Monday, December 26, 2016

Joyeux Noël

Bonjour family & friends!!

This is going to be a week that I am going to remember for a really long time! It was so amazing. I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas!

We started off the week by going to a members house that hasn't come to church for a long time. She has decided that she wants to become active again and be able to go back to the temple. She told us that she knows there are blessings that are being withheld from her and her family because she is not doing the things that would allow Heavenly Father to bless her. Her husband and her 9 year old son are not members, so she hasn't always had a good support system. This week they left for vacation but when she gets back we are going to start meeting with her weekly and have her make goals to help her get back to the temple. She has a great testimony and a strong desire to come back. We are so excited to work with her! I think it is so cool that she realized on her own that there are blessings that she is missing out on. That means she has noticed a change in her life from when she has lived gospel standards and when she has not. Heavenly Father wants so badly to give us all the blessings that He possibly can.. but we are usually the ones who keep ourselves from receiving many blessings that we could have if we were just simply obedient.

A Swedish Christmas!

On Tuesday, we went to Paris to have our mission Christmas conference. Bishop Caussé, who is the presiding Bishop of the church, was our surprise visiter! He spoke to us about miracles and in particular, the miracle of the Paris, France temple. He told us about a couple different miracles that happened, which made it possible for the completion of a temple in Paris. They went through years and years of political opposition and difficulty while searching for a place to build the temple. Maybe I will share some of the stories he told us in a future email.He told us that the Paris, France temple is a perfect example that miracles happen, even in France! They really encouraged us to continue to have the faith that miracles exist and that they happen everyday. I left with a renewed sense of motivation and faith!

Christmas Day round #2 with Sœur Brown!

We started off our Christmas celebrations on Christmas Eve! For lunch, we went to the home of a Swedish family in our ward and we had a traditional "Swedish Christmas dinner." Afterwards, we spent the evening with a German family and had "German Christmas." In both of their cultures, they celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. It was fun to be with both of these families and have them share a little bit about their culture with us. Christmas morning we woke up and went to the home of an American family home for breakfast! It was fun to watch their kids open the gifts that Santa had just brought. It made me so happy that we got to go over there because one of the things I love most about Christmas at my house, is that we have a big Christmas breakfast! I had accepted the fact that I would just have to go two Christmases without our traditional American breakfast. However, Heavenly Father proved me wrong! I think it was His Christmas present to me. Afterwards, we all went to church together. I actually love Christmas being on a Sunday because it is a good reminder of what the Christmas season is all about. There is no better opportunity to reflect and think about the life of Jesus Christ than during the sacrament. Two of our investigators even made the sacrifice to come to church.. That is the ultimate Christmas present for a missionary! After church we went home with a family from England and had our Christmas lunch/dinner at their home. We spent the rest of the evening at the home of a Luxembourgish family and we were able to Skype our families. This was definitely a Christmas that I will never forget!

mission Christmas conference!

We did a lot of really fun things and made lots of memories. However, I would say my favorite Christmas memory from this year was from something we did on Christmas Eve. On Thursday, we had visited a lady in the ward that is going through a lot of difficulties in her life. We asked her if she was getting excited for Christmas. She said, "not really" because she knew her kids expected gifts but she couldn't afford to buy them anything. After we left, the member that we went with sent out an email to the entire ward asking for any gift donations that we could give to this single mother. By Saturday morning, they had a huge box full of food and gifts. That evening, we went with our German family and dropped the presents off at her doorstep. We rang the doorbell and ran! It was so cool to watch the little 6 year olds face light up as he looked down and saw all the gifts. The mom and her teenage daughter tried to lift the box up to bring it inside but it was so heavy that they had to have the boys do it! There is no doubt that dropping those gifts off at a family's house who needed it was the best part of Christmas. Service is truly one of the best ways to feel the love of Christ. I'm grateful for the Christmas season where we our encouraged to think a little more about what His birth means to us personally. Have a wonderful week!

Love, Sœur Johnson

Monday, December 19, 2016

Miracles in Luxembourg!

Bonjour family & friends!!

This week we also went and sang at two different nursing homes with our ward. We sang hymns in French, English, and German. All the cute elderly people loved it! It was so fun to watch the big smiles come onto their faces when they heard a hymn in their native language. I think they really appreciated us coming. It was a good reminder that even simple acts of service can make a big difference! Here are some of the miracles we saw this week.

exploring Luxembourg!

