Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I don't even know what to call this e-mail...aside from awesome!

    Well, friends, this is it.  Soeur Holmes and I had an awesome week these past seven days.  Right now I'm in the weird phase of being like, "Wow, last week I was sitting here writing emails, and by this time next week, well, honestly, I'll probably be writing emails, but from a different computer, and to missionaries and members instead of friends and family."  But really, I can honestly say I've been very proud of myself.  Soeur Holmes and I have been staying focused, and I've been trying to make sure we have time for finding and contacting these past couple of days, instead of just going around and seeing everyone I want to see.  Here are some cool experiences I had a few days ago.  We were out contacting, and we talked to this 18 or 19 year old Belge girl, Deborah, on the street.  It was such a good moment to talk with her.  We talked about how Christ can help us, and we prayed with her.  I just felt so good afterwards, and I'm so excited to call her to fix another time.  Later on in the day, we were sitting on the tram.  I turned to Soeur Holmes to copy down some of the things she had written in her agenda.  Across from me was sitting a woman.  In my head, I thought to myself, "I have a totally justifiable reason to not talk to this woman.  I am doing something that I need to do (copying stuff down from the other agenda)."  I then said to myself, "I have lots of stuff I need to do.  However, that is not what I am HERE to do.  I am here to talk to people and invite them to Christ."  So I put down my agenda, and started up a conversation with a woman whom I came to find was named Martha.  Martha is from Brazil.  She knows the church already, in fact, she's already been to the church in Brazil before.  She is very sweet, and kind, and even though we were on a crowed tram, I asked if I could leave her with a word of prayer, so she and I folded our arms, and bowed our heads close together, and I offered a sweet, simple, prayer.  It made me so happy to have decided to talk to this woman (and don't worry, I got her number from her!).  We also had a miracle this weekend with our amie, Emilia.  She, and Gustavo (a young adult in the ward), came with us to have a FHE with another Brazlian family in the ward.  The evening went super well, and we finished with the four of us going to the church to see the end of the baptism of Landrine, a wonderful sister that Elder Alfaro and Elder Bananier taught.  Emilia loved it.  She talked with some people that she had met before, and had a great time.  The next day (aka, yesterday), we had another rdv with the Perez family (the family that introduced us to Emilia) and Emilia.  And when she came, she didn't come by herself, she also brought her two daughters, Daniella and Béatrice, and her boyfriend, Manuel, who is also from Portugal.  It was PERFECT.  We had planned to watch 'The Restoration' film, so before beginning, Emilia explained to her daughters what prophets were.  Gustavo was also there and helped explain.  Then all 10 of us watched the film.  I felt the spirit tell me to place my trust in the inspiration of this film, and I truly felt the spirit.  Afterwards we asked them questions about the film, then watched as Daniella (age 8) and Béatrice (age 10) offered their very first non-memorized prayers.  It was beautiful.  
     I've noticed my thoughts becoming more and more easily distracted with thoughts of going home and such, but I've also felt the Lord's strength in helping me get up every morning and keep going.  Lots of missionaries ask me how I'm feeling, and sometimes, I just tell them, "As far as I'm concerned, tomorrow I'm waking up at 6h30, and Soeur Holmes is going to make me go running."  Bishop Keesling thanked me for my work yesterday at the end of Sacrament Meeting, which was so sweet to me.  I love that man, he is so kind, and I love this ward!  Belgium has been having an awesome winter, which makes the thought of coming home to the dreaded cold even harder.  But I know we are all called for a specific time, and that Soeur Nilsson, who will be taking my place here in Louise, will do a wonderful job with Soeur Holmes.  Today President talked about how we all have specific missions and sometimes we work really hard and we accomplish what the Lord asked of us, and then He gives us a new mission.  So... I'm excited to see what the Lord has in store for me.  But, until that moment comes, I'm still Soeur Bracken!  I am so blessed, and these past 18 months have done more for me than anything else I could possibly have dreamt of doing.  I've made some eternal friends, and I know for SURE that the Lord has been with me throughout these months (although we all have moments when we distance ourselves from the Lord).  He loves us, like, seriously, He loves us so much.  John 3:16, people, JOHN 3:16!  We can all change, we can all become better.  His grace is sufficient!  I want everyone to just take 30 seconds of your life to think about that phrase.  "His grace is sufficient..."  Sufficient for what?  For the tiny children who are taken from this world while still in their innocence?  For all the righteous people who lived in the time of Enoch or King Benjamin?  People in our day?  His grace is sufficient, but for what?  To forgive us of our little sins?  To heal us when we're broken-hearted?  Even with depression?  With anger?  The answer to all of the above, as I'm sure you know, is "Yes".  End of sentence.  In Moroni and D&C 18, and in other places in the scriptures, the Lord simply says, "My grace is sufficient for you."  End of sentence.  Through the Lord, and only through the Lord, can we expect any real progress in this life.  I love Him so much.  
                 Soeur Bracken

