Mar 24, 2014

03-25-14 I Love To See the Temple

Absolutely no one has been available this week. It’s been a little slow teaching wise. But the up side, is that me and Kampoy have had more time to get to know each other and we have found that we are pretty similar in attitude. We have quickly become best friends. 

I’m flipping through my planner to try and find something that was interesting this week. So, here are some stories from the week.

Last week I told you about Regine and Beldin. Well this week we had a lesson on Temples and it was the best lesson I’ve ever taught.  Because they are so young we can’t go too in depth. So I decided we would draw temples with them. We gathered pictures, paper, and markers and went to work. I could not believe the enthusiasm of the whole family.  Regine and Beldin's mom, holds a study group for neighborhood kids, so when we went the whole house was excited and participated. I have never seen 16 year old Africans get so excited (to say the least of the 8 year olds for who the lesson was intended)! I will attach pictures in another email of their art so you can see how fun it was. I guess it was good training for future kids that I will need to teach. 

Regine and Beldin are the two really young ones. 

Kampoy and I also got stuck in the rain twice this week!

Friday morning we had no one in our planner scheduled to teach.  We weren’t sure what we would do. The district leader then gave us a number of someone who had asked for the missionaries on We called the guy and set up a rendez-vous. Meeting a long way from the city and behind a gas-station - it looked like a drug deal or something. haha  But there we were talking with Claver. Claver told us that he found a Book of Mormon somewhere. He can’t remember where, but he read it and gained a testimony of the book and knows it’s true. This was a year ago, and since then he has been sharing the book with friends out in the village where he lives. For a year a group of 20 people have been sharing 1 Book of Mormon and have been holding unofficial study sessions. It wasn’t until he started to research the origins of the book that he came across a Facebook page for the church and found that there were members in Yaounde - so he requested us to come see him. Sunday he came to church and says he will come every Sunday.  Kampoy and I will go out to their group with church materials and present the church formally to them! Pretty exciting and crazy how the gospel can disperse on its own. I remember hearing that if the Book of Mormon had legs we wouldn’t need missionaries - well this book doesn’t have legs but somehow it found its way to a village and a group that was prepared!

Friday afternoon, we were waiting at the church for an amis (meeting), when branch leaders began to file into the building for branch council. One of them is President Omam, 1st counselor. Omam began by joking about the Dote (marriage money, which the church is against because it stops marriages). Omam made the comment that started an apostate flow of ideas, "The only reason the church is against the dote is because the leaders are white!". Then turning to me he said, "why do you allow homosexuality in America but say polygamy is a sin?". I quickly corrected him and explained that, I nor the church allow the two. Omam became an absolute jerk, yelling and attacking "white" ideas. With every phrase I got more and more upset and my French got worse and worse. I’m not sure if it’s clear what happened, but basically a leader yelled false doctrine in my face and undermined my calling as a missionary, referring to me as "as child who doesn’t know anything".  In the end, I left so upset that we stopped work for the rest of the day and emailed my mission president about the affair.  A few days later and I’m still furious about the whole thing.   

The week has been an interesting one - full of adventure just like I wanted. I committed to President Cook to stay another 2 weeks until he comes to Yaounde so we can talk face to face. Lately, I’ve had some crazy experiences that have made me laugh and some that had taught me some new things. 

Mar 22, 2014

03-17-14 What the Chinois!

Big news! The mission is getting split in July. It will become the Brazzaville Congo mission. Basically they are splitting off the Americans from the Africans, and we will be getting a new mission president. It’s been a rumor passing around the missionaries for a bit so this is kind of cool that it is confirmed. 

The week was really slow number-wise. We had to take two sick days because Kampoy was feeling a little sick, almost went crazy in the apartment after 48 hours. Also for some reason Kampoy and I have been silently designated apartment "moms" in the fact that we cook every meal, which means getting home a little earlier and also we go on emergency shopping runs. I guess without a senior couple we have sort of filled the spot.  I guess it’s just preparing me to be a dad, right? 

Julius Baking a Cake as the "Apartment Mom"!
And he says he doesn't know how to cook. He just needed a reason to remember. 

Funny, you should mention kids. I love kids in Africa. My favorite investigators are Regine and Beldin (8 and 11). Teaching them is so nice and they have so much love for others. On Saturday, I played with a little toddler, putting my sunglasses on her and dancing together. And when that got old I became a rocket-ship! I wish everyone had a chance to be around a little African child. Sadly, we can’t go work in orphanages because institutions might try and pawn their kids off on us. 

