Culture Shock: Elder Johnson

Okay, foreign-bound missionaries. Get your pocket translator dictionary and Rosetta Stone. If you’ve been called to labor in lands far and wide away from what you’re used to, you might be freaking out.

Like a lot.

Right about now.

Take a deep breath.

(No, but really. Do it.)

Speak a new language? Who, you?

Yes, you.

Remember, hundreds of thousands of missionaries have successfully stamped their passport and fulfilled their purpose— to invite others to come unto Christ— in French, Portuguese, Spanish, even languages that when pronounced sound like this: Wadnsksldiufnasdlkfsidjf.

You’ve got this.

Now, let’s be honest. It will be a challenge. But incredible blessings and, wait for it…MIRACLES await you.

Let’s get a second witness from Eric Johnson, a returned missionary who had a wake up call as he served among the Mongolian people.

Eric’s Story

“When I went out I had a personal motto for this whole process and that was ‘No Regrets.’
Whatever I did and in everything I did I would have no regrets and do everything to the fullest. Whatever was put in front of me to eat, whatever situation I was put in, and every time I had the chance to share the gospel I would do it.

Just a little bit of Mongolia.

Just a little bit of Mongolia.

“Now I had just been placed in a culture that was completely different than the way that I grew up so acclimation was going to be key and the faster I did it the better off I would be. Now the language was supposedly one of the hardest to learn and this, as cliché as it sounds, was nothing like I had learned in the MTC. The key to overcoming the language barrier was to actually use it.

I was in a small city with only one other American, who happened to be my trainer. So I had to get this going or I was out of luck, but in all reality I was afraid of being made fun of or not making sense. It took me three months to actually speak and the only real reason I did was because I had been placed with a native Mongolian who was the Branch President and I had no other choice but to speak. That Sunday that I was placed with him I remember my trainer, who was in the same district, say “Good Luck,” and just walk out the door. I was on my one with only Mongolians and now I had to use my language. So I started to speak and all the Mongolians, who I clearly understood, said “See I knew
he could speak Mongolian.” At that moment I knew I could do it. From then on I just spoke as much as possible and tried my hardest to be the best as I could.

“If there was one thing I could’ve done over again it was to speak sooner. I have one regret and this was it, but I determined that it would never happen again. Now I live my life with no regrets. You will always be afraid and nervous but that should never stop you. Faith and fear cannot dwell together so if you have faith then the fear will go away. You must speak and use every moment to improve yourself and your language. The other key to the culture is to just do it. Try every piece of food put in front of you; the people will respect you for it and you may just like the food. Become a part of the culture. When I left I called Mongolia “My Mongolia” and I will always feel that I am truly a part of that nation because I gave that nation my all.”

Eric Johnson served in the Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission from 2006-2008.


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