Jun 20, 2014

06-16-14 A Long Long Email

I loved the pictures of Comicon - looks like it was a blast, so I’d be pumped to go with you guys! I'm glad the business trip went well for you, mom, as well. Sounds like home life is pretty smooth sailing for the moment. 

Out here things aren’t too different. Some fun experiences of the week. So remember how I always said I wanted a big family? Yeah, I’m not sure I want that anymore. Here's why. For the last 2 Sundays I have been forced to babysit primary kids during sacrament meeting. Not really by choice - the kids just like me so they take a seat next to me and the parents aren’t around - so it’s like forced babysitting started by the kids. The first week I was taking care of Regian, Beldin, and their little 3yr old sister Methusalah. It was rough. Trying to get them to sing and pray and not run around. While also trying to keep them quiet and calm and entertained. Making sure my planner kept getting passed around so everyone had a drawing turn only caused more problems (and a mess of scribbles on its pages). I almost lost control of the situation when the pinching and slapping started or when Methusalah was pulling threads out of her dress; BUT the dress and all of us survived. ha-ha :)

This week it was an older kid sitting with me - an 8 year old. This little girl was not as nice as Regian and Beldin. Basically this week I was just trying to keep her from ripping my hymn book (and also keeping her quiet)! When I would grab the book she would start getting louder. Also she was determined to pinch and bite me to death! She would whisper "je vais te blesser" or "I will hurt you" - kinda scarey ha-ha. In the end all was well, only thing that was hurt was my dream of a big family! I think 4 will be enough for me. 

Ntambwe and I have had some good experiences teaching this week. And by good I mean it’s good that we had them because we gained some important experience. Here in Africa a new church is becoming super popular - Adventists! Or the seventh day church. There big thing is they say the Sabbath is on Saturday, as that is the seventh day in the week and God blessed the seventh day. 

Okay, good idea and it’s right in a way but wrong as well, let me explain why to you. First problem with the logic - when God created the earth he wasn’t using our modern day calendars. Its men who designated Monday and Tuesdays and such. So really God designated the 7th day as Sabbath, but it never says Saturday in the creation. Okay, clear, but even a scriptural account explains the problem. Yes, true. Old testament, Sabbath is Saturday. Awesome everyone is on same page. But that’s law of Moses - when Christ came he established the gospel. And after his resurrection which happened on a Sunday, the Sabbath was changed to that day. After all to remember Christ’s sacrifice on the Sabbath, what better day than the day his atonement was completed? Scriptural proof is in Acts chapter 20 when it says "Paul and the apostles gathered to break the bread". Obviously taking the sacrament. So even in the bible it explains that Sunday is the new day of worship.

The main problem with Adventists attitude, is they are so blocked on this point that they don’t even want to hear about anything else. Even with the proof and logic above they simply won’t have it - so teaching them is impossible. We taught a man named, Pascal. The lesson took 2 1/2 hours and we got nowhere. It was like pulling teeth trying to get him to commit to pray about our message. It’s crazy how popular this church is becoming. 

Also we had a meeting with Jehovah's Witnesses! One was a 70 year old mama that is hilarious! The first day we crossed them and fixed the rendezvous we said, "You’re Jehovah witnesses, right?". She responded "Yup, Jehovah, the real name of God!".

 We tried to keep it away from arguing and just explaining our message which actually worked, a little. We explained the restoration completely and I think they understood what we said. However when I tried to commit them to pray they responded like this: "No I refuse to pray about this" and the other "I will never pray about this!".

