Sunday, June 15, 2014

June 2, 2014

Hola familia, como estan? Esperamos que ustedes esten disfrutando el calor y la
Esta muy bonita aquí en Aurora! It seems to have skipped spring but Aurora is as beautiful as ever. We had a really great week, full of surprises.

We were able to see our members come together a lot due to two deaths in the ward. Carmen was probably one of the happiest people I know, she had a great impact on me and the ward. She was baptized in February of this year. Since then, her and her son’s life have completely changed. She was older and has been suffering from cancer for a while. It really makes you realize how short this life is. It was incredible to see the kind of strength and understanding that the gospel gives us in the plan of salvation. It is hard to believe how blessed and fortunate we are to have the truth.

The other death was the mother of our bishop. That was hard on the ward as well but they were there to support one another. It makes one realize that life is very short. And the mission is even shorter.
We have been blessed with the most amazing investigators. We have hit a few minor road blocks (by minor I mean finding out that Alejandra, after 20+ years, has never been married and Jessica is now working 2 jobs) but God is greater than all and he works miracle according to the faith of men. And luckily for us, Alejandra has a lot of faith, so she is really striving to do
all she can to give up coffee, tea and convince her not-so-open husband of the importance of the true gospel. The funny thing is that we promised we would stop eating sweets until her baptism as she tried to stop drinking coffee… it might be a few more than 2 weeks, but maybe we will be able to eat the cake at her wedding :) Jessica as well is trying to give up smoking. It is very inspiring to see people trying to make such drastic changes in their lives. I know more than ever that this gospel is true, it makes us so much better than we would be without it!

Carmen and Oscar are progressing as well, hopefully everything will run smoothly from here on out… I usually like surprises but we had enough this week.
We are hoping that Hermana Sewell and I will be together for a little longer, especially now that our baptisms have been pushed back. I have really grown a strong love for the people here, especially our investigators. No matter what happens, I understand God knows where we both need to be but I will be thankful for whatever time I have left… Aurora is swimming in Hispanics
and I really enjoy that.  Also, I told Alejandra I would ask if you could maybe send some  pero/postum in my birthday package because we cant find it here... or if you have any other ideas for coffee replacements that would be much appreciated!

Thanks for all you do! Dejeme saber si hay algo que podemos hacer por ustedes! Que tengan un bonito dia! Les quiero con todo de mi corazón!
Con mucho amor, Hermana Johnson 

May 27, 2014

Buenos Dias Familia!
I love that God puts us in the exact places that we need to be, exactly when we need to be here. I love Aurora and feel so privileged to be working in the Lords vineyard. Unfortunately neither of our families on date were able to come to church this week. The adversary is continually hard at work, finding sneaky ways to keep people from the truth… Carmen and Oscar have an opportunity every few months to visit their son at the jail in Juliet. Their only time possible was Sunday and they didn't make it back to church but Hermana so excited to take him a Book of Mormon. They are determined to come this next week and we are praying to put them back on date for the 14th. Alejandra is progressing and can still be baptized the 14th but we are really pushing to get a lesson in with the husband. We are teaching the kids but the husband works everyday from 6am to 9pm. One thing that I am really learning is the importance of balancing time. Balance is key for a happy family (that rhymes).
I have been really focusing on the Atonement and missionary work this week. This gospel is truly amazing. And the more you learn the more perfect everything just falls into place. Every event in the great apostasy – from Constantine to the reformation, to Christopher Columbus… It was all in preparation for the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith opened the way for the final dispensation and the fullness of the Gospel. And all was made possible through Gods perfect planning and the Atonement of His son Jesus Christ. I don’t think that we will every even come close to understanding the magnitude of how the atonement works in our lives. But we know that it is only by the Grace of God that we are saved after all we can do (2 Ne 25:23). We know that “through the Atonement, He heals not only the transgressor, but also heals the innocent who suffer because of those transgressions. As the innocent exercise faith in the Savior and in His atonement and forgive the transgressor, they too can be healed.” (Elder C. Scott Grow) “…Because of His infinite love, Jesus Christ invites us to repent so that we will not have to suffer the full weight of our own sins.” I have seen this time and time again in my life and the lives of others. 
Alejandra is really seeing the effects of the atonement in her life. She has always mentioned how much she loves us teaching because we are so happy and have the spirit. As she applies the doctrine we teach, specifically repentance and faith, her entire spirit is changing. She is continually happy and feels that her burdens have been lifted. It is amazing to see the atonement work in another's life and then learning to recognize it in your own.
We contacted a man this week who has been going through some really hard family trials. He saw missionaries in Chicago and wants to learn about our church. It was a powerful experience to testify that through the atonement and gospel of Jesus Christ, his burden of sin and ill feelings can completely be taken away. He was so receptive to the spirit, however his wife is not so receptive. Prayers on their behalf would be great… We hope he decides to keep investigating.
Hermana Sewell is continuing to do great things. We are trying all we can to give thanks back to God for all that he is blessing us with. Hermana Sewell has a lot of strengths, she is very intrinsically motivated and understands the importance of hard work and sacrifice. I'm thankful that she always strives to improve and better serve those around her.
I had exchanges with Hermana Trimble this week… it was pretty fun to be back with an old companion. It feels like we were never apart… just like the good old days!
We have really been stressing the importance of church attendance and we want all of our investigators to understand the importance of saving ordinances through the priesthood. Do you have any suggestions of how to approach that better in a lesson?
President Fenn is going well, he will be having surgery pretty soon… maybe before the month is over. Our ward has been going through some hard times with deaths and sicknesses, but I am so thankful for my testimony of the  plan of salvation.
Please let me know how you are all doing and what I can do for you! Tell me about your missionary work!! Everyone needs the Atonement in their lives and without the priesthood and saving ordinances in the restored gospel, they can only get so close to Christ! So share it!! Les quiero muchisimo! Gracias por todo que hacen!! Ustedes están en mis oraciones!
Hermana Johnson

