Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas at the MTC


I hope everyone had a "Joyeux Noel!" We had lots going on this past week at the MTC. On Wednesday we taught a lesson to a member that lives in Paris via Skype. We taught her for about 30 minutes on developing Christlike attributes. I was able to understand most of what she was saying so that was comforting! On Christmas Eve we spent the day studying until the evening when we watched a Nativity put on by some of the missionaries. Afterwards, we watched a movie called "Witnesses of Christ." When we got back to our residence we opened our Christmas presents because we weren't going to have time Christmas morning. On Christmas morning we went and listened to Elder Bednar speak. He distributed 150 cellphones so that missionaries could text him questions and we could do a big Q&A session. It was an interesting format but it worked really well! In the evening David Archuleta came and did a little Christmas performance for us. He actually sang a French Christmas song in honor of the people that died in the terrorist attacks in Paris. It was really cool and it definitely made me feel better about having a little bit of a "Spanish accent" haha. We spent this morning cleaning the temple! We were all talking about how proud our mother's would be because we were washing base boards and dusting lots furniture. I even had to dust all the artificial plants with a blow dryer.. The Church takes the term "deep cleaning" very seriously. We got our flight plans and we are on the direct flight to Paris on Monday! I couldn't be more excited!!

Christmas in the MTC!

I just wanted to share a few thoughts that I had when Elder Bednar came and spoke on Christmas. He addressed a question regarding feeling inadequate. The feelings of inadequacy can come and will come as we are asked/called to do things that we think are beyond our capability. Many people may feel inadequate in school, church callings, parenting, jobs, and in my case being a missionary. There is no doubt that I feel very inadequate to accomplish all that is asked in the calling to be a missionary. However, I take great comfort in the response that Elder Bednar gave as he responded to the question of dealing with inadequacy. He said, "When you feel inadequate, remember where your call came from." There is no doubt in my mind where my calling came from. It wasn't by luck or by chance. No matter how inadequate I feel, I know that I am supposed to be serving the people of Paris, France. In all reality we are all very inadequate to do what the Lord asks of us. However, we simply just have to do our best and he will take care of the rest. When we do our best he will enhance our ability to accomplish things that are beyond our natural capability. Through the enabling power of the atonement he will strengthen us through difficult times. He makes up for all the inadequacies we have. His grace will help us accomplish things we don't think we can do. I am so grateful for the knowledge that as we simply "do our best" he will take care of the rest. Happy New Years!

White Christmas with Soeur Burton

Soeur Johnson

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Giving as He Gave


Another week down! I hit my one month mark this past week. It's crazy to think I am already done with the first month of my mission. It makes me realize how important it is to make everyday count. This past week we had to switch classrooms because new missionaries were coming in and apparently needed our classroom. We weren't very happy about it because we had to move all our stuff. We immediately stopped complaining when we walked into our new classroom and realized our view from the window was of the top of the temple with the beautiful mountains in the background. It brings all new meaning to "Always keep the temple in your sights." I am so grateful for the temple!

Christmas lights with Soeur Brown!

On Thursday we did an "English fast." Which means we could only speak French the entire day! Not a word of English. I was surprised that when I was forced to speak in French that I actually know a lot more than I think I do. It was a great opportunity ti measure where I was at and what I needed to work on. We also ended up teaching a couple "TRC"  lessons. Which means we teach members a lesson or share a spiritual thought with them. After one of the lessons the member turned to me and said, "Did you take Spanish?" I said, "I took it in High school." He responded, "Yeah I can tell." This was a little bit concerning because we taught the lesson in French...(or at least I thought so) My "French" is a mix between English words with a French accent, Spanish words I randomly remember from High School and occasionally one or two real French words. I feel like my French has got better but that just might be because I am better at making stuff up now.. I guess we will see when I get to Paris! (13 days..but who's counting?)

