Monday, November 28, 2016

Belgium Thanksgiving!!

Bonjour family and friends,  

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! On Wednesday night, we had our "missionary thanksgiving" with all the missionary at the Christensen's. It was so delicious! On Thursday we had thanksgiving at our ami Aude's house. It was interesting because there were about 20 people there celebrating thanksgiving but we were the only Americans! Most of the people we talked with were atheist and not really interested in religion. We were able to explain to everyone the basics of our beliefs and clarify some misunderstandings. It made me think about how it is important to find those who are prepared. People who are prepared are much more receptive. Some people who maybe are not ready for the gospel right now, could be ready in a couple years. That's why it's important to never give up! We need to just keep trying and it's their choice to accept it.

thanksgiving dinner! (Much better than my mtc dinner last year)

I started talking with a lady on the metro this past week and we started talking about how I am here as a missionary for my church. She looked down and saw the Book of Mormon. She got a big smile on her face and said, "Vous êtes Mormon?!" She started explaining how her son is actually meeting with the missionaries in the Netherlands and she went to church with him for General Conference. She said that she has seen a big change in her son since he has began meeting with the missionaries. She said she is absolutely shocked because before he wasn't very religious at all. She is interested in reading the Book of Mormon and so we are going to meet with her today to explain it a little more!

thanksgiving with the missionaries!

We had another lesson with our cute Portuguese family. We talked about the important of making choices and how we can use the Holy Ghost to help direct us to know what we should do. The mom was crying and at the end of the lesson and at first we weren't even sure why. She then told us that she knows that the things we are teaching are true and she needs to be baptized. She said it is just hard because it requires a change of lifestyle and she is also dealing with other difficulties in her life. I have noticed on my mission that Satan seems to work twice as hard when people start making good choices and have the desire to follow the Savior. It seems like there is always a big difficulty that comes right before they are about to make the decision to turn their life around for the better! I know that there are great blessings that come to those that make the right choice, despite how hard it is. We are going to try to fix a baptismal date with her in the next couple weeks.

This past Friday we went into Paris for a mission conference with an area seventy. We talked a lot about choosing to serve the lord. President Babin brought up a quote I really like..  He said, "today is the first day of the rest of your mission." This quote could be adjusted to fit almost any situation. We can't change the past but we can control what we do now and in the future. It made me reflect a lot about how choice is directly related with change. If we want to change, we must choose to do so. We must make a conscience effort everyday to be a little better. The choices we make everyday have a direct effect on if we change for the better or worse. It is not something that will just miraculously happen one day. As we consistently put in the effort, we let the enabling power of the atonement work in us and make up for our imperfections and weaknesses. One of my favorite parts of being on a mission is being to see this change happen in members, Amis and missionaries. I love this quote about how the Lord changes us..“The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature..Yes, Christ changes men, and changed men can change the world." Have a wonderful week!

Love, Sœur Johnson

Monday, November 21, 2016

One year déjà?!

Bonjour family & friends!

The beginning of the week we had exchanges with our awesome "Sister Training Leaders." They both are incredible missionaries and I always learn so much from them every time we have exchanges. I did my exchange with Sœur Corneta and we met a lot of really cool people. Most of the people we met were actually Atheists. I love sharing my testimony with them about how I know that there is a God and how prayer has helped me in my life. It's such a cool experience praying with people who have never prayed before. It's interesting because when we testify you can feel the spirit but praying seems to bring the spirit at whole new level. President Benson said, "If we would advance in holiness--increase in favor with God--nothing can take the place of prayer. And so I adjure you to give prayer--daily prayer--secret prayer--a foremost place in your lives. Let no day pass without it."

Exchanges. Saying Goodbye to Soeur Woolley! See ya in 6 months.

This past week I met this girl on the metro named Anita. She is from Venezuela but right now she is here for school. We started talking about religion and found out that she is a orthodox but not really practicing. It's more something she grew up with as part of her cultural and less something that she actually has her own personally testimony of. We talked about knowing the truth for ourselves and how we encourage everyone to ask questions and develop their own personal testimony. Then we said a little prayer with her. Afterwards, she was noticeably touched by the prayer but she also was a little confused. She asked us, "Why do you do that?" I think she is used to prayers being memorized and said out of habit/culture. She had a hard time wrapping her head around the idea that for 18 months we go around and talk with people and pray with them on such a personal level. We both testified of the difference prayer makes in our lives and how we pray with others to help them feel peace in their lives. She thought it was super cool and agreed to meet with us again next week!

Celebrating 1 year on the mission! (Nobody was hurt in the taking of this photo, and only a little bit of hair was singed)

This week I hit my "1 year mark"... it's crazy to think about how fast time flies! It was interesting that I got to spend some time in Lille (where I started my mission) the week of my 1 year mark. It was a good time for me to reflect and see how much I have grown and the things I still need to improve. I don't even know how to begin to explain all the things I have learned in this last year. If anything, the best word I can use to explain how I feel is "grateful." I am so grateful to have the gospel in my life and to have the opportunity to share it with others. I am grateful for the hard times on mission because they have taught me how important it is to rely on Heavenly Father. I am grateful for the lifelong friendships I have made with missionaries, members and Amis. I am grateful for all the tender mercies and miracles I have seen. I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who created a plan that would allow us to return to live with Him, as well as our families again. I am grateful for Jesus Christ who ultimately made that plan possible. I think Ammon (one of the greatest missionaries) says it best, "Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel." I really just have an overwhelming amount of gratitude for the opportunity I have to share my testimony everyday for 18 months. I am so excited to just soak up every moment of everyday these next 6 months!

