Saturday, October 25, 2014

"II y a Toujours I'aide pour quelqu'un qui demander..." HP

Dear Family,

This week has been so so super exciting! 

Monday Soeur Hansen and I were running around seeing all of the sights we could in Tours. We stopped by a zoo, a birthday party for a member's daughter and had two lessons with our amis. Part of those lessons included another performance of Ava Maria by our singer/performer ami, Antonia. Yes, yes, yes!...

Tuesday we went into Nantes for exchanges with our Sister Training Leaders and it was the best experience spending the day with them and asking all of the dumb questions I had about how this or that works. Soeur Barton and Soeur Richards are awesome!

Friday we had mission conference with President and Soeur Babin where we had a lesson on teaching and it was paralleled to making the perfect cookie (yes, a food analogy is goood). The Babins gave an unconventional lesson on using the scriptures by having us circle up for a scripture chase! Every team of four is given a ball and if we knew the reference to the scripture being read off, we had to make a basket into the bin in the middle to shout it out. It was so fun watching all of us just turn into kids and get competitive. Missionary work can be so fun...

We've seen so many wonderful miracles in the past couple of days. I can't even begin to say how much divine help has been poured out on behalf of us, the members and the people here in Tours. One of our amis, Arlette, gave us her card the first time we met with her name, number and address on it. I flipped it over and read this quote, "Il y a toujours l'aide pour quelqu'un qui demander." (Ok, so I didn't have it on me but I hope the grammer is good!) And then she had the initials "HP" next to it.
Yes, that stands for Harry Potter. I just laughed when I saw that. But the message was sooo true and applicable! 

There is always help for him who asks.

There is always people around you who are waiting and want to know how to help you learn how to do something and have success. Don't ever hold out on the blessings! 

I love you all. Have a wonderful week. 

Soeur Hopkins
(Pictures of Chateaus to follow next week!)

Birthday Party!

"Hadiza, one of our ward members. She is Awesome! Pretty much one of our best friends" says Bronte! 

Lots of love,

Monday, October 20, 2014

Here Comes the Sun...Little Darling

 Another email from Bronte! Sorry it's a week late!

Dear Family and Friends,
So allow me to start off this week by explaining the kind of Sunday School experience I had yesterday.
It was Soeur Hansen's first week at church and so, while sitting in Sunday School watching her head explode from a french overload, I sat there trying my best to take notes and learn from the lesson Soeur Kehli was sharing. But then, catching me off guard, she asked me to read Isaiah 25:8 for her. Summoning up my best accent, I read off the very uncomprehensible verse in french. And then she asked me to share what I liked from it.
One second, I'm still translating..
And in my mind a certain phrase came off the page so I quickly responded that I really liked the phrase "l'armes des anges." And before I realized what came out of my mouth I figured out that the phrase meant "the tears of the angels." And then she asked me why.... Wow. Face palm. Isaiah in French. (The Elders were totally giggling their heads off from behind me).
This week was a week of firsts for Soeur Hansen! I took her to see the Cathedral in Tours and an organist was playing, she tried her first legitimate french pastry, drank fizzy water, ate french cheese and got an accidental bisous from a man (that happens more often than you realize). It was a beautiful week full of miracles and moments where the language barrier just seemed to dissolve.
We went and visited our ami Sonia. Soeur Bradley and I had visited her two other times and she is such an awesome girl who believes in healing. We shared with her the message of the restoration and gave her a Book of Mormon! Soeur Hansen shared the first vision and we talked about the promise in Moroni 10. She opened up to us about how prayer has deeply affected her in her life. Also music. One phrase she said stood out to me. She said, "La chanson louer Dieu." Song permits God. Sometimes there are things we cannot express with words that only music and song can.
In another one of our RDVs this week, we visited an ami of ours named Isabel. For a living, she runs a little day care in her apartment. Everywhere she has decorations, paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling and the kid's drawings posted on her fridge. She has so many questions about the nature of God and how we live our religion. Without hesitation, we jumped on the internet and took a look at and the "I'm a mormon" videos and she just loved it! As we were getting ready to leave, I mentioned how her apartment felt so full of light and warmth. She smiled and told us that she'd named her daughter "Luche" because it means light. Light.
It's funny sometimes how you can get a little bit lost and somehow end up in the right place. The other night Soeur Hansen and I got on one of our regular bus routes and I just started thinking and writing down notes in my pocket journal. Before realizing it, I'd lost track of time and we ended up in a neighborhood next to an ami and a member we knew. So, we took it as providence and visited our ami and the member, Hadiza, who'd just gotten out of the hospital.
It was so good. So so good to see her. She was so grateful for us coming by and seeing how she was doing. Soeur Hansen and I sang to her "How Great Thou Art" and her face just lit up. I didn't even realize it at the moment, but I had no problems speaking or understanding her. What a blessing!
This past week might've been one of the most difficult one's I've had yet. Soeur Hansen and I have been traversing through new experiences together and helping each other out. I'm not sure who's training who!! Thank you for your prayers-- they help so much more than you even realize. Every. Single. One. They give us so much power and heaven sent help.
This week, I took a look at Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk, "The Hope of God's Light." And it was just what I needed to read. He talks about making the decision to face our fears and to look to God for light and hope.
"The very moment you begin to seek your Heavenly Father, in that moment, the hope of His light will begin to AWAKEN, ENLIVEN and ENNOBLE your soul. The darkness may not dissipate all at once, but as surely as night always gives way to dawn, the light will come."
"He knows that you will stumble-- perhaps many times. This saddens Him, but He loves you. He does not wish to break your spirit. On the contrary, He desires that you RISE UP and become the person you were designed to be."
I love you all. The hope and sunlight of God's love can and will shine on each one of you as you allow yourself to receive it and BASK in it.
Grosses Bisous!
Soeur Hopkins

