Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Church is True!


Hello world,

I've seriously had the BEST week of my mission!  I feel like I have all this joy to convey so I hope my email adequately conveys it.  However, now I'm feeling kind of melancholy and nervous because I'm getting transferred!  I am moving to Taranaki!!!  It's by the water and the mountain and apparently everyone is obedient there because it's so far away so that's exciting!  My companion will be Sister Ye (my MTC companion)'s trainer.  She is also Filipino and her name is Sister Pantoya (except it's pronounced Pan-toe-ha).  She is really pretty and nice and responsible so I'm excited even though it hurts my heart to leave Hamilton East!

Last Monday we went to Hamilton Gardens with the Claudelande Sisters and only took 14 million pictures.  Most other sisters are more into taking pictures than I am.  I'd rather just experience life and not have to document every thing, but it was super, super fun and we have a bunch of great pictures.  It was the perfect weather.  Then we teamed up and took a big group of Hamilton East/Claudelands investigators/less actives to watch Meet the Mormons at the Visitor Center.  I sure love that movie.  I cry every time. Unfortunately the rest of the week got SUPER hot.  It's like Nauvoo weather when it's super, super humid!  We only have one little fan in our flat so we move it around wherever we are.  It's so funny to hear about your snow and here it's sweltering.  And everyone says it's going to get worse.  But it's so, so gorgeous.  I do love sunshine.  I have some crazy watch/shoe/ring tanlines.

But Shardae and Heemi got baptized this week and it was so, so great!  I felt like I did too much but I spoke, sang with Sister Urgel, taught the Restoration while they were getting changed with Sister Urgel, and played the piano.  But it was just amazing to see them all in white.  Shardae is fantastic because she is so humble and willing to make big, hard changes in her life.  President Higgins interviewed her while our awesome district leader, Elder Pene, interviewed Heemi.  Heemi is the smartest eight year old ever.  He has all the articles of faith and D+C 4 memorized.  I love baptisms!

The next amazing thing was on Friday.  Auntie Kei, Ripeka, and Sam went to do baptisms in the temple for the first time ever.  It was so beautiful and they loved it (we didn't actually get to go in, but we stayed in the Visitor Center with Lana).  Auntie Kei also went Visiting Teaching for the first time and she said the prayer out loud at one of the houses!  That is big for her.  

Saturday and Sunday were Stake Conference and HOLY COW!  It was the best Stake Conference ever!  I loved it.  Elder Nielson from the Pacific Area Presidency spoke and especially in the Saturday Night session just blew me away.  I know that Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father are real people.  They really are.  On the way home talking to Sister Urgel about it and also praying afterwards, I just really felt, more than ever before in my life that the gospel is 100,000% true!  It's not probably, mostly true, but it's for sure true.  We just have to have faith and do something about it and it will make us so happy.  There is a group of Saints from Papua New Guinea here for two weeks.  They have saved for years and years and sacrificed so much to come to the temple.  They've been in the temple every day and came to our Stake Conference.  There are probably 25 people.  They are so humble and their faces light up when they see missionaries, even though they don't know us personally.  I want to be as humble as them.  President Nielson said that probably other than the very young kids, none of them will ever get to come back to a temple.  This was a once in a lifetime thing!  He also kept saying, "Do we know what we have?"  Do we realize how lucky we are and blessed to have a temple so close?  Do we know how amazing the gospel is?  We have it and lots of people don't.  We need to hasten the work.

Brother Tichborne is NOT happy to see me go.  He told me that I went from a greenie to the best sister missionary in the mission.  I'm afraid he exaggerates.  I really will miss him so, so much.  He has taught me HEAPS about the gospel and the work of salvation and the importance of keeping our "footprints on the frontlines".  Always!  It was his birthday on Thanksgiving so we called him right when we woke up (he gets up way before that) and sang to him. I think it made his day! :)

But I want to send pictures and I'm running out of time.  

Love you all so, so much!

Sister Clarissa Coralee Johnson



Sunday, November 22, 2015

Wonderful People and (Mostly) Wonderful Weather



Hello everyone,

 

I hope you are all happy and doing great!  I certainly am.  This week has been so wonderful and it seriously flew by.  Every week I can't believe it's already time to weekly plan or email or go to church again, because I feel like I just did it.  Next week is transfers.  I really don't know how I feel about that.  Everyone in our ward keeps telling me that I better not be leaving anytime soon and I say, "Don't worry.  I'm staying forever."  But I've been giving everyone copies of a cute picture of Sister Urgel and me.  