I wanted to share a quick story from some of the French missionaries who left last week. About two days before they were supposed to leave for Vanuatu half of them received notice that they were being reassigned temporarily to Mesa, Arizona because their Visas hadn't arrived. They were all pretty devastated about the situation. Especially because the other half of their district received Visa's and were still going to Vanuatu. What nobody knew was that the Mesa, Arizona mission has had a decrease in missionaries in the last year and the Mission President was worried they were going to have to close some areas because of the lack of missionaries. Apparently the President was talking with his assistants and praying about what to do about shutting down the ares. They were just talking about how they needed visa-waiters when the phone rang. He was told that they were sending nine visa-waiters, the exact number they needed to keep all the areas open. I don't think that was coincidence. This is truly the Lord's work and as we trust in him and submit to his will everything will workout.

Our district Christmas tree!

This Christmas is going to be quite unique experience. It will be a lot different from any past or future Christmas I will experience. However, I have a feeling it will be one of the most memorable. II will not be waking up to presents under the tree. Instead, I will have the opportunity to wake up and go listen to an appointed servant of the Lord. Afterwards, eat a "Christmas Lunch" with over 2,000 missionaries who have all dedicated the next 18-24 months of their lives to the Lord. Then we will all return to classrooms to continue studying and preparing ourselves to better help invite others to come unto Christ. There are no days off when it comes to the Lords work. There can't be when the work that is being done is so important. The gift of the gospel has been one of the greatest gifts I have received. I am so grateful for that God gave us the gift that made all other gifts possible, Our Savior. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.." (John 3:16) Giving has existed since the foundation of the world. We have been given the gift of agency. The way we decide to use our agency will show our gratitude for this great gift. This gift came at a great cost. The Atonement became necessary when we were given this gift. The Savior is the ultimate example of how to give. "Never did the Savior give in expectation of receiving. He gave freely and lovingly,and His gifts were of inestimable value... He gave us His love, His service and His life. And most importantly he gave us all mortals resurrection, salvation and eternal life." (President Benson) I hope that this Christmas we can all give a little more like the Savior gave. To give ourselves and our hearts to Him is the greatest gift we could offer. Let's all think of something we could give to the Savior this Christmas to better align our lives with his will. Merry Christmas!!

Soeur Johnson

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Week 4: Be Prepared

This week went by so fast! Every week seems to be getting a little better so that has been a blessing. On Sunday I had a little mini heart attack.. The branch President stands up every Sunday and just announces who is speaking. The idea is that everyone will come prepared with a talk. Since my companion and I were giving the Relief Society lesson we figured we didn't need to prepare talks.. we figured wrong. President Dowling stood up and said, "We would be pleased to hear from Soeur Johnson..." I literally almost cried because there is no way I could have just come up with a talk in French on the spot. After waiting a couple seconds to see my reaction he continued his sentence,"...the one going to Canada." Luckily, there are two "Soeur Johnson"  in our Zone. He concluded by saying, "The closing prayer will be offered by the Soeur Johnson going to Paris." The prayer went much better than the talk would have. What I learned from Sunday.. Be prepared.

So close yet so far... BYU Creamery from last week

The General Young Women's President (Bonnie L. Oscarson) was one of the speakers at our devotional this week. She talked about moving forward with faith knowing the Lord will do his part to help us. She also talked about how sometimes we will be redirected so that we can become what the Lord wants. The Lord will make much more of us than what we could ever do for ourselves. Faith is such a basic principle of the gospel but it is so important. Most of the actions and choices we will make in life are based upon our faith. We must act in faith before we receive blessings. "Faith always proceeds the miracle" (Elder Bednar) When we move forward with faith the Lord will make miracles happen in our lives. I have been reading the New Testament and I just finished reading about Peter walking on water. That was no doubt a miracle that came as a result of having faith. I can't imagine how much faith he would have had to get out of the boat and put his feet on the water. I thought it was interesting that he only started to sink when he started to look around instead of looking directly at the Savior. I think that sometimes happens to us. When we start looking at the world around us we may begin to doubt or become fearful. The world around us is full of doubt and temptations. The ideas of the world will make us think that all hope is lost and that we are not capable of accomplishing what the Savior asks of us. However, if we keep our eyes and goals fixed on the Savior our faith will remain strong and he will allow miracles to happen in our lives. Miracles Happen. I know that he will calm the waves in our lives and prepare a way for miracles to occur as we are faithful and keep our eyes fixed on him. Happy Holidays!

