Sunday, November 30, 2014

Early Christmas?!

Let's see what the cutest red head we know is up to!!

Hellooooo!! Howdy and Bonjour!

So, this week we had an amazing, once-in-a-mission-life-time experience to go into Paris for a conference to hear one of the apostles, Elder Cook, speak to us. We had all 280 missionaries there and it was incredible! We filled up an entire stake center. 

Elder Cook made a point of having everyone of us come up and shake his and his wife's hands. It was so incredible to have him, Elder and Sister Teixera (area president) and President and Soeur Babin there! I love the Babins so much. The meeting was in the first one I've had in English for a while and I was so touched to hear Soeur Babin speak to us in a language that is not her native tongue. I can't even begin to explain all that happened and was said in that meeting, but one of the things I absolutely loved that Elder Cook said was to, "Push your doubts into a corner for a while and one by one they will be delt with." He left us with a blessing that we would come to know just how "sentinal" our work is here. He said, "You are where you need to be. You will come to understand. All those that you love and will ever love are being blessed by your service." It was absolutely beautiful.

And, on our way back to our Gare, Soeur Hansen and I had the chance to see the Tour Eiffel! It was her three month mark that day and almost my six month mark. I still can't believe just how beautiful it is for Heavenly Father to have, figuratively, taken me by the hand and led me to this beautiful place of the world where I get to learn to love these people, serve these people and see some of the most breath-takingly gorgeous things that they've made. "A Whole New World" as Aladin would say. As I stood under the base, I looked up and it seemed as if I was standing at the center of the world. Thank you God. Thank you. 

We're so excited for this coming year's churchwide Christmas initiation! If you haven't heard about it yet, there's a website and a 30 second video that will be all over YouTube the 7th of December. "He is The Gift" is the title. (A preview is available November 25th at Check. It. Out!) I challenge you to share it with your friends and family on facebook, twitter email or whatever it is that you use! It will be awesome. And that means.....CHRISTMAS CAROLLING!!! I never thought I'd be so blessed to go christmas carolling for an entire month. Yes! I'm sooo excited to go house to house singing and sharing the wonderful message of the Savior this Christmas season. We are so, so blessed.

Last story for the week. We met this really neat lady named Patricia who's from Gabon. (Africa, if that's easier to find first). And we shared a Book of Mormon with her the first time we met with her. We invited her to read and when we came back, she DID! But not, like, just the intro. We asked her to tell us what she read and she started off with, "There was the prophet named Lehi who was commanded to leave Jerusalem...And his sons, Laman and, What's his name? (My reply, "Lemuel."), Yes, they began to complain about leaving..." About a minute later of her reccounting the exact storyline, my mouth was gaping wide open like a cod-fish (or whatever kind of fish that does that) and I asked her, "How Many Chapters did you READ??" She had just started and kept going! It was sooo cool to see her reading and to talk with her more about what she learned. She has such a beautiful story of healing and faith from an accident she'd been in several years ago. She knows that God loves her and that she is a walking miracle. 

Enjoy your Thanksgiving this week! There's so much to be grateful for--family, life, the opportunities we have to serve each other, and the blessing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! 

Meanwhile, we're already listening to Christmas :) Remember: "He is the Gift!"

Much love,
Soeur Hopkins

Bronte and her companions at the Tour Eiffel and on one of their adventures to pass-by a member who lives totally and completely out in the countryside!
Look what they found on the way home from church? A wagon parked out from of someone's home! Sleighride?

Bronte at the conference. Best picture she could get! There were so many people there!
And here's a picture with one of her most favorite people in the world--Soeur Taylor who's from England.

Well that's it for this week!
Lots of love,

You Have Sinned!!

Emails are the greatest!!!

