Monday, December 26, 2016

Joyeux Noël

Bonjour family & friends!!

This is going to be a week that I am going to remember for a really long time! It was so amazing. I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas!

We started off the week by going to a members house that hasn't come to church for a long time. She has decided that she wants to become active again and be able to go back to the temple. She told us that she knows there are blessings that are being withheld from her and her family because she is not doing the things that would allow Heavenly Father to bless her. Her husband and her 9 year old son are not members, so she hasn't always had a good support system. This week they left for vacation but when she gets back we are going to start meeting with her weekly and have her make goals to help her get back to the temple. She has a great testimony and a strong desire to come back. We are so excited to work with her! I think it is so cool that she realized on her own that there are blessings that she is missing out on. That means she has noticed a change in her life from when she has lived gospel standards and when she has not. Heavenly Father wants so badly to give us all the blessings that He possibly can.. but we are usually the ones who keep ourselves from receiving many blessings that we could have if we were just simply obedient.

A Swedish Christmas!

On Tuesday, we went to Paris to have our mission Christmas conference. Bishop Caussé, who is the presiding Bishop of the church, was our surprise visiter! He spoke to us about miracles and in particular, the miracle of the Paris, France temple. He told us about a couple different miracles that happened, which made it possible for the completion of a temple in Paris. They went through years and years of political opposition and difficulty while searching for a place to build the temple. Maybe I will share some of the stories he told us in a future email.He told us that the Paris, France temple is a perfect example that miracles happen, even in France! They really encouraged us to continue to have the faith that miracles exist and that they happen everyday. I left with a renewed sense of motivation and faith!

Christmas Day round #2 with Sœur Brown!

We started off our Christmas celebrations on Christmas Eve! For lunch, we went to the home of a Swedish family in our ward and we had a traditional "Swedish Christmas dinner." Afterwards, we spent the evening with a German family and had "German Christmas." In both of their cultures, they celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. It was fun to be with both of these families and have them share a little bit about their culture with us. Christmas morning we woke up and went to the home of an American family home for breakfast! It was fun to watch their kids open the gifts that Santa had just brought. It made me so happy that we got to go over there because one of the things I love most about Christmas at my house, is that we have a big Christmas breakfast! I had accepted the fact that I would just have to go two Christmases without our traditional American breakfast. However, Heavenly Father proved me wrong! I think it was His Christmas present to me. Afterwards, we all went to church together. I actually love Christmas being on a Sunday because it is a good reminder of what the Christmas season is all about. There is no better opportunity to reflect and think about the life of Jesus Christ than during the sacrament. Two of our investigators even made the sacrifice to come to church.. That is the ultimate Christmas present for a missionary! After church we went home with a family from England and had our Christmas lunch/dinner at their home. We spent the rest of the evening at the home of a Luxembourgish family and we were able to Skype our families. This was definitely a Christmas that I will never forget!

mission Christmas conference!

We did a lot of really fun things and made lots of memories. However, I would say my favorite Christmas memory from this year was from something we did on Christmas Eve. On Thursday, we had visited a lady in the ward that is going through a lot of difficulties in her life. We asked her if she was getting excited for Christmas. She said, "not really" because she knew her kids expected gifts but she couldn't afford to buy them anything. After we left, the member that we went with sent out an email to the entire ward asking for any gift donations that we could give to this single mother. By Saturday morning, they had a huge box full of food and gifts. That evening, we went with our German family and dropped the presents off at her doorstep. We rang the doorbell and ran! It was so cool to watch the little 6 year olds face light up as he looked down and saw all the gifts. The mom and her teenage daughter tried to lift the box up to bring it inside but it was so heavy that they had to have the boys do it! There is no doubt that dropping those gifts off at a family's house who needed it was the best part of Christmas. Service is truly one of the best ways to feel the love of Christ. I'm grateful for the Christmas season where we our encouraged to think a little more about what His birth means to us personally. Have a wonderful week!

Love, Sœur Johnson

Monday, December 19, 2016

Miracles in Luxembourg!

Bonjour family & friends!!

This week we also went and sang at two different nursing homes with our ward. We sang hymns in French, English, and German. All the cute elderly people loved it! It was so fun to watch the big smiles come onto their faces when they heard a hymn in their native language. I think they really appreciated us coming. It was a good reminder that even simple acts of service can make a big difference! Here are some of the miracles we saw this week.

exploring Luxembourg!

We were on our way to visit some members is our ward that don't come as often. We contacted a lady that we saw on the way there and started talking with her. As we were talking with her, there was a man who was trying to go around us on the sidewalk. The sidewalk was really small so we were taking up the whole thing. As we moved out of the way to let him pass, he noticed our plaques and then stopped to ask about who we were. It was pretty cool because I started talking with him and Sœur Brown kept talking to the other lady. So we were having two completely different conversations going on just 3 ft away from each other. Getting one person to stop can be hard enough, let alone two! It was awesome. He actually just moved here from India and is friends with a lot of members of the church there. He is Christian but because they just moved here they don't have a church that they attend. He told us that he wants to bring his family to our church to see what it is like! The other lady that Sœur Brown was talking with was from Brazil and actually had member friends as well. We gave they both our number and the address to the church. We are praying that we see them on Sunday!

Walking around Lux with Soeur Brown!

This week we were walking down a street and Soeur Brown and I were talking about how we just so badly want to find the people Heavenly Father has prepared here. Sometimes it can be hard because we go into certain areas and when we don't feel like we are having much "success". We often question if that was really where we were supposed to go. As we were walking back to the gare to catch our train we saw a lady ahead of us but she was on the other side of the street. We quickly crossed the street (after looking both ways for cars of course) and caught up to her. We introduced ourselves and come to found out that this lady had actually been taught by missionaries in Cape Verde and even had a baptismal date at one point! She is leaving on vacation for the holidays but when she gets back we are going to meet with her. She was literally such a miracle. I think Heavenly Father was trying to teach us a lesson that this is His work and that we need to have more faith that He is in control. If we are obedient and are doing everything we can to follow the spirit, He will make sure we are where we need to be to find the people that he has prepared. This experience reminded me of the scripture in 1 Nephi 7:12," Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him? Wherefore, let us be faithful to him." I think that not only in missionary work but in life in general, we often forget how much power Heavenly Father really does have over everything we do. He is actively involved in the details of our lives and if we are doing everything we can to live the principles of the gospel, He will not lead us astray. We often try to do everything ourselves and forget that He is the one who is really in control. We must have faith that if we do our part, "he will direct our paths for good." It is when our faith begins to falter and when we trust in our individual abilities that we begin to feel that we are not capable of accomplishing everything that is asked of us. In short, have faith and trust that Heavenly Father is not only aware, but actively involved in our daily lives! Lesson learned.

Joyeux Noël! Merry Christmas!

Love, Sœur Johnson

Monday, December 12, 2016

First week in Luxembourg!

Bonjour family and friends!!

