Sunday, July 26, 2015

Yikes! Clarissa has Lice!

Hello Everyone!

I am short on time . . . imagine that, but I'm doing absolutely amazing!  I can really feel the love and prayers from you all.  I have so many amazing people in my life.

Well I have exciting news . . . I have lice!  Haha, it's actually not exciting but it feels like such a "missionary" thing to have happen.  And it's nasty because I don't just have lice.  I also have nits.  Last night we were at an investigator's house reading the Book of Mormon with their family when I pulled this gross bug out of my hair.  Then a couple minutes later I found another one!  Luckily no one saw, but I was totally stressed.  It's really handy that Sister Aldridge had lice/nits two months ago and we still have all the lice removal supplies!  So that's pretty much a big adventure for me. 

This week I learned a lot about trusting in the Lord. It's amazing how real God is.  He cares about the little details of our lives.  He wants to bless us.  Everything he does is for us.  I've been working on my personal relationship with the Lord a lot.  I want him to be my best friend, my biggest confidant.   

We've been working a lot on getting the ward members more involved in the work and this week it finally all came together.  We have three members come out with us to certain lessons with investigators we thought they'd be friends with.  That was awesome!  And we found ten new investigators this week!  That is so many!  And it wasn't our doing so much as the Lord's.  He truly is preparing people for the message.  The Uni also helps.  

So I've discovered the beauty of the Ensign.  I'd never read one cover to cover until this week and I loved it!  I also finished Our Heritage which I also loved.  I just can never get enough personal study.  I always thought that I'd get bored with studying the gospel for an hour every day, but I don't at all.  It always goes by too fast.  There is always more to learn/remember/work on.  

Ripeka is doing awesome and we've started teaching her mom, Auntie Kei.  EVERYONE calls her Auntie Kei (Kay) and she is the nicest person on the planet.  Under "saint" in the dictionary there is a picture of her.  She has definitely been prepared for the missionaries!  She doesn't want to be forced into baptism because we keep asking her about it :P, but she is getting so close.  She LOVES the Book of Mormon and says she can't put it down.  She is pretty much the best investigator ever.  We've met with her every day this week and on Friday we watched the Restoration movie with her and Ripeka.  After it was over, we all just sat in silence basking in the spirit.  We started talking about the church and the restoration and all four of us started crying.  Auntie Kei said that reading the Book of Mormon has brought her and Ripeka closer together.  

The only problem with Auntie Kei is how much she feeds us!  I'm going to be a million pounds if we keep teaching her.  But she's great!

I have heaps more stories but can't write them for time.  I just know that God is mindful of all of us.  He loves us so much!  We can become like him. 

LOVE,

Sister Johnson :)


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Ripeka's Baptism!




Hello Everyone,

It's amazing how many emotions you can feel in one week.  I think I've felt most of them this week.  So many things happen to us!  We talk to so many people with such big problems in their lives.  People's partners smash their window, run away, and take their phone.  Some of them STILL can't find a job.  Some have court restrictions that don't allow them to marry their partners.  Some have partners that are still married to someone else.  I feel like we face a lot of problem that are too big for us to handle, but we just continue to love and teach and commit and encourage.  Then we tell the bishop and Brother Tichborne (the Ward Mission Leader) and the Lord.  We pray for everyone!  It's really good.

But we also have so many people that are doing so well!  This week I really felt the fruits of missionary work.  We invited a girl named Kim to be baptized after we taught the first lesson and she said yes!  We've been really concentrating on getting the members more involved in the work.  We've been studying and planning and trying to think of ideas.  We want to have a 5th Sunday lesson about member missionary work.  The bishop and the ward council thought it was a good idea, so I'm excited.  It's so good for me to practice being responsible and doing so many "adult" things.  It's fun though.  I love having the influence to think of an idea and then it can actually happen.  We've been really working on our dinner appointment referral getting.  We always call our dinner appointments the night before and we've started asking them on the phone to pray as a family for a name that they could share the gospel with.  Then we follow up with them at dinner.  We have so many good people in our ward.  I always have such a fun time at dinner appointments.  I'm excited!