So to explain the title - Sunday I was sitting outside the church filling out one of the hundred forms (in the movie – The OtherSide of Heaven - there is a scene where he spends a whole night filling out forms - I finally understand that part of the movie) but like I was saying, all of a sudden I hear, "What is this a church or something?"  Looking up, I saw an Asian speaking English!!  I was so shocked I couldn’t think of what to say for a bit. It’s rare to have someone say something in English let alone someone from another Nationality. (Which explains the Title - Chinois is a loanword from the French adjective meaning Chinese) Finally, I stammered out "Yeah, why are you here?" After a short discussion I ushered him in where he sat with a member from London who helped translate. Sadly, this isn’t one of those preach my gospel stories.  A few minutes later he came back out and said, "Okay, I’m going, maybe when I learn French I’ll come back."  Not being able to convince him to stay, he left. And that was the last I saw of Nick. Who knows, maybe I'll see him on the side of the road and give him an English Book of Mormon?  So, that’s the spiritual news from this week. 

I think it’s funny that Maya wants me to stay on the mission so she can have bragging rights. Trust me Maya, I don’t want to take away your bragging rights or anybody else's.  It’s definitely not like me to be like this which makes me think this mission isn’t for me. I gave myself next Monday as an absolute deadline to decide, so you will know by next week for sure. 

Mom, I’d definitely be down with coming back to do service with you.  I’ve got the French now and the experience, sadly I have no clue what Kinshasa is like so, that would be another adventure. 

This week was honestly uneventful so I don’t have much to say. I love you guys bunches! I miss all the fun times with siblings and parents.  Keep safe in Colorado!

This reminds me of school days. Can you believe they know 4 square here too? These kids are innovative and can make something out of nothing. 

03-10-14 Another Week Down – I’m Still in the Game

A spaghetti-omelet is just about the best thing on the planet! You cook up an omelet with onions, peppers, tomatoes, whatever else ya want - but then add cooked spaghetti!  Put it on bread with mayo and voila! I suggest it as a possible dinner one night.

The new companionship is going well.  We have become very good friends in the first 3 days. There will be times when he doesn’t talk, but when he does, he opens up a lot. So far so good! 

My wound is getting better - no infection, I think. I realized you aren’t supposed to put hydrogen-peroxide in puncture wounds so I stopped that. I think in two weeks it’ll be back to perfect.  

This week was kinda normal. Tuesday, my last day with Elder Hunt, we saw a cool feat of Mother Nature. We were walking and all of a sudden a hawk dives past Hunt's head and takes away a little bird on the side of the road!  It was funny because seconds before we both said, "hey those are some pretty, little birds", then woosh haha. I guess it’s the circle of life! 

Hunt then left Wednesday - so no work that day. Then the next day, I had to wait with an MTC bound African, who had been staying with us until he left, so no work Thursday either.

Friday and Saturday were slow, just trying to catch up from the lack of work. During all this free time I learned to play Solitaire (Vegas style) and got addicted. I played round after round until I honed my skills to Vegas status. haha. 

I have decided that I want to do some French tutoring while I’m home. I really don’t want to lose my French but it’ll be hard to keep up in America - where the world is culturally illiterate and speaks American and nothing else :) I’m kidding, I love America! . Which by the way I just got Christmas cards from ward (church) members - it was a nice reminder of home. 

After another week, I think I am even closer to coming home. My desire to do work is falling. I am still talking to my mission president, but I guess you guys will know soon enough. I am simply thinking that for me, I will progress more if I am at home. 

Nonetheless, spirits are high here! I love you all and am thankful for the support I get from you all the time. Keep working hard - I love all you guys!

03-03-14 “What’s Up Doc?”

I’ll start by answering questions: We did not get a new senior couple, in fact we won’t get one until, at best, April! So we have been stock-piled with enough money to last that period. At our apartments we have a water reserve (3 trash bins) that we fill whenever water comes on, and then use throughout the week. When water isn’t on we take bucket showers. A half a bucket for each person everyday. (much different from my 30-45 minute routine at home haha). I prefer Pointe-Noire to Cameroon. I’m in the rich sector so it’s less rough and tough. The people can be much more annoying in the Congo. Overall it just has a softer feel up here. I guess my heart will always rest in Congo!

Don’t worry too much about the money - I have sometime and can get by with what I have. 

Thanks for updating me on family matters, now I'll give you some cool stories. This week I was on splits the whole week, so I worked with Elder Hunt in my sector once. 

Tuesday - Hunt was sick and so we stayed at home the whole day while he recovered. I wish I did something cool, but I just listened to Jack Johnson eating tortillas and salsa, reading old Liahonas. 

Thursday - I got to ride on a moto; a motor cycle-taxi! I was with the zone leader and his investigator pulled up on his moto and offered a ride to his house. How could we say no? We also got caught in a massive thunderstorm. We walked home through roads and roads of mud. Its rainy season here so every night it rains hard and is accompanied by massive thunder and lightning storms. I’m talking "the-kind-we-used-to-watch-at-home-on-the-patio" BIG!  It’s a pretty awesome this time of year. 

