Tuesday, May 23, 2017

18 Months of Miracles!

Bonjour family and friends!

Wow, what an amazing week to finish off and an amazing 18 months. There really aren't words that can fully explain exactly how amazing this week was, but I will try my best to do it justice. Here are a couple of my favorite miracles that happened.. 

saying goodbye to Luxembourg!

This week we went and dropped off a thank you note at a members home. The transportation took a little longer than we originally expected so by the time we got there, gave her the note and chatted with her for a minute, we only had about 10 minutes before we had to head back to Luxembourg city!  I have limited time left on my mission, so we decided we would try to make the most of every minute and so we decided we would go knock on a couple doors. Before we left their home, We said a prayer with our member family and prayed that we would be able to find someone. The third door we knocked on was our miracle family! A young mom answered the door and we immediately started testifying about the plan of salvation. She was touched and said she would love if we came back next week. At the end of our conversation, she told us that she has had a lot of people in her family pass away and it has been really hard on her. The spirit was sooo strong and we were super excited to find such a cute Luxembourgish family!! We immediately ran back to our members home and told her what happened. It instantly brought tears to her eyes and we all knew that Heavenly Father had answered our prayers. I didn't realize then, but that ended up being the last door I knocked on as a full time missionary. Since coming to Luxembourg, it has been a goal to find an actual Luxembourgish family that we could teach. We even made a goal to knock on a 1,000 doors this transfer, with the hope that we would find one. Heavenly Father answered my prayer. It came the last week, of the last month of my mission- and of course, it was the last door. I now understand what Elder Uchtdorf meant when he said, "God “rewards those who earnestly seek him,” but that reward is not usually behind the first door. So we need to keep knocking. Don't give up." 18 Months of knocking on doors was worth it to find that family. Answers always come, just in God's time and God's way. 

last district photo!

We also went to Nancy, France on Sunday to watch the broadcast of the Paris, France temple dedication. We were able to watch all three sessions and it was an incredible experience! President Eyring was the member of the first presidency who came to dedicate the temple. I couldn't think of a better way to spend my last Sunday in the mission field. Elder Anderson also came and he gave his talks in french. It was really fun to hear him speak in a different language! I am impressed he still remembers how to speak french from 50 years ago. I noticed there was a common theme throughout all the talks that were given during the three different sessions. This theme seemed to go along the lines of having an eternal perspective. Which makes sense because the temple is what gives us a bigger vision of life. It reminds us that the choices we make in this life do matter and therefore we must not be casual in keeping convenants. They also spoke about how temples are lights and beacons of hope in a darkening world. The french people have been waiting a long time for a temple, but I feel like the timing of the construction of the temple was divinely inspired because now more than ever, they need hope and spiritual light. We might not understand everything in his life, but temples give us hope that their are better things to come. "9 ​But as it is written, ​​​Eye​ hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath ​​​prepared​ for them that love him." The temple has become a beacon of light here and is drawing people from all over the world to it, members and nonmembers! What an amazing blessing. 

This week just kept getting better, On Monday we went to Paris and had a Conference with all the missionaries and Elder Anderson (Member of the Quorum of the 12 apostles). We were all able to shake his hand and afterwards be taught by him. As he testified of Christ, the spirit filled the room and it was obvious that he is truly a special witness of Him. 

Tomorrow, I will be leaving Luxembourg and will be finishing off my mission by going to do a session in the Paris temple. 

I am so grateful for the many miracles that I have experienced throughout my whole mission. It has really been 18 months of Miracles. I have see the "hand of the Lord" in my life everyday. I know that Heavenly Father is actively involved in our daily lives. I know that he knows each of us personally and wants what's best for us, that's why he gave us the restored gospel. I had a testimony of these things before I left, but my mission has truly converted me. Church is true. 

Love, Sœur Johnson

Monday, May 15, 2017

God is great!

Bonjour family and friends!!

The beginning of the week we spent in Nancy, France for interviews and Zone Conference. I really have been so blessed to have had such a great mission president. We talked a lot about the importance of learning to enjoy every moment. He talked about how a lot of missionaries think about things that happened before their missions and what will happen after their missions, but are never really IN their missions. It's a good reminder that no matter what stage of life we are at, we need to learn to "enjoy the journey."

Dinner at the Luxembourgish fair!

This week while we were contacting, we met a cool lady from Italy. She actually heard one of the 12 apostles speak in Europe about 20 years ago and was really touched by some of the things he said. She said she can still remember the way she felt afterwards. Since then, she said she hasn't met any missionaries or any members of the church. We talked with her for a little bit and introduced her to the Book of Mormon. We told her we had one in Italian for her and she really got excited. We are going to drop it off this week!

