Monday, July 28, 2014

Coming Home

Needless to say.... I am already crying. Here I am not believing at all that this is my last email home. 

My mission has been everything to me. I will NEVER regret the eighteen month service I have given to the Lord.  

Yeah, it's been freaking hard sometimes. There were moments when I felt so alone, there were moments when I wanted to be. There were moments when I wasn't sure that what I was preaching was even true.  There were days that I felt like the pillsbury dough boy.  There were moments when my companions were pushing for miracles and I would have rather be at home sitting on the beach with a boyfriend and a good book. There were days when it was so cold and rainy that I thought we would freeze in the corner of some sketchy road and our bodies would never be found.  There were moments that I was convinced that it is impossible for French people to believe in anything, there were weeks, literally weeks, at the beginning of my mission where we did not teach more than 2 lessons. There were moments when I felt like the people were rejecting me. There were days that I would beat myself up for not being as good as I could be, or not being as good as the other missionaries.  

But, you know what...I know that all of those things happened, I remember them, but I do not remember how they felt. All of that pain and sadness has been swept away.

My stomach still flips every time I think about walking off of the plane in Paris and meeting President for the first time.  When I think about the first lady, Patricia, who I ever contacted. I can still remember the JOY I felt the day of Joycely's baptism, the spirit I felt at every baptism. I still laugh when I think about all of the members and the crazy adventures we have had with them. I remember clearly the feelings I had each and every time our amis walked into church. I can remember the moments when my companions and I literally could not stop laughing long enough to say a prayer to get out the door. I still feel the moments that the spirit has witnessed to me that Jesus Christ is my SAVIOR and that this is his church. I cherish the moments when my personal testimony has been strengthened in zone conferences and district meetings. I still cry thinking about the moments when our amis have opened up to Christ and let him heal them, or when I have seen in-actives find again their testimony of the gospel as restored by Joseph Smith. I feel what I felt every time our amis have made 180 degree turns in their progression and started to act. I can still feel the joy that has come from every time that I have served someone, even in the littlest way. 

And this is how I KNOW that Christ is in the work. That this IS Christ's work. He through His infinite mercy and grace has taken away the pain and left me the beautiful. I can only look back on my mission and laugh and cry tears of joy and smile. 

Where would I be without this mission? Is the the scariest question in the world to me. Yeah, I was a good person before, but I was ignorant to SO MANY THINGS. I can never look at a stranger on the street the same after this, I will never ever look at missionary work the same after this, I will never be scared to open up my mouth again and share who I am.

This mission has given me so much, it almost doesn't feel right. I was supposed to be the one who was giving!!! I feel like I am taking away so much more than I am leaving behind. This mission has given me more than testimony of the restored gospel, it has converted me. It has taught me who my Savior is and how to follow in his ways. It has taught me obedience. It has taught me how to do things when I do not want to do them. It has taught me how to take less than I give. It has taught me that the scriptures are true. I read all of those scriptures stories my entire life, but I never thought that anything like that could happen to me. Now I feel like I can relate to Paul and Alma and Ammon because I have been there. It has taught me that love conquers all. It has taught me the need to love and look out for the people who are closest to you. It has taught me that we are literally nothing without God. It has taught me the power of faith. It has taught me the power of prayer. It has taught me the worth of a no-stress attitude. It has taught me the reality of eternal families. More than anything, it has taught me that missionary work, WORKS! 

I owe so much of my mission to the wonderful people who have been in my sight and sound 24/7 for the past 18 months. Companions have been such a blessing. Each of them have had super powers and touched my life for the better. Soeur Judd taught me how to radiate joy. Soeur Grewar taught me the reality of forgiveness and the power of conversion. Soeur Garrett taught me how to love the people. Soeur Foster taught me how to give it all and them give some more. Soeur Hilton taught me that miracles come when we are happily going about doing good. Soeur Francis taught me how to apply preach my gospel. Soeur Hosking taught how to have faith to see miracles. Soeur Berge taught me how to be bold and laugh every day, and Soeur Mangum continues to teach me how to be diligent and pure-hearted. 

Thank GOODNESS this is not the end. I am still learning and I will continue to progress when I go home. I will NOT let these be the best 18 months of my life. I KNOW that Heavenly Father has more in store for me. I am so excited to discover it. 

