Monday, May 12, 2014

Goddess? Um, yes please.

Hi! This is really weird considering I just saw your faces and talked to you yesterday! Weird. It was so great to see you all and speak to you. It felt so normal sharing those stories like we sit around and I tell you stories about France all the time! Don't worry, I have LOTS more where those came from. I will bore you all to absolute tears in 6 months time.
So...... last P-day we found ourselves in the Lego store looking at the Lord of the Rings Legos. Unbeknownst to me purchases were being made by the other sisters... and later that night they presented me with this present. It's me in 40 years.
Well, this week was smashing. I got to see Soeur Lai because the sisters we live with had exchanges. We talked and reminisced and she told me something amazing: Elena, one of our amis Nancy, just set a baptismal date. WHAT!? :D I remember when I was in my third transfer and just pleading with Elena to read the Book of Mormon. And now she has a date to be baptized! :D It comforts me so much to realize that none of this is on my time table. People will take the step when they are ready. I am only part of the process and if somebody doesn't get baptized while I am there, doesn't mean it will never happen.
Soeur Lai! My old companion from Nancy. :)
We also got the chance to see Priscilia. We asked her how her studies in the Book of Mormon were going and she told us they were going really well, told us what she likes about it, and then said something amazing: "I can feel a difference in my life since I began reading. I feel closer to God. So, anyways, in short... I think the Book of Mormon is true." WHAT!? :D We were so shocked and excited that all we could do was beam at her and say "Um, wow. That is... wow."  
Masks. Course.
More masks. Soeur Nielson is the sister between us.
The magical heart shaped potato we found!
This week I thought a lot about what President told me and I studied gratitude a ton. As I was studying, I realized something really cool: Gratitude is the beginning of two very important things. Humility and Trust. When we remember what the Lord has done for us and how he has helped and delivered us, we humble ourselves and recognize that actually yes, the Lord does always know better than us. Then we have the ability to let go and put our confidence more fully in him the next time. 
This week we saw Sam for the first time in a few weeks. She was traveling in Greece and Italy and just got back all tan beaming and beautiful. But something else had changed too, not just the tone of her skin. We began talking and before we could even get very far she said "I want to let you girls know something. Remember how I told you that I sided more with Buddhism and felt like I could find everything I needed there? Well... while I was traveling I realized something. I love Buddhism, but it doesn't give me two things. It doesn't give me scripture. I think scripture is SO important! I had never read the bible before in my entire life but this week I was having a really hard day so I opened up the bible and just began and reading and in a matter of minutes I went from being completely depressed to literally bursting with joy! Then there's another thing... Buddhism doesn't give you Jesus Christ. I realized that I need Jesus. I'm not really sure why yet, but this week I stopped meditating and started praying instead and I feel like God is telling me I need Jesus Christ. So, yeah. What are we going to talk about today?" WHAT!? :D We just beamed and began to have the most beautiful discussion ever about the plan that God has created for us and why we need Jesus Christ. As we spoke about Christ's atonement and told her that Jesus suffered for her personally and that he loves her, she just sat there with tears pouring down her cheeks. I think those minutes were some of the most beautiful of my entire life.
Then at the end we asked Sam if she had any worries or questions. She hesitated... and then her eyes filled with tears as she said "Yes. I just feel so... vulnerable. I  am so scared. I have always identified myself as one thing and that was definitely never a Christian. I feel like maybe I might lose the real Sam. But at the same time.... I know it will all be ok. Whatever God wants to do will be so much better than I can imagine. But, you know... it's still scary."
My heart filled with so much love for this girl I could hardly stand it. I remembered myself, a year and a half ago now, debating whether or not I should serve a mission. I knew that whatever the Lord had in store for me would be wonderful and even if I changed and completely lost myself and became something completely different it would be ok somehow.
And now, here I am, laughing at that girl! "Ok somehow"? Are you joking?! The Lord doesn't promise us a future that is just ok somehow. It is always glorious and beautiful and filled with more happiness than is possible for us to imagine! Missions are hard. They are scary and stressful sometimes. But they are also the most beautiful thing in the world. And I have never been so happy.
I burned my finger! And the Africans here say that if you ever get a burn you should put butter on it. So, we did it... and it WORKED!!!
I don't really feel like I have necessarily "changed" on my mission. I am not a different human. I am still Autumn. Rather, I feel like God just took the deep down parts of me, things that were already in there but dampened by other more abrasive things, and polished and made those things shine instead. Don't be afraid that if you hand it all over to God that he is going to completely destroy everything you ever loved. Rather, he brings out the real YOU.
Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
There it is again: Gratitude. In all thy ways acknowledge Him. Be grateful. Recognize His hand in your life. Then it humbles you... and you can trust the Lord. Trust that being made into a goddess is SO much better than just being somewhat cool or funny.
Love you all so much it's absurd!
Soeur Autumn Bradley

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