Wednesday, March 5, 2014

March 4, 2014

Querido familia:
Sorry for the late email... It has been the best week, topped off with
a trip out of the mission to the Chicago temple!!! Since the temple is
not open on Mondays our zones preparation day was moved to today.
I love being a missionary. We have received so many blessings this
week, I don't even know where to start.
The ward: I am beginning to understand the power of personal
conversion. As our ward continues the 21 day promise, we have received
Miracle as the missionaries in this area but also seen it effect many
of our members and less actives. As we encourage members to create a
study habit of Book of Mormon reading and praying, they are becoming
more converted; which in turn has a direct effect on our success. We
are hoping by the end of the 21 day we will have a few member
referrals in our areas to invite to learn more.
We received a very vague text last monday, from Alfredo, that said
"tengo una pregunta que quiero preguntarle más adelante." After a
period of waiting, on our drive home we called him up. With
anticipation he stated very humbly "quiero bautisarme... PERO, pero,
puedo escoger quien va a bautizarme?!" More than wanting to be
baptized he was concerned who could do it :) we laughed about that on
the way home. But it was one of those moments I won't soon forget. We
are so excited for his baptism this Saturday, Hermana Trimble is
working very diligently to have everything in place. I am learning so
much from her. We are really excited to see Alfredo take this step, he
had a very strong experience and knows that Book of Mormon is true. He
was reading and thinking a lot... He said he had a dream that night
and when he woke up he just felt so happy and knew he needed to get
baptized. He has made a lot of changes in his life and has been
identifying a lot of the blessings that have come since he met the
Also we got a surprise invite to dinner at president Fenns house on
Sunday. He invited about 10 of us sisters from close zones to join
them to break our fast. It was such a fun night... After dinner he
gave us permission to stick around and ask any questions we wanted. We
stayed till 9:00. He knows just about everything, we are so
We have met so many people this week, seen a lot of miracles, gained a
lot of new investigators... So the work is moving forward.
Thanks for all the emails, photos and videos. Unfortunately I can't
watch the video because it's on YouTube, but I'm sure Alex's singing
was amazing!!, I'm so proud of you, I can't wait to hear it when I get
home. I'm sure your just the stud of the school now... Congrats for
soccer and good luck with basketball this week!!
I'm so proud of all the work you put into getting your eagle! I got
the invite and was so happy. Above everything else we do in our lives
the knowledge we gain about the gospel is what will carry us through.
I know this gospel is true and promise you will never regret the time
you give to the work of The Lord.
I hope everyone is doing well. I love you all so much!!! Thanks for everything.

Love Hermana Johnson

February 24, 2014

Dear Family,
The mission is great. The best decision I have ever made. Why? Great question. Well, I will tell you. I am learning so many great and useful things. For example:
I am learning that people all have a reason for why they act. Everyone’s behavior makes perfect sense to them. Even the 65 year old Hispanic that opens the door without a shirt and asked what we are selling. Even the couple walking their dog that replied “no, no, no!! Don’t come near us…” to our polite invitation to look at a car. Unfortunately, even the testigos who are very insistent that any doctrinal question can be settled through application of the bible alone. All the Catholics that have been convinced that we have no need to ask God about the book of Mormon, or even to learn more about another testament of Jesus Christ. Most believe that their relationship is enough and they don’t need any more or any less.
I am learning that I can’t blame anyone for their beliefs. Even in 1 Ne. 13:28-29 it explains “…because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book, which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is the Lamb of God – because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them.” Unfortunately, it is not so much their fault that they have been convinced of the wrong traditions of their fathers. However, I have learned that there is always more! God always has more for us. We can always receive more knowledge, more light, more hope, more charity, more understanding, more revelation. Knowing that all things that lead men to serve God are from God, it makes me very sad that so many people do not understand what we offer them at the door. In our 30 second spiel, we are offering so much more than just a book and a lesson.
I am learning the importance of members and church attendance.
I am learning why it’s important to have a habit of exercising. (Because then one day when you get put in Chicago and fed greasy food, your metabolism starts slowing down and you can’t do anything about it.)
I am learning how important it is to always have the spirit.
I am learning that we need to have love and patience for everyone. If you’re struggling with those qualities just ask God for some humility and he will provide plenty of opportunities (caution: God always keeps his promises).
For example: yesterday. It was 8:45pm, really dark, pretty cold and hadn’t had a lot of success. We had stopped by a few PNI and were not sure where else to go. Begrudgingly, we knocked the neighbors door. Unbeknown to us, we were let to find Yolanda, Philipe, and Juan. Goes to show that God tires your patience and waits to the very last minute, before the miracle. I have a strong testimony of that too. Well, philipe, Yolanda, and juan… they are great. Really receptive to the spirit and all excepted baptism dates. A very humble family who can’t wait to come to church next Sunday. Aren’t we so lucky to have a Heavenly Father that blesses us, even when we are murmuring, ungrateful, and don’t deserve it.
Anyway, we have seen a lot of miracles this week… Alfredo is on date for the middle of March and has been to church a few weeks now.
I learned that sending a member with 3 children and Spanglish directions to pick up an investigator is not always the right choice. She got very lost (and a little angry… “I’m going to hang you from a tree” I believe were her words)… but 20 minutes into sacrament Pedro showed up! (She wasn’t really mad, thankfully). He had worked all night so he could get a couple hours off for Church! That shows a lot of faith! He is sacrificing a lot but really excited to be baptized.
Well, Hermana Trimble and I are doing great. Happy to be missionaries. There is always something new and exciting to learn here in Illinois… like, Mexicans believe lemones y lemones (lemons and limes) have the same taste and apparently are the same fruit. “La unica diferencia es que uno tiene mas liquido del otro, y un es verde.”
Love you all!! Thanks for everything you do!! Let me know what I can do for you!!
Con mucho amor!!

