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.
Sister Clarissa Johnson