Monday, August 31, 2015

Albi #5 and the Southern Trifecta

On splits with Elder Pittsenbarger 
Hello family and friends! Guess what! Today is transfer day... and I'm staying in Albi for a fifth transfer! I'm really happy to be staying. It would have been lame to have just gone somewhere for six weeks and then bounced. By the end I will have stayed seven and a half months in Albi.  Such a long time, Albi is going to be what I remember my mission as. 

Alors... Elder Steadman is leaving Albi! He is going to Confluence (which is a Lyon equipe). Confluence is the ward that was created in the place of Gerland (the ward where I was born) so it is probably one of my favorite wards. He is lucky to go to Lyon. Except his call is a little special because he is in a special equipe where they close apartments. He is going to be with Elder Hutchinson who is my MTC companion :) 

Here in Albi I received two new companions! Elder Steadman was just so great that they had to send two to replace him ;) I'm now with Elder Omohundro (who is from Kentucky) and Elder Robards (who is from Georgia). We are the southern pride equipe. It is pretty funny. People have already been making comments about it. Maybe President didn't want me to die of culture shock when I came home so he gave me two southerners to ease me back in to Newton county.... hahaha. 

Elder Omohundro is going into his ninth transfer, which is about a year out. Elder Robards has been out for about six months now. They both seem really cool. Our apartment is a little small for three but we're going to make it work. I'm excited because now we are going to be able to meet with all of the single women in the entire world! WOOO! Hahaha. Finally! It is cool.  (Mission rules are that two Elders are not allowed to meet with single sisters/women.  Two can only visit with single sisters/women IF they have a church member with them.)

I'm so tired of our car... hahaha You have no idea. But no worries. We have a rendezvous tomorrow hopefully we can get it there without it exploding. Maybe by the end of this week they will at least know what is wrong with it. It's fine though. I know that it is supposed to take a long time for a reason... If heavenly father really wanted our car to be fixed by now it would be fixed. I just have to be patient.

Brigitte is back from Marseille and came to church this week! She is so happy to be back. She said that she really felt like she had been tested with the fact that she wasn't able to see us but I think she has found out that she can survive spiritually even without the missionaries. It is a good thing. She brought back these really cool mugs for us from Marseille. They are super cool! 

La famille Leroy--- we should be seeing our little celestial French family soon. They have been super busy this summer but now that school is back in and vacation is over they are going to be more free. I'm really excited about that. Hopefully they will be able to start coming to church as well.

Elisabeth-- We are going to try and call her tomorrow. I hope she at least responds and gives us just one more rendezvous just to convince her to keep going. I hope that she does but I'm not sure because of her family situation. We shall see. 

Well! I'm not branche clerk anymore! I got demoted ;) Just kidding. I'm super happy I never have to count branche tithing ever again. We also have a second counselor now. It is nice to know that the branch is becoming self-sufficient. They are going to try to eventually divide the branche in two this December. I hope Albi will be strong enough by then. We just don't have much priesthood. 

I went on exchange with Elder Pittsenbarger this week in Rodez and we took a really cool picture in front of their massive cathedral. Sometimes I walk around talking to people and then I realize how awesome it is to be in France and have so many cool things around... sometimes I forget. 

My exchange with Elder Pittsenbarger was fun. He is going to be training this transfer! Which means there will be a bleu in the branch! I'm excited for that :) I love bleus. Anyway! 

That is it for this week! I'm just trucking along! Having a great time doing the Lord's work. I love what I'm doing and I really hope to make the most out of these last six weeks. 

Que Dieu soit avec vous

Elder Johnson 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Week 23 in Albi!

Bonjour à tous! C'est incroyable qu'une autre semaine soit déjà passée! I say it every week but really, the weeks just run together!

So! Brigitte got back from Marseille at the end of this last week but we still don't have our stinking car. I honestly don't know what we would have done if we actually had a job where we could get fired because honestly no one cares if you don't have a car to go places here. One thing I don't really appreciate about European culture is the total lack of customer service. If it is broken it is your fault and your problem. Oh well... I'm just bitter about not being able to see amis we would have been able to see. But! I digress, Brigitte is doing well. She is excited to come to church this next week. It has been a while.

