Monday, June 24, 2013

First World Problems....

What a week ! I am not sure where to start and I am pretty sure this will seem like just a bunch of crazy random stories but it is how my week went! So enjoy!

Last Monday we wanted to visit the National Library in Paris. Belle is my favorite Disney Princess and I LOVE books so going to a real beautiful French library was like the PERFECT way to spend our P-Day. So we wondered around Paris trying to find this library. NO signs and NO tourists anywhere in the area that it should have been. Eventually we find it and no one is there. I think back to what the important national stuff in DC is like and assume that lots of people would be to a similar thing here… NOT TRUE! The building is just like a regular building and nothing too special but we go in and stay positive. It was just like this building with stairs and some art on the walls and we were pretty disappointed because I wanted to be Belle! We persevered and eventually found the MOST BEAUTIFUL room EVER!!!! It said no photos and I don’t want to mess with French Police so I obeyed. It was magnificent. People were studying and doing library things but it was a three story round room full of books. AH I can’t even write about it without drooling. We were so giddy and happy UNTIL the desk clerk guy came up… He asked if we had library cards and we were like no and he said we had to leave. Saddest rejection ever! I guess the library is an actual library and people check out books and it is not for random Americans to be gawking over. Such a letdown. BUT I have the memory of that room forever stored in my brain!

My companion has not been feeling well and so we spent a lot of the week inside the apartment. Sick days on missions are the WORST thing ever!!! Sick days from school and work are amazing and filled with food and movies but on a mission it was filled with be trying to be really quiet and reading Our History and talking to myself! She is better now but I am going to do ALL THAT I CAN to make sure I don’t ever have a sick companion!

We ride the train here A LOT. Walking to the gare (station) 4 times a day a LOT. Well this week a man started throwing up on the train uncontrollably. I thought that he was just pouring water out of a bottle it was so much and it slid around everywhere and I tried to keep my composure. At the next stop we hurry and switch train carts but he followed… He stopped throwing up so it was okay. Just gross!

I have had the BEST district EVER!!! Transfers are this week and one AP and one Office Elder are leaving and I am sad. They are the greatest and left big shoes to fill to the ones replacing them. Our area of Versailles is getting another companionship of elders. So in our district there will be 6 elders and 2 sisters so the ward will be happy! I am not going to be the newest missionary anymore!! WOO HOO I am growing up! One transfer down and I have learned so much already so I can’t wait for the next one!

So sometimes we just need a girl’s night in. All the girls in the world know what I am talking about but on a mission it can be hard because we are not here for ourselves and there is no time for ourselves anyway. So we got creative. We hurry and plan (still thoroughly) as quickly as possible and then grab a chocolate bar and watch a chick flick-mission addition. That means we watch 17 Miracles and cry. It is the best and exactly what we need after a hard day! Pretty sure I went from never having seen that movie to now knowing all the lines in one week! I suggest everyone watches it!

Yesterday was Stake Conference here! We are the Paris Stake and I was able to see some of my mission friends from the MTC! Elder Kearon of the first quorum of the 70 and first counselor in the Europe Area Presidency came. He is English and so great! Our DMP translated for him! Elder Kearon was so funny! So he says a line and then it is translated but he said ‘’As of July 1 a 150 new missions will be starting!’’ we were all like WOW!!! So that gets translated and then he says ‘’No there won’t. There will be 58’’ hahahaha I guess he mixed up numbers and from 150 missions 58 were created. Not as funny the second time but funny at the moment.