How Many Can You Fit On a Moto Taxi?

Friday - we stayed up until 11pm listening to French rap/dance music, eating biscuits and gravy, in candle-light (power was out, again, nothing better to do)

Saturday - okay this is where the title of my email comes from. After a successful baptism we went to go visit one or two people. I bought a spaghetti-omelet sandwich and was enjoying it. Elder Hunt and I were discussing our most embarrassing moments on the mission when, PLUNCK! Into a gutter I fell, haha. My sandwich was ruined and my pride. A taxi full of women laughed as they drove past. It was a scene, I am sure. But I quickly jumped out of the gutter and insisted that I was fine. I had a cut on my wrist but I am a man! So for two hours we continued onward. At home I discover that somehow my pants and left sock were wet - not with sewage, but blood!  Removing my sock, I found a deep puncture on my shin! (Before I continue, this same thing happened in the Congo when I tripped over a parking sign almost 6 months ago.  By the end of my stay here I may no longer have a functioning left leg.) 

So, my role as life-guard Johnson was resurrected that night. I took a towel and filtered water washing it the best I could. I found some gauze, fabric and hydrogen-peroxide and bound it up. That night, my bed became like a hospital ward that might have been the best in Africa at the time. Today I walk with a slight limp but am fine. Just waiting for it to heal. 

Upon review I think that accident might have been an attempted answer to our prayers for a broken hip. haha.  Maybe I’ll change my prayers a bit!

In closing, the last of my news is hunt is leaving and I am getting an African companion!!  I will let you know how it goes in the coming weeks but Wednesday some things be changin' down here. 

I love all you guys and am grateful to be a part of this family. I am excited to hear of the developments in your lives this week. Best of luck in all you aspects of life - love y'all!

Love - Doctor ie. Elder Johnson

PS - look up the song "Ele Me Dit", it’s a French rap / dance song that I think you will like. 

02-24-14 Simply Pending…..

End of another week, and this one went by faster than usual, and was also filled with a lot of fun relaxing experiences. Thanks for setting aside some money for me. Most needed things I can get here so no big worry on things like toilet paper or deodorant. But true a package might take a while to get here.  

I think the feeling of wanting to come home is simply a combination of a lot of things. Tell the missionaries at home that I would gladly exchange places with them for a bit - here everyone accepts the brochures but then in reality doesn’t care. In fact last week we found a brochure in the trash at the cyber cafe. I sometimes wish that people would reject us and chase us away instead.  haha.  Elder Russell sounds like a character. I'll start praying for a broken hip too, so I can get honorable discharge. : ) 

This week we got ready for the departure of the senior couple. We also celebrated the year mark of the district leader in our apartment. We ate burgers on Thursday at a little fast food joint by our house, which turned out to be a good bonding experience for us all. Then on Saturday night we went to a very high class restaurant with the Whitesides.  First time ever eating steak in Africa while listening to bats in the trees above! (sadly, probably the last) It was a nice meal and gesture from the couple. 

But that was not the end to our good meals. Apparently, after my interview with my mission president (Pres Cook), he informed the senior couple that he was concerned about me. Not too long after that they got an email from you! So last night we were invited over to take a shower (we don’t have water at our place) and eat a nice meal - score! 

Obviously there was an alternative motive for the invite. Elder Whitesides took me aside and we talked about what was going on. He related to me stories about himself and his son. Apparently his son left Sweden after 5 weeks. And Elder Whitesides didn’t serve a mission - so it was nice to have someone to relate to and get advice from. Thanks for emailing them and letting them know - heaven knows I wasn’t going to bring it up - so I’m glad you did :) In the end I left again with the choice in my head. And now I am simply waiting and meditating as to whether I will grow more here or at home. I’ve determined that most of the lessons you are suppose to learn on a mission I already learned - sacrifice, maturity, scriptural knowledge, service, compassion. Right now I think the decision to come home is simply pending. But while I’m serving, I’m working my hardest. If there is one thing that is good about missionary work, it’s that it gives you purpose in life!    

Give my best to the missionaries out there! I appreciate the work they are doing for my family and home ward. I don’t know what’s going on with you guys at home (day to day) but I wish you all the best in your endeavors! Keep being awesome - I love you all! 

02-25-14 Much Needed Showers

Dear Sister Johnson,

We had a son come home early from his mission for no other reason than "I just don't want to do it anymore".  So, I know the worry that you are going through.

The Elders came over, and Elder Johnson and Elder Hunt arrived first.  So, we sent Elder Hunt to shower and Elder Whitesides took your son in his office and talked with him.  You would be glad to know that he gave you all the credit that he is still here.  He said that he sent an email home telling you that he was thinking of leaving his mission.  He was surprised that you didn't say, "Just come home".  Instead you encouraged him to stay, so he is still here.  So, I think that he is listening to you.  You are right when you say that Satan is working overtime on him.  He seems to be struggling with his testimony at this point.  Elder Whitesides ended by giving him a blessing.

