Sunday, June 28, 2015

A miracle happened this week!  The Dorothys are our number one family.  Leanna is less active and her daughter Aaliyah was recently baptized.  Ripeka, our girl set for baptism is their cousin, and Tony is Leanna's ex partner who comes over every night.  Well the first time I met Tony he totally scared me.  He has horrible ADHD and has been to jail a bunch and was addicted to drugs for 25 years.  But we talked to him and got him talking about how he wants to change.  He agreed to come to the Visitor Center with us to watch Meet the Mormons.  And he actually came!  Our whole klan went down with Brother Tichborne and watched it.  Of course I bawled at the airport/missionary part again.  But that's ok.  Tony sat through it intently (which was surprising to me) and asked tons of questions and really, genuinely wants to know more.  He switched his schedule around to come to church and the fireside last night.  We are going to teach him Lesson 1 tomorrow.  It's just amazing how I can see the Light of Christ coming into him.  The gospel is just true and simple truths sound so good to people who have never heard them before.  I hope he stays with it!  It's exciting.  

We are working on getting Ripekah and Leanna to stop smoking.  They really want to but Ripekah smokes a lot more than Leanna and she's the one who needs to get baptized.  I pray for her so much.  

Our ward fireside last night was at the Visitor Center.  You can always really feel the spirit there and the VC sisters are darling.  I love them all!  But they set up the chairs facing out so you could see the Christus statue reflection on the window on top of the temple through the window.  It was really cool!  We did this really cool activity/role play were people acted as either missionaries, investigators, or people on the other side of the veil.  It was all about the importance of missionary work and temple work.  I feel so blessed to be in such a good ward!  The bishop and Brother Tichborne are SO supportive.  Sister Aldridge and I sang "Savior Redeemer of My Soul" at the fireside and we sounded good together.   I sang high harmony and it was SO fun.   Everyone loved it and Sister Hawkins at the VC asked if we want to sing another musical number at a different fireside next week.  Of course we said yes!  It scared Sister Aldridge but she really has a good voice.

I got to introduce myself in sacrament meeting and I talked a little bit about member missionary work and how we are all doing the work of the Lord's Kingdom together. I challenged everyone to pray to be able to think of someone they could share the gospel with and what they could do (like give a Book of Mormon or invite someone to church or something) and then to do it!  I also told them to introduce themselves to me so I can meet them!  And they did.  I just love so many people so much already.  I feel like I either love them tons or I can't remember their name.  It's a fun time. :p

But we focused REALLY hard on church attendance with all our investigators this week.  I think seven people said they would come when we texted to remind them again and only two actually did.  It's frustrating.  The gospel can't change your life unless you come to church!  I am really realizing how the basic Standard Mormon Answers are SO vital for everyone to do with sincerity. 

I love our study time!  I feel like I am getting way more out of the scriptures than I ever had before.  I write down a question every day before I read and it never fails.  My question is answered every time.  But we got the Standard of Excellence for the week with TWEs (talking with everyone) to spare!  We just have to get a baptism this transfer.  I hope we can get more than one. 

But I'm slowly getting less scared/overwhelmed and more happy and understanding.  Like at MCM on Thursday I could actually contribute to the conversation and talk about our investigators.  We have SOOOO many people to teach and we get new investigators every day.  A lot of them never progress but we are kept busy.  And our planning at night always goes quite a bit longer than half an hour and we go fast.  Lots to do. :)  It's really such a good problem to have.  There is heaps of potential in this area.  

The only way I get through is by napping at lunch.  I'm the queen of the 15 minute lunch nap.  It's great.  We exercise hard core in the morning.  I'm really bad at it but am getting better slowly.  It's so good for me.  

I'm become a professional backer upper of our car.  It's a fun job.  Sometimes people look at me weird.

Last P day afternoon we played volleyball at the park with a bunch of other missionaries in our district/zone.  I'm not sure exactly.  It always scares me to play volleyball.  I found out both the Zone Leaders like basketball a lot so I said we need to play basketball instead.  That would be a better choice for Sister Johnson. :)  But it's so fun to see other missionaries.  I feel such a sense of camaraderie with them.  They know exactly what I'm going through with crazy mission life.  

Sorry that this email has been a lot of random, separate things.  But I just know the church is true.  Missionary work is definitely work.  It's hard and cold and not fun sometimes, but it makes me so happy because it's the most important thing I could ever be doing.  Talk to your friends about the gospel.  It will be one of the most important conversations of their lives, even if they don't accept it.  They don't realize how important it is, but you do!  The scriptures, prayer, and church attendance seem like unimportant things, but they make people happy!  The gospel changes lives.  \

I love you all tons and tons and tons.  I'm sorry I can't give longer responses to your emails. I LOVE hearing from you so much. You should all send me regular mail because I'll have way more time to read it (and it might make me cry and really miss you like it did this week, but that's ok).  

