Monday, March 31, 2014

Kindness and Splendid Strangers.

Joyeux Anniversaire de Mariage Amber and Ben! You have been married for 10 years. What?! 

And Joyeux Anniversaire Hal and Chase!
(It's all the same in France... anniversaries of the day you were born and anniversaries of the day you got married...) 
This is part of our zone.
Elder Christensen brought us all green moustaches for St. Patrick's day.
But I got black... because green clashed with my lipstick. 
Moustaches just make everything creepier...
By the way... today is the first day I have NOT worn tights (And not just tights...but tights and leggings and socks...) since September of last year. That's right. 7 months. My legs saw the sun today for the first time in 7 months. It was probably really scary to bare my Edward Cullen sparkling white legs to the world, but it means Spring is coming! YAY!
Lille has breath-takingly beautiful architecture EVERYWHERE. This is the local art museum. 
My companion gave this to me as a present this week. Yep. I stinking love her.
She makes me laugh SO MUCH. We just crack each other up.
So... I have always talked in my sleep. But I think I do it even more when I am really happy. BECAUSE I DO IT ALL THE TIME. And all my true feelings come out. Here are some of the recents:

*mumbling noises go on for a few minutes* "mmmhhff...........CATS!!!!"

"Aristocats! Cats cats cats cats cats. Aristocats. Cats cats cats cats cats..."

*Meowing like a cat*

AND! passionately explaining Love to someone and why it is SO important. 

Can you tell what is important to me? ;) haha The cat obsession is getting out of hand.

Wow, this week just flew by. We got fruged so much this week! (Fruge is some sort of drink that starts out really sweet and then turns super bitter. So when someone doesn't come to our RDV or cancels we called it Fruged. I didn't even know why we said that until just now when I asked Soeur Elliott.)  :( (They didn't show up to or cancelled our RDV) so we would pull out our planners and go pass by someone we had written down. Most  of them turned out to be less active members so we ended up doing a ton of less active work this week. Less active work is my favorite! A lost sheep is a lost sheep whether or not they have been baptized and most of the time there is still a testimony burning inside. 
We visited Soeur Ghisquiere and she graciously welcomed us inside. She seemed a little weirded out because she wasn't expecting us, but was so sweet anyways. Then we asked to share a message with her and in the middle she got all teary eyed and told us that the scripture about faith and not getting down on ourselves for not being perfect was exactly what she had needed. Then she announced she was coming to church on Sunday! We were shocked and enthusiastically told her we looked forward to seeing her. Sunday came around... and so did she! She came to church for the first time in forever! Miracle! 

We also went and visited Soeur Doit. We had tried to see her a few weeks ago (when we stepped into the Belgian field...) but she had been busy ever since. But we called her again and she offered to pick us up at the train station and take us to here home! Kindest woman in the world. Then we shared a scripture in Jacob 2:8 that talks about how the word of God can heal our wounded souls. She started bawling and told us that the day before she had been talking about that with a friend who is not a member. She knew that our visit and the scripture were no coincidence and that God was trying to talk to her. Miracle! I love being a missionary! I just love that this is the kind of thing we get to do with our time. :) Help God heal the worlds wounded souls.

We asked one of our less active friends, Soeur Doit, where we could find the best pastry because we needed to celebrate. She refused to let us go anywhere but the best, so she drove us to the next town over ( I LOVE this about French people. If you are going to do something, do it right.) and we got the best pain au chocolat I have ever eaten in my entire life. 

Aside from some amazing lessons, we also had crazy stuff. One night we had just finished planning when someone rang our doorbell multiple times. Soeur Foster answers the door and the lady says "Do you smell that? That's smoke. There's a fire on the first floor. Get out now!" All of the fire drills my parents made us do flashed through my mind and my mother's words "Grab the scriptures, the photos, and the journals." So I did. I grabbed my scriptures, my camera and flash drive, my journals, my purse and then we all ran downstairs as fast as we could. We started to see smoke and could smell it so strongly. Then we got outside and more and more people came out of the apartment in their slippers and with their animals. We couldn't see anything. There were no dramatic flames licking the side of the building. Then a fire truck pulled up and firemen poured out. Some firemen ran upstairs... and then came back out. And They all left. So... I guess they put the fire out before it ever got near our floor. :) So that's good. I didn't need to save any of that stuff but Mom, if you were ever worried about my reaction in a fire, worry no more! 

The fire truck in front of our apartment.
We finally got to go see Joelle this week! They live in the most adorable home that they bought way back in the 1930's. It is just so French and covered with American decorations. (They have travelled a ton.) It was such a wonderful time and they were the kindest people I have ever met. Really. Just overflowing with kind words and actions and going out of their way to make sure we felt at home. I was overwhelmed by it all. We kept thanking them so much and every time they would simply say "It's our pleasure. Really. A great pleasure." Then finally Joelle's mother turned to us and said "You know, it really is a pleasure and want to know why? Every single time we visit the United States we are welcomed like you wouldn't believe. Complete strangers just welcome us into their homes and practically give us their clothing off their backs. Your people are just so warm and open and friendly and we want to return the favor. It's a pleasure for us to show you some of the kindness we have been shown." And my eyes just welled up with tears.
Joelle and her adorable parents! We went and ate dinner with them this week.
It was the most French night I have ever lived. Multiple courses, an entire plate full of different types of cheese, discussions about history and of course cheese. LOVE THEM.

I feel overwhelmed whenever I think about human kindness. I always think about that part in Scrooge when the second ghost gives him something to drink and Scrooge asks what it is because it's so delicious. "It's the milk of human kindness!" the ghost replies. He then goes on to explain how sweet it is and the amazing power it has to change lives and spread joy. 
A member in our ward went to England... and brought us back root beer!!!!!!
And we died of happiness. Literally. Not even being dramatic.
I thought about that so much and devoted some of my studies to good works and kindness and how powerful these simple things can be. You can say I love you a million times but if that is all you ever do, it doesn't really mean a lot. "Let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed." (John 3:18) True religion is service. (James 1:27)

Our American friend, Sabrina, had to give her testimony in church this Sunday.
She doesn't speak French, so this is how we helped her. :)
I have been trying to find ways to give of myself more and not worry about whether or not I am getting anything back. It's easier on a grander scale because I am on a mission in France, but it's the little things I am working on. My favorite quote right now is from G.K Chesterson "If you can be interested in others even if they are not interested in you, you will frind yourself under a freer sky and in a street full of splendid strangers." Isn't that BEAUTIFUL?! As sson as you start acting out of pure love and stop worrying about whether or not the people around you are being as Christ-like as you think you are, you are under a freer sky. Everything and everyone is interesting and wonderful because you are turned outwards and not in. Everyone is a splendid stranger.
There was a boy at the Baptism on Saturday who was wearing this Riverside California shirt!
We told him we were both from that part of Cali and asked if we could take a picture.
That's his hand doing the thumbs up over his shoulder. :) haha

M. Russell Ballard said something I really love about love: "The love the Savior described is an active love. It is not manifested through large and heroic deeds but rather through simple acts of kindness and service." 

You don't have to do anything grand to begin giving of yourself. The small and simple acts of kindness are what add up and make a world of difference. The telling blows against evil are struck one act of love at a time. 

Go make somebody's day!

xoxo, Soeur Autumn Bradley

1 comment:

  1. My children red the post with me today. They were so excited to see Giselle's sister, read about cats (still singing like a cat), get excited because both my husband and I are from Riverside and their grandparents live there, and, best of all, are planning a mission to France because you got to go there =) Thank you for serving and for sharing! You made our day =)