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

Monday, August 15, 2016

Never settle!

Bonjour Family & Friends!

Chantel was baptized on Friday!! She was super nervous and stressed before the baptism. The water heater didn't work so the water was really cold but she was super good about it! She was wearing a dress for her baptismal clothes so when they baptized her the first time, the dress came up out of the water. When I saw her dress pop out of the water I had "déjà vu" because the same thing happened to me at my baptism! When we told her that they had to baptize her again she was a little bit confused so she was all like, "no, no it's okay." We explained it to her and then after she was baptized again and it went well!! Afterwards, she said "I think it's a good thing that I was baptized "twice" because we know for sure that its exactly how God wanted it." She got confirmed on Sunday and she said she felt at peace. She really has so much faith and I am excited to see how her faith continues to grow!

Chantel's Baptism!

One of the cool miracles this week actually happened with the other missionaries but I think it is worth sharing. They were walking on the street and a man come up to them because he recognized their plaques. He said that he actually was one of the nurses that took care of Soeur Clain in the hospital after the attacks. He asked about how the missionaries that were hurt were doing. He said he was so impressed that she was so protected and that she always remained happy... It is sufficient to say that he is now being taught by the missionaries here! God makes the maximum amount of good come out of situations that are bad.

Spent the day in Lille with all my old companions! (That are still on their missions)
On Sunday night we went out contacting. We made a goal of how many lessons we wanted to teach before the night was over. We decided that we wouldn't come back for dinner until we had reached our goal! Within the first hour we met some really cool people and had some good conversations. It started getting late and we were only one lesson away from meeting our goal. We talked with all the people we saw on the road but nobody stopped to talk with us. At this point it was past the time we were planning on going back for dinner. We began talking about how we had some really good conversations, even though we didn't quite reach our goal. As we talked we both were starting to become satisfied and settle for less than what we wanted to obtain. We thought that the work we did was "good enough." We decided that we would try one last time to get one more lesson. We decided to say a prayer and ask Heavenly Father to help lead us to where we could find one more person. We started walking down the road next to us. We walked down the road for about ten minutes and there wasn't even one person. We turned around to start heading back and I saw one person that was walking toward us. We are usually selective of the men we contact for safety reasons and the person walking towards us ended up a being a man that honestly I probably wouldn't have thought to contact usually. We started talking with him and he was so sweet. He doesn't have any religion and has never asked if there is a God. We were able to testify to him about the plan of salvation and afterwards pray with him. What a tender mercy!

There is a lot of things I learned from this little miracle. One of them being that we should not ever "settle" for something less when we can do better or be better. We all have the ability to accomplish great things. We are the ones that usually limit ourselves from accomplishing our divine potential. We should not ever lower our standards because it is "easier" or more convenient. Heavenly Father expects a lot from us because he knows who we can become. The great part is that He is always there to help us and we strive to become our best. "You are literally a child of God, “spiritually begotten in the premortal life. As His child, you can be assured that you have divine, eternal potential and that your Heavenly Father will help you in your sincere efforts to reach that potential”(Dean R. Burgess) As we remember "who we really are" (children of God) it will help us see who we can become. He will help us as we press on and "never settle" for anything less than what He knows we can become. Have a wonderful week!

Love, Soeur Johnson

Monday, August 8, 2016

Turning mistakes into miracles

Bonjour family and friends!

There were even more surprises this week.. On Wednesday I went down to Paris to pick up my "bleu." I got quite the surprise! My new companion is Soeur Mèjean. She is from Lyon, France and she is serving here until she gets her visa to go to Pheonix, Arizona. She could be here up to 3 months or could leave before then. Her first language is French so we have be speaking lots and lots of French. It is a great way to learn the language faster! I just might have a permanent headache for next couple transfers..

On Saturday we had a meeting with the Stake President and all the missionaries that are serving in Belgium came up for it. He gave us a little history about the church here in Belgium. He also talked a lot about the differences in the culture. It still surprises me all the little differences Belgium has compared to France. He talked a lot about having a vision of what we want to accomplish here and how we are going to do it. It's definitely a concept that applies to life in general, not just missionary work. When we have a vision of what we want to be and where we want to go, it makes all the difference. Once we have a vision for our life, we can make better daily and weekly choices that will help us reach our ultimate goal. I love the quote by President Monson where he is talking about choices and using the example from Alice in Wonderland, "Confronted by the Cheshire Cat, of whom Alice asks, “Which path shall I follow?” The cat answers, “That depends where you want to go. If you do not know where you want to go, it doesn’t matter which path you take.” Unlike Alice, we know where we want to go, and it does matter which way we go, for the path we follow in this life leads to our destination in the next life." Our choices really do make all the difference! Have a vision of where you want to go and make the choices necessary to reach it.