Hey Familia,

So imagine one of the most awkward door contacts that's ever been made in the history of missionary work--because I just lived it. Soeur Hansen and I went out on Monday night to go "coeur a coeur"-ing in a close by apartment complex. We made it to the top floor and started making our way down to the next floor. The first person we talked to was this older french lady. As soon as we began talking to her and asked her if we could pray with her, she straight up just closed the door on us. Soo, we went to the next apartment. Nothing. Except a small dog yapping from behind the door. And then we knocked on the last door on the floor and a sweet elderly woman named Blanche opened the door.

She was absolutely the sweetest lady. And while I'm not sure how well she understood us, but she saw our smiles and placks and was soo happy to talk with us. She told us to hang on a moment while she went to go get something. Meanwhile, older lady #1 is looking out of the peep hole in her door at us and we can hear her. After 2 to 3 minutes of waiting for Blanche to get back, we hear her door lock turn and she opens the door to ask us if we "have her neighbor." Yes...I think she's alright. And then the neighbor closes her door again.

Blanche comes back and tells us to come in just as neighbor #2 comes back-- a young family who's dog may or may not still be barking. They wave hi to her as we're standing in their hallway-- total strangers. Then we go in to talk with her while her door is open. Blanche tries to offer us 20 euros to help us in our efforts to serve. We tell her we can't take it. Meanwhile, door's still open and neighbors can hear us as this lady insists that we take her money. I tell her again, "On peux pas prendre votre monnaie." And then she insistantly looks us straight in the eyes and said,

"Vous avez peché!" Yes, I just had this lady tell me that I've sinned by not taking her money. 

Soon, she began to understand. We really couldn't take her money. But she prayed with us and she suggested we visit her neighbor, older lady #1 on the way out. And she watched as we retried neighbor #2 who's dog began barking when we knocked. After that, we decided that we'd best leave that floor alone for the evening. But I'm still grinning from ear to ear about how hilariously comical it all was...

This week was week one of the transfer and Soeur Hansen and I spent much of the week going out and passing by old amis. We ended up in the countryside one day and I couldn't resist snatching some pictures because it was sooo beautiful. One benefit at this time of year, with the cold and all is being able to walk down the neighborhoods and smell the fires burning in everyone's chimney--there's nothing like the smell of campfire!

When Soeur Huckstep came to Tours for the Halloween Finding Day, she gave us a call the day before to asked about an ami she had while she was here. Her name is Bertine. We looked her up and let her know her address. She had the chance to drop by her apartment the day she and talked to her. She told us, "You should stop by her sometime in the next couple of weeks!"

So went planned on passing-by, but somehow it just was not working out. One day we were in the right neighborhood, wrong street. The other day, we were in the opposite side of town and had mixed up the bus stop name. It was totally beside us why, for the life of us, we couldn't seem to find her. And then Saturday Afternoon we found her complex, knocked on the door and her husband said she'd be back that night.

So, I prepared myself mentally that night to go back out into the cold and try her one last time. When we got her apartment, we knocked on the door and her daughter (in her mid-20's) answered. They invited us in and as soon as we were invited in, Bertine looked at us and asked, "Did you come to pray with us?" I said, "Yes, we did." To that reply, she told us that it was just the night before that her mother had passed away. She'd gotten our phone call, but hadn't responded yet because she'd just found out about her mother.

So we sat down in her living room in a circle and offered a prayer for peace, comfort and strength. We asked the spirit to be there in their home. And the spirit came. It really did. Then we shared a scripture from Mosiah 15:18 about Christ being the founder of peace and talked about how we can have peace knowing that we can be reunited with our families again and live with them forever.

When we told them about the circumstances it took to get us there, they were so so grateful for our efforts. As we left, Bertine and her daughter gave us each a hug and thanked us for being there. It's so wonderfully when you watched Heavenly Father place people in your path and orchestrate His grand work. Que Dieu vous benit.

Have a wonderful week and if any of you "have sinned!" I'd highly recommend repenting and not taking money from sweet grandmothers. :) I love you all!

Soeur Hopkins

So happy that Bronte is doing good!
Lots of love,

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pile of Rocks

Our favorite missionary cut her hair!!!

So the news for the week is.....