Ah, my heart is full. I love you all so much. Thank you for your support, and letters, and prayers throughout. I have felt them. I am a better person because of every one of you. Holy smokeeesssss, I am so EXCITED to see y'all. But not until I give everything I've got to this last week of my mission. :) 

Until I see you, in the real,  
Soeur Johns 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Hidden Treasures

SOOOO SOOOO much has happened since last week. where to begin? always the question. 

Soeur Mangum is incredible and exactly what I needed for the end of my mission. She is the poster child for quiet diligence, and there is no way I'm getting side tracked with her. She is what we call a preach my gospel missionary and I am so grateful for her example to me already. She never stops talking to people, even though it is hard for her, and we have already seen one thousand miracles because of it. 

Our first day together we were able to go and see Teclaire and share the Plan du Salut. She is so prepared, it's incredible. It was really funny though, we taught the whole plan and then asked her to tell us what she learned from it, and she was like "so adam and eve were at a meeting with jesus and satan and then they were hungry so they ate the apple and fell down on the earth and that is why life is so hard." hahah, yeah we taught it again after that...sometimes I still forget how many times I have heard these things and don't understand how confusing it would be to hear it for the first time. After Teclaire we went over to Milady's to teach her and her children about the Restoration. We told them the story about Jospeh Smith and they all agreed to pray about it. That family needs this more than they want it, but I know that as they do the little things and see the blessings the desires will come. Then we went over to Rachel's house to see her family. Her 12 year old daughter Patricia answered the door and told us that only her and her grandma were home. We were bummed for a half-second, but then she said, "but I read the brochure you gave me last time and I have some questions!" We went in and taught her the restoration and this kid already knew EVERYTHING. She told us that her and her mom watch the Restoration video every Sunday night after she gets home from work and that their family talks about us all the time!!! During our little lesson with her her dad came home and was so happy to see us. He told us and I quote, "I want to go far with you. I want to know this religion like the back of my hand, I will be on vacation at the end of next week and you will come over and teach me then." Yeah, on est d'accord. 

My favorite day of last week however was Saturday. MIRACLES. We taught Grace the Restoration. I assumed that this was going to be a touchy lesson with her because she is very deeply involved in her faith, but I also knew that her heart could be touched. She took everything in with so much faith and it was a huge testimony builder for me that the truth DOES touch open hearts. My favorite thing that she said was, "You know, the first time I walked into this church last week I was shocked because I didn't see icons or ornate decorations, but then I thought to myself, if Jesus Christ was still on the earth today I bet that this is exactly what his church would look like." Speechless. We invited her to church the next day and she said that she would pray about whether or not she should go to our church or the cathedral. Fair enough. That night we went and finally taught Vanessa and Edouard, the Bertrand's friends from the wedding. I know I keep saying this, but it was THE MOST INCREDIBLE RDV EVER. After the first 15 minutes Soeur Mangum turned to me and asked, "wait, is he the branch President?" No no no, they are amis. Its hard to believe because their family is just so perfect. Haha! We taught them the Plan of Salvation and Vanessa was on the edge of her seat. She has so many questions about this because of her disabled son and she was engaged in the lesson and marking her scriptures and asking the best questions. I could have died and gone to the spirit world. TF? After the lesson we went outside and jumped on the trampoline with the kids and then we ate dinner together. It felt like we were already with members and I just couldn't help but envision this family inviting the missionaries over in 20 years and talking about the first time the sisters came to teach them.

Sunday was Charlotte Bertrand's baptism. Vanessa, Edouard, their brother-in-law Antony, and all of the kids came to church and so did GRACE! It was a beautiful baptism and I felt the spirit so strongly. Especially when President Bertrand lifted Charlotte out of the water and kissed her on the forehead. It reminded me when Dad baptized me, and I was filled with gratitude for the Priesthood power that we have on the earth and the knowledge we have that every single dad has the right and the duty to baptize his little girl as long as he lives worthy of it. 

Monday was French Independence Day and everything was closed, so we had to change P-day last minute. Since we didn't have anything planned we decided to go and talk to everyone we saw. We met a cool Portuguese girl named Salami who we are seeing next week. And a cute older lady named Josiane who had met with the missionaries years ago, but was willing to see us again. We also went and taught Teclaire the word of wisdom. As expected, no problems there. 

