Monday, February 29, 2016

Answered Prayers

Bonjour family and friends!

We started off this week by going into Paris for my legality! It was fun because I got to see all the people that I was with in the MTC. We all had to go to the doctor and get some tests done so that we can get approved for our 1st year legality in France. Afterwards, we had a little bit of time so we were able to walk around by Notre Dame and get crepes before we had to head back to Lille!

In front of Notre Dame

I also went on exchanges this week with Soeur Ulrich. We went and visited this cute Brazilian family in Belgium. They are recent converts and just moved here 3 months ago because they wanted the kids to be able to have a better life. They are saving up their money so they can travel to the temple and get sealed. They are so excited and it strengthened my testimony to see how much faith they have. Afterwards, we went out contacting for a little bit. We met this family that had the cutest little girl. We asked them if they believed in God and both the parents said no... just as we were about to say something else the little girls eyes lite up and she said, "Oui!!." Apparently, after her grandparents died she started believing in God. She has been studying with the Jehovah Witness's for a year... By the way she is 9 years old. It was so cool to see how excited she got when we talked about Christ. She literally just glowed like a little angel! Her parents said they are letting her decide her religion. We gave her a brochure but weren't able to set up a lesson. They said they will give us a call if she is interested. It was definitely the highlight of my day.

We had two lessons with our new ami Marie-Aude this week. She is the sister of the brothers who got baptized a couple weeks ago. Our first lesson we taught the restoration and the Joseph Smith story. After we explained what happened with Joseph smith we asked her if she thought it could be possible that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith. Her response surprised me. She said, "Well yes of course! My preacher told us about a 14 year old boy who had a question, prayed about it and God and Christ appeared to him. I just never knew what his name was." She goes to an Evangelist church so we were shocked that she would have heard the story before. As we asked more questions we began to realize that it really was the Joseph Smith story she has been hearing all these years. Her preacher liked to use it as an example that God answers prayers. She is a perfect example that people are being prepared here to hear the gospel. A couple days after we had another lesson with her! We were supposed to teach the "Plan of Salvation" but we didn't feel very good about it. At last minute we decided to switch the lesson to the "Gospel of Jesus Christ." Before we started the lesson we asked, "Do you have any questions?" She replied, "Yeah I have one. What is the gospel?" We quickly responded, "Actually, that's exactly what we planned to talk about today!" It couldn't have been more perfect. We told her about how last minute we felt like we should change lessons. She got a big smile on her face and said, "I think God answered my prayer." I didn't think things could even get any better but they did! At the end of the lesson we invited her to baptism and she said YES! She said she thinks she is going to be ready in 2 years.. We told her we think she can be ready way sooner and that she should set a date. She said, "Okay. March... 2017." Haha. Honestly, I feel like she is ready right now. She asks so many great questions! She studies the Bible so she has a really great foundation. We got her to move it up a whole year by just telling her we thought she was ready so I don't have any doubt that she will be ready to be baptized way before next March. I am excited to watch her progress and develop her testimony in these next couple months! Miracles Happen. I hope everyone has a wonderful week.

Love, Soeur Johnson

Monday, February 22, 2016

A "different" kind of happy

Bonjour Family & Friends!

This week it snowed in Lille!! It didn't stick to the ground so I was really happy about that. It was for sure the coldest week we have had. I am hoping that now it will start to feel more like spring but that might be wishful thinking! This week we didn't have very much luck door knocking but that's okay because we had some other really great lessons!

We had a lesson with our ami Ana. She was doing really well and was even considering baptism. However, she just recently told her parents about how she is looking into the church and they got really mad at her. Her parents are atheist and she is the only child so they are really protective. She hasn't been coming to church because they told her she isn't allowed to go to the church building. She still lets us come teach lessons at her house. She is also going to be coming to Stake Conference because technically it is not being held in a "church building"... We are really hoping that her parents hearts soften because she wants to join the church but won't unless her parents are okay with it. She says one of the reason she likes going to Church is because she likes that everyone is so happy. She said she is happy when she is with her friends but at church she feels a "different" kind of happy.

