Friday, August 21, 2015

Gravediggers, Ragae Rock Bands and Missionary Work

This is me face palming it because I TOTALLY forgot to take pictures with members and amis this week. Nevertheless, it was pretty incredible. Today, we decided to discover all of the secret gardens in Vannes. yeahyeah

I made sure to take a selfie with President and Soeur Babin at conference. Turns out that my companions grandpa was mission president over 30 years ago, so her dad actually knows the Babins pretty well. So, to Soeur Waite, he's often referred to as "Fredo" :)

Secret "hanging" garden

The Heartattack was a success! (not a real one)

This week has been a fun adventure. We saw so many incredible miracles!! I just have to give you a weekly run down.

Monday for family home evening, we decided to heartache a member with the young adults. (No one here has ever really heard of that before, so it sounded sooooo original.) She was going to start back up with her job after she took a break when her husband passed away. And so, the night before, the young adults came and just plastered her door with notes of love and encouragement. And it didn't take long for the member to catch on. Before even being able to drive away, she swung her window open and caught them. She was just floating for days...

Tuesday: There's a tradition in our mission to text in miracles to our zones leaders who then forward it to the rest of our district as words of encouragement. Here's what we sent in:
"INCREDIBlE rdv with a French woman we contacted last week! She had met missionaries years before in Paris, but nothing ever came of it. When we met up with her, we found out that she had to drive and take two buses to come see us! But she had felt something different when she talked to us and knew God was leading her to us. During the last week, she looked up everything she could on the church website- she had questions ready for us about prophets, baptism for the dead, the Paris temple, priesthood, church organization and she contacted us before our rdv asking for a Book of Mormon. We were able to respond to questions she's been asking herself for years. We know that she has been prepared for This moment and that God led us to her. And- she had kept the brochure those missionaries left with her so many years ago, because she felt it was important. No effort is wasted- keep going strong! #VANNES S"

It was quite an incredible experience being able to follow up teach this lady and listen to her search for the true church of God. I feel like a lot of people have been talking to us about trying to find a place where they can feel at ease. We've been able to talk about the spirit and it's influence.

So Wednesday we went with Gayle Morgan to visit a family that was formerly investigating the church, but for several reasons had stopped. The wife was occupied cooking for their 3 boys, so we taught the husband while we were there. They only had three chairs to our four person ratio, so Soeur Waite, Gayle Morgan and I pushed the two chairs together and shared it. It was real cozy...
We got to know him and his family a little better and asked him about their decision to move from French Guyana to France. The conversation turned into one about receiving confirmation to questions and making decisions. He talked to us about his search looking for the true church of God and a place where he felt like "nothing was missing." He was bearing testimony to us of what he found when they were first meeting with the missionaries and attending church. 

He talked about reading the Book of Mormon and how he actually prayed about it. He told us that he had a "songe" or a dream, but he wasn't sure if that was his response. As he expressed his personal experience, the spirit just came into the room and everything just grew still. Sitting there, I knew that he had already felt the confirmation that the Book of Mormon is true, but that all he needed was another experience in order to be sure of himself. So we invited him to pray again and ask that Heavenly Father to tell him what his songe meant. I'm just amazed at how many signs Heavenly Father gives us, but how much it depends on us to recognize them. But he just keeps sending them until we notice.

Thursday and Friday: conference in Rennes. Honestly, I don't know how we met up with all of our investigators, recent converts and less active members. But somehow Heavenly Father blessed us. Felt super old at zone conference. We now have another senior couple in the mission and it is just wonderful! They just can't understand how much of a difference senior couples make for us!

Saturday: We went and visited a family in our ward that moved from England more than 8 years ago. Get this. He was a gravedigger for over 20 years. He moved over 3,000 tons of dirt during his career and he "absolutely loved it." Why on earth does digging graves give someone a sick kind of pleasure. It was because of the people that came to the graveyard everyday. He got to know them, their stories, he listened and saw them healing from week to week as they visited less and less frequently. Maybe you could in a different sort of way, that he's a people person. But now, he's in a reggae rock band writing music and performing as a way for him to share the gospel! Gravedigger. Rock artist. Missionary. I was absolutely floored by their family's story and how they made the inspired decision to come to France, learn the language and bless people around them.

I've really been thinking about talents and how we all have various talents- noticeable and somewhat unnoticeable. Often times we can't even see them until someone else points them out to us because we can see them in other people. It's kind of like a mirror. We need the reflection in order to see our image. And so sometimes the best service we can do for others is letting them know what kind of gifts and talents they have. 

I love you all! Keep keeping on and believing in miracles because they haven't ceased-even today. 

With love,

Soeur Hopkins

And p.s. Corinne from my previous email came to church and loved it! We were sitting in class and the instructor, without knowing, straight up answered one of her questions. Church brings personal revelation! 

Lots of love,


Monday, August 10, 2015

It's Bretagne!

As a member in Sene was driving us back pass the harbor, his wife asked us,"Do you want any pictures?" yes.
My exchange with Soeur Romero. Just kidding. But there is a crazy over population of cats here

A returned missionary member came with us this week to go out contacting people and the first thing she says is that her boyfriend is no longer her boyfriend. I was tricked until she pulled out her ring and said, "He's my fiancée!" And then Soeur Waite asked,"How long has it been?" And she added,"A month....(grins even bigger and adds) and A WEEK!"

no comment. haha. we all saw that one coming. so I made her hold up the ring for a picture!
This next picture has a story. A member was showing me through a memory book and came upon this advertisement for a church sponsored musical group that came around her hometown when she was a recent convert in the late 70's. Which happens to be the same time my Dad was serving a mission in Belgium/France....

