Monday, January 26, 2015

Landmines and Spiritual Break Throughs

District meeting
Dear Family and Friends, 

This week has been a great one! Despite one huge disappointment, I will cover it later. Anyway, we taught a lot this week! And we had a lot of good rendezvous with the amis that we do have. 

SO! I will start with the most terrible event of the week to get it over with ever since the very beginning of my mission I have always been absolutely disgusted in how much dog poop there is in the streets here in France. Literally you always have to be looking down to not step in it. So, knowing me, I set the impossible goal to not step in dog poop my whole mission. At first I just kind of set it as a joke but the longer that I was not able to step in dog poop, the more serious the goal became... 

24 Janvier 2015, Périgueux, France. It is a cold winter night, rainy and just absolutely horrible. It is dark and the sidewalks are just full of biological landmines laying in wait to be stepped on in the misty darkness. Elder Brill and Johnson are contacting. Whilst contacting, Elder Johnson takes a blind step into the darkness and with panic, realizes he has stepped in a huge pile of dog crap. 

Elder Johnson, to the alarm of his companion, screams out in horror---knowing that his record of one year and three months of not stepping in dog poop have come to a very unfortunate end. He fought a good fight. 

GOSH I was so mad that I stepped in dog poop after making it this far! 

Sooooo.... This last Monday we have a soirée familiale with all of the single members in the Branch and we have a member who is from the West Indies (her name is Magguy). Magguy made blood sausage for family home evening for us! I was a little hesitant to try it but I know how hard it is to make so I decided to make her happy and eat some. It wasn't actually bad! I wouldn't run back to eat some but it wasn't bad. It had a very mild taste to it. 

Before Elder Brill realized he didn't like blood sausage.
Elder Brill on the other hand, couldn't stand it. He took two bites and then whispered to me, "I'm going to puke if I eat any more of this stuff." So then I took his and ate it too. I'm a very charitable person. Right before the family home evening Magguy called us and asked if we wanted her to bring more for us so we could take some home after the soiree was over. I told her that I didn't know if I liked it and that Elder Brill is a pretty picky eater so I told her that it wasn't necessary. She then told me that she had talked to Elder Brill and he said that he loved it! I was all confused because Elder Brill doesn't really speak French yet and I knew that whatever conversation he had, he didn't have any idea what was going on... I asked him about it and he said that Magguy asked him if he liked "Black pudding" and he said YES! I love pudding. Little did he know that "Black pudding" is blood sausage in the UK. LOL. It was pretty darn funny. I laughed so hard when I realized what had happened. 

Our amis are doing really well and, as I said we are starting to teach a lot more! It is great. I really think that it is because we are really giving it our all. We are doing what the Lord would want us to do and he is blessing us abundantly for it. 

Yin-He is our Chinese ami. I love him so much. He is really funny. As much as I love him, his questions are always so hard and logically based sometimes I want to pull my hair out. But we have realized we have to teach him with members if we want to have a good lesson with him. The highlight of the week for me was one of the lessons that we had with him. 

Elder Brill and I were kind of stuck on what we needed to teach him next. When suddenly, Elder Brill said that we should watch a church DVD called "Finding Faith in Christ". Normally, I don't like showing amis this DVD because it is before the church put so much effort and quality into media. The film is pretty cheesy in some parts, but it can still be a good tool. Anyway, I thought about it and I was about to say no when I just felt like we should watch it. At the church later that evening, we watched the film with Yin and Soeur Matthieu (who served a mission in Utah so her English is the bomb). 

When the film finishes, the room goes all quiet and the spirit is unmistakably there. We all just sit in silence for about a minute when Yin asks what I think of the movie and I tell him that I think it is kind of old but that it is really touching and then I ask him what he thought. He kind of just shrugged off the question and tried to start talking about a study where they found Chinese people can't be spiritual and all this n'importe quoi (nonsense). When Soeur Matthieu asks Yin if the things that the stories in the movie depicts could be true.. and he says, “I want them to be true”. 

The room is quiet again for about a minute when Yin asks me what I like about the movie. At the end of the movie, there is a man that is talking to Thomas (the apostle) who says that he wants to believe but he doesn't know if or how he can. I start to get really emotional and tell Yin how he and this man are in the same situation and how God just loves us so much. It’s that instant, I just felt so much love for Yin it was almost crushing. I feel like I felt the love that God feels for him. The lesson continues and we are all just weepy because the spirit was so present. Yin was extremely touched. 

He has been praying, reading, and coming to church and he says he hasn't felt anything yet... and in that moment, I know he felt the spirit. We engaged him right then and there to pray to know if God was there and that if He loved him. Saying the closing prayer, Yin probably said one of the most genuine prayers I have ever heard. In the prayer I he asked "Please help me know this is true so I can share this knowledge and truth with the people of China." After he said that, I got the most distinct impression that he will eventually be baptized and become a member of the church so he can share the gospel with the people in China. 

