Monday, June 24, 2013

New address!

As of this Wednesday, Lexi will be serving in Belgium.
Here is her new address:

Soeur Lexi Bracken
2D rue du Moria bte 2

She loves getting mail.

Soeur Bracken is quitting.........France!

Well, hello all!  As you can imagine, this has been quite the week here for us.  First of all, Soeur Wynn and I had an awesome week, and managed to cram-fill our week with lessons.  We even invited one of our amies to get baptized yesterday, she didn't say yes, but now we have a good understanding of what it is that will be her stumbling block (authority).  It was weird fixing rdvs, knowing that I wouldn't be there to actually have them.  I said goodbye to so many of the families that have affected my life so greatly over the past few months.  I almost cried (and I NEVER cry when I say goodbye) when we visited the family Lasa the other day.  I love Frère and Soeur Lasa SO much, but I know they will be in good hands here with Soeur Wynn.  I said goodbye to the Kusselings, Lethuaires (I'm still thinking I may have a child with the middle name of Franck because of Frère Lethuaire), and Fatoumia, some of the members that I love so much.  Christophe Kusseling, our Ward mission leader got mad at me the other day for already telling people that I was leaving, when I didn't know for sure.  I told him, "Christophe, I'm LEAVING".  I'm so sad to leave Nogent, but I know that my time is done here.  Soeur Wynn and I have seen some amazing miracles over the past couple of weeks, but it's time for me to pack my bags (literally).  So, where is it that I will be heading? Who will be there? What will be there? What will be the big surprise? Who will be my companion?  Well, I guess I'd better just tell you, I'm going to Belgium!!!  I really wanted to serve in Luxembourg, I guess I'll just have to settle for Belgique!  I'll be going to a place called Charleroi, in Belgium.  I should tell you, I wasn't completely shocked when I saw my name in Belgium.  I had a dream last night that I got called to serve in Louise, in Belgium, so I was kind of close. :)  I plan on having much success there, in helping to develop my own personal spirituality, and also those of the people around me.  It's crazy, there are THREE equipes (companionships) there (Quimper- 1; Nogent- 2; Charleroi- 3).  At first I was like, "Man, Belgium?! Really?"  But I'm actually getting more and more excited.  And my companion is named Soeur Hunsaker.  I have no idea at the moment who she is or where she's from, I only know that she has been here only 1 transfer, so I will finish training her!  I told Soeur Wynn the other day that I have NEVER met any of my companions before the day when they actually became my companion.  That is apparently still true. I am sure she is a good girl, I just hope she's ready to work hard!  This is going to be absolutely fantastic.  Serving in the Paris area was great, but I'm definitely ready to not be surrounded by apartment buildings all the time.  Although, really, I have no idea what Charleroi will be like.  And guess what?  Last night, we got a phone call from the assistants, which meant only one thing... Soeur Wynn will be having her own baby bleu on Wednesday.  She is absolutely terrified to train, but I know she'll do a great job.  Whom the Lord calls, He qualifies.  She'll be amazing.  I'm so excited for her to continue to see the miracles in Nogent.  All of this will be happening Wednesday.  I'm so excited to take a TGV or TER train again, I'm totally done with all the metros and RERs here in Paris (although I know in just a few weeks, I'll be talking about how much I miss them).  I hope there's a little bit more country in Charleroi.  Ok, back to regular news.  Tonight we finally have another RDV with Khadia.  I love her so much, and I really think that someday she'll join the church.  The thought of getting baptized again just seems to hard for her right now, but I know that she'll accept it someday.  It might be a little hard for the missionaries to stay in touch with her after I leave, because the Mengolli Family is also moving to a different ward, but I have faith.  Soeur Wynn went up to do Belgium Legality last week, so I got the chance to spend the day with my Beloved Soeur Barrero, and my new friend Soeur Allred (who hails from Providence, Utah, don't worry, I quickly told her about my love for Willow Park).  We had a great time serving on the west end of Paris.  I love exchanges, even just little ones, because it gives you the chance to get to know someone else learn new ways of doing things. I studied Alma Chapter 5 this morning.  Soeur Wynn just laughed when I said I'd studied it.  She knows it's one of my absolutley favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon.  There is so much to reap from this chapter, I encourage everyone to read it.  Afterwards, as I prayed, I fervently asked our Heavenly Father to help me to have a change of heart.  The ability to repent and change has to be one of the most phenomenal gifts our Heavenly Father has given us.  The ability to say, "No, not anymore", and stick to it, is such an amazing capacity that we have as humans.  Seriously, ponder Almas words?  Our hearts are always changing, but the question is, are they getting harder, due to pride and eating too many fatty foods, or softer, thanks to exercise and the exercise of our faith?  Well, I love you all, thank for for tuning in this week.  Next week our presentation will be broadcast from Charleroi.  Love you,
    Avec amour,
          Soeur Bracken
PS, I seem to always fail at obtaining a nice french accent, but maybe I'll be able to pick up a nice Belge one?

Monday, June 17, 2013

We fixed a baptimal date!

