Nov 25, 2013

11-18-13 The Congo is Still the Congo

The week started off well.  We went to a FHE (Family Home Evening) with one of the branch presidency members and had fun with their family.  I also ate a mango for the first time and thought it was really good - however now I know that eating mango is super messy! 

With that - this week Elder Lundberg and I were led by the spirit so much this week.  We have met members from Brazzaville, Sierra Leone, Benin, Ivory Coast, and even some less actives from Congo.  Because the church is so small in this city, when people come here they often lose contact with the church for some time until they find the missionaries.  Some of these people were met while we were lost looking for some street or simply walking from rendezvous to rendezvous. I t was really awesome to notice that this week. 

Also we did something that is pretty awesome this week - we went a whole week spending $3 on transport!!  That’s a whole week of buses and taxis on three American dollars. So we felt pretty proud of that. 

We are now teaching another man from Ghana - Peter!  He's really awesome but does not speak or read French, so we’re getting a bunch of English things for him. But at church I sat next to him and translated for him.  The group would talk for a few minutes and then I would write, on scrap paper from my planner, two or three sentences explaining the doctrine that was being explained.  At the end of church he had three pieces of paper that were full of doctrine, which he read and reread!

Elder Lundberg and I have been feeling that things are getting a little dull here so we are praying for exciting experiences this week - maybe next week I’ll have a crazy story! :) 

Also to clarify, yes we put the homeless Ghanaian with the paralyzed Congolese.  We are learning that it might not have really helped, but we will see. 

11-11-13 It's the End of the World as We Know it, but I Feel Fine

This week there’s Ferious' birthday (my older brother), but also my 6 month mark on Friday!  That’s crazy how fast time flies!  So I think I’m no longer a greenie :)

This week has been crazy - just seems like our branch is getting
struck by lightning. (hence the title of the email, but don’t worry I’m okay).  So Elder Lundberg and I set a goal to build relations with the Branch President this week, and Heavenly Father blessed us with that opportunity.  We all went out to visit the brother who is having trouble walking and tried to find a solution.  Basically he has no family here in Pointe Noire and so we couldn’t improve the situation, or so it seemed.  But Heavenly Father later provided a solution.  Also a recent convert I baptized, Gilberto, is having some problems with his family.  After his mom died he moved in with his aunt and was baptized.  But his aunt is against the church and so she gives him endless chores so he can’t go to church.  He says he gets up at 5am to clean the entire house but she still finds things to keep him from coming.  So, we are trying to think up a solution to that problem as well. 

Later, Steven, a man from Ghana who I love, came to us and after visiting with him we learned he had no place to stay and had slept out in the ran the night before. (his house burnt down about 3 weeks ago)  So that night we set up an appointment with President Sombo and thought of some solutions.  The idea came - Steven needs a place to stay.  Alfonse needs someone to help him.  So, Steven is now staying with Alfonse to help watch over him and in return is staying in Alfonse's home!  How incredible that Heavenly Father would set up this situation.

That’s why the title is as is.  Me and Lundberg have to laugh and shake our heads when we see all the problems that simply come without ceasing, otherwise it might get down.  And although we sometimes have no idea what to do, we feel fine and are strengthened by the resolve that heaven will provide a way!  And that’s what has happened so far :)

Investigator wise - we are doing good.  We have refreshed our pool of now 20 people and are seeing some awesome growth.  All is well for us below the equator!

Elder Bednar dedicated Gabon this week!!  So that means missionaries are going there soon and we are starting to hear rumors of Brazzaville opening up.  As was said in conference (which we just watched this weekend) the Lord is hastening his work!!

I love you All and will keep praying for your success!  Thanks for the support and love, but until next week

Elder Johnson

11-04-13 Back in the Saddle!

Don’t worry I’m staying in Africa!  Not only am I staying but I’m
about to light Africa on spiritual fire!  Haha.  Yeah, last week was bad, but this week was a great reset for me.  And just in time for the 6 month mark.  Honestly, I slept maybe 2 hours Monday night and prayed a whole lot - but Tuesday - I got up said a very sincere prayer and went to work.  That has made all the difference!  I just felt very calm about all this.  I told Heavenly Father in my prayer that I will dedicate myself to the work here, and forget my worries about things and when I get home…if he can help me out when I get back that would be great.  Regardless, Elder Johnson is now completely on the Lord's errand.