I love Luxembourg!

We also had another lesson with our ami James. He is always the highlight of the week for us! We decided to show him the Restoration video this time. As we started the video he turned to us and he said, "Oh I have already seen this video, I was watching it last night!" That was definitely not the comment I was expecting! We downloaded the gospel library app on his phone and apparently in his free time he watches the different videos and reads from the different Manuel. He received the gospel principles Manuel in church on Sunday, and by Tuesday he had already read the first 13 chapters. We can hardly keep up with him and his desire to learn! It's amazing. He is definitely teaching us a lot more than we are teaching him. We talked to him a little bit about how God answers prayers. He was telling us a story of one time when he received an answer to his prayer. At the end, he got tears in his eyes and said, "Sisters, God is great!" Even though he lives a difficult life and technically has every reason to complain, he always chooses to be grateful. He knows exactly where the blessings in his life come from. What a great example.

On Saturday we were able to go to the temple open house as a ward! We took a double decker bus to Paris. There were about 70 people who came! The spirit was super strong and everyone really enjoyed it. There were a lot of members who were able to bring their spouses who aren't members. We also were able to bring our amie Françoise and she really loved it. This Paris temple has really made a huge difference already in the missionary work here!

Reunited with my old companion and cute members from our ward!

Another highlight of the week was that I got to Skype my wonderful family. After about 18 months, I would say that I am getting pretty excited to see them!

This morning I finished reading the Book of Mormon in French. I made it a goal to read it at least once by the end of my mission. Learning a language is not easy but it's an amazing experience because you quickly learn to rely on the spirit and Heavenly Father. It has definitely been a very humbling experience. Reading the Book of Mormon in a different language has really helped strengthen my testimony of its truthfulness. Even though I didn't always understand every single word that was written, I could still feel the spirit testifying to me that they were the words of God. I could literally feel that something was different and special about the Book, even without 100% understanding. I particular remember reading in 3 Nephi about when Christ came to the Americas. While I was reading, I remember being overwhelmed by the spirit and it testifying to me that He really did come and visit the people there.

This week, I have yet again realized that I have so much to be grateful for. James is right, "God is great!" Have a wonderful week!

Love, Sœur Johnson

Monday, May 8, 2017

Beyond Blessed!!

Bonjour family and friends!!

This week was another week full of humbling experiences. One of the best parts of serving is a mission, is the people we get to meet. Especially here is Europe, they come from all different backgrounds and cultures. They are a lot of people that are from Africa and have had many trials and struggles in their life that I could never imagine going through. This week I was once again reminded of how blessings I have in my life and many tender mercies Heavenly Father has blessed me with. 

Castle in Clervaux!!

We started off the week by seeing Ines. She is someone I talked with on the train a couple weeks ago. Before I even got the chance to ask for her number, she had already written it down and handed it to us! We called her a set up a rendezvous for this week. We started off by asking her some questions to get to know her. It ended up leading into a discussion about her childhood. She grew up in a small village in Cape Verde, during at time that there had been in a drought for 20 years. She said it made it really difficult to have food and they were often very thirsty. She said it was a 3 hour walk to the closet water source. She told us that there were nights she really felt like she was going to die. Eventually her dad left to Portugal and brought her along so that their family could have a better life. She always maintained a positive attitude, despite her difficult circumstances. She said people always asked her, Why are you happy all the time? Her response was simply, "I know good things will come." As she was telling us this story, I was overwhelmed by her example and faith. We left her home knowing that Heavenly Father put us in her path so that she could teach US something. I definitely learned a lot about humility and gratitude.

We had another lesson with our favorite ami James! He is progressing so well. He came to church again and he even fasted with us for fast Sunday. We had a really powerful and humbling lesson with him this week. As we were teaching him he opened up a little more about his life and the reason he is in Europe. He often says, "My situation is difficult", but we never quite understood what that meant because he is usually very reserved. This week he told us that a couple years ago he was on a boat on the way to Italy and it ended up sinking and hundreds of people died. He was eventually rescued by the Italian government and given a visa. He has been rejected by his family because he has converted to Christianity. Despite all his challenges, he continues to have strong faith and has a huge desire to "give his life to Christ." He is an incredible example. He hasn't let the hard things in his life weaken his faith.

knocking in doors in a cute village!

To end the week, we had an incredible lesson with our amie Melanie. We taught her the plan of salvation and as we were teaching she said, "This all sounds like stuff that is familiar to me but I have never heard it before." We were able to set a baptismal date with her for June 25.

