Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Things Are Looking (Very & Literally) Up

Another email from Bronte this week and some fun pictures!

Dear Family,

So I only recently realized just how incredibly timed my stay at the MTC is. Every year the MTC holds a mission president seminar for the new mission presidents getting called. Also, every mission president serves for 3 years before they're replaced. And because we're getting new mission presidents this July, our mission presidents are HERE being trained right now. What?!?!! No way!!! Yes. Yes way....

So we got to meet them last night! President & Soeur Babin (pronounced "Babaaa") were born and raised in France.When they were younger, Soeur Babin served in the Belgium, Brussells Mission (a while after you, Dad) and President Babin served in the-- yes, you guessed it-- Salt Lake City, Utah Mission! Their move to the mission home hasn't been too difficult since they only live an hour away.

It was so wonderful meeting them and getting excited to work with them. They have some wonderful new, innovative ideas to share with us missionaries and it feels were gonna hit the ground running. :) It's an exciting time to be a missionary.

And because it's the mission president seminar this week, we're on General Authority watch. (Binoculars and all...just joking, je blague) Although the conference is taking place on another side of campus, we do catch glimpses of the Apostles here and there (Bednar, Holland, etc. IS THat CooOOL or WHaT??) Since coming to the MTC, we've had the privilege of hearing from Elder Quentin L. Cook, Elder Russel M. Ballard, Sheri Dew and Janice Kapp Perry during devotionals. The spirit is wonderful and their messages are so great and So Timely. 

This week was great, difficult, frustrating, uplifting and challenging. Yesterday was probably the first day where I was needing a break. We'd just gotten done learning how to teach less-active members and then helping investigators resolve their concerns about making commitments. It was so emotionally draining and frustrating trying to be attentive that by the end of 2 hours, I just wanted to go outside and punch a tree.

 A general authority walking by as a sister missionary takes it out on a pine tree-- which also happens to be located on church property. No thanks, I already almost broke a light pole on temple grounds... 

Haha, But hey! There are some valid lessons to be learned about being patient, optimistic and knowing your limits! I decided to take my aggression out in a mean game of sand volleyball later that night.

More news. Soeur Tippett and I were just called to be our Zone's Sister Training Leaders and we are so super duper thrilled to be serving the sister missionaries in our zone. Tomorrow the MTC will be receiving 25 new french speaking missionaries and the week we leave, they're be 40 more. Wow, it's awesome. 

Sorry this week seems to be a very "newsy" week and a little less about personal experiences. But I'm learning so much about planning, setting goals and WORKING. The secret to missionary work really is WORK. And it's the best kind because it requires an Open mind and heart along with Complete unselfishness and Exact obedience. How else can Heavenly Father lead you in the work if you don't listen to HIM?

Thank you for the letters and words of love! I love you all oh so much and I hope to make you so proud!

Avec Tout Mon Coeur,

Soeur Bronte Hopkins

Bronte's current favorite pass time at the MTC!

Last day with Frere Meyers as her instructor.

Them picturing themselves on a park bench in France!!

Now them picturing themselves laughing in France! Super cute 

And our beautiful girl dancing since she just couldn't help it!! 

They fixed the light pole she broke!!

They were seeing how much she could fit into her big pockets

One of our roommates ( not me...I know I am an awful best friend) sent her a picture from when we dressed like guys and danced and sang to a Backstreet Boys song. 

Apparently there is a tree at the MTC that smells like cream soda and they found it!!

Bronte met her new Mission President!!

Until next week!! Lots of love,

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sometimes It Happens to the Best of Us

Yeah! The third email! It seems to brighten my week every time I hear from her!!!

Dear Family,

Week 3!! What on earth has happened to the time? It's so exciting to be making progress and getting ready to get out to the mission and walk the walk! 

This week we had a new district come into our branch this week. Four sisters and one elder going to New Calidonia. Yeah, where is that anyway? It's a country off the southeast coast of Australia. I'd never heard of it before. (And one of the sisters loves to run, yaaaaayayayayaya!)

So the other day we went on our weekly temple walk and had a great time walking on the grounds and being outside. So Beautiful. I'd thought I'd have a little bit of fun by telling the new sisters about how there's one light pole on the walkway up to the temple that is wobbly. I figured it out the first week when Soeur Tippett and I were leaving the temple and I half-heartedly put a little bit of weight on it and the pole fell off balance--it scared me so bad and I was still laughing about it!