Hermana Johnson

February 17, 2014

Como estan? Todavia esta nevando aqui, pero la obra misional va a segir adelante!
I hope this email finds you all happy and warm... It appears to want to be winter for the rest of the year... the weather calls for snow all day and night, which is great. We love snow :)
I did receive your valentine’s package, 2 days before the holiday - we had Zone training!! So our apartment was covered with hearts and puppies - thank you so so much! I am truly grateful for your generosity and love... I am so lucky to have a family that will never let our apartment go baron during the holidays! That’s great that Alex doesn’t have practice… I don’t know when that kid sleeps. Dedication, perseverance, and self-discipline. That will serve him well for the rest of his life.
Everything is going great here in Aurora. We have seen a lot of miracles and The Lord is blessing us. We have been teaching a lot of lessons lately; we have about 4 dinner appointments set for this week. Our ward is doing a challenge called the 21 day promise. It is a list of 21 scriptures, one to read each day, and a promise that if you pray for your list of 5-6 people, every morning and every night for 21 day and read the scripture, one will accept to take the missionary discussions. So many of our members are accepting and fulfilling the challenge. Our ward is very united in their goal to do missionary work, so we are seeing the results of their fervent prayers and desires. Although at times it is difficult to find a member to join us for, we are seeing miracles because our ward is ready to receive them. This is strengthening my testimony of unified ward and member missionary work. There is a noticeable difference, and as the fortunate missionaries to be in this ward, we are receiving the blessings.
Blessing #1: This week we received a referral from the office, Pedro. We called him right away and he agreed to meet with us on Wednesday. We were on exchanges, however Hermana Lunt and Hermana Trimble taught him, and his is amazing.
He is so prepared; He has a friend in Mexico, who he has known since age 14. He has always loved how her family was so unified and close. He has lived in the United States for over 20 years, but one day he decided to talk to her about religion. She is Mormon and told him to call the number and request missionaries. He stopped drinking and smoking a year ago, he asked us where the church was before we invited him to attend. He works about 80 hours a week… mostly because he doesn’t have family here, and loves to work. He earnestly is just looking for something more in his life and he knows that he found it in this gospel. We have taught him one other time in a members home, and have plans to teach him this week as well. I love that I get to be a part of his conversion process, there is something inspiring about watching someone else discover their testimony for the first time. We will keep you updated on his progress, but as long as we stay ahead of the adversary, he has committed to preparing to be baptized next month. Your prayers will help a lot!
Hermana Trimble is great. She is such an amazing example to me of a hard worker, who understands her duty and doesn't ever veer from her purpose. I am learning a lot from her, how to plan more effectively, how to work with members better.., I have a lot to learn and she has a lot of patience for me.
I am trying to learn the members and the area. It is really neat to recognize all the small blessings we receive; like my ability to navigate, remember appointments, people’s names, etc. It comes slowly but I can see that God is expanding my capacity and ability to do His work.  
Well that’s about all for now.  I love you so much!! Thanks for everything you do for me. There is not much to do here, with so much snow… and we are both trying to eat healthier so that rules out the eating activities. But we will find something epic im sure :)
Have a wonderful day!! Share the gospel and don’t forget to read your scriptures!!
One very important lesson I learned this week:
1.       The natural man wants you to be satisfied. The spirit wants others to be happy. By realizing that others happiness is what will truly make us happy, we gain new meaning to our purpose here on earth. Our father in heaven is a perfect example of that, His work and Glory is our happiness!
2.       If you leave laundry detergent in the car, it freezes… isn’t life great? We are always learning!
 Con mucho amor!!! Les quiero muchisimo!