We were on our way to visit some members is our ward that don't come as often. We contacted a lady that we saw on the way there and started talking with her. As we were talking with her, there was a man who was trying to go around us on the sidewalk. The sidewalk was really small so we were taking up the whole thing. As we moved out of the way to let him pass, he noticed our plaques and then stopped to ask about who we were. It was pretty cool because I started talking with him and Sœur Brown kept talking to the other lady. So we were having two completely different conversations going on just 3 ft away from each other. Getting one person to stop can be hard enough, let alone two! It was awesome. He actually just moved here from India and is friends with a lot of members of the church there. He is Christian but because they just moved here they don't have a church that they attend. He told us that he wants to bring his family to our church to see what it is like! The other lady that Sœur Brown was talking with was from Brazil and actually had member friends as well. We gave they both our number and the address to the church. We are praying that we see them on Sunday!

Walking around Lux with Soeur Brown!

This week we were walking down a street and Soeur Brown and I were talking about how we just so badly want to find the people Heavenly Father has prepared here. Sometimes it can be hard because we go into certain areas and when we don't feel like we are having much "success". We often question if that was really where we were supposed to go. As we were walking back to the gare to catch our train we saw a lady ahead of us but she was on the other side of the street. We quickly crossed the street (after looking both ways for cars of course) and caught up to her. We introduced ourselves and come to found out that this lady had actually been taught by missionaries in Cape Verde and even had a baptismal date at one point! She is leaving on vacation for the holidays but when she gets back we are going to meet with her. She was literally such a miracle. I think Heavenly Father was trying to teach us a lesson that this is His work and that we need to have more faith that He is in control. If we are obedient and are doing everything we can to follow the spirit, He will make sure we are where we need to be to find the people that he has prepared. This experience reminded me of the scripture in 1 Nephi 7:12," Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him? Wherefore, let us be faithful to him." I think that not only in missionary work but in life in general, we often forget how much power Heavenly Father really does have over everything we do. He is actively involved in the details of our lives and if we are doing everything we can to live the principles of the gospel, He will not lead us astray. We often try to do everything ourselves and forget that He is the one who is really in control. We must have faith that if we do our part, "he will direct our paths for good." It is when our faith begins to falter and when we trust in our individual abilities that we begin to feel that we are not capable of accomplishing everything that is asked of us. In short, have faith and trust that Heavenly Father is not only aware, but actively involved in our daily lives! Lesson learned.

Joyeux Noël! Merry Christmas!

Love, Sœur Johnson

Monday, December 12, 2016

First week in Luxembourg!

Bonjour family and friends!!

We started off the week by heading to Liège, Belgium for Pday! I spent Monday and Tuesday saying goodbye to the members and amis in Brussels. It is always hard saying goodbye. There are a lot of people I am going to really miss! Change is always good though because it provides good experiences to learn and grow... so on Wednesday, I headed off to Luxembourg!

The first word that comes to my mind when I think of Luxembourg is.. BEAUTIFUL! There is a "special air" that Luxembourg has that is nothing like Belgium or France. There are actually a lot of similarities that Brussels and Luxembourg have. They both have a lot of diversity. Everyday we meet people who are from all over the world! Our ward is also very diverse. All the members are wonderful!! They are very willing to help us with missionary work. Our ward boundaries actually go into Belgium and France. That's going to be quite the adventure! We could be in all three countries in one day. It gets even more interesting.. They don't actually have a church building here so on Sundays we hold our church services in conferences rooms at a hotel. They have been working on getting an actual building but it has been really hard. It is wonderful that the spirit is still there even though it is not in a typical church building.

Liège Stairs!

There is a lot of work to do here and the people are ready! Even in our short couple days together, we have seen so many miracles!! We were out knocking on doors and after about 2 hours it was almost time to go home. The night overall was just really kinda weird and nobody was interested. We were walking down the street to go to the bus stop and we had about 6 minutes until it came. We saw a house with the lights on so we decided to knock on one more door! This cute little American family opened up and they knew exactly who we were. The father told us that his boss in Texas was LDS and that he had quite a few friends that were as well. He said that he has actually met with the missionaries multiple times but there are things that he disagrees with so he stopped. He was super nice to us and even offered to let us in just so we could get out of the cold. We had to go, so we didn't take him up on his offer but we prayed with his family and they seemed to be touched! They were really respectful and super sweet. As a missionary, you learn to appreciate the little things. What a tender mercy!

First Sunday at Church in Luxembourg!

