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