We started off the week by heading to Liège, Belgium for Pday! I spent Monday and Tuesday saying goodbye to the members and amis in Brussels. It is always hard saying goodbye. There are a lot of people I am going to really miss! Change is always good though because it provides good experiences to learn and grow... so on Wednesday, I headed off to Luxembourg!

The first word that comes to my mind when I think of Luxembourg is.. BEAUTIFUL! There is a "special air" that Luxembourg has that is nothing like Belgium or France. There are actually a lot of similarities that Brussels and Luxembourg have. They both have a lot of diversity. Everyday we meet people who are from all over the world! Our ward is also very diverse. All the members are wonderful!! They are very willing to help us with missionary work. Our ward boundaries actually go into Belgium and France. That's going to be quite the adventure! We could be in all three countries in one day. It gets even more interesting.. They don't actually have a church building here so on Sundays we hold our church services in conferences rooms at a hotel. They have been working on getting an actual building but it has been really hard. It is wonderful that the spirit is still there even though it is not in a typical church building.

Liège Stairs!

There is a lot of work to do here and the people are ready! Even in our short couple days together, we have seen so many miracles!! We were out knocking on doors and after about 2 hours it was almost time to go home. The night overall was just really kinda weird and nobody was interested. We were walking down the street to go to the bus stop and we had about 6 minutes until it came. We saw a house with the lights on so we decided to knock on one more door! This cute little American family opened up and they knew exactly who we were. The father told us that his boss in Texas was LDS and that he had quite a few friends that were as well. He said that he has actually met with the missionaries multiple times but there are things that he disagrees with so he stopped. He was super nice to us and even offered to let us in just so we could get out of the cold. We had to go, so we didn't take him up on his offer but we prayed with his family and they seemed to be touched! They were really respectful and super sweet. As a missionary, you learn to appreciate the little things. What a tender mercy!

First Sunday at Church in Luxembourg!

Another miracle happened this week that made me appreciate having Soeur Brown even a little more.. We were out contacting and we walked past a bus stop. As soon as we walked past it, I looked over and saw a lady sitting down on the bench. We kept walking but I kept looking back because I had this feeling we should talk to her. We walked about 15 ft past the bus stop and Sœur Brown basically just read my mind because she turned to me and said, "I think we should talk to that lady." Without hesitation, we made a 360 degree turn and went directly up to her and started talking. We talked with her for about 10 minutes but then she had to catch her bus so we got her number and set up a rendezvous for next week. I am grateful that Heavenly Father sends us "two by two" so that the holy ghost can speak to both of us and hopefully at least one of us will act on the prompting that he gives us! "6 And ye shall go forth in the power of my Spirit, preaching my gospel, two by two, in my name, lifting up your voices as with the sound of a trump, declaring my word like unto angels of God." All is well in Luxembourg!! Life is good. L'église est vrai. Have a wonderful week!

Love, Sœur Johnson

Monday, December 5, 2016

Bye bye Brussels

Bonjour friends and family!

This week has been quite exciting. We had transfers and I received the news that I will be leaving Brussels! I will be heading to Luxembourg. For those that are wondering, it's not actually in France or Belgium. Luxembourg is a country of its own! We are the only set of missionaries there. It's crazy to think that the Lord leaves the salvation of a whole country in the hands of two twenty year olds. That's the proof that the Lord is actively involved in this work, because there is no way we would be able to do it alone! Let's just say I was pretty excited when I saw I was going to Luxembourg, but I was even more excited when I saw who my companion is. I will be serving with Sœur Brown! Sound familiar?! That's because we were companions in the MTC! It's going to be fun being able to serve together again, but this time actually teach real people and actually be able to speak French.. (At least more than before)

end of transfer 8! 

This week I had to say goodbye to the sweet Portuguese family we have been teaching. They really are so prepared so it breaks my heart to leave them! We had lunch with them and afterwards I told them that I was leaving. It was hard to say goodbye. The mom has just seemed really stressed for awhile now and we didn't quite understand why. We figured that being a single mom is stressful and so that's why she has been stressed. This time she explained a little more, she told us that 4 years ago she broke her leg in an accident and that when the doctors went to put it back together they did it wrong. It's been causing her a lot of pain lately. The doctors looked at it and told her they will have to go in and break it, in order to put it back together the right way. That's all really stressful/painful by itself. However, it gets even worst because her apartment doesn't have an elevator and she lives on the 3rd floor. She won't ever be able to get up and down the stairs, so she has to find and apartment with an elevator and move before she has her surgery. I am so impressed with the desire she has, even though she is going through a difficult time. We just continued to testify that we know that Heavenly Father hears her prayers and that he will help provide a way to make this difficult time a little easier. We promised her that "all things work together for those that love God." (Romans 8:28) Her situation reminds me of a good quote by President George Q. Cannon, “No matter how serious the trial, how deep the distress, how great the affliction, [God] will never desert us. He never has, and He never will. He cannot do it. It is not His character [to do so]. … He will [always] stand by us. We may pass through the fiery furnace; we may pass through deep waters; but we shall not be consumed nor overwhelmed. We shall emerge from all these trials and difficulties the better and purer for them.”

Christmas time in Brussels!

This last Sunday night we had what we like to call a "Christmas miracle." All the missionaries were invited over to a members house to eat. Any time all the missionaries try to go somewhere together it seems like one of us are always really late. So all the missionaries promised each other that we would all be on time! Since it was "fast" Sunday, I think everyone was a little bit more motivated. We arrived with the other sœurs, 30 minutes before our dinner appointment. Both of us were just going to go "porting" (knock on doors) in the neighborhood. Since there was 4 of us, we got the idea that maybe we should go caroling together! We decided to at least try it to see if would be effective or not. The first door we knocked on was a success!! The lady invited us right in without question. We sang a Christmas hymn for this lady and her 2 kids. Then afterwards, they sang one for us that they have been learning for school. It was so cute! She then started asking about our church and our basic beliefs. We taught her the basics of the restoration together and explained the Book of Mormon. She was a very believing catholic so she disagreed with some of the things we explained but she was very respectful and it was still quite the cool experience. We said a prayer together and then hurried off to our dinner appointment.. which yes, we were late too once again. It was totally worth it though! I hope everyone has a wonderful week.

Love, Sœur Johnson

Monday, November 28, 2016

Belgium Thanksgiving!!

Bonjour family and friends,  

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! On Wednesday night, we had our "missionary thanksgiving" with all the missionary at the Christensen's. It was so delicious! On Thursday we had thanksgiving at our ami Aude's house. It was interesting because there were about 20 people there celebrating thanksgiving but we were the only Americans! Most of the people we talked with were atheist and not really interested in religion. We were able to explain to everyone the basics of our beliefs and clarify some misunderstandings. It made me think about how it is important to find those who are prepared. People who are prepared are much more receptive. Some people who maybe are not ready for the gospel right now, could be ready in a couple years. That's why it's important to never give up! We need to just keep trying and it's their choice to accept it.

thanksgiving dinner! (Much better than my mtc dinner last year)

I started talking with a lady on the metro this past week and we started talking about how I am here as a missionary for my church. She looked down and saw the Book of Mormon. She got a big smile on her face and said, "Vous êtes Mormon?!" She started explaining how her son is actually meeting with the missionaries in the Netherlands and she went to church with him for General Conference. She said that she has seen a big change in her son since he has began meeting with the missionaries. She said she is absolutely shocked because before he wasn't very religious at all. She is interested in reading the Book of Mormon and so we are going to meet with her today to explain it a little more!

thanksgiving with the missionaries!

