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!!!!