Monday, March 30, 2015

An Awesome Week!

In the car

Hello everyone. This week was so awesome! I love Albi so stinking much! It is such a blast here.

I'm just going to throw it out there right now. My favorite family in the Branche has to be the Yonnet family. They are just so stinking cool! I'm going to talk about them because we had a really funny experience with them this week. I think I love them so much because they remind me a lot of my crazy family.

We go over to there house to have a spiritual thought and eat dinner with them. They live pretty far away. I would say at least an hour and a half drive. Pretty cool that they come to church every Sunday with such a long ride. Anyway, we start our spiritual thought and we are sharing about how trials can refine us and the mood is good. They are really like the thought when their son, Adam, age 7 farts really loud.

You, all knowing me.... It is impossible for me to not laugh at anything even remotely funny, so I start laughing and Adam thinks it is kind of funny so he is laughing and the Yonnet's are just smiling because they don't want to encourage him to do it again. So we compose ourselves and we start going again when Adam farts again! This time I'm prepared for it so I didn't laugh and the Yonnets get a little annoyed with Adam and tell him that it isn't polite to fart and that if he did it again he would be sent to his room. So... We are finishing up our spiritual thought. Testifying of the blessings that come from enduring faithfully and Adam gets up and runs over to his dad and asks whispers in his ear and his dad nods and then Adam runs out of the room but stops just out of sight in the hallway.

After our run

There is a pause in the discussion. Everyone is reflecting on what had been said when Adam... in the hallway, passes an enormous fart. HUGE. I look at Frere Yonnet and we all just explode in laughter. Adam did the right thing by going into the hallway and farting there but it was just too much for us all to handle... and we broke into loud laughter. Then he runs back in and ask, "Vous m'avez entendu?" (Did you hear me?) And Frere Yonnet just says "Hear what?" ahaha. It was too much. I thought of all the times similar things happened in the Johnson household. Goodness.

Adam also wanted to teach us a song in English that was about the colors but it was like alien language whenever he sang it. He would sing about the colors to the melody of Frere Jacques. Instead of singing  "Black green blue; sing the song together it went more like this..."Back greeen, bloo shing zee zong togezzer."

He is so funny. I love this family. They are so sick.

Eda: She is doing great! Really progressing towards her baptism. One of our lessons this week was a little rough because she has this huge dog that loves everyone and loves to get to know everyone by licking them all over and trying to be a lap dog... So the lesson was a little crazy because she kept getting angry at the dog. She couldn’t control the dog so she decided halfway through the lesson the best way to control the dog would to be to get her vacuum cleaner and turn it on every time the dog starting doing something bad. She did this because the dog would run away from the vacuum every time. Hahaha. I would say it wasn’t an environment super conductive to the spirit but oh well.

Axel: We weren't able to see Axel this week because he has been super sick. We are afraid it is because he is trying to stop smoking. Today we are going to go give him a blessing and hopefully things will pick back up again with him.

Brigitte: Brigitte is a super cool ami. She has been taught by the missionaries for a little bit over six months now. We have been struggling to know what her main problem is with getting baptized because every time we talk to her about it or try to set a date she just tells us that she doesn't feel ready. BUT this last week, we went into the lesson with the goal of figuring out what is holding her back and she said it is ONLY because she hasn't stopped smoking yet. No doctrinal problems! So... I think she will have a date soon.

Famille Leroy: Super cool family. The wife was excommunicated but wants to come back and the husband isn't religious but really is interested and wants to learn more. He is like a sponge. I love teaching this family. It is the ideal teaching situation. He has such genuine questions. I love it. We are going to engage them to fix a baptismal date AFTER Sister Leroy has her baby because she is going to have it in like a week or something crazy. But after that, they are going to get baptized. I know it!

Easter candy

The miracle of the week happened this Sunday. This week we had Branch Conference. It was really good. It was nice to have all of the people from the stake in the branch. We had a lot of people at church! We were crammed into our little building. There were so many children! Good gravy.

Last week at church we had 33 people and 3 amis! So, not too shabby. This week there were 59 at church and wait for the miracle of the week, 9 amis at church! NINE! It was so awesome. We prayed all week that we could get a lot of amis at church to show the stake that they should keep the branche in Albi. So much work is going on here right now. I really hope they keep the branche here. If not, I'm going to be really sad.

It really was the cherry on the top of this week to have 9 amis at church. I think the most I've ever had at church was 6 and that was in Lyon with Elder Schneider.

I love Albi so much! Elder Otteson and I are a great team! We literally laugh at everything so I'm having a great time. I couldn’t be happier anywhere else!

Thanks for your prayers and your love!

Elder Johnson

Monday, March 23, 2015

Loving the New Area!