We had another lesson with our cute Portuguese family. We talked about the important of making choices and how we can use the Holy Ghost to help direct us to know what we should do. The mom was crying and at the end of the lesson and at first we weren't even sure why. She then told us that she knows that the things we are teaching are true and she needs to be baptized. She said it is just hard because it requires a change of lifestyle and she is also dealing with other difficulties in her life. I have noticed on my mission that Satan seems to work twice as hard when people start making good choices and have the desire to follow the Savior. It seems like there is always a big difficulty that comes right before they are about to make the decision to turn their life around for the better! I know that there are great blessings that come to those that make the right choice, despite how hard it is. We are going to try to fix a baptismal date with her in the next couple weeks.

This past Friday we went into Paris for a mission conference with an area seventy. We talked a lot about choosing to serve the lord. President Babin brought up a quote I really like..  He said, "today is the first day of the rest of your mission." This quote could be adjusted to fit almost any situation. We can't change the past but we can control what we do now and in the future. It made me reflect a lot about how choice is directly related with change. If we want to change, we must choose to do so. We must make a conscience effort everyday to be a little better. The choices we make everyday have a direct effect on if we change for the better or worse. It is not something that will just miraculously happen one day. As we consistently put in the effort, we let the enabling power of the atonement work in us and make up for our imperfections and weaknesses. One of my favorite parts of being on a mission is being to see this change happen in members, Amis and missionaries. I love this quote about how the Lord changes us..“The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature..Yes, Christ changes men, and changed men can change the world." Have a wonderful week!

Love, Sœur Johnson

Monday, November 21, 2016

One year déjà?!

Bonjour family & friends!

The beginning of the week we had exchanges with our awesome "Sister Training Leaders." They both are incredible missionaries and I always learn so much from them every time we have exchanges. I did my exchange with Sœur Corneta and we met a lot of really cool people. Most of the people we met were actually Atheists. I love sharing my testimony with them about how I know that there is a God and how prayer has helped me in my life. It's such a cool experience praying with people who have never prayed before. It's interesting because when we testify you can feel the spirit but praying seems to bring the spirit at whole new level. President Benson said, "If we would advance in holiness--increase in favor with God--nothing can take the place of prayer. And so I adjure you to give prayer--daily prayer--secret prayer--a foremost place in your lives. Let no day pass without it."

Exchanges. Saying Goodbye to Soeur Woolley! See ya in 6 months.

This past week I met this girl on the metro named Anita. She is from Venezuela but right now she is here for school. We started talking about religion and found out that she is a orthodox but not really practicing. It's more something she grew up with as part of her cultural and less something that she actually has her own personally testimony of. We talked about knowing the truth for ourselves and how we encourage everyone to ask questions and develop their own personal testimony. Then we said a little prayer with her. Afterwards, she was noticeably touched by the prayer but she also was a little confused. She asked us, "Why do you do that?" I think she is used to prayers being memorized and said out of habit/culture. She had a hard time wrapping her head around the idea that for 18 months we go around and talk with people and pray with them on such a personal level. We both testified of the difference prayer makes in our lives and how we pray with others to help them feel peace in their lives. She thought it was super cool and agreed to meet with us again next week!

Celebrating 1 year on the mission! (Nobody was hurt in the taking of this photo, and only a little bit of hair was singed)

This week I hit my "1 year mark"... it's crazy to think about how fast time flies! It was interesting that I got to spend some time in Lille (where I started my mission) the week of my 1 year mark. It was a good time for me to reflect and see how much I have grown and the things I still need to improve. I don't even know how to begin to explain all the things I have learned in this last year. If anything, the best word I can use to explain how I feel is "grateful." I am so grateful to have the gospel in my life and to have the opportunity to share it with others. I am grateful for the hard times on mission because they have taught me how important it is to rely on Heavenly Father. I am grateful for the lifelong friendships I have made with missionaries, members and Amis. I am grateful for all the tender mercies and miracles I have seen. I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who created a plan that would allow us to return to live with Him, as well as our families again. I am grateful for Jesus Christ who ultimately made that plan possible. I think Ammon (one of the greatest missionaries) says it best, "Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel." I really just have an overwhelming amount of gratitude for the opportunity I have to share my testimony everyday for 18 months. I am so excited to just soak up every moment of everyday these next 6 months!

Love, Sœur Johnson 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Leap of Faith

Bonjour family and friends!!

This was another wonderful. They have finally announced the dedication of the Paris, France temple! It's going to be dedicated May 21. That will be my last Sunday in the mission field! I couldn't be more excited. This last week we went to France because I had to do my legality. I absolutely love Brussels but their definitely is something I just love about France and the people there.

Paris temple!

On Tuesday we had all the sister missionaries in Belgium come up to Brussels for a "finding day!" In other words, we go contacting all day so that we can find new people to teach. We invited members so that they could help us find as well! Most of the members who came are young adults who are actually thinking about going on a mission themselves. It was a good time to talk with them and give them encouragement and talk about their concerns. It was also a good time for me to reflect on why I decided to serve a mission and in what ways the concerns I had before have been answered. Most of them had never gone "contacting" before so they were a little bit nervous! They all did an awesome job and we were able to find new people to teach. That night we got a text from one of the young adults and she told us that she had a good experience and it helped her realize that she wants to serve a mission! It was interesting talking with her throughout the day because a lot of the concerns she has are concerns that I had before I came out. Sometimes we just need to talk a "leap of faith" and trust the Lord will take care of the rest. I am glad she has decided to do just that, I know it will change her life because it has changed mine!

finding day!

We have been teaching the cutest Portuguese family. The mom's name is Amelia and she has two daughters who are 11 & 12. We have already taught them about 3 lessons. They are originally from Portugal and grew up Catholic but mostly because that is the cultural there. They have never really been "practicing" and Amelia has a lot of questions about why they do certain things and who actually has the authority. Our last lesson we taught plan of salvation and focused a lot on Jesus Christ. We ended by showing a video of Jesus Christ that always brings the spirit. Afterwards, I asked them how they felt. They sat in silence for a moment and then they finally said they didn't know because there were no words to describe it. We then explained that the feeling they had was the "spirit", which was testifying to them of the reality Jesus Christ and his ministry, as well as that things we taught were true. It is by the spirit that we come to know by the way we feel that the gospel is true, 5 "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."' At the end of the lesson, they agreed to be baptized when they each receive their own personal confirmation that the gospel is true. I'm so grateful for the Holy Ghost and it's role in helping people become truly converted. Elder Ballard said, “True conversion comes through the power of the Spirit. When the Spirit touches the heart, hearts are changed. When individuals … feel the Spirit working with them, or when they see the evidence of the Lord’s love and mercy in their lives, they are edified and strengthened spiritually and their faith in Him increases. These experiences with the Spirit follow naturally when a person is willing to experiment upon the word. This is how we come to feel the gospel is true.” Have a wonderful week!