We'll see him again on Tuesday morning, so I'll let you know our progress.  You will probably learn more tomorrow from his email home.

Sister Whitesides
Yaounde', Cameroon


02-23-14 Senior Couple Encourages Julius to Stay

Dear Sis. Johnson,
I'm attaching Elder Whitesides'  "How To Mail Packages".  It has the address to Douala, which is where the mail comes. Whenever someone is coming our way, they will bring the mail - usually once a month.  So, I would plan a couple of months for your package to get here.

We went to dinner last night with the Elders and sat close to your son, Elder Johnson.  We had a good visit and saw him again at Church this morning.  He told me a few weeks ago at District Meeting, that at one point in his mission he felt like "throwing" in the towel.  The lesson was on "Enduring to the End" and how we could do it - especially when we "hit a wall".  He seemed upbeat and past his "go home" thoughts.  

After reading your email, we invited the 4 Bastos Elders to dinner. We also told them they could shower, since their water is so intermittent.  They were excited to come. Elder Whitesides will quietly take Elder Johnson in his office and talk with him and offer to give him a blessing.  I will let you know how it all goes.

We had a son come home early from a mission, so we understand your worries and will not let Elder Johnson leave tonight without some "strong" encouragement.

As for Pres. Cook, We try to be sooo positive about him, but we know that other missionaries have struggled with him, as well.  There have been a few "tense" moments, but we know he is called of God, so there must be much we are supposed to learn.

Sister Whitesides

Yaounde', Cameroon Africa

02-18-14 Game Plan to Survive the Next Year or So

Mom thanks for the email and such. It definitely had some good advice that I’ll have to think over this coming week. Definitely no coincidences in life I guess. : ) Brother Alcantera is an awesome guy so thank him for sharing his experience as a missionary. The struggle for me is still there - and the decision is still in the air as to whether I come home early, but I’ll take into consideration what you said. Thanks again!

As for the music idea.  A piano is kinda hard to come by around here, but I’ll definitely try to sing a little more in the sector. Sadly, as for the Marche sellers, I think I’ll stick to sarcasm and smooth talking, not singing. haha!  The funny story is that I’ve been increasing my musical abilities out here, but in a different way. I am learning how to beat box!  Every p-day I look up some instructions and techniques and then practice throughout the week. Whenever I have free time I am beat-boxing around the apartment.  Yup, cultivating talents while on my mission!

So for the mail, I don’t know the address, I think emailing the Whitesides (senior couple) might be the best option. They probably know better than I. Also, if you want, putting money in my account for new clothes might be better - I could buy more for cheaper here than for you to send things.  But as for treats, I will welcome those. heehee 

We just had a zone conference yesterday. On Sunday the mission president announced that one of the branches was being split and that the church is building a church owned building starting this summer! We need 500 more members to create a Stake which would help start talk of a temple. Right now Cameroon is at 100 baptisms a year, so maybe 2 or 3 years if the pace picks up. But yesterday, I had an interview with President Cook.  Me and him are still not friends. My interview left me angry and frustrated. I tried to express some of my struggles but none of that got through to him. Now I’ve decided, that I’m just doing things how I want, whether he likes it or not.  

To answer some of your questions: I live in an apartment with 4 missionaries now. However, two are always working and kind of non-friendly. We had a little bit of tension the last week because I have really shaken up their routine and I also ate their left-over french toast.  Woops! Then it’s me and Hunt, so 4 guys.  So, this apartment is a little different but it’s okay. 

This week was a little slow, a lot of inward reflection going on as you can imagine.  Sorry that I don’t have any crazy stories but I’ll try again next week. I hope things are continually going well for y'all!  Keep up the good work and let me know about your success and experiences.

I have a new game plan to survive the next few months here in Africa.  If you could deposit some money into my account so I can buy a few new clothes - all my old ones are sort of destroyed. Also, my camera seems to be busted (figures) so if at all possible I would like to buy a new one. About $100 would be good. Those are things that would be really nice to have. 

Second, I would like Kaleb/Ferious/Gabbie/Drew/Maya to take over my Facebook and help spice it up a bit. From the pictures I sent home I figure you could change my cover photo and profile pic. (they’ll understand what that means. No offense mom). I figure if I’m going to stay out here I might as well be proud of it! 

I am rededicating and resetting my thoughts of the mission! Hopefully this lasts for another year :)

Thanks, I love you all and the sacrifice that I know you are making on my behalf.  After all, as Pres Monson says, “A mission is a family affair!”  Let me know next p-day if any of these requests are possible.