Monday, April 24, 2017

I love to see the Temple 💙

Bonjour Family & Friends!

This week we had the amazing opportunity to go through the Paris Temple! We went through it with a couple other groups of missionaries. As soon as we walked on the grounds, the spirit was there. You can literally feel that you were in a special place. The inside is absolutely gorgeous and it has a beautiful stair case. The architect has gone through and put little stickers on all the places that need to be fixed before the dedication. If there is even the slightest chip in the paint, he wants it redone. It is amazing how much they have paid attention to every little detail. It was a good reminder that the temple is really the Lord's house. There has already been hundreds of non-members who have visited the temple open house. I really believe that this temple will make a big difference in the missionary work in France. While looking at the statue of Christ, my testimony was once again confirmed that this is truly His church. I am so grateful to be part of this work, especially at this time! We will be going to visit the temple again with our ward and some of our investigators in the next couple weeks.

There were issues with our train coming back from Paris and so we were 1 hour behind schedule. Then the connecting train to Luxembourg got delayed an additional 40 minutes. Let's just say that at this point we weren't too happy because we really just wanted to get back to Luxembourg! Anyway, we ended up eventually getting on a train but we were 2 hours behind schedule. But what I should have realized, is that Heavenly Father always makes things work out for our good. The train conductor came around and checked our tickets. He then said, "Okay I just need to ask you a question.. I see so many people like you with the little plaque. What is it? Are you here with a school or something?" We then explained that we were missionaries for our church and we told him our purpose here was to invite people to come closer to Christ by learning about the restored gospel. He got really interested and started asking us more questions about our religion. We ended up talking to him for 40 minutes because it was late enough at night that there weren't very many passengers on the train. It gave him the opportunity to ask questions and for us to share our personal testimonies. We ended up getting his number and the missionaries is Metz, France are going to start teaching him. What a total blessing it ended up being that all our trains were late, because it allowed us to be on the train that Heavenly Father needed us to be on to share the restored gospel with someone that was interested!

This was a very humbling experience for me. It reminded me that I need to have more faith that Heavenly Father is truly in the details of our lives and that he can see the bigger vision. When things don't work out in our lives, we need to asks the questions.. Why? What does Heavenly Father want me to learn from this experience? What better thing does he want me to be doing? I love this quote on faith by Elder Uchtdorf.."Faith means that we trust not only in God's wisdom but that we also trust in his love.  It means trusting that God loves us perfectly, that everything He does--every blessing He gives and every blessing He, for a time, withholds--is for our eternal happiness. With this kind of faith, though we might not understand why things happen or why certain prayers go unanswered, we can know that in the end everything will make sense. "All things will work together for good to the, that love God." All will be made right. All will be well."

We also had an amazing lesson with our ami James. I have never met anyone with such a pure desire to follow Christ. He grew up in a family that was Muslim but he has converted to Christianity. He wants to "give his life for Christ" and do everything he can to follow his gospel. He told us, "Sisters, i have been praying for a long time to have God lead me to his true church..And I know God answered my prayers because He sent me you." He is from Ghana and so he has seen lots of different churches and many false prophets. He doesn't know who to trust anymore and so decided to stop going to church altogether because he felt they were all teaching false doctrine. He usually spends his Sunday doing his own church service by reading and studying the Bible at home. We taught him in a cafe and we read 3 Nephi 17 out loud with him. As his was reading about Christ visiting the people in the Americas, the spirit filled the room and the spirit testified to me of the love God has for this young man who is truly searching for the truth.

I am so grateful to be a missionary. The church is true!!

Love, Soeur Johnson

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter in Lux

Bonjour family and friends!!

It has been a crazy week, but it has been full of lots of an adventures and experiences I will remember for a long time! Luxembourg is amazing. I feel so blessed to serve here.