Love, Sœur Johnson 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Leap of Faith

Bonjour family and friends!!

This was another wonderful. They have finally announced the dedication of the Paris, France temple! It's going to be dedicated May 21. That will be my last Sunday in the mission field! I couldn't be more excited. This last week we went to France because I had to do my legality. I absolutely love Brussels but their definitely is something I just love about France and the people there.

Paris temple!

On Tuesday we had all the sister missionaries in Belgium come up to Brussels for a "finding day!" In other words, we go contacting all day so that we can find new people to teach. We invited members so that they could help us find as well! Most of the members who came are young adults who are actually thinking about going on a mission themselves. It was a good time to talk with them and give them encouragement and talk about their concerns. It was also a good time for me to reflect on why I decided to serve a mission and in what ways the concerns I had before have been answered. Most of them had never gone "contacting" before so they were a little bit nervous! They all did an awesome job and we were able to find new people to teach. That night we got a text from one of the young adults and she told us that she had a good experience and it helped her realize that she wants to serve a mission! It was interesting talking with her throughout the day because a lot of the concerns she has are concerns that I had before I came out. Sometimes we just need to talk a "leap of faith" and trust the Lord will take care of the rest. I am glad she has decided to do just that, I know it will change her life because it has changed mine!

finding day!

We have been teaching the cutest Portuguese family. The mom's name is Amelia and she has two daughters who are 11 & 12. We have already taught them about 3 lessons. They are originally from Portugal and grew up Catholic but mostly because that is the cultural there. They have never really been "practicing" and Amelia has a lot of questions about why they do certain things and who actually has the authority. Our last lesson we taught plan of salvation and focused a lot on Jesus Christ. We ended by showing a video of Jesus Christ that always brings the spirit. Afterwards, I asked them how they felt. They sat in silence for a moment and then they finally said they didn't know because there were no words to describe it. We then explained that the feeling they had was the "spirit", which was testifying to them of the reality Jesus Christ and his ministry, as well as that things we taught were true. It is by the spirit that we come to know by the way we feel that the gospel is true, 5 "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."' At the end of the lesson, they agreed to be baptized when they each receive their own personal confirmation that the gospel is true. I'm so grateful for the Holy Ghost and it's role in helping people become truly converted. Elder Ballard said, “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.” Have a wonderful week!

Love, Sœur Johnson

Monday, November 7, 2016

Lots of miracles & lots of chocolate

Bonjour family & friends!!

This week once again reminded me how much I love serving in Brussels! Lots of miracles and lots of chocolate made for a wonderful week.

To start off, I just have to talk about what we did today... So when I first got to Brussels I heard rumors about a place you could go and sample all the Belgium chocolate you want but I didn't know where it was. My "go to" phrase to start conversations on the metro became, "do you know where the chocolate factory is where we can try all the Belgium chocolate?" Everyone looked at me like I was a bit crazy (which becomes a normal thing as a missionary) and after about 2 months without success I stopped asking... But we had a little "pday miracle" this week and finally were able to find it! Since I have been waiting to go to this place for the last 4 1/2 months, I got a little excited and ended up not only eating but also buying 3 Kg of chocolate (your welcome family.)

I love Brussels!

On a spiritual note... After dinner one night we had about one hour left to do some contacting. We went out and the first person we talked with was from Spain so only spoke Spanish! I decided to attempt to dust off the high school Spanish that I "learned" and try to talk with her. I definitely wish I would have payed more attention in class but through hand signals and trying to say french words with a Spanish accent, she understood at least enough to pray with us and give us her number so we could give it to the Spanish elders! Then directly after we got on the metro and I sat down next to a lady and started to talk with her. I quickly realized that she was deaf. So instead I typed out what I wanted to say on my iPad and she typed her responses back to me on her phone. We weren't able to have a long enough "conversation" for us to really get very far in the gospel but I think it made her day to even have someone try to talk with her because I don't think it happens very often. I didn't even attempt to try to use sign language because the only things I remember from my Uncle Phil teaching me are cookie, turtle, and thank you!  At the end I just signed "thank you" and she got a big smile on her face and gave us a hug! I love that we go out everyday and never know what to expect. We meet people from all cultures and backgrounds. It's so cool!

lots of chocolate!

We had stake conference this week and an area general authority came and gave a great talk. He shared a story that I really liked. He talked about when he was bishop he had really great organist in his ward. But one day she came and informed him that she was moving in 6 weeks. He prayed to know who he should call as the new ward pianist. He prayed and a name of a certain lady came into his head. He turned and told his counselors. They both looked at him and said, "but she doesn't know how to play piano." He said, "I know she doesn't, but the Lord knows she can." When he extended the call to her she said the exact same thing, "But I don't know how to play piano." She eventually learned how to play piano but it took lots of practice and a lot of faith. I liked this story because it shows that the Lord knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what we are capable of doing and becoming. When he asks us to do something he knows that we are able to do it even if we don't think we can. So we just need to trust in him and have faith that he will help us accomplish all the things he asks! Nephi is a great example of having faith in what God asks, "If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them." Have a great week!!

Love, Sœur Johnson