I will try and update you on everything that has been going on the past few days. So right after I was dropped off to the MTC, I was put into a French class with my district and we began learning the language. At the MTC we are always so busy there is never really any time to just relax. Mostly we sit in our classroom for 12+ hours studying the language and the gospel. Rather surprisingly my bad study habits from college didn’t transfer over to the MTC, I guess being called as a missionary has real impacts on your spirit.
Adjusting to mission life though has not been too difficult: we arise at 5:45 every morning and go to bed by 10:30 every night. We also have had to adjust our language because as missionaries we can use abbreviations or slang terms like - dudes and guys. Some days I have to remind myself that I am actually completing a mission and that I am doing the same thing that Elder Wheeler, Kaufana did years ago. (these missionaries brought our family back to actively living the Gospel). I love wearing a name bag that says Elder Johnson!! There is something that is so empowering about being a missionary. Your body is restored every morning, your countenance is one of pure joy, and your mind is sharpened as you learn to testify in a language you don’t know.
A mission is definitely the best thing ever. Its hard but its good. Learning the language has been the biggest struggle so far. In my district there are 10 missionaries. 7 of them are going to France and there are 3 of us going to the Congo. I am currently in a companionship of three and love both Elder Brockbank and Elder Leavitt. We have already taught two lessons IN FRENCH to an "investigator", who is actually a return missionary who volunteers. The first one was rough as we all just read scripts we had prepared. But Saturday's lesson was fantastic, I went in after studying a full day's worth of French and simply tried to do it by the guidance of the Spirit. What a difference. That day I must have had the gift of tongues because I understood a few things Christopher said (our investigator), and because I can’t speak the language I decided to respond with scriptures in French. Tonight we are planning on teaching him about Joseph Smith and I will be reciting the First Vision in French.
Although it might seem like I am having an easy time, and relatively I am, there are still rough moments. Some days in class, after failing at French repeatedly all day I simply want to quit. BUT, those thoughts are quickly replaced when I think of the blessings you guys will receive and most importantly the blessings the people in Africa will receive if I keep going.
Remaining positive is the most important thing on a mission. Yesterday at a fireside (an evening meeting in the LDS church) a story was told about optimism and I think it’s cute:
There was an old woman who in her old age only had three hairs left. She woke up one morning and said "I want to braid my hair". And so she did, and had a great day. The next morning she only had two hairs left. And so she thought about how she wanted her hair done. She decided to part it down the middle, and had a great day. The next morning, as you can guess, she had one hair left. That day she wanted to put her hair up in a ponytail. So she did, and had a great day. The next morning she sadly woke up with no hair...there could be no cute hair styles that day. The little old lady looked in the mirror and said; "OHH GOOD! I don’t have to do my hair today!"
Haha. However, difficult school or work is there is something to be positive about. After all we teach of a Plan of HAPPINESS! And every day we get to choose that plan again. I am anxious to hear about home life from you all. If you want me to know about home life sooner you can Dear Elder me in the MTC (see instruction on my contact page) and the letter will be delivered on the same day, just FYI.
I hope this email makes sense and is logical, after a week of this, your brain gets sort of fried. But all is well in Zion (Heaven).
Elder Julius Johnson