So finally, of course the best part of the week was the baptism!  It was just perfect!  Ripeka looked beautiful in white and Leanna and the girls, Tony, Auntie Kei, and President and Sister Rudd all came.  I said the closing prayer, led the music, and sang Savior Redeemer of My Soul with Sister Aldridge.  We really have the harmony down and it's so fun.  Everyone cried.  I am just so excited for Ripeka.  She is so dear to me.  She was the first investigator I met on my mission and the first to get baptized.  Six weeks ago her cousin Kuni joined the church and he is on fire!  He is really into family history and he is already a family history consultant and has done a ton of names.  Ripeka started her family history last night and she's going to the temple to do baptisms this Wednesday!  How exciting is that?  The work moves forward.  It's true that "we are all enlisted 'til the conflict is o'er.  Happy are we!  Happy are we!"  Auntie Kei (Ripeka's mom) is doing so well.  She made a TON of food for after the baptism.  We had about 20 people in a house smaller than my bedroom at home, but there was SO much good food and love and the Spirit packed in that it was ok.  I can't wait to start teaching Auntie Kei!  She has been prepared.

Last night we had a lesson that kind of shook our faith a little, but we survived!  Some people can be scary, but we both studied the Restoration this morning and it ended up just making me even more strong in my testimony!  The church really is true. 

Things are going AWESOME with Sister Aldridge.  We are very different people but we have really been having fun lately.  There is so much we each can learn from the other!  She is such a responsible, obedient, organized missionary!  I've LOVED this week . . . except I haven't taken a nap all week and I REALLY need to!  I'll get on that. :P  Also, I'm still bad at volleyball.  But it's ok.  And Elder Patea and Sister Lualua from the MTC are here now!  They are with the Zone Leaders and some Visitor Center missionaries in our district.  I loved seeing them.  They will only be here for two weeks because they were ESL people.  At the transfer, they'll get their official trainers somewhere else.  But that's exciting!  I'm officially not the newest missionary around.  

Are you getting my written letters? Thanks for being the best family EVER!!!!!!!!  I LOVE getting mail SO much! Thanks for being such amazing examples to me.  I can do hard things because I have you guys to inspire me and pray for me.  I can really feel your prayers! Tell Grandma I love her.  I LOVE her letters!  I just have this new fierce love for my family now that I'm away from you.  Don't forget about me.  Also, tell Thelma that I got her letters and I love them!  I love those Davises.  I wrote them back but they won't be there yet.  Tell Braeden congratulations!!!!!!!!


LOVE, 

Sister Johnson :)


Sunday, July 12, 2015

First Two Weeks of July

July 6, 2015
I've had a wonderful week!  Aunty Kei (an investigator, Ripeka's mom) had us over for the 4th of July!  I wore my most patriotic get-up and I looked flash (as they say here in NZ).  We had HOMEADE sushi that was so good, homemade macaroni and cheese, chicken, apple pie and icecream.  It was SO fun!  Ripeka made this board game of shoots and ladders except it had scriptures and articles of faith to look up on different squares.  We played it and just had the best time.  I just adore these people.  Arwin (pronounced Ah win) and Aaliyah are just such sweet, wonderful girls.  I just want them to be happy so much.  And their mom Leanna is a rock!  She is so solid in the gospel already even though she is just coming back into the church.  She is such a good friendshipper to our other investigators.  Her testimony is strong.  These people are really my New Zealand family.

This week I've really been working on asking inspired questions.  It's scary and really hard, but I'm getting better at it.  I just want to jump in and teach all I know about whatever we're talking about but I'm learning to wait and think and ask good questions that get them thinking and that bring the Spirit.  Kimi, an investigator, had me sing for her.  I sang Savior, Redeemer of My Soul and she loved it.  We had a really, really spiritual lesson.  She is determined to come back to church and get back on the wagon.  She was doing so well about a month ago apparently, but she has a lot of bad examples in her life.  But she was so sure that she would come to church but then she didn't.  It just broke my heart.  But I was so excited to see Tony, Ripeka, and Aunty Kei there.  It's amazing how much of my happiness comes from if people come to church or not.  

