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Monday, October 5, 2015

Le dernier mot d'un missionnaire



Bonjour à tous 

There are several things I want to express but there is way too much, so I have the difficult task of choosing what to share! I've had so many experiences. 

I don't know why I have been so blessed to have been able to come to this mission, at this time. Looking back at my mission, I've realized how everything that has happened to me, has been crucial to my spiritual growth and testimony of the Savior. It has been like a perfectly designed puzzle. My life will never be the same thanks to President and Sister Roney (and the Browns), all of my companions, the faithful French members, who everyday face the challenge of living in a country apathetic towards God, the Amis I've come to love as family, and even the random person on the street. 

If I've learned anything during the span of my mission, it would be this; love is the key. I have genuinely come to love the French people and their culture. The exquisite food, flawlessly balanced in taste and consistency. The pâté fois gras, escargots, all of the patisseries, bread and chocolate. The French affinity for family and friends. Their family is the most important thing of their life. I love how initially awkward they are when you don't know them. I love how they have  practically zero spatial awareness and are nearly incapable of guessing if something will fit somewhere (except whilst parallel parking). I love the members and their courage to stand up for Christ's doctrine in the face of ever present secularism. They are pioneers of the church and I have gained a huge respect for them. They are incredible. 

I am forever grateful for the lifetime friendships I have created. The word 'ami' for investigator is more than appropriate. To even think I would have not had the opportunity to meet the people I have greatly saddens me. There are so many incredible people! I've learned great lessons. You can't just "deal with people", you have to love them. 

I know Heavenly Father made it possible for me to gain a sincere love for the people and even my mission. For every beautiful experience, every kind, sincere person, for every good day there have been innumerable bad ones. Days that are unbearably long where people yell at you to go home and keep your dirty sect. I've had things thrown at me. I've been laughed at.  I was assaulted and even stabbed. These experiences weren't fun. But they didn't define my mission experience. 

They weren't able to... Because no matter how tired I was or how mean the people were, I knew and I will always know that I was never alone. Not once. The atonement of Jesus Christ can turn the greatest tragedies to the most beautiful experiences. The difference between misery and happiness is an eternal perspective. On the days where I felt like I couldn't continue, I felt divine support from my Heavenly Father through His son, Jesus Christ. 

I long to see my family. I love them much. I'm excited to see them. At the beginning of the mission, you look forward and feel like your mission is never going to end. Two years seems so long. But then you look backward and it seems it has been about two weeks. 

I love you all and I am eternally grateful I was able to share a tiny bit of what I have experienced. I hope you have been uplifted and strengthened in your faith in Christ. 

Que Dieu vous bénisse! À bientôt :) 

Elder Cameron Johnson 

Watching the 185th Semi Annual General Conference 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Short and Sweet



Bonjour à tous!

I don't know what to talk about this week. We had a really good week. I've been blessed to have a lot of good weeks lately.

I guess I'll start with our Amis this week! Guess what?! We fixed a baptismal date with Moïse and his wife and family! We scheduled it for the 14th of November. It was so cool. They really want to come to church but because of general conference we will be in Toulouse. When we set the baptismal date, it made me sad how I wasn't going to be there but then I really thought about it and I felt really dumb. I still feel super happy that they are going to be baptized even though I'm not going to be there. It's the same joy.



I didn't realize how fulfilling being a missionary was going to be. As hard as it is, it is so rewarding... Anyway! Brigitte is doing pretty well. Her daughters are still being super annoying. Brigitte said a really good prayer in front of us for the first time ever. She is so shy she thought it was going to kill her. But afterwards she felt so good because she realized that she has been capable of doing it for a long time. The spirit was super strong after she said her prayer. It was cool because she realized how much progress she has actually made!