Elder Cameron Johnson with his new companion, Elder Ottesen

Hello dear family and friends! I have so much to tell you about Albi and all of the adventures that I have had this past week! It is pretty darn awesome here! I love it already.

Sooo... I told you a little bit about it last week but I have more info on the branch and all the things that go on there. There is kind of a crisis in Albi right now and the crisis is that they are thinking about moving the branch to Rodez which is about an hour north by car. Rodez has more priesthood holders but for the most part, most of the members live in closer to Albi than Rodez. If they move to Rodez a LOT of members will no longer be able to come to church. So we are hoping that it stays in Albi but we will see.

Anyway, this last week we had 33 people at church! Which is not too shabby! It was a pretty good turn out. We also had three amis at church! We would have had five but two of our amies went to Toulouse ward just to see what a big unity was like.

So the first counselor (Frere Yonnet) and I are like best buds. He is super, super cool. He is about 40 but he brings a lot of youth and energy into the branch with his wife and family. He also speaks English really well because he lived in Utah for a year. We are about to start Priesthood and he sits down by me. We are just about to sing the opening hymn when he asks me, "Have you ever seen Frere Martin* (*name has been changed :)) direct the musique (music)?" And I tell him no and then with a smile he tells me that I’m in for a treat... okay?

Before Frere Martin* starts directing he asks, "Should I conduct with one hand or both?" Then Frere Yonnet is like "Do it however you feel!”  So the musique starts playing and wow: I was in for a surprise! He conducts like an angry Beethoven. If you just saw a video of him conducting you might think that he is conducting an orchestra and not a small group of about 12ish men. I start laughing uncontrollably and I just can’t stop (It is a gift from my dear mother). Then I realize that I have to say the opening prayer and I just can't compose myself. Frere Yonnet is laughing right next to me the entire time as well. Goodness. I get up to say the prayer and I just stand there for like a minute trying not to laugh. I start to say the prayer and I start laughing but then I disguised it as a cough. And that was that.

I don't have to do any interviews or anything like that.... for the most part the branch president or Frere Yonnet is at church and I don’t have to do it. I haven't had to conduct the meeting either yet. I think that I will have to this next week. We will see. It isn't hard. Or at least I haven’t had to do anything hard yet. Sometimes conducting in French is hard but I'll get over that. The main thing I have to do is help count and register the tithing and make sure that it is all being put in the bank. It is kind of fun. I feel like an accountant :)

We are teaching a lot in Albi! The previous Elders have had a lot of success finding, so we have been teaching quite a bit. We currently have three amis with a fixed baptismal date. Two of those dates are very sure and then there is one that is a little less sure. They are all fixed for the 23rd of May. I’ll tell you a bit about our amis:

Axel-So Axel was found through street contacting. Apparently just recently he has been making huge progress. He has known the missionaries for like 20 years. He first met the missionaries in Toulouse and then something happen where he moved and lost contact with them and now we are teaching him again! He believes in the Book of Mormon and the organization of the church. The only thing that is keeping him from being baptized is that he has a very serious smoking addiction and he hasn't come to church yet. He used to smoke like a freight train but he has already cut down a LOT; It is pretty incredible the progress that he has made. He has pretty much switched over to an electronic cigarette and only smokes a couple of real tobacco ones a day. He is slowly weaning himself off the electric cigarette. HE is SO cool. He is kind of different but I love him so much. He is hilarious.

Eda-She was found through a church media referral, which means that she asked for a visit from the missionaries. She is really nice. She is from an island not far from Madagascar. Almost all of her family is in the church. Her husband just recently died and he wants to find God in her life again. The only problem with her is that she LOVES to talk. Like too much. It is hard to teach her because she talks so much. I think it is a way for her to express her thoughts and feelings about the death of her husband but it is slowing down the teaching progress significantly. We really do care about everything that she shares with us; we just don't have a ton of time to teach her. But she is cool. We are starting to figure out how to guide the lessons more effectively.

Famille Vilatte- Miracle family. French family of six!!!! A very rare find. VERY RARE! This family is super cool and I've only met two of the kids so far. All of the kids went to Super Saturday and the kids come to church without their parents! It is pretty incredible. The only thing is they haven’t lately because the work hours of the mom just changed so she is pretty busy. But other than that, they are SO cool. The oldest kid is Alexis, he is 17 and the twins are 15ish and then the youngest is 13.  They are the talk of the branch right now. Just because everyone is like... wow, a family!!!

We have a few more amis that are progressing really well in addition to the ones that I have just talked about. I'll tell you about them next week.

Anyway! That is it for this week! I am loving Albi. There is never a dull moment here! Being a missionary is so stinking awesome.

Je vous aime!

