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Monday, October 27, 2014

The World is Small, Count of Monte Cristo, and A Marriage

Wow! This week was awesome! So much happened! lol It really is a blur what happens and when it does happen. I literally feel like every time I sit down at the computer I just wrote home. Time is such a weird concept. Sometimes it goes fast and other times it goes painfully slow, but regardless it is always moving forward.

LES CALANQUES 
Who would of thought that living in the French Rivera has some benefits? Lol! One of these benefits is the Mediterranean Ocean! As a missionary, you aren't allowed to swim, so you can't quite benefit 100 percent but still, it is a sight to behold! This last P-day, Elder LaPointe, the other equip, and I all went to the Calanques (which translates to creeks which doesn't make any sense but whatever... maybe it means cove too?). Anyway, we took a bus all the way to it's terminus and then got off and hiked for about 45 minutes. At the very end of the hike you come to all of these beautiful coves and inlets. The water is turquoise and crystal clear. In contrast you have sheer cliffs right on the ocean. Goodness, it is beautiful. 


We may have seen some naked people too... Fortunately they were very, very old and far away. Far enough away to where you couldn't see them but close enough to tell they were old? hahaha  Eh, there is a worm in every apple. 

It was a just absolutely incredible. I really was surprised at how magnificent it was. I just kept thinking of Count of Monte Cristo the whole time we were there. Next week we are planning on going to Chateau D'if, which is also in the film. Anyway!


SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL. 
This week I had the opportunity to visit a family that came to the ranch! The Dolla family came to the ranch about 5 years ago and when they saw on Facebook that I was in France they invited me to come see them in Marseille if I ever had the chance. At the time that I received the invitation, I couldn't meet with them because I was in Bordeaux. At the time I thought, "Well, that was a nice thought but I'm never going to get to see them." Then I got transferred to Marseille, president said I could go see them and I did!

It was so much fun to be able to speak with them and get to know them better. When they came to the ranch I was shy and didn't really talk to them so this was a great opportunity to really get to know them, in their house, speaking their language! It was pretty darn cool. They were so happy to have us over. They fed us really good food too. Holy cow.

We also learned so much Marseille slang on the car ride there and back to our apartment with Pauline and Christophe. They were teaching us all of these words that I will probably never use as a missionary but it was funny to learn all of the different things that only the Marseillais say. 


We didn't have the opportunity to share a spiritual thought or anything like that, but I know that we came out of that dinner appointment successful. They have a much more concise and clear understanding of our church and what we do as missionaries. A lot of misconceptions were cleared up :) It was neat. 

Well--- one thing that I must admit, I've gone my whole mission without getting bisou'ed (the little kisses on both cheeks that the French do) and my track record got broken. lol. At the very end of the rendezvous I gave Pauline's Mom cookies and I was already standing kind of close to her and then she said "Ah! Chez-moi on fait le bisou! Which just means: In my house, we do the bisou. Haha and at that point it would have just been a really awkward and rude if I rejected it. So I got bisou'ed...hahaha. Then Elder LaPointe had to do it too! hahaha. 

A TAHITIAN MARRIAGE! 
This week our ami Hinaiti got married to her fiancĂ© Henry! It was so awesome! The ward all went to the civil part of the marriage at the equivalent of City Hall.  It was an interesting ceremony, really business like and short. But hey, efficient. 


After Town Hall the whole ward went to the chapel and we set up the party and reception for them (which was a total surprise). It was Tahitian themed too! It was so sick. They were so surprised and Henry started crying as soon as he walked in to the room. It was fantastic. The ward really came together to make it happen. Which was good to see because sometimes I worry about the unity of this ward. So it was a miracle. 

We ate Tahitian food too. We had Poisson Cru (raw fish) in a cucumber, tomato, and carrot salad with coconut milk and citrus. I was a little worried when I first started eating it but then it turned out to be really good. Then we had Curry Pork over rice and then ended the meal with cake and fruit. 


It was pretty touching to see Hinaiti and Henry get married. They have changed a lot, even since I first got here. They are happier and it is all because they are making changes in their lives to live in accordance with God. It is neat to witness the change in people. 


Hinaiti should be baptized not this Saturday but the next :) After that we are going to work on getting them to the temple. 

ANYWAY
That is it for this week! It was a busy good week! I apologize for not writing more last week. I was just feeling lazy. hahaha. OH! Cool miracle to wrap it all up...

We received a referral from the Church website two weeks ago and the person lived super far away. It took 45 minutes both ways. Anyway, we passed it twice and couldn't ever get ahold of this person and then…BAM this Sunday, a random girl shows up to church and we start talking and she has the same first name as the referral given. We continue to talk and she was like "yeah, I requested a missionary visit but no one ever came… So I just decided to come to church!" It was so cool! She is atheist but she texted us after church and was like "That was so enriching and enjoyable! Thank you so much!" We are going to have a family home evening with her and a member this next week :) I'm excited. 


That's it for this week! I love you all. I appreciate your prayers and your support! 

Je vous aime! 
Que Dieu soit avec vous!


Elder Johnson

Monday, October 20, 2014

WEIRD THINGS :D


Scooters... Everyone rides scooters... not motorized ones but the little kid scooters, men, woman, fat men, fat woman, ANCIENT women. They all ride scooters. And you have to watch out otherwise you can get taken out by them. 

The Milk: The milk you buy here comes in little boxes and it isn't refrigerated when you buy it. It is a lot thinner and not quite as rich as the milk in the States, not sure why. I actually prefer the milk here but most Americans don't like it. 

Stores close randomly: Sometimes you go to a store in the middle of the day and it is closed for no apparent reason. And then you will find a sign that says something like "Due to illness, the store is closed indefinitely." lol 

Supermarkets smell like stinky cheese. The whole grocery store is stinky. 