It was a very tender mercy of the Lord to have such a powerful lesson with Yin. I know without the slightest doubt God loves Yin and wants him to know the truth. After a lesson like that, you are just so happy! It is like a runner's high only way better and more edifying! 

My temporary legality papers until I get the actual card.
 Anyway!!! That is it for this week! I love you all! Transfer calls are this week---I don't think anything will change this transfer but we shall see. 

Que Dieu soit avec vous!
Elder Johnson

Monday, January 19, 2015


Zone Conference
Hello everyone! I apologize for not writing an email last week. My fingers were really tired from knocking on so many doors that week ;) It is weird. I always want to share my experiences and how the week went, but sometimes it is hard to explain missionary life to those who have never been on a mission. When I come home, I will be able to talk to other return missionaries and just say while smiling and nodding "Yeah…the mission." And we will understand each other but for others they have a very limited view of what missionary work actually is, even if they know what we do from a day to day basis. ANYWAY, I digress. 

     What to say about Perigueux? I have been here for about six weeks so far and to be honest, this little town has been kicking my butt lately. La branche is good and the members love us but there are a LOT of problems within the branche, which make things kind of difficult as a missionary. It seems like a lot of the members are struggling right now. It just stink’n stresses me out because I love them. It's funny being a missionary. You realize how selfish and self centered you were before you mission and how important it is to be aware of others. It is an interesting experience to change in such a way. Anyway! 

So! I realized that I LOVE BLEU CHEESE. Oh my goodness, it is so good. I've come a long way since spitting out that nasty cheese at Harmons :) 
     With that said, la branche loves us and wants to share the gospel but just doesn't! So, we have made it a goal to visit every single active member in the branche and share with them how they can share the gospel, show them that we love them and want the best for them and that we are there to help them. I don't know if it is because the last transfer fell on a weird date (so close to Christmas) or what but I don't feel as comfortable in this branche as I have in other places. I'm working on it though. It just seems to be taking a LOT longer that I would like it to. #theSTRUGGLE As frustrating as it is, I find peace in knowing that President Roney is an inspired man, and that me being in Perigueux is for my benefit and for the benefit of others. The trick is having that perspective all of the time. 

    Finding new amis is still the number one goal for us here. Going from such a large city (Marseille) to here, I am still trying to adjust to the fact that you can't just "blow through" bodies when contacting people. There are limited amounts of people! ha. You have to give it your 100 percent effort every single time (and that is how it should be, but it is exhausting!) Being delightful all day whilst being rejected all day in something that is not always easy! But with the right perspective it is more than possible. 

We recently had our zone conference and interviews with President Roney, which came at just the right time. I am always so refreshed and recharged after meeting with President and seeing other missionaries. I think some of my fondest memories after my mission will be all of the zone conferences I had. Anyway! This conference we talked a LOT about attitude and being delightful people. As soon as president said what we were going to talk about I was like, "Crap, I need to change." President engaged us to do a self-inventory and I realize that there were a lot of little things that I could change that would probably have so big effects. Not to say that I wasn't happy or not being a good missionary, but I had began to allow myself to not be as positive as a could have been or being a little bit slower to go out the door or not working out as hard as a could have in the morning---none of these things were super serious and probably won't make a huge difference in the success that I would have BUT they affected how I felt about myself and the work around me. Attitude really is everything. 

After talking to president, I feel more resolute in my desire to give it my all, ALL the time. As Preach my Gospel says, "Commitment defines success." In this little town of Perigueux, that is probably the most important thing that I can remember. I may not be able to see the outward results of my work but I can know that I am being a successful missionary in being fully committed. 

AND! I've grown! (Gotten fatter) You have to take a mug shot for a card that you show on the train and the picture on the left was taken last december and the picture on the right was taken a few days ago!
(Im sorry I can't smile in them.. lol)

So! We have a few amis that I have yet to speak about... mostly because we haven't really been able to see them a ton until this week! I'll talk about Yin first.
Yin is a Chinese man that was found contacting. He has been in France for about a year now so his French is really good but he prefers to speak English with us. He really is searching for God in his life. Teaching him is difficult. He has the hardest questions in the whole world! hahaha. He is very logically based, so he has a hard time understanding spiritual things. Hearing him pray is one of my favorite things ever. His prayers are so sincere and genuine. Hearing him pray helps me remember that we truly are talking to our Heavenly Father---and the things that we are saying should be for Him and not for those who are listening to our prayer. We have recently started teaching him some of the commandments, knowing that as he lives his faith; he will receive an answer more quickly (so pray so that he accepts to live the commitments we give him). 

