Monday, May 25, 2015

''Je suis prête! Baptises-moi!''

Elder Johnson & Elder Strong in Albi
WOOO! What a week! This week was so good but also so hard. It is funny how that happens. Things are just going good and then all of the sudden opposition just comes up out of nowhere. There is a quote from an apostle that says something like "When everything is going good... just wait." haha. It's true! Anyway, I'll explain.

So! This week we had the awesome occasion to baptize Eda! It was a really neat experience. There were four baptisms that all went down on the same day. Up until this point in my mission I haven't ever been to a baptism with more than one person being baptized so it was a very special occasion for everyone that came. The two men in the middle are from Toulouse Capitole and then the two sets on the outside (me, Eda, Elder Gossel, and Mde Gil) are all from Albi. 

There was a really good turn out at the church despite the baptism being an hour drive away from where we normally meet for church. Eda invited five friends, who all really enjoyed themselves. One of them thought we were a sect before she came to the baptism and then afterwards she said she felt a peace come over her as soon as she walked into the building, the spirit :D We hope to start teaching her friends soon. She is on a spiritual high right now and we are going to ride the wave of that. 

Super cool tender mercy... Okay, prepare yourselves. Eda is from the Island of Maurice, which is near Madagascar. Her family there is in the church. Her mom is super well known over there for loving missionaries and always feeding them and whatever. Anyway! The bishop of Toulouse Capitole Ward came up to Eda after the service to congratulate her and they started talking and somehow they got onto the subject of where Eda is originally from. The bishop served his mission in Maurice and he ate at Eda's mom's house like every week! He said that she was one of the best members there. Okay, so already cool tender mercy,  the world is small and with the church it is even smaller but it gets better. The bishop calls his wife over and then the wife is like,  you look familiar.. do you have any sisters in the church? Eda says yes and she lists off the names. The bishops wife looks super surprised and then covers her mouth with her hand and she says,"When I was a missionary in England, I served with your sister!" HA! How crazy is that?! They both started crying and hugged. lol. It was super sweet. Eda had family that was going to come to the baptism but then something happened to where they couldn't anymore. She said this is a way the Lord allowed her "family" to come to her baptism. It was so cool. 

Something kind of funny. As we walked into the water, I got all ready to do the baptism and say the baptismal prayer and then Eda said... "Je suis prete, baptises moi!'' (I’m ready... baptize me!) and starts to bend her knees and lean back... lol I was like wait, wait, wait! lol 

So aside from Eda's baptism this week was really hard. Our amis have kind of just fallen like flies. We are no longer seeing Axel. He is in the hospital and he said he can't see us for at least two weeks. The Family Leroy is still super cool and open to have us but because of Stan's work and the new baby, we have been put on hold for the moment. Meethel text us yesterday saying how she was too busy to see us for at least two weeks. So... we are looking at square one pretty much (except with Brigitte). 

I don’t know if it is because summer has started or what but suddenly people have been SO stinking mean. I hadn't been yelled so violently in public in a really long time. I don't know if it is because we stick out a lot easier with our white shirts or what but man, people have just been awful. But! We know it is just because we need to find new amis right now and someone wants us to be discouraged and give up. HA! NEVER! 

Our numbers were pretty bad this week but they should be better this next week. We just hope to find new people. That is our man focus right now. 

Elder Strong and I went to the Yonnet's house and Soeur Yonnet had made some hummus and she was like "Do you like spicy?" In French it is "Vous aimez épicé?" and Elder Strong didn't understand and he repeated back "J'aime pisser?" which means "I like to pee?" but kind of in a vulgar way. The Yonnets tried so hard not to laugh but I exploded with laughter and they gave up as soon as they saw my hopeless case.... it was too funny. I love being with a bleu. 

So, we probably had our best lesson we have ever had with Brigitte this week. We prayed and fasted before and the spirit was so strong. We know she is ready to fix a date and she does too but she is scared. 