PO Box 9542, Hamilton 3240 


Sister Johnson

Sunday, June 21, 2015

First Four Days in the Field!

Family, everyone!!!! You have no idea how excited I've been to finally email!  I'm in a fairly sketchy and fairly cold little internet cafe in Downtown Hamilton.  But I don't even know where to start.  But we get an hour and a half to email every week which is so EXCITING!!!! I'm going to really try to write a cohesive, organized email.

First, I'm really wondering why noone in my family emailed me this week? Insert from family:  We did email her and we don't know why she didn't get them!!  Will you do it later in the day?  I won't get it until next week.  So I'm pretty sad about that.  Luckily Chelsea, Kayla, and Kelsey Knowles love me so I had something to read.  Darn it!  I wish you would email!  Come on, come on!  But anyway, is today Father's Day?  Apparently that's not a thing in New Zealand.

So Thursday we woke up, ate breakfast, said our last goodbyes, and lugged my huge suitcase up a lot of stairs.  Then the APs of the Hamilton mission came and picked us up in a van.  There were 9 of us but we got another that had been out for two weeks that had never had the little in-field, mission office training.  The APs were great.  They were both from Utah and one is going to BYU after his mission.

First we went to the mission office and the Senior Couples that work there are super nice!  They told us all this stuff about taking care of our flat (as they say here), our bike, and our car.  Apparently the fleas are way terrible. Sister Aldridge had them a couple weeks ago so we have to spray everything we own with this toxic, crazy spray that dries and is fine.  Then they took us to this adorable and really old hotel.  I will try to attach pictures.  I really hope that works.  But our room reminded me of Snow White and the seven dwarves.  The beds were tiny and they were all lined up in a row (nine of them).  It was really cold that night.  But we just dropped our stuff off there and went to the Mission Home.  It was SO nice to be there.  Upstairs there was a perfect, beautiful view of the temple that I just loved.  And there were big, gorgeous pictures everywhere of gospel related things.  But we had a really good training with the APs and President and Sister Rudd.  I love her tons!  The next day we met our trainers.  Mine is Sister Aldridge from California.  She's 22 and goes to BYU for nursing.  It's so fun to have an American/BYU buddy and she's so nice!  She's such a fantastic missionary and just got called to be the Sister Training Leader in our Zone.  She is still pretty new though so she doesn't know some things yet.  She's only been out three months and just finished being trained herself.  But she reminds me a lot of myself in some ways.  She was in marching band in High School and played the saxophone and that was like her main thing.  

Transfers felt like a big party.  We had a meeting and then everyone was switching around their luggage and hugging and meeting new people and talking to everyone.  I loved it.  I got bedding and a bike.  The new bikes were already assigned and mine is totally the best.  It was the only one like it.  It is really bright blue and pretty.  But then we went off.  Saying goodbye to Sister Ye was really sad.  I hope she is doing well.  But anyway, we left transfers and all of a sudden it was just me and Sister Aldridge in an apartment. It was crazy to suddenly be totally independent after being watched over at the MTC for so long.  But we went out.  We have a car and Sister Aldridge drives.  We went to visit Ripekah who is an investigator.  It's a really rough home, but her cousin Aaliyah who is nine just got baptized.  But the Spirit was so strong and I just suddenly felt so much love for Ripekah in her hard life.  We talked to her about the Book of Mormon and I committed her to be baptized.  She said YES!!!  It was so exciting to finally be talking to a real investigator, not just a role play.  There are four APs and they said that if you commit someone to be baptized you can call them and they will sing to you.  It was also a contest to see which of the new intake people would do it first.  Well we were first (!) and they sang a quartet for us.  I was just so happy.  Her date is set for July 18th.  I hope it works out.  I've been praying for her a lot. 