Love, Sœur Johnson

Monday, November 7, 2016

Lots of miracles & lots of chocolate

Bonjour family & friends!!

This week once again reminded me how much I love serving in Brussels! Lots of miracles and lots of chocolate made for a wonderful week.

To start off, I just have to talk about what we did today... So when I first got to Brussels I heard rumors about a place you could go and sample all the Belgium chocolate you want but I didn't know where it was. My "go to" phrase to start conversations on the metro became, "do you know where the chocolate factory is where we can try all the Belgium chocolate?" Everyone looked at me like I was a bit crazy (which becomes a normal thing as a missionary) and after about 2 months without success I stopped asking... But we had a little "pday miracle" this week and finally were able to find it! Since I have been waiting to go to this place for the last 4 1/2 months, I got a little excited and ended up not only eating but also buying 3 Kg of chocolate (your welcome family.)

I love Brussels!

On a spiritual note... After dinner one night we had about one hour left to do some contacting. We went out and the first person we talked with was from Spain so only spoke Spanish! I decided to attempt to dust off the high school Spanish that I "learned" and try to talk with her. I definitely wish I would have payed more attention in class but through hand signals and trying to say french words with a Spanish accent, she understood at least enough to pray with us and give us her number so we could give it to the Spanish elders! Then directly after we got on the metro and I sat down next to a lady and started to talk with her. I quickly realized that she was deaf. So instead I typed out what I wanted to say on my iPad and she typed her responses back to me on her phone. We weren't able to have a long enough "conversation" for us to really get very far in the gospel but I think it made her day to even have someone try to talk with her because I don't think it happens very often. I didn't even attempt to try to use sign language because the only things I remember from my Uncle Phil teaching me are cookie, turtle, and thank you!  At the end I just signed "thank you" and she got a big smile on her face and gave us a hug! I love that we go out everyday and never know what to expect. We meet people from all cultures and backgrounds. It's so cool!

lots of chocolate!

We had stake conference this week and an area general authority came and gave a great talk. He shared a story that I really liked. He talked about when he was bishop he had really great organist in his ward. But one day she came and informed him that she was moving in 6 weeks. He prayed to know who he should call as the new ward pianist. He prayed and a name of a certain lady came into his head. He turned and told his counselors. They both looked at him and said, "but she doesn't know how to play piano." He said, "I know she doesn't, but the Lord knows she can." When he extended the call to her she said the exact same thing, "But I don't know how to play piano." She eventually learned how to play piano but it took lots of practice and a lot of faith. I liked this story because it shows that the Lord knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what we are capable of doing and becoming. When he asks us to do something he knows that we are able to do it even if we don't think we can. So we just need to trust in him and have faith that he will help us accomplish all the things he asks! Nephi is a great example of having faith in what God asks, "If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them." Have a great week!!

Love, Sœur Johnson

Monday, October 31, 2016

Life should be enjoyed!

Bonjour family & friends!

This week I had to say goodbye to my sassy french companion, Sœur Méjean and said hello to my new companion Sœur Kitchen! Change can be hard but it is good to have new and different experiences because it allows us to learn ad grow... And that's what life is all about.  I know there are lots of things I need to learn this next transfer!!

My last rendez-vous with Sœur Méjean was Tuesday night. Our ami Clémentine invited us over to have dinner with her family. There are not members and never really have had interaction with the church. They asked lots of great questions! They have heard a lot of stuff about the church so it was a good opportunity to clear things up. It was really good to have Sœur Méjean there to show that the church is worldwide. They asked her where she was from and said, "I am French." Then they said, "Oh a French American." She responded, "No, like French from France." They were surprised to meet a "Mormon" that wasn't from America! We were able to explain to them the basics of our beliefs and what we do as missionaries. They were super cool and easy to talk with. Hopefully, we were able to leave a good impression! It must have gone alright because they already said I can come back over for dinner before I leave Brussels. What a great last rendezvous to finish up a great two transfers!

Dinner with Clémentine! Aka my favorite person ever

This week we meet a girl on the street named Vanessa. We started talking with her and she didn't seem that interested at first. Usually when that happens, we try to ask different questions or talk about different subjects until it's something that they are interested in (or until they walk away). This time the question that really made the difference was, "What are the things in life that bring you happiness?" She paused for a moment, and then got emotional. It took her a minute but then she finally managed to say, "Hardly anything, life is hard." We were able to testify that we know God is there for her and that the reason we are here on earth is to have joy.  "Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy." (2 Nephi 2:25) We explained that Indeed life can be hard, but trials and difficulties are part of the plan that Heavenly Father created for us... And that no matter the circumstance, we can always find joy and happiness. We told her that understanding why we are here on earth will not take away our problems, but make it easier to overcome the trials we face in life because we have a different perspective. We told her that one of the things that bring us comfort in hard moments is prayer. We were able to pray with her and then set up and rendez-vous for next week to explain the plan of salvation!

Fall with Sœur Kitchen!

This experience reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from President Hinckley,  "Life should be enjoyed not just endured!" What a simple, but really quite profond statement. It is so true! There are always things that we can find that make us happy. It's just up to us to choose to look for the good in every situation! Have a wonderful week. L'église est vrai.

Love, Sœur Johnson

Monday, October 24, 2016

Be strong and of good courage!

Bonjour family & friends!

This week we had transfers and I am happy to say that I will be staying in Brussels for one more transfer! Sœur Méjean will be leaving to Arizona and I will be getting a new companion! I am excited to be able to stay and continue to help with the progression of our amis.

To start off the week, we had a "Family Home Evening" with the Christensen's and our ami Clementine! We had dinner all together and then talked about the blessings that come from having the gospel. We talked about how the gospel is one thing the always remains constant in our lives. We brought up baptism and she said that she wants to be married in the temple one day so she is going to for sure eventually get baptized. She said that she thinks it is probably going to happen in the next year. The thing is that she wants to be baptized by one of the members of her "host family" that introduced her to the gospel back in Idaho. When I asked her what the biggest thing was that was stopping her from being baptized she said, "it's hard to be a member here because you feel alone." She said that most of her friends have the wrong idea about our beliefs and it makes it hard for her because she doesn't have as much support here. We assured her that even if at times she feels alone, she will never actually be alone. We explained that at baptism she is given the companionship of the Holy Ghost who will always be our constant companion as we live worthy of it. We are promised, "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." (John 14:18) What are great promise because no matter where we are in the world there may be times when we feel alone.

district photo! Frites & grand place

When we were having this conversation I was reminded of a talk that President Monson gave a couple years ago.. he says, "As we go about living from day to day, it is almost inevitable that our faith will be challenged. We may at times find ourselves surrounded by others and yet standing in the minority or even standing alone concerning what is acceptable and what is not. Do we have the moral courage to stand firm for our beliefs, even if by so doing we must stand alone?" It's not always easy to have the moral courage to stand up for what we believe but I know that we will be blessed for doing so.. and I know that we are never alone! "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." He is always with us! Have a wonderful week.