Dear all,
Sorry, I don't have a lot of time, but I just wanted to tell you guys the awesome week that Soeur Wynn and I had.  We have been trying to work really hard, but sometimes it's hard to see the résultats (results) immediately.  It was also a little hard, knowing that my time here in Nogent is winding down (I have about 8 days left here, can you believe I've already been in this blessed ward for 5 months now?), but we finally saw one of the wonderful fruits of our efforts last friday when we visited Soeur André, and her 10 year old daughter, Stéphanie.  Stéphanie wants to get baptized, but her mom wanted her to have the lessons first, and it's kind of hard, because they can't come to church every week.  But we taught them again on friday, and set a date with her!  They're going out of the country for 6 weeks in the summer, so unfortunately, the baptism won't be until the 25 of August, but we're just so excited that Stéphanie can start working towards this date!  She has promised us that she will read the Book of Mormon everyday.  We also had a similar story with Godwith Adamson.  Her mom and dad are SO great, but unfortunately (for us) they are going to Ghana this summer, so Godwith will have to wait until after they return, probably in August also. But we had SUCH an amazing lesson with them yesterday, about tithing.  Frère Adamson, Godwith, and her younger siblings came to church yesterday, and we talked about tithing there also, so I knew it was fresh on Frère Adamson's mind, so when we went last evening, we showed the kids the importance of paying tithing, and Godwith said she would do it after she is baptized.  Frère Adamson testified of the blessings of tithing, but the best part came from Soeur Adamson, who has to work on Sundays, so she can't come to church.  She testified of how much better her life goes when she pays her tithing, but then admitted that it had been a while since she'd paid it.  But now she's going to again!  We so thankful for this beautiful family.  I'll try to get a picture with them this week.  We also had a conference with an incredibly awesome man, maybe you've heard of him, his name is Melvin. But usually I just call him M.  As is Elder M. Russell Ballard!  Such a good conferece, I was particularly touched by the talk given by our own frenchman, Elder/Bishop Caussé, from the presiding bishopric, who testified that, even with all the new missionaries coming to France, there are still not enough missionaries to teach 'all the elect of France'.  There ARE people here to teach, we just need to find them, and they need to find us!  Love you all, and have a great week!  Life is hard, but so rewarding.  
           Love you,
               Soeur Bracken

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The 20 lesson week!!

Hello everyone!  I'll start off by telling you that Soeur Wynn and I finally did it, we capped off at 20 lessons this week!  Haha, for us, that's pretty stinkin' awesome!  We already have 12 planned for this next week, and we're trying really hard to make sure we have members with us.  It's been an eventful week here.  We went and visited Wilna and Jean last week after church.  Jean won't let Wilna get baptized, and we thought it was because he doesn't like the church, because of how calm it is, but turns out, it's because he doesn't think that Wilna has enough faith to get baptized.  Jean has a mis-construed concept of what faith is, and thinks the level at which one is familiar with the bible is directly tied to the faith of that individual.  And because she doesn't know the bible, she must not have faith.  But she does!  She loves our Savior and wants to follow him.  We fasted and we're praying that we can figure out how to help him understand what it means to have faith.  However, we also had some awesome experiences this week.  We visited a less active member, that we've been trying to contact for a few weeks now, who has a daughter who is not baptized.  So we went and visited.  At the end of the lesson, her daughter said, "So, when can I be baptized?"  And we were like, "WHAT?!"  She wants to so bad!  Her mom was like, "You can, I just want you to have the lessons first."  And during all of this, I just kept saying to myself, "I've been in Nogent for 5 months now, and now, 3 weeks before I leave, I have a little girl just begging me to be baptized?!  Why now?"  Of course we said we'd be more than happy to start teaching her.  I'm not sure if I'll be here when Stéphanie gets baptized, but the most important thing is that she wants to, and she wants to follow Jesus Christ.  We've had some amazing experiences this week, and we're super happy working with so many people.  We have Zone Conference tomorrow, with Elder Ballard, which will be amazing!  We're going shopping right now for it (Mom, I'm supposed to tell you that Elder Foley, my District Leader, told me I HAD to go shopping for the Conference tomorrow).  I'm sorry, I'm out of time, but I love you all, and I want you to know that Heavenly Father  will always prepare a way for us to keep His commandements.  He is our Father!  We are so blessed.  Thank you all, and have a great week!
          Avec amour,
              Soeur Bracken

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Sister Dalton, our little ray of sunshine