La Hermanita Johnson

February 10, 2014

Well Aurora is awesome!!
As hard as it was to leave Elgin, Aurora truly is amazing! And Hermana Trimble is amazing. And the apartment, and the ward. And the people. And the miracles.
Not sure how we got so lucky, but here we are. Ill try to send some pictures too, but until then. This has been such a great week. I would need hours to tell you all the great stuff that happened… but here is a start:

Hermana Trimble is 21, from Boise and went to BYU before her mission. She has been out for over a year so she knows just about everything. She is the most patient and considerate person I have ever met and she talks to EVERYONE. We have a lot of really awkward moments but she likes to just brush them off… I like to dwell and laugh but she is very professional. We have great workouts and runs in the mornings and she eats pretty creatively… meaning, whatever she can find in the fridge, she puts it all together and makes something somewhat healthy… somewhat delicious :) I love it. She is the most obedient missionary and she has such a strong testimony and works so hard!!

The apartment:
Well we are roughin’ it… fancy gym, reserved parking spots, walk-in-closet. We even have a washer and dryer. This mission thing is making me really spoiled.

The ward:
It’s an entire ward! It takes about 30 min. to drive there (the chapel is in Geniva) but there were actually people at church. Almost every pew was full. I was in shock, im sure I drove Hermana Trimble crazy, just saying “there are so many people!”
Our ward mission leader (yah, we have one of those!) is incredible. He fed us breakfast before the meeting yesterday. He only works half of the year so the other half he can come out with the missionaries. He is driving us to a baptism in Hermana Trimbles last area on the 15th. Its amazing!

The work:
Well, every day of my mission I have prayed for families to teach. We found 4 families this week. We have done a lot of knocking, but everyday have meet really solid investigators!!! We think it is because the ward has started praying for the missionaries by name. It works!!
My second day we knocked into Lisa, she told us to come back on Thursday. So we came back. Melina (her sister in law) answered the door, told us she wasn’t here and that they weren’t interested. Then lisa walked in and invited us in. Lisa’s husband was not happy that we were there and immediately walked out the door taking lisa with her. So we awkwardly sat on the couch as Melina and her husband walked out of the kitchen. “Sorry, we can leave.” Melina: “well we are still here.” So we taught the restoration. And the spirit was SO STONG. We invited Arthur to say the closing prayer, he has never prayed out loud in his life. As he finished, he looked up with the biggest smile. They have a 2 year old daughter and they are so excited to learn more they asked if we could come back the next day. She asked if she could take some cards and pamphlets to work so she could tell more people about it and gave us the addresses of all of their family members. Unfortunately, their daughter doesn’t speak Spanish so they we prayed and felt best to turn them to the English sisters. But we went to the lesson to hand them off… The most amazing lesson. They truly are the elect of God, they agreed to getting baptized on the 8th of march and went to church yesterday!
My very favorite part of my mission is listening to people pray for the first time. On Friday Melina gave the most heartfelt prayer I have ever heard. You could tell she was talking to Heavenly Father, and the spirit was incredible. I feel so privileged to have met and taught them. I think those are the moments of indescribably joy that president Fenn always talks about.

Oh also, we knocked into Claudia… The sister of Alicia (My favorite family from Elgin). And Alicia, Chuy, and Manny were all there!!! We got to come in and teach a short lesson! It was such a great surprise!!

Today I was reading a talk my Elder Bednar – Pray Always, Oct. 2008. He said:
“Once we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are his children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part.” We are all children of our Heavenly Father. We state this everyday, in almost ever doorstep and lesson, but it holds so much meaning. When we realize our relationship with our Father in Heaven, we begin to understand what a blessing it is to talk to the creator of the world who knows you individually. “Such meaningful prayers are instrumental in obtaining the highest blessings god holds in store for His faithful children.”