Another miracle happened this week that made me appreciate having Soeur Brown even a little more.. We were out contacting and we walked past a bus stop. As soon as we walked past it, I looked over and saw a lady sitting down on the bench. We kept walking but I kept looking back because I had this feeling we should talk to her. We walked about 15 ft past the bus stop and Sœur Brown basically just read my mind because she turned to me and said, "I think we should talk to that lady." Without hesitation, we made a 360 degree turn and went directly up to her and started talking. We talked with her for about 10 minutes but then she had to catch her bus so we got her number and set up a rendezvous for next week. I am grateful that Heavenly Father sends us "two by two" so that the holy ghost can speak to both of us and hopefully at least one of us will act on the prompting that he gives us! "6 And ye shall go forth in the power of my Spirit, preaching my gospel, two by two, in my name, lifting up your voices as with the sound of a trump, declaring my word like unto angels of God." All is well in Luxembourg!! Life is good. L'église est vrai. Have a wonderful week!

Love, Sœur Johnson

Monday, December 5, 2016

Bye bye Brussels

Bonjour friends and family!

This week has been quite exciting. We had transfers and I received the news that I will be leaving Brussels! I will be heading to Luxembourg. For those that are wondering, it's not actually in France or Belgium. Luxembourg is a country of its own! We are the only set of missionaries there. It's crazy to think that the Lord leaves the salvation of a whole country in the hands of two twenty year olds. That's the proof that the Lord is actively involved in this work, because there is no way we would be able to do it alone! Let's just say I was pretty excited when I saw I was going to Luxembourg, but I was even more excited when I saw who my companion is. I will be serving with Sœur Brown! Sound familiar?! That's because we were companions in the MTC! It's going to be fun being able to serve together again, but this time actually teach real people and actually be able to speak French.. (At least more than before)

end of transfer 8! 

This week I had to say goodbye to the sweet Portuguese family we have been teaching. They really are so prepared so it breaks my heart to leave them! We had lunch with them and afterwards I told them that I was leaving. It was hard to say goodbye. The mom has just seemed really stressed for awhile now and we didn't quite understand why. We figured that being a single mom is stressful and so that's why she has been stressed. This time she explained a little more, she told us that 4 years ago she broke her leg in an accident and that when the doctors went to put it back together they did it wrong. It's been causing her a lot of pain lately. The doctors looked at it and told her they will have to go in and break it, in order to put it back together the right way. That's all really stressful/painful by itself. However, it gets even worst because her apartment doesn't have an elevator and she lives on the 3rd floor. She won't ever be able to get up and down the stairs, so she has to find and apartment with an elevator and move before she has her surgery. I am so impressed with the desire she has, even though she is going through a difficult time. We just continued to testify that we know that Heavenly Father hears her prayers and that he will help provide a way to make this difficult time a little easier. We promised her that "all things work together for those that love God." (Romans 8:28) Her situation reminds me of a good quote by President George Q. Cannon, “No matter how serious the trial, how deep the distress, how great the affliction, [God] will never desert us. He never has, and He never will. He cannot do it. It is not His character [to do so]. … He will [always] stand by us. We may pass through the fiery furnace; we may pass through deep waters; but we shall not be consumed nor overwhelmed. We shall emerge from all these trials and difficulties the better and purer for them.”

Christmas time in Brussels!

This last Sunday night we had what we like to call a "Christmas miracle." All the missionaries were invited over to a members house to eat. Any time all the missionaries try to go somewhere together it seems like one of us are always really late. So all the missionaries promised each other that we would all be on time! Since it was "fast" Sunday, I think everyone was a little bit more motivated. We arrived with the other sœurs, 30 minutes before our dinner appointment. Both of us were just going to go "porting" (knock on doors) in the neighborhood. Since there was 4 of us, we got the idea that maybe we should go caroling together! We decided to at least try it to see if would be effective or not. The first door we knocked on was a success!! The lady invited us right in without question. We sang a Christmas hymn for this lady and her 2 kids. Then afterwards, they sang one for us that they have been learning for school. It was so cute! She then started asking about our church and our basic beliefs. We taught her the basics of the restoration together and explained the Book of Mormon. She was a very believing catholic so she disagreed with some of the things we explained but she was very respectful and it was still quite the cool experience. We said a prayer together and then hurried off to our dinner appointment.. which yes, we were late too once again. It was totally worth it though! I hope everyone has a wonderful week.

Love, Sœur Johnson