Monday, October 26, 2015

Here Comes the Sun!

This Monday, we ran over to the beach so that Soeur Erickson could take a look at it for the first time in a year. Yep, it's still there! And that night we had so much fun at fhe playing charades, pictionnary and a new game called, "whoosh, voie, bah!" and it was so hilarious. One of Soeur Mozos's best friends, Juline, showed up for fhe and it was a blast.

Tuesday was kind of a very tiring day. I have no idea, but we had absolutely no energy and we had rdvs all day long. While it was very hard to keep going, we prayed for energy and Heavenly Father gave us that and a world of miracles. Mme Gallois is doing wonderfully. You should've seen her reaction when she found out that Soeur Erickson's grandpa lived with a Navajo family for several years when he immigrated from Sweden. Mme Gallois's jaw nearly broke when it dropped. They were instantaneous friends. Meanwhile, I felt kind of like a third wheel in the conversation...haha. "Bonjour! Yes, I'm still here!" Gotta love it! :) 

That night, right before we went in, we had about 30 minutes left and we got dropped off right next to the train station. At this point we were drained and about ready to pack it in, but we offered a prayer and asked that God "put someone in our path." And you know what happened? God put three people in our path. A mom and her two daughters, a young woman whose father passed away recently and an ami of ours that we hadn't been able to get in contact with for a moment. God is just too good. 

Wednesday was fantastic. That morning we went out and contacted near the port and the remparts. We went to Le Divinach's home to visit their daughter who is preparing for baptism next year. We were teaching her about the gift of the Holy Ghost and we used the analogy that I remember Keriann Mckeon using for a baptism. Taking a huge comforter, we wrapped it around her and explained that the Holy Ghost is a comforter that we can keep with us that will help us to make good decisions, guide us, protect us and bring us joy and peace. Her mom and sister shared their own experiences. I figured that even if their daughter forgot most of what we said, she would remember how she felt. And her mom and sister would remember the promises they made when they were baptized and the blessings that God is continually giving them. 

Thursday was a sick day, but we did manage to get some planning done despite Soeur Erickson's throbbing headache. I can say that we ended up making lots of calls and I discovered the art of coming up with things to do. She was a champ and we went out that evening to go contacting and get some fresh air.

Friday-RENNES!!! The schedule got flipped around this week and we ended up going into Rennes at the end of the week. Later that evening, we met up with our fire twirling ami, Roxanne, and had one of the most incredible lessons in my life. We felt inspired to teach her about the plan of salvation and so we drew out a picture for her. She had so many questions coming from a non-religious background and never having learned about Christ. It was incredible to see, like clockwork, her questions about life come together in such a clear way. She kept saying, "That makes sense. And what about this?" She also offered the first prayer that she's ever offered in her life and that moment was so beautiful. It felt eternal. She prayed for a friend of hers who is going through a hard health experience. I know that Heavenly Father heard her prayer. We're meeting again with her this week. As we were walking away she asked us, "Why is it important to be baptized?" We said we'd explain it the next time. 

Saturday-We went out to work in several neighborhood areas by some members home. And on our way out of the neighborhood, there was an African woman who was passing by us. She stopped, turned to me and asked, "How are you?" It was Regne ("queen") that we'd met nearly a month ago! We hadn't been able to meet with her again because her husband wasn't very supportive of her learning about the church. And so we just happened to be in her neighborhood while she was walking home that afternoon. We talked with her a minute and found out that she's going through a really difficult time. And so we said a prayer with her before she left. Although we can't visit her for the time being, I know that that was no coincidence that we happened to be there in her moment of need. God always sends us someone or something in our moments of need.

Sunday-I gave another talk (my second in a month. Woohoo! I'm actually rather enjoying it) and that was kind of crazy in the midst of integrating Amis at church as well. Mme Gallois came (and took notes in sacrament meeting on her hand. Soeur Erickson asked her, "Do you want a piece of paper?") as well as a new ami named Joyce. Remember our Tuesday night miracle-the young mom with her two daughters? I called her up and she asked us for directions to get to the church because she hadn't been to a church in over three years. 

Sunday morning she rolls in front of the church in a taxi that she rented to get herself and her two girls there. I have never ever seen that before! That is one mom who knows just how important church is. And when I asked her why she wanted to come to church that day she said that she needed some kind of strength and renewal of her spirits to the point she was willing to make the effort. And, you know, she said that she found what she was needing.

