Monday, August 25, 2014

Hi. How are you?

So this week there was 2 email so there will be lots of adventures to read from Bronte!
(Bronte's words)

If any of you are feeling even the slightest bit worried, stressed or fatigued, please take a quick moment to watch these video clips....

Doesn't that feel so much better?? Really. 

And then enjoy the slide presentation...

And then I'd like to apologize for the tediousness of my formatting today. It just was sooo much easier for me to send everything all together like that. I hope all the images open!

Some of them are from when we went to the Castle in Chenonceau 2 weeks ago. It was sooo beautiful. Some of them are from when we were into Paris and saw Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Elysees. The others are with our Investigators or Ward Members. A ward member gave us a zuchinni twice the size of my head! 

So I'm sure, you're probably wondering why I threw up those video clips. Something about these past few weeks has been culminating into one big epiphany of mine.

In the Book of Mormon, we read about the prophet Lehi's vision of the Tree of Life. All of these people are on a path, or wandering around for the path to get to the Tree of Life and taste the fruit which is "sweetest" above all other fruit. And what does the fruit represent?

The Love of God.

There's so much I could say on that subject, but I'm afraid that you'd have to be reading for about a day and half. So with that, I'll just leave a brief testimony that the Love of God is something really that we can have in our lives. And we can receive that and more happiness than ever known through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

No agenda. Just love.

Soeur Hopkins

Bronte sightseeing 2 weeks ago in Chenonceaux.

At a castle in Chenonceau.

The same beautiful castle!

Super silly and super cute Bronte.

Bronte at this famous lock bridge in Paris, Pont de L'Archeveche.

Bronte at the Arc de Triomphe.

Bronte with a ward member or an investigator, she didn't say which.

Bronte's super great companion at a cemetery.

Bronte with a ward member or an investigator.

Bronte with a zucchini from a ward member! The zucchini was as big as her head!

Another great week has passed by!
Lots of love,

Friday, August 22, 2014

(No Subject)

The latest email but there are no picturs this week :(


So right now I'm sitting in an underground internet cafe in Paris. Yes, I know. How did I get here again? And so fast?! No worries, it was Mission President approved.

Last week, we cut emails a little short and headed over to see the Castle in Chenonceau. It was soooo beautiful and we took so many pictures. I'll be sure to include some sometime soon. About mid-week, we got a text from another missionary informing us that a member that Soeur Bradley knew while she was in Paris had passed away from cancer the other day. His wife is American and they have one small son. We called President Babin and he approved us to attend the funeral this morning. 

It was such a beautiful morning.

We woke up in the wee hours of the morning, stumbled out the door and caught the 5:30am bus to the train station. Our bus driver was listening to some awesome 70's music and then the song "Sunrise" came on by Norah Jones. And for some weird reason, the catchy chorus of the song just stayed in my mind. As we headed our way up to Paris early in the dark and the sun came up, over and over in my mind the lyrics "sunrise to sunset" rang over and over (weird, huh?) And then we finally arrived at the Chapel in Nogant.

Wow. I've never felt so much compassion run through me for someone else that I've never met before. It was a beautiful service. The man's sister came up and they sang a beautiful english song. And then one of the ward leaders stood up to give his talk. 

He asked their son to come up and give him 'five.' The first time the man held out his hand and asked the boy 'give me five.' The second, he raised it a little higher saying "give me ten." And the then just above his head, "to the sky." Overhead, "In the space." And then as he dropped his hand to the boy's head, he said, "In your face!" Everyone smiled as the boy laughed. And then the ward member asked him to-- everytime he thought of his Dad -- to know that he was in heaven above. And to know that he was, pointing to his center, in his heart. 

Don't forget where Heavenly Father is at. He has a way of penetrating our hearts and bringing sweet realizations to our minds. He loves us all. Don't forget that. And now I'm running out of internet cafe time.


Soeur Bronte

More to come next week and hopefully an email with pictures and a title! 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

When All Else Fails, SING in the RAIN! (Please insert theme song from Singing in the Rain)

Some how I missed an email!! But I found it so here it is! Sorry for the delay! 

Dearest Familly, I love you so. You're happy smiling faces brighten my every waking email session and I can't help but giggle out of glee when I see those three words "You've Got Mail." 

I'm so sorry for all of the corniness of that last paragraph. There's just certain things a mission does to you and one of them is make you a goofball. Thanks for understanding.