The Cathedral in Tours and a cute street they passed by!

Sonia making an African dish of chicken and peanut butter Bronte didn't stay long enough to try it, but she says it smelt fantastic. The Light reflecting off of the stained glass windows.

Smile! It's raining season!

Well it looks like Bronte is still having an awesome time! 
Lots of love,


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Embrace the Fall

Email are just so fantastic!!

Dear Family,

So this week has been wonderfully crazy and I don't even know where to begin. Monday and Tuesday, Soeur Bradley and I were running around visiting amis and running last minute errands. And then Wednesday morning we headed into Paris to exchange companions. 

There was a brief training meeting for the new trainers and then all of the new missionaries walked in. I prayed to God for love for whom ever it would be that I was to train. As soon as president announced Tours, I stood up and let out a cheer (I couldn't help myself!). And then he announced that I would be training Soeur Hansen! I let out an even louder cheer of excitement. She is a super sweet girl from Portland, Oregon and went to BYU the past year. Funny how you have to go all the way to France to meet people who lived right around the corner from you??

On our first night out visiting a neighborhood, we went 'coeur a coeur'ing (president has renamed door to door as heart to heart), and we got invited into a family's home. They were so kind to us and I could just feel and soak in their love. We talked to them for a bit about what we do and then Soeur Hansen offered her first prayer. Before we left, the mom went and grabbed a package of chocolate wafers and handed them to us. I thanked her so much for her generosity. Her reply was, "If my son or daughter were out far away from home, I would wish that someone would do the same for him."

Yes. Absolutely. It's so beautiful to see the love of God working through others to touch our lives. BEAUTIFUL.

This week has been quite adventurous. And I have to admit there are moments when I wonder what on Earth am I doing and how is this all going to work out. I already almost got us lost in the metro in Paris, got off at the wrong bus stop on the way home, had to walk all the way back, and since then having been making so many more mistakes!

This week, I stumbled across a BYU Devo by Tyler J. Jarvis "That's How the Light Gets In." He talks about FEAR. Fear of failure, fear of criticism, fear of not measuring up to the standards we are held to. And I'd have to say, that I have definately experiencing some of these feelings of apprehension, doubt, worry. The 'monsters in the closet' kind of feeling.

 He talked about accepting these Fears, but not not being paralyzed by them. He talks about teaching swim lessons (yes, I totally relate to this) and learning how to float. We cannot become afraid and pull our head up out of the water or we will begin to sink.

 And then he talked about when his kids were learning how to skate. They would fall over and over and over again until they began to improve and eventually become more natural. 
"By overcoming their fear of falling, by embracing the fall, they were able to learn to avoid it and were able to try new things without fear." 

