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!  


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!  


Sister Clarissa Johnson

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