Last crazy teaching appointment - A man named John wanted to talk with us only because I am American. basically whenever we tried to teach about the gospel he just wanted to know why Africa isn’t rich or politically powerful. The dialogue from the lesson went like this:

Me, "So God called a prophet today whose name is Thomas S Monson"
John, "If God called an African as prophet would you accept it?"
Me, “Of course, IF he was called of God"
John, "No, Johnson. Johnson. Johnson, God calls African prophets everyday!"
Me, "Umm, no...no he really doesn’t. He calls one prophet for the world."
John, "If God was universal then there would be Africans preaching to me right now." (oblivious to the fact that there is a Congalais teaching with me)
Me, "Good point, there is a Congolais sitting next to me who preaches the gospel, so yeah universal."
John, "No, Johnson. Johnson. Johnson, I’m not against you. Johnson, we're friends Johnson..."

And thus the lesson continued for an hour. In the end I had to explain to him that the White House is called the White house because the paint is white and it's a house because someone lives there. Also that Martin Luther King Jr. is not the one that started the Protestant movement (Martin Luther) and he is also not a prophet simply because he said, "I had dream". Also he tried arguing what American culture was like with me. WHAT!? I’m American, I think I know pretty well what it's like to live in America! That lesson ended with me literally walking out of his house, departing with an insult after he ridiculed us and our church to our faces. : (

So this week I have gained a lot of experience from teaching. Sadly, even in Africa, there are people that just refuse to listen. But the good news is the recent converts I've helped baptize are all still active and doing incredibly well in the church! So far not a single one has left the church. In Congo I baptized maybe, 20 people. And a lot are less-active. Here I've baptized 5 and all are still active!!!

Ntambwe is doing well. He is a little upset with me for the insult I throw at John, but understandable, since I’ve gotten to Yaoundé I’ve become much more aggressive with teaching. Ntambwe told me this morning however, that he doesn’t want to do anything together except plan and teach. Basically, he's decided that we will only work together as little as possible - let's hope the companionship holds together for 4 more weeks.

I love all you guys. Usually, when we missionaries talk about home life, my stories are always coupled with; "once with my brothers" or "as a family". I miss hanging out with you guys and am excited for all the things we will do together upon my return! Have an amazing week and do a good job following spiritual promptings! 


Elder Johnson     

06-09-14 Where’s Your Ticket

Walking over to the cyber, I said to another missionary, "I don’t know
what I’m going to write about to my family, all my experiences are the
same". So this week we haven’t had a lot crazy stories. Just work as

But I guess I can start by explaining my companionship. Ntambwe is a
super hard worker, and his mission means everything to him. Also, he
is super compassionate towards our amis, I think he just relates more
to their stories and problems; which is a super good quality. He's
really different from Kampoy as well. Kampoy was super social and
talkative (kinda like a girl ha-ha) and was a little more relaxed. If I
had to make a comparison, I would say Ntambwe is more like me at the
beginning of my mission and Kampoy worked more like me now. Honestly,
our arguments have just been over little things that then blow up into
massive problems. I think the little arguments are pretty much over
though, which is nice. We both recognize that we prefer to work, even
if it means working with someone different than us. So I guess we will
see how the next 5 weeks ago.

This week we had a baptism as well. Marcel, has been studying with
missionaries for almost a year! and finally I got him in the water! I
think it was just being super stern with him that helped. For a long
time when I arrived we taught him even though he didn’t want to be
baptized. He was basically a member in honesty. He came to church
every week. Read the book of Mormon and doctrine and alliance. Knew
the members, but he simply had some problems with commandments. About
a month ago we told him that we won’t keep teaching him because he had
learned everything and now needed to choose baptism or not (but we
said as soon as he was ready we would be there). And it worked - he
chose! On Sunday it was hilarious, because about 40 minutes after
leaving the church with some members, they all came back. Kind of
strange? Apparently, Marcel was just talking about the Gospel nonstop
with them and didn’t want to go home, so he came back to church and
hung out with all the members from the other branch! It was nice to
finally have his membership made official.

That seems to be all, today we played basketball with everyone and a
new temporary senior couple, the Gates. Even though Elder Gates is 60
he was dang good - and also talked a lot of trash talk. ha-ha. He would
go up to others and say "Show me your ticket! Do you have your ticket?
I mean you might as well be watching the game" It was fun, but
left us all a little wiped.