Reunited with my girl, Soeur Romney!!

The biggest miracle of the week was.. We were coming back from a lesson with a member and we had 20 minutes left in the night. There was stuff we needed to finish at the apartment but I had this feeling that we needed to stay out and pass by a lady that we met while "porting" a couple weeks ago. We walked down the street where I thought her house was but we couldn't seem to find it. Instead, we knocked on a couple of doors and by then it was time to go home. I was kinda bugged that I wasn't able to find it but decided we could always try another night. We started to walk home and we saw a lady who was pretty far down the road.  It was getting late but we hadn't had any really good conversations with anyone that day so I decided I would contact her. Her head was facing down so i couldn't see her face but when I said, "Bonsoir" she looked up and to my surprise it was the lady who we were trying to pass by! She immediately recognized us and we started talking. We asked her if she had the chance to read the "Plan of Salvation" brochure that we had given her a couple weeks before. She said she had and that she has been reflecting on it. She said some of the concepts were hard to understand. We told her we could come by and explain them. She said she was busy for the next two weeks with work but maybe after we could stop by! We are able to say a prayer with her before we left. I couldn't think of a better way to end the night! What a miracle. It was good reminder that God helps turn our weakness/mistakes (forgot where her house was) into miracles.

Building desks for the new Soeurs!

The night after we were out contacting and "porting" but didn't have much success. I turned to Soeur Méjean and said, "I just want to have one really good conversation with someone before the night is over." We started on our way to catch the tram and again there was just one person on the road. We decided to contact her and she ended up being so sweet! She is from Portugal and is really religious. She was so impressed with what we were doing as missionaries that she invited us to her house on Saturday for coffee with her! We said no to the coffee obviously, but we told her we would love to see her again! Both of these miracles made me think of the importance of finding the "one." It reminds me of the parable about the one lost sheep and how the Shepherd always goes after the one. (Matthew 13) "And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish." I love this scripture because it shows the love Heavenly Father has for all of his children. We are all important to him and he is going to find a way to bring back those "sheep" that are lost. There is no doubt that the Lords hand is at work helping us find those "lost sheep"! Love you all. Have a wonderful week!

Love, Soeur Johnson

Monday, August 1, 2016

A week full of surprises!!

Bonjour Family and Friends!!

This week was full of surprises.. We had transfers this past weekend. To my surprise, I got called to train a new missionary again! I will be picking up my companion on Wednesday. Fortunately, I will be staying here in Brussels. They are opening up another set of sisters here in Brussels. It will be fun because the companion I have now will be staying in the apartment but will just be companions with somebody else. We spent Saturday building bunk beds and moving furniture to prepare for our new companions to arrive! We have had quite the adventures together this last transfer.

Getting ready for our new companions!!

We met a girl a couple weeks ago named Bridgette and set up a rendezvous. A couple days before she texted us saying that she "she has her own religion and doesn't want to be converted." A couple hours later she texted us again and told us she wanted to met with us but only because she is interested in learning about what we believe. We ended up meeting with her and were able to explain who we were and what we believe. We introduced the Book of Mormon and explained how that is one of the biggest differences between us and other churches. We told her that the Book of Mormon is the best way to find out if the things we were saying were true. She immediately asked how much it was to buy one. We gave her the one we had with us and she said she would read it. By the end of the lesson I could tell that she was genuinely interested. The lesson we had with her really made me reflect on the influence the spirit can have. In PMG it says, "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.” There is not always concrete evidence to prove everything we teach or say. However, you can tell that it is true by the way you feel. The feelings that we feel when the spirit touches our hearts can't always be put into words. People are converted because how they feel, not by anything that is said. That's why it is so important to read the Book of Mormon. If you read the Book of Mormon with the right desire, you can't help but feel the spirit. That's one of the reasons we need to make sure we are doing our daily scripture study!

The other day we felt like we should go visit one of the members in our ward. As we walked toward her house there was only one person on the entire street. She was getting her keys out of her pocket so it was obvious that she was about to walk into a house. We walked a little faster and contacted her right as she was about to unlock her door. We started testifying of the Plan of Salvation. She grew up with a Catholic education but never felt like it was for her. She says she believes that there is probably something after this life but she doesn't know what. We ended up having a really good conversation with her. She has actually met missionaries before multiple times because she lives right next to the church. She said that every time she has told them she is not interested but this time she felt different. She invited us to come back the next day. We taught her about the Plan of Salvation and explained how knowing our purpose of why we are here on earth helps us in hard times. It sounds like she has had a hard family life. She was touched enough that she is letting us come back again this week. Miracle!!

Brazilian buffet with the elders! Members are the best.

I can't even begin to say how grateful I am to be able to share the gospel everyday. All is well here is Brussels! Church is true. Have a great week!

Love, Soeur Johnson