Thursday, December 12, 2013

December 9, 2013

Hola Familia!! 

All I can say is that Chicago is COLD! Ha, well we got about a foot of snow yesterday, but today is absolutely beautiful and the suns out!!! Well, it has been a crazy week. The mission pulls out a lot of emotion. Im not exactly sure were to start. We had a zone meeting in Schaumburg and district lunch after, so we decided to go out for real chicago, deep dish pizza. It was great except the pizza was 80% cheese and 20% bread. But now I can say that I have eaten it :) 
As a mission we have a goal to get 200 baptisms by the end of the year... So we are all praying harder than ever, we had a district fast/prayer to get all our investigators to church. The great news was that Patty was on date for this saturday. We have been working alot with her, we stopped by before church and she said she was coming. But an hour later when church started, she didnt show up. We called and texted but nothing... and then last night, she texted saying that she cant be baptized because her mother is catholic and she wants to continue to worship La Virgin Guadalupe.... and a bunch of other stuff. It kind of broke my heart a little... and i cried all though the Christmas Devotional  (Im a baby)... so hopefully we can see her tonight and get everything straightened out. 

Anyway, Christmas on the mission is different... But really cool because everyone is in the Christmas spirit so they feel guilty turning away two freezing girls that claim to be representatives of Christ. 
I have to give a talk about my favorite Book of Mormon scripture at zone conference tomorrow, so I thought I would share it will you to! 
My Mission scripture is Ether 12:4. "Wherefore, whoso believe in God might with a surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God." So, I dont know if I was naive before, or maybe just in denial, but before my mission i never realized how scary the world was. It was a very shocking reality when i entered the field and everyone's problems seemed so overwhelming and so real. It seemed to me, more often than not, that people are given challenges that they just cant deal with. 
But I am coming to better understand that it is for this very reason, that we need the Gospel in our lives. We can hope for a better world because we know that God exists and is aware of us. I have the blessing of sharing this hope with others. 
Ezra Taft Benson said:
"we live in an age, as the Lord fortold, men’s hearts are failing tem, not only physically but in spirit... Satan increasingly striving to overcome the saints with despair, discouragement, despondency, and depression.” “Yet, of all people, we as Latter-day Saints should be the most optimistic and the least pessimistic. For while we know that peace shall be taken from the earth, and the devil shall have power over His own dominion, we are also assured that the Lord shall have power over his saints, an shall reign in their midst.” (thanks dad for the talk!!)
We know as we are exactly obedient to the laws and commandments of God, we are qualifying ourselves for God’s blessing of safety, protection and ultimately, a place at the right hand of God.
And this hope, comes from faith, making an anchor to the souls of men. I love this line! I just picture a ship with an anchor even when the wind blows and temptations come, we will have a solid foundation and will never drift too far from our purpose.  
And then the last part: which would make them sure and steadfast. Always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.
As for now, that’s my goal… to be described as sure and steadfast.
Our testimonies and conversions to the Gospel of Jesus Christ should lead us to the desire to share it, to help others receive that same hope and joy in their lives and to always be abounding in good works, or always going about the Lords business. At least for me, that is why I am on a mission.
And in the end, everything we do should be to glorify our Father who is in heaven.
So… I would love to hear what some of your favorite scriptures are and why!!!

 MOM: thank you so so much for my amazing quilt!!! I LOVE IT!! I am so impressed and it makes me so extremely happy!!! 
I hope you are all having an amazing week, even with the snow... it helps to know that we are not suffering alone in the cold :) 
If i can do anything for you please let me know!!! I love you all so so much!! Ill send some pictures in the next email!!! Thanks for everything you do! 
Love Hermana Johnson 