Yesterday was awesome for many reasons, but mainly because Soeur Berge came back to do her legality and we all got to go to the Wareinghan's together to eat! It was a party. It had only been a week but we already had so much to catch up Aubs and Kristie becoming friends, haha. We also taught Bumbo, Frere Bitanga's mom, because he asked us to go over and see her while they were at the temple. I know I said last week that her traditions of her fathers are too engrained, but after our conversation yesterday, I'm not so sure. I think there is a lot of hope for her to accept the fullness of the gospel on this earth. Only time will tell. :) 

In my last interview with her, Soeur Poznanski told me that I would find hidden treasures at the end of my mission. Either deepened knowledge during studies, spiritual confirmations during lessons, or moments of joy with my companions, and let me tell you, I have been finding them. With the transfer change, now I really don't feel like I'm going home anytime time soon, so it feels funny to be calling this 'the end'. I think it is just going to sneak up on me, but that is not allowed to happen just yet. 

I love y'all so much! à bientôt! 
Soeur Johns 

Us at the Wareighans last night! :) 

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

The Adventures are Endless.

LAST TRANSFER NEWS TODAY! What the what. I don't even know what to do with myself. There are the craziest feelings in my heart right now. I'm so good during the week about NOT thinking about going home, but then I get to emails and I am just sucker punched with the fact that I HAVE LIMITED TIME LEFT. kfljlakzqjreaujpioarkejhakljrlke. 

Anyways, my new companion will be Soeur Mangum. She is adorable and such a solid hard working missionary. She will kill me off beautifully. We will be serving here in Rouen and I have no idea what is going to happen to her at the end because of the whole mini-transfer thing, but everything will all work out. Ask me if I'm excited to say goodbye to Soeur Berge. The answer is NO. But that is just the circle of life. We have our Provo parties planned déjà. I am really excited to serve with Soeur Mangum though and show her this beautiful miracle ville that is Rouen, so it's okay. 

Speaking of miracles...don't stop reading....haha. This week we saw many. The first shall be last and the last shall be first, so I'll start with yesterday. OK, so remember the family from the wedding, Vanessa and Edouard? We are FINALLY going to start teaching, teaching them. YES! This is how it happened: The Bertrand's invited them and us over to their house for a goûter (fancy snack) with the goal of really talking to them about the gospel and where they are at in their progression and desires and all of that. It took a while after they showed up for the conversation to turn to the gospel, but once it did the spirit came in so strong and we were able to really boldly invite them to learn more. As of right now both Edouard and Vanessa read the Book of Mormon regularly, since the last RDV FHE centered on prayer their 8-year-old daughter prays out loud with them every single night and hasn't been waking up anymore, AND Vanessa admits that the church and its values speak much more to her heart than the catholic church. Amazing right!!! What we talked about yesterday is how living the gospel actually requires more than just going to church every once in a while and reading the Bible and Book of Mormon. It requires a certain lifestyle of obedience to the commandments of God and trust in the promised blessings. We proposed, as the missionaries, to come over and teach them the commandments of the church and they agreed! I will let you know how that goes next week! I am so happy for this family! 

This week was FULL of adventures, as usual.... 

Monday we did a little shopping because it is SOLDES again and I'm freaking out because I'm buying pants. Then we went and had a FHE with our DMB and his family. His mom lives with them and is not a member. Frere Bitanga feels very strongly that all of these lessons are preparing her to accept the gospel in the Spirit world because the traditions of her fathers (african catholic) are too ingrained. She loves being there and listening and I just adore my BUMBO. 

Tuesday we met with Ludivine, her progression is slowing down and it's sad to watch. Also went to go teach Daniel, but he went to Belgium for work last minute. We still had a little lesson with his mom, and their 12 year old daughter and it went well. 