I can't possibly share all of the incredible experiences we lived this week, but I do believe that they are only visible to us if we are looking for them. So, with all my heart, I would encourage you to stop and look for the hand of God I your life this week. And all of those moments will begin to surface in a manner that you will more fully be able to see all things working together for your behalf and that Heavenly Father really is in the details of our lives. 

Love you all! Keep looking up!

Soeur Hopkins

Ophelia Bouaka foiled our activity for the message we shared at their home! We told her to try to get the paper through her, so she cut a hole and that long, thin girl got it through her. I was shocked and we were all laughing because no one has ever done that before! #runningoutofgoodideas
Ok, TRY to look at this and NOT smile or feel the joy we could NOT contain after our incredible rdv with Roxanne. It says in the mission call that, "more joy and happiness than you have ever known await you as you serve.." It's true!! We were GUSHING with pure joy.

Hey look, so we went for a little swim the other day...just joking. Doesn't it look so real? Had to have a little bit of fun the other night!

Monday, October 19, 2015

"California Dreamin' on such a Winter's Day!" and other oldies

I turned to Soeur Waite right before she knocked on the door and told her,"This is your last door." It was about 8:45 at night and we walked home to our apartment-singing and dancing down the street for the 'grand finale' of Soeur Waite's mission. It was kind of epic with all of the neighborhood dogs howling at us. 

And so I sent her home the next day and picked up Soeur Erickson in Paris. It was sad to see her go, but I just knew I needed to start off this transfer strong. So after saying goodbyes, we headed straight for the train.That night, we were on our way back to Vannes and we missed our switched in Rennes. It wasn't until our train rolled in that I realized we actually had gone all the way out to Saint-Brieu!!! Soeur Erickson and I quickly grabbed all of her suitcases and jumped off as fast as we could. We spotted the Elders and they helped us with her luggage. I was somewhere between embarrassed pink and dying of laughter red. Well, that's one way of introducing ourselves to our new district leader!

Soeur Erickson have seen so many miracles this past week--I don't even know how to explain it. It's like people are falling out of the sky! While we were contacting on Thursday, we met an a middle aged French woman named Elizabeth. We had a great conversation, prayed with her and she agreed to meet with us the next day. However, we weren't able to get her phone number just in case something came up. I kind of felt like Elder Calhoun off of the Best Two Years as he says to the other Elders in his apartment:"He took down my number and he said he'd call me!" I prayed she would come.

And sure enough, the next morning we were at the train station waiting for her and....SHE CAME! And we had an incredible lesson with her and we gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon. She accepted it, a return rdv and she wanted a copy of a video she saw on our contacting card to give to her aunt. Miracles do happen!

And then later that day, I ended up singing the song, "California Dreaming," by the Mamas and the Papas in front of the train station, waiting for a bus. I hadn't sang it since my fourth grade Cinemagic performance, but we struck up a conversation with a French woman who sings in a choir. And there I was singing the chorus of the song with her while I'm pretty certain Soeur Erickson was resisting a chorus clap. And we're going to go visit her this coming week at her home! I never realized how much more significance that song would have for me. Haha. "California dreamin' on such a winter's daaaaaaaaaay!"

On Saturday we'd gone out to pass by an ami and Soeur Erickson had made cookies for them. But when we found out they weren't there, she turned to me and asked,"What member lives close by enough for us to pass by right now?" Immediately a family came into my mind and we went straight over there. It was so inspired. When we got there, they were home and for the first time in a few months, I saw her less-active daughter! We shared a brief message with them about prayer and receiving answers to prayer. They brought up the talk by Elder Lawrence, "What Lack I yet?" and we shared Alma 37:37 and talked about what it means to "consult the Lord in all (our) doings..." It was just the message that we all needed. 

Sunday, her and her daughter came to church! Woohooo! And an ami named Chantal that we'd been teaching that had gotten passed to the elders. Her husband, George, had come to church and then this week she showed up with her sister, her son Mark and her son Juaquin. Sooo cool! I can't even begin to express how much I love our members in this branch. They have become my family. That day the branch choir sang for the first time! We'd been rehearsing every week before church since I came 4 1/2 months ago and finallywe sang "The Love of God." Everyone was so nervous to get up there (worried that it wouldn't be "good enough") and since we don't have a pianist anymore, it's all accapella. Good thing I practiced! It went beautifully.

That night, Soeur Erickson were out porting and contacting when we crossed a round about and saw a young woman sitting by the curb smoking a cigarette. The smoke was a little heavy and she was wearing a very "free-spirited" outfit with piercings in various places, but we approached her and started talking with her. She expressed that she believed in God, but wasn't someone who prayed. I asked her, "What's your experience with God?" 

