Monday, June 27, 2016

Brussels is Back!!

Brussels is back!

When we arrived in Brussels the wonderful senior couple (Elder & Sister Slaughter) were waiting at the train station to take our luggage! We were both really grateful because we had 3 bags each so it makes it a little difficult to travel. They took our bags back to the apartment and we took the mettro. Our apartment is in a really great neighborhood and is a lot bigger than my other apartment! Before we could get settled in we had to spend a little time cleaning because it has been awhile since the last time it has been cleaned. We quickly discovered that there are 6 area books and over 1000 teaching records. To put that is perspective.. My last area had 1 area book and maybe 100 teaching records. In other words, there is lots and lots of work to do here! One of us started organizing the area books and the other person started making calls to the most recent Amis. We were able to schedule 4 lessons within the next two days! We even had some people who didn't answer at first but actually called us back! That's a total miracle in the mission field. We have started calling Brussels the "promise land!"

Brussels is back!!

Our first lesson was with a lady who is from Nigeria. We taught her in English because she doesn't speak French as well. She is in Belgium working so that she can send money home to her family. The missionaries had just started meeting with her right before they had to leave so she hasn't really been taught very much. We introduced the Book of Mormon and invited her to read it. She started asking why there are so many different churches and that lead us right into explaining the great apostasy and the restoration of the gospel. I was in the middle of explaining the great apostasy when she interrupted and said, "I can tell you are "well traveled" because of your broken English..." I literally didn't even know what to say back to her! My companion just replied, "Wow, you are very observant!" We both had to try to keep ourselves from laughing. I think it was supposed to be a compliment but it definitely wasn't... I just tried to focus on the part where she said I'm "well traveled." It makes me feel better about her "compliment!"

Belgium is surprisingly more different than France! It's a very international city. There are so many different languages spoken. We went to the grocery store the first day and we heard at least 3 different languages. When we have gone contacting we have ended up talking with people in English way more than I ever have before. Brussels is actually split into two different missions! The Paris mission and the Netherlands mission. We are both able to travel anywhere in Brussels so we technically end up crossing into each others mission boundaries. However, if we find anybody that speaks English or Dutch as their first language we have to give them to the other mission.

Our ward is a French and Spanish ward! The other ward that meets in our building is an English and Dutch ward. I literally felt that I was in America when I walked in and everyone was speaking English! They actually are in a totally different stake and even mission but we both go to the same church building. Most of the English ward is from America so they told us they will help look out for us if we need anything. Our ward is super great! They haven't had missionaries for a couple months so they are excited to do missionary work. There are a lot of part-member families that they want us to work with. The Relief Society President invited us over for lunch and went over a list of all the people we needed to visit. (She also made sure to address important things like finding the best gaufres & frites etc.) There is so much potential here and we are so excited to really start getting to work this next week!

Belgium gaufres!

Today we explored the Grand Place in Brussels and of course had a gaufres. I feel so grateful to have the opportunity to serve here and to serve these people. On Sunday when we bore our testimonies we shared the scripture in Alma that says, "For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word." The people here in Brussels are definitely being prepared! I started reading the Book of Mormon over again this week. I love the faith that Nephi shows when he was asked to go back to Jerusalem to get the plates. "I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." We can always count on the Lord to prepare a way to accomplish the things he asks of us. I have gained a strong testimony on my mission that the Lord definitely qualifies those he calls. There will be lots of things in life that we feel like we are not "capable" of doing on our own. It's a good thing that in this life we are never alone! He is always there to help us and guide us. He will give us strength and ability beyond our own to accomplish the things he asks of us. I'm excited to see all the things here that we will be able to accomplish with the Lord's help!

Love, Soeur Johnson

Monday, June 20, 2016

Transfers & Temples!

Bonjour family and friends!

This has been quite an exciting week!! This past weekend we got our transfer calls... I better not pack my winter coat because on Wednesday, I will be transferred up to BRUSSELS!! (don't stress mom) We will be the first missionaries back in Brussels since everything happened. There hasn't been any missionaries there for over 3 months so we will have to do a lot of "finding" to build up our Amis because we are not going to have any. The Stake President has been requesting missionaries because he said the area and the ward really need them. I'm excited to see all the miracles we are going to have! I couldn't think of an area that needs the gospel more than Brussels right now. I feel at peace because I find comfort in the Lords promise that,"I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up." No doubt, he fulfilled this promise with the other missionaries as well. This is going to be such a fun adventure. I love being a missionary!