Monday, January 20, 2014



 1) Emilia (next to me), her daughters, and Sister Perez, and her daughter, and us
2) Gustavo, Emilia, and us
3) Our DMP, André, (in the middle) the wards missionaries (Jacob and Gustavo), and us.  It's awesome to have such a strong, YOUNG missionary force in the ward
4) My umbrella got taken out by the bus this week... As you can see, Soeur Holmes was heartbroken
5) Victoria Palomaki and us.  She is our favorite little girl, and her parents are the most legit members of the ward!  She speaks french, swedish, and is learning english.  Her mom told us that one day, she said, "Mama, quand les missionnairs viennent, on parle english!"  Which translate to "Mama, when the missionaries come, we speak english! (only she actually did say 'english' in english.  That little girl is so smart!).
6)  And finally, our awesome Zone- For our District, Elder Platt is now going to Strasbourg, Elder Bananier is going to be Zone Leader in Antony (Paris area).  Elder Christensen is going to Versailles, and me, well... I might run away to the south of France.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Only one full week left?!?!

Dearest friends,

It's only fitting to share a little scripture with you, especially
since this scripture is an absolute powerhouse, and is our mission
theme for this next year.  We find it in D&C 64: 33-34
     33 Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the
foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that
which is great.

 34 Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the
willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these
last days.

This past week, Soeur Holmes and I were able to go down to Paris for a
giant Mission Leadership council, it was very spiritual, and we loved
it.  I also was able to finally get my Christmas package!  Thanks Mr.
and Mrs. Claus!  Haha, and also, due to a small joke I had with the
office elders, inside my box I found an extra present, a container of
Ferrero Rochers!  The six missionaries on the train enjoyed them, and
in fact, we gave one to the guy sitting with us, and we ended up
having a awesome conversation with him on the train about the church.
We also had our Zone Conference, and I gave my dying testimony.  It
was weird.  I didn't cry.  Soeur Holmes and I also gave a training
about being positive and having faith.  I think we actually did a
pretty decent job.  Of course, even with 7 other Zone Conferences
going on at the same time, of course it was ours that President
decided to come to.  Stressful... This week, I also did exchanges with
Soeur Callister and Soeur Hilton.  Soeur Callister is so sweet.  It
was super cool to be with her, because nine months ago, when she was
in her first transfer, we did our exchanges together!  I was her first
exchange companion, and now, 9 months later, she was one of my last!
It was also cool, because now she is training in Arras and has her own
baby girl.  Gotta love mission life.  We had a great time together.  I
also finally got to do an exchange is Liège, which is something I've
been wanting to do since July!  Haha, and it didn't let me down!
Soeur Hilton and I saw some miracles from passing by people and
contacting.  She's super sick right now (like half of the sisters in
the mission it seems like...), but we still carried on.  Satureday was
also an eventful day.  I reached a milestone in my mission - I've
officially been gone 18 months!  Soeur Holmes and I celebrated by
eating Indian food.  The Lord also rewarded our work by helping us
find 6 new amies!  We taught two women who live right by us, then we
taught again the cousin of a family in the ward, and then, that
evening, we met a mom and her daughter on the tram, and they let us
come over and share a spiritual thought with them and her son.  The
mom is from Angola, and speaks... portuguese.  But her french is
alright, and my portuguese is just enough to make them laugh and break
the ice.  We were able to fix another rdv with them also!  Seriously,
so blessed.  Another awesome moment came yesterday, Sunday.  Filipe
came to church with Gustavo.  Now, obviously, this is good and bad.
Maria wasn't there, which is a bummer, because she was tired and
hadn't slept well.  But Filipe came by himself!!!  How amazing is
that?  He also shared with us why Maria was tired and not sleeping
very well... they are expecting another child!  Hooray!  We visited
last night and had a wonderful lesson.  I know someday that Filipe is
going to get baptized!
      Well, hope you liked my longer-than-usual letter.  It's been a
great week, and I look forward to what we have in store this week!
            Je vous aime, tous et toutes!
                       Soeur Bracken

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Just 2 weeks!

Two weeks from today is Lexi's homecoming talk. She will be speaking in the Perry 7th ward Sacrament Meeting. Sacrament meeting starts at 1:00 pm. 2450 South, just west of Highway 89. When you see the Heritage Theatre turn immediately West. Chapel is across the street from the Perry Park.
Lunch and refreshments served afterwards @ the Bracken house. 2435 South 500 West, Perry.