So this past week was full of beautiful places, beautiful amis and lots of tender mercies. One day this week, we were having a particularly difficult time getting ahold of some of our investigators and decided to take a dinner break. As soon as we walked into the local grocery store, my eyes caught sight of a huge Coca-Cola display that had soda cans with one word printed off in big bold letters, "SOEUR." 
"That's me!" I thought and realized that Heavenly Father hadn't forgotten our efforts in the slightest bit. And We HAD to buy them. :)

Another day, we went over and taught our English speaking ami, Joy, and her daughter, Hope. (I know, how ironic. Where's Charity while we're at it?...) We were able to teach the Restoration of the Gospel to her while her daughter sat in the room. Her mom had told us at our previous rendez-vous (lesson), that her daughter sings beautifully. Before we left, we asked her if she would  sing something for us. At first she was real hesitant and then she decided she would. I was sooo glad.

As soon as she started, I was so taken aback. She sang the song "When I'm Gone" from Pitch Perfect. Her voice was b-e-a-utiful, controlled and she sounded great. But it was a little reminder to me of home and all things familiar. How'd she know Soeur Bradley and I love that song?? 

Friday, we met up with an ami named Anias just outside the Hotel de Ville (city hall). She started walking with us and telling us more about herself and her relationship with God. She's a super beautiful french girl that grew up in Angers and Tours, went to college and is now a businesswoman. When she was about 15, she experienced a major crisis in her life and she felt all alone. One day she decided to go to a church and pray for the first time. She said that as she sat down to pray, she told God, "If you're there, you need to let me know right now." After that she told us that she had an indescribable feeling come over her and she knew that someone was really listening to her prayer. From there on she's always believed in God and allowed him to lead her life.

As we were walking through the town, she took us past old town Tours which is filled with 13th century Dutch architecture and cobblestone roads. (I about died because I gasped so hard in awe). And then as we headed out of that area, we came across a secluded Park/Outdoor Zoo that we walked through. It was beatiful sitting on a bench, talking to her about her life. She was so cool and loved talking to us. Such an open minded, inspiring person. It made me crack a smile when she said, "My first conversion was to God. And my second was to techno music." No worries, she likes sophisticated techno music. Haha

Life is beautiful. Something I've been learning this week and really taking to heart is that We Are Capable Of Being So Much Happier Than We Allow ourselves. So often we set conditions on our terms of happiness. "If I do this...If I had that...or if I was more...(please insert your answers because they're...)." Wrong. We must start being happy and happier NOW. 

I was thinking about Uchtdorf's 2012 talk, "Of Regrets and Resolution" when he talks about what most people who are at the end of their lives regret the most. "I wish I had spent more time with the people I love.. I wish I had lived up to my potential and.....I Wish I Had Let Myself Be Happier." There it is. I figured out that even in our imperfections, we need to focus on all the good we are doing and then look forward. 

I love you all so very much and wish you the greatest of happiness--even JOY!!!

Your Soeur,

Soeur Hopkins

So Bronte and Sister Bradley stopped into a grocery store to grap some snacks for dinner and came across these Coca-cola bottles that say "Share one with your SISTER" in big bold letters. And they just HAD to buy them. Coca-cola's doing this add campaign in France where they print off names on cans so that it's more "personal."  She thinks they couldn't get everyone's name, so they made these. Coca-cola is the ONLY brand of soda they sell in France.

Bronte heard that licorice is a stress reliever, so they have been eating a lot of it! 

It's so great hearing from her and sorry again for the delay!
Lots of love,

Monday, August 4, 2014

"I Found Myself in Paris" and Other Dorky Sayings

Yeah! We get to hear from Bronte!! So so great!

