Sunday, August 30, 2015

Thrust In Your Sickle


Hello family,

 

I love you all so, so much!  Spring has sprung in this part of the world.  I was actually hot a couple of times this week.  The weather changes so fast.  It will be pouring rain and freezing one day and sunny and nice the next.  Trees are blooming and it's the best!  

 

This week was a big turning point for me.  I realized that I didn't come on my mission to struggle with my own challenges but to preach His gospel.  I spent the entire week thinking and praying for my investigators . . . and working hard!  I feel like for the first time I really put my entire heart, might, mind, and strength into my mission!  And it's been amazing to see the results.  I am so much happier because I'm focused on my purpose.  We had so many appointments this week that we hardly had time to talk to extra people, but we still did it. :)  We have an investigator Jayde who is especially wonderful.  She just turned 20 and we've decided that we have to be friends forever.  But she has so, so, so much faith.  She is preparing for baptism and is already sharing the gospel with friends that she has.  She is so good.  The only struggle is the law of chastity.  She is dating a less active member named Caleb and his family is super supportive.  We've taught them some lessons at the Visitor Center with his family there.  Caleb's brother Adam just got off his mission in Salt Lake City.  But they are just trying to figure out a place where Caleb could move to that's still close to the Uni so they can live the Law of Chastity.  I've been praying for them so much!

 

Also, Auntie Kei is my hero.  She's such a saint and she's a thousand percent ready to get baptized but she made a deal with Leanna and won't get baptized until Leanna is endowed.  Hopefully that will be soon because Leanna is working so hard.  We'll keep loving and working with them both.  We set up meetings with the Bishop for Leanna and Jayde and Caleb this week.  That will be good.

 

I'm just so grateful for the Hamilton East Ward.  They are all amazing!  

 

This Saturday, Sister Namariel had the first birthday party of her life.  We had lunch at Auntie Kei's with Leanna, Aaliyah, Arwin, Sam (a recent convert who's awesome), her sons Nathan and Kerr, Ripeka, and the Elders.  The Elders had to sit at the picnic table outside.  They're good sports that way.  But it was so much fun!  Sister Namariel's birthday is today, the same as Carolina's.  I made her a sign in true Johnson fashion and gave her a pocket hymnbook as a present.  She's never had a birthday present before and she said she would always remember me when she uses it.  She has such a sweet spirit.  

 

I just know that I'm here for a reason.  God is so mindful of me.  He trusts me so I need to trust him.  

 

LOVE,

 

Sister Johnson

 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Love: The Essence of the Gospel

President Monson gives this talk called "Love: the Essence of the Gospel".  I think that that is totally true. We know that charity is the highest virtue and that's because the first commandment we've been given is to love God, and the second is to love our neighbor.  If we love enough, everything else will take care of itself.

In Jacob 3:2 it says, "O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever."  I love that!  We can feast upon his love.  Sometimes I feel pretty alone.  I need to go knock on doors or visit people or whatever and I feel alone in the world, but I'm not.  We are never, ever, ever alone.  God loves us perfectly.  When Lazarus died, Jesus didn't tell Mary to buck up because he could heal Lazarus.  It says that even though Jesus knew it was all going to be ok in the end, "Jesus wept."  When our lives are hard, Jesus weeps with us.  He makes everything right.

We’ve had a sad thing with one of our investigators.  She is Samoan and the sweetest girl in the world.  She KNOWS that the church is true but her whole family is 7th Day Adventists and refuse to let her get baptized.  So she told us she doesn't want to meet anymore.  That kills me.

But then there's the good!  Jayde is on fire!  She just turned 20, she's half Filipino and she's so great!  She's dating a less active member and we've been teaching them together!  She is preparing for baptism (!!!) and she felt the Spirit so strongly at the Visitor Center this week.  We showed her Joseph Smith and the Restoration and she cried.  (But I cried more.  I always win in the crying department.  I have to ask the Visitor Center sisters and make sure there are kleenex available before the movie starts.)  But I'm just so excited.  She said that ever since she's been meeting with us she feels happier and more at peace!  The gospel is just true.  That's all there is to it.

Also, I LOVE the Hamilton East Ward.  I love our area with the University.  I love the members.  Our dinner appointments are always so fun and wonderful.  The ward council is powerful and so good at helping us with the work.  It's exciting.  

And it's starting to get warmer/lighter at night.  The trees all have flowers starting to bloom.  It's truly popcorn popping!  

I love you all so much!  Keep being wonderful. Kia Kaha!

LOVE,

Sister Clarissa Johnson

Sunday, August 16, 2015

I Met David Archuleta. . . and Other Everyday Mission Happenings

Hello!

So last Monday night I dreamed that I met David Archuletta.  Well, two days later the Elders called and told us that we are having a surprise mission conference with Brad Wilcox and David Archuletta!  I thought they were joking but it was true!  So my dream literally came true on Thursday.  What's more, Sister Rudd called and asked if I'd lead the music at the meeting and play prelude music.  I was super excited to lead the music and totally terrified to play the piano!  I drove the Claudeland Sisters and Sister Namariel up to Auckland and no one died.  