This week I had my last lesson with Bertrand and Frederick. We told them that because it was my last lesson we would teach about one of my favorite topics... So we taught them about temples! It's definitely something they didn't know about before but they seemed to like it. It was cute because their son who is 18 months wouldn't stop crying...but when I brought out a picture of the temple he stopped crying and started pointing at in. He has some learning difficulties so he hasn't learned how to speak or walk yet. Ironically, one of the only words he can say is "Mormon." We taught them about how families can be together forever because of the temple! I'm looking forward to seeing them "twice in white" (baptism & temple). We were all pretty sad that I wouldn't be here for their baptism but because Brussels is close enough to Lille I will be able to go to their baptism in August!

Bertrand, Frederick & Gabor!
We also were able to visit the family that is from Ecuador that we taught last week. This time we were able to go with one of our members who spoke Spanish. That made things a WHOLE lot easier! We were able to talk about the gospel of Jesus Christ and the little 9 year girl had lots of good questions. At the end, she said she wants to be baptized! They are going to set a date next week and teach the rest of the missionary lessons. The sweetest thing was that the mom said that they have been really missing the "word of God" in their home so she felt like she was sent "angels."

On Sunday we were able to have dinner with an American family that just moved into the ward. It was so weird to have an American meal and actually speak English at the dinner table! It was definitely refreshing. We have actually heard a lot of English lately because people are coming in from all over the world for the Euro 2k16 soccer games. It's weird to hear people all the mettro and actually understand everything they are saying! It was Father's Day when we had dinner at their house so we shared a message about the important of building our relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Going to miss these girls!

The relationships that we develop in this life will be one of the only things we can take with us in the life to come. Therefore, we should try to do all we can in this life to develop and strengthen our relationships with the people we love. President Hinckley said, "Nothing you have is more precious. … When all is said and done, it is this family relationship which we will take with us into the life beyond.” One of the most important relationships we can have is our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Unfortunately, it's often the relationship we neglect the most. We need to set aside time everyday to build our relationship with him and the other people we love. He is also the greatest example of a father we could ask for. I love this quote by President Packer, "Of all the other titles that He could have used, He chose to be called “Father.” His use of the name “Father” is a lesson for all as we come to understand what it is that matters most in this life." I really do believe that being a "Father" is the most important "title" any man can obtain in this life. Happy Father's Day!

Love, Soeur Johnson

Monday, June 13, 2016

When it rains, it pours!

Bonjour family & friends!

Wow, I have never seen it rain quite like it rained here last week! We were already outside when it started raining so we got caught right in the storm. We only had one umbrella so half our bodies were kinda dry and the other half of us was totally drenched. It rained so much that everything started flooding. We walked down into the mettro and it had about 2 inches of standing water. Let's just say it wasn't the best day for street contacting but there were lots of opportunities for service! There were people slipping, grocery bags breaking, and umbrellas flying everywhere! It wasn't so fun the next morning when we woke up sick but it definitely was fun in the moment!!

We had another lesson with Bertrand & Frederick! (The ones that are getting baptized)  We taught them about the 10 commandments and keeping the Sabbath Day Holy. I walked out of the lesson just feeling so grateful that I have the opportunity to teach them. They were telling us how they want to make their baptism the beginning of a "new life." They said that after they come up out of the water they don't want to touch a pack of cigarettes again. They said they want to have a changed life. They really just have the sweetest testimonies! I have noticed that as their testimonies begin to grown and strengthen that Satan has began to work twice as hard. They have had a lot of challenges come up in the last couple weeks but they continue to have such great attitudes. On Sunday they were supposed to come to church but their car broke down. They usually drop off their 18 month old son at their parents house so that they can watch him during church. They didn't have any way to get him there so Frederick (the mom) stayed home with him but Bertrand decided not to let anything stop him from coming to church. He took the mettro and came for sacrament. It ended up being fast and testimony meeting! It couldn't have been more perfect. He said he was really touched by people's sincerity. A lot of people bore their testimonies about trials and how the gospel has helped them get through hard times! The scriptures promise us that if we.."Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good." We can be reassured that God will not always remove our burdens from us but he will always make them be for our benefit.

ice cream is always a good idea!
We had the absolute coolest experience "porting!" We went to visit one of the Amis but she ended up not being home. We had extra time so we just decided to go porting at one of the streets by her house. We were at a house that was about half way down the street and a woman answered the door. We started explaining who we were and why we were there. Her response was, "I know, I actually talked with your other colleagues last week." Apparently, the other sisters contacted her and her husband on the street the week before! They talked to them for like 30 minutes and then gave them a brochure. I asked her what she thought and she said she actually really liked it and wants us to come back! There is no way that could be just by "coincidence" that of all the people we talk with and all the doors we knock on we happen to come across her within a week of her being introduced to the gospel on the street. I'm excited to have a lesson with her and meet her family!