Love, Sœur Johnson

Monday, October 17, 2016

Vous êtes Mormon?!

Bonjour family & friends!

What another wonderful week! Life could not be better here in Brussels, Belgium. So many great things happened this week that I don't even know where to begin.

We had another lesson this week with our ami Nadjat who we taught a couple weeks ago. She is the one who was muslim but decided that it wasn't for her and is interested in learning about Christianity. We had such an awesome lesson with her! She asks the best questions and love her desire to learn and to know the truth. My favorite part of the lesson was when we talked about prophets and she got all wide eyed and said, "There is a living prophet?!" Our response was an astounding, "Yes!" She immediately responded, "That makes so much sense!" She explained how not that long ago she was talking with her husband and brought up the point that it doesn't make sense that we just all of the sudden "stop needing" prophets here on earth. We told her that of course it doesn't make sense because we do NEED prophets and therefore we HAVE prophets in these latter days! I am not sure if she even listened to anything else that we said after that because she was so consumed with the idea of having a living prophet. She kept saying, "Wow, there really is a living prophet?!"

In the middle of the week we got a text from our Ami Aude (the one who wants us to go to her beach house) letting us know that she was planning on coming to church! Sunday she showed up, with a beautiful dress and Book of Mormon in hand! She took notes the whole time and really enjoyed it. She said she is going to try to come every week at least for 1 hour. We were more than supportive of that idea! She lives really close to the church so it makes it easy. Before she left, she turned to us and said, "I would like to invite you to my house for Thanksgiving and was wondering if you could say the prayer over dinner?" There was definitely no hesitation in saying yes! Thanksgiving is an American holiday so they don't celebrate here and so we assumed that we would just have to have our own "missionary thanksgiving dinner". Since Aude grew up in America for 20 years, she decided to carry on the tradition when she moved back to Belgium. Every year she invites a bunch of her friends and they have a big Thanksgiving dinner! What a great opportunity we are going to have to be able to share the gospel while eating turkey dinner!

dinner with members!

Sunday night we were waiting to get on the metro to go home for dinner after a busy day of meetings and church. I looked over and saw a lady standing a good distance away from me. Immediately, the thought came to me that I needed to talk to her. I quickly brushed the thought away because it definitely was one of those "awkward situations." It wasn't like she was standing right next to me and I could just casually start talking with her. I looked over again and got the same impression a second time. I knew I needed to do it but to be honest I didn't want to! I watched the clock tick down on the metro as I tried for 4 minutes to sum up the courage do it. I have talked to hundreds and probably even thousands of random people on my mission but it seems like there are certain situations that make it harder to do so. This was one of them. With two minutes left until the metro came, I maneuvered my way over to her and started up a conversation. She definitely thought I was the weirdest person at first until she saw my plaque and said, "Vous êtes Mormon?" (You are Mormon?) Come to find out, she used to meet with the missionaries (one of them happening to be my MTC teacher) and her 3 kids were even baptized by him. They are no longer active and they ended up moving houses and so the church has lost contact with them. We ended up getting her new address and she is going to call us to set up a rendezvous! What a tender mercy.

I have reflected a lot on this experience. It made me think about how every day we pray that we can find new people to teach and who are ready to hear the gospel. Everyday the Lord puts new people in our way but it's our choice whether we choose to act on the promptings we receive. I'm sure there are many opportunities that I have missed because I didn't want to act on the prompting I received. I think this is something that happens quite frequently when we pray. We often pray and ask for certain blessings or certain things to happen. However, part of praying with "real intent" means that we are willing to act upon the answers we receive. Quite often we are asked to do things that we don't feel comfortable with or don't necessarily want to do. The Lord has promised us that he will answer our prayers but we need to submit out will to his and be willing to act on what he tells us to do. "Waiting patiently on the Lord, for your prayers have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded with this seal and testament--the Lord hath sworn and decreed that they shall be granted."(D&C 98) We need to remember when we pray and asks for certain things that they will be given to us, but we must be willing to do what the Lord asks of us in order to obtain our promise blessings. I'm grateful for the gospel. I'm grateful that Heavenly Father answers our prayers. I'm grateful to be serving! Church is true. Have a wonderful week!

Love, Sœur Johnson

Monday, October 10, 2016

The field is white already to harvest!!

Bonjour family & friends!

This week we started off by going to the US embassy! They wouldn't let me go inside with the Soeur Méjean.. So instead I sat in the park across the street and waited until she was finished. I bought myself a crêpe, sat on a park bench and read the Book of Mormon. To make it even better, the weather was absolutely beautiful! I sat there thinking about how grateful I am that I got called to the France, Paris Mission. I really feel so blessed that I have the opportunity to serve here. It was the first time I have been alone in 11 months! Lets just say that 1 hour of solitude went way too fast. If anything, it was good time to reflect on all the tender mercies and many blessings I have been given. Life can't be too bad if I find myself sitting in a park right next to Champs-Élysées, eating a crêpe, and reading the Book of Mormon! I was reminded that I definitely need to "count my many blessings." What a great way to start off a great week!

Taking a stroll on Champs-Élysées

We had a super cool miracle this week. We accidentally missed the tram stop we were supposed to get off at so we got off at the next stop and went to get back on the tram going the other direction. Right before we got on the tram I heard someone say, "Hey do you have a Book of Mormon in English?" We turned around and it was a young college student. We started talking with her and came to find out that she has seen a lot of missionaries on trams, metros etc. and is interested in religion and would like to read the Book of Mormon. She has already tried to read it in French but thinks it will be easier if she reads it in English because that's the language she does her studies in. We didn't have a English Book of Mormon with us so instead we scheduled a rendezvous for the next day. We went to her house and were able to teach her the restoration and explain the Book of Mormon. We invited her to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know if it is true! She was super open and receptive.

our cute ami Clementine!

And now for my favorite miracle of the week... Our ami Clementine (the one who went meet on the street but happened to be at the farewell for the senior couple who is now serving in Brussels) texted us Saturday night and told us that she was coming church and wanted to give us a ride! She was telling us about how she went through the Provo temple open house and said it was beautiful.  She also started talking about how her favorite temple is the Manti temple. Apparently, was she was in Idaho she really wanted to go see it so her host family said that if she read the whole Book of Mormon they would take her...So she did! She was asking US what our favorite conference talks were. She started watching conference on her own at her house! She said, "My host family says that missionaries would call me a "golden investigator". We were both like...ummm yes!! Literally, I have never meet someone more prepared for the gospel. By just talking with her, you would have no idea that she wasn't even a member! Her testimony, helps strengthen mine. Meeting people like her give me hope that there really are people prepared to hear the gospel. People like her inspire me to work a little harder, be a little better, and sacrifice a little more. "Yea, verily, verily, I say unto you, that the field is white already to harvest; wherefore, thrust in your sickles, and reap with all your might, mind, and strength." There are people that have been prepared and are ready for the gospel. The Lord has called each member of the church to participate in the "harvest." Have a great week!