But I am REALLY loving this ward.  We have a lot of amazing, amazing people.  We took Ripeka and her cousin Roudy to the Relief Society clothing swap/cupcake decorating extravaganza and it was so much fun.  I loved just having fun and talking to people.  I really love the Young Women in our ward and I'm meeting more people every week.  We had the funnest dinner appointment this week.  It was this family from Poland.  I can't spell their name but phonetically it sounds like Vill etch koze.  Anyway, we just so much fun with them and everyone I reminded them so much of their daughter Ania.  She was cute and round and enthusiastic!  She had a coin collection she was dying to show us and she wants me to teach her to sing.  We just had a great time. 

Our ward council is an army!  Everyone is so willing to serve and help.  They are such good people.  Brother Tichborne, the ward mission leader, calls us his captains and we call him captain.  He always talks about how we're in a spiritual war and how we're on the front lines.  He is so intense but I like him a lot.  He is Mauri and is related to, or at least knows, EVERYONE.  

I still love studying in the morning!  Personal study is never, ever long enough.  I just want it to keep going which really surprises me.  When you feast on the gospel, you don't want to stop.  

We sang at another fireside this week.  I love singing with Sister Aldridge.  She hasn't been a big singer in the past, but she is really good.  I think it's helping her confidence to sing with someone else.  She sings the melody and I do high and low harmony.  We sang Joseph Smith's First Prayer to the tune of Come Thou Fount for the Restoration fireside at the Visitor Center.  Sister Hawkins at the VC played for us and it was wonderful. SO many people said they loved it.  I was so fun.  I'm so glad I brought that sheet music from home.  I just wish I had more.

Thanks SOOOO much for your letters.  They are pretty much the best highlight of my life!  

I LOVE YOU ALL!!!!

Sister Johnson

July 12, 2015

This whole week I've dived into a quest to become like Christ.  I've read talks and scriptures and prayed a lot to learn how to be the best disciple and servant I can possibly be.  My weaknesses and my shortcomings sometimes seem so big, like I'll never overcome them.  It's really true that when we come to God he shows unto us our weaknesses (Ether 12:27).  But it's good that I'm coming to Christ.  I just need to trust the Lord to make up the difference as I keep working on my weaknesses.  But I've also studied a lot about the strengthening, enabling power of the atonement.  The Lord is always there for us and it's when we feel unworthy that the Lord wants us to come unto him the most.  He knows the whole plan for our lives and for us through the eternities.  We have the potential to be so much more than we can ever imagine and that only comes from submitting our will to the Lord.  Only when we lose ourselves in the gospel and work of Jesus Christ will we find ourselves again.  I've learned that I can still have the assurance that God is pleased with me even when I'm not perfect, because He just cares about the direction that we're going.  

Here are more random things  :We met a guy on the street wearing no shoes.  We talked to him and he was eating potato chips.  He said, "It's hard for me to talk.  I have no teeth and I'm trying to eat potato chips."  Well, he had a fair point. :p  Also, there are no stop signs in New Zealand . . . like maybe three in all of Hamilton.  It's so great.  There are just "give way" signs.  I love it.  Also, my hair is curlier and frizzier here.  And it's always cold in the winter.  It's not freezing but it's cold outside and it's always cold inside.  We've finally figured out how to stay warm at night.  We wear socks, sweats, sweatshirts, I have two big blankets, and we shut the door and leave our little heater on all night.  Also, apparently, it's very important to put your silverware all together when you are finished eating.  I didn't do that at one of our dinner appointments and the lady feeding us said it was "quite rude".  But she likes me anyway so it's alright.  I just need to remember that in the future. Haha!

This week was a week of miracles.  I wrote all the miracles I could remember from the week in my journal last night and there were two pages full!  A huge miracle is when we really teach by the spirit.  We have one investigator who was prepared to drop us completely at our lesson on Wednesday.  When she was expressing her concerns about all these crazy problems with the church I had no idea at all what to say, but then it just came to me in the very moment that I needed it.  It was so cool!  We asked lots of questions to get her to consider her testimony and we told her that all her questions can be traced back to the question if Joseph Smith is a prophet or not.  She realized that she didn't know the answer so she agreed to pray and ask if Joseph Smith was a prophet and said we could come back.  Then, even though she hadn't been to church, she had talked to the bishop.  She said, "I've heard a rumor, Sister Johnson, that you can sing."  They wanted me to sing so I sang Savior Redeemer of My Soul and I think she really, really felt the spirit.  It felt so good to help her through music.  God was definitely guiding that lesson.  

