Monday, September 8, 2014

The Lord Worketh in Many Ways.

When I said we live in a forest, I wasn't lying.
(Also, check out the new skirt I received in a package this week. I love it. Thanks Mom!)
This is how we spent last p-day. IKEA! Adore this place.
Lying on the beds...
...And pretending this is my living room.
Where to even begin?
I just realized I haven't given you an update on Erica, my Californian recent-convert in Paris! She is doing so well. :) She e-mails me every week with updates and photos. She actually moved back home to Cali and joined the ward there. She just got her very first calling as a primary teacher! Oh, I love her so much. A few weeks ago I walked through the part of a metro in Paris where I said goodbye to Erica right before I moved to Lille. I just wanted to burst into tears all over again. Can't wait to see her! I miss her so much.
Zone Conference! Got to hang out with Soeur McOmber. Love this girl.
Remember Stephanie? A few weeks ago she had a baptismal date with her sister, Prisca. Then they both stopped showing up to RDVs and we couldn't get in contact with them no matter what we tried. Well, this week we were visiting a less-active who just moved right next door so we decided to try stopping by one more time. She wasn't there, so we left a message on her phone and felt prompted to tell her how much God loves her and how much we love her, too. But, we've called her tons and she had never ever called us back. But that night, she called us back! She was crying and we asked her what was wrong and she said everything. Nothing is going right in her life and she is so discouraged. Then she said "Is God really near me, because I can't feel Him." "Yes, Stephanie. God is always always always there for you. But you have to walk towards Him. He loves you. But sometimes it's hard to feel it if you turn away from Him." "Ok... can we see each other soon?" MIRACLE. We are going to try really really hard to see her this week. PRAY FOR HER.
Mille Feuille! (The name means a thousand sheets. It's a pastry made up of sheets of pastry dough and then cake and custard and then more pastrydough, etc. etc. etc.) DELISH.
This Friday we had an amazing day where our mission combined with the mission of Lyon and we had a huge finding day. We all decided that everyone was going to leave their apartment at 9 am and then pray every half hour from 9 am until 9 pm when we all returned home. We had no RDVs and devoted all of our time to contacting people on the streets and knocking on doors. IT WAS AMAZING. I think that is the hardest I have ever worked in my entire mission. When we got home that night, we literally planned, prayed, and then barely dragged our bodies into bed and passed out. We gave everything. Every last bit.
This is the part where I am supposed to tell you about all of the life-changing miracles we saw. The family who came out of their home and began crying and said they'd been praying for us to come. The girl who dragged us to the baptismal font and jumped in. The pillar of fire and the cloud that followed us as we went about doing the Lord's work.
But, they never came.
We didn't find a single person who was interested. We taught some lessons... to some staunch atheists and devout Catholics who never wanted to see us again. We got some phone numbers. We invited and invited and invited. We offered our bruised hearts over and over and over again. We kept going. We kept up our faith. We persevered. But, we didn't find a single new ami. Not a single person was interested. Honestly, most of the people either ran away or slammed the door.
And I'll admit, I was beaten. It was so hard. We had given absolutely everything! Where were the miracles? This is when they're supposed to come. This is the perfect set-up for a really great e-mail home to my family. This is when the most life-changing miracle of my mission comes.
But it didn't.
The day afterwards, I was doing my morning studies and was feeling so low. And confused. And a little angry. But I happened to stumble across something that my sister Jasmyn had sent me eons ago and also something Kaity had sent me, too. It's been months, maybe even a year since I had read them. I liked them... and then tucked them nicely away and never read them again. But this day, I knew God knew way before I ever did what I was going to need.
In one of the talks it goes into the story of the Anti-Nephi-Lehis. Wow, story of miracles! So many faithful converts who gave up everything to follow God. But as the story goes on, these converts are coming under attack. But after their miraculous conversion, God surely wouldn't let them die, would He? I mean, God parts seas. God sends angels down to fight our battles. God sends down fire and storms. Especially for these people, because surely these are the kind of people who get saved! But the army is still coming, and what do the people do? They go out to meet them, prostrate themselves on the ground, and begin praying unto God. I mean, this is it! This is where the miracle comes! But then...
"And thus without meeting any resistance, they did slay a thousand and five of them." (Alma 22:24)
This isn't supposed to happen. No angels. No fire. These people were slain, with the name of the Lord on their lips. This is not the outcome I wanted. Or expected. This wasn't in the plans, God. This just doesn't make any sense.
But as the story goes on, the army begins to see what is happening and their hearts are softened. They lay down their swords and that day the people of God were joined by more new converts than the number of those who were slain.
And then comes the most beautiful thing I have ever read: "Thus we see that the Lord worketh in many ways to the salvation of his people." (Alma 24:27)
I don't know why sometimes I give everything and talk to everyone and cry and sweat and pray my guts out to find people for us to teach. I don't know why people are not lined up to be taught and clamoring to be dunked. And maybe I'll never know. But I do know that God loves me. I know that God's ways are higher than my ways. I know that He knows. I know in whom I have trusted.
Sometimes the Lord's purposes are accomplished by sending weak, imperfect, and inadequate 21-year-old girls to the middle of France. And I need to accept God's will, whatever that may be. He has a plan. For every mission. For every person. For every day. And I am just a small part of it.
"Righteousness and faith certainly are instrumental in moving mountains -- if moving mountains accomplishes God's purposes and in accordance with His will. Even with strong faith, many mountains will not be moved." -Elder Bednar
xoxo, Soeur Autumn Bradley

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