We had an another amazing lesson with our ami, Andrea. This time we finished talking about the last half of the plan of salvation. She sat down and told us she had been waiting all week for our lesson because she really wants to know where her parents (who have passed away.) We opened to the Book of Mormon and read in Alma 40:11, ​"Now, concerning the ​​​state​ of the soul between ​​​death​ and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are ​​​taken​ ​​​home​ to that God who gave them life." We focused on the importance of understanding that Jesus Christ is the one who makes it possible to overcome death. It went well with the fact that it was the week of Easter! Sometimes the Plan of Salvation can be a hard thing to really understand, because certain parts our beyond our mortal comprehension. It reminded me of the importance of coming back to the basics. If we want to gain a testimony of the Plan of Salvation, we must first strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ. As we do so, our testimony of the Plan of Salvation will increase and we can have a sure knowledge that we will see our family and loved ones again.

Easter Sunday with our family favorite!
On Wednesday, we went to Paris to pick up our new companion! Her name is Sister Durant and she is from American Fork. Sister Brown is leaving Luxembourg but not until Thursday, which means we are in a trio for  about 1 week! After we picked her up, we came back to Luxembourg and had a lesson with our ami James. We talked about the importance of prayer and how God answers our prayer. He was quick to remind us of the importance of first thanking Heavenly Father for the things we have, before we ask for more! He is really humble man and understands that everything he has is because of a loving Father in Heaven. He has not had an easy life and so his "attitude of gratitude" really impresses me. I want to be better at being more grateful!

exploring Luxembourg!

For Easter Sunday, we drove down to Metz, France because we had 3 Kids in our Ward getting baptized. It was a great way to spend the afternoon on Easter because the spirit was so strong. Both of the men baptizing their kids are converts. They shared their testimonies afterwards and they were both really touching. We drove home with one of them and he told us his conversion story. He said he met with the missionaries twice a week for 1 1/2 years before he was baptized. It was a good reminder that people can and do really change. It also reminded me that there are people truly prepared for the gospel. I am grateful that I was able to have a spirit filled Easter Sunday. My testimony was strengthened and my gratitude for my Savior has increased!

Love, Sœur Johnson

Monday, April 10, 2017

The 3rd doors the Charm

Bonjour family and friends!

We met some really cool people this week and had some great learning experiences. Here are just a few highlights!

We were contacting and nobody was really interested. It started getting a little frustrating that nobody would even talk with us for more than 10 seconds! But we all know the "miracle comes after the trial of your faith", and our faith was sure being tried, so we knew our miracle was coming soon! We walked around the corner and met a lady named Cathrine! She is actually a professor at a Christian school and she teaches the religion classes. She told us that she actually didn't know much about our church, but she once had a student give a presentation on our beliefs. We were quickly able to clear up some misconceptions that she had heard. We talked with her for a solid 20 minutes and we were able to introduce the Book of Mormon. She asked where she could get one because it really intrigued her. We handed her our copy and testified of its truthfulness!

Exploring castles on PDay!

When people have heard false doctrine, or have questions about our beliefs, I immediately turn to the Book of Mormon because that is how I have received my own testimony of this church and our beliefs. The Book of Mormon has brought me a lot of confidence as a missionary because I know that it is true and that it truly is the "keystone of our religion." Elder Holland gave a General Conference talk a couple years ago on the Book of Mormon and he said, "For 179 years this book has been examined and attacked, denied and deconstructed, targeted and torn apart like perhaps no other book in modern religious history--perhaps like no other book in any religious history. And still it stands. Failed theories about its origins have been born and parroted and have died.. None of these.. answers for this book has ever withstood examination because there is no other answer than the one Joseph gave as its young unlearned translator. In this I stand with my own great-grandfather, who said simply enough, “No wicked man could write such a book as this; and no good man would write it, unless it were true and he were commanded of God to do so.”