... Hmm what else happened this week? Oh! We went to Bordeaux zone conference, which was pretty cool. We had an area seventy come. He was really cool. It was kind of weird just because a lot of the counsels given to me where good but it is hard to apply everything knowing I only will be applying them for a couple of weeks. It has also been hard with all of the changes that president has made. It's not bad that he is changing things because he is moving the mission forward but I'm just like… I've been doing it this way for so long. But anyway! I got a lot of good stuff out of it. One of my favorite quotes from the conference was "the atonement leaves no trace."   After this life, we won't remember the sins that we committed if we have repented of them. I never really thought about that. God is that merciful that he is going to take away the guilt completely in helping us forget!

Elder Johnson reunited with the first Elder he trained, Elder Acheson.
Elder Acheson has been very ill with a lung infection and has not been able
to get out and work.  Please keep him in your prayers.  


I don't have a ton of other stuff to talk about. I'm working hard! No dreams with Johnny Depp this week but I'll keep you posted if I have another one.

I love you!

Elder Johnson

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Killing it with Kindness

Elder Johnson and Elder Wall

Wow! This week was pretty insane! We did so much work. It was stinking awesome. I've never been more exhausted at an end of the week during my mission than this one. We set some crazy goals and had two blitzes (where two equipes work in the sector all day) so we went really hard all week.

Les Exhanges
We started our first exchange with the Rodez Elders on Tuesday. I went with elder Wall (who is a bleu in his first transfer) and Elder Omohundro and Elder Robards went with Elder Pittsenbarger. Elder Wall is an excellent missionary. He doesn't have any fear at all! It was really good. We talked to so many people and met some people that were pretty interested. Hopefully we will be seeing them this week. There is just something about exchanges and bleus that makes miracles happen. Bleus are so full of faith and so ready to work and I think that is why there are so many miracles that follow them around.

The very next day we had a blitz with the Chinese elders. We brought them here from Toulouse. Elder Zhu, the Chinese elder, tells me every time he is in Albi he realizes how much he loves Toulouse...  Hahaha. I guess it is good that it makes him thankful? Lol. I actually went with Elder Leon and we pretty much contacted all day. It was a lot of walking but we also met some people that were nice and possibly interested.

After our exchange with the Chinese elders we all drove to Toulouse on Thursday morning for district meeting. It went pretty well. I didn't have a ton of time to prepare (Elder Johnson is still district leader) but it still ended up running smoothly. After district meeting we went to Chez Vong which is this extremely delicious Vietnamese food. The owner, whom we call Tati, loves the missionaries so much. She gives us food for really cheap and gives us free drinks and has pictures of missionaries all over her wall. She really loves us. Hahaha. She calls us her children :) she is really adorable. We ate so much food. I thought I was going to die. Holy cow. It was my favorite part of district meeting.

District Meeting

Nos amis
We found a ton of new people this week.... Guess how many new Amis we have?  Go on, guess! We had five! Probably the most I've ever had on my mission. I think the reason behind us finding so many new Amis was because we were really pushing to teach people on the street. We were more aggressive and really testified in contacts and it worked super well. Hopefully we will get to see all of them this week. I'll just tell you about my favorite and most promising.

Look, we worked hard!

 After our exchange on Tuesday, we took the car out to Carmaux. It is about a 30-minute drive from our house. We decided to do some pass backs of potential and ancient Amis. The first pass back was really embarrassing because this guy opened the door and we asked him if he knew the woman we were looking for and he was like... Yeah, she moved to Ireland like 7ish years ago. Hahaha. Oops.
The next one was super cool though! I told you about an African family Elder Steadman and I found last transfer... But then nothing really ever happened with them. Well! We tried passing them just one last time before writing them off and they were home and let us in to teach a lesson. Moïse and his family are really cool. They are from Congo. It was the perfect way to end the day after having contacted for hours.

Since then we've seen them once with the entire family. We gave them a
Book of Mormon and they were so touched. By our second rendezvous they already knew that the Book of Mormon is true. They are awesome. We just need to find a way to get them to church because they don't have a car and they are a family of six. Pray so that we find a way!