I think that's all I got for this week. New ward mission leader! Nde
is a member from London that got called to be our leader - so that’s
going to be cool!

I love y'all! Happy summer vacation, let me know of all the fun plans
you are making :) best of luck to all of you, I love you!

Elder Johnson

06-02-14 It’s the End of the World as We Know It

I just read your email about Peter, that's extremely shocking. I’m relieved that Peter is doing ok as of now and is recovering fine. If you get the chance do me a favor - tell Peter (or Sister Carpenter), "I love him, and will be praying fervently for him." Also you have to add in a classic "Peter Carpenter type joke", like this one - What do you call a man with no arms and no legs playing in the leaves?  Russell.  
That made me smile a good deal, so maybe Peter will like it as well. 

That news seems to dwarf anything I had to say this week. So like I said, Ntambwe came to work with me this week. Our companionship started on Wednesday. There are definitely some similarities between him and kampoy - I mean they both have some African characteristics - but there are some stark contrasts. Sunday, some sparks started flying between us, and by sparks I mean massive fire balls. It worked itself out with the help of the zone leaders - it'll be a long 6 weeks! But gotta accept the challenge, right?

As of news this week, we walked. Walked again, walked after that. Did I mention we walked? The day after that not too surprisingly - we actually shuffled ha-ha. In reality, this week was pretty plain. The transfers changed everything up so we have just been getting settled in. 

Sorry it’s a short email but I think that’s all the news in honesty. I love ya guys as always and wish you the best with last week of school! (or first week of summer, I forget) But have some fun and be a beast!

05-26-14 History is Beginning to Repeat Itself

We just got transfer information! So, Kampoy is going back to Kinshasa as expected - he asked President Cook to put him there for the end of his mission and so no surprise. BIGGER SURPRISE - I am working with another African! Elder Ntambwe. Funny thing is I’ve already lived in the same apartment with him when I was in Pointe-Noire. The story goes that while I was being trained by Baker, Ntambwe was being trained by Lavering in the same house. This transfer is so crazy - people are leaving and coming all over the place - and now I am the 2nd oldest missionary in the city. Also a companion from the MTC, Elder Leavitt, is coming to work in Yaoundé; which I’m pumped about. So to answer your question, yes I am expecting some big things this week, namely a new companion. Who knows maybe the rest of my mission will be with Africans?

We also had a baptism - uber short notice - but we didn’t know until Thursday. Thony was the brother, and he's got a good conversion story. 1 year ago he found and bought a Book of Mormon from some street venders (who resell the free copy given to them) Just out of curiosity - 2 weeks ago he walked into the church and explained that he knows the book is true and was looking for the church it espoused. Cool! True to the story, he had learned all the doctrine from the Book of Mormon, everything from the Plan of Salvation to commandments. Our teaching went super fast, 2 weeks fast, and we decided he would be ready Saturday. Thony is Ferious' age (22), and so we will be encouraging him to go on a mission, but it was incredible that randomly someone so prepared took the initiative to be baptized. 

I guess there are a few lessons from his story. One, if you want to know the Doctrine start with the Book of Mormon. Thony knew it all because he read - he didn’t need missionaries. Also if you want a testimony of this church, again start with the Book of Mormon! Might sound repetitive, but that’s the most important book for members. It solves problems and builds faith. I'll emphasis; I am a big avocate for the Book of Mormon - READ IT! Two, don’t be afraid to act. There is some amis that wait for months for baptism, Thony just jumped in the font as soon as possible. So don’t be afraid to act in changing, fulfilling callings, or doing ordinances (those things are important). 

On Thursday we went out to lunch with the Canadian diplomat, Brother Laurence. Sickest. Lunch ever! We just had a good time talking about Temples and missionary work - all in French. Sadly, he's going back to Egypt Wednesday so who knows, maybe I’ll see him again around Africa? 