I love you all!! Hope you are having an amazing week! Thanks for the great pictures, sorry I couldn’t be there for Elsies birthday!! Looked like you all had fun. Im getting over a lingering cold too :) but I hope you all get healthy soon, you have had your fair share of sickness this winter! I haven’t  gotten the package yet, but thanks in advance. You are so nice to always think of me!! I really do appreciate it!!
Thanks for everything! All my love!!

Hermana Johnson

February 3, 2014

Pues, hoy es una dia bonita... y triste!
Big news: I am being transferred to Aurora! I never thought the day would come that I would have to leave my beloved home, Elgin. Unfortunately, as quoted by Elder Gaugakuma, "Change is inevitable." We were dreading the call all day Saturday, and as the phone rang we listened with anticipation. President doesn't like to leave people in one area for too long, so after 4 transfers I cant say it was a surprise. However, Hermana Lopez and I are really seeing change in the branch, and we get a long so well... we are both very sad that we cant stay together for longer. I really am going to miss her. She is staying here and getting Hermana Lewis, they have both been out for about 5 months each. And I am going to Aurora with Hermana Trimble, she has been out for over a year. I am really excited because she is an awesome missionary!!! I am going to learn a lot from her! Also, we are in a Spanish WARD!!! Can you believe it?! Its the only Spanish ward in the mission. Not sure how I got so lucky. It will be very different from our little branch that I am used to. 
As I laid in bed last night, I was thinking about all the great experiences that I have had and all the amazing people that I have met. The crazy thing about a mission is that everything is done in time: exercise - 30 min., study: 3 hours, lessons - no more than 45 minutes, dinner appointments - must never exceed 1:30... there is always so much to do, and never enough time, however, some hours seem like seconds and some seconds seem like eternity.
For example, in the mist of trials, those moments seem like the end will never come. Those silent seconds after you extend the baptismal invitation that feel like you could walked across the Sahara Desert and back before they answer, are hard to forget. And all the time you spend thinking about people and how to help them makes the quick seconds when they drop you, pretty hard to forget. But unlike the uncertainty of our time in life, on the mission you know and are consistently aware of the exact amount of time that you have.  
One thing Hermana Lopez has taught me, is to appreciate the time we have to grow. She has a testimony that at the end of our lives, when we stand before our Heavenly Father, he is not going to be so concerned of what we did in our lives, what we achieved but he is going to ask us who have we become!! I am 1/3 done with my time on a mission, moving to a new area gives me an opportunity to reevaluate and redouble my efforts. Im very sad to be leaving, but I am excited to experience something new!! So wish me luck!!

Anyway, I have a lot to pack (im afraid that im becoming a hoarder...) and a lot to do, so ill leave you with an awesome quote I found: its not supper relevant but its great!

"The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ would take the slums out of the people and then they take themselves out of the slums... Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature."

Happy birthday ELSIE!!! I cant believe she is one!!! She is so old! Thanks for all the great pictures! I love you all so much!! Please let me know if I can do anything for ya!!! THanks for everything!

Love Hermana Johnson       

January 27, 2014

Feliz Lunes Familia! 

Elgin is great. Its pretty cold as I assume it is everywhere at this time of year, and although few people open their doors to us because of the inclement weather, those that do stand out as miracles in my eyes. We had an amazing lesson with an investigator, Gabriel. He is from Mexico living with his brother and sister-in-law. He is not married and his older brother died a few months ago. But we had the opportunity of teaching about the plan of salvation and the spirit was very strong as we bore testimony of our purpose on earth. He desires change and has begun studying the Book of Mormon. We were able to find him an Amulek, our recent convert, Daniel! I cant explain what a blessing it is to hear your convert bear testimony of something you first taught him 4 months ago. 
We have hit a few obstacles in the branch. With the weather and the time changing to 9:00, we have struggled getting not only investigators but even members to church. I know a lot of people are praying for this branch. Thanks, we continue to feel your prayers and support!  
As for Hermana Lopez, she is amazing. She is struggling with her health a little. She has an ulcer and eating chilies, peppers, and greasy Mexican food don't really help. I think she struggles finding energy to work, but she is a trooper. She always is willing to go out, even when she doesn't feel well. She is very determined and a great leader; always looking for unique ways to change things up. I admire that about her.I am so blessed to be with her. 
Sorry its so short, we are going to play volleyball today :) we need all the exercise we can get! But ill leave you with a quote I found today: 
"When we truly understand what it means to love as Jesus Christ loves us, the confusion clears and our priorities alight. Our walk as a disciple of Christ becomes more joyful. Our lives take on new meaning. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father becomes more profound. Obedience becomes a joy rather than a burden." Elder Uchtdorf, Oct. 2009. I know this is true! 
Thanks for everything you do, I love you all so much!! You are the most amazing people that I know and I couldn't have asked for a better family. I pray for you every night and I hope you are continuing to strengthen your relationship with your Savior. I have found the best way to understand the love our savior has for us, is to share it with others! I invite all of you to share your testimony with someone this week, help someone feel that love of God in their life and you will be blessed! Thanks for everything! I love you so much!!! 