I also read an amazing talk on faith this week. (April 2004, "But if not.." Dennis E. Simmons) It talks about the importance of having faith that God will help us and deliver us from difficult situations.. but even more importantly, having faith when God doesn't take us out of difficult situations. That is often a lot harder to do. All these investigators are great examples of demonstrating faith, even though they were not immediately delivered from their trails. "Faith is believing that although we do not understand all things, He does. Faith is knowing that although our power is limited, His is not. Faith in Jesus Christ consists of complete reliance on Him." I remember a quote that I read in seminary a couple years ago that has always stuck with me. "Faith is not what you demonstrate to get what you want. It is what you demonstrate no matter what you get..no matter how long, no matter how hard."  

I am so grateful for the chance I have to meet so many amazing people. Church is true! 

Love, Soeur Johnson

Monday, May 1, 2017

Work Hard, Play Hard!

Bonjour Family and Friends!

Wow wow wow... the Miracles never cease!! This week was full of them.

We knocked on doors literally all day on Thursday. We started off in the morning by going to a cute neighborhood that we discovered last week. There weren't tons of people home and the ones that were, weren't very interested. We decided to continue because we had already made the effort to take to the bus to this neighborhood! We walked up a long driveway to a big home. We knocked on the door and a Luxembourgish man answered. We began explaining that we were here to share the joy and the peace that we have found in our lives through Jesus Christ. He looked at us and then pointed to the BMW in his driveway and the big houses in his neighborhood.. he then said, "As you can see, we don't have many problems here." In other words, we don't need God because we are financially stable. That got me all fired up and I immediately started to testify of how we all need God etc. He wasn't too happy with that answer so he proceeded to close the door. At first, I was super angry with this man, but then my anger left and I actually just felt sad for him because he honestly believes that he can only find happiness in money. That is really sad because the things that bring us the most joy in life, are things that can't be bought.

Exploring our beautiful country!!

Later on in the same day.. We had about 20 Minutes left before we had to go home for dinner, so we decided to knock on some doors. We had 3 houses in a row where the people were super mean. They slammed the door right on our faces after saying some choice words to us in English. We decided to knock one more door so that we didn't end the night on a negative experience. We knocked on the next door but nobody answered. As we were about to walk away, a car drove into the driveway and a business man got out of the car. We introduced ourselves and asked him if he believed in God. He smiled at us and then said "Look at everything around us." As I turned to look at the things around us, I noticed the BMW in his driveway and thought to myself, "Oh no.. not this answer again." He then continued, "Every time I look around me, I become more sure that there is a God. The trees, the air, the earth, my body, my family, etc. Prove that there is a God who is there and looking out for us. I am going through a divorce right now and I know that I can always turn to God to find peace for my soul." I was so shocked that he had just said those things that all I could mutter out when he was finished was, "Thank you." He is someone that has chosen to be humble and grateful and it shows in his countenance. He literally seemed so happy, even though he is going through a hard time in life. It's because he chooses to recognize the hand of God in his life. It doesn't happen very often that we meet people like him. As he was talking, it reminded me of the scripture found in Alma 30:44..."All things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator." We proceeded to testify that God can truly brings peace to our souls and gives us direction for our lives through the Book of a Mormon. He invited us back the next week to teach him more about the Book of Mormon and our beliefs!

At the beginning of the week we were on our way to drop off a Book of Mormon, at a home of a family we meet a couple weeks ago. As we passed the proceeding town, I felt the need to get off the bus and knock on doors on a particular road. I debated what to do for a couple minutes because we didn't often come out to this side of town and we had promised to drop off the Book of Mormon to this family. I decided that we could drop of the Book of Mormon and afterwards come back and knock on doors. By the time we had finished dropping off the Book of Mormon, we didn't have any time left in the night and we had to return home. I really felt strongly that we should go knock doors on this particular street and so I felt bad for ignoring a prompting. For the next couple days, this street kept coming to my mind. On Friday night, we decided to cancel our plans so that we could go out and knock on doors on this street. We had just started knocking when we saw that a couple houses down a couple came out of their house and got in their car. But instead of leaving, they sat there and stared at us as we went house to house. We continued to walk down the street and they pulled out of their driveway. When they got closer to us, they rolled down their window and asked what we were doing. We told them that we were missionaries for of church. They got big smiles of their faces and said, "We need to leave right now, but we would love to have you come back another night!" That totally caught me by surprised because I really thought they were going to yell at us for knocking on doors in their neighborhood! It had literally only been 5 minutes since we had started so we continued along the same street. The last house we talked with a Luxembourgish lady that happens to know one of the long time members of our ward! We introduced the Book of Mormon and we are going go back again next week. After talking with her, I knew that's why we needed to come to that street. I am grateful to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost to help lead and guide us!!

All of our investigators are progressing really well and I am still loving Luxembourg. I am so grateful to be a part of this work. La vie est belle!

Sœur Johnson