She looked at me and said that there was one period of her life when she wanted to take her life. She was prepared to jump in front of the train tracks, when someone came up behind her and pulled her to safety. Not long after that experience, her brother got into an accident and it was her who was there to take care of him. Now she works as a nurse for others, coming to their side and pulling them to safety.

Honestly, it was the most touching story I've ever heard. Her friend met up with her and they were going to go "fire juggling" (they light num chuck looking objects on fire and twirl them? Don't ask me why!) But she gave us her number and told us that we could contact her this week and share a message with her. Lesson learned: never judge someone from your first impression of them. I noticed later in our conversation that she had pacifiers attached to her bag which meant that she probably is a mom and has her own proper responsibilities. There is so much more to people than we know.

Secondly, God never gives up on us. So we should never give up on Him. His promised help, guidance and blessing do come to us all at the most perfect moment and timing. I have been learning that lesson big time. If we have faith in Him and we go about doing good, we will see that we can move mountains. The miracle might not be that the mountain magically moves, but that we have the steady patience to see it shoveled from one place to the next. 

I love you all! Have a great week and keep going!

Soeur Hopkins 
Soeur Erickson started  her mission by the coast, in the branch at Lorient, so first p-day, we headed for the coast in Arradon!!
Me and my new companion, Soeur Erickson.
Us when we accidentally ended up in St. Brieuc with our new district leader. "Hey there....." So Funny.

Some stills with Soeur Erickson at the beach!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Soeur Waite's last week

I honestly don't know what you're talking about when you say I'm
coming home next month. For the past three months, I've directed all
of the "going home" attention to my companion who's seeing her family
this week. I've taken advantage of the opportunity to tease her about
it and pretend that I've only been out for about 6 months. ;)
Drum roll last transfer will be spent with Soeur
Erickson! From what I know, she's tall, blond, from Utah and going
into her 11th transfer. More details to follow. We'll be going up into
Paris on Wednesday and making the switch.

Monday we made a goal that with our busy schedule and fhe at the
church that evening, we wanted, nonetheless, to teach someone. And by
the time we got home, we only had 5 minutes left in our day. So we
prayed that God put someone in our path and we went out. And just as
we turned the corner, we saw, up the street, one of our neighbors
returning home. She had just been on a walk and she stopped us and we
talked for a minute. The conversation turned to why we were here and
she brought up how when she moved to Vannes, she was invited to a
Christian church and since then, she decided to change her life and
lead it in that direction. We ended up scheduling another rdv with her
and walked home to our building.

It's so interesting how Heavenly Father can just plant people in our
path if we are willing to look for them.

Tuesday we went to Rennes!!!! And it was a fantastic week 6 district
meeting. Soeur Waite and Elder Sanchez officially "died" and we had a
great time taking pictures. Earlier that day had been a bit rough
meeting with an ami of ours who recently started looking at
anti-literature and has really been struggling with her testimony. And
so that night we went out porting and just did our best to continue
and move forward with faith that all things would work out. That's
when we met Mirielle.

We were porting when we knocked on her door. And as soon as she
opened, she looked at us and said,"But we've already met before!"
Turns out that we contacted her a week earlier, but she was in a hurry
and couldn't speak with us. We had a wonderful discussion with her at
her doorstep. She really was so kind and hospitable towards us. She
invited us in talk more about the Plan of Salvation because she had
been, ever since her son's death two years ago, asking herself
questions about the purpose and meaning of life.

We explained to her about how before this life we lived with our
father in heaven. About how we, as spirit children, wanted to become
like our father in heaven. So he created a plan for us to come to
earth to gain a body and to gain experiences... . It was so incredible
watching as she made connections in her own life to what we were
explaining to her. She told us about a dream she had a year after her
son passed away. He came to her and reassured her, "Mom. I'm ok where
I am. Don't worry about me. Her two daughters also had similar
experiences that same weekend. And I felt very powerfully that this
was an experience Heavenly Father gave her so that she could
understand that, "Yes. Everything will be ok." And as we left that
night, I felt like I had, in a way, been an instrument in heavenly
father's hands. And that her son had wanted us to convey this message
to his mom at that time. There is no such thing as 'coincidence.'

Wednesday was also a blur but we went out and saw the Letendre's and
the David's. Frere David being one of the wildest and heart-warming
sort of personalities. He, himself is not a member, so he drank his
glass of wine and we had grape juice instead. Later on they asked us
if we'd ever seen the TV series "little house on the prairie." When
they found out that I was the only one that hadn't seen it, they went
on for about 10 minutes replaying the entire series for me.

