Monday, January 28, 2013

Soeur Thibault and Soeur Bracken- Adventuretime

Soeur Bracken has a new address!

 Soeur Lexi Bracken
Les Missionaires                                                                              
33 Maximillien Robespierre
94120 Fontenay Sous Bois
 Paris, France

Sorry everyone, I don't really have time to write, but I just wanted to say bonjour, and that Nogent is awesome!  There's about 130 people in our ward, and yes, the cultures are very diverse.  Our area is not super large (ok, compared to Quimper), but because we have to use the metro, it takes us a while to get places.  I actually MISS driving the car.  This weekend, Soeur Thibault and I have the awesome priviledge of helping with a france-wide mission prep course.  Youth who are in the mission prep class (which they usually do online) will be coming from all over France for a one day giant class.  We get to help, we're so excited!  And Soeur Calves, the sister who served her mini mission with Soeur Creager and I, will be there!  She emailed me this week to tell me she got to call to St. George!  How great is that?!  Soeur Thibault and I have adventures everyday, which we love.  Whenever something crazy happens, we just laugh and say "Well, here's another adventure!"  We're trying to find more people to teach, and work with the Ward especially.  Here is a scripture for each of you to look up and ponder (everyone in our mission is doing it!)- Ether 3:5.  Enjoy and feast upon the words of Christ!
                 Je suis trés contente a être ici en France, je l'aime!
               Avec amour,
                Soeur Bracken


Saturday, January 26, 2013

And to think, I thought I wouldn't see snow

Bonjour Toutes!
    So, this past week has brought a lot of changes.  First and foremost, au revoir Quimper!  I was SO sad to leave my little ville, I was even sad to take my last (probably) 5 hour train ride to Paris.  The members were so kind, and informed me that Nogent was a large ward, and I shouldn't be surprised if not everyone is as open as in the Quimper Branche.  The Quimper Branche really is like a giant family.  And so I left Wednesday morning, and arrived in Paris for the transfers.  And there I met Soeur Thibault!  She is wonderful.  This is her second transfer in France, but her third on the mission (she served in SLC while she was waiting for her visa).  I'm supposed to continue 'training' her, but really, she's already ready to go!  We've had a great time together.  She is from Québec, and french is her first language, although she speaks english really well.  We help each other when we have a question with french/english.  And Nogent!  I believe it is the south-east corner of Paris, which is cool.  We takes metros and buses everywhere.  This is also my first time serving in the same area as elders.  Right now we have Elders Garcia and Horton (who also served in Quimper), they are really great and kind.  There are so many people of so many nationalities here!  It's very different from Quimper, where we mostly saw french people (and french people who said they were 'Breton').  And it's cold here!  When I was in Quimper, it was cold, but it only ever rained.  I was starting to miss the snow.  But then I showed up in Nogent, and it was cold, drier, and we had snow!  Both Soeur Thibault and I were like, "It' like home!"  We've loved it.  Elder Garcia, who isn't super used to snow, was absolutely ecstatic when it first snowed here (we happened to be with them at a meeting).  He was like a little kid at Christmas.  When we saw him 3 days later, we were told that he HAD liked it, it HAD BEEN fun, but then he realized that it can also be very annoying, and cold, sometimes.  He's done with it now.  Our Ward here is pretty big...I've heard.  Because of the snow (all five inches), church was cancelled yesterday (except for Sacrament Meeting for the people who could attend).  A lot of other missionaries' wards had been cancelled also, and so they came with us to our Sacrament Meeting.  In total, we had 6 children, 13 adults, and 10 missionaries.  I couldn't help but say to myself, "Usually we have more people who come to the Branch in Quimper, and that's a Branch!"  It was funny. 
I will recount some miracles this week.
   Wednesday night, my first night in Nogent.  Soeur Thibault and I had decided that we were going to be AWESOME missionaries.  And we were going to talk to all the women!  So, it was late, and we had nothing to do (a RDV had cancelled), so we were contacting people.  We saw a young asian girl, about our age at about 8:30.  For half a second, I thought to myself, "She's not interested, she's young and maybe she doesn't even speak french".  But we decided to be 'missionaries of miracles' and try anyway.  After I introduced myself and Soeur Thibault said why were here, she replied in french, "I'm sorry, my french isn't that good, do you speak english?"  I replied in english, "Yeah I do!  I'm american and she's canadian!"  She then explained that she was AUSTRALIAN!  She then asked, "So, you're the Latter-Day Saints?  I actually met with the missionaries one time in Australia, and went to church, but it did't really work out.  I'm not really sure why."  So we fixed a RDV for yesterday, and it was great!  We found out yesterday that she doesn't have a heavy belief in God, but is very open.  We said we'd have another RDV this next weekend.  And to think, we never would have found this wonderful girl, Catharine, if we hadn't decided to open our mouths. 
    Another miracle.
Before I got here, Soeur Alley and Soeur Thibault contacted a lady, Françoise, and had a lesson with her.  On Saturday, Soeur Thibault and I returned to her home.  She was WONDERFUL!  We talked about the Book of Mormon, and she just ate it up.  She'd read the passage that they'd asked her to read before.  And when we talked about prayer, she was like, "Well, for me, when I pray, I usually just talk to Heavenly Father like I'm having a conversation, and ask questions and things like that."  To which, we replied, "What are the chances, that's exactly how WE pray also!"  So we fixed another RDV, and we're super excited.
  That's about it for me.  I hope everything is going well for everyone.  I've never felt my testimony grow as much as it has on my mission.  This church is TRUE!!!!!  I'm so excited to continue sharing this message with everyone.  I love you!

