Monday, September 29, 2014

(No Subject)

Another email!! 

So yesterday, Sœur Bradley and I were on the bus watching as two little boys, sitting across from each other, went back and forth making each other giggle until they were both in tears laughing. It was the funniest thing to watch!
I hope you're all doing so dandy and have been having your fair share of laughing bouts and smiles.
This week we had our district meeting in Bourge--an hours train ride away from where we're at. And it was such a wonderful day and afterwords, we stopped by the Cathedral. I am in awe of all the beautiful things we've been so blessed to see.
At the district meeting, Elder Smith invited a member to come and share her conversion story. Her name is Sœur Kotecka. Her family first met the missionaries in 2008. When they knocked on the door, her daughter opened the door, and shocked to see two huge boys at the door, she slammed it and ran away. Her husband made her daughter open the door again to apologize. And they let them in...Her daughter was baptized and then, in 2012 she followed. Finally her husband was baptized last August, but he was diagnosed with a serious health condition and passed away in January. Her daughter is serving a mission in Lyon. When she got the news, she came home for 2 weeks and then decided to return to finish serving. She'll be coming home this November.
It was amazing listening to her story about love, perserverance and experiencing the Atonement.
Later, when I was speaking to her, she looked at me and Sœur Bradley and said, "You have to persevere through your mission. You must!" I could see that she felt so strongly about having the gospel in her life then and especially at this time in her life. "The Gospel is not weight, it's WINGS--it carries us."
The other night, we went out to visit a new area in Tours and do some "finding." While we were traveling on the bus, we passed by a certain bus stop. An older, African man was sitting at the stop and almost missed the bus until he ran and flagged it down. As soon as he got on, he smiled at the bus driver and went to sit down. I saw that he had some pretty severe scars on his face, maybe even facial reconstruction. I could tell he had a story and I really, really wanted to talk to him. I hoped that maybe he would contact us (in our mission, sisters aren't allowed to contact men). But he didn't. 

So we went to our batiment that we'd started that week and began going porting. And, believe it or not, we ended up finding him there! As soon as he opened the door, I was so suprised to run into him again! Just as I'd hoped, we were able to talk to him. His name is Henri and he's from Congo. He was the nicest older gentlemen I've ever met and told us about how he grew up Protestant. We got to pray with him and set up a Rendez-vous with the Elders for next Sunday. It was the happiest experience of the night for me. I knew that Heavenly Father put him in our path for a reason!
Grace. Grace, grace, grace, grace. Graceful. Gracious.This week has been one of Learning to accept grace. Sœur Bradley and I stumbled over a BYU Devotional called, "Healing= Courage + Action + Grace" by Jonathon Sandberg. I'm kind of becoming a fanatic over the topic of love and receiving God's love. But even after everything is said, done, worked and toiled over, I have to accept the fact that there is no such thing as a perfect missionary or a perfect person.
When we finished our visits the other night, we went to catch our bus and discovered that it was raining and the sun was setting at just the right angle to reveal a full, double rainbow. I'd never seen one before in my life. But they're there! I promise! It was a reminder to me of all the things we are capable of seeing if we are in the right place, at the right time, looking at the right angle. :)
Bonne Semaine! Have a good week!
Sœur Hopkins

They went to Borge for their distric meeting this week and made sure to stop at the Cathedral. So gorgeous! 

So gorgeous Bronte is so glad that we have beautiful places to worship too! 

Bronte's words,"Here's the classy post office there! Bourge is one of the cutest villes I've ever seen!
New mission rule is that we can't mount anything on walls that have wallpaper. So Sœur Bradley and I got a little creative...we tied shoe laces together, attached them to the bookshelves and hung paper on them. Briliance. At it's finest."

Here is the view from the most recent building Bronte has been porting. It started raining and the sun was still shining, reflecting off the side of the building producing the most gorgeous warm color. Then they saw a full, double rainbow. PURE BEAUTY.

Bronte's wise observation: "Somehow, I don't think PR thought this add through all the way."   
(At one of their bus stops.)

Lots of love,

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Sorry it's late this week! I will try to do better next time!