December 2, 2013

Hola Familia, 
Espero que todos hayan tenido un bonita Accion de Gracias!! For me, It was one to be remembered! Unfortunately thursdays are our planning days here in Illinois, so that means that after studies we spent the first many hours of the day planning.... always a less than spiritual process, but this week we planned in the chapel so we could have wifi, and we took breaks to watch mormon messages on our fancy ipads. Then, since it was the holiday, we couldnt do any tracting or stop-bys so we had a couple hours to start converting our area book over to our ipad... luckily Hermana Lane knows how to make Swedish cake and chocolate balls, so we snacked on those a bit. Then we headed over to Presidente Portocarrero's house for dinner. They were so nice to invite all the missionaries from our branch over for dinner. They live in an apartment in Huntly... basically in the middle of nowhere. They were so excited to make an american thanksgiving for us!! So we ate turkey (the first time they had ever cooked one... it was pretty delicious!), stuffing (made from churiso and potatoes), spaghetti (of course they didn't forget the mayonnaise), and the best part, bbq ribs!! 
After dinner, we played some games and pulled out presidents guitar, we have some pretty talented Elders in our branch. For dessert we had tresleche for their son, Jr.'s birthday. I included some pictures for your enjoyment.  
Thanks for the pictures from the San Diego... It looks so beautiful and warm there! Im slightly jealous... but thats alright, im glad you all had fun! And Alex!! CONGRATULATIONS! That is so exciting, all your hard work has payed off! Your so awesome! I cant wait till I can come home and play with ya again, im going to be very out of shape and practice... i blame it on all those greasy tortillas and tortas that i eat. Sorry I couldnt be there, but I was cheering for ya here! 
The weather has been pretty consistent... Im getting very nervous because its already pretty cold and windy but bearable. I just cringe when the members say, "the winters not too bad, its just, after 12 straight weeks of -40 cold winds, you get a little tired of it." But we will see, hopefully I will survive. 
As far as the work goes... it goes. I have gained a testimony of momentum. When you loose momentum its hard to get back up to speed. But so goes life, I just think of the talk by Elder Uchtorf that advises us when we run into unexpected obstacles, we must "slowdown, steady the course, and focus on the things that matter most." But always just keep moving forward. 
Teaching others about being thankful made me realize how much work I have to do on myself. But I want you all to know how thankful I am for you! Im thankful for the opportunity to serve a mission, to bear testimony that Christ lives, and that our family will be together forever. Thanks for your examples, support, and love!   
     Let me know if I can do anything for you! I love you all!!!! 
Con Amor, Hermana Johnson 

November 25, 2013

Hi mama! Thanks for the pictures and emails! I love ya so much!
Also, I cant wait for my quilt!!!!! Your amazing! Hopefully the elders are going to the mission home sometime in the upcoming week, so hopefully they will pick up my package. The nights are cold outside but our apartment is always warm so its not bad at all. Ha that's funny about your dream. I have had a few about you all... they make me miss ya more... but I love it.
Life is good... Its funny how Heavenly Father works. He knows exactly what we need to grow and learn. The mission is awesome because I have time to learn to deal with a lot of the hard things in life, but don't have many other things to worry about... its kind of like a prep-class for life. That being said, often times, in the moments its hard. But its all a blessing. Im jealous you all get to go to San Diego. I have a feeling the weather will be a little nicer there than it is here.... its pretty cold outside. Enjoy the sun for me! Hopefully alex's tourney goes well, you will have to let me know.
So Christmas... a month from today!!! YAH! It will be hard, but im excited too. I was thinking you could send me a giant box of hand/feet warmers from Costco for Christmas, that would probably be very helpful! I always love scarfs and anything warm :) Little toys (dollar-store play dough, etc.) would be perfect for the kids. They would be so grateful im sure. Also, this sounds weird but do you remember that little pack of pictures of Christ that you sent me from desert book... I would love little things like that. I like to make little cards/pictures for investigators on date and at baptisms but I don't have any pictures of Christ/temple. So maybe if you can find some little cheep ones to give away, that would be awesome. Its funny the little things I forget, there is no desert book here anywhere... and we haven't gotten to go to the temple so no chance for that.
Anyways, thanks for your quotes of the week. Its so true, if I've leaned anything, its that gratitude is a blessing. As children of a heavenly father, we have great value but in reality, we don't deserve anything. We truly are so blessed. "A thankful heart is rich in contentment".
Well, I hope you all have a wonderful thanksgiving!!! I could not be more blessed in my life!! Thanks for all you do! Thanks for your love, support, prayers... we need them here.
Funny story, this week, we knocked into a family from Cambodia. They are amazing people!! He went though a lot to move to America, he wanted to be in the military. When we asked him if we could come in, if he wanted to take our shoes off, if we could share a message, he just kept saying "yes, yes, because im American now!". He is so thankful to live here and now his sacrifices have blessed the lives of his family. Anyway, we tried to teach the restoration but somehow, we found ourselves being lectured about Buddha, watching a youtube video about Cambodian temples, and drinking tea (non-caffeinated). Good times, unfortunately were Spanish missionaries so we cant keep teaching them but the sisters are going over to drop off a book of Mormon in Cambodian.
Well, Happy Thanksgiving. Eat some extra turkey and potatoes for me because ill probably be eating tacos and beans :)
Love you all!!
Hermana Johnson   