Brigitte doing okay. Her daughters are so frustrating. I have a hard time not resenting them. They do things simply out of spite towards their mom who would do anything for them. Brigitte has made contact with the addiction recovery program in Toulouse so that should be good. She needs to find a new house before winter because it is super expensive to heat and it doesn't have any insulation. She is so faithful. She reads and prays everyday and comes to church. She wants so badly to stop smoking but life has been making it really hard for her lately.

Elder Johnson labeled this "Weird Cat Picture" lol

 D'autre choses
Recently I have felt kind of panicked with how much time I have left on my mission. Members keep asking me how I feel about going home and it's weird! Of course I'm excited to come home and see my family and friends but I am more nervous about coming home than when I left on my mission. Going on a mission you have a general idea of what your goal is. Help others come unto Christ. You understand what you will be doing for two years because that is how it is. Then all of the sudden you have to go home and figure out your entire life and there are way more choices than just before.

But I just need to calm down and trust the Lord. I think what is making me feel so weird is because of all of my dreams. They are super weird mixes of the mission and coming home. Every time. Sometimes I'm running through the airport looking for church members because I need to go teach a lesson. Other times I'm home but I know my mission time isn't up and I feel bad that I left early. I think the weirdest one I've had was we were walking around Toulouse as a family and then Johnny Depp drove by and I was like..."Look! Johnny Dep!" And then he yelled out the window "tais-toi!" Which means shut up! Lol. Then
Sierra was like... “Yeah, be quiet!” Lol.

Anyways! That is it for this week! I love you all! Thanks for your support. AND a special shout out to everyone in the ward that sent me a care package.

Je vous aime

Elder Cameron Johnson

Monday, September 14, 2015

A trip to the ER and the CAR! :D

Caught in a rain storm

Hello family and friends! This week was a little weird.. but it was a good week!

HAVING FUN IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM 
So.. we had to go to the ER this week.. luckily it wasn't super serious. Monday night we had a great start to the week. We were able to talk to a lot of people and teach three lessons on the street. We were so stinking excited because if you have a good Monday to start, you are going to have a good week. We go home that night, eat dinner and go to bed. 

The next morning it is time to wake up and workout (I usually do really intense stretches on the floor.) and Elder Robards jumps up out of bed and says... "Oh man, I don't feel good, I want to throw up." At this point I'm pretty calm because sometimes you wake up and just feel like you want to throw up. So Elder Robards is just pacing around the apartment but then runs to the bathroom and starts vomiting in a violent manner. 

Elder Robards in the ER
He comes out, and say..."Wow! I feel better! I feel a lot better!" He jumps to the floor and starts doing push ups, working out hard but within five minutes he realizes that isn't a good idea and is like..."Oh, I don't feel good.” before running into the bathroom for a second time except this time it is out the other end... AND then the front end again. 

At this point I'm starting to panic because I realize we are stuck in the apartment all day… Our tiny, tiny, apartment... with a sick missionary. Maybe it was just so selfish reasons but I really did not want to have to stay in our sardine can of an apartment all day. 

Elder Robards lays down and goes to sleep... but every time he wakes up he can't keep anything down and has to run to the bathroom. This goes on for several hours, maybe every 30 minutes he would be in the bathroom. We called Sister Brown and she said to go buy coke and ginger-ale and crackers. Well, he didn't keep those down either. And he started having super intense stomach pain which eventually made us go to the ER.

So, we have a member drive us to the ER and there we wait for about 30 minutes before Elder Robards goes back and then we are there for like three hours until the doctor invites us back. They had him hooked up to an IV. They said it was either a virus or food poisoning.... DUH. Thanks for the insight. But the stomach pains were caused by his extreme dehydration. 

And that was our trip to the emergency room! I've only had to go there three times on my mission! And only once for me! 



