Monday, August 26, 2013

One article can change your entire day!

Hello one and all!
Not much has gone on this week (ok, well, of course, a lot has gone on, but nothing too out of the ordinary), but I did have an experience the other day that I want to share with you.  Yesterday morning, I was dead tired.  I wanted nothing more than to go back to sleep, and since it was Sunday, and we don't really exercise in the morning, I was trying to decide what to do.  I was on the couch, kind of falling asleep again, when the thought came to me that I should read an Ensign Article.  At first I tried to dismiss the thought, claiming that it was too early in the morning to do anything, let alone try to focus on an article in the Liahona.  But the thought came again.  Finally, exhasperated, I picked up one of the many Liahonas, and flipped it open.  There was an article from Elder Richard G. Scott that talked about our capacity to make choices, and our responsibility to make good choices.  He talked about the decision to follow Christ, and what it means to simply make the right choice.  It was so powerful!  Seriously, I turned to Sœur Hunsaker, and was just like, "This article is amazing!!!" I know I can't do it justice here, and I don't have the name of the article nor the Liahona from which I got it at hand, but it changed me entire day.  Throughout the entire day, I would think back to that article, and the spirit I felt there, and think about how incredibly simple (yes, albeit hard sometimes, yet nonetheless simple) it is to simply make the 'right choice' during all circumstances.  Obviously, we all slip up, if we didn't we'd be perfect, but that's where repentance comes in.  How amazing is that?!  We can ALWAYS improve.  That's what life is always about!  I love it!  One other quick story.  Elder Fuller is serving here in Charleroi with us.  He is a contacting machine!  He always seems to have someone that he and Elder Stoker have found, and decided that we should have (because she is a single woman or something like that).  Such was the case the other day with a woman named Audrée.  We tried to call her after they gave us her number, but she didn't answer, so we sent a text.  Then a few days later, on the métro, Sœur Hunsaker and I both saw a cute girl in her 20s or so and we both felt the impression to contact her.  But before we had a chance, she came up to us, showing us a text, and asked if it had come from us.  It HAD!  It was Audrée!  She had simply forgotten to text us back, but then, upon seeing us, decided to talk to us.  We had SUCH a great conversation.  We have a RDV next week.  It was such a great miracle.  And Elder Fuller was pretty stoked to hear about it also.  Well,I got to go, the Church is true!  And that's all we need to know!
     I love you!
           Sœur Bracken

Monday, August 19, 2013

Birthdays all around!

Bonjour tout le monde!  J'espère bien que vous avez passé une bonne semaine!  So, this has been a crazy wonderful week for us!  Last Monday evening, Sœur Mataalii and I got to do an exchange together!  Say what?!  SO great.  We laughed and talked about the MTC the entire time (also we did missionary work).  We happened to run into the Elders at the Gare, which was wonderful, because it just so happened to be Elder Fuller's birthday.  We were told we couldn't play games at the ULTRA MEGA FAIR that is in town right now, so I told him I wouldn't be able to win him a prize, but he was touched by the gesture, anyway.  Also, Elder Stoker confided in me that it was his birthday the next Sunday (as in yesterday), so I logged that away in my head for things to remember.  This week consisted of us running around like crazy, trying to get things all sorted out for the baptism on Saturday.  Wednesday had us going up to Liège for District Meeting, and Thursday the Mons Elders came to give the baptismal interview.  Haha, it was Elder Barr's first baptismal interview.  We had told Madame Afiwor that it would probably take all of half an hour for everything.  But... they had some questions during the interviews, and Elder Barr likes to get to know people, so... 3 1/2 HOURS later, all four of us finally left.  We were there FOREVER!!!  After about 45 minutes, Sœur Hunsaker, Elder Willden, and I ran out of things to talk about with Forgive, and then we had to go through the same awkward situation when it was Forgive's turn to be baptized!  We tried not to be disobedient, but Shrek 4 was playing on the TV while we were there (in order to help keep the attention of the little kids there), and we also found our attention be directed over there.  So funny. In the end, we decided to postpone Afiwor's baptism, but move ahead with Forgive's.  It was an absolutely amazing service.  We had been told that there would be no hot water, but then randomly, the day of the baptism, we were told that it was fixed!  The water was almost TOO hot!  The ward members came and were so supportive, they loved the Beignets that Mme Afiwor brought, and were so excited that they would all be able to get together again in a few weeks to celebrate Mme Afiwor's baptism.  Forgive is so cute and was so happy.  She loves the Book of Mormon.  It truly was another birthday, as it was so incredible to Watch Forgive go down into the Baptismal font and be born again.  Here is the picture of us!  I can't think of a better day for my beautiful baby niece, Katherine to be born on!  Now August 17th will be such a wonderful, meaningful day for me.  Also, yes, on Sunday, I saw Elder Stoker and wished him happy birthday.  :)  Well, that is our week.  This week is looking a little calmer, but we're hoping to fix another date with Mme Afiwor and also our amie, Bernadette.  Pray for us!  I love you and pray for you!
        Have a wonderful week!
                     Sœur Bracken


Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Hello everyone!
This should be a big week if everything goes as planned. Forgive is almost certainly going to get baptized this weekend.  She's so cute.  I'm a little concerned for Madame Afiwor, though.  She is willing to get baptized, and she keeps the commandments, but because of the language barrier, and lack of reading skills, she is having a hard time acquiring a testimony of the Book of Mormon.  She says she listens as Forgive reads it, but I don't think she really listens, or if she does, she doesn't really understand.  And because of language issues, she has a hard time understanding the importance of the restoration and everything.  Elder Barr will be coming to give them both their baptismal interview this week.  We hope she passes, but I've prepared myself in case we are told she should wait.  It's been hard, I've been praying with all my might over the past couple days that the Lord would help her understand, that He would touch her heart and help her be able to understand that this is true, and what that means.  Then today I had an interesting experience, I was once again praying about this, and during the middle of my prayer, which consisted mostly of, "Please Heavenly Father, help her.  Help her understand.  Help her realize why we have the Book of Mormon, and that it's true.  Help her be ready for baptism.  Just help her.  Bless her with a testimony.  Bless her kids that they will be calm so we can teach her better.  Please, just help her be able to be baptized."  Anyway, it was during the middle of another one of these prayers, that all of a sudden, I thought to myself, "Well, what does Heavenly Father want?  Of course he wants her to be baptized, but He would not want her to be baptized without being properly prepared.  He wants her to be baptized exactly when she needs to be."That didn't give me an exact answer to my prayer, but it helped me to realize that I need to focus less on myself and my wants and more on Madame Afiwor and her needs, and especially more on the Lord, and His will.  Elder Barr will interview them Thursday, and let us know if she's good to go.  If she's not, there may be some reprecussions from the Ward (some of the members tend to overreact to late notice things like this), but I'll know that it's what the Lord wants and that the day she does receive that testimony of Joseph Smith, she'll be able to enter into the sacred waters of baptism to join Forgive.  So, tune in next week to see what happens.
    As for less heavy news, yes, Elder Stoker is here in Charleroi with me!  He replaced Elder Stucki here.  We have seen each other only once so far, but we'll see each other soon.  He's always asking me over the phone, 'What's Crack-a lackin' Sœur Bracken?' which makes me laugh (His trainer would always say that to me, so I'm pretty sure that's where he got it from).  The weather has been crazy here.  We still sleep on the living room/kitchen floor, because we're too scared to tempt the heat up in our loft where our beds used to be (this has been our living situation for about the past 3 weeks).  But now it's starting to cool down just a tad.  Oh, by the way, tomorrow we're doing exchanges, and I will be here in Charleroi with Sœur Mataalii!  I'm so stoked.  I've had a little bit of news from Court, which is great.  Also, some other crazy news, Melanie is going on a mission!  She just got her call.  She is going to Hermosilla, Mexico!  Crazy!  She leaves Dec. 18th.  That reminds, me, I've done a lot of thinking and praying, and I think I'm going to prepare to come home the 11th of December.  So I guess you may plan accordingly.Love you!
             Passez une bonne semaine!
                        Sœur Bracken

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

New favorite day of the year? August 17th!

Bonjour tout le monde!
  First of all, here are a few pictures for your viewing pleasure.  The first is me with Mme Afiwor's sons, David and Daniel.  Daniel is 6 and is such a good listener, he loves when we come over.  David is 4 and  The other picture is from my District this past transfer. Back row- Elder Staples and Elder Willden (Mons), Sœur Hunsaker and yours truly.  Front frow- Elder Fuller and Elder Stucki (Charleroi 1), Elder Anderson and his son, Elder Haskell (Charleroi 2).  Great group.  Well, this week was crazy for us.  I had to go to Lille do start my second year legality, so that took about a day.  We started off on our train ride there without problems, but then, just across the french border, at a city called Ascq, the train stopped abruptly,and we were informed that there was a problem, and we'd have to take a bus, then a metro, to get to Lille.  Great.  It took forever.  And so much waiting!  But, all finally went well.  Best news of the week, we fixed a Baptismal date with Mme Afiwor and Forgive!  If all goes well, they should be getting baptized the 17th August.  How wonderful is that!  I don't have much time now, but I just wanted to let you guys now that I love you, and that I know this Church is true!  How marvelous it is to serve the Lord!
                     Que Dieu vous benisse!
                                  Sœur Bracken
PS- We just got transfer emails!  Sœur Hunsaker and I are staying together!  How great is that?  We're so excited!