This is the highest baptizing area in the mission and I can see why.  There is sooooo much potential here and we have so many people to visit and remember.  I feel like this week has been one long struggle to remember anyone's name.  The worst was on Sunday.  I just want to meet everyone and remember their names.  But everyone has these crazy long Maori names and they all talk really quietly and I can't hear.  I'll get it as I go.  Friday morning was really, really rough.  It's still like completely dark for another half hour or so after we get up and it's SOOO cold when we get out of bed.  We have this little, tiny heater that we move to whatever room we're in all the time and that's all the heat we have.  But after personal study we started companionship study and we both were supposed to say what we had learned in personal study.  When it was my turn I just burst into tears.  I was just overwhelmed I think.  Everything is so hardcore all of a sudden and I don't quite know what I'm doing and it's a lot.  It's like I've been preparing to jump off a diving board and I finally jumped.  But luckily the Lord is very nice to me.  I feel like He is blessing me with his Spirit sooo much.  I feel that comfort and peace in a really real way.  Also Sister Aldridge is amazing.  She just hugged me and told me it was normal and ok and that I could do it.  Then we went out walking and talking to people and it turns out I could.

So the ward mission leader here is kind of crazy!  His name is Brother Tichborne and he's really intense and deep doctrinal and such.  But it's fun.  We have MCM (missionary correlation meeting) in this weird, tiny trailer outside the church.  I just continue to "revel in the uniqueness of the experience.”  There's been a whole lot of reveling going on!  Also the Zone Leaders are the other missionaries in our ward which is awesome.  They are really good, hardworking missionaries.  

I replaced Sister Pongofia and almost every time I meet someone they are just really sad that Sister Pongofia is gone.  It's ok though. :)  At church we taught Gospel Principles and subbed for the primary chorister so we were busy.  It's really hard for people to come to church.
It felt like all we did Saturday night was coordinate rides for people to go to church.  And then most of the members couldn't drive them.  It's rough.  So many people have hard lives.  They are poor and tired and lonely and we are teaching an 18 year old girl that had an abusive partner and a baby and no job.  EVERYONE smokes and drinks and lives with their partner.  EVERYONE!  But we are set to change that.  President Rudd's favorite thing is "Save Souls!"  So every day we are supposed to get up and tell our reflection, "That is the face of a soul saver."  It's fun to save souls!  I wish I could do more.  I guess I can, 18 months more.  

I've been thinking a lot about being consecrated.  I want so much to be a consecrated missionary.  I read this amazing talk about it.  I want to lay all of my faults, my time, my pride, my discouragement, and my inadequacies at the altar of sacrifice.  I want to give everything to the Lord.  I've really been working on my prayers.  I try hard to really have longer, more meaningful prayers.  It's been amazing.  I need to keep working at it.  We also need to work on getting more members to help us and use them to find people.  So we are right by the Uni (which is what everyone calls it).  It's the University.  It's not college.  College is high school.  

But it's gorgeous here.  I got SOAKED on Saturday.  It rains a ton!!!!!!

I LOVE doing missionary work.  We are working hard to get the Standard of Excellence which includes getting an average of 100 TWEs (talking with everyone) a week.  I'm so into it.  I am competitive and I love the gospel and I love talking to people and I just have so much fun.  Because even if they say no we can still put a tick mark down.  And we've already found five new investigators by tracting and street contacting.  I'm sooo excited.  It's amazing how much love I feel for all these people I've just met.  I just want them to be happy.  We are close to the visitor center and the temple so we can invite people to go the visitor center and watch Meet the Mormons or something else with us.  It's awesome.  Oh, and we watched Meet the Mormons at the MTC and I just cried so hard when the missionary said goodbye to his family in the Salt Lake airport.  That was a struggle because that's right where I said goodbye to you.  

But I am happy.  I love the gospel.  I LOVE our study time so much.  I don't love being new and not knowing how to do things or get places or about people, but I'll figure it out.  One thing that I wish I would have prepared more in is knowing the scriptures.  Keep studying folks.  

Anyway, I don't have time to do pictures.  Next time. 

And PLEASE WRITE FAMILY!!!!!! And everyone else too. :)  So I can know you're alive. 


Sister Johnson :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Last Email from MTC!

Hey!!! I'm just going to send this to you and have you send the best parts on to the rest of the world because I don't have that much time.  But I read everyone's emails and LOVED them.  They are literally the BEST.  PLEASE tell everyone to keep emailing and writing.  I need it.  And tell them I read their emails and I loved them all. (my email is  I just really don't have a lot of time.