I'm staying in Tours!!!! And I totally pulled a Mulan this past week and cut my hair-- suprise mom! And then Soeur Hansen walked into the room the other day smiling at me and said, "I gave in and finally cut my hair too." Trend setters. I don't recommend doing it all the time though because sometimes your hair ends up looking miss-shapen.

This Wednesday, Soeur Hansen and I went into Paris for her legality and then had exchanges with our STLs Thursday and Friday here in Tours. And on top of that, the Fitts missionary couple came the morning on Friday for a cleaning check. I'm not quite sure how we managed to schedule that all as closely as we did.

I must admit that after being in this area for 4 1/2 months, I'm really coming to love our branch so much. They all have names, stories, faces, and a lot of personality. I count myself among the blessed to have spent as much time as I have with them already. 

On Tuesday night, we had FHE at the church and it ended up being us, the Elders, Soeur Taylor, her grandson and another ward member. And the other member was the only native french speaker there, but we gave the spiritual thought in french while the elders translated. It's kind of funny hearing yourself be translated to someone else.

We shared our message from Ether 2 and 3 about the Brother of Jared making their way to the promised land. As they are making their way through the wildnerness, the Lord leads them along the whole way. Then they get to the ocean and are wondering, "Ok, what next? Any brilliant ideas?"

And so God instructs them on how to build barges.Problem. They don't know how to get there. Then he tells them that he will direct their barges in the right direction. Problem. No air. Then he tells them to cut a hole for air in the top. Problem. No light. And, interestingly enough, Heavenly Father turns around the question to the brother of Jared and asks in Ether 2:23, "What will ye that I should do?" 

We talked about how, sometimes, there are those moments when we just don't know the next step and want Heavenly Father to reveal it to us. What do I do for work? Where should I go to school? Where should we move? Where should we go to teach people? What's next?

Yeah, at this point in the lesson, we were still working on translating what was going on and listening to everyone share their personal experiences.

"What will ye that I should do?"

And so the Brother of Jared decides to go into a mountain, mold some rocks and give them to the Lord to touch them so that they light. And I love how the Lord just accepts his idea and helps the Brother of Jared to fulfill it. 

So, I reached into my bag and placed on the table a huge pile of rocks I'd collected from earlier in the day. (I don't usually do things like that, but we needed a little bit more of an object lesson to get the point across). Like many of my efforts, they are somewhat comparable to a pile of rocks. Heavenly Father looks at my desires to serve, to lift and do His work of sharing His blessed gospel and he accepts them. He accepts every offering and makes something more of it. Of that, I am confident!

Another day this week, we were visiting a less active member in our ward who's from Tahiti!! She was teaching us some tahitian dancing and pulled up a couple of videos online. Knowing that I'm a dancer, she said to me, "I wish I could see YOU dance." And I thought to myself, "Yeah, me too." And then I thought that maybe I'd give it a slim chance and try finding her a video or something of BYU dancEnsemble. 

First search. "Byu dance ensemble" and there it was. The only video posted on youtube under the search was of me in Mikayla's dance this past year. What??? I didn't even have an actual copy of the dance for myself and there it was. So, of course we watched it!

And I might've cried a little. Inside and in my eyes too. It was so beautiful to see that and share that personal, unique side of me with our sweet friend. And it was a beautiful reminder to me how much God loves us. You can try looking it up if you like too, but may I remind you that it's never easy watching yourself perform so BE NICE!!

Here's some pictures of what the week looked like. I hope you all know that I love you and as Clarence, the angel, would say in the classic Frank Capra film, "It Really is a Wonderful Life." 

Avec Tout Mon Coeur,

Soeur Bronte Hopkins

Sacre Coeur in Paris and the view from the top! While their bleus were doing legality, they went out and saw the Arc de Triomphe as well as Sacre Couer. Breathtakingly beautiful!

Service at Rachel and David's (their California raised member). They ended up helping out with a couple other small projects too! They are the cutest family!

It's kind of really, really cold sometimes and so they do their studies wrapped up in their comforters. 

