Monday, November 25, 2013

Je suis fierre de Marie-Pierre!

Hello one and all!
Well, first I have to apologize.  I was just thinking about how I used to put so much effort into the titles of my emails.  I'm not sure exactly when that stopped, but I have realized that I have been sorely slacking in that sphere of email etiquette.  I'll try to do better next week.  
   Well, this week has just flown by!  And yet, because so much has happened, it feels like last week was a month ago!  This past week, Soeur Holmes and I went down to Arras, where I had a wonderful exchange with Soeur Campbell, from Bountiful Utah.  Apparently, from what I've learned on the mission, Bountiful is the place to live.  Both Sheri Dew and Elder Nelson are in her ward.  She has from funny stories about them.  Then, we came back and had our interviews with President Poznanski.  This interview was fantastic!  The only problem was when I was talking to President, and he asked if I had any questions.  The only question I was able to pose him was, "Am I staying here for my last transfer?"  Haha, I knew President would never ACTUALLY tell me, and sure enough, he gave me a vague answer with just enough clarity to scare me.  "You know, Soeur Bracken, I've actually been thinking about that.  You have one transfer left.  It would be easy for me to leave you here.  But then, maybe that would be TOO easy for you?  You're versitle enough, maybe I could put you with a struggling sister, or maybe have you train another STL?  I'm just going to wait until I receive some inspiration."  Geeze, President, way to make me nervous!  I told him I thought he should open Quimper to sisters again, and I'd be more than happt to go back.  All he said was, "Desolée, c'est pas toujours evident" (Sorry, it's not always that easy).  But, Soeur Holmes and I weren't the only ones getting interviewed on Wednesy, it was also the baptismal interview of Marie-Pierre!  Oh, she passed with flying colors!  And the Palomakis (a favorite family in the ward) were very welcoming at their apartment.  On Friday, Nov. 22, Marie-Pierre was baptized!  And she brought her whole family!  We already knew her sister and one of her brothers, but then we met the other brother and her mom, who live in Namur.  It was wonderful.  We had so many people there!  On Sunday, Frère Palomaki confirmed her.  Later that night, the three of us (Soeur Holmes, Marie-P, and I) all went to the Bishop's house for a little get-together.  We ended up inviting the Bishop (who is from Arizona) to have Thanksgiving with us and the rest of the missionaries in our zone! I also did an exchange with Soeur Anderson, from Seattle Washington on Thursday in Strombeek.  It was a wonderful time.  All these sisters are such great examples to me!  The first thing I say to sisters when we start our exchanges together, is that exchanges = miracles, assuming we work hard.  And honestly, I have seen a miracle CHAQUE (each) time I have done an exchange.  The Lord is amazing.  That honestly has been about my week.  This next weekend is Stake Conference, so that is exciting.  We just had a lesson with one of our amies, Suzette, who hasn't been able to come to church yet.  But she doesn't work on Sunday, so she said she would come this week!  So far, this has the makings to be a great week!  I love you all, and as I celebrate Thanksgiving here, I'll be sure to think of all the wonderful friends and family chez moi that I love and miss.  Have a Merry Thanksgiving!
             Soeur Bracken

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Get ready for Marie-Pierre!

Hello everyone!  
Well, this week, like usual, was crazy, but it in an awesome way.  I did exchanges with Soeur Johns, from Liège and with Soeur Searle, from Valenciennes.  They are both wonderful sisters, and we had a great time. I loved working with Soeur Searle because she's the only sister that we get to do exchanges with that is actually older than me in the mission, so it was wonderful to reminisce with her about life a year ago.  Ah, how weird is that?  I honestly never thought I would be 'reminiscing' about mission life a year ago.  It really happens.  Life, even mission life, goes on, one day at a time.  Sunday was the Primary Program for our ward.  It was in english and french, and was super cute.  I loved it.  Also, Soeur Holmes and I had some great times this week, for example (don't freak out mom), we were walking down the street, and a man offered us some weed.  Haha, then he saw our badges, and was like, "Oh... Jesus..."  Yeah...we weren't really interested.  And then, last monday, it was a holiday, so the regular store that we go to was closed, and we had to go to a more expensive store (that didn't accept our cards, so we had to run for 15 minutes to find an ATM) to buy our food.  The chicken was so expensive!  Then we saw a whole, unskinned chicken, which was less expensive, and I said to Soeur Holmes, "Oh, we can just cut it up, let's get it!"  So we did!  Haha, we had a blast when we finally opened it up.  We said to ourselves, "Well, guess we'd better skin it", so that was a new experience for us, but I'm proud to say we did it, and it wasn't that hard, and it saved us a lot of money!  Soeur Holmes and Soeur Whisler (from Valenciennes) had an awesome experience this past week.  They were some porting and decided to port this one street, and the very first door they knocked on was a portuguese/brazilienne family having their very own FHE!  They said it was awesome.  They let them in, and then later and talked to them.  A few nights ago, we went back and talked to them about the restoration.  They're pretty firm in their own religion, but hey, early apostles baptized whole congregations, right?  So why not us?  This weekend is the baptism of our dear Marie-Pierre, who just got back from Chicago.  We're SO excited.  The Young Adults are going to plan some stuff to make her feel really welcome. 
   Well, it's COLD here, and sometimes I feel like I just breathe cigarette smoke, and sometimes we have amies that just drop us, and sometimes life is just hard, but really, we are so blessed.  Life is wonderful.  I love you!  Enjoy the snow for me!
             Soeur Bracken

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Mini Missionary!

