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Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas is the Best, Illness is NOT!



NOEL
Christmas is so awesome! I love it. The members of Perigueux spoiled us. So, Christmas Eve, we went to the famille Donadier's house, which so so much fun. They have a son on a mission right now and two others that are home who are really cool. We got to their house at around six and then Frere Donadier was like "So, do you want to watch a Disney movie?" So, we sit down and he puts in "Frozen" which is probably the best movie of all time. I loved it so much. When we first sat down to watch the movie, I couldn't really get comfortable. It was just weird being in front of a television but as the movie starting going I got more comfortable and really enjoyed it. 


Once the movie was over, Maggie and Mario (other members who were invited) arrive and that is when we sat down at the table and gorged ourselves. So many courses. It was great. We started out with smoked salmon, caviar, and calamari. Then moved on to some hot appetizers like this scallop gratin thing, which I could have eaten gallons of. 

Once we got through all of the little courses we got to the main course, it was turkey with hazelnuts, green beans, and sweet potato’s, which were all really well done. Soeur Donadier was like... "I'm sorry you have to come to my house to eat for Christmas. That is lame. I'm not that good of a cook." She is a liar. lol. Before we came over though, she asked if there was anything that we traditionally eat for Christmas dinner so that she could maybe make some or something. I told her that we eat squirrels in Arkansas, which absolutely horrified her. LOL. She thought it was so funny though. Now she calls me the "Mangeur des ├ęcureuils" which literally means "Eat of squirrels" lol. 

We were able to stay out until 11 PM on Christmas Eve so we had a ton of fun with them. They are a super cool family. They really made Christmas awesome for us. 

Christmas breakfast - Bacon and Pancakes

THEN on Christmas day we went to Frere DeOliveras house... and he literally made an entire pig. Like in the movies! It was a sight to behold. I didn't get a picture but I think Elder Brill did. I'll have to ask him for it. It was enormous and oh so delicious. He has Portuguese origins, so we had a little bit of spice in our food (which was nice because French people generally hate spicy). We ate an early lunch with them from 12 to 5ish. 

Fun Christmas socks from Julie & Lucy :) 
Present from Cody.  lol
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 After that we were able to Skype at Soeur Mas' house. I think that was the best part of Christmas. I love seeing my ugly siblings. I say ugly because they actually have all gotten really big and beautiful but I HATE it. Especially Sierra... Yuck. No Braces? What is this madness? After seeing my family, it motivates me to continue to work hard as a missionary.


Skyping with his ugly siblings. 
 After our family Skype, Soeur Mas fed us a small dinner of leftovers and then we all drank Caro (which is like Postum/coffee substitute)... So French. lol. 

Up to this point, our week was wonderful! UNTIL

ILLNESS STRIKES
Due to several factors, Elder Brill got REALLY sick and we couldn't leave the apartment for two days. I went crazy. I had cabin fever so bad. Being stuck in the apartment is literally the worse thing that can happen to you as a missionary. You can only read you scriptures, clean, make so many phone calls and sleep before you get really, really, really, REALLY bored. I thought I was going to die. 

Fortunately we were able to go to church and breathe some fresh air... otherwise I think I would have reenacted "The Shining". After those two days I just wanted to run like 10 miles or something. It was not good for my mental health and apparently my physical health too because now I have the same cough as Elder Brill but I guess that is what happens when you are stuck in an apartment with a sick person for 48 hours straight. 

Anyway!

Despite illness, we had a great Christmas! It was so much fun. As I said before, Christmas as a missionary is the best thing ever. I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year! I'm excited to set some resolutions. The New Year is like a huge empty canvas just waiting to get paint thrown on it. Especially since this is my last year in France. I want to tear it up. 


Well! 
I love you! Happy New Year!

Elder Johnson

Monday, December 22, 2014

JOYEUX NOEL!


Elder Johnson and Elder Johnson on exchange (We are cursed with this name)
I love Christmas so much. It is such a special time of year... especially to be a missionary. It has the potential to make you homesick if you don't have the right mindset but as long as you're working hard, you don't have time for any of that stuff. This week's letter will be a little different just because we got to make the most of the Christmas Season. 