The real interesting and dramatic things happened after conference. So it was held in the Palace de Congress right next to the Château and was a beautiful place. After the conference most people had left and the ones that were still there were just chatting. I was talking to Elder Springmeyer from my MTC district when we heard a loud thud and this lady was on the ground face down unconscious and not moving. She had fallen/tripped or past out and was like OUT. Blood started to pool all around her head and she was frozen. The ambulance came and I think she will be okay but it was scary! After that the whole mood was just off so Elder Kearon came to the rescue. Not really but for me yes. So pretty much everyone had left after the lady falling and me and my companion were about to leave but then Elder Kearon came walking towards just the two of us and then he approached us! He shook both of our hands and just said ‘’Great Job’’ and I was confused so I said ‘’we didn’t say the prayer so for what?’’ (I embarrass myself sooo often) but he just thanked us for being missionaries and just doing our best and he said a bunch of nice things and we were on cloud 9 for the rest of the day! He is so awesome!! I have got to stop meeting sooo many GREAT people because my list of favorites is getting too long!

We are eating with members!!! A funny story with that this week though. We switch who has the phone every other day.  This week I was on the phone scheduling a Rendezvous with a member for Wednesday afternoon. I couldn’t understand everything she was saying but I thought I heard the words lunch, eat and together so this is what I said but in French ‘’sorry I don’t understand a lot of French. Did you say eat???’’ My companion was dying of laughter because she thought this was just my new technique in getting meals but it really isn’t. But it could work in the future until I actually do understand everything but for this case she really was inviting us to eat lunch with her. So another meal down!!

I am living in Versailles. Like next to the Palace-ish but a reeeeeally nice area. I love our apartment A LOT but because we live so close to the office and mission home for some reason our apartment has never gotten the monthly cleaning checks that other apartments do. Part of the purpose is to make sure that everything is working well. Everything is not working well. On Saturday our kitchen sink stopped draining. Not completely stopped but it takes 8 hours to drain a few inches of water. So that night we took apart our sink and washed it all by hand. I knew you all wouldn’t believe that I did this so I have photographic proof! I scrubbed with my bare hands the gunk and grossness out of the sink and I survived. I am not super girly and I was raised to enjoy germs and dirt but this was gross. Problem NOT solved. We cook a lot and use lots of dishes and yesterday it started to build up so we resorted to the only thing we could… the bathtub ! We put ALL the dishes in the bathtub and let them soak in water all day and then last night we washed them ALL. Yup welcome to Missionary life in Versailles. I can kind of relate to how the missionaries in Africa, South America and some Asian countries feel. I prefer feeling like I did before but it definitely makes a good story! Our washing machine is connected to our sink and during the cycle it empties water into the sink so we can’t do our laundry for the moment either right now!

Today we made enough phone calls and got the office elders and the senior couple in charge of apartments over but we will have to get someone else to fix it. Hopefully that comes soon! The two new elders that are moving into our area get a brand new apartment and tomorrow we get to spend our day waiting at their apartment for the electricity guy to come so we will do our laundry there after he arrives! It will all be okay and I am going to value the little things like a working sink much more in the future!

I am doing this email Monday night and we did our P-Day activity today but I don’t have my camera thing to upload those pictures so I will include the story and photos next week but to keep you tuned in I will tell you this… We went to a French spa! I currently look like my sister Jessica’s Halloween costume circa 1998 in Turkey but c’est la vie! Stay tuned for next week where the story continues!

I love you all. Being a missionary is really the best thing ever. I can’t say it or explain it enough. GREATEST decision of my life! The people are so great and I am just loving them more and more each day. My mom said something while I was in the MTC along the lines of me being here to help my Brothers and Sisters in France come to our Heavenly Father and I know that is part of my purpose. These people are our brothers and sisters and I want to help them and get to know them like I know my sisters at home! Thank you all for your love, support and prayers!


Sœur Emily Johns

An Apostles Visit

Well last Monday we spent our P-day in Paris and it was so fun! We got there and we met up with Sœur Melvilles friend Kiana who is here doing study abroad before going to Madagascar on her mission! We met at the Luxembourg Gardens. It was pretty and I am still amazed each time that I am in Paris or Versailles and can just kind of be in nature. We got some pretty photos. There are definitely perks of having a photographer as a companion with a nice camera! We just relaxed there for a bit then headed to a cute area by the Eiffel Tower. We got some pastries and just sat on the grass by the tower and took more photos and just enjoyed the sun which NEVER comes in France it seems. It was a fun day ! we are going to Paris again today but it is REALLLLLLY ugly outside like Dorothy going to Oz ugly so we are going to a museum there!