Wednesday was INSANE! We went to Paris and met the Babins! Two of the most incredible people ever! I did not think it was going to be possible to win me over after the Poznanski's, but I was SO wrong. After our zone conference I almost cried because I just want to stay and do another mission with them as my leaders. President Babin is hilarious and Soeur Babin is the most loving motherly angel. They are exactly what this mission needs right now. They shared their goals with us, "help their missionaries develop a personal relationship with the Godhead, and help convert families make it to the temple that is being built in Paris" and I had a confirmation that that is exactly what they are going to accomplish. Chills. After that we went back to Mantes-La-Jolie to do an open house because the bishop had requested sister missionaries. It was INCREDIBLE. We spent four hours going out on the streets and finding someone, bringing them back to the chapel, teaching them a lesson and giving them a tour with the awesome members there, getting their numbers and setting a RDV, and then doing it all over again!! And it really worked like that. We are doing this in Rouen ASAP, I swear it was like 2 weeks of contacting in 4 hours. So effective. And it was the perfect marriage of member and missionary work.  

Thursday morning we went out to Soeur Bachlets garden again and got some work done and built a BBQ, and then had a BBQ with a couple of the members. It was a blast. That night we had one of my favorite FHE's EVER with Milady and her kids. It was Maxime's birthday, so we made them a big pancake dinner! It is so interesting to see these kids discover God and Jesus Christ for the first time in their lives. The oldest is very skeptical and takes a long time to think and reflect on the things we are teaching, but he loves church because he has made some friends there. The middle one is FULL faith, all in. He loves everything about what we are teaching and drinks it up. The youngest is just kind of crazy and we don't really know what she thinks. They were all at church this Sunday and I asked the primary workers how it went, and they said that they all participated and behaved themselves. I'm so proud! 

Friday WAS THE FOURTH OF JULY. We listened to my patriotic playlist all day and dressed in red white and blue, NOT representing the french for the world cup thank you very much. We taught Nina, and she is just as confusing as ever. The lesson was on patience and in the middle of it I realized the lesson was more for me than it was for her. She will be baptized "someday", but that is a very dangerous notion. We had a long night of meetings with DMB and then Conseil de Branche, but we kept the American spirit burning as we waved our American flags and sang God Bless America for the opening hymn. The Frenchies just loved that.  

Saturday morning we went on a hike with the Relief Society and Young Women. Great bonding time. Afterwards we met up with the young men and to our surprise the son of one of our amis, Junior, had joined them! It was so great to be able to spend the picnic with him and see him interact so well with the members! Looks like we need to pick up the pace with his family and see them more regularly! 

That brings us full circle to Sunday! It was such a great one! Milady and her family were at church at 9:30 peel and stayed for a good hour afterwards. During relief society a woman that the elders had met on the metro the night before came in and stayed for the whole time and loved it. four more men who the elders are working with came and stayed through everything, AND teclaire texted us to tell us that she went to church in Paris with her member friend! We had like 8 people at church between the équipes which is a MIRACLE number for this mission. I am so happy to see the progression here in Rouen and know that there are covenants to follow! 

Well y'all that was my week. Missionary work is amazing and the adventures are endless.  

See y'all in a few. 
Bisous, Souer Johns

Open house in Mantes! 

The crew.

Babin conference with Soeur Vance! 

Our friend Jasmine! 

Fourth of July. 'Merica la belle. 

The warrior hikers. 

That's all folks! 

Innocent missionary pranks on the elders. 

Cookin' on that BBQ we put together all by ourselves.

Oh Souer Bachlet! I love her! 
Mercredi 2 juillet, conference des zones de Nancy, Paris, et Caen

On aime les Soeurs missionnaires

Monday, June 30, 2014

Come and Stay…Please?

Greetings mes chers,
This week has been jam-packed comme d'hab. I am just going to pick the best part of every day to tell you about, sound good? 

Monday. We threw a big FHE for all of the single adults. it was a hit. We had about eight members show up and three amis! We taught the plan of salvation and ate yummy food. party party. Eric, Veronique, and one of the elders ami's were there and they all loved it! 

Tuesday. We taught Ludivine. When she got to the church we could tell that something wasn't right. It looked like she had been crying all night. We asked her what was wrong and she would not tell us and just asked us to start with the lesson. We talked about Joseph Smith and his prophetic calling. It went well, but we could tell that this was just NOT what she needed to hear right then. we both sat there praying our hearts out to know what to say, when finally she opened up to us and told us that she was pregnant. We had just taught the law of chastity last week and were pretty bold with it, and so she thought that we would judge her and tell her that she had to stop seeing us and coming to church. Au contraire! she was soooooo grateful to see our reaction of pure happiness! We explained to her how she could still commit to living the commandments even if she has broken them before and encouraged her to continue on with these lessons because of the blessing they could be for her future family! It all ended SO differently than it started and we all ended up walking out of the church laughing. I could have cried I was so happy. 