Dear Family,

Thank you thank you so much for the letters, love and packages this week! I have felt so encircled about with love and care. Thank you for your examples and for your prayers!
This week, my companion and I got to see some beautiful miracles.
This past week Soeur Bradley and I passed by a family that the missionaries hadn't visited for about 6 months. The family had welcomed the missionaries into their home, but their schedules had just gotten too busy for a while. But now that the school year has begun, they've found some more time. And they are stellar.

The wife of the family (her name is Caihua or Sara she's Chinese!!!) told us about how she grew up in a non-christian religion and now, she's looking for something more in her life. Something that will help her to become a better individual and something that will strengthen her family. Right off the bat, she turned to Soeur Bradley and I and asked us, "Who is Jesus Christ to you?" and "How do you live and practice your religion?" I was so taken back by her honest and curious questions! It was such a beautiful opportunity for me to share how I live and love my faith.
And in the end, she wanted to know what she'd need to do to become Christian! So we talked to her about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We taught her about how she can pray to know for certain if this is the path God wants her to take. We invited her to work towards baptism and she accepted. Such a beautiful family with such beautiful and sincere desires.
For the past couple of months, we've been working to teach one of our amis named Chantal. She's an older french woman and she has a real desire to be baptized. She loves coming to church and feeling good about herself. And she loves us sooo sincerely much. We just feel uplifted by her everytime we see her. But we'd been having such a hard time helping her to progress. Sometimes she really struggles to understand and grasp the things we're teaching her. We were really beginning to worry. But this week, when we began teaching began to click.
Right in the middle of teaching her about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the steps towards eternal life, she stopped us and explained very clearly her understanding of what we were telling her. I was kind of shocked to be honest. I might've fallen out of my chair if I hadn't been careful.
I looked over to Soeur Bradley as I realized that all of those prayers we'd been saying along with those offered by the members in our branch and our families were being answered. Chantal then told us quite simply, "I'm beginning to understand."
BEAUTIFUL!!!! (Allelujah choruses chiming in the background)
Did I ever mention how much of a riot she is? In one visit with her, she showed us all of the recent magazine ads she had, her exercise regimin and the dress she thought she might wear for her baptism (So glad she was only joking. I about DIED when she unveiled a bright red dress with a humongous rose fastened dead center). She says that she always does her exercises when she's afraid of dying--so she does them EVERYDAY. And then, we played her guitar that she bought. But none of us know how to play! She is one of the funniest people and we love her oh so much!
This week was so colorful. With so many suprising layers. Just as one door of opportunity seemed to be closing off, another one would open elsewhere. This kind of work is such a purifying experience that has humbled me to the ground and yet taken me to elevations of joy even greater, higher and grander than any Mt.Everest. How is it that all things seem to work that way? Hard things become Easy--er. Challenges bring blessings. Hope grows out of unseemingly rare possibilities.
Thank you for all of your prayers on behalf of us and thank you for all you do that adds to and comprises me of what I am. I'm so glad I get to share little peices of you all everywhere we go! Scatter the sunshine!
Love, love, love!!!
Soeur Hopkins

Bronte LOVES packages! She says thank you to her Mom and Dad!

Revree's face now adorns their fridge along with their wedding announcements haha.

Bronte and her companion realized they were unintentionally a walking American flag on September 11th, it was a reminder to them to reflect on the day.

Bronte's Ami Sonia!

Bronte's words: "The Loire River runs between Centre Ville and North Tours. It was sooo beautiful walking across the bridge!".

Bronte's words, "This is where I draw my weekly inspiration from.
In the 12 week program for the District movies, there's this awesome one liner you hear over a phone conversation. Found it on a t-shirt in HandM. haha".

And these two gems. Bronte didn't include any captions so I'm not really sure the importance of these pictures. 

Until next week. Lots of love,

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Though She be Little, She is Fierce

Yippee another email!

Hey there Family!

We had a very eventful week this week. Starting with a Zone Conference in Angers this past tuesday. We had some great training lessons, activities and farewell testimonies for the missionaries going home. It was so good spending time with the other missionaries in the zone and even meeting one of the Soeurs whose blog I read up on before the mission (weird?! haha).

