Friday, March 28, 2014

Liberating others.

Beautiful. This week was just BEAUTIFUL. That is my new favorite word by the way.
Everything is beautiful.
P-day eve masks. :)
It all started off with the big conference in Brussels. I have really missed train rides and we got to take one to Belgium! And not just any train, but a EUROSTAR. And in case you didn't know, that is the train that goes through the tunnel underneath the English channel and straight to London! Cool, huh? We live 1 hour and 20 minutes from London. What? The night before the conference we got to stay with the sisters in Strombeek and they let us drink some of their normal tasting cow American milk! Oh, it's the little things in life.
My very first waffle ever eaten in Belgium!
Sure... it was at zone conference and I was sitting in a chapel, but nevertheless it happened. :)
The next morning we made our way to the chapel in Brussels. D. Todd Christofferson came and spoke to us and it changed my life! He is so wise and kind. The spirit that filled the room was palpable. But I think my favorite thing about him is that he absolutely oozes LOVE. I just sat there feeling so inspired and whole and loved. I just know that's how we will all feel someday when we meet the Savior. I had so many prayers answered for every aspect of my life and I have never loved being a missionary more. I'm pretty positive God sent D. Todd Christofferson here for me.

We had exchanges and mine was with Soeur Nilsson who is from Sweden. One of my favorite exchanges ever! She is just so calm and wise and happy. She does missionary work well without being a crazy head and stressing out about everything. And we talked about Sweden a lot! I was so grateful I read all of the American Girl books about Kirsten Larson and learned about Sweden in school. We talked all about St. Lucia day and little carved wooden horses and she was so surprised and happy that I knew stuff about her country! 
My Swedish STL [Sister Training Leader], Soeur Nilsson.
At the end of our exchange I sat in the gare (train station) with Soeur Nilsson and Soeur Foster as we waited for Soeur Elliott to come back from Brussels. There was a piano there and the pianos at the church aren't very good at all, so I got a little brave and serenaded everyone who was waiting for their trains! I didn't play for very long because my repertoire of memorized songs is lacking, but it still just felt so nice. Afterwards, I went and sat down on a bench and an old French man turned to me and thanked me for playing and said it was beautiful. We then began talking and talked for about 40 minutes. He is from Lyon and was waiting to catch a train back home to see his wife. He asked if I was from England (everyone ALWAYS guesses I am from England...) and I told him no, the U.S.A. Then he complimented my French and asked why I was in France. I told him I was a missionary and long story short this man got the entire lesson about the restoration. He seemed pretty wary at first and not super comfortable talking about religion, but he opened up and asked me lots of questions! He was so so kind and interested in doing family history! I know it was no coincidence that I just felt like playing the piano that day. Thanks mom for sending me that sheet music! Thanks to that one more person knows God still speaks. :)
Amelie! The cutest recent convert ever. 

Our amie, Marluce, told us this week that several members of her family are threatening to never speak to her again if she gets baptized. She met with us and we talked and talked and prayed and kept reassuring her of our love and God's love and our surety that this is the right path. She finally told us that she would talk to her family and then if she showed up to church on Sunday that would mean that she was getting baptized. AH! So, we prayed our guts out and kept in contact with her and just hoped and hoped. Sunday comes and we go to Relief Society. No Marluce. I bit all my nails off. Then 15 minutes into the meeting, Marluce walks in!!!! And she sits down right next to me and smiles. YAAAAYYY!!!!

We also went and saw Rosita again this week. I LOVE Rosita. SO MUCH. I always leave her home feeling like I know EXACTLY why I am here. She is 60 years old and just starting to think that maybe MAYBE she is worth something. Maybe she is worth more than her body. I told her that and she denied it and I got a little sassy with her and told her to stop saying that! It just breaks my heart. When we told her for he first time that we loved her so much and that God loves her perfectly and completely no matter what she feels like or looks like, she just stared at us like we MUST be joking. Her? Really? God loves HER? YES!!!! And it hurts my heart that we have so much self-loathing in the world that it is hard to let that love sink in.

I have thought so much about that this week. This whole hating ourselves because of what we look like. Why does this so severely plague the world? It makes my heart just ache. Why is it so cliche that true beauty comes from within? It does. It just DOES. Beautiful spirits shine through into every part of your body. It is so much more important to be beautiful from your inside out.

I love this quote from Cyrano de Bergerac: "I carry my adornments on my soul. I go caparisoned in gems unseen. Trailing white plumes of freedom, garlanded with my good name -- no figure of a man, but a soul clothed in shining armor, hung with deeds for decorations, twirling -- thus -- a bristling wit, and swinging at my side courage, and on the stones of this old town making the sharp truth ring, like golden spurs!"
My little biography hanging in the hall in the Lille chapel.

I have always loved trying to help others see themselves like that. I want to do it forever! But a new aspect of it hit me this week after I read something that my Mom had sent me: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

I have found in my life that I do much better when I find a way to make love my motivation, and what more beautiful way to love others than to liberate them! As we are kind to ourselves and are not too hard on ourselves and let ourselves be human and are patient with ourselves... we do the same for others! When we are liberated, we automatically liberate others. If for no other reason I want to be kind to myself so others have an example of how to be kind to themselves. Accept myself so that others can feel accepted too. 

Elder Christofferson left us with this promise: If the question of whether or not we are acceptable to the Lord comes into our mind, God will let us know. I know that is true. Just ask God how he feels about you. I promise the response will always be so kind. :)
Violet flavored ice cream! SO GOOD. Yes, violet. Like the flower.

xoxo, Soeur Autumn Bradley

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