Cheetah Print: Cheetah Print here is gangsta ghetto. All of the really "bad" kids wear cheetah print accented hats, pants, shoes, etc., etc. 

Most publicity is in English: If you walked down a French street, only looking at the signs, you might mistake what country you are in. They are all in English. 

French people eat dinner really late: Normally, they start eating around 8PM and then eat for like two hours each meal so... they go to bed late too. 

French people automatically think they can speak English better than you can speak French. So they start talking to you in broken English and you just reply to them in French.. 

If they don't want to talk to you, sometimes they just pretend that they can't hear you or see you. That is my favorite. I just follow them and talk to them until I can get a response out of them. lol

In the United States, I feel like old people are the most approachable people in the entire world. It is quite the opposite here. Old people are probably the meanest people you can contact here. Hahaha. It is just kind of funny and weird that it is that way but it is! 

I've said this one before, but French people HATE spicy food. They are very, very sensitive to any spice. 

French people where t-shirts that have English phrases on them that make no sense at all: one of them that I saw said, "The Stars make the Little Things"... just really, really strange stuff like that. lol

... So there are some random facts about France and its people!

As bizarre as some of the things are I love them so much. At first it was a little hard to love the French people and all of their quirks and fashions of doing things but now I try to take into account their culture and understand them and I love them!  

I love you all! Sorry this week I didn't have much to say! 
Que vous soyez heureux!

Elder Johnson

Monday, October 13, 2014

What A Week!

Another good week! The work is moving forward!


FORMATION DE ZONE
This week we had Zone Training in Aix-en-Provence, which is only about thirty minutes away by train. We live in a really beautiful part of France. Out of our entire zone, there isn't one sister's equip (there is only one Sister and she is with her husband as a senior couple) 


Zone training was really cool. We studied a lot about the stripling warriors and how we need to strive to be like them. So, each Zone, at the request of President Roney, made a "Title of Liberty" like Moroni did in the Book of Mormon. It was pretty sweet. 

So, Elder LaPointe and I made our personal Title of Liberties... They're sick!


I also got to see Elder DuPre! He is my Zone Leader now. Pretty sweet :) 

ECHANGE
I had an exchange with Elder Boynton. He is in his second transfer and he is an amazing missionary. Holy cow. He speaks so well and he can get so many people to stop just by making a joke or something like that. 

We saw a lot of miracles of our exchange. One of them being the fact that we were able to find a less active family that would let us in! We taught them and invite them back to church. It was bien passé.

LE CRAZY
I probably met the craziest person I have ever met on my mission this week. Literally, insane. But the scary thing was is that he didn't seem insane at first. Anyway, it is late and we are walking on the Prado (which is just a really big avenue) and we hear someone saying.. "Stop, stop, I'm American... do you have a bible in French?! We turn around and there is this guy that is kind of dirty and sweaty but he is clearly American by his accent. 

So we talk to him and he is like yeah, come over and we can talk more or whatever. He literally told us that he was schizophrenic and that he was also bi-polar. He also seemed like he was on some heavy medication. So, we give him a Book of Mormon and tell him that we will meet him at nine tomorrow, hoping that he doesn't realize that we didn't fix a place to meet him and thinking that he would forget about the rendezvous that we fixed with him.

BUT, he was like: here is my address! And it is literally a door down from where we live. LITERALLY A DOOR. So it is time for us to go home and he is like, I'll walk you home. I was like, “NO, its okay.”, but he is like, “I live on this road...” and I was like noooo... So we walk with him to his door and "drop" him off, thinking that we will never seem him again.

But, we felt bad that we lied to him about a rendezvous so we decided to at least show up and tell him that we had other things that we had to do. Well, we go the next day and we ring the bell and wait...nothing. As we are walking away he opens the door and is like "COME IN, COME IN!" So we step in, and he is in these TINY underwear and he is completely covered in Vaseline. From head to toe. SMEARED in it. What the freak? At this point---I was just praying, “Please, Heavenly Father, don't let anything bad happen because if something bad does happen it will get on the news and the headline will be ‘Two Mormon Missionaries found chopped into little bitty pieces by man completely covered in Vaseline’ And that isn't good publicity for the church.” 

Luckily, we were able to just give him a DVD and pray with him and then leave. I'm sure we will see him again considering he lives right next door to us. 


NOS AMIS
Our amis are doing really well! And we are actually teaching a few new ones.

Hinaiti: She is great, still building her testimony. The papers were accepted by the French government and their marriage will be the 25th of October if everything goes well. The ward is going to throw a surprise wedding. Then she will get baptized the same day. HA! Pretty sick. 

Samuel: He is doing alright. We've been struggling to see him but he is solid. He doesn't understand why he needs to be baptized again since he was baptized by immersion but we are going to teach him with our DMP and it will be really good. I'm sure we will figure things out. 

Odette: new amie given to us by a member! She is Phillipino. There are A BILLION PHILLIPINOS here. I don't know why, but anyway, we teach her in English and she seems to be progressing pretty well. 



LE CHALLENGE 
So, last Sunday we had 6 amis at church between the two equips of elders here in Marseille. Our DMP challenged us to get 10 this next week and if we do, he will take us out to eat anywhere we want... and he means it. 



So, we are going to work like crazy mad men this week! hahaha. 

Anyway...


That is for this week! 


Que Dieu soit avec vous! 
Elder Johnson



Map of the Lyon France Mission
Elder Johnson could end up in any of these areas
except Switzerland.

Elder Johnson has all ready been in Lyon, Bergerac, Talence and now Marseille .