November 18, 2013

Wow, I love you all so very much!! Thank you for all your support and love. This has probably been one of the most difficult weeks of my life- a lot of change, a lot of new struggles and challenges. But the harder the struggles, the more we learn and the stronger we become. Now I cannot really say that, because I am not strong. And I won’t lie in saying that I enjoyed every minute. They have honestly been the longest days ever. I remember the first day I came into the field. I talked to an Hermana that was going home the next day. That was a weird concept, thinking I had just arrived and she already got to go home. But I asked her for advice and she proceeded to tell me all the things she learned and wished she would have known. The last think she said was, “just love everyday of your mission… because it goes by so fast.”
I hate that. Because missions do not go by fast. The days are very long… and don’t let anyone tell you that 3 months into the mission you are going to be a great missionary, or a perfect teacher, or fluent in the language… because that is just not true. Well, at least for me that’s not true. But as I talked to Hermana Estrada (our sister training leader), she helped me understand a little better. Life is hard. That is nothing new. And I think I come out on my mission expecting perfection and expecting that it would come easily. But loving every day of your mission takes on a new meaning when I learn to love the challenges and trials we were given and love the things I learned from overcoming those trials. It helps to look back on the day and see how I handled a situation or what I learned from an experience.
Hermana Lane is my new companion. She is amazing… but we are very different people. She is very bold, very forward, and very honest – which I love. I am learning so much from her. But ever since she moved to my area, the change has been very, very hard for her. Learning to work together is a challenge and we have had a lot of things to overcome. I just think that it is amazing how Heavenly Father knows us so well. He knows exactly who needs to be put in our lives, He knows exactly the trials we need to have and how to turn our mistakes into opportunities to become better. And so many of my questions and prayers have been answered through our experiences together.
I know more than ever, that God is so aware of us. And it is stupid to ever think that he is not. (Not that I forget it, but sometimes we don’t acknowledge it.) Anyway, it has been a growing experience, but I’m so blessed. I hope you all know how much I love you!!
Mom, thanks for your amazing letter!!! I LOVE that you have spent a little time with the missionaries. Some days im just so thankful for the opportunity to be a missionary. Sometimes it doesn’t seem real… but I knock on doors and talk to random people… people that I never would have met if I wasn’t here. I have taught gospel doctrine class, in Spanish, for the last 3 weeks- which is pretty cool, because I would never have done that before (not even in English). I get to bear my testimony every day and study the scriptures. Im a pretty lucky girl. Thank you so much for the boots!! They are awesome and they fit… hopefully I will not have to wear them anytime soon, but when the time comes, I will be ready. I cannot believe Julia is home!!! That’s so exciting! And Hayleys wedding was amazing im sure, I couldn’t be happier for her!! I cant wait for my quilt!! You are so fast, I cant believe you finished it already!! Thank you so much!! The Barajas are good! Hermana is home, but I haven’t seen them in a while. Daniel is AWESOME! He finished the Book of Mormon this week!! He is so amazing and such a help to our little branch.
Thanks for you love and support, I know that you are all doing great things and I look up to you a lot. Sorry im so cheesy… I think that is what the mission does to you… but I really am so thankful to have such an amazing family that is so strong in the gospel. I love you all!
Also, we started using facebook!!! We are getting our ipads this Thursday!! Its an exciting time to be a missionary… But I have to admit, im a little scared of technology :)
Have a great week!! I love you!!
Love Hermana Johnson

November 11, 2013

Hola familia!!!

It has been such a great week... We received transfer calls Saturday night. The bad news is, Hermana Child is being transferred (not a big surprise because we were having a little trouble with some converts/investigators falling in love with her). The good news is i'm staying. And the great news is I am not training. So life is pretty good. 

I LOVE November! Thanksgiving is coming and that means only one transfer until Christmas... not that i'm wishing the time away... but Its hard not to think about the holidays when Hispanics keep Christmas decorations up all year-round. We have been working hard, knocking a lot of doors, and teaching a few lessons here and there. The members have been letting us in because its hermana Childs last week... so that was a blessing. 

I read an awesome talk by Elder Richard G. Scott called the Transforming Power of Faith and Character. Everyone should read it!! 
"Faith can transform an individuals life from maudlin, to common everyday activity, to a symphony of joy and happiness."
Faith is demonstrated by the couple sealed in the temple (thinking of Hayley and Brandon)... they understand that obedience brings happiness and they recognize that when the challenges intended to be growth opportunities come, they will find ways, as prompted by the holy ghost, to overcome them in ways that are productive and character building."
"Faith in the power of obedience to the commandments of God will forge strength of character available to you in times of urgent need!" 
    One thing that I have learned on the mission is that you cannot force anyone to do anything. No matter how much you love them, how much you do for them... how close to Christ you try to drag them... ultimately, it is their decision and their choice to change and act. Which is frustrating. Really frustrating sometimes... because I feel like we try so hard to drag people to church (literally and figuratively) We would carry them if we could. But at the end of the day, it is their choice. 
I realized that it is my choice how to act, how to react, and if I want to change and build my character, I have to deliberately make that choice. Because conversion is a personal responsibility. but I love the way Elder Scott explains it! 
"Character is woven patiently from threads of applied principles, doctrine, and obedience... we become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day." 
"Your character is more valuable than any material object you own, any knowledge you have gained through study, or any goals you have attained... In the next life you righteous character will be evaluated to assess how well you used the privilege of mortality." 
A scary thought... but the good news is, we have our whole lives to build our characters. Strong moral character results from consistent correct choices in the trials and testing of life. So as long as we are making the right choices everyday, and striving to be better, we will be building our character. 