May 19, 2014

Feliz lunes! I hope you are having a great day! The exciting news of the day, I am finally an adult... yep, I picked up a skirt from the dry cleaners today :)
"I is plainly evident that the gospel, when lived, makes people better than they otherwise would be." That is a quote from President Gorden B. Hinckley that I read this morning and thought you would like it. I know that to be true. I am so much better becuase of the gospel in my life.
We feel so blessed, God is putting so many wonderful people in our path. We have been working with some families and finally were able to put them on date. As a zone we have been focusing on church attendance and we are finally seeing the blessings of our efforts (not that it’s ever from our efforts, God does it all.) However, yesterday, Carmon, Oscar and their entire family showed up 20 minutes early for church and stayed all three hours. Hermana Sewell and I laughed as we asked them after the last hour and the father said "I think there is meeting for some youth conference thing and we would really like to go if that is alright."
Five minutes after the first hour started, Alejandra and her entire family (including the husband who we have never met) showed up to church. It was a very spiritually sacrament meeting and we were so happy to see these families participating in ordinances of salvation.
The situation with David and Arturo is that his father is not giving permission for their baptisms. He works 7 days a week 6am to 9pm and we have only been able to teach him with the boys twice. He has no interest and believes that his sons are not making their own decision. So their baptisms are on hold for now, we are fasting and praying but if you have any other advice let us know.
We had an awesome zone conference this week! President Fenn is amazing, he never ceases to amaze! He started his speech with “When you are close to the point of dying you can think more clearly.” He explained that he is on a mission until he finished what the Lord has sent him to do and he will not go home a day sooner no matter how hard it gets. I am not sure how I got so lucky to have such an amazing mission president. He talked a lot about redoubling our efforts and rising up and doing better. He invited us all to take some time to do a serious introspection/self-evaluation. We need to be honest with ourselves and think, are we really doing the best that we can? Are we really sacrificing all that we should be to do the work of the Lord? He gave us steps to receiving spiritual power as an instrument in the Hands of the Lord and I invite all you to take some time this week and try it as well.
How to gain Spiritual Power:
1.       A commitment to do our best to keep the commandments (relentless focus to access the full power of the atonement in our lives.)
2.       Sanctified by the Holy Ghost: seek, listen, and follow its promptings. (How often do I ask the spirit to guide me?)
3.       Exercise faith in Christ: do I believe and expect miracles?
4.       Determination to speak as agents – When was the last time God used me as his instrument?
5.       Be bold in inviting people to change: illuminate all fear.
6.       Teach by the spirit.
1.       How is my testimony?
2.       How is my scripture study going?
3.       How are my prayers? (Are they focused or wandering?)
4.       How is my courage?
5.       Do I recognize the spirit?
If your testimony ever feels week, I know if you immerse yourself in scripture study you will feel closer to god, your day will be different, and you will see miracles. I know that the Book of Mormon and the Joseph Smith was the prophet of the last dispensation. This knowledge is the solid foundation to an unshakable testimony. So in the words of president fenn, if your weak “Rise up and Do Better!” Because this work matters! And it makes us happy, I know that to be true!
Thanks for all you do. Thanks for your prayers and support, we saw the results! Les quiero mucho!!
Con amor,
Hermana Johnson