Bonjour à tous!  Another eventful week here on the East side of Paris. I will start off by saying that I'm missing the sun and swim right now.  I'm to the point where I can't imagine NOT putting on a skirt everyday.  The very rare occasions where I get to wear pants in public feels so very weird and absurd.  Also, my jeans have a nice hole in them, after having been worn for years, so I might end up having to buy some here.  We've had a little bit of sun here and there the past couple of days, but still, for the most part, grey skies.  It's absolutely ridiculous.  Even the Parisiens are completely shocked.  I should start telling them it's because of wickedness and abominations, and that the Lord is preparing to create a world of darkness and shadow, maybe that will peak their interest and get them to start listening a little more?  But, we also had some sun here this past week.  On and off throughout the week we've a little bit of our friend, soleil, here and there.  We also had a ray of sunshine this past weekend.  With hair a blond as the sunshine itself, and with a smile just as brilliant, Elaine S. Dalton shared her light with people from all over Paris this weekend.  Soeur Wynn and I had the chance to meet her on Saturday, when she came to Stake Conference.  Stake Conference was awesome.  They changed the presidency.  Frank Lethuaire, one of the members of Nogent, and personal role model of mine, was up on the stand.  Frère Lethuaire was called as Bishop of the Nogent Ward when his first child was only 1 month old.  He served as Bishop for 5 years, and was then called to be in the Stake Presidency as 2nd Counselor.  He served in that calling for 7 years.  About 2 weeks ago, while eating dinner and having FHE at their house, Frère Lethuaire told us that he was kind of excited to be released, have a small break and sit with his family in the congregation.  At the Conference, his oldest son (they now have 4 children), age 12 played the  piano to accompany the primary children choir.  Then, they changed the Stake Presidency.  No, Frère Lethuaire did not get made as Stake President, but he did get made as 1st Counselor!  I kind of felt bad, thinking about how much good he does, and how he deserves a break, but also knowing that his kindness and spirit and so appreciated in the Stake.  They are such an amazing family.  Frère Lethuaire served a mission to Oregon, and Soeur Lethuaire served a mission to Provo, and we can really feel the power of the spirit in their home.  We also listened to Elder Charles, a newly called Regional Authority, and Elder Teixeira, the Area Presidency.  Both amazing men.  Our missionary choir sang very well, under the direction of the ever incredible Frère Euvrard, who, I am convinced, runs the church in France.  I know he is over the Seminary/Institute Program, and does a lot of representation for the church.  He was just released from being the 1st Counselor in our Stake Presidency.  Sister Dalton was there, but did not speak.  She did, however, give a little fireside that afternoon at the Torcy chapel.  Soeur Wynn and I went, helped prepare food, and listened to her inspire everyone (especially the YW) who came to listen to her.We invited Sarah, one of our less-actives to come, and she did!  It was amazing.  Sarah kept saying that she wanted to leave, that she didn't feel easy there, but we told her she HAD to meet Sister Dalton.  Soeur Wynn had the opportunity to translate for Sister Dalton as she told Sarah how precious she is, how much love Heavenly Father has for her, and the ability to keep going.  Soeur Wynn was crying by the time she finished, and even Sarah looked like she was pretty touched.  We think this experience really softened her heart.  Also, just to let you know, our little missionary choir isn't finished.  We're not going on tour or anything (although Elder Clawson and Soeur Tollefsen probably could), but we will be singing one more time, when Elder Ballard and Elder Oaks COME NEXT WEEK!!!  Crazy, eh?!  SO excited.  This might call for a new outfit?  Who knows.  I got to do an exchange with Soeur Tollefsen this week.  We had some cool experiences.  For example, we decided to pass by Lynda and Matthieu (the couple with the Liahona and mean aunt).  When we knocked, the mean aunt, Lydie, opened the door.  She told us they weren't home, she was tired, and she just got finished praying for her brother who is sick.  We told her we would also be willing to pray for her brother.  She paused for half a second, and then said, "Ok, come in."  So we did!  She explained to us her brother's situation, we talked about the need for love in the world, and I offered a prayer.  She was very grateful, and said we could come back again.  It was an amazing experience.  We also had one of the most amazing lessons this past week.  A few weeks ago, the elders were speaking english outside (not usually encouraged), when a Nigerian woman named Jasmine walked up to them and let them know that it made her happy to hear english (they speak english in Nigeria).  So, of course, they contacted her.  They wanted to badly to teach her, but then, in the end, decided it might be best if it was us.  So we had our first RDV with her Thursday.  AMAZING.  She totally accepted everything that we said, and was so happy to hear our message.  We gave the entire 1st lesson, and left her with a Book of Mormon.  We'll see her again this week.  And she wants to come to church!  This is going to be incredible.  The spirit was so strong.  Jasmine has such an open heart.  Well, that's about it for us here.  During Companionship inventory, Soeur Wynn let me know that I need to act more normal and relaxed, and to not raise my voice to a higher pitch when I teach in english.  I told her it's REALLY hard for me to teach in english, but that I'll try. :)  Soeur Wynn and I had a record TEN progressing investigators this past week.  Yeah!  That's how we role.  No, but seriously, we have been working very hard, and have been very blessed.  Also, we ate at the Lasas the other day.  We've missed them SO much whilst they've been in England the past 2 weeks or so.  We visited them, and taught them, and had a great time.  They call us their children.  They are seriously my Congo mom and dad.  I hope everyone has a great week, and ponders the scriptures while they study.  Studying the scriptures is one of THE BEST ways to ensure we have the spirit with us throughout the day.  Just 5 minutes!  Read the book of Enos!  He's one of my favorites! I love you all so much, keep on keepin' on!
                                      A la prochaine,
                                         Soeur Bracken