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Monday, December 16, 2013

Hello From France!

Dearest Family and Friends!

I have so much to say and so little time (and patience for this absolutely dumb french keyboard) Il est tres mal! Anyway....! 

Le VOYAGE ICI
Travel was lots of fun! It was also a huge struggle at the beginning. Once we got to the airport though it was better. SO! First off, we woke up at around 3AM to finish packing and be ready to leave for the airport on time. I thought we were going to ride the bus to the airport but we had to take the FrontRunner... so I didn't wear my jacket because I thought we were going to be inside for most of the time. When we get to the train station there is a good foot of snow on the ground, my bags are huge and I am freezing cold. After feeling like a Pioneer for about 30 minutes the train finally came. We later had to switch to tracks. I got on tracks and my companion got left. LOL. It was funny. Anywayyy! We flew to Minneapolis then to Amsterdam and then to Lyon. BTW, Amsterdam is the place of the devil... You have to look at your shoes the whole time... even in the airport! haha

Once we arrived in Lyon we met President and Sister Roney. They are SO nice. I love them. We then hopped in a tiny car and road to the mission office in Lyon... had an orientation, interview with the President (which I will talk about more later) and picked up legalitity stuff. 

That night we ate pizza that was SUPER good and had dessert crepes at the Mission home... which is nothing less than spectacular. Let me tell ya, it was a struggle to stay awake for anything after dinner. 

PRESIDENT du MISSION
President Roney is nothing what I expected. He is actually a human being. He is very, very clever and has a great sense of humor. When I went in for my interview, before we started, he shinned my shoes. Which had a profound effect on me! I was quite humbled. In the interview he asked me if I had any questions and I asked him what I need to focus on the most the first few months and he said the language. "It is your greatest handicap at this point" "You don't have a personality until you know the language." Haha. It's true. I'm a little robot that can say hello and ask how people are doing... but I can't joke or anything like that. haha. 

He also asked what kind of companion I wanted for my first transfer... which I wasn't really prepared to answer. 

MON COLL√ąGE
My companion is Elder Schneider! He is from France! Which I am SO SO SO happy about. His English is fantastic as well, so I have the best of both worlds. During language study he reads in English and I read in French and we correct each other with words and such. He is super nice. He has been serving for about 14 months. I think we are going to get along very well. My only complaint about him is that he walks SO fast. I'm a fast walker... but he walks like Jason times 3. I practically jog to keep up. Something else about my companion, he has gained 13kilos on his mission... He weighed about 60 kilos when he started (as much as I weigh). You have to realize 13kilos is around 30 lbs... hahaha. There is hope for me!

Ou Je suis SERVIR 
My first area is in.... drum roll please, LYON! WOOT WOOT! I wanted to serve in Lyon first. One because I wouldn't have to travel for another 9-12 hours. And two because Lyon is a stronghold for the church in France. As Beautiful as Lyon is... there are two things I see EVERY single day. Those two things are people smoking and dog poop. Everywhere. haha. 

There are three wards here. And the members are SO strong. To be a member in Europe, you have to be super diligent and strong. I admire them. They are so ready to help me with my French as well. I'm happy for the help.

I had my first meal with members last night... It was so good. The french don't eat big dinners so we just ate a ton of bread, pasteries, chocolate, cheese, tomatos, salamie and nutella. haha. 

We had a ward Christmas party, which was kind of a blur because there was so much French. I ended up talking to this older African woman and I wasn't understanding everything but then we started talking about Obama. She started saying how proud she was of a Kenyan to make it to the top of the world,. lol. 

LE LANGUE  
French is a real struggle at the moment. I can speak it! Mostly.. but I can't understand most of it... It is probably about 50/50. But I am learning at an exponetial rate. Being here and immersed in the language has preally helped. Pray that I have the gift of the language AND the comprehension of the language... they are seperate gifts. Heavenly Father and His humor... hahaha I have picked up on a phrase though! 
Je n'ai interest pas! Figure that one out.. .baaha

FUNNY CONTACTING
The first person I contacted was a TOTAL "Best Two Years" Moment... I began to speak and the woman looked super confused. She then said in a Southern Accent "I dont speak french,,, sorry!" and I said ME EITHER! hahaha. It was hilarious. 

There was a woman with a ton of bags and I asked if we could help and she asked why. I then said "BECAUSE WE ARE MISSIONARIES AND WE ARE SUPER NICE lol... She laughed and then said no thank you. 

The first time porting (tracking) The door opened and this man with a huge cross neckless opened the door and demanded to know how we got into the building. He then said LEAVE IMMEDIATELY. hahaha. When the door closed I just laughed. It would be me that would open my first door to a catholic priest. Too funny. 

I said hi to someone and asked how they were and he responded DO I know you? And i said no, not yet! Lol.. It is a pretty common thing for the French to ask... They get freaked out like they have forgotten who you are. 

LES PEUPLES DE FRANCE
Despite all of the stereotypes about the French hating Americans, they are quite nice. Once they realize you aren't trying to sell them anything and that you are a Jehovah Witness... It's okay though because occassionally people will ask why we are members of a sect. 

Usually to contact people I just tell them I am from the United States and need to practice my french with someone. They like to help. Especially on the Metro and buses. 

As far as religion goes, there are three groups you encounter the most- Athiest, Catholics, and Muslims. Everyone is pretty open though. I've only thought I was going to get spat on once! And it was a German man! Not even French. haha. 

I've come to love the French people already... They are so awkward! If you smile at them they quickly look away and if you look back up they will be staring at you trying to decide if they know you. 

We haven't taught anyone yet because this area is new... So we have zero amis! But we are working hard to get some! We had an appointment but the amis canceled at the last minute D:

I think that is all I can type on this stupid keyboard!

My address is just the mission business center at the moment. 
I love you all and hope that everything is going well back in the Etas Unis or whever you are reading this from.  

I know the Church is true. And that God has placed me here to serve certain people. I may not be able to speak french, but I can invite the spirit to testify of the things I am trying to say. I love you all!!!! 

Avec Amour,
Elder Johnson

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