Monday, April 28, 2014

Bonjour a tout le monde!

Hello family and friends! Everything here in Bergerac is well. This villa is really something else. You kind of just have to be here to understand what it is like, ha ha. But I've had a good week that I would love to tell you about.

So in the Branch of Bergerac there is a Sister named Soeur Lacombe and each week she invites the missionaries over on Monday night for dinner so they (the missionaries) can bring their amis with them and be integrated into the branch. She also invites other members. Soeur Lacombe is too funny. She has travelled a LOT and knows a lot of things. She also can talk literally for eternity. I love her--she is a unique personality.

FHE at Soeur Lacombes People left to right: Elder Sanchez, Zaraya (our amie), Soeur Demoor, Soeur Lacombe, Jean Charles, and Juan Antonio (our ami)

At FHE she invited Muamba (not in the picture) to come and eat as well. For some reason we started talking about cats and I made the joke about how we should eat all of the extra cats and everyone laughed and whatever and Muamba was like "I’ve eaten cat and it is REALLY good with tomatoes" so then everyone is freaking out because he has actually eaten a cat when Soeur Lacombe says that she almost got eaten by African Pygmies when she visited somewhere in Africa.  So the table is basically a riot and whatnot and when we finally settle down we somehow get on the topic of Marseille. 

For those of you not from France or don't know the reputation that Marseille has--it isn't a good one. A lot of French people call it "The New Morocco".... so there are a lot of Arabs and drug dealers there and whatnot, So Soeur Lacombe is going at this story about how she was in Marseille and there was this group of old Arab women who were selling drugs and that there were these teenage guys who were "faire le gay" (which directly translates to doing the gay) so I am beside myself laughing because I have no idea what that means (later we find out that it means "pretending to be gay").  It was quite the night. 

As we are leaving Antonio is walking really fast. We set up a rendezvous with him and then he tells us that he really has to go to the bathroom so he literally runs full speed away from us... I guess he didn't know how to ask in French... lol 

In Bergerac we do lots of service. Once a week we go to the Red Cross and build or take apart furniture or something of that nature. It depends on the week and if they have very much work for us. Something interesting about French people is that they don't have very many mechanical skills. They aren't good at logistical things like moving or putting things together...haha. So sometimes Red Cross is frustrating but other times it is all right. 

We also went down to an outer villa this week to do service for members that were moving into our sector. It was a LONG trip, like two hours by train and 30 minutes by foot. When the member finally picked us up there was literally only 30 minutes of service to do... I wasn't the happiest camper but I guess it was all right. haha 

We do a lot of service here because it is more effective in finding people that it is porting or contacting. 

Being a French model.

So I have already featured Moped Man, this week I present: Old Man who likes to speak English and pretend like he knows you.

There is this random old guy... I mean super old. At least 80 who we see quite often and every time he sees us he waves at us and comes to shake our hands and speak English to us. When we first met him I thought we actually did know him and that he was an old ami or something like that! But nope! He just comes and says hi and pretends to be your best friend. 

This Sunday I found out that I have to give a 15 minute talk in church on the 25th of May. That should be fun. I really don't like giving talks in French because at home I could just make a few bullet points and then go from there. But here I have to write the whole thing out or else it would be a disaster.

I also found out that the Tour de France comes through here! If I stay here for another transfer I will get to see that in real life! That would be cool :) 

The streets of Bergerac.

Antonio has a baptismal date for the 10th of May but we are thinking we are going to need to push it back because he doesn't really understand the importance of baptism or what it actually is. I think that if there wasn't such a huge language barrier than it would be easier to teach him but alas--he speaks Spanish Portuguese haha. I am really glad that I have Elder Sanchez as my companion otherwise I would be completely lost in those lessons. 

In the lessons with Antonio if I listen really hard I can usually get the idea of what is going on but at the same time it is pretty hard to stay focused,  

Zaraya is super, as always. She is pretty much a member as I have said before. We are trying to get her parents interested again. I think once she gets baptized that could be a door to start teaching them again! We will see. 

Bergerac and the river.

I don't have much else to say about this week! The mission is a very unique experience. It is so important to take the time that I have here and to use it wisely. I mean, when else am I going to have two years of my life to mold myself into whatever I want to be? We had zone conference this week in Bordeaux and we talked a LOT about goal setting and checking off boxes. Goals are pretty cool. I've learned a lot about them here and how important they are. I forget who said this (i think it was an area 70) but they said, "A mission without goals is a tragedy." WOAH, pretty bold statement.  

I love you all a lot! I hope things are well across the big pond.
Avec Amour,

Elder Johnson

DEFINITIONS: (By Elder Cameron Johnson's Mom - via

What a Branch, Ward and Stake are: 
Our local congregations are called wards (or branches for smaller congregations). They are organized geographically and members attend a ward or branch near their home. Because in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints all the teaching materials are consistent throughout the wards and branches, a person will be studying the same lessons no matter where in the world they attend church. The spiritual leader of each ward is called the bishop (or the branch president for branches). He is a member of the congregation who has been asked to serve as a volunteer in this position. A group of wards forms a stake, and the leader of a stake is a stake president. “Stake” is not a term found in the New Testament, but is taken from Old Testament tent imagery in which the “tent,” or church, is held up by supporting stakes (see Isaiah 54:2).
A ward or a branch is a community in which members develop friendships and help each other. Members try to follow the teachings of an ancient prophet who taught that when we are baptized, we are “willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light” and “willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (Book of Mormon, Mosiah 18:8-9). Through service, members lift one another’s burdens and express their love.

Soeur = Sister:  We refer to people in our church and Brother or Sister So and So for example I am referred to as Sister Johnson in our Ward. 

Amie (girl) and Amis (boy) = Friends of the church. They say this instead of investigator because they do not have a French word for investigator.

FHE = Family Home Evening.  This is a night set aside, usually Monday nights, for the family to get together and spend time with one another.  It usually consists of a prayer, a spiritual lesson, and an activity.  It's a great time to testify to your children about the gospel.