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 :)