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

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