The Statue of Liberty in Luxembourg Gardens

The Luxembourg Palace in Paris

Emily in front of the Eiffel Tower

Emily being sooo French with her baguette and the Eiffel Tower

She loves baguettes!

The building across from the Eiffel Tower

Monday night the sisters from Luxembourg came to stay with us for the conference on Tuesday. So Elder Ballard, Elder Texiero and Bishop Causee all came! About half of the mission came to Versailles and the others just had little conferences by themselves. I love serving in Versailles for many reasons but that is a big one. Elder Texiero is the Europe Area President and Bishop Causee is in the Presiding Bishopric! They were both great. I preferred Causee because he is French and he is from my ward here! His family lives in SLC now but his married kids are here and he just loves Versailles so it was really cool to be his home missionary. Elder Ballard is incredible!! I love all of the apostles and general authorities but seeing them in a more intimate way and being able to talk to them is the best! He shared such amazing wisdom and really just pumped us up! Elder Oaks is coming in September so our mission is really getting blessed with all these great servants of God visiting our mission! The Paris mission is clearly the best mission! kidding… kind of.

The Eiffel Tower

The Luxembourg sisters after their sleepover. Soeur Smith from
Alaska and Soeur Hurrel from PERTH!

I am scared of boys. I have never been that great with guys before my mission but this is definitely not helping me. I blame it on the fact that we don’t teach or interact with any men outside of the ward/mission but men are just scary! Especially French men! On the bus and on the train men and young boys just stare at my name tag. Not in a sly clever way but they will turn their head back and just look at my tag and then go on with their day. The worst is when they are staring and then they READ IT OUT-LOUD! Yes I know it says Sœur Johns and thank you for noticing it but don’t tell me! I just sit there awkwardly knowing they are staring but I don’t want to call them out or acknowledge it so it is just a big mess. I don’t know how I am ever going to talk to guys after my mission!

So there are six missionaries in the Versailles ward plus senior couples. There is me and my comp, the APs and the office/district leader elders. I love them all so much and all the elders will be going home in the next few months. None of them are really American. One is from New Zealand, Tahiti, Italy and one if half french. So all of their French is perfect and so in sacrament they translate for the American families. My comp speaks really well but has never translated and I joke each Sunday saying that I am ready to translate but then don’t. Funny joke right? Not a joke anymore! Yesterday the elders put their foot down with my joking and I had to go up to the stand and get the microphone to translate and me and my companion were in charge while all these elders enjoyed sacrament. I was okay with translating an American speaking French but then once I sat down and had the microphone I was too tempted to start singing Spice Girls or One Direction or tell jokes to the Americans so my comp did it all! Maybe once I become more mature or learn self-control I will translate Oh and when I learn French better!

So we are still improving our eating with member’s thing but last night a dinner fell through and we were not sure what we were going to eat because we finished all of food on Saturday. But we did the missionary thing and visited a less active instead of worrying about food. It paid off but in a weird way. We went to the lady’s home and she has been sick so she was in bed and we were going to share a scripture with her. So I did the whole spiritual thought thing and then we asked if we could do anything for her to  help which we ask EVERYONE and no one ever actually asks us to do anything… this time was different. She asked us to make her dinner. We went into her little kitchen and found some pasta and stuff to make. I am not much of a cook but I am improving so it was cool. So we made her dinner but it was a bit weird because we didn’t know where anything was in the kitchen and we only know what we like not what others like. It guesses it looked good enough because she asked us to eat with her!! So we got to do a little service, share the gospel and EAT!! That is what I call using our time wisely!