I hope everyone is feeling better, that your staying warm and helping the missionaries as much as you can! cause we need it :) Alex, i hope basketball tryouts are going well!!! I know you will do great and you have worked really hard... and no matter what happens, yours an awesome athlete! But Ill be praying for ya! Adam, your picture frame is amazing!!!! I have such a talented family. I miss you all, it makes me sad to miss Hayleys wedding but Im so glad you could all go through the temple with her!!! I miss the temple so much. Im so excited for hayley and brandon, and send me photos :) 

Thanks for all you do for me!!! Read Elder Ballard's talk from conference - its a winner! 

love you all!!!! 
Hermana Johnson

November 4, 2013

Hola Familia,
How is everyone there?!! I’m sorry you are all sick, we have all been sick here as well… Hispanics are very superstitious, and apparently we have been walking around shoe-less for too long :) there may be some truth to that… you (mom) always told me to put sock on in the winter.
But everything is great here. One more week until Hermana Child is being transferred (we think), which is stressing me out a little bit because rumor has it that I will be training… which means I have about a week to learn EVERYTHING… and an entire language. Good think God qualifies those He calls because I know there is no way I could do this on my own.
I have had some really great experiences this week. On Wednesday, Elder Martino from the 70 came to talk to our district!! He was awesome!! Super powerful and inspiring. Our mission is trying to get 200 more baptisms before the end of the year… so he helped us see where we are lacking a little bit and where we need to improve. His wife spoke too, they have served as mission presidents multiple times and they just finished assignments in Guatemala. It is really neat to see how the Lord has used them to change so many people’s lives… She was telling me how amazing it is to see how the Lord uses our talents though out our lives; so maybe one day, when I can speak this language… Hermana Child read me a quote that says, “The Lord only asks for your availability, then when you prove your dependability, he strengthens you with more abilities.” (Or something like that, but you get the jest.)
We have been teaching a super awesome investigator, Luis. He lives in our apartment complex… He is that one that found and fixed bikes for us. Yesterday we met to walk with him to church; he had dressed up and was so excited. He said he found the suit from a yard sale and was glad he had something to wear it to. He helped us move one of our members yesterday and always brings us treats. He loves church and can’t wait to come back… we are praying he will accept a baptism date this week!
One of the coolest experiences on a mission is listening to someone pray for the very first time. We met a PNI last week and had scheduled a time to come back. So we stopped by on Wednesday. Her husband invited us in and we sat down to give a lesson to their family, Brenda, Martin, and their 3 adorable children. They just moved here from Mexico a few months ago, she has a 3 month old baby and his brother passed away in June. We were talking about how we find peace and purpose though the Book of Mormon when his brother walked in and said hi. He is deaf! So I raided my mind trying to dig up as much sign language as I could, and we were able to teach him a little too! It was the coolest experience. And then we all took turns praying, and I prayed in sign language… And he had never seen anyone pray before! In fact, no one in his family can speak sign language and he works in a factory all day. So basically, he never talks to anyone. And he was so excited; even though I really don’t know much. He was smiling so big. And he was so excited to read the Book of Mormon and for us to come back next week. I have to admit, I’m pretty excited too! But it was really hard trying to translate from Spanish to English/ASL… a cool experience.
Well, I love you all so much!! I’m so thankful for your letters and emails!! The boots didn’t come yet, but I’m hoping they will be waiting for me at zone conference this next week- you’re the greatest mom!!! The weathers pretty cold and windy, we have had one day of snow and quite a few rainy ones… but its as beautiful as ever! Elder Martino commented that our mission is the most obedient mission of anyone he has visited (thanks to Pres. Fenn!) and so we have been picked as one of the first missions to test our online/facebook proselyting. We are not quite sure how it will work but there having orientation this Wednesday! It’s a pretty exciting time to be a member… mostly because its true!! I love this gospel and im so lucky I get to bear my testimony every day!! I love you all!! I hope you feel better and have a great week!!!
Thanks for everything!!
Love Hermana Johnson

Thanks aunt Cari and Jenn for all the fun halloween treats... we had a great halloween night!!!!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