But I'll try to say less stereotypical missionary things (cough, cough Deseret)!  :P  But I am learning so much!  I feel like I know how to recognize the Spirit more than ever before.  It's amazing! Sister Ye and I taught Sunday School to our district about trusting the Lord. We all cried.  I just love connecting with people and having real conversations, especially about really important life stuff and the gospel.  There's really nothing better.  That's why I love being a missionary.  I love my district! Then our district sang "Nearer My God to Thee" at the fireside.  We had each companionship sing one line then we split the Elders and Sisters to each sing half of the second verse and we all sang the second verse.  All through, the harmony was amazing!!!! The Jacobites (we're the Jacob District) sing all the time and it's so fun.  I've become a pro at making up high harmony.  Everyone sings low so I harmonize above.  And on Sunday I was asked to speak at the fireside about the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

I've also become a pro at playing the piano on the spot.  And they always ask me about 45 seconds in advance.  I had to play True to the Faith (please appreciate my struggle!) and I kind of slaughtered it, but we got through it.  Also, we sing this song that I love.  It's #259 in the hymnbook but it's to a different tune that's only in the Tongan Hymnbook but I said I wanted the sheet music and Sister Gibson got it for me!  So all you Nevadans (and BYUans) be ready to learn a fun new song when I get home!!! 

The temple was amazing!  It's small but so beautiful!  It felt so familiar and at home, even though I was still in a foreign country, it felt wonderful.  It was so humbling and wonderful to be the escort for Sister Santos in the temple.  She is so sweet and good and she loved the temple.  I recognized Sister Rudd right away and hugged her in the celestial room.  I just started crying and she was so nice and wonderful.  I feel like it's such a blessing.  She said that Grandma Jaynes would be proud.  It was so exciting.  I felt SO much love for her.  It was so cool that she just happened to be on our same session.  She didn't realize she would be.  It was inspiration. 

Sunday night we also had the opportunity to watch Elder Perry's funeral.  It was so uplifting and awesome.  Like, instead of feeling sad at the end I felt hopeful and excited for the future.  I want to be like Elder Perry.  He's my new role model.  He said that he'd never had a bad day in his life.  He was bold and direct and warm and friendly and enthusiastic.  The wife of one of the counselors in the presidency calls me Sister Johnson Perry because she thinks I'm enthusiastic like him.  Some people think my name is hard to pronounce (which is kind of crazy).  It comes out as Sister Szjohszon.  Most people can say it though, but I've also been called Sister Bubbly and Sister Happy.  I need to live up to that better. :) 

But I had two goals for the MTC.  I wanted to be exactly obedient and I did my best at least.  Also, I finally learned everyone's names!!!!  I LOVE knowing everyone.  I talk to everyone and it's so fun. :) 

The last time we taught Veronica was amazing.  We really listened to her needs and then waited to be guided by the Spirit.  She didn't know for sure if the priesthood authority was really real in our church or not, so Sister Ye asked if she minded kneeling down and praying right then to ask.  We hadn't talked about that at all, but it was PERFECT and the Spirit was so strong.  Then later she said how her family was Catholic and how she was scared to tell them she was looking into this church.  I had the idea to tell her about Kayla and her similar experience.  I started crying and so did Sister Ye and Veronica.  Then at the end of the lesson she committed to be baptized! 

I really can't wait to teach real, live people.  I feel like we have so much knowledge and power and spirituality here and now we're going to explode it out to the world.  I've already cried saying goodbye to two members of our district this morning and last night.  The rest of us leave tomorrow.  I'm SO glad Sister Ye is also going to Hamilton. We would NOT be able to handle it if we had to separate!  I love her so, so, so much.  She is the perfect companion for me. 

I know leaving the MTC tomorrow will be a huge beginning of my real mission in the field, but it also really feels like an ending. I've really loved it here.  I've loved the full days of spiritual learning, the fun, the people, the singing, the basketball during exercise time, and . . . .yeah, mainly the people!

But I know we will meet again.  We are going to do amazing things!

I love you all SO much!!!!  The church is true!  The book is blue!


Sister Johnson
P.S. This picture is of Sister Rudd, Clarissa's Mission President's wife who is also my mom's cousin who she just happened to run into at the temple!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Clarissa's District

Hi.  I only have like 25 minutes to write.  Yesterday we had a long time to write handwritten letters and I wrote six pages (like twice what everyone else wrote about every little thing here.


I'm stressed because I have so much to say and don't have time to say it.  Someday when my handwritten letter comes that will be good!  And hopefully I'll get more time to write in the field.  But I love it here!!!!! President and Sister Gibson are really strict.  It's good though.  I LOVE my district so much.  I sent them too.  I hope that worked.  But the top row is the Zone Leaders from Australia, Elder Mahoney, and from NZ, Elder Fitzpatrick.  Then the District Leaders are Elder Faalelei from Australia and Elder Vuruya from Fiji.  Then there is me.  I look so dorky in these pictures, but oh well.  Then there's the threesome, Sisters Tonga'onevia, Aloka, and Santos.  Finally, my companion, Sister Ye.  I love her!!!! :)  She is so sweet and good and kind and wonderful.  She is still learning English and she asks me words all the time but I learn a lot more from her about the Spirit.  Sorry, it's going to be even shorter  because I had to help her with her email address.  It wasn't working for a long time, but she has it now!  So my district LOVES to sing and so does like EVERYONE here!  It's so much fun.  We sing, and especially all the Elders can harmonize so well.  During exercise time we have started a singing/walking club!  It's the best.  No one exercises too hard, although I play basketball yesterday and that was intense and super fun. 