Wednesday. We went porting Wednesday night and found Christelle and Francois! They are a brother and sister who moved to France from Congo about 8 years ago. Their mom had consecrated their home as a house of prayer when they moved there and always told her children that if anyone wanted to come and pray in their home they could not refuse them. The first thing we asked them was if we could pray with them and invite the spirit into their home! They were just like yes of course come right in! haha. I love it when that happens! We prayed with them and talked a little bit about the restoration of the church and they were both very interested. We invited them to come and take a tour of the church next week! I feel really good about these two. 

Thursday. We taught Eric. best and saddest lesson ever! He informed us at the beginning of the lesson that he is moving to Bretagne this week for two months! BUT that he had already looked up the address of the church in Rennes and wanted to know if there were missionaries over there. phew. He is so awesome and has such a genuine desire to know for himself if this is true, and he told us that he has already received a couple of very specific answers to his prayers. We taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the Bitangas and invited him to be baptized when he got back from the trip. He said, in English, 'Why not?'. haha. It is so apparent that he wants this and promised to send me pictures when it happens. He is going to be a HUGE strength for this branch. I have no doubts about that.

Friday. remember Elodie? the girl we met a couple of weeks ago who is studying English? well we went down to see her in Dieppe this week! Dieppe the cutest little town is about an hour away from Rouen by rail and home to one of the Normandy beaches! We taught her about the Book of Mormon and then she took us on a little tour of the city. yeah, so fun. She is moving to England in about a week and a half, but wants to continue meeting with the missionaries over there! ALSO, she told us that she just booked a trip to come to the great U.S. of A next year and made sure that SLC was on the itinerary! We obviously planned a whole day trip where Soeur Berge and I are taking her to temple square, city creek, and cafe rio. Maybe we'll all be able to do baptisms together by then :) who knows? 

Saturday. Went out to Elbeuf to visit the lovely Teclaire. She is so prepared for this. Her friend is a recent convert from Paris and she had spent all of last week at her house (she even met with the elders twice over there). When we came over she was just like 'preach to me'. Haha. She is so ready to live the standards of the church and is praying to know that the Book of Mormon is true. She wasn't ready yet to set a date for her baptism, but I know she will be soon with her sincerity of heart to know and ask God if these things are true. She came to church on Sunday and all of the members remembered her name and it made her feel so good. These members are rock solid. 

Sunday. Sunday night we went and passed by Rachel. She has been literally working EVERY single day for the past two weeks and we have not had a chance to see her. She was not home when we got to her house, but her husband, daughter, and mother in law were!!! It was the first time we had ever met her husband, Daniel, and we were just blown away by him. We walked out of that RDV and Soeur Berge looked at me and said, "we just found the next stake president for Kinshasa." Mark my word, he will be. He is ready for this and wants to study and discuss with us. He said that he had been looking at the Retab video that was sitting at his house for weeks, but thought it was only in English! When we explained he could change it into French he was like, "Ok. I'm going to watch this tonight and read the Book of Mormon and you are going to come back on Tuesday and we are going to talk about it." I love when amis give themselves their own engagements and set their own RDVS. what? he is so cool and everything that came out of his mouth was doctrine. I'm really excited for tomorrow!!! 

As for me, I am doing well. I had a moment this week as I was sitting on my bed and realized that in 5 short weeks I won't just be able to take the train into Paris, or go grab a patisserie, or speak French to strangers, or ride the metro and I got so sad. I am going to miss this so much and that's not even counting the missionary side of things. Thank heavens it is not over!!!!! I am going hard till the end and not wasting one second! I can't say enough how grateful I am for the chance I've had to preach this gospel. It is beautiful and perfect and true. I gain a testimony of it all over again every single day. 

I love you all so much. Go hard for me on the 4th.  

Bisous, Soeur Johns 

Elodie and I! Isn't she precious!
Soeur Berge and I. Living the dream. 