We had exchanges and it was SO fun! Send the best picture to everyone if you can. :)  Thanks so much! But Sister Falepapalangi came with me.  She's from Nevada too!  She's from Reno and went to UNR and she was a TOTAL party. We took pictures by the Nevada St. sign.  It's super close to our house.  How fun is that.  We had the best time together.  This is of me and her.

We set someone new to baptism.  She is a sweet, eleven year old girl named Shekainah.  We met her at a less active's house.  She is friends with their kids.  But she had TONS of really good questions.  She's never learned anything at all about Jesus or church or anything and she just wants to know.  As soon as she found out about baptism she wanted to get baptized!  We wanted to go to church and wet got the awesome Polish family to give her a ride.  She is now best friends with their daughter, Ania, and she loved church.  She comes from a pretty rough home life and she is just so good.  I can just see the light of Christ in her. 

Also, we are helping three investigators stop smoking with the 15 step program.  They are doing so well.  Ripeka wants to get baptized so badly and stopping is so hard for her, but she gave us all of her tobacco (they roll their own cigarettes here) and has stopped completely the last two days.  We bought her some candy to suck on.  She's such a trooper.  And we found out that she's only one month older than me, so that was exciting.

Another miracle was with Margaret's partner Huani.  He has been very uninterested and unfriendly to the church since the beginning, but Margaret wants to get baptized so much and he doesn't want to marry her.  Well Brother Tichborne came over to give Margaret a blessing to help her stop smoking and resist Satan and he got talking to Huani.  Brother Tichborne is a spiritual giant and he's not afraid to be bold.  He told Huani how the gospel correlates so much to Maori culture and how we need to seal our families together.  Most of what he said was in Maori so I didn't understand, but I did understand the spirit!  Huani's heart was softened hard core and he even agreed to let Brother Tichborne give him a blessing as well.  Dad, you would LOVE Brother Tichborne.  He's really intense and really great.  Guess what else, Dad?  I finally got a referral from a dinner appointment!  I was so excited.  We've been studying a lot about working with members and we will get lots more.  We want to challenge them to give Books of Mormon to their friends in the next two weeks.  We did our first challenge to a recent convert last night. 

Another miracle happened on Saturday.  We still didn't have any new investigators for the week and we wanted three so we tracked a ton!  Except we tracked a SUPER rich neighborhood because that's where our referral was.  We had NO success there so we tried some other, normal streets.  We tracked for two hours with nothing!  Well the last two houses of the two streets we tracked listened to us and said we could come back.  The very, very last house let us in and was so nice to us.  It was a girl named Sarah who works at Hobbiton, so that was exciting. :)  She was so open and awesome and is excited to hear more.  The Lord really does take care of us.  Then we were walking back to our car, a lady came out of one of the houses that no one had answered at.  She said, "I'm a less active.  I've been hoping missionaries would come by.  Can you come visit me next Thursday?"  How awesome is that? Also, because we tracked all day Saturday, we ended up talking to 132 people this week!  

Finally, in Sunday School at church another recent convert, this really elderly guy that everyone loves named Victor, was commenting.  The Elders were teaching (we switch off every week with them) and Victor was telling how keeping the Word of Wisdom had blessed his life recently.  All of a sudden, out of nowhere, he grabbed his stomach and started moaning and shaking and freaking out.  Immediately Brother Tichborne called the ambulance and the Elders gave him a blessing.  The ambulance came and took him away.  They asked if he wanted anyone to go with him.  He said, "That Tongan man!"  He meant one of the Elders. So the Elders went with him.  We haven't heard yet, but we think he's ok and that he had appendicitis.  It was just a miracle that it had happened at church when we were all around to help.  He lives alone and it was just amazing that he could immediately get a blessing and also that all the less actives and recent converts could see the priesthood in action.  

Oh!  This is important family!  Go to the New Zealand Temple Visitor Center facebook page.  There are pictures of us on there! :)

Anyway, I just know the church is true.  If you look for miracles in your life, you will find them!  

LOTS OF LOVE,

Sister Clarissa Johnson