We also were able to get two new amis! We started teaching the Mother of one of the members in the ward. She hast started coming to church and even began reading the Book of Mormon. She is Catholic at base but isn't practicing. She had some really great questions and we have another lesson set up with her for next week. The two brothers that the Elders baptized last week brought their sister to church! We have a lesson with her tomorrow so we are hoping that goes well. She is super quiet and shy but seems like she would be really receptive. They have a total of 7 siblings in their family so we are hoping they bring a different sibling every week... haha.

Soeur North, Soeur Ulrich,  Soeur Proudfoot, ME

We finally got the opportunity to teach one of our Amis who told us in January that she didn't have time to meet with us until March... We have been dropping by her house to give her cookies but that still didn't seem to be very effective. We finally asked one of the families in the Ward if they could help us. They invited her and her daughter over for dinner this week and then invited us. It was such a great night! Dominique (our ami) and her daughter seemed to have a really enjoyable time. I think it is also good for them to develop friendships and get to know people in the Ward. For our spiritual thought we decided to share the "Because of Him" video ( and Helaman 12:5. We decided that it was important to talk about Jesus Christ because I feel like that is a topic that always bring the spirit. Dominique says she is Atheist so I didn't know how she was going to respond. After we finished watching the video the member made a couple comments and then asked Dominique to share her thoughts! I was really impressed because she had some really good insights and was very willing to share. She talked about how she thought it was interesting that in the video they compared things that were thought to be impossible to Jesus Christ. For example, they showed pictures of a light bulb, space travel, tearing down of the Berlin wall, prosthetic limbs, printing press etc. These were all things at one time thought to be "impossible." She said, "If those things are possible, why not Jesus Christ?" AMEN! I don't think she could have put it a better way. We were able to share our testimonies of Christ and the spirit was really strong. You could literally feel the feeling change in the room when people starting sharing their testimonies. We finished off the night by playing pictionary and having ice cream! It was my first time having ice cream in France so I was really excited. I was telling them how much I liked ice cream and they said, "You are such an American." The ice cream in France isn't as good as in America but I think the pastries make up for it.   I hope you all have a great week!

Love, Soeur Johnson

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Valentine's Day in the "City of Love" (kinda)

Bonjour Family & Friends!

I have officially completed my first transfer! A transfer lasts 6 weeks and it is the period of time that you stay with your companion in your particular area. Every 6 weeks they come out with a "repertoire" that lets every know if they are staying or transferring areas/companions. Nothing is changing for me this transfer. I am staying in Lille with Soeur North! We will be getting a new sister in our apartment though because Soeur Proudfoot got called to open up a sisters companionship in Luxembourg. This is the first they have had sisters in Luxembourg in a long time. Now it really is possible to serve in 3 different countries by the end of my mission! It is an exciting time to be in the France, Paris mission.

This week went really well! There has been a less active lady who has recently started coming back to church with her 3 children. We have been trying to schedule an appointment to come to her house to teach her family but she wasn't really interested. Finally, this week she called us and told us that we could come over! She has a daughter who is 14 and a son who is 11. The aren't members because they have just recently started to go to church. We taught them the first lesson on the Restoration and they are going to get baptized! They are seriously the cutest kids and I am really excited to get to teach them the rest of the lessons. We taught them the Plan of Salvation the day after the Restoration and they loved it. We made paper cut outs of the Plan so that they had a visual. They were super excited about it and said they were going to show their dad (he isn't a member). The Mom was really into it as well and had lots of good questions because she was really concern about what is going to happen to her husband if he never accepts the gospel in this life. The day kept getting better because she took us out to lunch in Belgium! She literally lives right next to the border so we drove 5 minutes and we were in Belgium. She knew I really wanted to try the fries so we went to a Belgium "Friterie." It was so fun! She said next week she will take us to go get Belgium waffles.