October 28, 2013

Hola Familia!!
I can’t believe that it is almost Halloween!!! I have to admit, I miss the Utah Halloween... We have found it a little difficult to bring the spirit to a door approach when there are death eaters and skulls with blood drippings from the door... And you think I’m exaggerating. But people really get into Halloween here. They have had decorations up for over a month.
Hopefully, we will have the chance to do something fun on Halloween, our branch has a Halloween party for the youth but they are watching an 80's movie or something... so I’m not sure. Also Thursday is a planning day anyway so hopefully we will get to leave the house. However, the weather is beautiful. A little cold because it’s always super windy, but the leaves are so pretty and the sun shines most days.
It’s been a great week... a lot of learning. We had a really interesting day yesterday. President Fenn came to our little Spanish branch to speak (in Spanish) and he doesn’t speak Spanish, but it was awesome! He was a little out of his element but that didn’t stop him from yelling into the mic and testifying with the spirit! I wish everyone could hear him speak, it’s always so powerful!! Anyway, for all of you that have never attended a Spanish branch, you are missing out. The meetings are great. Yesterday’s meeting started a hymn that’s not in the English hymn book. Hermana Child plays the piano but can’t read notes, so when it’s a hymn not in the English hymn book, accompanied with Hispanic singers... it always sounds great. Then cute, old hermano catolino giving the opening prayer apologizing to heavenly father for missing last Sunday. Danial passed the sacrament for the first time!!! That was really cool to see! The talks were great, we have a missionary speak just about every Sunday (Luckily I have only given one so far). Then it ends with Daniel walking to the pulpit to pray before hermana child can play the closing hymn.
The entire time I was just laughing wondering what President Fenn was thinking. He was on the stand looking over a branch consisting of 10 active members (probably half eating food), 6 missionaries, and our 2 adult, male investigators. I love our branch!!
Other good news: Luis, one of our golden investigators, found and fixed bikes for us!!! So I we rode to church on our bikes, in a skirt for the first time! Great experience!

Thank you so much for all of you emails and photos!!! I love it so much!!! I’m sad imp not there to see Elsie in her costume... but I guess there will always be more pumpkins to carve and family parties to have when I return.
Also I had a really cool experience... One day this week as we were walking home, I looked at the stars. I thought to myself, the world is so big! As humans we can’t even comprehend the size of the galaxy, or how big the sky is. And yet, I have a personal relationship with the creator of Heaven and Earth. Heavenly Father is near me and I get to talk to Him every day. I feel so close to my Heavenly Father, I am so thankful for everything He has done for me! I love the gospel!!
Also, a quote that I love!!! Last district meeting Sister Fenn shared it with us, she said her dad, Elder McConkie would tell them all the time... "The pursuit of easy things makes men weak! Great Men Climb Mountains!!"
Life is not always easy... it was not intended to be easy. The purpose of life is to grow and progress and the only way to do this is through trials. But keeping an eternal perspective can help us have gratitude through anything!!
Thank you for all you do!! For your love and support!! I think and pray for your testimonies, your safety and health every day!! Thanks for your examples!!!

Love Hermana Johnson!

October 21, 2013

Happy Monday!
It is a beautiful Monday here in Elgin! Pretty cold, but the leaves are changing, and we made pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes with the sisters this morning, so everything is great... It felt like this week flew by, not a lot happened but having pday on a Tuesday makes the week go by much faster.
The work continues to move forward... slowly. But I find comfort in the line from Preach My Gospel that says, "No effort is ever wasted." After all the work comes the miracle. The mission is very different that I expected... Every day I find myself doing something I never thought I would be doing. But when will I ever have another chance to knock on someone’s door, talk to a total stranger in Spanish, invite myself in, and have the opportunity to bear my testimony and tell them about something that could change their life. I feel very privileged... Don’t get me wrong, it’s not always fun, but I am learning a lot!! I am learning a lot about myself, about the work, and most importantly about my Savior.
Thanks for all the emails!! I love pictures and hearing about your lives, it inspires me! And makes me feel like I’m not so far away. And thank you Cari so so so much for your amazing package and letter!!! I am the luckiest girl in the world! You are so thoughtful and I am so blessed to have such great examples in my life!
I’m so sorry that you are all sick! That is really the worst!!! And it seems everyone here too is sick... hopefully you all feel better really soon!
First off, DAD!! I am so very proud of you! I am so relieved and just so happy with you. Thank you for all that you do!! I’m sorry that you have to work all the time but know that I am extremely grateful for your example of hard work and determination!
Alex: I always think about you... all the little kids play soccer outside the apartment complexes and invite us to play. I brag to everyone about my talented little bro... Good luck with state cup this week, I really hope everything works out and that your team plays well! You are one of the hardest workers I know and you have put so much into your team, GOOD LUCK!! Also, I’m very proud of you for all the work you put into school! Really, it’s a sad reality when you realized not everything comes easy, but I am learning that the more work you put in, the more accomplished you feel after, which is what makes it worth all the work!
Meg and Adam: I can’t believe how grown up Elsie looks!!! It’s crazy!!!! She looks so old in those pictures, and so dang cute with her skinny jeans and boots!!! You both are great parents and I pray for you all every day!
The Barajas always ask how you are doing... they asked me to tell you hi! I’ll get their address for you this week. Hermana Barajas left for a 4 week vacation in Mexico so that is making it a little difficult to visit them. Which is hard because Daniel (our recent convert) is a little confused with why we haven’t visited. But he is doing great too!! And he received the Aaronic Priesthood yesterday!!! So cool right?!
I haven’t had the chance to look for boots yet... I think your right that I need to order them before it gets too cold. You could order them and send them if you wanted because as much as I want to go shopping, it’s hard to find time to go looking and my companion doesn’t really want to spend our Pday time looking for winder clothes because she already has hers... So yes, the boots would be great, but I don’t want it to be a hassle... just if you have time. (Thanks! you’re the best!)
My clothes are great, holding up well... I wear the same things every week ... and I kind of love not having to worry about what I wear, it’s great!
Thanks for that weekly quotes! They are always inspiring! Mom, I hope you know how much I love you, how much I appreciate all you do for me!! Unfortunately, I didn’t realize how blessed I was until I left... but you are an amazing women and have so many qualities that I have tried throughout my life to exemplify. Thanks for always being there and always being willing to help.
Melissa and Nate: I love you guys so much! I think everyone hates it when I talk about my family, because I always have so much to say... But I look up to you both so much! I don’t hear a lot from you but I hope everything is going well, with work and life!!! Thanks for all you do for me!
Well, I will leave with a quick quote I found today:
"Who is righteous? Anyone who is repenting. No matter how bad he has been, if he is repenting, he is a righteous man. There is hope for him. But it doesn’t matter how good he has been all his life, if he is not repenting, he is a wicked man. The difference is which way you are facing. The man on the top of the stairs facing down is much worse off than the man on the bottom step who is facing up. The direction we are facing, that is repentance; and that is what determines whether we are good or bad." - Hugh Nibley.
A great blessing of missionary work is seeing people change. Repentance brings about change, and the joy I feel helping people realize there is hope and peace for their future is really amazing. I want everyone to have the opportunity to receive the blessings of missionary work in their lives... I hope you are all praying for opportunities to find someone that needs the gospel because it is an amazing experience.
I love you so much!!! I hope you all get feeling better and are enjoying the weather!! Thanks for all you do!!! Thanks for your prayers and your examples!!! Let me know if I can do anything for you!!!!
Love hermana Johnson