First of all might I just say that I love you all so much...and every week I keep saying that. BUT IT'S TRUE!!!
This week has been another beautiful week with lots of hard work and wonderful miracles. For real, Soeur Bradley and I were shocked when we discovered that we taught the most amount of lessons in one week compard to any other week for the past year of her mission! WOOOW. Yes, I'm exhausted from trying to speak french.
"I found myself in Paris." --Sabrina. On Tuesday, we went into Paris for my legality and that was such a great day. I made a birthday sign for Joy's birthday and kind of just went CraZY. I just was so excited and took pictures everywhere we went. haha
We passed the Pompidou art museum, the waterfountains/lips from the movie "Sabrina," the Notre Dame Cathedral from a distance and then we saw the EIFFEL TOWER. Mom, I think my heart might've dropped a little when we got out of the metro and turned the corner and it came into view. And I suddenly realized, for the first time, that I'm actually here in France. And I'm not here to look at the Eiffel Tower for a year and half-- I'm here to do something much better than that. SERVE. TEACH. LOVE. UPLIFT. Oh yes, the further Soeur Bradley and I've gotten on in this transfer, the more we end up going back to the basics.
In Russell Osgathorpe's 2011 BYU Devo, he talks about his mission to Tahiti. The Tahitian greeting there is 'ia ora na' or "life to you." He says:
    "We are either giving life or taking life from each other as we move forward on our way. Harsh  words take life away from the one who receives them and even from the one who utters them. But words spoken in love give life." Words spoken in love give life.
This past week, we had the opportunity to meet with Anne-Marie, a recent convert. We only visited her for about 20 minutes. But in those 20 minutes, I was blown away. We were teaching a lesson to her about the Book of Mormon or Livre de Mormon. Soeur Bradley asked her how she gained a testimony of it. As she shared her experience and bore her testimony of it's truth, there was so much power in the room. She spoke in a soft, steady voice, but her words were so powerful. And the light in her eyes was so powerful, I almost couldn't keep eye contact with her. Her testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and its enabling power in her life is sooo strong and I felt so blessed to be there with her!
Another ami we went and visited was Zarik. She's from Russia and speaks five languages! Though she's more fluent in Russian. And she is so kind and beautiful! She calls me and Soeur Bradley "cherie" which is "dear." For the past couple of months, she'd been worried about her sister who's been living in the Ukraine in the middle of the war there. As we met with her this time, we found out that her sister escaped in the middle of the night and fled to Russia. She's now safe. Zarik has such a powerful belief in God and his hand in her life.
We read a few scriptures with her in Moroni 7:35-37 in french while she read from her Russian copy of the Book of Mormon. It talks about Miracles. Zarik had never learned the french word, "miracle" before. As we talked with her about her sister's experience, we pointed the word out to her in her Russian copy. As soon as she saw it, she made the connection and it clicked. She went and found a peice of paper to write down her new word. Dad, it was beautiful. She thanked us for teaching her how to say "Miracle" in french, because now she could adequately express her feelings about the one her family just experienced.
Last night we went to our "wine vat" (Soeur Bradley said 'vine bat' or batiment and all I heard was 'wine vat.' It's never been the same since) that we've been porting for the past transfer and we met a very large family from Martinique that was all living in one apartment during their vacances (vacation). When they opened the door, it was chaotic, loud and sounded fun.
Seriously, more and more people kept on coming in and out of the apartment while we were standing there talking. I should've kept a tally because there must've been at least 30 people living in that 3 room apartment!!! (I'm not exaggerating!) The 4 sisters of the families at first said they were too busy and then, after everyone started crowding to the door to say "hi", they invited us into the kitchen to pray with them.
Their Dad had been in the hospital for the past eight months dealing with some serious health issues. The sisters belong to their different faiths, but all believe in God. We offered a prayer and then talked with them for about 15 minutes as kids kept coming in and out of the kitchen. They had so much respect for us as missionaries and understood how hard it is, sometimes, trying to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ when they are others who tatter our image. They were sooo nice to us. And it was so great being in a fun, loving, crazy home. I'm glad that we were able to uplift and invite them and, if anything, give them a better image of who we are.
One of the sisters said something to us that stood out to me. She talked about a rough encounter she had with someone else on the topic of a religion. It was kind of abbrasive and she said, "That just doesn't work for me." And I thought of a quote from C. Terry Warner's BYU Devo "Honest, Simple, Solid, True." (yes, I read lots.)
"Where counterforce calls forth counterforce, love calls forth love."
That's the only way it works. That's the motive behind it all. It is the way of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Love.
Grosse Bisous and Life to You All!
Soeur Hopkins

Bronte is finally legal in France!! So exciting! 

Just sitting on a random yellow box waiting outside of an "ami's" apartment complex and having heart to hearts while taking timed photos.

The Eiffel Tower and super yummy food! 

Bronte says that all the cool kids in Paris wear these bracelets which are pretty popular in the United States as well. A granddaughter of a member in their ward made the bracelets for Bronte and her companion! 

Well that's all for this week my lovelies! 
Lots of love,