But they had me start playing about half an hour before the meeting started.  ALL the missionaries were there and they told them all to sit quietly and study.  So they all sat quietly and listened to me play the piano for ages!  And the worst was that I knew that David Archuletta would walk in at any second.  Well he finally walked in when I had strategically planned to play "Near My God to Thee" so that was exciting.  I'm getting better and better and improvising hymns to make them sound prettier.  It was still terrifying though.  I LOVED leading the music and I sang out nice and loud so David (who was about five feet from me) could hear my voice.  Haha but he sounded great! It was just so exciting.  He is also so humble and good.  He's a great example of serving a mission.  He and Brad Wilcox said exactly what I needed to hear.  The small and simple things we do are enough.  They add up to great things!  

So that was wonderful!  Sister Namariel is doing well.  She is really improving quickly with her English.  I have learned that I really need to talk slower to her to not confuse her.  I am learning so much.  It's starting to get a little warmer and stays lighter longer here which is exciting!   

There's some quote that says, "Everything's hard until it becomes easy."  I love that.  Walking used to be hard for me.  Reading used to be hard for me.  But then those things got easier as I gained experience and learned.  I am learning so much on my mission, especially when things are hard!

Sorry that I send so many quotes.  I just like them I guess.  Also sorry that this email is so short.  I love you all.  Keep on keeping on!

Love,

Sister Clarissa Johnson

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Crazy!



Hello everyone!

This week I attempted to explain what the word "crazy" means to Sister Namariel.  It was harder than I thought.  Elder Butler (one of the Zone Leaders that serves in our ward) asked Sister Namariel how she puts up with "her crazy companion."  Anyway, this whole week has been crazy.  Parts of it have been really hard and others have been really good.  I still feel overwhelmed but things are slowly getting better.  Everything takes longer with Sister Namariel which is sometimes really hard for me.  I want to do the work of the Lord full speed ahead.  However, I've been reading my little book of mission advice from Olivia and it has helped a lot.  She said that sometimes the one you have to be a missionary to is your companion and they are the one that needs your love and service.  So I have studying and working on my patience a lot.  I really love Sister Namariel and it's been amazing to get to talk to her more.  Slowly she has started to tell me more about her life.  She came from a poor little village in Vanuatu.  Her dad died when she was ten and her mom provides for their family by selling food at the market that she grew.  They grew all their own food.  She has been SO, SO cold this week.  I feel so sorry for her because she's never experienced cold weather at all.  I have been getting more confident in my ability to teach and plan and do all the things that missionaries do.  It's been scary and I make a LOT of mistakes but it's good for me.  Sister Namariel has been testifying very well this week.  She has such a sweet spirit. 

We've had a couple of investigators disappear, including one that was supposed to get baptized next week so that is unfortunate.  We call them and text them and visit them at different times of the day but we can't find them.  But we taught Ripeka's mom, Auntie Kei, about the Word of Wisdom.  She already knew what it was because of Ripeka so she was expecting it when we committed her to live it.  She is the BEST lady with a heart of gold but she can be a little stubborn.  She wants to do things on her own timetable.  She said that she would drink up all the tea and coffee (she doesn't drink or smoke) she had in her house and then start living the Word of Wisdom.  We asked her if she could think of anyone she could give it to and suggested just throwing it away but she refused.  Well, the next day during church she whispered to me, "Guess what I did yesterday?"  I asked what.  She said, "I threw my tea bags away and gave my coffee to the neighbors. And I don't miss it!"  I couldn't believe it!  She has such a heart of gold!  The gospel truly changes people. 

But a big highlight of the week was when our heater broke so they brought us THREE new ones!  We are so, so happy!  Plus they gave us a vacuum that actually works.  It's wonderful. 

I LOVE our new district.  It's been awesome to feel such support from our Zone Leaders, District Leader, and Sister Training Leader.  At District Meeting the Zone Leaders had me come write up our numbers for the week on the board.  I was stressing because with transfers and learning to drive and such, they'd been pretty low that week.  I said that I was sorry that they were low, but apparently they were actually high.  They used them as a good example to the District.  They asked why everyone couldn't have high numbers like the Hamilton East Sisters.  Then I felt bad, like everyone thought I was prideful.  Anyway, it was a good realization that we actually are doing well. (Plus the University and our car help us to be able to talk to lots of people.  It's not just us.)  

To end I want to share a quote I read this week about patience.  I love this!

"Patience is a willingness, in a sense, to watch the unfolding purposes of God with a sense of wonder and awe, rather than pacing up and down within the cell of our circumstances.  Put another way, too much anxious opening of the oven door and the cake falls instead of rising.  So it is with us.  If we are always selfishly taking our temperature to see if we are happy, we will not be."
-Neil A. Maxwell

I know that I am learning so much from my experience here.  I am growing closer to my Savior and I am finding a lot of comfort in singing hymns.  Sister Namariel is a good singer and we hum or sing and harmonize a lot.  It's great.