This week we have been working HARD! Harder than ever before; every single day we went porting, even in the rain! We talked to every single woman we saw and scheduled a million lessons. We haven’t quite seen the fruits of that labor but we know it is coming. There can only be so many people not interested and people that bail on lessons before we find the person who is ready and willing to learn and live the gospel. We are feeling like since we are working hard and having faith that we may not see the blessings NOW but we will be blessed. All on the Lords time. I think that is something that everyone experiences. There are so many people out there who live amazing lives and do their best at everything but things just don’t work out and they still have huge trials but I know that if we keep doing our best and have faith that we can receive the promised blessings that God has for us. I know that the people in France are ready. I know that Heavenly Father is preparing someone in Versailles for us to teach and to help bring them closer to Jesus Christ. Staying positive is key!

I assume that Father’s Day is the same in America but it was Father’s Day yesterday here! I want to give a HUGE shout out to my Dad, uncles and Grandpa! Also to all the fathers, husbands and future fathers out there! Thank you for all you do! In honor of Father’s Day I encourage you to go on Mormon channel and watch my favorite video. .. Earthly Father, Heavenly Father! I invited you all to watch it when I was in the MTC but if you haven’t then watched it and if you have watch it again! It is the best!

I love being a missionary! I have never been happier! There are hard times and things can be frustrating but I love it! I hope that you all look for opportunities to share the gospel and share the happiness you have! Thank you so much for the prayers, love and support! I love you all and miss you all!
Sœur Emily Johns

Some photos from Emily's companion's camera

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Muslim, Christian and Atheist

No, this is not some racist joke. This is how I spent my Friday night. With marijuana as well! Welcome to the missionary life!

So Thursday was a slow day and we were going back through old area books and found that someone named Julienne had requested a copy of the Book of Mormon. So we called her and scheduled a time to see her Friday evening. We were super excited! We took this long train to Rambouilet and may have accidentally been in first class and the whole time we were paranoid we would get kicked out and have to pay all this money so we devised a plan that if that happens I would just speak my bad French and hope that they feel bad for me and let us stay. That never happened so we had a nice train ride to Rambouilet and then a tour bus ride to the tiny town of Huniere.

Once in the town we called her and she said she could come for us so we were thinking SCORE not having to walk far. We waited at the bus stop and then we see a young man and woman walking to us. They were like 25ish and they introduced themselves as Julian and Elsa. Julienne turns out to be Julian and a man. We go to their house and meet Claire who is Muslim and find out that Elsa is atheist and Julian is Christian! We had a great conversation! They had seen the Broadway play The Book of Mormon in London and wanted to learn more! I had this joke rehearsed after I heard it the first time so I cleverly pulled out the Book of Mormon and said "the book is always better" and laughed so that they would laugh too! I don’t know how interested they are in the gospel but it is good that they just want to learn more about things they are not knowledgeable with. Respect to them! The ladies started smoking pot and my comp and I just kind of ignored it but after we were dying and couldn’t figure out if pot is illegal in France. SO someone please let me know!!! If it is illegal we would have said something because we are missionaries but if it isn’t then we could just talk about it in a later time with Word of Wisdom. It was a lovely evening and hope to see them again!

That night we were just doing our nightly thing. Just recently we discovered that our apartment has a phone that people can call from the building lobby and ask to be let in. We may have spent an afternoon playing with it and it is exciting stuff! So Friday we were writing in our journals and our phone buzzes. IT NEVER BUZZES!! I was dared to answer it and it was this group of people speaking bad English and French in weird accents asking my name and telling me I need to come down. I hung up and we were scared. NO ONE knows where we live except the mission and no one needs to come to our place because we go to peoples home. We were peeking out the window waiting for some annoying French kids trying to prank missionaries to come out when I saw the BENARDS!!! They are a really good family friend from home! They are in Europe for a few weeks and thanks to my address being on fb to get letters they were able to come to my apartment!! It was so great and I loved seeing them! They took us to lunch on Saturday and it was yummmmmy and my first restaurant as a missionary! GOOOOOD weekend!

