Monday, March 28, 2016

"God is with us"

This week we had what we call "finding day" in Lille. Missionaries came in from other areas to spend the day trying to find "new Amis" for our sector. We were able to get members of the ward involved and went out on "splits" with them so that we could have even more teams of missionaries out. Overall the day was really successful and we were able to talk with some really great people! The last person of the day that we talked with was a college student from China. It was interesting because we found out she was actually Christian. She said that it has been hard because her family is Christian but not very many other people from China are. She came to Lille for school but hasn't really been able to go to church because they are all in French and she doesn't understand French very well yet. I told her that our church is Christian based and that she can come on Sunday and we will translate for her! It is going to be General Conference anyways so we can have her just watch it in English. I am really hoping that she comes and has a good experience.

Easter dinner with the missionaries!

This has definitely been a week full of lots of different emotions. Obviously, everyone has heard about the recent events in Belgium and the missionaries that were injured. I was just with all those missionaries within the last couple weeks so it was definitely a shock to hear the news. Everyone is very grateful they are alive and are praying they will all be able to have fast recovery. They will all be back in the US by the end of the week. It has been cool to see firsthand the good that has come out of such a terrible event. The amount of people that have been willing to talk and pray with us has literally doubled. Even people that are Atheist have been willing to pray with us because they wanted to pray for the people in Belgium.

Last transfer with cute Soeur Clain!

This week was also Easter! This year Easter became so much more meaningful. I feel a lot of gratitude for the knowledge that because Christ was Resurrected that we can be too. Who knows if the burns the missionaries received from the attacks will ever fully heal in this life. However, I have a strong testimony that because of Christ our bodies will one day be restored to their perfect form. Alma 40:23 "The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame." On Easter Sunday, we also had the opportunity to do a mission wide fast with the families of the missionaries who were injured. It almost feels like Thanksgiving because everyone is just feeling really grateful for all the blessings and miracles we have seen this past week. We broke our fast together by having a big Easter dinner at the church! We had a lot people on the street this week that asked how we could feel so at peace and not be fearful when terrible things are happening in the world. I think Soeur Clain (the sister who was also hurt during the attacks in Belgium) puts it the best way, "It's simple, God is with us."  I couldn't think of a better way to say it. No doubt he watches over and protects all of us because he is indeed "with us." Church is true. All is well here in France! Have a wonderful week!

Love, Soeur Johnson

Monday, March 21, 2016

Anchoring in Christ

Bonjour Family & Friends!

We started off the week by heading up to Valenciennes again! One of the Sister's has a hurt knee so we go up and do exchanges with them. We went out contacting and met a couple of really great potential amis! That night we were supposed to go to a members house but they forgot we were coming so they took us out to a Chinese Buffett instead! It was actually really good and it was fun to finally get to go out.

Zone Conference Activity!

We had a lesson with Marie-Aude this week and we taught about tithing. Every time we teach her I realize more and more how prepared she is to hear the gospel! Apparently she has already been paying tithing in her other church. She told us that she knows she has received a lot of blessings from paying tithing. She even told us that she will bring her tithing on Sunday! It was kinda sad because we had to explain that she can only pay tithing after she is baptized. She was excited to pay it because she knows all the great blessings that come. Last week, Elder Christofferson also talked about tithing a little bit because he said he felt impressed to do so. He said that usually people talk about the blessings that flow from paying tithing but he wanted to talk about the protection that comes from tithing. He said that we are promised that when we pay tithing "the fruits of our labor" will be protected. He said tithing helps bring protection to our families, jobs, homes etc. It was interesting perspective that I have never really thought about!

Zone conference with Elder & Sister Norby!

We also has zone conference this week. We talked a lot about importance of anchoring ourselves in Christ, involving members, and improving our contacting. I really enjoyed when we talked about anchoring in Christ. The definition of an anchor is.. "A person or thing that provides stability or confidence in an otherwise uncertain situation." We live in such an uncertain and always changing world, which makes it so important to be anchored and to trust in something that will never change. Christ is the ideal person to anchor our faith in because he is the one person that understands how we feel. He is the only person in this world that can truly empathize with us. When we are anchored in Christ our faith replaces our fears. When we are anchored in Christ we are filled with hope. One of my favorite scriptures is Ether 12:4.."whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men.." President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “We live in a world of uncertainty. For some, there will be great accomplishment. For others, disappointment. For some, much of rejoicing and gladness, good health, and gracious living. For others, perhaps sickness and a measure of sorrow. We do not know. But one thing we do know. Like the polar star in the heavens, regardless of what the future holds, there stands the Redeemer of the world, the Son of God, certain and sure as the anchor of our immortal lives. He is the rock of our salvation, our strength, our comfort, the very focus of our faith." I hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Love, Soeur Johnson

Monday, March 14, 2016

Apostles & Belgium Gaufres.. Lots to be grateful for!

Bonjour Family & Friends!

