Monday, June 22, 2015

For the First Time in Forever!!

Dear Family and Friends,

So, today was the first time I've seen the beach in over a year and it was just HEAVENLY!

We went with a group of YSA's in our branch and it was a Blast!

The other day was Fathers Day and also the Fete De La Musique, a music festival in town that we passed by. We only really figured out what was going on when a lady we were going to contact came up to us to ask us questions because she thought our placks meant we worked there! "Non, but are you religous by any chance?" haha

Francoise had us try some sea critters-- I'm not actually certain what it was that we were eating, but it definitely tasted like le mer!

And Soeur Bouaka. There are simply no words to describe her except in this photo. We absolutely had an incredible time visiting her and she loves making us all laugh super hard.

But I think the best part of the week was the incredible activity we put about the Plan of Salvation! We started in the Pre-mortal life explaining the rules of the games, gave them their assignment and sent them to the mortal world to play Lou-Garou (mafia) until they died and went to the spirit world where they played games and filled out things like math sheets and Bible/Book of Mormon quizzes. And they were ALL soooo serious about it and getting the right answers. But the end was the best part when we had them turn in their assignments and pass the judgement desk into the Sacrament Meeting Room. There was an incredible twist to it all!

Passing into Mortality and then with Everyone crowding the front lobby filling out their math sheets. No joke, some people spent more than half an hour working on it. They were SO competitive!

It culminated in the sacrament meeting room when we were getting ready to announce the winner and who would be going on to the Celestial Kingdom to live with God again. I set up a chart and started listing the final results out carefully to show everyone that we were counting. And then Soeur Rasband and I went into role play as we pulled out the red envelope to reveal who'd one. Everyone wanted to know! And then as I got ready to show it to them and looked at it and paused for a second. Then I looked at Soeur Rasband to show her what I saw. And then we turned it for everyone to see what it read-- "Personne." or "No one."
That is where it became a real eye opening experience for us all. Everyone had earned several thousand points, but no one had earned enough to go on. It was an unreachable amount of points. They'd all lost. 
But there was an Option B. Pulling out a picture of Christ and placing it in on the table, we colored in the entire chart to show that Christ has already payed the price for us. We spoke about our need for a Savior, using His Atonement and relying on His Grace. The Spirit was so powerful as we testified about the role of Christ. Heavenly Father already knew that we wouldn't be able to return to Him ourselves and so He provided a Savior.
Words can't fully explain just how deep the message sunk as we lived the experience we did that night. It was so fun, joyfully and powerful at the same time. The Gospel is joyful and so meaningful.

It was a lot of work that evening, so we took a victory selfie afterwords to complete the fact that we'd been speaking in french for 2 and a half hours straight. Oh lala. That was a real "board meeting at mondos" sorts!

Lots of love,


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Vannes-tastic! Ok, so now I'm really trying to get more creative...

Dear Family,

My first week here in Vannes and I am loving it! We're way up the port inland in Vannes and its soooo different compared to Paris. It's absolutely gorgeous and it is definately more of a touristy area. And with summer coming on soon, there will be more and more people. We do have a car but we share it and the miles between us and the elders-- so we definately still do a lot of walking. Mais, ça va. I'm so happy to be here with my companion, Soeur Mckenna Rasband. She's from American Fork, Utah and is going into her 8th transfer. Her and I were both at BYU for 2 years before leaving for the mission. Funny how you never seem to cross paths with people until coming all the way to a foreign country? Go figures. But she took a lot of french growing up, was trained by a francophone and trained a francophone. So as you might imagine, she speaks absolutely gorgeous french and is so fun and spunky.
The week before the ended of the transfer, Soeur Tippett and her were able to see one of their amis, Julie, be baptized. And so it is just wonderful coming in at this time and being all excited for her and helping her get adjusted to being a member of the branch. She is one stellar 20 year-old french girl! She sought out the missionaries after seeing an article online about David Archuletta (You never know how much good you do, David...) We're putting on an activity for the branch this week about the Plan of Salvation and it will be a bit of a role play as we tour around the church from room to room. And so we "got our craft on" a little and are working on decorations. Sometimes missionaries end up having mini callings in the activities department, but they are sooo much FUN!
It was hard leaving Paris and the ward there with all the people I have come to love so much, but I am so happy to be here. These people are a little bit more a challenge to get through to, but it is absolutely so fulfilling to be able to watch their hearts open up to our message. I have felt the spirit so strongly as we've talked to some of the most unlikely people we've crossed paths with. We were teaching an ami this week with a member and during the lesson, the member wanted to share a scripture from the bible. So I opened my bible and asked her where. She told me the book. I was already there. I asked her what chapter. I was already there. I asked her what verses. I was already there. And it goes to show that members, when taking part in sharing the joyful message of the gospel, can be JUST as inspired as the full-time missionaries. 