Zone p-day Volleyball

 We had two lessons with Elisabeth this week and she was progressing really well. She is still praying about her baptismal date. It's funny mom that your brought up the elders teaching Marisa and how they extended the invitation really quick and how we were kind of upset and in disbelieve that they would do that so early... But as missionaries we are supposed to invite people to baptism no later than the second lesson. Elder Kearon of the seventy came to our mission and told us we should be inviting people to baptism as often as we are inviting people to pray. Hahaha. Pretty crazy. But that is what holy boldness is all about. :)

Anyway, Elisabeth was supposed to come to church this week but she called the members that were going to bring her an hour before saying she wasn't feeling well. We sent her a text asking how she was and she said that she was tired and needed to rest and take a break from lessons and that she is going to re contact us :( But it doesn't make any sense that she would say that! We really think she is having family opposition to her taking the lessons. She said she feels really good when she is at church and with us and she said that every time we leave her house she waits with anticipation for our next visit. I just hope it works out. Pray that our suspicions aren't true. I would say through out my mission the number one reason people drop us is because of family. We will see. I just need to have faith things are going to work out.

Still looking for new amis! The weather is cooling off and I think people are starting to be nice again. Haha. 

Paris Temple
When the mission shifted its focus to temples and the ordinances we do inside of the temple, it was kind of weird at first that in contacts we are talking about baptisms for the dead and eternal marriage. But it works really well! We have been showing people pictures of the temples in contacts and then talking about how we do ordinances by proxy for our ancestors and others and it works so well! People are captivated by the temple and when we tell them there is going to be one in Paris they get really excited. We are really tapping into one of the big "F's" of the French culture... (FAMILY, friends, and food... Unfortunately it isn't always in that order but that is besides the point). It's cool to see that our mission president truly is inspired.

I did an exchange with elder Hansen this week, on Monday actually. After we did p-day in Toulouse elder Hansen and I caught a train to Carmaux to visit the famille Allal. I really like them. They are such a fun family. One thing that I have really appreciated in staying in a ville for so long is all of the friendships I have made with members
and Amis. The Allals are really fun because they love to joke. They have this never-ending game called "blague pourrie" which means rotten joke. Basically whoever says the dumbest joke wins but you never really officially start or end the game. No one can officially win but periodically you can take the lead. I think we as missionaries are pretty good at it because our jokes in French are pretty basic. And almost all jokes in French are play on words so if we can come up with a joke. It's always really dumb.

Zone P-Day Volleyball

Anyways! We had a good rendezvous with them and then rode home with Frere Allal. Elder Hansen is a really good missionary. He was in the same district as me when I was in Marseille. I love that despite how big the mission is, you still get to see people again.

The next day we taught Elisabeth, contacted and we were suppose to have another rendezvous but it fell through and we had brought the Famille Billet with us. So we ended up doing a spiritual thought with them before barely catching our train back to Toulouse to end the exchange. We ended up staying with the zone leaders again because we missed our return train. Oh well. I fight the little "if we only had the car voice…" Pretty often but now I'm like a billion times more thankful for it.

Saturday we went over to Eda's house for the first time since she got back from her emergency trip to Maurice. She fed us so stinking much. She makes food for like ten people and only invites four. Eda cracks me up but sometimes she stresses me out too. Sometimes she asks questions or pretends to be for something that isn't compatible with the gospel just to "test us" as missionaries. She is a stinker.

We are slowly reteaching her all of the lessons and slowly correcting some of her odd theological ideas. I mean she has been catholic for like her entire life in France so I understand why some of her ideas are mixed up with half-truths, but we are just super bold with her because she knows that we love her and only tell her the things we do because we care.

After stuffing our faces with Eda we were invited to Mimi's to eat. We cooked with her and it was really fun. She told us how to do everything and we did it. We made this really good pasta sauce with sundried tomatoes and pickles... Sounds odd but it was good.

We felt like giant fatty pants afterwards though because of the back to back meals. We were joking how it was probably better that we didn't serve in Utah because our bodies simply would not have handled all of the meals. Hahaha.