Hello everyone!  So, sorry, I'll have to keep this email a little short, my bad!  But in my defense, we have a train to Liège to catch in 40 minutes.  So, this past week, we did exchanges with Lilli and Villeneuved'ascq.  I stayed here in Bruxelles with Soeur Covington and then Soeur Soeur Hafen (mom and dad, her dad's side of the family is from Santa Clara!  I can't remember their names, but she's from Michigan).  They are both wonderful.  Haha, Soeur Hafen has only been in the field for a week, so everything was still pretty new to her.  We had a crazy man try to talk to us.  I think he thought we were from another religion.  Anyway, he told us we were of the devil.  I told him to have a nice day, and he said, "Don't you want to talk about religion?"  "Not with you" was my reply.  We finally told him we had somewhere to go, and he said "Ok, we'll talk next time."  Sounds like a plan... Aside from that, we've been having a somewhat normal week.  We had a sister from Nivelles, Soeur Carré, who's 16 and wants to go on a mission, come up and work with us.  She's awesome!  She had such a great time, she's going to see if she can come up again in a few weeks for another day.  Maria and Filipe are doing wonderful.  Filipe has promised us that he would pray about Joseph Smith and about being baptized on Dec 7.  In Priesthood last week, they talked about anointing oil, and gave all the men a little key-ring container.  Filipe was a little confused about it, but was  proud to show us that he had put it on his keyring.  Last night we simply explained that he has to have the priesthood to use it, but that for right now it can symbolize purity and a desire to follow the Holy Ghost.  I love them so much.  Well, I've got to go.  The church is true!  I read "Waiting on the Road to Damascus" yesterday.  It helped me realize that life isn't just about waiting for grand miracles, it's just about having faith, one day at a time.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pictures from a while ago.

 This one isn't from the Conference, it is the view from our balconly, overlooking Bruxelles.  Pretty beautiful, right?!  
 My friend, Elder Barr, and I.  He is from Kamas and plays the piano like no other.  Also, if you watch the 'Mormon Message' about the story the President Hinckley tells about the two boys leaving the money in the farmer's boots instead of stealing them, Elder Barr is in it- He's the older brother!
Reunion with District from 'Meaux' (Transfer 6- from beginning of April to middle of May)- The only people we were missing were Elder Bequette, Soeur Tollefson, Soeur McGhie, Elder Garcia (all of whom have finished their missions), and Elder Burningham.
All the sisters at the conference with President and Sister Poznanski
 My friend, Elder Beckstrand, and I.  I like it because I feel like it looks like we're welcoming everyone to the Conference.  
My daughter and I
Reunion with District from 'Paris Lilas' (Transfer 5- from End of February to Beginning of April)- The only person not there was Elder Garcia. 

The one and only Soeur Mataalii and I.  We LOVE being together!
 Well, I hope you like the photos!  Mom, I promise my hair looked better before (I had it down during the actual conference).  Well, Love you!

Monday, November 4, 2013

No one like dull weeks.

Well, bonjour tout le monde!  We've had a crazy week here in the Bruxelles 2 ward.  First and foremost, and dear MARIA was baptized, YES!  Best line of the evening- the moment she comes up from the water, she says "Wow, I felt something.  I'll tell you about it later!"  Then when she was out and changed, she said, "When Gustavo said 'In the name of Jesus...' I just had this incredible feeling, like feeling like Jesus when HE was baptized!"  I love her so much.  We're going to try to fix a date with Filipe for the beginning of December.  Secondly,  Soeur Mataalii has left, and is now in Torcy, and now I am with Sr. Holmes, from Provo.  She is legit, and so far it's been great.  We've made some goals and the transfer is already off to an awesome start!  Tonight, we're going to fix a date with Marie-Pierre, our golden amie.  The only bummer is that she's leaving on Saturday to go to Chicago for 10 days.  The silver lining?  She's going to Chicago to visit members of her dad's family that are MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH!  Boom!  
  Also, random bit of information that some of you might like to hear... So, I'm staying until January.  Yep, it's official!  BYU will just have to wait until the end of April for me.  I just kept having the feelings that I should stay, so, I'm staying.  This will be sad for some reasons (like living with you, Sr. McGhie, or not being able to see you before you leave, Melanie), but I believe it's for the best.  
   Awesome lesson on perseverence that we had yesterday, whilst going door to door.  We were wet, tired, and hungry, and had just finished one side of the street with little success.  We debated going home to eat dinner, but decided to pray.  So we did.  Then, honestly a little bit against our will, we decided to keep knocking on some doors.  And wouldn't you know it?  The VERY next door that we knocked on let us in.  We met the family, and husband said he'd already met the elders and was SUPER excited to fix a RDV with us.  Donc, voilà, you just need to keep going!
 I love you all, have a wonderful week!