                      Avec amour,
                            Soeur Bracken

Monday, January 14, 2013

What do you get when you put a Colombian, Brasilian, American and Canadian in the same apartment?

Dear Toutes,
The answer to the question (in the subject line of the email):  The Sisters missionaries serving in the areas of Torcy and Nogent.  This past Saturday was the ever-so-anticipated 'Transfer E-mail' Day.  It was then that Soeur Alves and I discovered many things.  First, we found out that she would be staying here in Quimper, and that her companion would be Soeur Paxton, a wonderful sister with whom I spent a couple of weeks in the MTC.  We then searched the repetoire for my name and found that  I would be serving in Nogent, which is just on the edge of Paris.  Crazy!  Luckily, after having spent a day or two in Paris this past week (I'll recount the story in a few minutes), I'd decided that serving in/near Paris could be cool.  So yes, I will be heading to Nogent.  When we first looked to see who my companion would be, both Soeur Alves and I were surprised.  "Soeur Thibault?  Who in the world is Soeur Thibault?  Is she a french sister who will be waiting for her visa to serve in the US?  It took us a good couple of minutes before we realized that Soeur Thibault was one of the two sisters who arrived in the mission this past transfer (she came in a few days after the transfer, so we didn't have the chance to meet her 6 weeks ago).  She was being trained by Soeur Alley in Nogent, but for this transfer, they switched Soeur Alley to Caen, and me to Nogent!  And since missionaries are 'trained' for two transfers, that means that now, I have the awesome priviledge of completing Soeur Thibault's training!  What the?!  In mission terms, I will be her step-mother (Soeur Alley being her mom).  I'm SOOOO excited!  I'm so excited to work with Soeur Thibault and learn and grow with her!  I know it's going to be a great transfer.  She is from Canada (Soeur Pace, I heard you know her really well!  Is it true that she lived with your family?), and already speaks french, so that's a bonus.  Another thing I realized on Saturday is that the sisters of Nogent and Torcy are the only sisters in the entire mission that live together.  So....enter the picture: Soeur Barrero and Soeur Soares.  I love Soeur Barrero.  She is originally from Colombia, but moved to France about 5 years ago.  She came into the mission the same time as me, and I really like her.  I don't know Soeur Soares very well, but I know this is her last transfer, and that she is from Brazil.  And so, you have an American, Canadian, Colombian, and Brasilian, all living together in France.  What a world.  I'll let you know how everything goes!  On Wednesday, Soeur Alves and I will take my last (probably) 5 hour train ride to Paris, and meet everyone there.Now, I am sure you are wondering, "But why in the world were you in Paris this past week?"  The short answer: Legality.  The longer answer:  Soeur Alves and I received a phonecall last Wednesday stating that I hade an appointment in Bruxelles (Brussells, Belgium) on Friday in order to do my legality papers in case I am ever called to serve in Belgium.  I was told I was to be at the North Gare in Paris at 9:15 am.  So, Thursday afternoon, Soeur Alves and I took a train to Paris (there was an accident on the railroad, so we were at a standstill for 1 hour and 15 minutes, making for a 6 hour train ride), and spent the night at Evry, which is another area in the Paris region.  Then Friday, we went to the Gare, met up with everyone, and Soeur Mataalii, Elder Hammons (from Garland, Ut), and Elder Johnson, and I took the train to Bruxelles.  There we met up with almost everyone else from our group at the MTC.  It was SO great.  Honestly, it was a blast.  We talked (Elder Hammons and I spoke a lot in French to each other, which was great), and laughed, and had some famous Belgium french fries and gauffres (waffles), and saw the famous statue 'mannakin-pis' (or something like that), which is the famous statue of the little boy peeing.  You'll recognize it.  Then we went and signed three papers, and headed back to Paris.  Needless to say, it was an interesting way to celebrate our 6-month mark! :)  After spending Friday night in Evry again, we returned to Quimper.  It was hard to say goodbye to everyone yesterday, but I know Soeur Paxton will be a great contribution to the work here.  