This week has felt very complete and full of peace. I don't even know where to start, but hang on till the end, because that's the best part!
Monday we had a crazy packing session and then we left our apartment! I literally have almost nothing in my baggage-they all weighed about half the weight that I'm allotted for my carry-on. Haha.
Tuesday was rather crazy, because it started raining pretty much side ways the wind was so strong. Our umbrellas were practically destroyed and we decided then to go bus contacting because going outside was a joke! Haha. So we hopped on the buses and just talking to people.There were so many open-minded and kind people. Due to the recent events last week in Paris, I think a lot of people are searching for a peace of mind. We ended up speaking with a very kind Muslim woman about the events that occurred, the importance of faith and we even shared a little bit of the restoration with her! I was touched by how important it was for her that we find commonality with people and be strengthened together. And later that night, we did service for a member in our ward.
Wednesday was district meeting in Rennes and we had a training on being happy in our missionary service and not judging others. And so we had everyone take turns sitting in the middle of the circle and giving compliments to each other. I about died at first because I was super uncomfortable with the idea and then, it wasn't so bad. I really have loved our district this past transfer because of our diligence, love and sincerity towards each other and those around us. I don't really know how to explain it unless if you've served a mission, but it seems as if God gives you an increased capacity to love those missionaries you serve around-like the love you find for your family times 10.
Thursday-note to self: If you're going to contact people on the bus, be sure to switch bus lines frequently or else you'll run into the same bus driver 3 times and it'll get pretty awkward...
Friday we were we were planning and I was talking to Soeur Erickson about a family that we'd seen a couple of weeks back on the bus. We had gone out to an area out of town in St.Nolff to get back in contact with a family of three that was formerly investigating. Without any success finding their precise address, we took the bus back. A couple stops later, I noticed a family get on the bus and sit down. The mom smiled at me from a distance, but I didn't seem to catch on to the idea that it appeared she knew me. But we ended up getting off the bus and I didn't say anything. Later, I thought to myself, "That was the family! And I didn't talk to them!"
That experience kept turning in my mind and I couldn't help but feeling incomplete or that I missed an opportunity.
Saturday, we were out visiting an ami when all the sudden, Soeur Erickson nudges/shoves me and says,"Soeur! There they are!" The family of three! And the mom smiled at me again. We only had a moment as they were getting on the bus, but I asked the if they knew the missionaries and the dad responded in English, "Yes, we knew some of your colleagues." It was the family!! And we later found their number and gave them a call. Although they haven't yet gotten back to us, I knew it was a sign from Heavenly Father that He knows exactly where we are and he's looking out for us.
Sunday was wonderful! Julie came to church and surprised me!!! And the members filled my bag with notes and gifts. We took so many pictures and said several goodbyes. I will miss them so much!
When I talk about finishing with peace it is because of the perspective I have gained and I see more clearly the plan that Heavenly Father was orchestrating throughout these past 18 months and well before that. Elder Holland explains it beautifully in his Mormon Message entitled: "Wrong Roads." In it, he shares about a road trip he took with his son to St. George. They had a wonderful day out in nature and upon their return they came to a fork in the road. They didn't remember which way they were to go, but they felt prompted to go right. No less than a couple minutes after they learned it was a dead end. So they turned around, went back and took a left.
His son turned to him and asked, "Dad, why did Heavenly Father prompt us to go that way when it ended up not being the right way?" He turned to him and said that maybe it was to assure them that they were now clearly on the right path home.
He then continued, saying, "I have absolute, perfect knowledge that God loves us. He is good. He is our father. When making decisions, God expects us to pray, trust, and be believing and then not give up, panic, or "jump ship" when something doesn't seem to be going right.
We stay in. We keep working. We keep believing, keep trusting, following that same path. And we will live to fall into His arms and feel His embrace and hear Him say,"I told you it'd be ok. I told you it'd be alright."
Honestly, I couldn't agree more with this! I have found myself in that place so many times when I have come to a 'fork in the road' and I ask my Father in Heaven these same questions. And His response is always to keep working and keep trying so that when I do fall, I can fall into His arms and feel His embrace. That is why we have the gospel of Jesus Christ. For the past 18 months, I have come to know my savior in a more profound way than any other experience I've yet had. He has revealed to me solutions to problems I never thought were surmountable. He has created capacity in me where I didn't think it possible. And he has taken me by the hand and helped me to stand up time and time again after I've fallen more than a million times. He has delivered me from all kinds of conflict-inward and outward-and helped me to attain a lasting peace. He has lead me back home. And now I get to physically take that flight.
It feels like it has been another lifetime and I know that I will be forever grateful for this opportunity I've had to serve as a full-time missionary in this wonderful place we call France. I am so glad I made the decision to come and serve and I will never regret it.
Alma 26:37 "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"
Happy Thanksgiving and I can't wait to hug you soon!
Love, Soeur Bronte Hopkins
Well here it is, the last email. I love this girl and I am so amazed at the service she has been able to give to the people of France and I am oh so excited to see her!!