Thursday we had another rdv with Mme. Gallois and that day, something
just clicked in her mind. We were talking about applying the
scriptures to our lives in order to receive answers to our questions
and prayers. And as we read a passage in Mosiah together, she saw
herself and realized, "Ohhhhhh, so it looks like I should probably try
doing what they did and start to... ."

And that night we went and visited our Portuguese family and taught
two of the daughters about good language. And for our visual, I made
my chocolate cake for her to try. But before we let her taste it, we
told her what ingredients we put in it. Vanilla, sugar, flour...and
then we told her that we went outside, found some cat poop and decided
to put it in too. You should have seen her face change as she kept on
saying, "that's not true!" But we persisted and I kept my straight
face. She just looked at us and said, "That would be sooooo mean!"
Then we talked about how fowl language was just as bad as putting cat
poop in our cake. We talked about speaking kindly about those around
us and not putting them down. It was perfect. Point made. And no, our
cake was normal. :)

So many happenings this week, but I can only really sum it up with the
thought that God loves every single one of his children. And no matter
where we go, he always waits patiently for us with open arms. He is
the father and we are the prodigal son. He waits, watches and prays
for us to return to Him.

Wish me luck as I go into my final transfer! Christ is always at our
sides accompanying us in all things.

Love you!
Soeur Hopkins

So this week we visited a Soeur Berthelin. She and her husband were baptized by Mitt Romney and his companion when he was serving as a missionary in France and they were living in Versailles. They live in the most incredible home with a backyard paradise that looks straight taken out of the movie The Great Gatsby (a tamer version)
I just don't really know how to explain it.

And we tested out her rope swing. Yep, guaranteed not breakable....

We went and saw Francoise this week too! I love her so much! She is just so genuine and sweet and Bretonne!
And we tried a timed photo with the LeTendre's this week. There goes nothin'!

Us with the Portuguese girls

How do french cows moo?

Monday, October 5, 2015

From Another Life!

Sunday we were at the Bishop's home for conference. So much fun but they fed us sooo much junk! haha Their kids are so cute.

Yep, aren't they just sooo adorable?
This week was our district leader's birthday. Somehow, all mission birthdays never seem quite that incredible. However, we purposefully made it the biggest deal ever and he had like 3 unexpected birthday celebrations and invitations from all the members. Birthdays are a pretty big deal..

This weekend was wonderful! We actually found out that they only have

one session of general conference broadcasted at the church, so we had

to go over to our ward mission leader's home one night and the next at
the bishop's. They pulled it up on their t.v. and I could compare it
nothing other than a spiritual super bowl. It was so good spending it
at their home, playing with the kids and having a wonderful time. (I
think I'm going to have to register to it with the combination of
children playing and screaming and a voiced over translation in
French. Haha

This week on Tuesday, Soeur Waite and I went to see a member in our
branch. As we were making our way to her house, we saw a girl up ahead
of us walking in the distance towards us. As we were approaching her
to speak with her, she pulls her earbuds out, looks at us and asks,
"Hey, how are you?" My first thought was, "Do we know each other?"
Because I didn't have any recollection whatsoever. Her name is Marie
and it turns out that she's from Lorient and goes to school here in
Vannes. As we got talking with her, she told us about how she recently
discovered Christianity and it has changed her life. She was just
beaming as we stood there talking. We exchanged numbers and set up
another rdv with her.

The next rdv, she showed us her new apartment, played some piano with
us and we shared a message with her. But it was just incredible to see
how her life, because of Christ, as she said, has become full of joy.
"Something," she said, "was missing." She's an awesome girl and we're
so excited to visit her more. But, honestly, I'm under the impression
that she must have seen the sisters in Lorient before. Whatever the
case may be, I'm certain we knew each other somewhere from before this

Today, I was reading in the Book of Mormon in Alma 26. Ammon is
rejoicing for the success of their preaching to the previously wicked
lamanites. He said that everyone had 'mocked' them to the point that
when they left they thought they might convert 'a couple' of people.
And, in the end, they converted thousands. I love how he humbly
recognizes God's hand in it all. He is grateful to have merely been an
'instrument' in bringing about this wonderful miracle.

When the apostles were interviewed in a press conference this weekend,
someone brought up the question of their ethnicity and how they are
all from Utah. Someone asked, "How do you think you will be able to
relate to and respond to the various and diverse needs of members
around the world whose experiences and life circumstances are nowhere
near the same?" I loved Elder Redland's response to that.