The daughter of the Diévals lives in Nogent with her family, so obviously, Soeur Diéval was super excited for me.  The members of the branche also told me that I shouldn't be surprised if the members are so close to each other in Nogent.  Because our Branche here is so small, it really is like a family.  I'm also going to be bummed to leave the tranquility of Quimper (not to mention that there aren't very many creepy men here).  But I'm so excited to work with a ward, and to be in the same District as Elder Johnson (who was at the MTC with me), Elder Wallace (who was in the MTC with me for 3 weeks), and Elder Beckstrand (who was in my first District here in the field), and Elder Horton (who also served here in Quimper).
   So, Soeur Alves and I are going to keep working hard, and helping the members, and trying to find new investigators.  The famille Lucas are taking us to the beach one more time today.  We've been able to teach the sister of Soeur Fauchi again, which has been awesome, as well as help the less active in our Branche.  It's been a great week.
  I hope all is going well for you all, and that you keep working towards becoming the best person you can be.  I've definitley realized a lot of 'faibless' that I have since I arrived in France, but I've also realized that I have the best help I could ever ask for in order to change myself, The Atonement.  Every chance I have to bear my testimony to someone, I feel the spirit more and more in my life.  I encourage you all to continue to look for opportunities to do the same. 
             Have a great week!
                 Avec amour,
                      Soeur Bracken

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Picture one- me with Mearie and Ethan, the wonderful children of Elise, a less-active.  This was at a little dinner we had at the church on Dec 31st.  I look pretty Tahitian, right?
 Title Picture two- Soeur Alves and I at the coast with our Bretagne Flag.  It's pretty legit.  

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Renne of the Epiphane

Dearest all,
Bonjour!  I hope the New Year is going well for everyone.  Here in Quimper life is quiet, as usual.  The other day, at about 8 o'clock pm, Soeur Alves and I walked by a 'burlesque'-ish store, only to find it had closed for the evening, and I (in french) said something to the effect of, "Even the houses of wickedness close early in Quimper!"  By 8 o'clock here, the entire town is always dead.  Even the bars that we live above aren't very loud.  Sometime it's hard as missionaries, but I don't think I'd mind living here. 
   So yes, we've had to drop a lot of our contacts, but we have some miracles still occuring!  One of which is a man named Rachid, who was a referral from the church, who just moved to Quimper (we're hoping he has a family), and who is interested in the church.  We were finally able to contact him on Friday, and hopefully we'll be able to set up a Rendez-vous this week.  Our other miracle occured last night, when we went to go visit the Fauchi Family.  Audrey, one of the daughters came to church last week, but wasn't there yesterday, so we decided to stop by, only to discover that Soeur Fauchi's non-member sister was also there!  She lives in our area, about 45 minutes away.  We were able to have a lesson, and then Soeur Fauchi asked her sister if she'd like us to return, and her sister said, 'yeah, that'd be great!', so we'll be meeting with here tomorrow!  She has a daughter who is 16.  Both of these have been great miracles, especially with Soeur Alves being sick this week.  We'll find out on Saturday if where I'll be going (we figure it will probably be me that has to pack my bags, since this is Soeur Alves's first transfer here, and she only has one left, although never say never...).  I told Président Poznanski that I know he is inspired, but IF he decides to put sisters in Strasbourg, I am available. On verra.  I was thinking the other day about how the Lord is really the only constant thing on the mission (and in life).  Everything changes, but He remains constant and sure, and He is ALWAYS THERE for us.  It really is beautiful. 
In France they celebrate Epiphanie.  They buy a galette (like a pastry/pie), that has a little object hidden in it.  Whoever gets the piece with the object is the king/ Queen.  I'm happy to inform you that for my very first Galette, I WAS THE QUEEN!  I was ever so happy.
                                         Passé une bonne semaine!
                                           Soeur Bracken