I probably made the boldest promise I have ever made my entire mission in that rendezvous. We promised her that if she fixed a date, she would find a new house without a problem IF she fixes a date. Then we said, "After you see Eda's baptism, we are going to fix a date, and you are going to find a house." She got all quiet and said,"Ok". Usually when we try to fix a date she is like.. noooo, I don't want to... I hate dates...etc. But this time she didn't fight it at all. It was so cool. 

I know that if we hadn't prayed and fasted then we would not have been able to bring the spirit to the lesson like we did. Our amis have so many needs and concerns and for us, it is impossible to know all of them, to find the silver bullet so to speak. There isn't just one thing that you can say that will help them. The silver bullet in that sense doesn't exist. The spirit is the silver bullet. It changes hearts, minds and notions. I am so thankful for power of the spirit in conversion. 

SOOOOO. That was our week! Pray that we find new people! 

I love you all!

Elder Johnson

Albi France

Monday, May 18, 2015

"SANS TITRE"---because I don't know what to put as a headline

Bonjour everyone! 

This week was really good... just like the rest of them. I haven't had a bad week in a while (knocking on wood). Things are just dandy here in Albi, France. We have a lot of good things going on right now. 

So, I guess I will start with Eda (because her baptism is this Saturday!). Eda is so great. I really love her. She cracks me up. She doesn't joke or try to make us laugh but the way she says things is just too much sometimes. For example... she is in LOVE with Moroni. (Moroni is a great leader in the Book of Mormon) If Moroni was living today, she would probably try to marry him. I need to explain why...

So, after Eda's husband passed away, she had a dream that Moroni was in it. Well, she didn't know who it was at the time but he looked really familiar to her (because her mom has a huge picture of him in her house) SO, she wakes up the next morning and sees the picture and realizes that it is him and feels like it is a sign that she needs to "go back to her roots" and be baptized (because all of her family is in the church.) Ever since then, she has been in love with him. When we are were going over the baptismal interview questions we asked her if she believed that Joseph Smith had been the prophet who restored the gospel to the earth? And she said, "You know, I like Joseph Smith but Moroni is way stronger." hahaha. Her exact words. She went on for like 10 minutes talking about how strong and awesome Moroni was until we finally re-asked the question and she is like "Oh yeah, for sure! Of course Joseph Smith restored the church. " hahah. Maybe she understood the question as "Who is your favorite hero in the Book of Mormon?" 

She is so excited for her baptism. There are actually going to be four baptisms the same day. The Rodez elders (who come to our branch) are having a baptism, along with two equipes in Toulouse. It is going to be a really cool day. She has invited around 20ish people, not even kidding. And they are all coming. Some are coming from PARIS. Yes, PARIS. She called me the other day to see if we wanted to go to the temple in Suisse with her after her baptism. We explained we couldn't go but she is already planning her trip! lol. I also told her that we had to teach all of her friends after her baptism and she was like "Pas de soucis!" "Not a problem!" She is really cool. 

Brigitte is also doing well. We were only able to see her once this last week because she had a friend that came up from Marseille so they spent time together. She is currently looking to move closer to Albi, which will be good. Pray that she finds a house soon! 

Meethel, our Chinese amie is probably one of my favorite people on planet earth. She is just so stinking open to new ideas. We invited her to church this last week and she said she is excited to come. We hope to give her a baptismal date this week. Whenever you are teaching her she just nods her head and says "Hmm. Hmm. Hmm. Ok. Hmm." Does that make sense? "Yes. Perfect sense!" She told us she really wants that what we teach her to be true. She is awesome. 

We had zone p-day last Monday. It was nice. All of the equipes in the zone went to Toulouse and we ate together, talked and just played some fun games. It made me think about how incredible it is to be a missionary. There are so many people that I love so much that I would have never met had I not come on a mission. Missionaries, members and amis. All thanks to the mission. 

After playing around we had to drive back to Albi to get all of our other p-day stuff done (clean, wash the car, groceries, emails). It is too bad we live so far away from Toulouse. It is a pretty cool city. Very pretty. 