ON ETAIT 14 A L'EGLISE
This Sunday there were only 14 people at church, including the 5 missionaries that are assigned to the branch.. Hahaha. It was pretty small. It was cool though because we were still able to do all of the hours of church. Elder Omohundro gave an awesome talk which he prepared for the morning of but he made it somehow last close to 25 minutes long. I was extremely impressed by his talk and a lot of the members (all 9 of them) made comments on how they liked it. 

We all ate at the church after the meetings were over. Patrick, a recent convert from Rodez made a super good ratatouille pizza and we had some fresh figs because they grow everywhere here. 

AMERICANS!
We found some cool Americans this week! We aren't teaching them but they are still pretty cool quand meme. We were walking through Albi looking for people to talk to (which most missionaries call contacting.. but our equipe calls it "missionary fun") and we pass by three girls who are speaking english but with american accents! We say hi and then just keep on walking but then we pass them again and we stop them this time and they think we were French at first. We asked where they were from and said “Pittsburg, do you know where New York is?” And then we told them that we were American. haha They are studying here for a couple of months. We took a picture with them so they could post it on their social media or whatever. They were nice and had never met mormons before! :) 

Americans from Pittsburg

Before we saw the group of three the second time we saw a huge group of like 15 people walking by and I told Elder Robards and Elder Omohundro that they were American. They were like.. yeah, maybe... and then they totally were! I can spot them from so far away. I don't know why it is so easy to tell. I think it is because we are loud, look around like we are lost all the time, and generally a lot bigger than french people. haha 



WE SAW THE LEROYS!
We saw the Famille Leroy! It was so good to finally see them. They are doing good and now that it isn't summer we should be able to see them more often, even though it is harder than before with the baby.



They told us that baptism "is far away" but they they are ready to start keeping commandments, like keeping the Sabbath day holy and other things like that. I know they are going to be baptized. It is just a matter of time. But I know that as they start living the commandments they are going to realize how good it is to be in the church. 

I'm just praying hard that they have a really spiritual experience or something that pushes them to really act. She is just afraid that of not being 100 percent with her decision after she makes it. Which is good that she wants to be fully committed to the gospel but at the same time I don't want them to keep waiting. They know it is a good thing but they are kind of procrastinating it. It is hard but miracles happen and I know the Lord is aware of their situation. 

DRUM ROLL PLEASE...
We got the car back! As of this morning, which means we can finally go see Brigitte! :D I'm so happy! Haha. It will be good. In the end it didn't cost us any money.. but man, it did cost us time. 

So! That is it for this week! I love you allll! 

Combien que je vous aime! 

Elder Johnson


Monday, September 7, 2015

TRIO POWER

The TRIO


Bonjour à tous!

I don't know how to start these emails without saying something really generic like "this week went by super fast!" or "this week was great!”. This week did go by fast and it was good but I don't really remember anything super important.

NOS AMIS
Brigitte is doing well. She came to church this last week. Her baptismal date is this month but we are going to have to change it so that she can stop smoking. It's the only thing holding her back. She reads her scriptures and prays everyday. She is doing what she is supposed to be doing and I know she will eventually be able to stop. We are going to get her on a program for addiction recovery in Toulouse.

Elisabeth texted us and told us that she never wanted to see us again and that her decision had been made and that we shouldn't even try to convince her otherwise. It's pretty sad because I know that she is actually interested but doesn't want to continue because of her family. The gospel is here to fortify families but it causes a lot of drama sometimes. Who knows maybe one day she will be interested again.

We weren't able to see the Leroy family this week but it should be soon. They are so cool. I really hope we can see them soon. They are so stinking awesome.

We saw Eda this week! We weeded he garden and then ate with her and taught her about the importance of sincere prayer. She has a hard time with some doctrines in the church but it is understandable considering she was a practicing catholic for 30 years before. To be honest it stresses me out sometimes that her doctrinal knowledge isn't more complete. But since her baptism and that she has the Holy Ghost she understands things a lot better.