Elder Johnson

Monday, March 16, 2015

Au revoir Périgueux; Bonjour Albi!

So.... Guess what? I have been transferred to Albi! I can’t believe that I didn’t stay in Périgueux. I was so surprised when Elder Acheson answered the phone call from president and hearing the words: you will be staying and receiving blah blah blah. And that point I realized I was leaving. I’m kind of sad to leave Périgueux so fast but it is just like that.

Eating out for district meeting
Albi is a medium sized ville. It is definitely bigger than Périgueux. The thing is, I don’t really have any villes in which I served that are similar in size. I’ve only done really big or really small. So, yeah. There are quite a few special things regarding Albi. Firstly, we have a car! WOOO! We actually have a car! It is so bizarre being in a car, after walking around all of the time for the past year. I’m glad that I don’t have to drive though. Luckily that is Elder Ottesons job. The drivers here are absolutely insane! Personally, I think it is because they don’t start learning how to drive until they are 18. But anyway, Elder Otteson has to drive because he can legally drive here. (After a year in France you can’t drive, too bad)

Saying goodbye in toulouse
The reason we have a car is because our sector is HUGE!! It is the size of three sectors. They recently closed a branch south east of Albi, so they took the missionaries out too. Albi is a branch, a very, very small branch. There are about 25ish people that come regularly but this week there were like 19... including six missionaries. Pretty crazy. The members that I met in the branch are really nice. It is really like a family. I am really impressed that so many of them come... just because for the most part they have to drive around 45 minutes to an hour and a half to get to church.

So, maybe you’re wondering why I was at church in Albi this Sunday instead of next... because usually you do your travelling for the transfer the following Monday of the call. Well, something else special about Albi are the missionaries that serve there. I came in on Saturday to get 'trained' on my special assignment. Anyway, getting to the point, I will be acting as the second counselor in the branch presidency for the time I will be serving in Albi! Pretty stinking crazy. President told me on the phone and I thought I had misheard him! Apparently not!

So, I get to ride around in a car being a second counselor! hahaha

I really feel like I could end my mission here. Most of the missionaries that serve here stay for at least six months... So, yeah. Who knows? I haven't stayed anywhere for longer than four and a half months and that was only once and it was in Lyon.

I went on exchange this week in bergerac and i got to see zoraya and her family!
She told me she is probably going to go on a mission!

My new companion is named Elder Otteson. He is from Washington state and we found out that we actually met each other before the mission! He went to BYU cross-country camp the same year as I did and we hung out there. It is just funny because I remember us looking at each other in a conference one time and feeling like we knew each other but couldn’t put our fingers on it. Pretty funny. Small world, huh!?!

He has been here for four and a half months already and I want to say he has been on his mission for about 9ish months.

Anyway! That is about it for this week! I love you! Please pray for me with this new area and special assignment!

Avec beaucoup d'amour

Elder Johnson

Monday, March 9, 2015


So! This week was rather interesting. We have done so many different things  and they have all been important but they haven't really been the best for our missionary work. I'll explain later but in brief we have been running around like chickens without our heads (probably a little bit more organized than that) doing things. 

Monday was a good day! It was P-day so we went and visited a historic site here in Périgeux. Apparently Périgueux used to be the largest ancient city in northern Gaul? So there are a bunch of Roman ruins here. Pretty cool. There are remnants of a coliseum and a Roman temple. We wanted to go into the museum but it is closed on Mondays... LAME. 

Roman stuff
The weather was so nice this week. It really is starting to be spring. The flowers are coming up and the trees are beginning to blossom. Everyone was eating ice cream and stuff... I was like, it is definitely warmer but I don't know if it is ice-cream weather yet. French people LOVE being outside when it is nice. I think it is their favorite pass time. 

Roman stuff
After doing all of our fun P-day things, we went to family home evening with all of the single adults. It was a good lesson and we ate provençale good, which is a very typical French food. Lots of veggies. Very good :) 

yummy food

Tuesday: We had a great day planned. The mission is currently closing an apartment here in Perigueux, so we had to go over and clean it out. All of the terrible things to clean too. Like, the floor boards, the cabinets, door frames, etc etc.. We spent about two hours over there and then I started feeling sick. 

We came back to our apartment, ate lunch, and then I just felt like poop. So I lay down and woke up at around five (I laid down like at 3), I felt better, drank some water and then we went out to teach Jean Luc. Who, by the way, is doing great. He keeps telling us he wants to be a missionary. We need to get him to that point. That would be such a sick gratification of all the work and teaching we have put into him. 

Wednesday: We did an exchange with the Elders who are in Brive. We caught a really early train which ended up being cancelled and we had to take a bus that took an extra 30 minutes. Apparently they were doing work on our gare. 