 

I just wanted to share a small spiritual thought that I found by reading and reflecting on the Christmas story as found in Luke 2. Before I read, I asked Heavenly Father to help me understand the gravity and importance of the event. 

As I was reading the story, that I have heard and read probably 50 times, I was so touched. I started to really realize how crazy it must have been for those that were there and witnessed the birth of the Savior. I was still struggling to really understand the gravity of the event though. I wanted to feel like I was there when I came across verse 19 which says: “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” After I had read that scripture, I realized even Mary didn't fully understand the significance of the birth of her son. Yes, she understood but not fully. I love how it says that she kept and pondered these the things that she witnessed in her heart.

After reading that, I decided that I would try to read the Christmas Story everyday this week and ponder them in my heart so that I could understand better how magnificent of an even this actually was. 


At our Zone Conference (with David Archuleta. btw...our mission is the best), Sister Roney shared a slogan that really hit home for me. Although the slogan is simply for marketing and trying to get you to buy more products, it shares a very absolute truth. "From one gift come many." 

How true is this simple phrase when applied to the birth of the Savior? "From one gift come many."  Our lives, our families, and everything else you can think of... was made rendered possible through the birth of a child, born in a manger.

Let us all remember the Christmas Spirit this year and rejoice in knowing that the Redeemer of Israel was born and lives today. 


DAVID! AHHH. Only two sisters cried. I did talk to him for about 30 seconds. He is really nice
Joyeux Noel! Je vous aime! 
Que Pere Noel vous offert les choses que vous voulez! ;)
Love,

Elder Johnson

Monday, December 15, 2014

SHARE THE GIFT!

Hello everyone! This week was crazy awesome! We did a LOT of traveling.

Saying Goodbye to Henry and Hinaiti in Marseille

MARSEILLE TO BORDEAUX TO LYON 
So, travelling from Marseille to Perigueux took a lot of time! So much time that by the time I got into Bordeaux it was too late to travel to Perigueux... So, Elder Brill and I stayed with the Bordeaux zone leaders for a night before catching a train to Perigueux the next morning. 

We did P-Day Stuff on Tuesday and whatnot. Then, on Wednesday, we had to go to Bergerac to teach an ami of the other Elders before they got baptized. It was weird to be back in Bergerac... I was just walking around, knowing how to go everywhere. It was cool though. Their ami that is getting baptized is the daughter of a member that Elder Sanchez and I reactivated when we were there... which is super cool. Anyway! That took all day. We get back to Perigueux and realize that we are going to Lyon the next day for Bleus Conference…. 

Bleus Conference

We travel all day to Lyon that Thursday. Stay in Lyon Friday and leave Saturday morning. Being in Lyon brought back SO many memories of the very beginning of my mission and how far I have come as a missionary. It was sick. On Friday, we had lots of time left after conference so I sent a text to Rachelle and Annick (recent converts) to see if I could see them. They were both busy :( Annick was in Paris and Rachelle was super busy with work. They were both really sad that couldn't see me. I was sad too. Fortunately though, I sent a text to the Bonnamy Family to see if I could pass them and they said that there was a ward Christmas party that night. So, we went to the Confluence Ward and I got to see a TON of members from the beginning of my mission. It was SO cool. I was able to talk to them like a normal person in FRENCH! It made me really miss all of them but it was still such a neat experience. One, because I got to see them and two because I got to see that I've made some progress with the language ;) 

Me and Elder Brill in Lyon

Anyway. Lyon and Bleus Conference was awesome. We ended up getting back to Perigueux Saturday evening just in time for the church Christmas Party. It was a good opportunity to meet all of the members and make friends. And that was pretty much our entire week. Trains and traveling. 

Saying goodbye to the other Elders


IL EST LE DON
So, I'm sure that some of you have already watched the video or maybe have heard about the "new" video that the Church has made for Christmas. It is a very simple and beautiful message. We, as missionaries have been encouraged to share it with everyone that will watch it. From members to amis to people on the street. I have probably watched it about 50 times with 50 different people. Each time it really touches me. 


I invite you all to watch the video, discover the gift, and share the gift. Jesus was truly the very first gift, the most precious of all. Christmas time is such a special time of year. Let us not overlook the true meaning :).  #sharethegift

I love you all! 
Que l'esprit de Noel demeure avec nous!
Love,

Elder Johnson