Love, Sœur Johnson 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Paris & Prophets

Bonjour family & friends!

This week we were finally able to set up a rendezvous with Aude, the lady we meet a couple weeks ago..(the one who wants us to come to her beach house) She is also the one that comes with her family to our church every mothers day. We started of by talking to her to try to get to know her a little better. Come to find out, when she was younger the missionaries would come knock on her door, her dad would let them in and have discussions with them. Her dad also took lessons from the missionaries a couple years ago. It seems like the Lord has been helping to prepare her over the years. In fact, she was in London last week and happened to be right by the temple. We both feel like she is so ready to hear the gospel (she just doesn't know it yet!) She didn't have a lot of time so we just shared a video and talked about how God hears and answers our prayers. We are hoping to see her again this week or the week after and share with her the message of the restoration!

Always happy to be in Paris!

On the way home, our phone starting ringing and Sœur Méjean answered it. It only took me a couple seconds to discern who was on the other line of the phone by the look on her face. She finally has received her VISA!! Today we spent the day in Paris because she has an appointment with the US embassy tomorrow. We will find out in a couple days when exactly she will be leaving. It will probably been within the next week or two! We have had lot of fun the last 8 weeks but I'm excited for her to start a new adventure.

Sœur Méjean..the only person I know that doesn't like Paris.

This past weekend we had the chance to watch General Conference. As a missionary, it's basically like Christmas! What an amazing blessing it is to be able to get guidance and direction from living prophets and apostles. I have been able to gain a strong testimony of the reality of prophets and apostles because it is actually pretty logic. As Elder Holland says, "We believe in a God who is engaged in our lives, who is not silent, not absent." If he talked to prophets hundreds of years ago why would he stop now? He wouldn't. It wouldn't make sense. In fact, we are living in a time where we need God active in our lives more than ever. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He never changes. Therefore, he continues to do what he has always done, provide prophets who can be his mouthpiece.

P-day in Paris!

We haven't had the opportunity to watch the last session of conference yet because of the time difference but the other ones I watched were wonderful. In particular, I really enjoyed Russel M. Nelson's talk on joy. He talked about how joy doesn't depend on our circumstances, but our focus. What we choose to focus on in our lives makes all the difference. I loved when he said the Savior's joy is constant. My mission has brought me joy. Not because it's been easy, but because I get to serve to Lord. I don't think before I have ever felt the joy that I have been able to feel on my mission. I had a lot of things that made me happy, but I never felt the pure joy that comes from consecrating my life to the Savior and his work. I'm grateful for the constant joy that the Savior has provided for me! L'église est vrai. Have a great week!

Love, Sœur Johnson

Monday, September 26, 2016

Instruments in his hands

Bonjour family & friends!

We had such a cool rendezvous with a new Ami that we found the week before. Her name is Nadjet and she is originally from Algeria. She was born into a Muslim family and was very practicing. After awhile she starting having questions and doubts that she realized couldn't be answered by her religion. Right now, she is "searching" for the answers to her questions. There are so many thoughts and questions she has that correspond with the gospel! We had a great lesson with her and introduce her to the Book of Mormon. She downloaded gospel library right there on the spot and said she is going to start reading the Book of Mormon. She isn't quite sure what she believes right now so she isn't even sure if there is a God. We asked her this week to pray to know if there is a God. She said she would do it! She already has shown a lot of faith by agreeing to pray even though she isn't sure if there is someone listening. We have another rendezvous this week and we will follow up!

We had a feeling that we should stop by a house of a new Ami. We had stopped by 2-3 times before and she had never been there. This time she happened to be home and let us in! We started to talking with her and she told us, "I'm usually never home at this time but today I felt that I needed to stay home a little longer." She said that this week had been especially hard for her and that it was a blessing that we stopped by and were able to share a little message. I'm glad we were able to do something to brighten her day!

This week we were teaching Flavie (the 11 year old who is preparing for baptism) and her grandma happened to be there. She isn't a member but decided to sit in on our lesson. After the lesson, she started asking questions about the Book of Mormon. She told us she wants to reads the Book of Mormon so she can know for herself. We told her we were more than happy to bring her one and then invited her to come to the family home evening that we were having with the them that week. Afterwards, we walked to the train station with Nene (Flavie's mom) and she was totally surprised by what just happened. She said that her mom has always been totally against the church and has wanted nothing to do it. At family home evening we were able to give her a Book of Mormon and commit her to read it! We are hoping we will be able to start teaching her as well. It's amazing how Heavenly Father is able to soften people's hearts and prepare them over the years to hear the gospel.

On Saturday, we went to a baptism the elders had for their Ami David! His conversion is actually a really cool story. When one of the elders that is here now was in his last area, he challenged a family to give away a Book of Mormon. They accepted and little while later they gave a Book of Mormon to their friend David that was living in Brussels. He started to reading and going to church on his own. This all happened during the time that there were no missionaries here in Brussels. A couple months later when missionaries were put back into Brussels, this same missionary who challenged the family to give away a Book of Mormon was transferred here and was able to start teaching David! He read the Book of Mormon 6 times before his baptism! There was no doubt that he is truly converted. This is a good example of how we can be instruments in the Lords hand if we listen to the spirit and its promptings. The longer and longer I am on my mission, the more and more I realize that the Lord is actively involved in the work of bringing souls unto him. "And this is the blessing which hath been bestowed upon us, that we have been made instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work." (Alma 26:3) What a blessing it is to be one of those "instruments" in this marvelous work! Which each have the opportunity to play a part in someone's conversion if we choose to let ourselves be "instruments" in his hands.

Love, Sœur Johnson

Monday, September 19, 2016

Deuxième chance!

Bonjour family & friends !

This week we had a rendezvous with one of old Amis that we haven't see for awhile because it was hard to get in contact with her. She has been really busy because her family owns a restaurant so she is working there a lot. She told us that we could stop by her restaurant if we wanted to see her! We decided to stop by and lucky we were able to talk with her for a minute. She had some other friends who were there and we sat done at the table next to them. Our ami came and sat with us and we started talking. After a minute her friends started in with our conversation and began to ask us questions. Come to find out, we had actually contacted one of them on the street awhile ago. I actually didn't even remember her at all because apparently she told us she was in a hurry so we didn't even have a conversation with her. This time we were able to talk with her and give her a brief explanation of the restoration and afterwards introduce the Book of Mormon. We were able to clear up a lot of misconceptions about our beliefs.  It so cool that God gives people second chances to hear the gospel! Then at the end of the conversation we were saying a prayer and someone walked in the door. When we were finished we looked up and he was walking right towards us with a smile on his face. He said,"hey! I am a member of church. I was baptized a couple years ago!" We were able to talk with him for a minute and invited him to come to church because he hasn't been active for awhile. It was such a productive 30 minutes! It was no doubt Heavenly Father giving us some tender mercies.

my fav place in Bruxelles.. Grand Place!