We were talking about how we shouldn't read memorized prayers because Heavenly Father wants to hear what we have to say and not someone else. We shared Ephesians 4:5 with her and talked about how the church is the only church that has the authority to perform baptisms correctly and she said... Well, I'm not sure about that. We invited her to pray about it.

But then, this Sunday she got up and gave her best testimony she has ever given. She gave a simple and sincere testimony and in it she said that she said she knows that Christ's church is on the earth and that we are the one. It was such a huge blessing to hear her say that. The spirit is real. He is the best of all teachers. I'm so thankful for His influence.

LES ADVENTURES  DU TRIO
Since being in a trio the amount of funny and weird things have been happening to
us has increased drastically. I think it might be because three white shirts draws a lot more attention than just two. It is pretty crazy.

Anyway! One example of this happened to us on Thursday. We were walking around looking for people to talk to and passing some ancient Amis. We turn down this street that begins with a stoplight. As we take the street, two girls pulls up in this white car and they look at us and start laughing. So being the sarcastic person I am wave and keep walking. The light turns green and they drive off. We are walking for a little and then we hear Rhiannon playing super loud and we turn around and this car pulls up right behind us and starts driving slowly. I don't turn around because elder Robards says it's not the same girls but then the car pulls up right next to us and it is. The driver is like "Hey! You! My friend wants your number!" So elder Robards starts walking towards the car and she says... "No.... Not you. Sorry." Then points at me. Already I'm super uncomfortable because aggressive girls are an absolute no and I'm a stinking missionary so leave me alone. Hahaha.

I explain to them that we are missionaries and that we don't have girlfriends as missionaries and that we only talk about Jesus Christ and what He has done for us. They were like... But we can't have your number just to talk? And then I said no but if they were interested in Jesus they could talk to us. Then, after realizing I was American and squealing over it.

We told Brigitte the story and she thought it was so stinking funny. She laughed for like ever. Then she complimented our equipe in saying that she was surprised it didn't happen more often. Hahaha.

Our apartment is so small for three people. I have the impression we are on an eternal exchange with one extra person. My companions are so stinking funny together. It's just a riot. Elder Omohundro is hilarious. Elder Robards says this like they are, which is pretty funny.

Last night we visited Ambre and she made us this really good food. As we were eating she brought out some super spicy sauce and some peppers. I had eaten at her house before so I knew that it was too hot for my liking but the other two elders said they really liked spicy foods so I let them at it. Elder Robards didn't even taste it before he dumped it all over his rice and lentils. He ate it no problem. Elder Omohundro did the exact same thing except it almost killed him. Hahahaha. He started to cry and got super sweaty. Ambre thought it was so funny. But she was nice and got some milk out to save him.

At Mimi's house with her daughter and husband that drove up from Italy.


PENSÉE SPIRITUELLE
This week I had a really cool experience with the sacrament. I realized the other day that I hadn't felt the spirit during sacrament for a long time so I had the goal to really focus on the Savior during the blessing and distribution of the bread and water.

We sang the hymn "There is a Green Hill Far Away" and I hadn't ever really noticed how pretty the words of the hymn were. As I took the sacrament I felt the spirit do strongly. I really felt Gods love for me. I thought of how hard it must have been for Him to give His son to save us. It was a neat experience.

“There is a green hill far away,
Without a city wall,
Where the dear Lord was crucified,
Who died to save us all.
                                               
We may not know, we cannot tell,
What pains he had to bear
But we believe it was for us
He hung and suffered there.

There was no other good enough
To pay the price of sin
He only could unlock the gate
Of heav’n and let us in.
                                               
Oh, dearly, dearly has he loved!
And we must love him too,
And trust in his redeeming blood,
And try his works to do.”

And that is what happened this week! I love you all!
À bientôt :)

Elder Johnson