We drove our car this week... and it was super sketchy! But we had to. Eda sent a friend to look at it. He replaced the battery and then we drove it about 30km to his house. Hahaha. We were praying the entire time that it wouldn't explode. The power steering went out several times but then it would come on right before we needed to make a scary turn. Haha. It was an adventure.

One other thing! Today I got a call from Elder Schneider! Which is totally against the rules but it was him that called me so I talked to him. Hahaha. The phone call was super funny because I didn't know who it was at first. I answered and we made small talk and then he asked... Elder Johnson de l'Arkansas.. Il est là? And I said oui and then asked who it was because the entire time I was trying to match the voice to the person because I recognized his voice but just couldn't put my finger on it.

He is doing really well. It was so great to hear from my trainer. He was amazed at how much better my French was. Hahahah. I would hope it has gotten better considering he had me for my first three months. He said that he thought it was another person on the phone :) I'm going to have to visit him. He is so awesome. It pretty much made my day. It made me realize how fast time goes by! We served together forever ago!

Anyway! I love you all! That was it for this week!
Que Dieu soit à vos côtés.
Elder Johnson

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Better Late than Never?

Toulouse + Albi missionaries visiting the Musée des Augustins on P-Day.

Hello family and friends! Sorry this email is a little late but better late than never, eh? The work in Albi has really picked up recently. It's awesome.

Le livre de mormon
I finished the Book of Mormon in French this week! It took long enough! I started when I was in Périgueux and then I fell off the boat for a little bit but then I realized that I didn't have a ton of time left to actually do it so I freaked out and read so much!

It was a really cool experience though because one, I had to read a lot slower than I normally would read than in English so I noticed some really cool things that I would not have noticed otherwise. Two it was really cool because certain French words have more specific connotations than in English so I also understood some cool things :)

I think out of the entire experience it was cool because I realized how the spirit has no language. Whether in French or English it's all the same. The message is the same. Despite it being a different language I felt the spirit just as strongly as I normally would.

Allez vous game - Bordeaux Zone Conference

Nos Amis
We saw Brigitte last week! Super cool miracle. She had to do something in a ville where the bus could take us so we went out there and saw her right before her rendezvous. She has missed us so much! I missed her too. I wanted to hug her and her friend Eric. It's cool when your Amis are actually your friends in real life. She reads every night and prays daily. I'm so proud of her. She says she is feeling stronger as she does it. I just really am thankful she is realizing that she can be spiritually strong even without us. Even if it is better when we are there.

Elisabeth is sooooo coooool. She is so prepared. We taught her with Eda. That was an experience all in itself. Eda loves to talk so much and she kind of took the lesson over but then we saved it. But not before Eda gave her the invitation to keep the word of wisdom. We saw her again today and she is doing so good! She has read so much of the Book of Mormon already. She loves how she feels at church and we invited her to baptism today for the 19th of September. She is going to tell us next rendezvous what she thinks. Pray that she says yes!

Eda is back and doing well. She wants to feed us really bad and we really want to eat her food!

We've been finding cool people too! We will keep you up to date.

Allez vous game - Bordeaux Zone Conference

Conference à Bordeaux
We had a conference in Bordeaux! It was cool but it was kind of weird being back in Bordeaux after not having been there for a little while. I've spent so much of my mission in Bordeaux. The conference was awesome. We are integrating temples into our work a lot more. President Brown really feels inspired that we should focus on the temple in order to prepare France for the Paris temple.

Toulouse + Albi missionaries visiting the Musée des Augustins on P-Day.

We also played a fun game with soeur Brown, charades, no shoes or socks and some water. We have a new key indicator called an "allez vous" which just means that you ask someone a yes or no commitment. So the game was acting out commitments that we give to amis. It was a tri zone conference so it was zone vs zone. I will attach pictures. The more I'm around the Browns the more I love them. They have a different style than the Roneys but they are still pretty cool.

Allez vous game - Bordeaux Zone Conference

At this conference I realized how old I am in the mission. We heard the testimonies of the departing missionaries and the entire time I was just sitting there, thinking about how next transfer it is going to be me. It seems so unreal but it kind of just hit me how close it is.

Anyway. I love you all so much. I'm loving life :) it's great to be a missionary.


Elder Johnson

Toulouse + Albi missionaries visiting the Musée des Augustins on P-Day.