Temple days are the best days!

Soeur Johnson

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Dec 8, 2015

Bonjour family and friends!

This morning we went to the temple. I love P-days for so many reasons but going to the temple is definitely one of the best things. There is no better way to start a day than being in the temple. Afterwards, we were able to escape the MTC for 1 hour! I had to get a watch adjusted so they let us go down the street to the watch place. It was right across from the BYU Creamery... which was definitely a temptation. Don't worry I was very obedient and just looked at it from across the street and when I got back I got ice cream from the vending machine instead. It was nice to be outside the MTC, even if it was only for a little bit!

Wow.. I'm about half way done with the MTC! The days go by really slow here and the weeks go by really fast. It seems a little crazy that we are about half way done because I still don't know very much French. We have started teaching more lessons and I usually just say the same things in every lesson. This week my goal is to work on being able to contribute more. I can say a prayer and bear my testimony in French... so that's really all that matters right? My teacher called on me this week to stand up and recite the first vision in French. My pronunciation was a bit rough but I'm glad I did because it will be great experience for the mission field. On Sunday we had fast Sunday and it was really cool to actually be able to understand what people are saying. I can understand a lot better than I can speak. It makes me excited to see where I will be in the next three weeks! They let us watch the Christmas devotional on Sunday and it was really uplifting. I loved how much the topic of Christ being our light got brought up and how when we look at all the Christmas lights they should remind us of who is our light.

This week I have really thought a lot about receiving revelation and listening to the spirit. Revelation comes as we seek constantly to know what the Lord would have us do. It will not always come easy.. but it will always come. Most of the time we will not necessarily know with a surety that the thing we are doing is correct. However, as we take "a few steps onto the darkness," I know we will be guided and directed. Heaven knows what we need and where we need to go and therefore we won't be lead astray. Our steps will be guided as we trust in the one who is the leader of all. As we live worthy to receive spiritual guidance by keeping our covenants and the commandments we will be prompted and directed. Most of the time we won't know why we feel that we should do something until after we act upon the prompting. In some cases, we might never know why we were prompted to act. However, I know that as we are steadfast in keeping our covenants and following the example of Christ that the spirit will guide us. Happy Holidays!!

Soeur Johnson

(:Pictures are having issues this week so I will have to send some next week)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Bonjour Family and Friends!

The second week went much better than the first week. We now have two teachers who teach us in three hour shifts. The other five hours we have personal study, language study, and companionship study on our own. We have more of a schedule now so things are running a lot more smoothly. You can tell the Elder's who have never moved away from home because we had to explain to them how to do laundry.. They were shocked when we said they couldn't just put everything together at once and that they could DEFINITELY not put their suits in the washers. The MTC Presidency talks a lot to us about trying to stay focus and not to get distracted by "flirting." We assured them that won't be a problem because we all feel more like their mother's than anything. This week has been full of a lot more laughs than tears so that's always a good thing! Finding joy in the little things has been really important. 

Studying hard (or hardly studying) in our classroom

Thanksgiving here was such an unique experience. In the morning we went to a devotional with Elder Oaks. He gave quite an interesting talk. He focused a lot on the history of Thanksgiving and our Founding Fathers. He told us that we need to pray to heal the wounds of our nation. He read a couple of quotes from George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Afterwards he said, "I wish our leaders today would say things like they did." Everyone started laughing because you could tell where he stood with his political beliefs... haha. I do agree we have some incredible Founding Fathers who no doubt were men led by God. He also talked about how we always have things to be grateful for because even during afflictions the Lord pours out his blessings upon us. After we had a "Thanksgiving" lunch and it was probably the best meal I have had at the MTC. In the afternoon we did a big service project. We put together 357,000 meals for hungry children in Utah. It's amazing how many people are in need of service even in our hometown. It was great day spent with lots of uplifting words and lots of service. I hope thanksgiving was great for all of you! 