Hermana Johnson 

January 20, 2014

I hope you are all having a wonderful Monday!! It's nice and sunny
here, the sun makes it seem not so cold :) not a lot to report on this
week, we tracked a lot. Had a couple good lessons, but nothing too out
of the ordinary. Our Rama is being tested and tried right now, but we
working hard to bring the Miracles, we need them... Everything is
working against us, the weather, the time, the people... But that's
just another testament that the work is true. A doctrine that is not
tried is hardly worth teaching, and a gospel that doesn't require work
is hardly worth living. I love the gospel. One thing that one very
understood before my mission was how important to live the gospel
always, because people notice and we talk to people everyday that have
been offended or misunderstood... But they just need to realize that
although the people of the church are not always true, the doctrine
is!! A lot of lives would be blessed if everyone realized that,
anyway, we are all learning. But I love he church, I don't know what I
would do without it!

Well I love you all so much, sorry it's short. I hope you are all
loving life in Utah... Life is great being a missionary. I wish
everyone had this opportunity. Please let me know if I can do anything
for ya!!

We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to
become each day. Righteous character is a precious manifestation of
what you are becoming. Righteous character is more valuable than any
material object you own, any knowledge you have gained through study,
or any goals you have attained no matter how well lauded by mankind.
In the next life your righteous character will be evaluated to assess
how well you used the privilege of mortality.

Neither Satan nor any other power can destroy or undermine your
growing character. Only you could do that through disobedience. A
sterling character is converted into worthless ashes when eroded by
deceit or transgression.

Strong moral character results from consistent correct choices in the
trials and testing of life. Such choices are made with trust in things
that are believed and when acted upon are confirmed.

(The Transforming Power of Faith and Character)

Love Hermana Johnson

January 14, 2014

Buenos días familia. I Hope all is well at home, that you are all
staying warm, are heathy and happy :) this has been a really great
week! we are being so blessed. I have been trying to recognize the
tender mercies of The Lord more in my life, and when you look, you
realized how blessed we really are.

Our Rama has really been struggling but I have a testimony that God
lets us get to the lowest point but knows exactly when to intervene.
In order to stay a Rama we have to have a least 6 worthy Melchizedek
priesthood holders and we have just that... But this last week we have
seen Miracles. To start, we tracked into 4 families this week who,
without question, just invited us in. That NEVER HAPPENS, especially
not more than once in a row. Heavenly Father gave us 7 new
investigators and some are pretty promising. We knocked on a door of a
family named Adams. The dad answered and invited us in. As we started
talking we found out that he was baptized in Mexico, a convert, and
still has a testimony of the Book of Mormon and the church... His wife
and 2 kids have not been interested in the past but she invited us
back and fed us cheese enchiladas :) when they offer you food, that's
when you know you have done something right... Then right after, we
left and started talking to a man outside he was like "your very
friendly, would you like to teach my family?" So we proceeded to teach
the first lesson to him and his wife. They have 3 beautiful daughters
all over baptism age.
On top of that, 2 of our less active families came to church!! And the
elders met a long lost inactive family and they showed up too.
And Hermana Lopez and I got to teach the young women lesson! It was
really fun! We had 6 young women there... More then I have ever seen.
So my testimony that God answers prayers has been strengthened!!!
President Fenn always tells us to "plead with The Lord until he
blesses you!" I know that's true.

So in between the miracles we have had days of freezing cold, lots of
snow, rain which turned into icy roads, and sunshine. Crazy weather,
crazy week but nothing's better then knowing the lords work will move

One of the greatest blessings of my mission is my ever increasing
testimony of the Book of Mormon... I hope some of you are doing the
challenge with us!! I promise you will see blessings from the time you
sacrifice to read!  Quentin L. Cook said:
"Immersion in the scriptures is essential for spiritual nourishment.
The word of God inspires commitment and acts as a healing balm for
hurt feelings, anger, or disillusionment. When our commitment is
diminished for any reason, part of the solution is repentance.
Commitment and repentance are closely intertwined." (Can Ye Feel So
Now?) I know that is true!

