France is GORGEOUS.
Our miracle tree! Reminded me of the miracle tree Soeur Rhondeau and I nabbed from the nearby park when I was in Nancy. At 6:30 in the morning.
Happy Birthday Hannah and Paige! :D I LOVE YOU!
This. Week. Was. Sub. Lime.
It all started out with a RDV we had with our new amie, Chantal. She is an older woman we met one day on the street near our home. She has seen a lot of tragedy and death in her life and her immediate family, and is just looking for a little bit of hope and healing. We asked her if she believed in a God and she said that she didn't, but she was open to hearing what we had to say. So this week we went over and saw her for the very first time. And it. was. beautiful.
Chantal! Our new amie. :)
We asked her if we could start with a prayer. She had never prayed before, but said that would be alright. She loved them so much we ended up praying multiple times! Everytime we would end a prayer, she would smile and lean back in her chair and say "I can feel it. It feels like... healing." We talked and talked and exchanged stories and then we felt like we should share a scripture with her from the Bible. We opened up to Romans 8:16-18 and she read it out loud:
The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
After she read it, she paused for a moment and examined the words closely. Then she read them again. The second time, as she came to the words "We are the children of God" she stopped, said them slowly, and then looked up right into my eyes. As the truth began to sink in for the very first time, she said it again: "We are the children of GOD." Then she smiled. And I just about lost it. It was one of the most powerful moments of my entire mission. She knows. She knows she's a child of God.
Last Monday we had F.H.E. at the church with a bunch of members and our amis! And since we were playing sports for the activity... we got to wear pants. CRAZY. I have legs.
The Old Navy shirts that Uncle Lan got for us. We love them!
They are HUGE. It's awesome.
Some tattoos we found in some French bubble-gum. Soeur Hopkins LOVES bubble-gum. But we can only chew it in the apartment, so it has become a rare treat. ha
Then later we went and saw Stephanie and Prisca! We all read in the Book of Mormon and compared it to our lives. Then we asked them if they had prayed about it and received their answers. They each said that they had been praying a lot and asked if it was true. Stephanie said "I didn't get a voice or anything, but everytime I read and pray I feel... liberated. I think it's true." BEAUTIFUL! We just teared up and told them how much we love them and pray for them and how it's no coincidence we are in their lives. Then Prisca said "I know it's no coincidence. Before we met you, we had both been praying for direction from God. We were both feeling lost and without peace. Then a few weeks ago Stephanie came home from being with our sister and she said "I just met the Mormon missionaries." I asked her "Who are they?" She just looked at me and said "People sent from God." And I knew she was right." My jaw hit the floor. It was one of those moments when I just want to hand over all my scriptures and brochures and say "Um, ok, please teach me a lesson on Faith." Blows my mind. God must be so proud of them!
Stephanie and Prisca!
Saturday Julian got baptized and it was so beautiful! There were so many things to get ready and prepare and then things to clean up and do so by the time everything was taken care of and we went home and ate food, we had about an hour and a half left to go work. And for some reason... we both felt like we needed to go to this neighborhood we had been porting. It's kind of far so we didn't understand why we were supposed to go there, but hopped on a bus and arrived near our neighborhood. On our way, we stopped by a lady's home we had seen once before and she was home! She let us in and we spoke and prayed with her and Mme Valette became our new amie! Then we left her home and only had time to walk back to the bus stop. So we started walking and saw a lady across they way. We started walking towards her and as we said hello she said hello back and burst into this huge grin! We told her who we were and asked her some questions and we ended up teaching her and praying with her right there on the street! Then she SHE ASKED US if she could see us again, gave us her phone number and address, set a time for us to stop by, and got on her tram. WHAT!? Her name is Priscilla and we are going to go see her on Saturday.
Julian got baptized! :) It was such a beautiful day.
Monsieur Morisset, one of our amis, came to the baptism! We found him in our area book. He speaks perfect English because he worked with some GIs as a translator after WWII. We're going to have a piano/clarinet jam session someday soon.
I think prayer has been a huge theme of this week.
I had the beautiful opportunity to pray with so many different people from so many different places! And it blows my mind that God is the Father of us all, and he hears every single prayer.
Prayer is so amazing. It is the way we get to speak with the Creator of the Universe. And I finally realized, here in France, that prayer is not about changing God's will; it's about finding out God's will. Prayer is not about me telling God what to do, but instead it is about finding out what God would have me do. It's all about seeking His will.
I especially love this scripture describing prayer in Alma 34:26-- "But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and in your secret places, and in your wilderness."
When I read that. I thought 'Pour out my soul? Like... a soul friend. Wow, God is the Ultimate Soul Friend.' He is. I need soul friends to help me sort out my life and listen while I bounce my ideas and feelings off of them. Soul friends just get it, understand me, and make me feel like my soul can breathe. Then because they understand and love me, I listen to them when they offer me their advice. My soul comes alive and I learn and grow and the world feels possible. And I finally realized that when prayer is done right... I can feel like that after every prayer.
Prayer is so beautiful. And it is so simple yet so easy to let other things get in the way. But when I finally get my own wilful self out of God's way, I understand what C.S. Lewis was talking about:
"I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God, it changes me."
xoxo, Soeur Autumn Bradley