October 15, 2013

Happy Tuesday!
My missionary scripture: Ether 12:4... Sorry I didn’t know you needed it.

Since yesterday was Columbus day, we were hard at work... so today is our pday. (That’s why you didn’t get an email from me yesterday.) So sorry.
Anyway, it was a very long week, but it’s always great. I’m so sorry that you are sick. It seems everyone here is sick too. Everyone we visit and talk to, so hopefully we don’t catch anything. It’s beautiful weather here!!! Today it’s pretty rainy but this last week, all the leaves have changed. The sun is usually shining, and it is so beautiful!! I miss the mountains though... and driving through the canyon :)
Time is such a crazy concept. It seems like I have been gone forever. But at the same time not... at really it’s only been 3 months. Which gives me a little anxiety, but in a good way. A lot of time to learn and grow, and overcome my many weaknesses. But every day I am here, I become that much more grateful for the life I have been given. I think that was one thing Heavenly Father wanted me to learn... to be grateful! I love the quote from conference last week: "A grateful person is rich in contentment." I have a very strong testimony of that! It is absolutely true!! The more grateful we are that happier we are.
This morning I was studying about the atonement. It seems to be a cycle... the more you learn, the more you recognize your imperfections, the more humble you become which in turn motivates you to become better and learn more, then the cycle repeats. Understanding the great sacrifice, the atonement of Jesus Christ, understanding what he did for me, is my motivation underneath everything I do. My love for my Savior is my motivation for sharing the gospel, for serving a mission, for waking up at 6:00am, for knocking doors... I have realized (not that I am anywhere near this point) consecrated life is really the only way we will feel worthy to live in the Lords presence. We will always be in debt to him but all he asks of us is to give him our hearts. To rely on him always. I am so thankful for my Savior and his perfect example and the opportunity to become like him.

Alma 7:11-12, Mosiah 14:4 Surly he has borne our grief’s, and carried our sorrows... he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him.. And with his stripes we are healed.
I find so much love and peace when I read about the Savior!

I had 2 great experiences this week:
1. Our ward had a really awesome activity this week, President Portocarrero put a lot of time and effort into it and unfortunately, only 2 families showed up. It was called Viaje a Hawaii! I gave a short talk about the plan of salvation, and then we took a "trip" on an airplane, and crashed. We then proceeded to visit the 3 kingdoms of glory. We ended in the Celestial Kingdom. We watched a video about eternal families and president spoke. It was really amazing! We are trying to help all of our inactive families understand the importance of the temple and to make goals to go.
2. We taught a lesson this week to Marisol, Victor and their 3 little kids (one of my favorite families in the branch). We sang Families can be together forever, showed picture of the temple, and read out of D&C 132. We talked about how we can be eternal families- they felt the spirit really strong and Marisol told us that she picked a date for her baptism! And then Victor told us how excited he was for his wife and that maybe soon he will be ready to pick a date too. I’m so excited!
Miracles all over the place!

Well I love you all!!!! Very much!!! And I cannot tell you how happy I am that we get to be an eternal family! Thank you for your example and love!! Have an amazing day!!! I love you so much!