Encore, Dieppe

Jumping picture!! Two of my favorite humans everrr.

We were supposed to put the raspberries in the bucket, bit I think most fell out…into our mouths.

The FHE. Veronique is the little Asian lady in the front and Eric is the French man standing up in the back right corner.

Our district. Holding up those 11's scary.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

feeling blessed as usual

Ah sorry I don't have a ton of time today... this one will be really short.

Just know that i am so happy here. Miracles are everywhere. Rouen is the best ville ever. and six weeks left does not feel real or right. I refuse to believe it and I'm not just saying that to seem hardcore. I really love my mission more than I can express and am not looking forward to the end. ah, but at the same time I am SO EXCITED to see you and run until my legs fall off. It's a true dilemma.

Also I forgot my planner. which means that it is going to be nearly impossible for me to remember what happened this week, but I will do my best.

Well lets just start with the best part of the week. Yesterday at church. We have been having a rough time getting our amis to church, but yesterday they CAME. and they all absolutely loved it. Eric even brought flowers to put on the pulpit. Ludivine was also there. and Milady and her three kids. and Teclaire. the members were wonderful with them.

The hardest part of the week by far was saying goodbye to the Poznanskis. I love them so much and cannot even say how much they have taught me. They are incredible. and we got to hug president at the end!! always wanted to do that!! haha.

ok...that's all I got for this week! I love you all so much. If I have time tonight before p-day ends I will send some pictures!

xoxo, Soeur Johns

Monday, June 16, 2014

good days and better days

my dear family, friends, loved one's, members of the Rouen Branch who have found this blog, 

it has been one heck of a week. yet again. 

wednesday of this last week was THE WORST. haha. We had 5 RDV's planned out and confirmed for that day and fell through. by the last one soeur berge and I just looked at each other and started cracking up. we had been anticipating such a good day lessons-wise, but in the end...nothing. it's okay though. it was still a great day and we met some interesting people.  

thursday was such a CONTRAST. everything thursday just seemed to go our way. we began our day by teaching Myrielle, a new ami who was found by the other sisters. She is from Benin and so awesome. We talked about how prayer is a conversation with our Heavenly Father and she agreed with everything and committed to start praying to know if the things we teach her are true. I have really high hopes for her. Then we taught Elodie. she is AWESOME. we met her in town a couple of weeks ago and she told us that she met a friend on her study abroad in Canada who is a member of the church and would love to learn more. She is majoring in English and so she speaks perfectly. She preferred that we teach her in it because she is preparing for an oral exam next week and thought it would be great practice. Man, was that hard or what? We are so used to teaching in French that we felt like we had to rely on the Spirit even more for us to get to right words out in English. I guess it worked because Elodie really seemed to grasp the magnitude of the Restoration more than any other person I've ever taught. She was just like "HOLD UP, we have a PROPHET!! I need to know what he has to say!" It was awesome. We are going down to Dieppe to visit her this week before she goes over to England for a few months. She already agreed to meet with the missionaries over there. She told us that she was going to send a FB message to her friend from Canada tonight telling him that she knew who Joseph Smith was now. Haha. He probably wet his pants. Right after Elodie we taught Ludivine with Soeur Barnjak. We talked about to Gospel of Jesus, repentance, baptism, the gift of the holy ghost, enduring to the end...and Ludivine really opened up to us about her worries about baptism. She is concerned that her family is going to reject her. Soeur Barnjak was the BEST person to have there for that because she shared a really touching story about how her husband joined the church and his family wasn't super happy, but how they eventually came around. In the end, Ludivine asked to see the baptismal font, and said..."oh, okay so I will get baptized here"...I think that is a good sign. :) After that we taught Leila, the mom of the Madagascan family and it went awesome and she is really progressing well. And after that we taught our girl Rachel with Soeur Loemba. Hello, powerhouses. We talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and committed Rachel to baptism on the 28th of this month :) She said a big YES and then pulled out her work schedule to make sure that it would be okay. It was! We are hoping that her 11 year old daughter and husband can join her on that day! :) 

yeah, so I'm pretty much convinced that wednesday had to happen in order for thursday to be THAT good. i am to the point where i literally get excited when i have a hard day because I KNOW without a doubt that a good one is going to follow. that's just how it seems to work. 