Sorry this email has been really scattered.  I love you all so much!  Thanks for your prayers.  We have this quote in our flat that says "There are few things more powerful than the faithful prayers of a righteous mother." -Boyd K. Packer.  So mom, thanks! :)  

Remember to always share the gospel, study the scriptures, and really pray and talk to your Heavenly Father.  He wants to hear from you!

Love,

Sister Clarissa Johnson


Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Most Eventful Week of My Mission!

Hello Everyone!

I love you all so, so much.  This week was crazy!!!!!!  Right after emailing last Monday we went to the Mission Office to pick up some sisters that were going home the next day.  Because we're so close to the Mission Office, we do that a lot apparently.  We just have mini exchanges with them right before they fly home.  Anyway, there were a bunch of missionaries around and President Rudd was shaking all of their hands.  He shook my hand and invited me into his office.  Before I knew I was sitting in front of me and he told me some big news.  He said, "You are really good.  You are a great missionary.  You're way past the new missionary 12 week study.  Your companion is getting transferred and we want you to train a new missionary.  We have a lot of sisters going home and we need more trainers.  I asked the four APs and all four of them said that you should be the one to be a trainer."  He said, "We need to get you certified to drive by Thursday."  Then he took Sister Aldridge and told her that she would be transferred to Taranaki and that was that.  

So I started driving . . . dun, dun, dun!  It was TERRIFYING.  It's a total city, plus it's on the opposite side of the road.  That first night I was certain that I'd never get it and that I would get in a wreck, but we kept driving.  We drove almost six hours between Monday and Thursday and then Sister Marsden, the senior sister over cars and driving, had to give me a driving test to certify me to drive.  Well I was also terrified about that, but I passed with flying colors.  Now don't fall out of your chair.  I know it's a shock that I passed a driving test on the first try.  But I feel really blessed how well I've been doing with driving lately.  I driving all over Hamilton like a pro Kiwi by now.  I think the Lord took that challenge away from me just in time for a new one. 

Well transfers was a big sweep of excitement!  I met a ton of awesome missionaries and had fun with them and by then I was really, really excited to train!   They have all the trainers line up in the gym and then the trainees walk in and find you.  (They'd already seen our pictures.)  Well, ALL of these American sisters walked in and went to other people.  Finally, at the very end, this shy sister walked in very slowly.  She looked really scared.  She is my companion.  Her name is Sister Namariel and she's from Vanuatu.  She had one little suitcase and she's never lived in a place with electricity.  They grew most of their own food in Vanuatu and she'd hardly ever ridden in a car.  She had one coat that they'd given to her in the MTC and not nearly enough clothes or supplies.  And she can BARELY speak English.  Mostly she can just bear her testimony.  She has the sweetest testimony!  But it's really, really hard for us to communicate.  She hardly ever knows what I'm talking about and she can't answer my questions usually.  She didn't learn in English in the MTC for some reason but I wish she had because she just knows what she learned in High School in Vanuatu.  I feel very inadequate to teach her English.  I am still trying to figure out normal missionary things likes how to get places, who to visit, how to report at Ward Council, and a million other things.  And I really have to do everything myself.  It's hard because we have personal study, but then we have three more hours of study together:  companionship study, 12 week study for new missionaries, and language study, plus we do planning.  It feels so long and painful because she doesn't know what's going on and I want to include her but it just doesn't work.  It is hard and overwhelming and lonely for me, but I'm sure it's like a hundred times worse for her.  

I'm humbled that the Lord trusts me with this job.  I know that who the Lord calls, he qualifies.  We're hopefully going to get blessings from the Elders later today.  I need to remember the theme of my email last week: trusting in the Lord.  This is meant to be for some reason and it will help make me a more powerful missionary and a purer, more humble daughter of God.  Luckily our ward is so fantastic and they are all so willing and happy to help us.  Sister Falepapalangi is the new Sister Training Leader and she is fantastic.  The Elders (Zone Leaders) and the District Leader are all here for us and so are President and Sister Rudd if we ever do need help, and we are getting a language study guide.

I am trying to remember that even though you are all far away, I have a lot of people that love me and are praying and cheering for me across the ocean.  Thanks so much for your prayers!  I really can feel them.  But most importantly, Jesus Christ knows how I feel.  He knows what it's like to be an overwhelmed, under-experienced missionary.  I think a lot about what Desi told me that day I came on my mission.  She said, "If things are hard, God probably won't change your situation, but he will make you strong enough to get through it."  I know that is true.  Yesterday in sacrament meeting we sang hymn #266 "The Time is Far Spent".  I really loved hearing the words.  I want to "shrink not from my duty, however unpleasant and follow the Savior, my pattern my friend."  I know that my "little afflictions, tho painful at present, ere long, with the righteous, in glory will end.”  So I'll keep smiling and praying and loving and working as hard as I can and God will make up the difference.

LOVE,

Sister Clarissa Johnson