Yep. So my heart about stopped when she flipped to the next page and there at the very bottom, I found a hand-written, yet very familiar signature belonging to an Elder Vincent Hopkins. Tag. I found you, Dad! I had to stop to take it in because my whole mission, I've been looking for some sort of trace of my Dad during his own mission in 1977 to 1979 to show him. And apparently it was important enough to this sister that she kept it! And scrapbooked it! And 35 years later, I get to see it!

Hey Dad, does this look familiar?

This week I got sick and all the members were trying to blame it on
the weather changing/etc. and I'm just thinking, "It's Bretagne!
Anything is possible here and anything, including a weather change,
can happen in just two minutes." I promise it's true.
I am so grateful for my companion. How grateful? So grateful.
I came down hard with a cold, I was useless and
part zombie. So while I sat in a corner during church, Soeur
Waite gave my talk for me. But because the branch president and his
counsellors were also gone, she had to play the piano, participate
unexpectedly in a musical number and translate in my place. So as soon
as she finished translating, she passed the mic to me and got up to
give her talk in French. The part that made it even more ridiculous
was that almost all of the branch was missing and the majority of
everyone spoke English.

Yep, I'm grateful for my companion.

This week there were so many miracles and unexpected surprises!
We went to district meeting in Rennes and then right as soon
as we got back, we met up with the sisters from Nantes and split up to
do exchanges in Vannes. I always love when we do exchanges because we
always see so many miracles and find people to teach.
Soeur Romero and I had some of our plans fall through so we decided to
go work in area where we'd met another one of our investigators. As
soon as we got into the building, we knocked on the first door and
they weren't interested. So when we moved on to the next door, their
door cracked open again. A little boy walked out, followed by his
other siblings. But as soon as he reached the staircase, he tripped
and fell straight onto face. Without even a moment to react, his mom
emerged from the apartment and seeing that he'd fallen started yelling
at us. She seemed that she was already stressed out of her mind and so
she just unleashed all of her anger as she picked up her son and left
the building leaving us no time to explain what had happened or even
to help her.

I was a little shook up, so we mounted the staircase all the way to
the top of the building just to take a breather and so I could pull
myself together. But then we kept going, and the second level down is
when we met our friend Corinne.

She let us in for a minute and we got to know her better. Corinne is
from la reunion and has lived in France for a long time now. She has
always believed in God, but had a period of her life when she really
began to doubt. She had so much going for her in life until a serious
mental illness caused her to loose everything. It was such a powerful
experience as we conversed at her table and she shared a drink with
us. At one point, she asked us to read a chapter from "our book." And
so we read to her from 3 Nephi 11 about Christ appearing to the people
in the Americas after they experienced so much destruction. We read
through to a certain point and turned to her to ask her what she felt.
She said,"More joy than any other prayer book she's ever read." That's
the spirit right there testifying of it's truthfulness.

Oh, so good! We're gonna see her this week again. Yay! Found a new
ami! Anything is possible in Bretagne!

There are so many more experiences I would love to share, but you're
just going to have to look at the pictures and ask me any questions. I
love you all! Going strong and taking advantage of my time to testify!

With Love,

Soeur Bronte Hopkins

Monday, August 3, 2015

A Car-less Adventure: Part 23

Ok, so I promise that this only happened twice! But we ended up walking to whole cities this past week to either catch the bus and get our train ride back. And luckily, we made both of them but not without sprinting the way there. But we sure got a good look at the countryside and all of its beauties!
How does this sound for the next I'm a mormon short?

     Hi, I'm a Full-time Missionary
     I like to walk (even when there are available buses that I didn't know about until now). 
     I love nature.
     My name is Soeur Hopkins
     And, yes, I'm a Mormon.
But in all honesty, it was a good week.
We helped the Grattepanche family paint their house. We discovered how to get there by foot.

We learned about companionship unity in district meeting. (You know that classic hilarious challenge of making two people get plastic wrapped together and then go retrieve an object? That was not without a good share of laughs.)
Going to visit one of the recent converts, Francoise

So this past week, Soeur Waite and I set out to take advantage of the opportunity to talk to everyone as we searched for a more convenient grocery store in our area. And now we know where they're at. :)
One afternoon, we were out and happened to spot a Careforre grocery store. As we approached it to check out the hours, we saw a young woman coming from the opposite direction to cross the street. We approached her and struck up a conversation. And miracle would have it, she is someone religious who believes in prophets! As we were standing there, she just dropped the question,"I don't really see any prophets today. What happened to them?" And so we shared with her that we do, in fact, believe in modern day prophets and that we also believe that God has also revealed new scripture to us. We prayed with her and she gladly accepted to set up a rdv with us this week at the church to learn more. 

People Are Prepared! They're everywhere! It's just a matter of asking. We were doing the math about how many people we talk to in a day and we realized that if we just consistantly kept up inviting, there'd bound to be a few "yes"s every so often.
I just wanted to share a quick link with you on the power of words:
The other week for family home evening at the church, we shared this for the spiritual thought and talked about how we use our words. Are we careful to use them to uplift and build those around us? Sometimes it is those that we are closest to, family and friends, that we are sometimes the most hard on and the most critical of. Maybe we can all find a moment this week to use our words to ask for forgiveness from someone or repair a misunderstanding between us and someone else. I know that Christ's grace is sufficient to heal and to change us.
Love you all! Have a wonderful week and soyez sage!

Soeur Hopkins