the rest of the week was awesome. to be brief, we...
-gave Leila a tour of the church! which is a huge step for her! now she knows where it is and what it is like. 
-had a FHE chez la famille Barnjak with Ludivine. It was PERFECTION thanks to that wonderful family. We talked about commandments in general and how they are there to bless us and then taught the 10 commandments with our hand signs. haha. we had so much fun and Ludivine really hit it off with the family!  
-had an awesome DMB meeting. why? well, Ludivine had had some questions about why blacks couldn't have the Priesthood, yadda yadda and we really didn't know how to respond. well, our DMB is a huge African man and has one of the strongest testimonies ever so we decided to ask him what to say. Well turns out he has studied this topic enormously and bore one of the most powerful testimonies I have ever heard on how the church is not racist and has never been. It brought me to tears. Basically, I didn't have a testimony of this before. Now I do. We are sending Ludivine straight to him. 
-ERIC. such a miracle!! We were coming home on the bus Saturday night and I noticed that the man in front of us just kept turning around and staring at us, so I asked him if he had ever heard of the church. "In fact, I've been to Salt Lake City" Ah, bon? After that we had a great conversation about the church and the restoration/priesthood and asked him if he had ever been to one of our church meetings. He said no, so we invited him to come. AND HE ACTUALLY DID! And HE loved it!! We are going back to teach him about the Book Of Mormon this week. 

Yeah. It was a great week already and on top of that we PLAYED TENNIS this morning with the Barnjak's and Anderson and then ate a yummy lunch at their house. Basically, I love them to pieces. 

Well family I sure do love you. You are such a blessing. 

je vous embrasse, 
soeur johns 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014



I am so blessed. This week has been absolutely incredible and I only have good things to say. 

Mmkay. where to even begin? 

Let's start with the reason this email is coming to you on Wednesday instead of Monday. Monday was a holiday here for Pentecost and everything was closed, so the Wareingans took us on ANOTHER adventure to the most beautiful place I have ever been to in my whole life. Etretat. Y'all should just scroll down and look at the pictures because there is no way I am going to be able to describe this place other than heaven itself. Oh, it was incredible. After that we headed off to the Branch President's house for a meeting. President Bertrand felt that "we have been having some difficulties lately with how our zones within Rouen are unequally divided between us and the elders" and needed to talk to us about it. Let's be honest. I hate confrontation and was so nervous about this meeting, so I was not looking forward to it at all...and on top of that it was on P-day. I was clearly SHOCKED when I walked through the door to their house and heard a huge "SURPRISE!!!" and saw a big happy birthday banner!!! Turns out Soeur Berge and Soeur Bertrand had been sneakily planning this party for weeks! I COULD DIE I LOVE THOSE TWO SO MUCH. I think Soeur Berge has a little 007 in her future cause it is not easy to plan a surprise for someone who never leaves your side 24/7, she deserves a trophy. To make it even better the Bertrand's had invited their f.r.i.e.n.d.s from the wedding, an inactive family that lives in their neighborhood, and the Bitangas! And ON TOP OF THAT it was a TEXAS THEMED BBQ. Soeur Bertrand literally out did herself making it perfect!!! We grilled hot dogs and chicken and kebabs and ate chips and guacamole and she made a SPECULOOS CHEESECAKE for the cake. Ah, I am obsessed with this family. AND ON TOP OF THAT we had the most amazing missionary moment during it!! How do I explain this briefly? Ok, so the parents of the less-active family were in town and are both very strong members of the church. We got talking to the mom about her conversion story and she started sharing it which was great, but Vanessa (ami) wasn't in the room. I think every single Soeur listening to her amazing story started praying for Vanessa to come in and voilà! Prayer works. She sat down and STAYED as the Soeur explained her conversion to the gospel and her first testimony of the Book of Mormon. The spirit was so strong and I know she felt it!! As we were leaving at the end I went over to Vanessa to see if she would be coming to church this Sunday and she said "oh YES, we love the church. we would come more often it's just that my husband works, but the kids love the church so much, but we will be there this Sunday because he is not working!" Ah, I know the Lord is touching their hearts and it is incredible to watch. I know that there is a special reason for all of this happening right now! And I have high hopes that they will be members soon :) Ah, I still can't believe that happened! I feel so blessed and CANNOT DESCRIBE THE LOVE I HAVE FOR THESE PEOPLE. They are amazing.  

