Monday, November 10, 2014


This week. Oh, this week! There aren't even words. I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful last week as a missionary.
I made it!! So it seemed appropriate to spend my last p-day on the arch of Triumph
District meeting!

Last ever.
Our very last meeting with our ward mission leader in his classy office in Paris.
La Famille Tshinemu. They both served missions and they just run this ward. They're amazing. 
I met a miracle. Her name is Elizabeth. One night we had about 15 minutes before we had to be home so we decided to get off at a random tram stop and contact there for a few minutes. We contacted for about 10 minutes... but nobody cared. So at about 8:55 we started walking back to the stop to go home. As we walked past a restaurant, we looked over and saw a girl standing on the street corner. As we began to walk towards her, she started walking away from us. But then stopped as if she was uncertain. We contacted her and she immediately was so interested and open! She asked so many questions about why we're here and then asked us where our church is. Before we could even invite her, she said "I'm sorry... I can't come to church this week. I didn't know I was going to meet youand I already have plans. But next week!" We talked some more, set up a RDV for a day later, and then left her with a prayer. Right before she walked away she said "You know. I have no idea why I was standing on that street corner. I just got there and all of a sudden I felt... uncertain. So I just stood there. For about 5 minutes. Then when I tried to start walking I still felt strange... so I stopped again. I think it's a sign. I think it's because I needed to meet you tonight. I think you have a message that God wants me to hear." JAW ON THE GROUND. So a day later, we meet her again and she takes us up to her apartment... and her sister Naomi is there! She seems pretty apprehensive at first, but quickly opens up and we have a beautiful first lesson. They share so many beautiful stories about how they have seen God in their lives. Then Elizabeth turns to Naomi and says "Did I tell you how I met these girls?" And tells them how it all happened. Naomi just sits there in awe and then looks right us and says "You are from God." And I just sit there in utter shock. So prepared. It blows me away. I just love them. They are on their journey.
Elizabeth and Naomi! Our new friends.
On another note, Tuesday night Soeur Hawkes had to come into Paris for legality and guess who she stayed the night with? ME! It was the first time I had seen her since Tours. And I think God planned that one. Because she is exactly who I needed my last week in France. Soeur Hawkes is a beautiful soul. I just want to be exactly like her. She is the most humble person I have ever met. And everything she said just healed my soul. I love her.

Well, this is it. I can't believe it. These 18 months are coming to an end. Did it really happen? Did I really pray with these beautiful people on the streets and knock on doors with the most humble and noble souls behind them? Did I really get to testify every day of my God and Savior? Did I get to help these French people catch the vision of their glorious eternity? All I can do is weep. A part of me aches to be back in that tiny classroom in the MTC with my entire mission in front of me. But I feel peace. I know it's time. I know the best is yet to come. Everything I have learned and experienced is preparing me for what is yet to come. And as I look back at all the beautiful things I have witnessed and the miracles God let me be a part of and how much I have changed, I am filled with awe. God is just so good to me. I'm just so grateful. So grateful He let me come.
I found myself in France. To me, my mission is sacred. France will always be holy ground. Pieces of my heart are scattered throughout the sunflower fields of Nancy, the cobble-stoned streets of Lille, the riverbanks of Tours, and the metros of Paris.
The Paris Opera House! 
I had forgotten how stunningly gorgeous it is.
Winged Victory of Samothrace! The most beautiful thing to see in the Louvre.
I am blown away by what a different person I have become. I have changed in so many ways, but I think the biggest change I see in myself is this: LOVE.
Aurelie! Our sweet less-active friend. :) 
I remember sitting in my mission prep class a few months before I reported to the MTC. We had a lesson all about love and charity and how they are completely central to missionary work and I just remember sitting there thinking "Well... shoot." Then a few months later, I sat in the amphitheatre in the MTC, watching Soeur Monson's funeral. I just sat there and wept. My heart ached to be like her. So loving. So kind. But I could see how far I was and it seemed impossible. I just wasn't a giver at heart. Then not long after I got to France, I met some terribly hard persecution from someone of another religion. And as I walked away, in the pouring rain, it all began to click. "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." (1 Corinthians 13) And God began to say to me "My work must be done this way. By this shall men know that ye are my disciple, if ye have love."
And I promised God right then that I would love.
Mme Su. Our albino African amie. I ADORE HER.
And since then God has taught me so much more about love. Because you see, it's all about love. It's the reason for everything. The reason God created this plan of happiness. The reason our Savior performed the Atonement. And if God, the creator of the universe and everything in it, puts love behind everything He does... we probably should too. Because love changes everything. When you make love your motive, it sanctifies your actions. It transforms the mundane into the majestic. It magnifies your small acts of obedience and service into holy acts of consecration and rescuing. Love lifts life to a higher level. It changes not just a few details, but its very quality and character. Love can never be used selfishly. You can't use true love for personal gain. It just doesn't work that way. That's the beauty of love. Love is for its own sake. It works only as a gift, never a reward.
And Love is who we really are. All love emanates from God. And as we are the children of God, we are the offspring of this love. Every one of us is born with the desire to love and be loved. It's part of our very being. We were made for love and to give love. Whenever I feel love, it awakens something inside of me that cannot be denied. When I feel love, I feel eternal.
This is why my mission has set me free. Because, to steal a line from Les Mis, "To love another person is to see the face of God."
It wasn't a perfect year and a half. I had times where I really struggled. But I can say that I tried to love everyone God placed in my path.

Love has set me free. I can't thank you all enough for loving me. Especially when I didn't deserve it. Your love has changed my life in extraordinary ways. I love you so much I can hardly breathe. I will see you on Thursday. I can hardly wait. :)
Love, Soeur Autumn Bradley 

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