I love you all so much! If I can do anything for ya, please let me
know! Your continually in my prayers and your support and love bless
my life more than you will ever know!, have a great week!
All my love!

January 6, 2014

Well it's winter if I have ever seen it!! But no matter the
temperature, the work always moves on. Fortunately with the jeep, we
have no excuse to stay home so we get to keep working!!
Yesterday the elders weren't answering so Hermana Lopez and I got to
help shovel the church sidewalk, then after church we drove around
looking for Hispanics that we could help shovel and share the gospel
with. We spent about 3 hours finding/shoveling until we decided to try
and get in with some less active members. We taught some lessons and
then had a really good dinner with la familia uurutia... They made us
waffles because he knew it was my favorite!! And then we had
Guatemalian sopa, it was great (really spicy). We had a really
spiritual lesson with them... She told us about her conversion story.
He was put in jail 3 days before his 18 birthday for something that he
didn't do, but the court has another problem because he wasnt legal...
That's another story... Anyway so he either had to find a way to claim
residency or leave. So pulled out a phone book and tracked down his
father who supposedly lived in Chicago. He called down a list and
finally found him. His father had married, etc. but introduced him to
the church and then he was baptized a few years later. While in
Chicago he met his wife. She was very Lutheran but they got married
and moved out of the city. They had a daughter and he started taking
their daughter to the Mormon church and she would go to hers. Then she
started asking her paster about Mormons and he had nothing but bad
things to say. She was showed a picture of the salt lake temple and
her paster told them that they sacrifice virgins there and since she
only had one daughter she should be very carful and never let them be
alone... Crazy, but she never told her husband any of this so she was
basically freaking out inside for years. When every the missionaries
would come over she would get so mad and Lock herself in her room and
turn the tv up really loud. They moved back to Guatemala and she was
so excited because she didn't think there were Mormons there... Butt
here were and everytime she would pray to Heavenly Father to send her
his servants (people From  the Lutheran church) as she finished Mormon
missionaries would knock her door. Long story short... For 13 years
she never listened. Then after a few experiences she knew it was true
but was too of stubborn to tell her husband so they organized the
baptism and he didn't know until he came to the church.
Now they are he strongest couple in the Rama and work at the temple
every week. They are saving up to serve a mission and they feed us
once every couple weeks!! I love the testimonies of our members!!! It
gives me so much hope for all those people that I never think will get
baptized... The gospel changes lives and god has complete control.
Everything in gods time!
I hope you are all having an amazing week!! I love you so much and am
so grateful for your love, support, and prayers! Let me know if I can
do anything for ya,!