The exchange with the Brive Elders was really fun. I came back into Perigueux with Elder Berry and Elder Acheson and Elder Whitmer stayed in Brive. A funny thing about that, Elder Acheson and Elder Whitmer are both bleus so neither of them have a super strong level of French. Elder Berry and I were really hoping to hear of some funny stories when we got our sons back but they ended up being able to fix a rendezvous with a member to do service. They escaped contacting for hours which was probably a good thing. They were more effective helping the member than trying to talk to people. hahaha 

Elder Berry and I visited a less active named Aurore. Her boyfriend isn't a member and they have a 7 year old kid. We showed up and she had forgotten about the rendezvous. She wasn't even there but her boyfriend was. He was like.. “uhhh.”  But he let us in anyway. We waited until she showed up and then we were able to share a spiritual thought. 

Elder Berry and I
It was a really awkward rendezvous and we both felt discouraged afterwards. It just didn't go well. We said, ”Well, that wasn't the worst but it wasn't the best either.”  Fast-forward two days later: she sends us a text thanking us for our thought and how it really touched her. She said that things are really hard for her at the moment and that it really was up lifting. It just made me really happy to know that although we didn't feel like we did well, it was a really good rendezvous. It reminded me of a scripture in 1 Nephi 16:29 –“And there was also written upon them a new writing, which was plain to be read, which did give us understanding concerning the ways of the Lord; and it was written and changed from time to time, according to the faith and diligence which we gave unto it. And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things.”

Although we felt awkward, we did all that we could. Even though it wasn't very much. But as the scriptures say “... by small and simple things do great things come to pass!” It is a blessing to know that my efforts, no matter how puny my best may be, it is enough. 

Thursday: It was district meeting! It was my first time conducting district meeting and the zone leaders came (which was actually a huge help because I could call on them whenever I didn't know what to say :)) It was fun to see all of the elders in our district. We are a small district but I kind of like it like that. 

After district meeting we went and ate at Soeur Mas' house. She made us delicious tartiflette. If you don't know what it is, look up some pictures. It is a hardy French meal. Pretty crazy that such a thing exists! 

That evening we had to go to Bergerac to do baptism buddies. So we taught their amie, Marie Antoinette and then came chilled (which means did missionary work with them) for the rest of the day. 

Friday: We caught and early bus back to Perigueux from Bergerac and then did studies and such as normal. We had a lot of finding time on Friday. It was nice because we hadn't, up until this point, had very much the entire week. We talked to quite a few people but no one really was interested. 

Later that evening, we went and ate with a member, Frere DeOliviera and he made this AMAZING chicken. It is was Portuguese food... oh my goodness. I could have eaten the entire chicken. I probably ate half of it. Not even lying. It was so good. Anyway

Saturday: We cut lots of wood for the Famille Donadier! I got to use a chainsaw. :D It had been a while since the last time I wielded one of those things. It was cool. They are clearing all of this land for all of the wood that they can get off of it. 

It is a different kind of work, but I really like it...mostly because it reminds me of Arkansas and working on the ranch. It is a good de-stressor too. Manuel labor is good for the mind sometimes. We cut lots of wood. Elder Acheson was so tired afterwards. I was too actually now that I think of it. I fell asleep on the 15 minute car ride to their home to eat. hahaha

After we ate with them we showered and then went to the church to prepare for the talent show... that we were in charge of preparing. Yikes, I know. Please be kind to the missionaries in your wards at home and don't give them things like this to do. haha

We get to the church and there is NO ELECTRICITY! NONE! And it is 30 minutes until the soiree show) starts. SO I'm freaking out. I'm checking all of the boxes and everything, nothing. Luckily the branch president showed up and saved the day. There was a box outside that I didn't find. 

We made the branch members laugh SO hard. Elder Acheson played his harmonica and they really, really liked that. And then we did the Star Spangled Banner.... with our special instruments... You know that sound that you can make by saying girl girl girl girl girl over and over into your fist with your pinky finger up in the air? Well, that is what we did and they LOVED it. hahaha. They thought it was the funniest thing they had ever seen.  #success

Anyway! That was our week! I've been fighting not getting discouraged lately with ALL of this other stuff that we had to do because we weren't really able to do much finding this week. I want so badly to find more people to teach. It makes me anxious not teaching people because I'm not filling my purpose 100 percent! 

But, I'm happy because I know I'm doing everything that I can do. Elder Acheson is doing everything that he can do. We are successful missionaries. All we can do is invite. Just sometimes it is nice to see some fruit from all of our work. 

The tricky thing is, a lot of the fruit is stuff that we can't even see. I just have to remember that. 

Anyway! Transfer calls this week! I have a feeling like we are both staying but we will see! 

I love you al! 

Elder Johnson