We had an apartment check this week (it is to see if your apartment is clean). We passed with flying colors. The senior couple told us it was one of the cleanest. Yeah, I'm pretty proud. 

We did gardening work with Soeur Delouche this week. I love working in the garden so much. It is nice to change the type of work you do on a day to day basis. It is kind of a stress relief. She was impressed with our gardening skills. 

We should be getting iPads this Friday if everything goes well. I'm not getting my hopes up just because I've been hearing about our mission getting iPads for about a year now. I am excited to get them though. They are really going to change the work. I'm a little worried about carrying one around all the time though. I mean, once one bad person finds out missionaries have iPads, a lot of bad people could. But I mean, we are in France, it isn't like people get stabbed in the butt everyday. 

So, spiritual thought of the week. I was studying for certain amis of ours and I came across the scripture in Corinthians 10:13:

 13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

This scripture is a real comfort for me. To know that I'm not destined to fail because of weaknesses or "favorite sins" that I have won't stop me from overcoming temptation. God loves us and wants only the best for us. He wants us to succeed and will allow us to as we learn to put our trust in Him. There is always an "escape" and He will never be ashamed of us for what we have or have not done because His love in unconditional. 

So! That was our week! I love you all! Thank you for your prayers :) 
Que Dieu Vous Bénisse!

Elder Johnson

Monday, May 11, 2015

Burritos & Biscuits and Gravy

Hello everyone! It is kind of weird writing this email just after having Skyped yesterday. But it was great to see my family. You motivate me to be a better missionary :) 

This week was better than last week. We still had a two-day "business trip" to Lyon for the legality of Elder Strong but other than that it was really productive and good :) 

Trip to Lyon was very efficient and fun! We went out to eat with all the other missionaries that had to come back as well. We went to this place called Master Taco, which is more of a burrito place but still super good. You can order numbers 1-5 as far as size goes. I got a number 3 and it was hard to finish but a couple elders got the 5 (which is more than a kilo or 2.2 pounds). I will attach pictures. Souer Tupai doesn't really know what to think about it :) 

Also, riding the train, I was just looking out the window, admiring the French country side, when we pass this house and in the yard there is a completely naked man, just chilling walking around his yard. I tried to wake Elder Strong up in time to see it but he just barely missed it. I laughed so hard because I was just enjoying this beautiful landscape and BAM... naked man. #OnlyinTheSouthofFrance

Our amis are all doing really well. I recently realized how many miracles have been coming our way. It is a great comfort to know that the Lord can work in ways that we could never accomplish ourselves. 

Brigitte and Aurelie- They are going really strong right now. Brigitte is still trying to stop smoking but she is making great progress. They have seemed to have finally made the "click". Everything just makes sense now. They don't have weird questions or concerns in lessons anymore. We are still working on trying to fix a baptismal date for them both but they feel like they aren't ready because they still need to stop smoking. I really think we are getting close to a date. They have a friend named Eric who kind of floats in and out of lessons. He was there when we invited her to fix a date. Brigitte was like, “I don't know....” and then Eric is all like "This is what you need to do. And you know it is what you need to do. It will bring you great peace in your life!” It was super cool because he actually has been listening in lessons enough to testify to Brigitte about the importance of baptism :)

Eda- Eda cracks me up. She is so nice. This week we went and cut her lawn. It is a pretty big lawn but not THAT big. Afterwards she asked, “How much do I owe you?” After I told her that she couldn't pay us and debating for like 15 minutes she was resolved to saying "Well, this is just an extra blessing... I don't see anything wrong with paying you!" I told her she could pay us in food but not cash. She agreed but wasn't happy. hahaha Her baptism is coming up in two weeks. She is excited. It is going to be a great experience for her. She has already invited like 20 friends. No joking. Now we just have to teach all of them. :) 

Sooooo... for Zone Training, each equip had to bring some type of food that represented their equip. Elder Strong and I had the idea of making biscuits and gravy because we are both from the south, it is easy to make and it is cheap. Well, sadly enough, biscuits don't exist in this country. I was NOT about to make biscuits by hand so we abandon the idea until we got to the imports section where we saw scone mix and they look exactly like biscuits on the box. We buy all of the boxes and take them home where I accidently dump too much milk into the mixture and then have to add flour and roll them out like biscuits. They actually turned out really well and everyone was impressed with Elder Strongs gravy making skills. I'm blessed to have a fellow southerner as a companion :) It was nice to eat biscuits and gravy as well, it had been a while. 

