really diligent. And that sister over there has the reputation of being super kind. And me? I'm a hippie. I am actually pretty okay with this. Thanks, Mom and Dad! Free thinkers, represent! 
Our weekly service with the family Leconte! They are our FAVORITE.
And she always makes us food from Reunion Island. Yum!
Her CUTE CUTE CUTE son, Maxime.

A few months ago I was having a hard time and feeling like I was not even making a dent in this huge city and feeling so small and simple. That week happened to also be the week that God led us to a Sister in the ward named Soeur Diaz. She is the one who told us the story about how the missionaries taught her family when she was a young girl, but they never got baptized. Then years and years later she joined the church because of them and these missionaries have no idea. That story and her encouragement were exactly what I needed and changed my mission and my life. Ever since, I knew that Soeur Diaz and I would be friends forever and she was put in my life path for a huge reason. This week Soeur Diaz came up to me at church and handed me a cookbook, a letter, and slipped a bracelet onto my wrist. The bracelet says "Don't quit." She told me how grateful she is for me and how I have touched her life. And as we sat there talking and tearing up, I just felt SO ETERNAL. I LOVE these moments. These moments when I just get it. I feel it. I know that I am in the right place at the right time and God has got it all under control. These moments are what make up a mission and they make me want to be a missionary FOREVER.
Soeur Diaz

These week we got a new amie named Charline! She is just the cutest little French girl EVER. She was a referral from a member in St. Ouen... who happens to be Charline's boyfriend. He was less active for several years, but recently decided to start coming back. He was so scared to tell Charline because he wasn't sure if she would choose him or the life they had previously been leading. Well, so far she has chosen him! She said she could see a difference in him and she liked it. 
Exchanges with Soeur Wade!! Best ever. And she got me addicted to Bueno bars.

We sat in one of the best first lessons ever and talked about God and his nature and she asked us HOW the gospel had changed our lives. I began to share my usual story of how it really began when I was 15 and for the first time someone really explained the Atonement to me. Usually, I draw to a different conclusion, but for some reason as I was thinking about WHY that moment changed everything and WHY it was important, interesting words came out of my mouth "That changed my life because for the first time I felt the love of God for ME. For the first time Christ was my loving brother and God was my loving Father and it CHANGED ME." And as I said them, I realized they were true.
Rest of the cathedral...
And yes. This gate has unicorns on it.

We had interviews this week, and during mine President said "Oh! You're right in the middle of your mission now! From here on out, you are changing and becoming as a missionary but also as a human, too. What are some of your goals for the rest of your mission and after? What are some of your new year resolutions?" I thought for a few seconds as goals about complimenting others more freely and reading the new testament flitted through my mind. Then I surprised myself when I said "I think all of my goals can be summed up by saying I want to learn more about who God is, who Christ is, their nature, and the Atonement, and how I can use that knowledge to bless my amis, my companions, the members, but then also my little sister, my older siblings, my parents, and the boy I eventually date and marry." 

(I have this really funny thing where I don't realize things or get answers to my prayers until I am talking to someone and the words come spilling out of my mouth, surprising even myself.)

Ever since both of these experiences, I have thought so much about the nature of God and my Savior and why understanding that changes us.

In 1 Nephi 11:16-17 the angel asks Nephi "Knowest thou the condescension of God?" And Nephi replies "I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things."

But, that's enough. Nephi didn't understand everything, he didn't get it all or have all the answers, BUT he knew that God loved him and everyone and that was enough. It gave him to ability to hand it all over to God. The ability to trust and follow. Because when you really feel it, when it really gets deep down inside of your soul and you realize just how deeply and purely God loves YOU, it is overwhelming. And it CHANGES YOU.

"Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God's love encompasses us completely." Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I was talking to Erica in church and she told me that the first time we ever discussed the Plan of Salvation it all seemed so familiar. As we testified about eternal truths and God's love, she said it was all like a memory coming back. And the memory of God's love CHANGED HER LIFE.
Erica and Asiah on the bus.

And THIS is why I am so obsessed with love. God is LOVE. (1 John 4:18) It's all about love. Let it change you. Help others feel it.

A whole lot of the most powerful force in the universe!!

The one and only LOVE,
Soeur Autumn Bradley

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