Sunday, February 15, 2015

She Came!!

Another email what a treat!!!

Dear Friends and Family,

Ok, so I realize that this is a pretty ambigious heading to start off my email with. So what on earth could I be referring to by simply saying, "She came!" ? 

I find it somewhat ironic that after talking about the difficulties of getting people coming to church (my analogy of performing a show at the circus), we finally got one of our amis, Stephanie, to come to church! And not only that, but we got her to come with her 3 kids. A little bit of fellowshipping by members, encouragement, a car with two carseats and some faith later...and she came to church and loved it! (Pictures to come next week).

I couldn't help but just sit there at church beaming with happiness and joy for her. The entire ward just swooped in and received her with love, warmth and welcome. It really is wonderful to tell people about the blessings of the gospel and the church in their lives, but until they experience it for themselves, there really isn't any other way to explain it. 

Many a wonder experiences this week, going out to teach someone specific, the rdv falling through and then something impromptu follows. We ended finding some really cool new people to teach!

On one particular day, we'd set up a rdv with someone and it ended up not working out. So while we were out there in their neighborhood, we decided to talk to some of her neighbors...lots of real gems. One man promptly swings open his door and, with no hesitations, says, "Please come in!" All I'm thinking is, "We haven't even introduced ourselves yet?" haha He was still very nice though. Another lady, after her cat ran out, told me "not to touch it" to which she commanded it back into the appartment. A sweet young mom poked her head out the door and told us to come back. And then at the bottom stairs, we came across a man named Allen and his 90 year-old mother, Lucy who invited us in. As soon as he saw our tags, he said, "Oh, mormons." We ended up teaching them the entire first lesson about the restoration of the church. Lucy told us all about her experiences growing up going to catholic school and living during the aftermath of world war II. It felt so great being able to spend a moment with them and bear testimony. They even gave us something to eat!

Keep on Keeping on! Embrace the Week and really take advantage of every opportunity to love, lift and strengthen!

With Love,

Soeur Hopkins

P.s. I had to get a library card and the librarian tried to spell my first name. Nice was never easy explaining it to anyone. haha

Birthday in France

Happy Birthday lovely!!!

Dear Family and Friends, 

Voilà! It's been such a good, action packed week here. I had a great birthday that included cake, crepe cake, mexican food (foreign aisle), a game of ping pong and teaching an awesome lesson at the Soeur Stevine's home with her friend Kelly. Kelly is so wonderful. A mom of two beautiful little girls and is facing some real "Goliaths" in her life right now. We gave her a book of mormon with our testimonies included and our favorite scriptures highlighted. It makes me smile seeing that she's totally holding it up in our picture! No better way to spend a birthday!

Friday, we went to the chapel at St.Merri where we had a Soeur conference for all of the sister missionaries which was awesome and I got to see a lot of the other lovely soeurs that I've served with! No nails and hair being done this year around...haha. I'm sure Soeur Babin posted videos or pictures on FaceBook. 

They other day, Soeur Walker and I were walking to church when we crossed passed with a member. At first he asked if we were the sisters and I very cautiously asked, " Are you a member?" When he said "yes," the guards went down and we started talking to him. For about 10 minutes, he was telling us about his conversion story. He said that it was him who searched out the missionaries because he saw something "different." He was aetheist all his life, but somehow something inside of him just woke up when he began learning about the gospel. He told us about the opportunity he had to hear the Apostle, Elder Bednar speak and how he received the answer to a question he'd had on his mind. It was the spirit who was teaching and inspiring the meeting. I loved listening to him the whole way to the church!

When he was talking about the difference he saw, it reminded me of the lyrics to a song by Francesca Bastilli called, "Unusual." It's about living with faith and living joyfully!

"I call you Brave, Unique and Set Apart; A Masterpiece, a Work of Art; Living out What You Believe; Being Who You're Made to Be; I love to see the way that you are so unusual- I think You're Beautiful!"

What more can I say? I love you. Have a wonderful week and stay warm!

Soeur Hopkins

 Our investigator Axcelle! She is going to school and studying law and business. She is the sweetest girl from Cote D'Ivore!

Soeur Tro! With her son Nolan. We had so much fun watching him show us his judo moves haha

Elder Ireland taught our last district meeting because he's going home this week-to Canada
Our district. Timed photos are never easy..

We found this awesome ping pong table in a park that we passed by so decided to play a quick game with sticks and a bottle cap...pure fun

At Soeur Stevine's home with her friend Kelly who we got to teach! Another timed photo..
And I got to see Soeur Hansen at Soeur Conference in Paris!
Needless to say, it's been a sweet week!

And the crepe cake the Elder's made and shoved into our mailbox

Lots of love,


Sunday, February 1, 2015

A Fantastic End of an 8 Week Transfer

Emails are some of my favorite things!

Dear Family and Friends,

Life is good--oh so good. And it only gets better and sweeter every day. We are coming to an end of an 8 week transfer that has been one of the best yet.
I have been learning so much about how to do and NOT to do missionary work. How to really Help others. But so as to not make this a journal entry or a pep talk, I will only talk about amis.
We just started teaching this young Haitian girl named Stephanie. She has 3 small kids. Apparently Soeur Walker and Tippett had first met her and had been trying to get into contact with her for weeks. But one day, we were passing by with one of the members, and she told us to come back in 10 minutes. SHE LET US IN!! And since then, we've been seeing her 2 to 3 times a week. It. is. awesome. We had the mission president's wife call us up to come and study with us one morning in the past week. And she taught us sooo much about teaching really well. Our lessons with Stephanie have been going soooo well and she is really loving to learn. It is sweet--so sweet.
Beatrice is a friend of the Lukojis, our ward mission leader and his wife. Their kids go to the same school and one day while Sr. Lukoji was talking to her about a difficult situtation she was dealing with, she shared a scripture with her from the Book of Mormon. Beatrice became curious. She asked for a Book of Mormon and three other copies to give to her friends. WHAT? :) Since then she's been coming to church and practically monopolizing the gospel principles class haha. She's wonderful. And she has a gift for loving people. Whenever we see her, she just makes me feel like the BEST person in the world!
And then there's ward members like Soeur Stevine that make you want to get up everymorning and go share the gospel with everyone in the world, their cat and next door neighbor. She goes out with us teaching, calls amis for us, shares the gospel with her friends, invites everyone to church and activities and is all-around one of the most loving and understanding and bold people I know. And she's hilarious! If only she knew just how awesome she is. These kind of people make it all so much more worth.
Meanwhile, the biggest challenge of all is getting our amis to come to church! And I'm sure all of you returned missionaries know exactly what I'm talking about...I feel like I have to coordinate some fantastic circus feat trying to find people rides, help them wake up or even sometimes show up at their front door step the morning of. Help out a sista-friend, set an alarm and go to bed ontime! I could read you all the scriptures I can find, but, really, the only way to get the blessings of church and keeping the sabbath holy is to do it! Monday is our real day of rest as missionaries, actually ;)
Mais voilà, there is a bird's eye view of things from here in Evry.
Fun Fact: Elizabeth Smart served her mission here back in 2010. Her name's all over the area book and a member showed me a picture of her. Pretty cool, huh?
Bonne semaine à tous! Stay warm. ;)
Soeur Hopkins

"It snowed! And that does't usually ever happen in Paris!
The missionaries of Evry: moi, Soeur Walker, Elder Ireland, Elder Jacobsen, Elder Carson and Elder Empy. Like our classic 90's boyband stances?"

The gospel is true and Jesus is the Christ :)

Much love,