Well, here I am. Sitting in an internet café in Paris. I can't tell you how many times I saw the Eiffel Tower this week while we were headed to RDVs. Unreal. I also found out that next week I get to go back to Nancy! It has been my dream my entire mission to be able to go back and visit my first ville so I could walk around and feel how much I have changed since those first days of this adventure. And next week I get to go back for one day! Why am I so blessed?
Sœur Pajimola and our last RDV. She is from the Philippines and speaks perfect English.
I am really going to miss her and her adorable little girls!
Caterina! We haven't been able to get a hold of her in months.
But I told her I was leaving and she came and saw me really fast to say goodbye. Love this girl.
My dear Sœur Richards. She slept over at my new apartment this week and we realized it would probably be the last time we would ever see each other. So sad. (Don't mind my African booboo...)
Lefrandt and Cameron on the day they went home.
My new companions Sœur Brazeal!
Sœur Smith... also the day she went home. All my friends are gone.
Elder Martin! He has followed me my entire mission from Nancy to Tours to Paris. He's the coolest.
I have met so many people this week I am having trouble keeping them all straight. But I already am beginning to see why I am here at this time. As I met woman after woman who just needed to feel God's love, I was overwhelmed. Just when I was positive that my heart couldn't hold love for any more people, God opened up this whole other section of my heart and poured in His love for these beautiful souls.
Wasn't conference incredible? Wow. And I was so excited for all of the Spanish-speaking and Cantonese-speaking members who got to hear general conference talks in their language!
General Conference watching with the Evry Sœurs and a member in my new ward.
Saturday morning D. Todd Christofferson has done it again. Everything that man says just speaks to my soul. And in just a few words he wrapped up a really huge lesson I have been learning my entire mission: We are agents to act.
God has created objects and agents. Things to be acted upon and things to act. Out of all the things that God has created, human beings are the agents. We were not designed to be acted upon. We were designed to act, to choose.
On Friday we went and saw a less-active woman named Muriel. Oh, how I love Muriel! She is the kindest and one of the most deeply good people I have ever met. As we were talking she opened up about some problems she is having in here life. Problems that have come up because of choices she has made in the past. She lost her temper and turned herself into an object, without power to change her circumstances. When you give in to weaknesses of the flesh you lose your agency. You become a slave to them. And it's heart-breaking. It's not what we were meant for.
But as we were talking, this principle of objects and agents kept running through my mind. And I also realized something beautiful: You cannot change your past or the consequences of your past choices. But you can choose right now. You can choose to change yourself. You can choose to do good and be good despite all the evil that surrounds you. And then you hold the power. You're the master of your own soul. You're an agent.
I recently read a talk from Elder Holland where he told this story that changed my life:
"In 1982 Air Florida’s Flight 90 to Tampa began rolling down the runway at Washington’s National Airport. Nothing seemed very different about this; hundreds of planes leave that airport every day. But the plane slammed into the 14th Street Bridge, smashed five cars and a truck, and then skidded into the ice-clogged river. For a moment, there was silence, and then pandemonium. Commuters watched helplessly as the plane quickly sank. . . A few passengers bobbed to the surface; some clung numbly to pieces of debris while others screamed desperately for help. Scattered across the ice were pieces of green upholstery, twisted chunks of metal, luggage, a tennis racquet, a child’s shoe. . . . Within minutes, sirens began to wail as fire trucks, ambulances and police cars rushed to the scene. A U.S. Park Police helicopter hovered overhead to pluck survivors out of the water. Six were clinging to the plane’s tail. Dangling a life preserving ring to them, the chopper began ferrying them to shore. The most notable act of heroism was performed by another of the passengers, a balding man in his early 50s. Each time the ring was lowered, he grabbed it and passed it along to a comrade; when the helicopter finally returned to pick him up, he had disappeared beneath the ice. His selflessness is one reason the story held national attention; his anonymity another. The fact that he has gone unidentified invests him with a universal character. For a while he was Every man, and thus proof (as if one needed it) that no man is ordinary. Still, he could never have imagined such a capacity in himself. Only minutes before his character was tested, he was sitting in the ordinary plane among the ordinary passengers, dutifully listening to the stewardess telling him to fasten his seat belt and saying something about the “no smoking sign.” So our man relaxed with the others, some of whom would owe their lives to him. Perhaps he started to read, or to doze, or to regret some harsh remark made in the office that morning. Then suddenly he knew that the trip would not be ordinary. Like every other person on that flight, he was desperate to live, which makes his final act so stunning. For at some moment in the water he must have realized that he would not live if he continued to hand over the rope and ring to others. He had to know it, no matter how gradual the effect of the cold. In his judgment he had no choice. When the helicopter took off with what was to be the last survivor, he watched everything in [his] world move away from him, and he deliberately let it go. . . .
The odd thing is that we do not . . . really believe that the man in the water lost his fight. . . . He could not, like Nature, make ice storms, or freeze the water until it froze the blood. But he could hand life over to a stranger, and that is a power of nature too. The man in the water pitted himself against an implacable, impersonal enemy; he fought it with charity; and he won."
Life-changing. Our power to choose is a force of nature. I cannot control what happens to me, but I can choose how I will react to it. And no matter what force has power over my body, it cannot have my soul.
"Genes do not makes decisions and planets do not move freely, but humans can choose, and because you are free you can change the world." -D. Todd Christofferson
Mes Filles! (My daughters!) I'm a Mama.
xoxo, Sœur Autumn Bradley