Monday, June 16, 2014

An Apostle, Baptisms, and Train Strikes

Wow! I have so much to tell you all! I feel like I haven't emailed in forever but really it is just because so much has happened this week. This past week seems like it was SO long but again, that's just because there was a lot of stuff that went down!

Okay, honestly, this has probably been the best week of my entire mission thus far. A little bit about the Nice Odysses.  So, the bus ride was really, really, really long. But it was good because that gave me the opportunity to study a lot. I was planning on reading the entire Book of Mormon but the zone leaders gave us a packet with the biographies of Elder and Sister Andersen and all of the talks he has ever given as a general authority. So I decided that it would be better to study that. 

Anyway! The bus ride down was interesting in the fact that we had been invited to not bring any games, talk loudly, or do anything that would disrupt the spirit. It was very interesting to see, mainly because I know the bus ride could have been VERY different from what it was. 

So we get into Nice around 6 and go directly to our hotel rooms. The Zone Leaders delivered pizza and gave us our breakfasts to keep until tomorrow. The other three hours we had before bedtime we used to write in our journals, talk a little bit louder than we had on the bus, and just relax and read scriptures. 

The next morning we got to the conference center around 7.30ish so that we could practice all of the hymns we were going to sing and study more. We had been told to not talk to old companions or missionaries that we hadn't seen in a long time. That was hard---but it was really good because we were able to preserve the spirit that was about.  After practicing the hymns the AP's came in and told us that Elder Anderson would be in shortly. They weren't joking because he literally walked in 5 seconds later. 

We all stood, took a picture, and then started with the actual conference.

Let me tell you, this conference has probably been the most spiritual experience on my mission thus far. It was absolutely incredible. I wish I could share everything that I experienced and felt but it is simply impossible. I have neither the time nor the ability to convey what I felt. 

In short, I learned things that are going to help me throughout my mission and more importantly, my life. Something Elder Andersen shared that I really just hit me was the importance of faith in our lives. He told us "what a privilege" it was to serve as a missionary in France because here you must learn how to act in faith. In France, I am learning to battle the evils of discouragement and learn to have unwavering discipleship. 

The things that I learn here as a missionary, will carry throughout my life.

My absolute favorite part of the conference was at the very end. Elder Anderson finished speaking, we sang the closing hymn and after the closing prayer, we all just sat in silence for about five minutes. As president Roney said in his weekly letter to the mission, "my heart burned." 

The ride home was pretty funny. At one point, I looked around and I would say about 90 percent of the bus was asleep. Hahaha. Everyone was so exhausted. We took two days to get back because we left on the same day as the conference. Our bus driver took us on more scenic ways which was cool. After staying the night in Montpellier we got back on the road and got into Bordeaux around 2ish. Our train was supposed to be around three but unfortunately, there is a huge train strike going on so only the main, important lines are running. Who would have thought a train to Bergerac wasn't essential? SO! We had to take another bus after riding a total of 20ish hours on a bus the days previous. 

We also had an exchange in Bergerac the next day with our district leader because we needed to do the baptismal interview for Juan Antonio. So we got into Bergerac around 8:00 and went back to the apartment exhausted. 

Well! I feel like I have kind of dropped the ball on telling you how Antonio is but he is great!  He got baptized Saturday! I was super happy for him. The baptism was really cool too because it was in the Dordogne River! Frere Benito baptize him because he could do the ordinance in Portuguese. 

After the actual baptism Juan Antonio came out of the river and he waved his arms around super happily. Elder Sanchez asked how he felt and he said that he felt great. It is always cool to see how happy God makes people. 

OH! And a tender mercy of the Lord, Annick (the sister of Rachelle, who was baptized when I was in Lyon) got baptized this week! It was in the mission newsletter! That made me SUPER happy. I'm glad she finally made the steps necessary to be baptized. I'm going to ask president if I can send her and her sister a letter.

So, in the mission newsletter president told us that Elder Andersen said that we were the "most prepared" missionaries that he has ever met. President Roney is super proud of us :)  

So I also kind of dropped the ball on this too, but right now we are having a mission wide competition called "THE WORLD CUP OF THE FRANCE LYON MISSION" and lessons, baptisms, and other things all count as points for your zone that you are serving in. But, the goal of this game is to have as many baptisms possible on July 5th at 6.00 PM. We are working towards a mission wide baptism! As a gift to Elder Andersen, we gave him a list of all the people who we thought would be baptized before or on that day. We have been working hard, and apparently there are 125 names on the list we gave him so it will be cool to see how our hard work turns out. 

I think that that is it for this week! I love you all so much! Always trust the Lord, even when you can't quite balance it out in your head. 

Que Dieu vous Benisse!

Elder Johnson

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