Elder Ballard is coming on Tuesday and I can’t wait to hear from an apostle of the Lord! I am sure I will have amawzing spiritual stories to share next week.

I got letters!!! Turns out our mailman isn’t tricking us and just sometimes letters are delayed! Thank you to everyone who has written me and please everyone continue!

I love you all! I love being a missionary and I love Versailles. The people are so great and I really am happier than ever! Thank you for the love and support!!


Soeur Emily Johns

Monday, June 3, 2013

Photos from week three.. Versailles!

The Mona Lisa

Emily with the Mona Lisa

A cool ceiling in the Louvre  

Cool ceiling in the Louvre

A famous statue

A cool painting

The view from inside the Louvre

This is Emily with her "favorite" painting. Not really her favorite
but her comp took pictures of herself in front of art and didn't
understand why she didn't care too so this is what she did to
please her. It is actually very nice art she says.

More photos of the Louvre and views from it

Emily and her companion doing the same pose as the Asains

Emily and her Asian friend's from Japan

The touch screen order place at McDonald's

Finally eating McDonald's. SOOO American but sooo good

The BEST meal her companion has made. They were american.
homemade baked fries on a baguette and jello!

It's a BOY!!!

First off I need to make a HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge and her husband Will for expecting a baby boy!!!! Can't wait until July!!!

Second WHY WHY WHY did no one tell me she is having a boy????? I may be a missionary but I am still Emily and my love for Kate Middleton and ALL THINGS royal will never die. As a missionary I don't get a whole lot of contact with what is going on in the world and by not a whole lot I mean NONE. The only reason I know this great news about Kate is because I was running to catch a train on Tuesday morning when a beautiful image of Kate and Will at a newsstand caught my eye! I had to really force myself not to beg my companion to stop and read it but I was able to read IT'S A BOY!!! And that my friends, is the high-light of my week. I wish I was kidding and this obviously shows that I have not quite become the missionary I should be but hey I need to be true to myself RIGHT????

So backin’ it up a bit to last Monday. After having a repeat experience of every AP essay I ever wrote in high school where I would write out the whole thing and then lose it all, my day did improve. I had to force myself to not have my first cry as a missionary be over an email so I am glad I got through that! After that traumatizing experience we headed to the Louvre. Now I can't remember if I was able to include this story in my rushed email last week so if this is a repeat then oh well. About ten years ago my Mom took us 5 daughters to Paris for our first time. We won't talk about the conditions she made us stay in or bring up the poop again BUT I will share what I did in the Louvre many years ago. So there is this big hoopla about the Mona Lisa. I have still not figured out what is special about it because I found many other more beautiful pieces of art while there. Anyway so I was like 10ish and I nominated myself to squirm between all the tourists and get up close to take the picture of the picture. That is a pretty big thing for such a young girl to do. Proud moment in my life. WELL if you take a look at my Book of Remembrance Volume 2 you will see NOT the picture that I took of the Mona Lisa but a sticker. Where is the great photo that I took you may ask??? IN Michelle’s Book of Remembrance!!!! I have asked myself WHY for many years. So just last week I trekked back to the Louvre and squirmed my way between all the tourists (probably not as cute as before) and got my picture!!! I was feeling adventurous so I even got a picture WITH me and Mona! Enjoy seeing the photo because I promise that after my mission it will be in MY book and no one else’s. I guess since Michelle is doing this blog she can keep the picture in her book. I have moved on.... I hope!

I love Asians. I love Asian tourists even more! In America they ask to take pictures with us whities SOOO my companion and I decided to turn the tables on them. At the Louvre there were quite a few Asian tourists but most were in big groups with headphones and too serious about seeing art, so we found these two nice girls and asked if we can have a picture with them and they said YES!!!! Meet my two friends from Japan. I can't remember their names and if I could I wouldn't be able to pronounce or spell them and I don't think calling them Ying and Yang would be appropriate. They had the CUTEST giggle ever and just giggled the whole time. They spoke no English or French but they sure can take photos!