The biggest miracle of the week.. We had a couple hours left in the night, so we decided to go knock on doors. We chose a little town named "Capellen" because we had heard of a man who was less active that lived in that city. The only problem was, we didn't have his address. We tried calling around to some people to get it but we couldn't get in touch with anyone with the address.  In fact, his address was lost and therefore nobody in the Ward actually knew where he lived. I had seen it briefly a couple months prior so I tried to remember his address from what I had seen. To be honest, I couldn't remember at all what the address was, but I turned to Sœur Brown and told her that I thought his house number was possibly 98. She looked at a map of the town and found three streets that had houses that even went up to that high in house numbers. We decided to just pick a street and check to see if that was his house, and if not, just continue knocking on doors. We both felt impressed to go the same street. The interesting part is that this street only went up to house number 95, so logically it didn't make any sense to try this street. We went anyways and sure enough, there was no house number 98. We decided that even though we couldn't find his house, we would knock on some houses on that street anyways. Usually we knock on houses that are right next to each other, but this time we both just randomly started walking back the way we came and skipped a bunch of houses! We got all the way down until the house number 60, before we started knocking on any doors. We knocked on two doors and then a complete miracle happened... The third door we knocked on, ended up being the house of the member that we were looking for!

There were hundreds, maybe even thousands of houses in that neighborhood that we could have knocked on. I know that it wasn't just coincidence that we knocked on his door. We went into his neighborhood not having an address but knowing that the Lord would provide a way. We felt a little like Nephi when he said, "And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do." We were thinking that he would provide a way in more of the sense of us getting in touch with a member to give us the address, but that didn't workout so He provided another way. I learned a lot of different lessons from this experience. 1st lesson-"with God nothing is impossible.” 2nd lesson- Go forward in faith 3rd lesson- We are simply "instruments in Gods hands."

I am so grateful that 17 months into my mission, Heavenly Father continues to provide learning experiences for me everyday. The miracles never cease! L'église est vrai.

Love, Sœur Johnson

Monday, April 3, 2017

The big 21!!

Bonjour family and friends!!

Thanks for all the birthday wishes. We spent the morning in France for a meeting with some other missionaries and then we came back to Luxembourg for some lessons.The sun was shining and we had some awesome lessons with our amis, so I would say it was a good birthday!!

This week we got to see our sweet amie Melanie! She is so amazing. She told us, "I know that this is going to sound crazy and you probably won't believe me.. but ever since I started reading the Book of Mormon and meeting with you, I feel this inner peace that I have never had before." She also has the sweetest testimony of Joseph Smith. She said, "The story of Joseph Smith really touches me because if God talked to and cared about a 14 year old boy, I know he cares about me." Hearing her bear her testimony was definitely the best birthday present I could have asked for!

21st Birthday!!

We also saw Andrea who is our amie from Hungary. We had another incredible lesson with her! We taught her the first half of the plan of salvation. We really focused on understanding where we come from and how that helps us overcome difficult times. Knowing that we lived with God before we came here and that it was our choice to come here to earth, can help give us more of eternal perspective when we are experiencing trials. President Lorenzo Snow said,"Trials and tribulations have been the experience of the Latter-day Saints. God so designed that it should be. I daresay that in the [premortal] spirit world, when it was proposed to us to come into this probation, and pass through the experience that we are now receiving, it was not altogether pleasant and agreeable; the prospects were not so delightful in all respects as might have been desired. Yet there is no doubt that we saw and understood clearly there that, in order to accomplish our exaltation and glory, this was a necessary experience; and however disagreeable it might have appeared to us, we were willing to conform to the will of God, and consequently we are here." We knew that earth life would be hard, but we also knew it would be worth it, and therefore we still chose to come here. I am grateful for this knowledge of what we call the "pre-existence" to help give me more of an eternal perspective!

We met with our amie Françoise and her two daughters this week as well. We told her we would do a "movie night" with her family. We made crêpes together and watched the "Restoration" (that's about how exciting a movie night gets for a missionary)! Her little girls went to church a couple weeks ago and they learned about Joseph Smith translating the Book of Mormon but they didn't hear the first part of the story. It was good to help them put it all together. The oldest girl had asked her mom on the way home, "How do we know which church is true?" We told her that Jospeh Smith had the same question and he was able to find out because he asked God for himself. We invited her to do the same! It's amazing to me that an 11 year old is already asking questions like that. It shows that Heavenly Father is preparing people of all ages and of all cultures to accept the restored gospel.

We didn't get the chance to watch all the sessions from general conference, but the ones we did watch were great! I am super grateful to have modern day prophets and apostles to lead and guide us in this crazy world, church is true! I hope everyone has a great week.

Love, Sœur Johnson