I love you all and wish you the best of weeks!

Soeur Bronte Hopkseeeens

Last evening in Evry at the Bishop's home with his portugeuse mother, mother-in-law and friend. (We had the fhe lesson translated into portugeuse haha.) They are so wonderful and I couldn't have imagined a better way to end my last day in Paris. Off to Vannes!
Me and my new companion, Soeur Rasband, at the port!

With car in background. Yes, that one's ours!!!!

I'm still having a hard time getting over this whole water thing..

It's very classy here and we often end up porting huge mansion or beach front home with door bells like this that you have to pull. Ok, so it was a lot of fun!

We're working on this activity for church that involved painting and creating our own little universe. We hung it under our table to dry

And this is a statue in front of the Hotel de Ville (city hall)

Lots of love,


Vannes has a Van!!!

Bronte Moved!!!

Dear Family,

Bonjour tout le monde! J'espère que vous avez passé une très bonne semaine déjà! It now makes one year since I've been serving. My first 6 months in Tour, these last 6 months in Evry and now....
We're heading to Vannes! Ok, so no one's really heard of it before, but it is this ville about 40 minutes away from the coast and south of Bretagne. (I'm sure you can google map it.)We do have a car, but there are some particulars with how often we get to use it- on verra. I am once again replacing my MTC companion (after replacing her in Evry) and my new companions will be Soeur Rasband! She'll be going into her 8th transfer while I'm heading into my 9th. Crazy. And my companion, Soeur Dionne, is now a trainer in Evry!
There's going to be some majors changes going on, but just to inform you all, my updated address will be:
6 Rue Honeré Daumier
56000, Vannes
I just can't even begin to explain how much joy and love that I've felt over the past couple of days for the members and the amis that we've been teaching. It just fills you up so much.

We went and visited the Arriaza family this week and shared with them a message about fasting (Helamen 3:35, The Book of Mormon) and then invited them to share their testimonies during sacrament meeting at church on sunday. They were all super hesistant, but after a little bit of encouragement and encouragement, they all went up that sunday. And it was just beautiful watching Brother Arriaza's eyes fill up with tears as he sat on the stand with the rest of the bishopric watching his family share their sincere, heartfelt testimonies of Jesus Christ and His Restored Gospel.
I got Soeur Stevine to sing again for us when we went and visited her family on Saturday! Stayed tuned, she's working on performing a feat with Alex Boye for a song about her conversion and the first time she was given the Book of Mormon. Before we left, she fumbled around in her closet and presented me with a box full of make-up and said to me in her english african accent, "Take this. After you get home from your mission I want you to make yourself pretty so that one of the brothers can marry you and you can have your family!" haha. Yes Soeur Stevine, this make-up will help me gain salvation haha. That's just her kind of humor. :)
This week, I was taking a look at mormon messages online and I came across one called LIFT. It's a really incredible experience about an Elders Quorum group of fathers who've been serving a member of their ward for seven years by putting her into bed everynight. You'll have to watch it to understand. But it talks about a change of heart that they went through in performing this act of service.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson's words come in at the end and I love how truthful it is that,"When we serve others, our souls gain more substance. And when we loose ourselves in service for the Lord's sake, we really DO find ourselves because there is MORE of us to find." I can only verify that and conclude that when we begin to focus outside of ourselves, that's when we can heal, grow, progress and find ourselves and find ourselves joyfully.
I don't know all what lies ahead with all of these new changes but it's going to be a beautiful journey and Heavenly Father's purposes will all be fulfilled. Thank you for your love, prayers and support. I know that Heavenly Father is actively working to bless you in your lives whatever your life situation may be and wherever you are. I love you all! Go LIFT someone this week.
Your Soeur,

Soeur Hopkins

So did I mention we actually got to the chance to mount the Eiffel Tower for my last week? Miracles happen. It was the most incredible thing and I took videos to show you when I get home!

