Monday, September 29, 2014

All of me.

Oh wow, only the most beautiful last week of a transfer ever.
This week one of my mission dreams came true: I GOT AN AFRICAN BOOBOO.
We went and helped our less-active friend, Hadiza, move and clean up her house,
and she gave us these African dresses! My life is now complete.
Saturday morning we were doing service and couldn't go check the e-mail to see what changes were happening with the new transfer. We got a call and found out that Soeur Hopkins was staying in Tours. Then I waited. Where was God going to send me for the last transfer of my mission? Then our District Leader called. "Hey, the repertoire came out." "Where am I going?!" "You're training again. Soeur Brazeal. And you're going to Antony." "Oh my gosh... that's Paris. I'm finishing my mission in Paris. *Soeur Bradley chokes up* That was my dream. My dream."

PARIS. I am finishing my mission in my beloved Paris. I can't even begin to describe how blessed I feel. God continually gives me things I don't deserve. My area is literally in the middle of Paris. I can stand on the banks of the river Seine and look up at the Eiffel Tower. And... I'm training again! I'll be honest, training is hard. So I'm excited to end with something hard. My learning and progression has been dramatically accelerated these past 3 months. And I want to sprint until that finish line of my very last day here in France. Here's my new and final address: 63 Rue de la Tombe Issoire 75014 Paris France.

God is always so kind and knows when I am leaving and sends me everything I need to leave my ville and feel satisfied with the work we have done. 
Happy 15 months in France! Creme Brulee ice cream. Only in France.
Touching the Loire river.
Soeur Coke cans round 2.
Last District meeting! Best District ever.
So this cat picture... is a recent ad we have here in Tours.
I have zero idea what it is advertising... but I want it.
The miracles were unending. I'll share a few:
TONIA. Our Italian/Czech friend we met on the street one night. When we stopped her, I was preparing myself for the "No no, that doesn't interest me. Goodbye." But instead she burst into a smile and started speaking English with us! She married a French man and has lived in France for many many years, but used to live in the U.S. as a singer so speaks great English. She asked us if we knew Ave Maria and we said it was one of our favorites. AND SHE BEGAN SINGING IT FOR US. And it was beautiful. And we talked. And we prayed. And lucky Soeur Hopkins gets to go see her this week.
PRISCA. We finally got to see Prisca! Remember her? She had a baptismal date a few months ago when Soeur Hopkins first got here. We did everything we could, but she wasn't progressing and eventually left town and we lost contact. We were devestated. But we just knew we had met her for a reason and that one day she would be baptized. Well. Last week I called her out of the blue, and she didn't answer. But the next day she called us back! We went and saw her Monday, and a lot of things had changed. And she is getting baptized next month. I KNOW. What!? SHE'S GETTING BAPTIZED. I am just so happy. And grateful. And amazed. None of this is on my time-table. God knows. He knows! And we did all we could... and then stood still with Faith. And God took care of the rest.
We have been trying to see our less-active friend, Soeur Farge, FOREVER. Soeur Hopkins had never even met her. Her husband is very anti and won't let the missionaries come over anymore, so it's been so difficult. But yesterday we walked into church... and she was there! We asked her about it and she said "Well, I woke up this morning and I said 'I HAVE to go to church today. Even if I'm late, I'm getting there.' So here I am!"
Last District meeting! Best District ever.
It is still very obscure and expensive, but it exists.
But my favorite one by far is all of the new lessons we taught and prayers we said with people we had met a few weeks ago... on that mission finding day. Remember that day where we worked the hardest we had ever worked and invited and invited and nobody was interested? I felt so discouraged and confused. Where were the miracles? I wanted to see the results and the fruits of the labor right then! But I have learned that none of this is on our time-table, and that often things that look like failure are simply pre-requisite to final victory. This week we went and passed by all of the people who hadn't completely turned us down on that finding day. And SO many of them said yes! We set up RDVs. We got phone numbers. We taught lessons. We helped people feel God's love. There was this one lady who answered her door a few weeks ago and told us she has cancer and she doesn't believe in God anymore and then closed the door. As we were leaving, we felt like we should leave a note in her mailbox. We told her that she is never alone and that God loves her. God has a plan for her life and that's what we're here to share. And even though we are strangers, we are here to help people and she can call us anytime. This week, we felt like we should stop by again. Her daughter answered the door and asked us if we were the girls who had left the note in her mailbox. We said yes and she said "Wow, thank you so much for doing that. My Mom loved it. She really needed that and she was so touched. We are actually going out now, and we don't really have a belief in God, but won't you come back Thursday and we can talk more?" This ville is blowing up! The work is taking off. I am so excited to hear all the miracles from Soeur Hopkins.
Well my friends, today is the first day of my last transfer as a missionary. I return home to California in 6 weeks.  I can't even begin to describe my feelings. But all I know is that these last 6 weeks are going to be the most amazing. Soeur Hopkins asked me about how I want it to end and all I could think was "I just want to end happy. I want to feel satisfied. I want to end my mission with the most love I have ever felt." Yesterday I got a blessing and I was told that God was grateful for the loving way I have done His work and that I will be blessed with immense joy and satisfaction. And I just wept. I can't wait to see what these weeks will bring.
Bich! :D She is one of my favorite people I have ever met. I am going to really miss her.
We just cried and cried last night.
One of the greatest things I have learned on my mission is that life is all about seeking the Lord's will. At the beginning of my mission I thought I knew what that meant. Something like this: "It means the hardest thing. Whatever is the most painful and pain-inflicting is probably what God wants. Going door-to-door for 8 hours is draining and hard so yes to that. Raining? Better not set up a RDV, go contacting on the streets instead! The more miserable you feel, the harder you're working, right?" Oh man... How did I survive the beginning of my mission?
But since then... I have realized that it's all about seeking God's will, WHATEVER THAT MAY BE. Sometimes it means you spend hours porting in the rain. Sometimes it means you sit down on a bench and help and love your companion who just needs to stop for a second and feel some love. Sometimes it means you ditch all your plans and go help a woman whose husband just had a heart attack. Sometimes it means you make a meal for someone who is sick. Sometimes it means you volunteer to teach primary. Sometimes it means you contact people on the streets from sunrise to sunset.
It means you help the Lord answer prayers. It means doing what He wants done. Saying what He wants said.
I'm still working on it. I know this will be a life-long pursuit, and I'm far from perfect. But I have been amazed these last 16 months to see that the more I try to align myself with whatever God wants, the more I am transformed. C.S. Lewis says it so well:
 "The Lord says: Give me all. I don't want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work: I want YOU. All of you. I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man, but to kill it. No half-measures will do. I don't want to only prune a branch here and another there; rather, I want the whole tree out. Hand it all over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them all over to me, give yourself to me and I will make you in my image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you myself. My will shall become your will. My heart shall become your heart."
Isn't that BEAUTIFUL?
He'll give you His heart. He'll not only fill your heart with His love, but he'll transform your heart to become like His: the very source of love. Whatever the Lord needs me to do in these last 6 weeks, I want to do it. The Lord sends us specific people and circumstances for a reason. Some people in Paris need to feel God's love and God needs me to be the vessel. And I'm off!
We went and saw the Tours castle this week! It was all just full of exhibitions of really weird photos and paintings... so after a while we just started ignoring everything hanging on the walls and just enjoying the medieval architecture.
 xoxo, Soeur Autumn Bradley

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