As if that didn't make me feel like the most spoiled princess in the whole world, the next day, my actual birthday, Soeur Berge decorated the whole apartment while I was in the shower, and then we had our district meeting and the mantes elders brought balloons and hid in our in-ground baptismal font and popped out and threw them at me. haha. and they made a banana cream pie, my favorite! AND THEN, I am almost embarrassed writing about all of this, but just know it is just out of complete GRATITUDE... we had another little party with two sisters from the ward and our ami Veronique! And then went with the Wareighans to visit a Sister in the hospital and THEN ate a gourmet dinner at their house. Seriously, SPOILED ROTTEN, je sais. I don't know what I did to deserve all of this. I am clearly obsessed with the Rouen branch and their amazingness! 

Wow, all of that and I didn't even touch what happened last week...which was full of miracles and tender mercies. 

Let me just quickly give you the highlights. 

-One of the members found a blank check that was signed and everything that had an address on it for a woman. Being the angel he is, he thought of the missionaries and asked us if we could return the check to the woman and see if she was interested in the gospel. Turns out her and her family are Jewish, and while they weren't super interested they were SO grateful and it gave me warm fuzzies. 
-Our ami Rachel called this week to tell us how much she LOVED church! She then passed the phone over to her husband, who we thought lived in Africa, and he said that Rachel had explained all of the teachings to him and that he wanted to come to church next week with her! They are golden. 
-Ludivine is progressing slowly but surely. It is so hard because she looks up so much crap on the internet and it really shakes her up. We just keep telling her to focus on how she is feeling and telling her that if she feeds her faith then her doubts will starve to death. We are seeing her later today...that will be good. 
-I got a nasty flu and was actually bedridden for an entire day, a first for my mission. I watched Temple of the Lord probably 6 times in a row. I don't know why I do was like National Treasure when I got my wisdom teeth out. I just became obsessed...the temple is the FIRST place I go when I get off the airplane. We had our exchanges the next day, in Rouen thankfully and I was with Soeur Doyle. She is a peach. I was still really sick and slept through most of it, but we managed to still meet some really awesome people.  
-We had the adult session of stake conference in Versailles aka. I WAS REUNITED WITH ALL OF THE MEMBERS FROM ST.OUEN. Be still my soul. It was so good to see them and hear about all the miracles that are still happening. Go team St.Ouen. 
-Stake Conference on Sunday was re-transmitted from Switzerland and we had the privilege of hearing from Elder Anderson, Sister Reeves, and Sister and President Uctdorf. It was like a mini general conference and was SO GOOD. They talked about the struggles and blessings of being a Saint in Europe and how they need to bloom where they are planted and grow the kingdom with faith. It was so inspired. 

Yeah, that is a really watered down version of this week, but there you go. It was amazing. I feel like the Lord has just water-hosed us with all sorts of unexpected blessings lately and I am beyond grateful. I couldn't have asked for a better companion, or better people to teach, or better members, or a better ville for the end of my mission. It is simply perfect. 

I love y'all. I am so proud of you GRAMPY JOHNS!! Or should I say President Johns! You are going to be such a blessing for the Toxey branch! They are so lucky to have you! 

All my heart, Soeur Johns   
etretat aka. heaven on earth. 

the crew. 

comp pic. 

hold onto your socks's also a golf course. 

The crew. Don't you love the oragami lotus crown that Sam made me? 

i'm feelin' 22! everything will be alright if...your comp.stays next to youuuuu

yummy yummy in my tummy 

the party animals. 

Soeur Bertrand, Vanessa, and I! 

timeo! the cutest little deaf boy. 

the decorated apartement! so spoiled. 

with soeur bachelet, soeur martel, et veronique! 

us with veronique in soeur bachelet's garden! fresh strawberries, mmm. 

the gaston girls from St.Ouen! 

Nicole! She just got back from Temple Square and knows ems!! 

i'm going to miss them so much! 

chinese elders. 

Margret!! look who it is! 

with the bertrand kids at stake conference