And that's some more of the view. Gosh I'm afraid of heights! But were champions and took the stairs to the second floor!

Our ami, Ruth came to church! Soeur Walker, we started teaching her now! ;) And she's such a stellar girl

The Arriaza family. Did I mention we taught them how to play the hand game, slide? We got Frere and Soeur Arriaza on fim too! 

The Family Cadin. I skyped at their home for mother's day.

Rebecca Gboto. A sister in our ward who reminds me a lot of Melissa..

Soeur Bailly and her little sister. I absolutely adore them!

The Vendassi and Meunier family. The two are actually the daughters of President and Soeur Babin. And yes, I'm standing on my toes in the picture with our ward mission leader and their daughter!

Sorry to blow up your inboxes for the week, but I wanted to be sure that you were able to see some of the pictures of people whom I've come to love so much! Feel free to write me back if you would like!

Lots of love,


It's June. Wow.

Emails are just so amazing aren't they?

Dear Family,

This week, we taught one of our amis about the Word of Wisdom and it turned out that she'd already been living it for years! I was absolutely blown away when she shared a story with us about how she quit smoking. She had smoked when she was younger and had quit throughout the years that she had her 3 children. But a difficult experience in her life sent her back into the bad habit.
Finally, deciding that this was something that only Heavenly Father could help her overcome, she knelt in prayer and asked Him for his help. Since then she has never smoked again. The desire itself left her from that moment on. Prayer accompanied by mighty faith can do anything. It makes me think of Christ when He healed the sick in the bible and said that His miracles only worked after faith. Faith is the essential ingredient in all miracles and healing. I know that to be true.
This week, we sat in a prefecture for my year mark waiting to renew my legality. Lines, lines, lines, waiting, lines and then finally having to go back another day! Oh lalala. But there were several miracles that came out of it. We ran into a member who had lived in the United States but was now living in France. He said that he was originally from Pakistan but had been a member all his life. When I asked him how that worked, he said simply, "I got baptized twice because all records were destroyed before leaving the country for security reasons." Wow. That is true conversion to believe under such circumstances. And someone else that we talked to showed up to church!
Next week we find out changes for the next transfer and I think my stay in Evry is drawing to a close. I'm going to miss this place and these people who I can't help but love because I've served them for this long. I think it'd be safe to say that if I ever came back to France, I would love to come back here! They have just become like family to me and I look up to their examples.

So stay tuned for an address change! And speaking of address changes, the mission home recently moved. So if you have any mail you're thinking about sending through them, please send it to:
Mission Française de Paris
13 Blvd. Carnot
78110 Le Vesinet

Do me a favor this week and invite your local missionaries to your home, get to know them and set a goal to invite someone to church or an fhe at your home with them. You'll be so blessed and happy to have shared something meaningful with your friends. It'll strengthen your relationship with them!

I love you. Have a wonderful week and pay attention to all of the beautiful things around you!

With love,
Soeur Hopkins

I know that my creativity of email title may come as a shock but I'm really working hard on this end to create a special surprise every week....

With our ami, Candida
Over at the Alves having a swinging date with their grandson...oooooh lala!

We went to a wedding reception at the church and I had a drink that got spilled down the front of me. Then someone made the comment that it looks like a map of the united states, so I could just introduce myself to people and say, "Look, I'm from here!"

With Soeur Stevine and her cute girls!

And so the other day we went porting and discovered an abandoned castle. I know, right? We took some pictures outside the walls.

Lots of love,