We had two baptisms this week, and I got to baptize for the first time ever!  The first was Ange (Ricardo).  I started teaching Ricardo when I got here but he went on a trip to Gabon for a few months.  He is the son of a Jehovah witness pastor and I have already relayed the situation he was put into by his father.  He has a lot of questions but he has enough faith that they never become a problem.  After his baptism and confirmation he bore his testimony in church!  He said he knew the Book of Mormon was true and that this church is true.  Also Djo gave a powerful testimony! (he was baptized in august)  That made me so happy to see that the fruits of our labor are being kept!

Roland is the second new member of the church.  I baptized him which was kind of nerve racking but it all worked out.  He is the son in law of a very strong member and the brother of another great sister.  Soeur Dilov!  We love this family and they have been such a blessing to missionary work here in Africa.  From them we have baptized about 6 other people.  Lesson to be learned - give your friend’s number to the missionaries.  They can help you! We have been working with the branch a lot lately to try and get them
to trust us even more with their friends and family member's
information.  We will see how that goes.  As you know president Sombo doesn’t take too strong of a liking to us. We had another argument with him in his office yesterday.  But we are determined to help everyone here we can.  Elder Lundberg is great and we get along fine.  No problems.  I’m probably a little more humble than I was when I started with Elder Baker.  This week, like I said has been good for me.  The next year and a half I am expecting the miracles to increase!  Ahh, I’m out of time for the week, but I love you all and wish you the best.  Thanks for the prayers.  I’ll have to pay you back with my prayers this week!

Love Elder Johnson

PS - I saw a dump truck do a pop a wheelie the other day. haha

Nov 3, 2013

10-29-13 No Fancy Titles This Week............

This week has been awful! To start off the week we were attacked by a massive spider Tuesday. It was about the size of our hands and so we tried to kill it.  We trapped it under a can and then tried to burn it with by making a flame throwing with air-freshener and a match. Ha-ha.  Sadly, Elder Lavering wasn’t too good of a shot and so in the end we just killed it with a broom. 

Also, I was accused by some South Africans of being a spy!  They swore I was from the FBI or CIA and that I was really here to see how we could infiltrate Africa.

As it is the season of scary stories and spooky tales - I have a story for you all about the scariest night of my life.  Friday at 1am I was awoken by Elder Lundberg shaking me violently yelling, "Johnson, Johnson, get up! I don’t know what the heck is going on but get up!"   There were loud banging sounds that sounded like gunshots and shattering of glass.  The sound was coming from our garage and we all remembered we forgot to lock the inner gate to the apartment!  So at 1am we were thinking that someone is breaking into the house and we were freaking out, especially because there have been two murders in Pointe Noire recently!  After about 10 minutes it stopped and we learned that it was just a crazy drunk guy smashing windows in the apartment under us.  This was the scariest night of my life!!

Ngasaki was supposed to be baptized but it turns out that he has a fiancĂ© that he doesn’t want to give up.  So that’s 6 months of work that may never produce fruits.  Aflonse is a member that was paralyzed and was doing better with the branch members help but now the members don’t visit him and so he doesn’t eat for days on end or have water.  We bought him water and food on Friday and then talked to the Branch President on Sunday.  To which the president chastised us for bragging about our service.  So disappointing!  We just want to get him some help.

To top off the week I got a “Dear John Email” from Cassie.  I can’t blame her, after all I’m 8000 miles away in a 3rd world country. This week has been so rough and I am just about ready to come home.  I’m not sure what that would do to you guys but Africa is a rough ride for me, I guess.  I’ll keep you updated on my plans and how I’m doing but until then, I love you all and hope all is well for you, which it sounds like it is!

Elder Johnson

PS - Note from Mom to blog followers:  Please go to the contact page above and consider writing Julius a postcard or short email to encourage him and uplift him.  Any positive thoughts would be appreciated as that may help give him the additional strength to push through the trials he'll experience in the next year and a half in Africa.