Mother/Daughter photo! So precious!! 

Lots of love,


Emails are the best!

Hey y'all. How's it going?

If I could summize this week into one experience, I'd have to center it around around Halloween Finding Day in Tours. President knew that we were in need of a little bit of help, so he gave us the go to bring the entire zone in for the day. Just imagine 10 sets of missionaries walking around for the day-- it was awesome to have all of that power here for the day. I also had the chance to go on exchanges with two other Soeurs in the zone. Their love, support and encouragement was Life-Saving! I can't express enough love for Soeur Lusty who forced me to sing outloud with her as we walked through the streets talking to people. 

This week I admit to feeding Soeur Hansen flour cakes. Yes, I am the best trainer in the world, right? It's what the pilgrim's did! We have been laughing off and embracing some of the experiences that have just been occuring time and time again. This week, we had a member come with us to teach at an ami's house. This ami is very artistic and has portraits hanging all over her house-- even of her 'au natural.' She was so excited to show the member all around her house and I was somewhat hesitant of walking into that room. But as soon as I walked in, our ami smiled at Soeur Hansen and I because in place of the portrait she normally had hanging up was a lovely painting of a desert camel. 

Miracles happen. 

Also, miracles happen when you are just going about looking to do good. Soeur Hansen and I took a day this week to explore a bus line that we hadn't yet taken.  We rode it all the way to the end and then got off to look around for a minute. Imagine the cute little french houses in the countryside that you see in Disney's Ratatouille. Except, no one is ever home or outside. So, we were getting ready to find the next bus time when a large white gate caught my attention. I thought, "I REALLY want to go ring their gate bell." So, I did. 

And much to my suprise, a young french girl in her 20's came to the gate and we started talking. As soon as we told her we were from american and we wanted to talk to pray with her, she broke into english and said, "Sure! Why not?" Coolest experience in my life. Her name is Julie. She is studying engineering and climate change. She went to Australia for 4 months and learned English (I've been in France for how long and am still not as fluent as she is in another language??) She is passionate about acting and making a difference in the environment. So cool.

The other experience Soeur Hansen and I had this week where we were just going about doing our best was on Saturday. We'd just come from a lesson that we'd had to reschedule. So were walking around figuring out what we could do for the time we had before lunch. We decided to just start talking to whoever we passed by. But seeing that we were in a Muslim neighborhood, I kind of figured we might not have anything "too crazy" happen. But who knows until you try?

Right then, there was a young girl in her 20's that was walking towards us wearing her earbuds. I started to talk to her and she took out her earbuds. As soon as she heard that we were american she said, "You can speak English if you want to." Haha. Ok!!

We introduced ourselves to her and then, for reasons I'm still not sure, I asked her, "What do you like to do? What's your passion?" Turns out that she's a dancer too. She french, but loves english and spent 6 months in India. (Once again, how do people pick up a second language that easily?...) After a moment, she just looked us, smiled and said, "You know, right now I feel a little bit lost." I've never felt like I could connect with someone so instantaneously. We shared EVERYTHING with her about our identity as children of God, the plan he has for us. As soon as we started talking to her about the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives, she looked at us and said, "I want this." 

No words can express my utter happiness sharing my testimony with her.

We prayed with her right there on the street. We prayed for her and asked that she be blessed with God's love, light and direction in her life. Her eyes welded up with tears. As we were exchanging phone numbers and contact info, she told us, "You don't have to say anything it's all in your eyes." Nafissa lives in Reignes and so we are anxious to hear from the Soeurs who will be contacting her this week. 

Even if I was only here for 18 months just so I could run into Nafissa, I think it would all have been worth it.

I found this awesome, fantastic quote this morning. (Ok, so Soeur Hansen found it and I stole it.) The imagery is what stays in my mind.

"Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey towards it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us.'...Hope sweetens the memory of experiences well loved. It tempers our troubles to our growth and our strength. It befriends us in dark hours, excites us in bright ones. It lends promise to the future and purpose to the past. It turns discouragement to determination." 