In the Mary-Kate and Ashley movie where they are in Paris they get to see the Louvre. In the film they just had them walking FOREVER and that was the Louvre experience. I don't base most MK&A movies as factual but that one is the truth!! I walked forever and saw a million paintings of ugly men, lots of naked statues but we were determined to find an artist that no one knows about and seem all artsy and talk about him. So I invite you to all find out who Cammile Corrot. I don't even know if that is his name but I am going to act like I do. I really wish I knew more about art and really appreciated it because I am sure that the Louvre really is a great place. So a big apology goes out to my art history teachers at BYU and my girl Kate Middleton who majored in Art History!

If you already don't think I am the least serious missionary ever then you will after this. It isn't my proudest moment but supposed a girl just needs to laugh so laugh I did. On Thursday we had a lesson with a recent convert. It was a great lesson and we open and close lessons with singing from the Cantique. We had her choose which song to end with and she chose number 6 in French which is Israel Our God is Calling... It says to sing the song with vigor and so we definitely did. She sang it VERY loudly and really shook up the notes and tune. I was able to get through the first verse but half way into the second I let one little giggle out and COMPLETELY lost it!! I was about to cry because I was laughing so hard. I tried to cover it up with the whole I am choking thing but it didn't work. My companion then lost it and even the member laughed. It was probably the WORST singing I have ever heard. I cannot sing at all so I don't have too much room to speak but it was bad. I am terrible to be laughing so hard and we tried to continue with the song and I offered not to sing but it was too late. Spirit gone and my reputation with it! My companion and I decided we are going to try to make each other laugh in songs and learn to hold it in. Practice makes perfect right??? THE best part of the day and the Miracle that I think I am going to share tomorrow at our ward missionary meeting is that JUST before that lesson we finished our jar of Nutella which we really love and the miracle is that the member that I laughed at gave us a brand new jar of Nutella!!! I don't know if sharing that will be the best thing to gain the trust of the ward missionaries so maybe sharing it with you is enough!

Now to prove that I am an actual missionary.... We have three amis (that is what Emily wrote. Ami’s according to google translate means friends) with baptismal dates!!! They are all so solid and I can't wait for them to receive the blessings from being baptized and receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost! They are all amazing and will definitely make the church stronger with their membership! Elder Ballard is coming next week. I have no more information than that but I am hoping that we all get to hear from him and I am so grateful to have living Prophets and Apostles today! I will keep you posted on that!

My French is improving. Not as fast as I would like it to but as long as it is improving I am happy! I am not as frustrated as I was in the beginning and just keep reminding myself how short of a time I have been here. I know that it will come and that I will be able to be myself with French someday soon! It really is a beautiful language and I am so blessed to be here and learning it! IN FACT on the train this lady came and sat by us and was asking about our tags and I just talked and she was like oh your French is so great and I was really happy. But then she asked if I was religious and I was like YES (DUH) but then my companion was like no no. I guess being religious here means a nun. So I hurry and took back my answer but other than that little mistake I spoke okay with her!

I love being a missionary! It really is the best and I am having the best time of my life. It is definitely hard and I can get discouraged at times but it really is worth it. I know it may not seem like I have changed and become this spiritual missionary and I know I have a long way to go to become that but I really have seen a change in myself. I know the blessings that this gospel brings people because I see all the blessings in my life through having the gospel and being a missionary I can see the blessings it brings to others. This really is The Church of Jesus Christ and I know that I am doing exactly what Heavenly Father wants and needs me to be doing right now.

I have only received ONE letter since being here... Thanks mom! But supposedly you others have sent some, including more from my mom. My comp and I think someone is taking our mail because there isn't a key on our box and we don't know why we haven't gotten letters. So if you have an extra dollar and some time, WRITE me!!! OR email but letters rock too!

I love you all!!

Soeur Emily Johns