And as much as I would like to say that I never feel like I am unsure, worried, or feeling overwhelmed, that would not be the truth. But I think that God would have me face these fears and maybe even embrace them. I am trusting He'll be there for me in these next couple of weeks. And I have an awesome companion!  Meanwhile, here's a brave first step into the new, unknown and unfamiliar. One brave step of faith. 

I love you all so much! Know that God is there and he loves you more than you can even comprehend! 

All my love!

Soeur Hopkins

In Bronte's words "So the night before we went into Paris, Soeur Bradley and I were walking home. Her and I had seen a hedge hog at the beginning of the last transfer, but not since then. She was saying, jokingly, that the only other thing she wanted before she left was to see a hedge hog. And then, right before us on the lawn, we saw TWO hedge hogs! Heavenly Father has a great sense of humor."

A three generation picture: Bronte's "Mission Mom" Sister Bradley, Bronte, and her "Mission Daughter" Sister Hansen. Super cute! 

Bronte's companion Sister Bradley is finishing her mission training and so this is Bronte with her "Mission Sister" Sister Brezil.

On the way back from Paris on a train, it seemed like the heavens were opening for them!

Sorry the picture is a little dark but they went porting for Soeur Hansen's first time and a really sweet family let them in and gave them a whole box of wafers!

Outside Chateau de La Branchoire. Bronte says, "I'm still working on my selfie taking skills ;)".

Another fantastic week for Bronte. Keep praying for her!!
Lots of love,

Sunday, October 5, 2014

God Moves in Mysterious Ways...

I love love love emails!! 

Dear Family,
Soooo, joke's are on me for week 6 of the last transfer! I was just starting to get comfortable with missionary life and being with my companion. We had a wonderful district meeting and were able to visit with a lot of our investigators. Then, I get a call from the Assistants who are so super excited to call me and ask me about a decision that the Mission President and them have prayed about. Hmmmm.
I am asked to stay in Tours and TRAIN a brand new missionary who's going to be coming straight off of the plane, fresh from the MTC this coming week.
Voila, I am now officially training in my 3rd transfer.
I didn't even think that was Possible!
Miracles to come...
And Soeur Bradley's going back into Paris where she'll be finishing the last transfer of her mission. I'm so sad to see her go! By now, I've picked up on all of her mannerisms that I'm sure I will pass them onto my bleu...
Highlights for the Week:
Going to Member's Homes for Mangez-vous (it's like a Rendez-vous, but you also mangez or 'eat')
Helping a Less Active Member Move (I nearly died from inhaling too much dust!)
Getting African Dresses "Booboos" from her
Finding Rootbeer in a store here for the First time
Having a less active member come to church for the first time since I've been here
Yes. So many more things than I can list. It's funny how everything is beginning to culminate this week into the next transfer. The oddest thing is that I've been here in Tours, in one place, long enough to see the seasons change, companions come and go and to feel like I've already begun to cover some ground on this journey and adventure we call a 'mission.'
The members here are all so wonderful and I feel like they are a great big family. They've been so encouraging and helpful to us the entire time we've been here. So I have less reason to worry with the new missionary coming in. As in times that have past, all will be well. The worst thing that could happen is that I miss all of the bus times and we end up having to walk everywhere. Or that we end up smiling our way through rendez-vous.
Either way there are lots of wonderful miracles to come. I've no idea what lies in store for the next couples of months. I only know that it will be an adventure and I know that there are so many angels in the form of members, friends, family, and complete strangers that'll be there beside us the whole way.
Thanks so much for your angelic influence! More news to come next week.
With Love,
Soeur Hopkins

So, Bronte touched the Loire River this last week! Soeur Bradley had requested that they take advantage of one of their last opportunities.

They visited their Japanese friend, Bich! (like the pen brand)
And they found Root Beer there in France! Soeur Bradley has never been able to find it in any store there! There are just some things that can't be replaced!!

A highly glorified morning view from their bus stop. REally, it's crazy gorgeous!!

Bronte and her companion went and saw an art exhibit inside the Chateau in Tours.

One last district picture! Everyone is holding their transfer numbers up and Bronte ruined their mugshot! She just couldn't help it! 

Until next week!
Lots of love,