This week we also started teaching an Ami who is from Ecuador. She has two young girls and an older son. I was sitting in the lesson wishing that I had paid attention in high school Spanish class... She was trying to speak French but it was definitely a mix of Spanish as well. We brought them all Books of Mormon and started teaching them about the restoration. I just thought about what an amazing blessing the gospel is for families as we all sat around in a circle with our Books of Mormon in all different languages opened!

We had such a cool miracle happen at church. At the end of church some random lady came walking into the building. Some members starting talking to her and realized she wasn't a member so they introduced her to us. She explained to us that 35 years ago she met the missionaries and they gave her a Book of Mormon. She started reading a little bit of it and realized that it had the "same spirit as the Bible." She said that she studies languages and has gone to Jerusalem a couple times. She said that the writing in the Book of Mormon is very similar to other ancient writings she has read there. We explained that the Book of Mormon was written by ancient prophets in the Americas. She said, "There is no doubt that this book is sacred so I knew I couldn't get rid of it. It has been on my shelf all these years because I have never known what to do with it." She doesn't live very far away from the church and she always thought the building was beautiful but had never gone in. She was cleaning out her house because she is moving and came across the Book of Mormon. She decided that she didn't have space for it but didn't want to just throw it away so she brought it to the church to return it. We tried so many times to get her to keep it or trade us for a newer version but she wouldn't! We also tried to get her number or address but she said she wasn't interested right now but maybe in a "couple of years." The ending of the story is pretty sad but it still was a really cool experience! I pray that missionaries will one day knock on her door again and that then she will be prepared to hear the gospel.

35 year old Livre de Mormon!
All these miracles made me think about the scripture in Alma 26:30... "30 And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some. 31 Now behold, we can look forth and see the fruits of our labors; and are they few? I say unto you, Nay, they are many; yea, and we can witness of their sincerity, because of their love towards their brethren and also towards us." In missionary work and in life, we don't always immediately see the "fruits of our labor." Sometimes it's hard to know if the things we are doing actually matter or are making a difference. Most of the time we will never know how big of a difference we have made or how many lives we have touched. God asks each of us to be his "instrument" and to follow the promptings of the spirit. Sometimes we may never know why we were prompted to do certain things because the results aren't immediate. I think sometimes parents who have children who have "wandered" may feel that the "fruits of their labors" were few. However, He promises that if you,"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." When it comes to saving souls; whether it is missionary work, raising kids, or reaching out to those who have wandered, our labors are never wasted! Have a wonderful week.

Love, Soeur Johnson

Monday, June 6, 2016

Forgetting how to speak English...Oh no

Bonjour family & friends,

This week we had another "finding day" in Lille! We had a lot of success this time and saw lots of miracles. We are super excited to follow up and hopefully get some new Amis. In the afternoon, I went with Soeur Clements and a member from our Ward out contacting. We were able to contact a couple people and had some great conversations. We also something really embarrassing happen as well... We contacted a lady who was from Germany and is here studying for her science degree. We started contacting her in French like normal and then she asked if we could speak English because that was easier for her. We said, "Of course that's actually easier for us too!" (Or at least we thought so) We started explaining who we were and why we were here.  Except every time we tried to say something it came out in French. We tried multiple times and literally could not find the words to say in English. Finally, our member who is French but speaks English said, "Do you want me to explain it for you?"  So in ENGLISH our member had to introduce us and contact this lady for us. It was so embarrassing! So maybe one of the reasons I wasn't sent state side is because being missionary in English would have been such a struggle.

Still wearing coats in June!

We visited that Catholic family again that we "ported" into last week. We met the Grandpa this time and he basically recited the entire Bible to us. It was super impressive how much he knew! We gave him a Book of Mormon and invited him to read it. I actually just finished reading the New Testament this week! It has really strengthen my testimony of the church and the Book of Mormon. President Benson said, "The Book of Mormon … verifies and clarifies the Bible. It removes stumbling blocks, it restores many plain and precious things. We testify that when used together, the Bible and the Book of Mormon confound false doctrines, lay down contentions, and establish peace." I have been reading them together and it really is a great way to help strengthen testimonies. It also is a really great way to learn more about the attributes of Christ and how to become more like him. I can't think of a better way to draw closer to Christ than to study his life and his teachings!

France is beautiful!

This week we also had the chance to see one of our Amis that we found a long time ago on the street. She has been working a lot so we haven't been able to see her. We felt like we should pass by her house and see if she was home. Luckily she happened to be there and she even let us in! She was super happy to see. I guess she has been going through a hard time because she had a close friend who recently died. We talked with her for awhile and then shared the scripture in 1 Nephi.

We don't always know or understand why things happen in our lives but we can always rely on the fact that God loves us and he will watch over us. I hope everybody has a wonderful week! All is well. Church is true.

Love, Soeur Johnson