We had "Family Home Evening" with the family we are helping to become active. It was the first time they have ever done a FHE so the mom was really nervous about it. We made them a "FHE" chart with a slot for everyone's name and the list of the things they are in charge of doing each week (ex. Prayer, lesson, activity treat etc.) The mom gave the lesson this time and we contributed by making "American cookies" aka (chocolate chip cookies.) There kids are ages 11, 8, and 5. Overall, it went really well!! Of course, by the end of FHE the kids were all complaining that the lesson was going too long and kept asking when it would be finished. (They probably were just excited to eat our cookies) We assured here that unfortunately, that's how we acted quite often during FHE too and to not get discouraged. It reminded me about when I was in Lille and Elder Christofferson came for stake conference. One of the things he talked about was the importance of family home evening. He talked about how the important part of family home evening is consistency. It would be much easier for parents to just not have family home evenings every time kids started to complain. It's true that looking back I don't necessarily remember one FHE in particular but I remember that we would try to have them every week.. And if my parents willingly endured through the times when we complained and continued to have FHE the week after, it must be important!

Japanese tower!

On Sunday, we had a "missionary themed" sacrament meeting. A couple of the missionaries gave talks about the importance of sharing the gospel and then all 10 of us did a musical number. Quite of few members have said that they have noticed a different feeling in the ward now that they have missionaries back. We are working hard to have a ward committed to missionary work! I have learned so many different things so far on my mission, but if anything I think my mission is preparing me to be a better member missionary after my mission. One of the missionaries shared a talk from Elder Bednar that explains that members should be the full time "finders" and missionaries are the full time "teachers." My favorite talk about member missionary work is from Henry B. Eyring. He says, "Why should I speak to anyone about the gospel who seems content? What danger is there to them or to me if I do or say nothing? Well, the danger may be hard to see, but it is real, both for them and for us. For instance, at some moment in the world to come, everyone you will ever meet will know what you know now. They will know that the only way to live forever in association with our families and in the presence of our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, was to choose to enter into the gate by baptism at the hands of those with authority from God. They will know that the only way families can be together forever is to accept and keep sacred covenants offered in the temples of God on this earth. And they will know that you knew. And they will remember whether you offered them what someone had offered you." The greatest thing we can do for the people we love is to share the gospel with them! Church is true. All is well. Have a great week!

Love, Soeur Johnson

Monday, September 12, 2016

"Daily Bread"

Bonjour family and friends!

We had transfers this past week and I found out that I will be staying in Brussels for another transfer. I couldn't be happier!!

Officially done with transfer 6!

This week we met a really cool lady from Columbia. At the beginning of the contact she was really reserved and her responses were really short. We decided to ask if we could say a prayer with her. We asked if there was anything she needed us to pray for.. She is actually going through a divorce and so we said a prayer to help her get through this difficult time. After the prayer she was SO much more opened and we were able to have more of a conversation. Her house in Columbia is actually right down the street from a LDS church so she has talked with missionaries before. At the end of the conversation she asked us, "How do I get in contact with you again?" It's always a good sign when they ask to see us again before we even propose the idea. The sad part is that she lives in the Netherlands so she isn't even in our area. We are going to give her contact information to the missionaries there! I love how much prayer brings the spirit and makes people so much more opened to hear the gospel.

While we were on the bus this week we past by a bus stop and I had a feeling that I should just write down the name of one of the stops we passed so that we could come back later. The next day we were going out contacting and were thinking about where we should go. I remembered that I had written down the name of that bus stop. We decided that we would try it out! We got off the bus and started walking. Before we could even start contacting to anyone, this girl came up and started talking to us! She was actually an exchange student in Pocatello, Idaho and went to church every Sunday with the family she was staying with. She said she goes back and visits every summer and she was actually just there. In fact, she was at church for the farewell for Elder & Sister Christensen (the senior couple who just came to Brussels) Then she told us that she is planning to come to church here in Brussels in two weeks! We talked to Christensens and they said that they have been having difficulties getting her contact information. We were able to exchange numbers so it worked out perfectly. It was definitely not just a "coincidence" that we just happened to go to that bus stop at that time!

Always finding cool things here in Bruxelles!!

On Wednesday, we got together all the missionaries in our ward and decided to visit less active members. We made a bunch of cookies and printed out a picture of all of us with a funny quote on it. We made a list of the members we wanted to see and we started visiting them. When they were there, we shared a video called "Daily Bread." It talks about how we need to feed our bodies everyday physically. However, sometimes we forget that we also need to feed our bodies "spiritually" everyday too. Just like we need to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. We also need to pray, read our scriptures, and mediate. Everyday we should be doing the things that allow us to "come unto Christ." (John 6:35) "And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst."  As we "come unto Christ" we will be spiritually filled and have the energy, and faith to face what the future hold for us. We often think the solution to our problems come in the form of physical substance. However, most of the time there is a spiritual remedy because most of us are actually spiritually malnourished. As we "feed ourselves spiritually" everyday we will notice a difference in the way we feel. We will be spiritually nourished and ready take on whatever comes our way. It's the little things that we do everyday that will make a big difference! Have a great week.

Love, Soeur Johnson

Monday, September 5, 2016

Divine Assistance

Bonjour family and friends!!

This last Sunday all the 8 missionaries in our ward had dinner with the cutest Brazilian couple. They like to have us over every month. We always look forward to it because it's always the best meal we have that month! They are both just genuinely good people who enjoy doing what they can to serve others. At the end of the night we shared a spiritual message as always. The wife only speaks Portuguese and so it's not very easy to communicate with her. Most of the time I don't think she even knows what any of us are saying. At the end of the message she was crying. She bore her testimony to us (her husband translated) about how much she was touched by the feeling/spirit that is in her home when the missionaries are over. It was really cute because honestly I don't think she understood anything that any of us said but she could feel the spirit because the spirit has no language barrier. It was a good reminder that indeed "who we are" is more important than "what we ever say." That night really made me reflect about the importance of always being worthy to have the spirit with us. At baptism, we are all promised that the spirit will always be with us as long as we are worthy of it. Each week we get to renew those baptismal covenants as we worthily partake of the sacrament. What a blessing that is to us and those around us that we have the 3rd member of the Godhead as our constant companion if we are worthy.

Brussels Transfer photos!!

We also had a lesson with the family who we are trying reactivate! They have 3 girls and they are all so adorable. We started teaching them the lessons for baptism. While we are setting the dates for the baptism, we asked the girls when they would like to be baptized. The cute 8 year was all like, "Umm right now!" They still have a lot to learn so they are going to be baptized toward the end of October. They really have such sweet spirits that it makes it so fun to teach them! We talked with the mom a little bit and she was telling us that during the time she was inactive she went to different churches but none of them felt right. She said there was always something missing. She said that even though she regrets going inactive, it was reconfirmed to her where she could find the fullness of the gospel. We talked about change and how it is so cool that Heavenly Father gives us the opportunity to choose to change for the better. If we don't like where we are, we can choose to change our situation for the better. I read this quote this week that I thought was good.. “We must change anything we can change that may be part of the problem. … We thank our Father in Heaven we are allowed to change, we thank Jesus we can change, and ultimately we do so only with Their divine assistance. Certainly not everything we struggle with is a result of our actions. Often it is the result of the actions of others or just the mortal events of life. But anything we can change we should change, and we must forgive the rest. In this way our access to the Savior’s Atonement becomes as unimpeded as we, with our imperfections, can make it. He will take it from there” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2006, 70–71; or Ensign, May 2006, 70). Once we do all we can, he will help us with the rest!