Now that I've passed my year mark it seems like some experiences are repeating themselves. Maybe I’m just that experienced now, or maybe I need to go through them again, or a mission only has so many curve-balls to throw your way, either way I’ve been out here for a while I guess. That is all that really happened this week. I taught in church yesterday, which reaffirmed my love for teaching. I've thought that maybe I’ll just be a teacher when I'm older since I like it so much - idk. 

I've been writing Peter for a few weeks and it seems like he’s doing well, same with Braiden - occasionally, we write back and forth. Hey, I’d love to hear from siblings and such, I’m going to call you out - Ferious, Drew, Kaleb, Gabbie (Maya your exempt for sending me movie quotes ha-ha). But I’d love to hear about the news in your lives, even if you think it’s boring send it my way :) I love y'all and hope things not only go well but keep getting better. 

Speaking of unimportant stories - I was giving myself a haircut, because I’m just that skilled, and it was looking super good! Well I took off the safety-guard-thingy to cut some longer hairs I missed - and well, I took out a chunk of hair from the side of my head ha-ha! So although I looked good on Skype a week ago, now my dew is a bit funky ha-ha :) ohh well, it don’t matter, hair grows back. 

Keep doing what you do best! Have a rockin' last week of school and awesome summer vacation. I love you all bunches (literally, I love you guys!)

Elder Johnson

05-19-14 There’s Always Next Week

Julius could not Skype on Mothers Day because the power was out.  He said the he lives on one side of a large hill and the Senior couple lives on the other side, as well as the President of Yaoundé. The power rarely goes out on the President’s side of the hill but is out on the missionaries’ side quite often. And they don’t have running water but the Presidents side always has water.

Julius Writes –
It was so nice talking to all of you - even if the 30 minutes went by super quick. I already want it to be Christmas to talk again! I guess this email will be a follow up of our conversation and some ajoutes (additions in French). 

After the conversation I realized that I could’ve answered some questions more in-depth. So here we go. You asked about entertainment, and what Africans do. So soccer is the biggest thing for the guys and hand-ball for the girls. They spend so much time watching and playing. Especially since Cameroon has a worldwide team - the Lions. Alcohol is big as well. But also pirated DVDs are a massive source of entertainment. Most people don’t have cable, and original DVDs can cost 8000 CFCA. So venders sell tables full of homemade copies. Everything from Disney to Jackie Chan! The copies cost $1 so pretty inexpensive. Once a missionary informed then that pirating is illegal to which the sellers responded, "Only for you Americans, we don’t have money so it’s okay that we copy the films". . 

Also about the rich whites. Living in Africa is super expensive if you want nice western living - and although a lot of the houses are subsidized by banks and companies, it’s also just the type of whites that come to Africa to work which creates such a difference. Its business owners (usually of construction) and diplomats that come, people of no small reputation, thus they can afford the western housing which is simply expensive because it’s built in Africa. 

I don’t think there was too much that went on this week that's worth of note that I didn’t mention in our phone call. This week is going to go by so fast, zone conference with President Cook tomorrow; baptism Saturday of an 8 year old; so it  shouldn’t be too long until I’m back here writing you guys. Side note - I talked with Braiden - and we decided that we think we'd like to room together again when we return to BYU. 

Well have a fantastic week of finishing up school! keep working hard and have some sweet adventures. I love you guys bunches!

Elder Johnson 

05-12-14 Funny Video

While cleaning today I had an idea. So happy mother's day mom! Not only did you help me learn how to clean with endless hours of wall scrubbing but you also helped me develop a light hearted attitude! I love you (mom) bunches!

- julius​

PS – I cannot upload his video although it was funny!  He was shirtless with shorts on and barefoot and was sliding across the tile floor of the apartment while the middle of mopping which made it like a tile slip and slide. He asked Kampoy if he wanted to try and Kampoy replied, “No, I will look foolish!”