Love Hermana Johnson!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

October 7, 2013

General Conference!!

Hola familia! What a wonderful week!
So many great things this week, I don’t even know where to start. Last Tuesday, it started as a day full of set appointments, which never happens. But slowly and surly, one by one, they all canceled… and like Elder Ballard said, “If you want to teach more, you have to talk to more people”, so we knocked. And one of the first houses we knocked a women named Silvia answered the door. At first she was a little skeptical and didn’t want anything to do with us, but then her 8 year old daughter, Jasmine, invited us in. We had a great lesson; Jasmine loved to read the bible and was so excited when we promised to bring her a Book of Mormon. Silvia warmed up to us and invited us back for dinner next week.
After, we knocked a little more and headed to another side of town to North Street. I swear we have knocked every door on this street, twice… but as we walked around we ran into Lucia. We met Lucia one of my first weeks here. She has only lived in the United States for less than a year and has 5 little kids, and don’t even have a car to fit their entire family. We had been trying to find her for weeks because she is golden (they are always the hardest ones to find.) But we found her cleaning out the back of an apartment building. We were able to help her get out of a sticky situation and so she invited us into her extremely small 2 room apartment. She is so humble and sweet, we have started teaching her family the lessons and they said they would try to come to church.
That same day, we found Kris, a friend of one of our converts… and he is pretty golden. He is reading the Book of Mormon and really likes church. We had to give him to the English elders but they said they would keep us updated.
The greatest feeling is when you realize that God is leading you, and I usually don’t realize it until after. We have met some of the most amazing people:
-          Jonthina: She is the most adorable mother. The first day we met her she just had a light. I knew we had to go back to teach her. Then one night both Hermana Child and I had a random thought to see if she was home. She was, and we had a little lesson on the porch. She started crying and telling us that she has been praying to know which church to take her family to. She has been going through some hard times and told us that we were the answer to her prayers.
-          Tyler: he is amazing!! One day, we were feeling a little stressed and decided to take a dinner break, so we went to a park to eat our bp&j. That’s where we met Tyler. He moved from Thailand a few years ago. His entire family is strict Buddhists and when he discovered the Christian religion he had to sacrifice a lot. His family does not approve but he has such strong faith in Christ that he knows its true. He was in a bad accident 2 years ago. His best friend and two nephews were in the car and died. Then after, because of his inquiries, his wife left him because He couldn’t work anymore. He has so much pain that he never leaves the house. He is so excited about the Book of Mormon and cant wait to come to church. Unfortunately, we will have to hand him to the English Elders too… but Im so excited for him to accept the gospel.
Other exciting news, Carlos is on Date for November 2! We will keep you updated about that!

Well, there is so much to talk about, and I didn’t even get to conference! Maybe next week…

But I love you all so much!!! More than you can even imagine!!! Every day my gratitude increases, and I could never express my appreciation enough! I received Megans amazing package will all your notes, and my box of winter clothes!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! Honestly! I love you guys and I am so lucky to have your love and support!!Have an amazing week! Feel better and stay safe!! I love you all!!!

Love Hermana Johnson       

Thursday, October 3, 2013

September 30, 2013

Hola familia!!! Como es todo?
I hope everything is going well in the world! (and especially at home!) I love hearing about your lives, grandpa merrill emailed me about their trip to washington and your visit. It sounds like you guys had a blast, hot springs, dutch oven, and smores... some of my favorite things! Sorry that the weather is getting cold, we have had a few cold rainy days here and there but for the most part it has been really nice... usually very sunny and beautiful!
This last week was crazy, amongst all the craziness, there were so many miracles... I was too preoccupied noticing everything that went wrong, I forgot to look for the good. Now, looking in retrospect, I feel bad for being ungrateful, because we received alot of blessings and answers to our prayers.  
So to answer your question, yes, we had a baptism!! And as everyone says, the week of the baptism is crazy, because Satan is working overtime. I guess that is just another testimony that this work is true... anyway. There were a couple bumps along the way, but Daniel was baptized at 2:00 on saturday. It was a great service, I got to conduct the music, my companion played the piano. All the missionaries in our district sang a hymn and president gave a great talk. We had another investigator come, which was a miracle, and the spirit was very strong. He was baptized by Elder Tenifa, our district leader. The entire service was really stressfull making sure everyone was where they needed to be, and that everything would go smootly... but at the end of the day, all that really mattered was that Daniel was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The only true church with the authority and power of God, the priesthood. Daniel gave a very short and simple but powerful testimony. It really was amazing!
I am so excited for Daniel because I know he is truly converted. He has a testimony of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith and knows what it means to endure to the end. All he could talk about was how excited he is to get the priesthood and he has a goal to go through the temple in exactly one year.
Another blessing: General Relief Society meeting!! I loved it!! As we stood up to sing "I'll go were you want me to go" I couldnt believe that I am actually on my mission. I loved Pres. Monsons talk about the power of prayer. If there is anything that I have learned on my mission, is that prayer is real! Prayer is the only way that we could ever have the strength to make it through life. And the good news is that praying for strength is not a sign of weakness, its a sign of confidence in our Heavenly Father. It is showing Christ that we appreciate His sacrifice. I have grown so much closer to my Savior through prayer, continually trying to seek His will. For me, there is no greater joy than knowing that you are doing the will of the Lord. This is something I have struggled with... I wish is was something that I could just throw at Him. Like a cake, my will is the cake, and I could just give it to Him once and say, "Heres my will, Ill take yours because I know it will taste better." (sorry, I have gotten very good at using analogys.. they usually involve food). I so desperately want to His will to be my will but it is much easier said than done. I quickly found that It is a daily/hourly struggle to put off the natural man.  
Anyway, sorry I ramble a little... I have always had a love for General Conference and llistening to the Prophet, but before my mission, I never fully appreciated this blessing! Words cannot express how excited I am for this weekend!
The best news of all: I survived one entire transfer! 6 weeks down... eternity to go... but Im so excited to see what the future has in store for me. Both my companion and I get to stay in Elgin, which is great because I love it here. Im starting too feel a little more comfortable with the language and the ward, I can usually remember the way to drive to members houses and can remember their names.
I love you all so much and hope everyone is happy and healthy!!  I will be thinking about you alot as I watch conference... Im trying not to think about french toast and hot chocolate... but I hope you all have to chance to watch!
Thanks for all you do!! I love you and pray for you more than you know!!!
Love Hermana Johnson

