So... unbeknownst to me all this time... there is a medieval castle in our area!!
Not just in Paris itself which we can visit, but in our area! So we can go contacting and porting around it. haha We visited it last P-day and it was the best EVER.
Missionary life is smashing! We got to go to a huge conference on Wednesday and receive training from Elder Kearon of the quorum of the seventy. What an inspiring man! The spirit took over that meeting and it was quite the shaking experience. I was receiving answers to prayers left and right. He just glowed with the pure love of Christ. You could feel it. And it made you want to change.
[all conference photos are from Facebook inserted by mom]
Autumn is on the left in the second row, white blouse--
[Close-up of Soeur Autumn and her companion in the red scarf]
Erica is doing SO WELL!! She texts us all the time with questions and sweet notes. She is seriously my BEST FRIEND. Every time I see her, I run up and hug her! You know those people that just GET each other? You don't ever have to explain yourself because they just understand your soul? This is Erica. Every time we talk, I learn so much and am inspired to be even stronger! She is so curious and strong in the church. When we first met her, I couldn't even imagine her any better... she was already so wonderful! But it has been SO AMAZING to watch her grow and change even more. Power of being washed clean of all of your sins and having the Holy Ghost as your constant companion. I am so grateful that God let me be here at this time so I could meet Erica.
My BABIN' red-haired companion. Isn't she BEAUTIFUL??!!
Gratitude is something I have thought about a whole lot this week.
Gratitude is a beautiful virtue that allows you to see happiness and the Lord's hand in things that are not apparent. Gratitude is a virtue when life flows along like a calm stream and you have abundance, but what a nobler virtue when life is hard and storms are raging and there seems to be nothing to be grateful for... and you are grateful anyways. This scripture took on new meaning for me this week:
"...In every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known unto God...not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am in, therewith to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need." (Philippians 4:6, 11-12)
As I was studying these scriptures, I had some quiet music playing softly in the background. I haven't been able to quite let go of Christmas yet, so I was listening to an MP3 player that my Mom had sent me for the Christmas season. It's all mostly classical... but right as I was having this huge breakthrough about gratitude, this song began playing: "When I'm worried and I can't sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep and I fall asleep counting my blessings." Sing it, Bing Crosby.
I continued to study and began reading in the Book of Mormon:
"But behold, because of the exceedingly great length of the war between the Nephites and the Lamanites many had become hardened, because of the exceedingly great length of the war; and many were softened because of their afflictions, insomuch that they did humble themselves before God, even in the depth of humility." (Alma 62:41)
It intrigued me so much. These people all faced the exact same thing, but there were two very different reactions. Some just let life happen to them and when things got hard, they became angry and hardened. Normal human reaction, right? Hmmm... Then there were others who ACTED. They exercised their agency and their freedom to choose happiness and they let God soften them. Same circumstances, two different reactions.
I thought a lot about that and which group I would have belonged to. My dear wonderful parents were raised in good homes, but still came through hard things. Others around them reacted negatively... but my parents never did. My parents both decided to rise above what life had thrown at them and live better. I want to be like that.
I am a child of God. The creator of the universe. He blessed me with this thing called agency, which means I am an agent unto myself and am free to ACT. I won't ever want to just let life happen to me. I will ACT. I am free to choose, and I choose HAPPINESS. I choose JOY. I choose GRATITUDE.
Nearly 2 years ago I lived with my best friend in Provo. Life was hard sometimes, but we found that we had the most joy when we counted our blessings. Every time anything good happened, we would say "We are the luckiest girls in the world!"
I want to change that. Every time something good happens, I want to say "I AM SO BLESSED." Because even when it's so hard... I am always SO BLESSED.
I love you all and am SO THANKFUL for you!
LOVE and GRATITUDE,
Soeur Autumn Bradley