This last Friday, after zone training we went on exchange with the Zone Leaders. I went with Elder Duckworth and Elder Strong stayed in Toulouse. Elder Duckworth is in my MTC group so we had a ton of fun on exchange. We just talked a lot about our whole group and how weird it is that time flies so fast. We taught Ambre, a really cool less active that we are going to reactivate this transfer. She has so much potential. There are some things she needs to do before she comes back to church but she has so much potential. She is such a jokester. We are going to play a funny joke on Elder Strong this week. All in good humor of course. I'm excited to tell you about it :) 

This week I have been studying faith vs fear and I found a scripture that really touched me. It is in
2 Timothy 1:7 It reads:

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

I really like this verse. God isn't someone who wants us to be afraid, He doesn't want us to worry or fear about the future or what decisions we have to make. He has given us the blessings of love, power and a sound mind through the comforts of the Holy Ghost. I know the more fully we put our trust in him, the more fully He can bless us with these comforts :)

Anyway! I love you all! Have a great week! 
Que Dieu soit avec nous

Elder Johnson

Monday, May 4, 2015

I just want to stay in Albi

Hello everyone!

These are all the missionaries that started their mission when Elder Cameron Johnson did in October.
The girls have all gone home as their 18 months are done. 

I don’t have a ton to write about this week just because we got back into Albi this Thursday. So we haven’t had a ton of time back here, which really stresses me out. Whenever I am out of my sector for a long time I just think about my amis and what they are doing. I know they aren’t being taught! It is a weird anxiety. Just sitting around in a ville that isn’t yours does bad things to you. I really enjoyed being in Lyon despite not being able to teach. I love Lyon so stinking much. It will always be my favorite ville. Anyway...

So.... I was in Lyon for about five days because of the mission wide conference. I think I already told you about it. Anywho... I "hung out" with Elder Mueller and Elder Shalk (two Germans) for three days waiting until the bleus arrived. We mostly just contacted the entire time or did nice things for the office elders like clean their apartment or run errands for them. We talked to so many people. We found some really elect people for the equips in Lyon.

Famille Leporé
I did get the opportunity to visit two of my favorite familles that I know. The Bonnamys and the Leporés. Both of them where like "You are still on your mission? How much time do you even have left?!" That was kind of hard to hear. I thought that once I cleared the halfway on my mission, things would get easier and calmer but to be honest I just feel more stressed and pressed for time. I know the clock is ticking and it freaks me out. I don’t like it. haha.

Famille Bonnamy - also shared this photo last week.  :)

As cool as Lyon is, I was ready to leave when we did. On Wednesday we finally got our bleus! My new companion is Elder Strong. He is from Kentucky. He is very quiet and reserved. He probably thinks I’m crazy... hahaha. Probably, because I am. We get along well even though we are different.

Elder Cameron Johnson meeting his new bleu companion, Elder Strong

Riding in the car is a little stressful but it is getting better. He is learning quick but we have already driven on the wrong side of the road twice. Only once on the freeway, so no big deal.

Ummm... I don't really have a whole lot more to say, just because we haven’t really "worked" this week. Our amis are doing really well despite us not being here. Eda will be baptized the 23rd of this month, so pray everything goes well! Brigitte is getting closer and closer to stop smoking. We are going to try to engage her this week to baptism.

We have to go back to Lyon this week. I think I might go crazy if we have to leave anymore. But it is only for two days to do the legality of Elder Strong. It should be quick and we will be back in Albi by Wednesday night.

Voila... that is this week! I will write more next week!
I love you all!

Elder Johnson

President & Sister Roney & Moi