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