However, when I went to show them what happened this week, I might've exerted a bit more energy because the pole fell ALL THE WAY OVER. I just squeeled in shock as it layed on the ground of the grass and I just BUSTED up laughing so hard. Wow, really? I felt like such a spaz. And in front of the new missionaries! Hahaha. Don't worry, I told the temple workers about it before even Thinking about posting these pictures.

But let's just say that I'm now 'that sister who vaulted the light pole on temple grounds.' Well, I never cease to entertain..

This past week was our first week in TRC teaching church members in french. It was Absolutely THE BEST. Soeur Tippett and I ended up teaching two elderly brethren who were just the sweeeetest to talk to. They told us all about their missions to France and Italy. When we began sharing our message with them about strengthening their foundations in Christ, we asked them what they could do to more fully center theirs lives in Christ. Their responces were, of course, mind blowing and I began to wonder Who Was Teaching This Lesson?? I needed to take some serious notes! 

Frere Turner began telling us about how his family has a plaque in their house that reads, "Our Home is Center Around Jesus Christ." And then he began explaining how important it was so important for them to represent the family name--and represent it well.

As I looked down at my name tag, I read the words, "Soeur HOPKINS." I realized how wonderful it was for me to represent this name to all who I meet. They may not know me by my first name, but they will know me for my family's. I took the opportunity to share this thought with our two friends. It was such a wonderful moment to express my gratitude for bearing the name of my family and the name of Christ at this time. It was the BEST experience.

So, the elders told us about something called 'Narnia Holes' where people hide secret treasures. Some of them are found behind light switches, plugs, and various spots. So we got so super excited to find some in our room, but I guess the sisters don't get much into that. :( Oh well....

Each week, we all laugh about what our 'weekly' emails probably sound like to our families. It's super hard pounding out the most detailed, personal letters to everyone we send them to. Sorry if my emails end up sounding something like this...

"So this week was AwSOME. I LOVED it. I had so much fun hahahahaAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHahahahahahah #lololololololol LOLOLOLOLOLOL." 
But really, my apologies. 

I love you all and hope you have the best of weeks!!!

Soeur Bronte Hopkins

Bronte and her district! 

Bronte and her adorable companion Sister Tippett

The district...again

Hey! I've been there! Missionaries walk to the Provo Temple on Sundays

Our beautiful spaz breaking church property!! 

She couldn't get over the fact that she actually broke it!

Looking for "Narnia Holes"...weird missionary things...seriously 

Alright here's the story about these pictures. So when Bronte was about to leave to go to the MTC I went all Mama Bear on her and told her that she needed to pick up some protein bars just in case the food at the MTC was gross or she got tired of it. Well I thought she would pick the yummy chocolate peanut butter ones that you can't even tell they are healthy for you but no Bronte was picky. So I suggested these blueberry bars and she bought them and she has reported that they are DISGUSTING! Not only have a laughed about it but I told her to share one to her companion and I am so glad she did. Their faces are priceless! Hehe 

And now she she is sharing the disgusting bars with the rest of the sisters. Way to make friends Bronte!!

Lots of love,

Friday, June 13, 2014

Second email: Sins, Peaches, Peach Trees, Fishing, Fishers and Sinners--It's All the Same Thing!

What we have all been waiting for, drum roll please....the second email and tons of pictures!

Wow! Christmas in June! I got three whole letters this week and it was like Manna From Heaven! But seriously, I never realized how much missionaries appreciate mail until I became one! To answer some questions, I will be at the MTC through July 7th. So hand written mail will get to me for the next month and is the bomb!

So this week I found out in class that you have to be extra careful with a few words. "Peche" and "Pecher" with a slight change of accents could mean sins, peaches, peach tree, fishers, fishing or sinners. (Whaaa??) So try to be careful you don't end up teaching someone that "Christ suffered for your peaches." But really. Watch out for that one... ;)

This week we decided to play a practical joke on our investigator, Brigitte. Usually, when we teach her, we all go and visit her in our companionships one after another. So our district came a little early and sat in the classroom before she got there. When she opened the door, she looked so suprised to find 6 missionaries waiting for her.

We told her we wanted to try a 'new' missionary teaching method. As she walked in she started laughing so hard that she just sank to the floor. In her beautiful french she told us between giggles, "I will Never be late again!" haha. But the joke's on us.

The next day we found out that her real name is Sister Hoover and she's our OTHER french instructor.And she's from Idaho Falls, Idaho. We TOTALLY thought she was a native french speaker! Several indicators led me to believe that she might be an MTC teacher. Like one time during our lesson we didn't know how to say a certain word and she went all teacher on us and spelled it out on the board for us...hmmm?