Park contacting

I'm grateful for the chance that a mission has given me to really change and become better. We all make mistakes but I know that when we choose to change for the better we will not be alone in doing soon. We will always have divine assistance! All is well. Church is true. Have a great week.

Love, Sœur Johnson

Monday, August 29, 2016

Watch your step

Bonjour family and friends!!

This week we met a cool young girl who is originally from Georgia (the country) She is here doing her masters. We talked to her about why we are here about the goal of this life. She doesn't know for sure if there is a God or not. We were just talking on the street and so we asked if she another time we could talk with her and explain more. She said, "I have got time right now!" We found the nearest park, sat down on the grass and taught the plan of salvation! It was so fun to just be sitting in the park and sharing the gospel. I can't think of a better thing to be doing right now!

We met the sweetest lady while we were contacting. Her name is Rosanne. We started talking to her and she explained to us how it is not easy to talk about religion now a days because it's a really sensitive topic. She said one of her close friends just passed away a week ago and it has been hard. We said a prayer with her and the spirit was sooo strong! She gave us a big hug afterwards. Most of these people will never join the church or be receptive to the gospel is this life. However, I think it brightens up their day and it's something they will always remember.

adventures with Soeur slaughter!

The second week in Brussels we were at church and talking with all the members to get to know them better. We started talking with one lady and ended up finding out that she was actually a less active and that was her first time coming to church in a long time. She served a mission in Switzerland by after she got married she fell away from the church because her husband wasn't very active. Recently, she has had a desire to come back to church and be reactivated. She has 3 kids and wants them to start developing testimonies. We haven't seen her at church since the second week and this last week her name kept coming to mind. The Stake President has really been emphasizing the importance of looking for opportunities to do service for members. I decided to give her a call and offer to do service for her family. She accepted and we scheduled a day that we could go over. A couple minutes later she called us back and said, "Actually,  the best type of "service" you could do for me is to teach my kids and prepare them for baptism...Would you be willing to do that?" Ummm yes!!

European Commission.. My favorite place to contact because everyone speaks English
After talking with her for awhile about her past it became obvious that she was a really strong member of the church at one point. She never would have imagined ending up where she is now. It sounded like it started with just the little choices that she made that eventually made her fall away from the church. It made me think about how we need to beware of what we do everyday. It always starts with the little things. Are we reading our scriptures, saying prayers, going to church etc.?  Are we just going through the motions or are we being sincere? Are we doing something everyday to strengthen our testimony? Or it is slowly withering away? I love this quote..  "An old proverb says that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, so watch your step... For a step in the wrong direction can have everlasting consequences." Everyday we need to check our steps to see if we are going in the "right" direction. If we have gone off course we need to remember that it is never too late to choose the right path. Choose to change your direction now! Remember, it starts with the little things! Have a  great week!

Love, Soeur Johnson

Monday, August 22, 2016

Half way there!!

Bonjour family and friends!!

This week we had a rendezvous with Marie, who was one of our "last minute miracles" the past week. We taught her and her 18 year old daughter. She is a practicing Catholic but she wanted us to come over to explain what gives us to motivation and desire to be a missionary. She was so impressed that two young girls would have enough courage to just stop people on the road and start talking to them about religion. We each bore our testimony of why we decided to serve a mission. I explained that personally, I feel that I have been really blessed in my life because of the gospel and want others to have access to the same blessings. We introduced the Book of Mormon and explained that the Book of Mormon is essentially why we are here. We bore testimony of the power and spirit she can from reading the Book of Mormon. She promised us that she would read the whole thing. She is starting work again so she said we can come back again in a few weeks after she has read a little bit of it! She gave us a little "pep talk" at the end of our lesson and told us not to get discouraged because people in the world need God in their life. She was so sweet!

"Flower carpet" in Grand Place!

We met the coolest lady while we were contacting! Her daughter met the missionaries awhile ago on the tram and her daughter started taking the lessons. They invited her daughter to church and it happened to be Mother's Day so the whole family went together. She said that she really likes our church and so since then she comes every Mother's Day with her family. We talked for a minute and when she was about to go we asked if we could say a prayer with her. Right as we were about to say it, I turned to her and asked if there was anything in particular she needed us to pray for. She stood in silence for a moment and then started crying. She explained to us that her family was going through a hard time because of some choices that her son had made. After the prayer, we talked about Gods plan for each of us. She told us that she believes everything happens for a reason and that were supposed to meet each other that day. She said she was so grateful so she wanted to give us something in return... She told us that she has a house on the beach and would love to give us the keys so we can go have a fun weekend! She said she totally trusts us and it's something she would really like to do for us. We both didn't have the heart to tell her we can't spend the weekend at the beach so instead we took it as a good opportunity to get her number. I am going to call and tell her that in 9 months I would love to take her up on her offer but until then we would really appreciate if she would let us come teach her the missionary lessons... I will let you know how it goes!

This past week I hit my 9 months mark! I can't believe I am half way done with my mission. There are so many different things I have learned in these last 9 months and so many more things I need to learn in these following 9 months. As I reflect on my last 9 months of my mission, I can't help but feel a overwhelming feeling of gratitude. I am so grateful for the gospel. It has changed my life. It has helped me change my priorities between what is important, and what is not. The gospel has given me an eternal perspective. The gospel is one of the only things that stays consistent in life. It is one of the only things that will never change. We live in a world that is always changing and there are people around us who change with it. If we want to be truly happy, we must keep the gospel at the center of our lives. That doesn't mean we won't have bad things happen to us. That doesn't mean we won't have temptations or life won't be hard. It just means that we will be able to get through those bad times more easily, because we have an eternal perspective. It means that we will make better choices because we know the eternal consequences. It means when we make mistakes, we will have a desire to do everything we can to fix the wrong we have done and then move forward, trying everyday to be a little better.

Belgium countryside!

The gospel gives us the knowledge of why we are here and where we are going. That knowledge makes ALL the difference as we are given the opportunity everyday to use our free agency. How will we use it? Will we choose to make the gospel our first priority? In the Book of Mormon we can read about what happens to a people when they make the gospel the center of their lives.. "15 And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people...and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God." As we make the gospel the center of our lives, we too can be among those "happy" people. The happiness that comes from living the gospel is different from the happiness that the world give us. We will have the kind of happiness that comes from having a love for God and the gospel... And that is true happiness! Church is true. All is well. Have a wonderful week.

Love, Soeur Johnson