Friday, January 4, 2013


 Here are a few pictures from Lexi skyping with the family and her dog Chica!

Here are a couple pictures Lexi sent us with her descriptions.
1) Soeur Alves and I wishing you a Happy and prosperous new year! 
 2) The awesome coast picture I took.
(Everyone's a photographer when they have a cool camera)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Noel, New Amis and the New Year

Bonjour Toutes,
What a week it's been!  Can you believe Christmas is only 51 weeks away?  If it makes any of you Americans feel better, the french here were putting up decorations for Christmas in October also.  Christmas was great.  It really was hard to not focus on me during this Christmas, seeing as I'd never really been asked to do that before.  I did feel super loved with all the notes and packages from home, though.  I'm going to try to remember the lesson I learned this year of 'forgetting myself and focusing on others' with me all year, and really make next Christmas the best Christmas ever.  Soeur Alves and I are doing great.  I know she's helping my french a lot, although my accent is still ridiculous.  I was a little despondent the other day about how I'll probably always have my accent, but then I thought, "Hey, do you know who else speaks with an accent?  President Utchdorf.  And if he's cool with having an accent, then I'm cool with having an accent, also."  I then also remembered how I wasn't called to learn french perfectly, I was called to preach the gospel in it, and the people can understand what I'm trying to say even if I can't say my 'R's' like them.  We had Christmas Eve Dinner and Christmas Day lunch with the Famille Fauchi, here in Quimper.  It was the first 'Creole Christmas' for the both of us.  The best line of the evening with the Fauchi's was when I asked Soeur Fauchi how to eat the langoustines (which are like little baby lobsters), that still have the pinchers and heads and eyes and everything, and she said, "The first step, is to decapitate the langoustines."  After 30 seconds of laughing, we finally got to step two, which was to break the undershell, and then eat just like the shrimp.  Most of the food was decent, although I won't be asking for the recipe of the sausage purée stuff that consisted of meat, spices, and blood.  The next day, after finishing our lunch with the Fauchi's, we spent the afternoon with Frère and Soeur Lucas, who are some of my favorite people I've met. They took us down to Benodet, which is the coast 15 minutes from Quimper.  Then we went back and had some cake, hot chocolate, and toast with the Lucas.  Then somehow (Christmas Miracle?), Soeur Alves and I both managed to squeeze 75-80 minutes into our "one-hour long" Skype conversations with our families.  We also had sister exchanges this week, so Soeur Rhondeau (who was in my ward last year at BYU) got to spend the day with me in Quimper.Soeur Alves and I also did a lot of discussing, and we decided that pretty much all our investigators (amis) aren't really progressing, which means... we might have to drop them.  So to start off the new year, we will be focusing our efforts of finding new people to teach, hopefully with the help of the branche.  Today we had lunch with the Diévals, and will have dinner with Elise and her kids, the Fauchi family, the Rifostas, and the Caplains, and tomorrow, since it's another P-Day, we plan on sleeping, A LOT.  Here's to an awesome 2013!!!
                                      Bonne Année!
                                             Soeur Bracken