Temple Walk with my companion Soeur Brown

This week I am taking on a "Challenge to Purify." The definition of purify means to sanctify or to make clean. We all have things that are limiting us from reaching our full potential or from becoming what Heavenly Father wants us to be. As we "purify" our lives and get rid of those things that are holding us back from becoming more like the Savior, we will be able to better reach our full potential. "Who you are and what you are, is more important than what you ever say." (David A. Bednar) The things we do and how we act when we think "no one" is watching will leave much more of an impact on others than what we ever say. One of my favorite quotes comes from the Lion King when he says, "Remember who you are..You are better than you've become." As we remember who we are (Children of God) we will make better choices and want to strive to live a more pure and virtuous life. The challenge to "purify" can be applied to all our lives because none of us are perfect. Luckily, we don't have to do it alone. We can ask for help from the only pure and perfect person who ever lived. Through the enabling power of the atonement we can be given the strength to purify as we resist those temptations and overcome those weaknesses that are holding us back from our potential. 

Thank you for all your examples of pure and virtuous living. I definitely have lots to be grateful for! 

Soeur Johnson 

"We must not forget the source of all our blessings" -Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

MTC: Week 1

Hello Family & Friends!!

I've survived (hardly) the first week at the MTC... The first couple of days at the MTC were a bit rough to say the least. Within the first 20 minutes of arriving I was asked to say the prayer in front of over 300 missionaries. I have a feeling I'm going to get used to talking in front of a lot of people real quick! The holidays apparently mixed things up so we didn't even have a teacher for the first 6 days. I spent our 10 hour days studying and trying to teach to myself French. We finally told someone that we didn't know what we should be doing because we didn't have a teacher. He felt way bad because apparently we should have had someone helping us the whole time... So he FINALLY got us a teacher haha. My companions name is Soeur Brown and she is from Riverton. She took a couple years of French in High School. We have already taught two lessons (in French) to an "investigator." They didn't go so well considering we didn't know exactly what we needed to be doing. Plus it's kinda hard to teach someone something if you don't know how to speak the language. Now since we have a teacher things should start going much better.

My saving grace at the MTC has been the BYU creamery ice cream. You can get it from the vending machine and they serve it in the cafeteria on Sunday's. I basically have a baked potato or fries for every meal. I'm definitely looking forward to the food in Paris.

Our "branch" had about 70 missionaries until about 20 left on Monday for Paris. They already had visas before the attack so it wasn't much of an issue for them. They haven't given us any update on whether we will be delayed or not. They just told us that some of us need to go to the doctor to get some blood work done. Which means hat our Visa's are still being processed. They don't tell us much around here so we probably won't know anything until the week of. Out of our new branch of about 50 French speaking missionaries only 3 of us have never taken French... I'm regretting not listening to Randy and learning some French before I came. Our branch is full of missionaries going all over the world! There are about 20 of us that are going to Paris. It's going to be hard but I'm excited to learn French and teach the people of Paris!

This past week I've learned a lot about change. There has been a lot of change going on and it hasn't been easy. On Sunday we talked about repentance. In my opinion repentance is a perfect example of change. If we truly repent we promise to CHANGE for the better. We can't just repent but not actually change the things we are doing wrong. Even with being out only a short week I have realized I have many things I need to change. I want to develop more of a character like Christ. Elder Bednar talks about one of the most amazing characteristics of Christ is when everyone else would turn in.. he turns out. The Savior always turns out with love, compassion & service when we all (the natural man) would turn in by being self-centered, self absorbed and selfish. When we sin we are turning away from God. When we repent we are reTURNing to God. Repentance helps us turn away from self-centered sin. This can only be possible as we choose to use the atonement of Jesus Christ. He is the perfect example of selfless service. I have come to realize quickly that this mission isn't about me.. it's about HIM and the people of Paris, France. I hope that I can develop more of a character like Christ as I strive to change and repent when I come up short throughout my mission.

I hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving. I will be thinking about all of you. I probably won't have as good of a Thanksgiving dinner as usual but Elder Dallin H. Oaks is coming to speak to us so that makes up for it. (I had to join the MTC Choir to make sure I get a good seat)

Soeur Johnson