He explained that Christ, himself, came from a very small geographical
region in the world. However, as the savior of the world, he took on
all of the sins and difficulties of life of every that ever has and
ever will live. All this so that, he might know "how to succor them."
And as disciples of Jesus Christ, he could give them the kind of
understanding necessary for them to reach and touch all of god's

And since coming to France, I thought that maybe after I had mastered
the language or after I had been here long enough, I might finally
come to understand the people here and what troubles their hearts and
what they stand in need of. And although that has come along with
time, I was reminded by Elder Rasband that Christ's Atonement covers
that. He can help us to know and understand and lift God's children in
the best way.

At the end of Alma, Ammon teaches, "Now my brethren, we see that God
is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he
numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth.
Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give
thanks unto my God forever. Amen."

Christ-like love can reach across any kinds of barriers that exists
between us and those children of God around us.

Love you all! Have a great week!

Soeur Hopkins

Look mom at I what I found today!

Once upon a time...there was a man named Naaman. And he was a captain of the army in Syrie. And he happened to live at the time the Old Testament was written, because you can find his story in 2 Kings Chapter 5. He was a just man even though he was not a believer. However, he was a leper. 

One day, he went to the prophet in Israel to ask him to heal him. And when he came with his chariots and all his glory, one of the servants of the prophet came out and told him to wash himself 7 times in the Jordan river and then...he would be made whole.

After this, Naaman was so disappointed and he became upset as he complained about the task. It was too simple! He wanted the prophet to come out and heal him himself! However, one of his servants turned to him and asked him, "If the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldst thou not have done it? How much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?" Sometimes, we expect the prophet to ask of us great things like: sell all we own and go to Africa or to accomplish some special, incredible task (which is wonderful). But how do we feel when we are asked again to study our scriptures and to better observe the Sabbath day?

There's a moral for this story too! Before Naaman went to the prophet in Israel, there was a little maid that was carried captive out of the land of Israel. She becomes the maid of Naaman's wife. And it is her who, knowing that Naaman is ill, turns to her mistress and says, "Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! For he would recover him of his leprosy." 

Naaman, after receiving the council of his servant, decides to humble himself, go to the river and wash himself 7 times. Then he was made whole again. Thanks to a little girl in a foreign land who knew there was a living prophet, he was made whole.

Often times, I feel like this little girl. Far away in a foreign land speaking to people who have no idea that there is a prophet today, called of God. However, like this little girl, I know that his word can heal us spiritually. May we all listen to his word this weekend and invite those around us to do likewise! #generalconferenceoctober2015 Yep, that's my conference jingle for you!

Today we went fishing with a less active. They just sort of handed this little guy to me and said, "Here, hold this!" 

I have also learned that the secret to fishing clam is to "make sure it cries."Or, at least that when you stick your shovel into the sand, that a little conduit gives way with water...I thought it was kind of a very barbaric way of putting it. But, maybe, I'm just sensitive.

So as much as I would like to apologize for this being a grocery list of events, I would like to confirm that we did indeed have a week full of wonderful experiences and miracles.

Monday: We went to Arradon and starred at the ocean. It was gorgeous! And then we had an awesome family home evening at the church. General conference prep everyone!!

Tuesday: Zone conference. Soeur Waite's "dying" testimony and the best jumping photo you'll ever see with her, prez and his wife.

Wednesday: all throughout the week, we ended up visiting a member in the hospital. (Surprisingly enough, we have never before found so many people to teach than when we were walking over to the hospital. Miracles!) We brought an iPod with us to play music for her because her phone had died. But people just kept on coming in, asking questions and we stopped the music every time. Finally, we finished one song and then a nurse came in to go her some tests so we ended up leaving. However, the member was in such good spirits. Went and visited the calves family that night. They gave CDs of an accordion soundtrack their dad and uncle made. Best accordion music ever! We've been listening to non-stop. 

Thursday:We visited Letendre family and Yvelise. We shared the story of Naaman being healed of leprosy and invited them to invite someone to general conference! 

Friday: Service at the Devine's home (an English family). We shoveled dirt and talked about the history of England and their stance on the revolutionary war. We moved mountains! (Dirt mounds).

I would absolutely love it if this week I could hear about your experiences with general conference and finding responses to your questions! Have a wonderful week everyone and thank you so much for being heroes and examples to me!

Our ward mission leader and his daughter also came. AND, Soeur Waite and I found our first oysters. Yeah!
Soeur Hopkins