Friday was a HUGE fete (party) here in the Paris mission as well as in the Lyon mission. We had a combined day of Finding in the two missions. From 9am to 9pm, all the missionaries put their schedules on hold and went out contacting, porting and talking to people all day. The goal was to find 1000 new investigators in the combined missions of Paris and Lyon. It was such a neat day. And I've never walked so much or worked so hard in my life! 

As a part of the day, we offered prayers every half hour throughout the day. So, if you include blessing meals, morning and evening prayers, Soeur Bradley and I collectively offered over 30 prayers in that one, single day! Miracles are real. We met some really wonderful people and heard their stories of faith and of trails...but no new investigators yet.

We knew that we'd been giving it our all and trying harder than we ever had, but we just hadn't been reaching our goals and finding anyone that was real interested. At church on Sunday, we shared one of our miracle stories in 'missionary minute' during Relief Society meeting. Soeur Bradley explained how it'd been a long week full of a lot of persecution leading up to this miracle. And to be honest, I had to agree that it had been a challenge for us.

We had had a teenage girl tell us that we'd 'convinced' ourselves of God's reality and based her reasoning off of 'physcology'-- that it was all in our heads. Another woman had told us that she just couldn't believe in God because then He must've created all things evil. So much doubt, so much confusion and so many opinions. God is not the author of confusion. 

All of these people's accusations were based on skepticism and doubt, instead of sure knowledge. I don't know a whole lot, but I know that Christ is the author and finisher of our faith. If we will exercise faith on Him and His teachings, we can find out for ourselves whether or not they are true. We can obtain a sure foundation of knowledge rooted in truth. That's something earthquake proof.

Elder Holland said so perfectly said in a recent conference address:" Sometimes we act as if an honest declaration of doubt is a higher manifestation of moral courage than is an honest declaration of faith. It is not!"

He then says, "Honestly acknowledge your questions and your concerns, but first and forever fan the flame of your faith, because all things are possible to them that believe."

And so we kept on loving these people. And I counted our exchanges as a blessing for me, personally. Everday, I see God's hand and tender mercies in our work. He seeks to fan the flame of faith in the lives of those we encounter as well as in His missionaries. I honestly believe that's why we are given opportunities to defend and acknowledge our faith before many. And we defend it not with harsh, combatitive words, but with Power, Boldness and LOVE.

There are times, here and there, where I feel like a little girl with a small voice and a very minimal language capacity trying to share my faith, knowledge, and joy. But with God, I am Mighty.

"Though She Be But Little, She is Fierce."--Bill Shakespeare 

Hope on. Love on. And have a wonderful week, Family!


Soeur Hopkins

Bronte at N'importe quoi.

In Bronte's words, "Sorry, at some point, Sister Missionaries get over looking attractive...".

Now they are all super cute! 

After a Zone Conference in Angers, their train got delayed for over 3 hours.

 Bronte was told by Perle and Solange Kehli (two sisters) that a bow in french is called "une barette" and then they proceeded to draw her a mural of barettes and other artistic works to get the message across. So cute!

Bronte's words, "Some of the funniest construction markings I've ever seen. Yes, there's a hole in the ground, y'all? No need to circle it and put a question mark beneath...".

Pictures of Bronte tracting! 

And finally Bronte at IKEA! She was is excited and happy! 

"And this is what became of Elder Smith's pants. He left them in Tours to see if Soeur Bradley could repair them. But, let's face it, they were pretty unrepairable. So Elder Crammer thought he'd have a little bit of fun. He didn't actually throw them into traffic, but I don't know if Elder Smith would know otherwise...?"

Such a great email this week! 
Lots of love,

Saturday, September 6, 2014

"Hey, Wanna See My New Shoes??!!"

Sorry it's so late in the week!

So many miracles and great stories to be told for this week!

This past week has been one full of miracles and firsts! We had our exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders on Wednesday and I made some goals with Soeur Richards to contact, contact and contact. And for the first time, I initiated a contact on the street! We met some amazing people who were very receptive to us and our message. It was so wonderful to find the courage within me to just open my mouth and speak. I know Heavenly Father was blessing us for our desires to serve and so he put some very kind people in our path. 