This week has past by like a dream, but it has been filled with so many wonderful things. Our district's been working on learning the french hymns so we don't sound like mooing cows in sacrament meeting (that's what happens when you attempt to sing in french but have no idea how to pronounce the words!) Soeur Tippett, Shields, Bardsley and I had the opportunity to sing the french hymn "Souvien-toi" in sacrament meeting this past Sunday. The song talks about our relationship with our Heavenly Father before this life. It is sooo beautiful (Thanks Dad for the copy of the music. Love ya!) At the end of the song, God asks us (his children) to accept his great plan for us and with love and faith, return to him. That song reminds me of how much I love my family and dear friends! Much love to you all!

Soeur Bronte Hopkins

Doesn't she look awesome! Keep sending her letters she loves them!!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The First Email!!

Here is what we have all been waiting for...drum roll please...the first email and pictures from our very own redhead missionary!!
Bronte's Own Words:
So, Yes, I missed my first flight talking to someone else at LAX. Go figures?? That is so me. But five hours later, I arrived at the MTC, gave Bree a huge hug and walked in....

Wow, I couldn't believe how strong the spirit of the MTC is! My worries, doubts, concerns all melted away and I felt at home. And I got my very own missionary tag! Here's a picture of missionary badge. No, you're not dyslexic, in french the word for "sister" is spelled s-oe-u-r. The "o" and the "e" are joined.

My companion is Soeur Tippett! She's from Georgia, went to BYU Idaho before her mission and loves to dance! It was as if we already knew each other. Weird, huh? Having her as a companion has been the biggest blessing because she is so dedicated, humble, kind and spunky. She keeps me focused and on task! We've already had some wonderful experiences in the MTC together.

Wednesday was our first day and Friday we taught our first lesson-- IN FRENCH. It was one of the most scariest things I've ever done. We teach volunteers who are native french speakers. In french an investigator is called " Un Ami de L'Eglise" or a friend of the gospel (Isn't that a Wonderful name?). We messed up So Badly! All we could do after words was laugh it off. Our sentences were so rough, I  wasn't sure what our friend was saying sometimes and I think we might've assigned her some random chapter in the Book of Mormon to read?? Honestly, it was all a blur haha.

But we stuck to it! That night we worked extra hard on our next lesson and focused on simplifying and going by the spirit. We had a wonderful experience the next day! We'd invited her to pray about the Book of Mormon the other night but had forgotten to teach her how to pray. So we thought we'd go from there.

After Soeur Tippett and I explained how to pray and demonstrated, we taught her about the Spirit or "Le Saint-Esprit." Brigitte (that's her name) asked us how we feel the spirit. Soeur Tippett and I did our best and we had to use a lot of hand gestures and motions to get the message across (hugging ourselves, smiling, etc.) We explained that the spirit brings peace, joy, and love. It's God's spirit. And then we invited her to pray. She began very slowly and simply, but after only a few moments the spirit just filled the room and we all felt it. It was so beautiful. Brigitte and I both had tears in our eyes as she was speaking. It gave me hope knowing that the language of the Spirit transcends all other languages. WOW.

So contrary to popular belief, missionary work can be fun. It can be SO FUN. We all work so hard, but there is a great sense of comradery and we laugh off our mistakes. Big time. We speak french all day and, by now, I have so much trouble speaking in English!
What can I say? I just don't think there's any other way to describe the feeling you get as a missionary until you are one!

So this week I heard about something cool called You can write letters, have them sent, printed off and delivered to the MTC throughout the week. Elder Chaffer and Soeur Shields in our district have been getting loads of them this week, so Soeur Tippett and I want to see if we can change that! haha. Give it a go! I think it may be a buck or so, but it gets there faster and is easier than sending a letter.

I love you all so much and I can FEEL your prayers! If you have any fun questions to ask me, please send them and I will do my best to answer them.

So in my district, I'm known as the Soeur that "everyone knows"! haha NOT TRUE. But since being here I've run into so many people from BYU and some from home including Tanner Skousen, Jason (forgive me for forgetting names in general), Brother Maples (that's what his tag says!), Brian Benson, Elder Preswitch several more people from my ward, classes and dance department. It's so fun!

Much Love,
Soeur Hopkins

Isn't she just the cutest? You heard the girl, SEND HER A LETTER! 
Much love, Melissa