Soeur Autumn Bradley, France Paris Mission, May 2013 - November 2014.
Sunday, August 17, 2014
An Extension of the Lord's Love.
Happy Birthday, Mommy! And... Giselle!
This week. Difficult. So hard. Wonderful. Miraculous.
It rained SOSOSO much this week. We were completely drenched
Sometimes I don't eat food and then I'm not very nice
then Soeur Hopkins makes me eat licorice so I'll be nice again.
Ultimate picture photoshop. :) We took this 'generations of
the trainers and trainees' photo over a year ago when I did my first year
legality. So when we went to go do Soeur Hopkins legality,
we had to take a
picture and add her in!
So... all of my nightmares have come true. My Mom was right.
She was so right and I wouldn't listen. Guess what? I am now the official piano
player for the Branch of Tours. Yep. And it ain't pretty. The only hymn I can
play truly perfectly is sweet hour of prayer, but turns out they don't want to
sing that song four times every sacrament meeting. Darn. My pride is absolutely
smeared all over those piano keys every Sunday, but I'm slowly getting better.
This week, we had a member of the stake high council come and visit and turns
out he is actually the father of President Poznanski! And just like him. As
soon as church ended, he walked right over to the piano bench where I was
sitting, shook my hand, and said with overwhelming love in his eyes and in his
heart "I wish I could play the piano as beautifully as you do."
Engulfed in love. Oh, the kindness.
A new family just moved into our ward from Ukraine! Kateryna and her daughter Anna. They invited us over this week and Anna got out ALL of her dolls to show us. Anna reminded me a lot of Giselle. It felt like I had my little sister back for a moment.
La-La-Loopsy dolls. Anna has about 80.
Prisca and Stephanie were supposed to be baptized this
Saturday, but this week all hell broke loose. It was so discouraging. We tried
over and over and over to try to see them. We prayed our guts out for them and
then did everything we could think of to help them feel loved. We fasted and
prayed and baked like never before. Then this Sunday we woke up so early and
caught an early bus and then walked the rest of the way and showed up to their
apartment to help them get to church. And... nothing. They frudged us in the
worst way. And Soeur Hopkins and I found ourselves leaning against the wall of
a dark hallway and praying like we had never prayed before. And the words of my
mission scripture kept coming to my mind: 'Cheerfully do all things like lie in
my power; and then stand still.' And all of the memories of all of our
efforts of the last few weeks came flooding into my mind, and the greatest
feeling of peace washed over me. God knows what we have done and the rest falls
on their agency and His will and timing. Hope is never lost.
But God was so aware even before we were and sent us so many
beautiful miracles in the forms of Anais, Rochan, Gladis, and Hope. (How
appropriate, right? :)
Anais is a young French girl about our age. The Elders had
gotten her number last week, and we called her and she asked us when she could
see us! (Yeah, that never happens.) So we met her in front of two big fountains
right next to the gare and we walked to a park in the oldest part of town and
found a bench and just had the most beautiful time. Anais is incredible. She
hasn't always believed in God. But a few years ago she had some really terrible
things happen in her life. She felt completely alone and just beaten into the
ground. So she went to a catholic church, knelt down, and offered her very
first prayer. "God, are you there? I just need to know. I can't do this on
my own and I need help. Are you there?" And then she felt something
indescribable. "And I felt... liberated. I knew that there was someone
listening. I don't know how but I just knew He cared. I felt... loved. And it
changed everything." Beautiful.
Anais! Our amazing and BEAUTIFUL new amie. She's so French it's ridiculous.
Rochan. Oh, where to even begin?! We met her one day while
we were on the bus. And then she handed us her address and asked us when we
were going to come see her! (Yeah, that... is starting to happen.) She let us
into her simple and lovely home, and told us the most beautiful stories about
her life and how she found God. We asked her who God was to her, and she began
weeping. Then with tears streaming down her face she said "I'm Christian.
But... I wasn't always Christian. But I can't thank God enough for leading me
to Christ." Rochan was born and raised in a non-Christian religion, and
never really heard anything about Jesus Christ. Then one day she discovered she
had a serious malady and had to have an operation. But it was very expensive,
so she decided to go to the Lutheran hospital. She didn't know it, but a man she
had known for a while turned out to be Christian! She asked him about it... and
he gave her a bible. "And for the first time, I read the story of Jesus.
And I was astonished! I couldn't believe what I had been missing. 'Oh, this
is the story of Jesus?' I thought. Then, almost instinctively, I got on my
knees right then and prayed. I said 'God, please forgive me. I didn't know.'
" Oh my, I just bawled. What a beautiful soul.
Rochan! Our new amie and miracle who comes from Madagascar.
We found these cans of coke that said SOEUR on the side! Coke isn't super my thing... but how can you pass that up? It was destiny.
Missions are just so incredibly beautiful. And this week it
kind of hit me how personal and sacred they are. No two misisons are the same.
Each one is tailored perfectly for each individual. Where I serve, my Mission
President, each companion, each ami, every single person I come in contact with
is there because God placed them there... for a reason and for me.
It's so relieving to know that my personal mission is not to
be compared to anyone else's. Not to lower the expectations, but to raise them.
Comparison to other humans can breed complacency as long as I am a step or two
ahead of my neighbor. But comparison to the true examplar, Jesus Christ, and
His ministry and mission means that I am only focusing on what the Lord would
have ME do. What I need to do to fulfill the measure of my own personal,
individual creation. And as Bonnie D. Parkin says: This helps me strive to
"become aware of the great power the Lord grants us to make a difference
for our brothers and sisters. We can initiate and partake in small miracles on
behalf of others--miracles that we are uniquely prepared to do, and that only
we can do. Wherever and whenever we are ministering, we are sharing God's
love... Each of us has a personal ministry. It embraces the people who come
and go across the path of our life. Our personal ministry is sacred and
precious. It allows us to become an extension of the Lord's love."
Gorgeous. An extension of the Lord's love. And I can only do
that if I am focusing on what the Lord would have me do, and not comparing to
anybody else around me. Knowing that these amis need me at theis specific
moment, and I must give them the very best me. I thank God every day that I am
where I am and that I get to take part in his miracles.
Words to live by: "I do always those things that please
HIM." John 8:29