There was one couple that we walked by on the bridge overlooking the river in Tours. I just jumped right into introducing myself, why I was here in France and then posing the question, "D'apres vous, qu'est-ce que c'est le but de la vie? or What do you think the goal is in life?" The two of them just stopped and the husband walked over to the railing, rested his arm on it and looked at the ground-- just thinking. And after giving it some good thought, he looked up at us and said, "I think it's to be happy." 

Yes, yes, indeed. I completely and totally agreed. No new amis/investigators, but still some wonderful Christ-centered, soul searching discussions. 

This pass Sunday, I translated my first lesson into English!!! It was for an British lady in our ward. It was my first time! We mostly just sat there and listened as I tried to gather the 'jist' of what was going on and then explain it to her. And then she translated the scriptures they used from french to english. OK, so it was a conjoint effort!! But I was so grateful that she was patient enough to let me give it a try. And I was so happy to be able to help her.

Saturday night, we were making a late-night grocery run (by late night, I mean 8pm-- Wooooahh!). And we found out that all the stores were closed!! As we were passing by the local market, we happened to run into this very kind frenchwoman named Stephanie. 

And the first thing she said when she saw our tags was, "Oh! You're Mormon missionaries! I just wanted to wish you the best of luck. What you're doing is so courageous." And it turns out, that she remembered as a little girl having the mormon missionaries in her home to teach her family. (Soeur Bradley and I are convinced that it is always the children that remember us the best!) 

Although they never accepted the gospel, their influence left a lasting affect on her. It was such a beautiful miracle. She talked to us a bit about her life and how she prays and searches the bible for answers to questions in her life. She loves the fact that we don't drink, smoke or drink coffee-- and so she doesn't either. She also loves that the church does so much family history work. Wow, wow, wow. I don't know what else to say! We hope to get in contact with her this week. She is stellar. What a blessing it would be for every missionary to know that even 20 to 30 years after they serve, their influence is still making ripple affects. Even in France!

So the picture of me with all of the food I'm hugging has a wonderful story too! As missionaries, we're allotted only so much money a month. And once you convert that money into euros, the value goes down. Sometimes, we're not very good at remembering this and so we run out before the end of the month! 

Which is ok, all things work out. On Sunday, we had some members bring fresh vegetables to church and on monday, a wonderful family in our ward dropped us off after FHE and then proceeded to pull out three big grocery bags of food for US! Wow. It was amazing. That night after planning, I just poured out my soul in dance in our little living room. (A Dance Education major at her finest.)

D&C 136: 28
If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.

Soeur Bradley and I finally made it back to old Town Tours and it is BEAUTIFUL. I can't believe this is just a tucked away treasure in the back streets of town!

And finally to explain the picture of the Elder holding up a shoe and having his suit jacket wrapped around his waist. This is Elder Smith-- my district leader. And can I say that he is one of the best, funniest and CRAZIEST missionaries I know?! 

The last zone conference we had, everyone was upstairs eating lunch and he was just joking around. And then, all sudden, he got really excited about his new shoes. So he pushed back his chair and lifted his foot up to his head saying, "Look at my NEW shoes!" I didn't even know that was physically possible, let alone in suit pants. Wow.

Then we went downstairs to start our meeting and as Soeur Bradley and I walked in, he stood up, grabbed his foot, pulling it up to chest height and said again, "LOOK AT MY NEW SHOES!!!" And as he said that, we heard this loud rip and his pants split down the middle! 

What followed was a mix of laughter and chaos. Elder Smith sat down right away. But as everyone started filtering in the room and heard the laughter, he couldn't hide it anymore. So he stood up and rotated in a circle so everyone could see what'd happened. "Look at my NEW SHOES! Ehh?" So funny! And then afterwords, he asked us to take a picture. He wasn't even the slightest bit embarassed.

I hope you're all having a great week and that you're seeing all of the miracles and blessings around you! Best of luck with school, work, life! I love you to pieces!

Soeur Hopkins

Sadly no captions this week for pictures but it is still great seeing all of the amazing places she is going and the people she is loving! 

Lots of love,