This past week, the song, "This little light of mine" has been playing over and over in my mind. "This little light of mine, I'm gonna LET IT SHINE." A little light makes a lot of difference in a dark room. So too do each of us in a world of craziness around us. Let your light "shine, shine, shine, Let it shine!!!"

I love you all! Have a fantastic week.

Soeur Hopkins

Bronte's words: "FHE sports night. We took the opportunity to get our sport on and wear pants. Later that night, as I we were taking timed pictures, Soeur Hansen asked me what we should do. I told her, "JUMP!" And somehow we caught this perfect mid-air photo. Nevermind our faces. haha"

Bronte with one of herr amis, Phillipe and her daughter, Yakina. And her daughter is holding a Plan of Salvation pamphlet! Pretty perfect! 

Lots of love,

Sunday, November 2, 2014


Happy Halloween week and we got a treat...AN EMAIL

Hey Family,
I hope you are all doing very very well. Thanks for the emails and love. And thanks Melissa for the sweeet package. I love, love, loved it. (I'd like to make a special shoutout! ;)

"Transpiration"-- the very words that came out of my mouth last night as Soeur Hansen and I were summing up the week to our District Leader. I was trying to say that we'd felt very inspired this week while we've been on public tranportation. Voila. Transportation + Inspiration = Transpiration.
This week Soeur Hansen and I adventured out to Azay-le-Rideau and saw the castle there! How cool was it to visit the very castle I'd done a research project for in the 10th grade?! I don't think I could've seen that one coming! It was absolutely beautiful and just the cutest chateau tucked away in a ville about an hour from Tours. We had some fun taking pictures and getting a pastry there. 

We had some wonderful experiences this week visiting our amis, teaching and lifting them. Antonia came to church again this week and had such a great time with the members. She speaks seven languages, or should I say, it's more like a mix of seven languages. She has a heavy italien accent that mixes into her french and english. But luckily Soeur Hansen has got the "gift of tongues" and we can always manage to figure out what she's telling us. Haha.

While we were out, we ran into a woman that we'd talked to last week and exchanged numbers with. Her name is Promise and she's from the Congo. She is absolutely the nicest woman and she has five daughters and one son! We got onto the bus the other day and started walking to the back of the bus when we saw each other. She just grinned and yelled out a "HEllo!!" Yes, she's also an english speaker. We're going to go visit her later this week!

On Wednesday, we went to go visit a recent convert member named Anne-Marie. Soeur Hansen and I had heard that her mother had just passed away the week before and we wanted to check up on her. After we'd helped her carry her groceries upstairs and sat down in the living room, we asked if maybe we could sing a hymn with her. We started into "How Great Thou Art" and the second verse into it, Anne-Marie just let her tears flow. But she insisted that we keep going. So we all just sat together singing. And after that we sang some more.

I think I'd forgotten just what it meant to minister to others. I'd been so focused on just working hard, keeping to a tight schedule and teaching inspired lessons, that I'd forgotten the importance of just simply being there for a friend. "Mourn with those that mourn, comfort those that stand in need of comfort..." Mosiah 18. We are all called to minister to those around us, to love them and lift them up. As we sat there sharing scriptures of comfort with each other, singing and crying together, I realized that I never want to let the routine of the work keep me from remembering the spirit of it. Each person is a beloved Child of God that needs to be loved and appreciated and recognized for who they are. In Heavenly Father's eyes, it's not the checklist of things we've done, but the individuals we have touched that matters more.

I really love this mormon message that talks about the meaning of what we do. Check it out!

I love you all. I hope you are having a wonderful week. They are always angels round about you!


Soeur Hopkins

This is the castle at Azay-le-Rideau that Bronte did a project on when she was in 10th grade!

A Plandid Candid, a Hansen tradition! 

Bronte with my package!!! 

So, they splurged and got the infamous Kebabs there. It's an algerian food.

Lots of love,