So many missionaries here struggle with English but they are all so good and humble.  I play the piano a lot for meetings.  So Elder Wong made it.  He is here and it's so good to have someone else from America!  Me and him are the only two with American accents.  Sister Loefke is here too.  She speaks with a kind of British/Australian accent because she wants to blend in.  Some of the Sisters call me Sister Happy!  That's probably illegal because we aren't supposed to use nicknames, but it makes me happy.  I just love everyone here so much.  It's only been like five days, but I don't want to leave these wonderful people.  I'm so glad though.  Sister Aloka and Sister Ye are serving in Hamilton like me. 


So there are seven missionaries here that haven't been through the temple.  Three are in our district!  Sisters Santos and Aloka and Elder Vuruya.  Becuase they have a threesome, I get to be Sister Santo's escort on Thursday!  I am so humbled to have that opportunity.  I'm excited.


Finally, yesterday was the best day here in the MTC!  Sister Ye and I studied and planned and worked hard to teach our "investigator" Veronica.  We have really been learning how to use the Spirit.  Well we taught her by the Spirit and it was unlike anything I've ever experienced.  We taught her about the Book of Mormon and how she can pray to know that it's true!  Everyone was crying and even though Sister Ye's (pronounced Yeh) English wasn't perfect, she had the Spirit.  I LOVE the Book of Mormon.  We read it together as a district with specific concerns and struggles in mind and as we read all of my questions were answered.  The church is true!  It really is. 


Tragically, I only have 1:37 left to email so I have to go. :(  I love you all so very much.  Please don't forget to share the gospel and read the scriptures with the Spirit. 


So much love,


Sister Johnson


Arrival in New Zealand

We don't have very much time.  I'm sitting in a room and I'm the only American here.  Everyone is Samoan and Tongan and most of them can't speak very good English.  I am so excited.  The flight was #terrible!!! It was 15.5 hours all together and I thought it would never end.  Luckily, the Air New Zealand flight was fancier than Delta and the ceiling was really high.  There were 10 across a row with two aisles.  I had an aisle seat. 
There is a new MTC President here, President Gibson.  He is from Austrailia I think.  There are two missionaries from Australia.  Everything is so different here.  The time change was weird.  This day has last forever.  Also there were like 18 hours of darkness so the night also lasted forever.  The toilets flush weird, we drive on the other side of the road, the flight attendants collected rubbish, and I have an accent.  How crazy is that!?
I was happy when I got here but NOT enthused.  My hair was greasy and I looked terrible and all I wanted was to take a shower.  I finally got to take one and unpack all my stuff.  It was raining super hard this morning but the sun is shining now.  Mom, you would die here.  It's cold inside. I like it, but it's different from our hot house! 
Everyone is finishing their emails and I'm still here.  Ugh!  I have so much to tell.  Luckily I can type fast.  I'm just excited to share the gospel. I'm tired and overwhelmed.  (And Sister Gibson whispered to me that my skirt was too short after I changed.  I'd forgotten to wear my skirt extender dealio. Only one other sister had seen me but I felt SUPER dumb, but other than that, things are great. 
I always used to judge missionaries on their hurried, rambly emails, but now I get it.  Sorry!
But my companion will be Sister Ye from Taiwan.  I don't think she's here yet, but when President Gibson interviewed me he said she is a seminary graduate and really wonderful.  She looks really cute in her picture.
So I keep on struggling to introduce myself.  I say I'm Cla-. . . .Sister Johnson.  The very first time during breakfast some Elder introduced himself to me as Elder whatever and I said, "I'm Cla . . .Elder . . . I mean Sister Johnson.  I struggle. I'm a dork, but I'll figure it out. 
We are going to the temple on Thursday and we can take pictures there.  We aren't allowed to before then. 
The best moment was when I walked in the building, dead tired, out of the pouring rain with my all my luggage (I have more stuff than like anyone else, I feel bad) and I saw a picture of Christ and they were greeting me and then Sister Gibson gave me my nametag.  I am a missionary!  I'm just itching to share the gospel.   
I love you all so much!
Sister Johnson <3 <3 <3