We started off this week by traveling to a town called Valenciennes! We spent the entire day on Tuesday contacting people to help the area find new amis. When I was on splits with Soeur Ulrich we found a family that seemed really interested. We gave the information to the Valenciennes sisters (Soeur Gilbert & Romney) so hopefully they will be able to set up a lesson with them! The highlight of the day for me was when I was with Soeur Gilbert we met a girl who didn't believe in God but was still willing to talk to us. She told us that she wanted to believe in God but she just can't with all the bad things happening in the world. Ironically, one of the first examples she used was the attacks on September 11. We were talking to her in English so I was able to really bear testimony and express my feelings on why in those circumstances it is even more important to believe. We talked to her for about 30 minutes and concluded by giving her a "Plan of Salvation" brochure and inviting her to pray to know if the things were true. We kept bearing testimony over and over again and were really hoping she felt the spirit. She kept asking, "Well how do you know for sure?" It reminded me of a scripture in Alma 30 where a man named Korihor was asking for a sign to prove that there is a God. Alma responded by saying, "The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator." There will be times when we find ourselves in those moments when we have to decide to have faith or to doubt. Sometimes it seems easier to doubt and say that miracles don't happen or God doesn't exist. No doubt there are many difficult moments in life that make having faith difficult. However, if we look around us, we can be reassured that God does really exist. There are signs all around us that God does exist and that he is looking out for us.

Girls trip to Belgium!

On Sunday we had Stake Conference! We had the amazing opportunity to hear from Elder D. Todd Christofferson from the Quorum of the 12 apostles. He challenged us to ask ourselves, "Is there something I need to change? or What can I do to make myself a more holy person?" He said striving everyday to become a better person is the best gift we can give to the Lord. He also bore a powerful testimony of the Resurrection and how Christ knows us all perfectly and personally.  It was such an amazing experience and afterwards I was able to shake his hand. We had 5 amis in attendance listening so I am hoping they were able to feel the reality of his words!

Stake Conference with Soeur Romney

We ended the week by spending today in Belgium! It was such a great week. It's even starting to feel more like spring here... We all have so much to be grateful for. I hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Love, Soeur Johnson

Monday, March 7, 2016

"I accept!"

Bonjour Family and friends!

On Tuesday we had "Finding Day" in the City of Villeneve D'ascq. For the month of March, (every Tuesday) we are going to an area in our district and spending the whole day contacting so we can help find them new amis. I started off the day on exchanges with Soeur Romney who is new this transfer. It was a good experience for both of us because we both really don't know French very well but it forced us to speak and really have to try to listen. We actually understood generally what was being said so we were able to communicate pretty well! It was pouring rain the whole time we were trying to contact so it was difficult to find people to talk with. We get along really well (besides the fact that she is from Boston so she likes the Red Sox) so we made the best out of it! We get to go on exchanges again this week so hopefully we have a little more success. After lunch, I went on exchanges with Soeur Gilbert. We decided to go knock doors so we found this cute little street. All the houses had little gates that we had to ring like a hand bell. I guess the neighbors didn't enjoy that we thought it was cute because they called the police on us.. Haha. It was about time to go back anyways so we just jumped on the bus and headed back! In the evening I went out "door knocking" with Soeur Clements and one of the members. We just went by the houses next to the church so most of the people already had heard of the church but we did find one family that said that the missionaries could come back!

Finding day with Soeur Romney!

We had another lesson with our Ami Marie-Aude this week. We taught her about the "Plan of Salvation." She was super receptive and again asked really great questions. At the end of the lesson we again explained the importance of baptism and invited her to be baptized on April 23! She at first said that she thought it was too soon. We told her that we felt that she was ready and that we could teach her the things she needed to know before that date. She got tears in her eyes and said, "I accept!" She said that she doesn't do things unless she feels good about it but she has really good feelings about this so she knows that it is the right thing to do. A couple days after the lesson she was able to attend the baptism of the 8 year old girl that we have been teaching. I think it got her really excited because right after she kept asking if we had a "baptismal dress" for her yet and if we were going to have a "buffet of food" after her baptism too. It's fun to see how excited she is about being baptized and how happy she gets when she talks about the gospel!

At "La Seine" river (last week)

Even in these short couple weeks we have been teaching her I have seen the joy that comes as her testimony grows into conversion. She reminds me of one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon. In Alma 5:14 it says, "And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?" She is starting to have more light in her countenance as her testimony grows and I can tell that her heart is changing because she is becoming converted. Conversion requires us to turn away from the natural man/selfish desires/sin and turn to God. Conversion requires action that will lead to change. She has decided to act on her testimony (the things she knows to be true) and get baptized, which shows that she is in the process of becoming converted. It makes me reflect on myself and my own personal conversion. It reminds me that we need to be constantly working on our own conversion. (Alma 5:26) "And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?" Conversion is a process of a lifetime and if we stop acting upon the things we know to be true we will fall away and lose the joy we once felt. It is so important that we keep strengthening and staying true to our testimonies. Are we still as converted as we once were? Do we still experience the joy that comes from conversion? I know that there is no greater joy than that joy we fill when we are truly converted to the Lord. Elder Bednar said, "When we are truly converted we can be reassured that the things we are doing in our lives are in accordance to God's will." My challenge is that we all become more personally converted to the Lord. That might require us to give up something of our own selfish desire. I know that as we become more converted to the Lord we will feel greater joy than we have ever experienced! I'm grateful for this gospel. I'm grateful for the people that I have met here because I am supposed to be helping strengthen their testimonies but actually they are helping strengthen mine. Church is true. I hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Love, Soeur Johnson