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

September 23, 2013

Well, it was another great week. I just love life.
We didn’t have to do a lot of tracing this week, which is a huge blessing in my eyes. We had p-day on Monday, New missionary training on Tuesday, district meeting and lunch on Wednesday, MCM on Thursday, interviews and planning on Friday, and a full day of appointments on Saturday... needless to say, it was a busy week. I always knew that God would send me to the area that I needed to be; I assumed that there were a few people that I would meet throughout my mission that I needed to meet. But that is a great understatement. Because I have met so many wonderful people that have changed my perspective and impacted my life.

To name a few: my companion. Hermana Child is an amazing missionary with all of her priorities in the right place. She is a great teacher and trainer and her testimony is simple and powerful. My favorite hours of the day are personal study and companionship study because we get to share everything we learned with each other. She is so good at applying scriptures and doctrine in her life, and is continually striving to be a better person. Sister Colburn and Sister Thompson: they are the two sister missionaries (English) in our area. They live a few apartments away from us so every morning we get to work out with them and we carpool to all our meetings together. They have to serve in English and they help me to appreciate my mission so much more (Spanish is hard but it’s that greatest thing that has ever happened to me- there is something about being rejected in English that hurts a little more). They are having a pretty hard time but I have learned so much from their examples and their positive attitudes.
I have developed so much love and appreciation for the families and members of our branch. I learn something new every lesson.
Also, President and Sister Fenn are such great examples to me! President Fenn is truely an amazing person. He is a great example of selfless service. I have learned so much from him, and I look forward to every meeting because he is such a powerful speaker. I’m talking general authority-type of powerful! Every time he speaks you stop and pay attention because you can feel that he is a representative of the Lord. He is so wise and so loving... In Zone Conference he gave a powerful talk about the principles of mortality.
He started out by saying "I want you all to know about the first principle of mortality. It is that Life was not intended to be easy." I guess that is the moment when I snapped into reality a little bit. But he continued to explain that just like life, your mission is not meant to be easy. That is not why we were sent to earth. We were sent here to prove ourselves worth of the blessings and glory of eternal life. The lord gives us trials because, in His infinite wisdom, He knows just how much He can push us and stretch us so we will become who we were meant to become. God knows exactly when He needs to intervene... and more often than not, the trial or tribulation will not be taken away. But He promises that if you have faith and patience, you will be strengthened to bear them. Christ is your personal Savior, He knows you personally. He knows your trials and your burdens because He has personalized them just for you. He knows when to let you walk and when to carry you. It is up to us to have enough trust in them to know that they will step in when the time is right; to realize that God trust you enough to make it another day, another week, another month. This is because they understand the importance of experience... I think that every person is the sum total of their experiences. That is why everyone is so different and unique but we all have strengths and weaknesses. But it’s all part of the plan. So we should be grateful for the experiences that we are given. And it is our responsibility to learn from the opportunities presented to us. This knowledge should give us that perfect brightness of hope. Because we know, it isn’t until after the trial that we receive the reward - which in an eternal perspective - is incomprehendable joy and eternal life... which is pretty cool!

Anyway, Elgin is wonderful! The work is slow but little by little we are trying to align our vision with Gods.

I hope everyone is doing well! Thanks for the pictures, looks like you had a great time in Idaho! I  miss you all a lot and pray for you every night!!!!
Talk to you soon!!

Love Hermana Johnson