Love Hermana Johnson

December 30, 2013

Buenas Dias!
It was so awesome to talk to all of you on Christmas!! The highlight of the week! I am so incredibly blessed to have such amazing family and friends... honestly, we are so lucky!! I love you all so much! And I hope that you all enjoyed a little break for the holiday! Just like all of your lives, missionary work doesnt slow down... 
So these last 6 weeks have been some of the hardest weeks ever... I never understood how difficult it was to watch someone you love so dearly struggle so much. And the mission puts you in situations that you would never expect. After spending 24/7 with someone, ever minute of every day, you get to know each other very well. You know each others strengths, weaknesses, struggles, desires... I am so extremely thankful for the time that I had with Hermana Lane, so is an incredible person and I have such a deep love for her... She has been struggling with a lot of mental/emotional problems and unfortunately she flew home to her family on Saturday. It all happened very slowly but very quickly. It was probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to do... wake up at 5 am drive her to the airport and hug her goodbye. But she is doing alright I think... She is strong and she knows what she wants in life now... I have absolutely no doubt that she will do great things. It has been one of the greatest experiences of my life to look back on... although tough in the moment... I have learned so much and am a better person for it. 
So, we dropped her off Saturday morning and met my new companion at 9:30 and off we went! Her  name is Hermana Lopez, she is 19 from California but she spent the first 10 years of her life in Argentina... so that means my spanish will hopefully get much better. She is one of the most positive and happiest people I know, and a very hard worker. She has a really strong testimony. we are still trying to catch our breath and looking forward to a nap today... but we have already had a couple great days, so Im pretty excited. 
As far as the work goes... we are ready to jump back in. Our first day together we stopped by a PNI who wasnt home so we decided to knock the neighbor. Two men, Erik and Rosalio came out and we started talking. Turns out that Rosalio had a girl friend in Mexico who was mormon and wouldn't marry him because she wanted to get married in the temple. When he moved to America he promised her he would learn about her church... He said that he looked up online and visited the church in Elgin but no one was there (it was wednesday or something). Then he said he didnt know how to get a hold of anyone and has been hoping we would find him... The funny thing was, he said other missionaries (Jehovahs witnesses, etc.) have stopped by but he was just looking for the mormons. And he came to church yesterday! He has a lot of questions and doubts but he is excited to learn more!! We cant wait to teach him this week! 
The weather here is crazy! Hermana Lopez and I take turns slipping because there is so much ice and snow... currently its about 3 degrees outside, so its not as cold as its been. 
A quote I found today: 
"If we fully appreciated the many blessings which are ours through the redemption made for us, there is nothing that the Lord could ask of us that we would not anxiously and willingly do."  - Joseph Fielding Smith. I love that I have the opportunity to teach and testify about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I want my motivation for everything I do to be the love I have for my Savior and Heavenly Father. I know that they have given me everything and I am thankful for the opportunity to serve them. 
I miss you and am SO HAPPY That you are all doing well!! It was so fun to talk to ya! Thanks again for all the support and love!!! IF there is anything I can do for ya, please let me know!! I hope you have an incredible new year!! Its crazy that I have exactly 1 year from today to put everything else on hold and serve with everything I have... Its crazy to see how fast time goes but Im learning to appreciate the time that we are given. The time on this earth to grow closer to our Savior and serve others! Thanks for all you do!!! 

Con Amor!! Hermana Johnson 

December 23, 2013

Dear Family and Friends!!! 
I could not thank you enough for all of your love and support over the last 5 months... especially at this time right before Christmas, we need you love and prayers to push forward the work here. I am eternally indebted to all of you that give so much to serve others. Thank you! 
As for me, this week has been crazy but great! Yesterday we met as 4 zones for a Christmas specialized training at President Fenn's house. He spent the last few days preparing his world famous Chili for all of us. He gathered all 70+ of us in his tiny kitchen and gave us the rundown of each 4 different types... regular (with 3 types of meat, beans, and tomatoes...), chili verde, chocolate chili, and the worlds spiciest with 4 different types of peppers... ive always been adventurous when it comes to food, but even after adapting to the Hispanic culture, my weak mouth proved unchanged. It was probably the spiciest thing i have ever had... ever... hands down. I probably wont be able to taste anything for the next few days :)
Anyway, it was really fun. Santa was there, we got all our packages. Our district prepared a special musical number - it was horrendous- and then president spoke. He is amazing! He is just so powerful when he speaks and has such a strong testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. I feel so blessed to be his missionary. He spoke a lot about the Doctrine behind the Birth and life of Christ... a side i had never considered before. It was really cool. 

He extended a challenge, which I would love pass on to all of you... On April 6, we will have a mission council where everyone in the mission will come together. He asked us to get a brand new Book of Mormon and read it before April 6th. He wants us to mark 3 things: 
Yellow: the doctrine of Christ (faith, repentance, baptism, gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end) 
Red: atonement of Christ (Mercy, grace, etc.) 
Blue: our purpose and missionary work 

It would be awesome if you could all join in with us!!!! I know the Book of Mormon is true and the word of God. I know every word in there was written for our benefit. I know no matter what we are going through, the answers and strength we need can be found in the Book of Mormon. I would love to hear all about your experiences too! 

Anyway, I cannot wait for Christmas! We have an awesome family that has invited us for dinner. A family from the English ward is letting us use their computers to skype and we have district meeting in between... Cant wait to tell you all about it! 
A quote i found this week: 
"The work will never be concluded until our Lord and master says, 'It is enough'. There are lives to brighten, to touch, and to save. Ours is the sacred privilege to brighten,  to touch, and save those precious souls entrusted to our care. We should do so faithfully and with hearts fulled with gladness." - Thomas S. Monson (I LOVE THE PROPHET!!) 

I hope you all have a very merry christmas!! Take a moment to think about and give thanks for the life of our Savior. I hope you all fill up on wonderful food and treats (I can assure you i will too :) thanks for all you do!!!! Please let me know if I can do anything for you!!! 