Belgium Friterie

We also taught another child this week named Lucille. She is preparing for baptism but she is 8 so she isn't a convert. Her mom wanted us to teach her all the lessons before she got baptized so she had a better understanding of the choice she was making. We taught about the law of tithing and had such a cool experience! Last week, the mom was talking to us and started sobbing because they are really struggling financially. They can't afford to put gas in the car so they can't go to church or really leave the house. The only time she left her house last week was to come pick us up from the train station. Her husband can't work because he hurt his knee and they don't have enough money for the surgery. For the lesson I brought 10 pennies to help demonstrate that we pay 10% of our income to the church. It was really cool to watch the mom testify of the importance of tithing. She ended up teaching more the lesson than we did! She kept telling her daughter, "Are you listening?? This is so so important."  It was really cool to see how much faith and testimony of tithing she had even though I am sure this is a very hard commandment for her to follow. At the end of the lesson we gave the little girl a penny and we also gave one to the mom. (They think it is cool to see American money) We told them that every time they look at it that it should be a reminder of the importance of tithing and the blessings that come when we pay a full tithe. The mom immediately ran out of the room to grab her wallet. She taped the penny across the top of the wallet so that every time she opens it she can see the penny. She had a big smile across her face and kept saying thank you. She reminds me of the scripture in Mosiah 2:41 " should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness." She is a good example to me of the happiness we have when we keep the commandments.. especially when it is hard. Her circumstances haven't changed but that happiness comes because she has a peace of mind that because she is keeping the commandments that the Lord will bless her family both temporally and spiritually. She is a good example of a woman of great faith.

On Saturday the Elders in our ward had two baptisms!! The spirit was so strong and it was great way to start off the new year in our ward. They met one of the men by contacting on the road. They taught him a couple and lessons and he said that he also had a brother that might be interested. They started teaching both of them and they both wanted to be baptized. The Elders were a little worried because they had a smoking problem but as soon as they taught the Word of Wisdom the men gave their packs of cigarettes to the Elders and haven't smoked since. No doubt, miracles are happening in France!

Valentine's Dinner

Spent my first Valentines Day in the country known for the "City of Love!" We had to celebrate accordingly so we had horse meat, mashed potatoes, baguettes (of course)  and chocolate cake. It was such a fun night! Made me really thankful for all the great people that I love in my life. I feel so blessed to have such great family and friends. I hope everyone had a wonderful week. Love you all!!

Love, Soeur Johnson

Monday, February 8, 2016

Grateful for crepes & good people

First of all, on Tuesday it was National Crepe day in France and that might have just become my new favorite Holiday. Also, people were SO nice this week! We met some really cool people and it reminded me that there are such good people in the world. Whether they are Catholic, Muslim, LDS, or Atheist I have met some really great people.

This week we did a lot of contacting and door knocking. On Wednesday we spent almost the whole day trying to find new people to teach. Nobody was interested enough to want to set up a lesson or give us their telephone number. However, we were able to give out two Books of Mormon and a few cards with our information. We even got to say prayers with four atheists! The coolest experience I had that day was when we were talking to this young atheist girl. I understood what she was saying in the beginning when she was explaining that she wasn't believing. She started talking about all this other stuff and I honestly had no idea what was going on. I had this feeling I should ask her about if she has ever heard of the Book of Mormon. I had no idea what she was talking about so I assumed it was going to be way off topic but I figured I should just ask anyway. Afterwards, my companion told me that it was perfect timing because the lady had just finished talking about how much she enjoys literature and reading books. She might not be interested right now but hopefully one day if she ever needs a book to read she will remember hearing about the Book of Mormon. We also offered a B.O.M to another atheist lady and her response was, "Why not.. Maybe I will read it eventually."  It was a good reminder to me that this is the Lord's work and he will not let the inadequacies and weaknesses of 18 & 19 year olds stop it from progressing. If someone needs to hear the gospel He will not let the language barrier be the reason they don't have the opportunity. Most of the time I have no idea what I am doing or what I am going to say. That's okay though because I don't need to know. I just need to be worthy and willing to act upon the spiritual promptings I am given.

The most amazing miracle of the week was the miracle of Emilie! We are coming home from attempting to try to contact three different referrals but none of them were home. What seemed to be a rather unsuccessful night turned into one of the most memorable nights of my mission. We realized we only had 15 minutes left in the night and decided just to go out street contacting. She was the first person we saw so we started talking to her. I think she immediately recognized us a "Mormons"  because she started asking us all these questions about if we think the movies are true. France recently came out with some movies about Mormons and it has created a problem because they are totally inaccurate. They portray LDS beliefs as a mix between Amish and FLDS practices. So typically when people say they have heard of the "Mormons" it is not a good thing... After clearing up some misconceptions, we started talking about what we actually believe. She said she was really interested in learning more and would love to meet with us again. I asked her about what her beliefs were and she said she is "still searching." (we talked to her in English because once she heard our accents she starting speaking in English) We asked if we could say a prayer before we left and she said yes. We asked if there was anything in particular she needed us to pray for. She went silent for a minute. Finally she said, "Well my dad is dying so I guess you could pray for him..." After saying the prayer I looked up and she was crying. She immediately gave us a huge hug and said "I am so grateful I met you."  The spirit was so strong and I am so grateful for the opportunity to maybe bring some hope into her life. The plan is to meet with her again this week!