We have another amie named Cécile and she is absolutely wonderful. She is just super lovable. She has been an amie for almost 2 years now on and off but recently she contacted us so that we could start teaching her again. She is from Cameroon and has been living in France for about 12 years now. She wants to be baptized but because she doesn't have custody of all of her children (and is fighting for it), she fears that her ex husband could use her membership in the church as a way to win the kids over for good since the church still has an ambiguous identity in France. We are really praying for a miracle to happen with her and that the case will be decided as soon as possible. 

We also have an ami named Jean Luc, he is kind of frustrating or really frustrating. But I really just need to have more patience with him. He had a baptismal date when I arrived and we haven't been able to see him since the first week that I was here. He always has excuses. But then I had a feeling like I needed to call him yesterday and he was like, "I'm so sorry that I wasn't able to come to church today.. I have been sick.. but I'm going to come next week and we will see each other at Family Home Evening tomorrow at the church, right?" I was like….uh.. "Okay! :)" Moral of the story is, be patient and love everyone. .

Anyway! That has been our week! We haven't fallen ill or anything it has been great! hahaha Thanks for keeping up with my adventures!
Je vous aime!

Elder Johnson

Monday, January 12, 2015

Stay Tuned For Next Week

So we received and e-mail from Elder Cameron Johnson stating that he didn't have much to report so he did not write a blog letter this week and he was short on time.  SO hang in there. I would expect something next week.... 

In other news, Elder Cameron Johnson's mission will be getting a new mission president in July, Scott D. Brown (click HERE for his bio) - He graduated from Murray High School - Go Spartans!  If you click HERE you can see all the new mission presidents around the world.  They have also added 11 more new missions!  It's quite exciting.  

Monday, January 5, 2015

Illness: PART 2

Main Catherdal in Perigueux

Well! This week was a tad bit frustrating but it was still a good week. That is just how missionary work is. Sometimes, you just get SO frustrated but then you realize that there is no point in being frustrated because everything that is going wrong is out of your control.

Well, I was really hoping that I never had to go back to a French hospital in my entire life but unfortunately Elder Brill's condition constituted one. It was the day of New Year's Eve. We were going about doing missionary work when Elder Brill said that his asthma was really starting to bother him. So, we call Soeur Povar (mission nurse), who tells us that she will look for a hospital that is open. She calls back to say that there aren't any hospitals open and that we are going to have to go the emergency room (which is literally the last place you want to go). 


We get a member to drive us to the hospital and we get out. I translate for Elder Brill at the front desk, they do a little test, and then we wait in the waiting room for 3 hours until his name gets called. I stand up to go with them and they won't let me--even with me telling them that he doesn't speak French... and I still get shot down. So, he goes in and I'm just sitting in the waiting room with all of these hypochondriac French people. It has been like 45 minutes and Elder Brill still isn't out yet. So decide I will try to do missionary work in the hospital! Which is totally illegal but, whatever. I start talking to these two women who are sitting next to me. They are super nice and are sad that they are celebrating New Years eve like this (because New Years is probably just as big as Christmas for French people.  Side note: they also have  Happy New Year like until February. Lol ) without being able to eat with their family or party. But we were able to talk a lot and became friends. I didn't get their numbers or anything but I am 99 percent sure that they would stop and talk to missionaries if they saw them on the street. 

Well, Elder Brill comes out and hour and a half later and he is carrying a little envelope. The first thing he says to me  "Well, that was the best three minute doctor visit I've ever had."  I literally almost died of absolute disgust. We waited close to five hours to have a doctor come in and tell him that he was fine and that the lung doctor didn't work during the holidays. Yeah.... That was really efficient. SO. Yeah. Moral of the story is to NEVER go to a French hospital. Unless you are bleeding from a stab wound out of your butt, you will wait for a good three hours. 

So, as of right now. It is pretty slim pickings as far as amis go. We have been trying really hard to find new people and to teach the ones we already have but man, it is tough! With the Holiday no one is available and then you call them afterwards and they say they can't see you because work is restarting. Ohlala. However, this week is looking pretty good already. We made a LOT of phone calls out of the area book and passed a lot of old amis, AND we have been asking members for people to teach and I think it is really starting to pay off. We have a lot of things already planned for the next few days, which is always a good feeling. 

The work is so slow here compared to Marseille. We were teaching so much everyday and here we barely teach. It has been a little hard to adjust from teaching super often to barely teaching. I remember asking President about the different pace in the work when I moved from Lyon to Bergerac and he said that you just have to be patient. That's all there is to it. Be patient. Patience is probably my weakest Christ like attribute. That is probably why I got sent here. lol. 

Despite it being hard, I feel like I'm fulfilling my purpose by inviting people to come unto Christ. So what if they say no, I've given them the opportunity and in that I can be happy. I'm giving it my 100 percent. 

Anyway! I love you all! Happy New Year!

Elder Johnson