Love Hermana Johnson 

PS i am so sorry that i got your christmas package out late... i promise it is coming!!! Also, i got dads birthday card back, which means you didnt get it. please dont think im a terrible daughter (even though i am). I love you so much! I hope you had an amazing birthday and anniversary! 

December 16, 2013

Hola y Feliz Navidad!! Crazy i can finally understand all the words to that song... too bad we cant listen to it here :) 
The weather, the snow, the season... its great. The new transfer starts tomorrow, fortunately Hermana Lane and I are both staying in Elgin. Unfortunately it will probably be the longest transfer EVER... its an extra week because of the holidays and everyones says that the work slows down during the negative degrees. So i just keep telling myself that if we can make it through this, we can make it through anything... so we will just keep pushing forward. But for now, life is great! I love Christmas more than ever now, and being away from home will help me appreciate Christmas in future years. 
MOM! That is so awesome about Maggie! I was actually thinking about them last week. Now that we have facebook and skype, we can teach just about anyone, anywhere in the world. So if she wanted to be taught a little bit, or had questions, I could Skype her and you could be there to be a member present!! That would be the greatest day ever!!! Ha, we could even do it while you are in Hawaii - isnt technology amazing!! So ya, we have skype... but we havent been able to teach anyone through it yet. So if you wanted to ask Ron, Ashley/Anthony, or anyone else that wanted to learn a little more about why im serving a mission, or ask questions about the church, Hermana Lane and I could do it over Skype or Facebook!! 

On that note... Yes, we will most definitely be able to skype on Christmas! I cannot wait!!! Hopefully you can get back on today and we can figure out a time when you will all be together... I know hermana lane needs to skype her family early morning because her brother is in Norway, but I could do later in the day too... Tell me what time you will all be together! 

That is so bad about Sam's dad! I really seems like no one has it easy... We have an amazing family here in Elgin, the first week i arrived, the mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The hard part is that they are not able to pay for any sort of medical insurance too, so we have been praying really hard. But everything changed when she decided just to put her trust in the Lord. They understand that we are given trials to strengthen us and that life is only a short time. I have learned a lot from her example. But we will definitely be praying from them! How is Sam doing? 
And Peter!!! That is so crazy!!!! Man, i sent him a letter to Mexico but havent received a reply... hopefully it gets there before he leaves... or gets to him at all. If not, you can tell him to write me :) I cant believe everyone is coming home. We have a lot of really amazing missionaries here too that are leaving in the next few transfers. That just seems so far away. But the good news is, I have about a year left - I have a lot of time because I have a lot to learn. 
- also sheri, i sent her a letter but unfortunately it just came back. So im not sure how to get in touch with her... if you have her email or something maybe I could write her that way. 

Now with the Ipad, i can send videos, so maybe we will send some more in the future. 

Every week has its ups and downs, but we are praying for miracles and Heavenly Father is always helping. I know He is always aware and is so happy when we do what is right. I read a talk this morning called "See Others as They May Become" by President Monson. It gave me so much hope, he said "We need to bear in mind that people can change. They can put behind them their bad habits. They can repent from past transgressions... Men change everyday." "It is our responsibility to give them opportunities to live as they should. We can help them to overcome their shortcomings. We must develop the capacity to see people as the way they may become not as they are." This gives me so much hope to know that change is possible, not only in the lives of our investigators but in my life as well. I have a lot of things I need to change but through the blessing of the atonement of Jesus Christ, we can change. Its slow and very difficult at times, but im thankful for the opportunity to change. 
"Courage is the word we need to hear and hold dear to our hearts - courage to turn our backs on temptation, courage to lift up our voices in testimony to all whom we meet."
"May we pray to have the courage to extend a hand of fellowship, a tendency to try and try again, and the humility to seek the guidance from our Heavenly Father." 
Christmas is a time to bring the gift of Christ into our lives and the life of others. I am so thankful for the opportunity to be serving a mission... its hard. very hard. But its worth it. I love my Savior and I know that all will be well if we are obedient and always striving to do our best. I love you all so much!!! Thank you for all you do for me!! 

Thanks for the Quilt, it keeps me nice and warm (i brag about it to everyone!). Thanks for the awesome christmas package!! It was PERFECT!! The kids all say thank you! Please let me know if there is anything i can do for you!! Have a great week!!! (Ill be on today periodically until 6 if you want to write back, i would love to hear from you!!!) 

Love Hermana Johnson