The one thing that I have had to frequently testify about is the "Plan of Salvation." The answers to life's greatest questions come from having a knowledge of God's plan for us. "Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going?" These great questions are answered when we have the knowledge of the "Plan of Salvation." I feel so lucky that everyday I get to testify about this great plan of happiness. I get to tell people that I know that we lived with our Heavenly Father before this earth and we each chose to come here. I get to explain that we each have a purpose in this life and that afterwards we get to return to live with our Heavenly Father and our families forever. I am so grateful for the knowledge that death is only temporary for us because Christ overcame death. I read a scripture in Mosiah this week that said... "But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ." I hope that everyday I can strive to become a little better so that I am worthy to live with my Heavenly Father and my family forever. Church is true! Have a wonderful week.

Love, Soeur Johnson

Monday, February 1, 2016

Becoming a "Perfect French Woman"

Bonjour Family & Friends!

We started off the week with eating at the family Tessa's house. They are members of our ward and they have a daughter about my age who says she is going to make me "a perfect French woman." I told her I only have 16 more months in France so that probably won't be enough time but she says she likes challenges.. haha. The ward here is super great and treat the missionaries really well. This week we spent a lot of time helping and visiting members of the ward. There are a lot of less actives here so our goal is to help strengthen them and bring some of them back to church. In fact, we had a less active call us because she had a tragedy happen in her family. She needed someone to come over and comfort her so she wasn't alone. We were in a middle of an appointment so we called the Elders and all 4 of them immediately went over to her house. She was so touched that they came over that she came to church on Sunday. She probably doesn't even remember the last time she went to church before that! We were all super excited. We had a lot of trouble this week having lessons with amis because they either didn't show, didn't answer our calls, or said they were too busy. We also had a day that the bus never showed up so we couldn't get to where we needed to be. We had a lot of setbacks when it came to teaching amis this week. However, I realized that missionary work is more than just helping bring new members into the church. I think it is really important to strengthen those that are already members.

Catholic Cathedral

Nobody showed very much interest this week while we were contacting. We did contact a couple people on the street that had actually met with missionaries before. The one lady said she believes everything she was taught about the church but can't be baptized or meet with the missionaries anymore because it creates a big problem in her family. We did hand out "pass along" cards to a couple people so hopefully we are at least planting seeds for them to be prepared to hear the gospel later! We decided this next week we need to increase the amount of contacting we do so that we can find some new amis. Most of our proselytizing comes in the form of street contacting and mettro contacting. My "go to" method of mettro contacting is to start reading "The Book of Mormon" and then lean over and ask the person sitting next to me how to say a word or two or even a whole verse.. haha. Some people are nicer than others but it is a good way for them to start asking questions and for me to try to explain why I am learning French. It also gets them to read the Book of Mormon so that is definitely always a plus! We also do door knocking or what we call "porting." We usually have to set out a block of time to do that because we have to travel a little bit to even get to anywhere that has houses.

"Celebrating the rain" with Soeur Proudfoot

I would say the highlight of this week was last night when we visited a lady named Dominique. She isn't a member but her daughter is 14 and recently got baptized. We have been trying to set up an appointment with her so we can start teaching her the lessons. She said she is super busy and can't meet with us until March... We decided that every week we were going to stop by and bring her cookies until she can meet with us. Last night we felt like we should go see her so we made cookies and just stopped by her house. She actually let us come in and we gave her the cookies and chatted with her for a minute. She seemed really appreciative and we were able to leave her with a prayer. We are really excited to eventually be able to meet with her because she is amazing. She is a really good potential ami! Every week is a different adventure here and miracles are happening. They don't always happen in the way I imagine but I know everyday that we all receive many tender mercies...We just have to learn to recognize them. Thank you for all the love and support!

Love, Soeur Johnson