 

This week I really realized the importance of fun, church activities.  This week was the Relief Society Christmas party.  (If there's no Thanksgiving to celebrate, why wait to start celebrating Christmas?)  But it was the greatest activity ever!  There were three recent converts, four less actives, and three nonmembers there!  I was so happy.  I also LOVE Relief Society.  Like I didn't want to leave Young Women's when I turned 18, but now I am starting to just love everything about Relief Society.  I feel like I am best friends with tons of women here.  Sister Urgel spent most of the activity talking to the small Filipino contingency of the Relief Society and I just flitted around as I do from group to group.  It doesn't matter if they are 85 or 55 or 25.  I just love them all!  We just have so much genuine fun!  The first hour of the activity was performances and the second was eating and mingling.  They asked me to sing "Oh Holy Night" and "Mary Did You Know?"  I ended up going a capella because almost everyone in our ward that can play the piano is male.  Isn't that interesting.  I played in Relief Society on Sunday.  But everyone loved my songs and they were so, so nice.  Now all these people want me to sing at their dinner appointments because they realized that I can sing.  This ward is just wonderful! 

 

Speaking of wonderful, Sister Urgel is that!  We have so much fun together.  We crack each other up.  We are so, so different but we work it out.  Having a companion is such good practice at getting along with people.  I love it.  This week the weather was crazy!  It gives me headaches and makes me really tired all the time.  One day it will be super hot with the super burning sun and we have the air condition on full blast when we're in the car and the door open at home.  The next day it will be cold and POURING rain.  The rain here is so hard core.  Then we'll have the heat on in the car and the house.  It's too much for my brain.  

 

But our investigators are doing well.  We don't have too many progressing, but the ones that are are doing super great.  Shardae is so faithful.  She's been so brave and she wants to change even though she's scared and it's so hard.  But she is living the word of wisdom and the law of chastity and is really committed to keep it up.  I think I told you?  She is lesbian and it's so hard because she doesn't exactly understand why she has to keep it even though we've really researched and explained it with the Proclamation to the Family.  She does know that she needs and wants to trust God to make and keep her happy!  Heemi is great as usual.  I think that this quote is SO true! "First I obey.  Then I understand."  We don't always have to have the exact, perfect answers to everything.  We just need to trust God. 

 

I wish I had more time, but just know that I love you.  Enjoy your turkey this week.  Our dinner appointment on Thursday got cancelled so we will probably eat tuna because we are poor!  But don't worry.  It's ok. :)  New Zealand is gorgeous!\

 

Heaps and heaps of love!

 

Arohanui,

 

Sister Clarissa Johnson

 A lady named Lana gave Clarissa this piggy bank for when she gets married. "Her Money" is much bigger than "His Money"!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Love from New Zealand


Dear Family,

 

New Zealand is wonderful as usual!  We've had such a great week!  I sure love my companion.  It's so funny because we will be a little sharp with each other sometimes and then we just both feel so bad and apologize a lot and hug each other.  We really are the dream team.  Haha, we balance each other so, so well!  

 

Our District Meeting this week was so amazingly good.  It ended and I felt like it had been written for me.  (Well, it actually had . . .kind of.  Elder Pene, our district leader, asks us all what we are working on and then plans the district meeting.)  But I just love all the missionaries that serve around me.  After District Meeting, we got to go on exchanges with the Lake Sisters.  I got be companions with Sister Sao, from Samoa, and . . . Sister Ye!!!  And I got to serve out of my area for the first time my entire mission.  So that was fun.  I learned heaps from those two sisters.  Even though they are both learning English, their testimonies are so, so powerful and they are so humble and good.  Sister Urgel was really nervous to lead the area when I was gone, but she did amazing.  She is getting more and more prepared to lead it when I leave.  I am mentally preparing myself to leave at transfers because I really feel like I will.  I will SO miss this area, but at least I will be ready.  Last night I wrote a list of people I want to write letters to before I go.  There were 21 on the list, and I'll probably think of more.  Good thing I'm starting now.  

 

But we have been teaching Shardae a lot.  Did I tell you about her last week?  I can never remember.  She has been going to church for ages but never was baptized even though her mom was.  They have this AMAZING member family that have been fellowshipping them.  We have our lessons there.  But she has been doing so well.  It's amazing how much love I feel for all the people we teach.  

 

I've been worried for Jayde lately.  Pray for her!  She is so, so ready to get baptized, but she is afraid that she's not ready.  Everyone thinks that they have to be perfect to get baptized, but it's actually the opposite. We get baptized because we aren't perfect.  We have to be worthy and willing to follow Jesus Christ.  I love the qualifications for baptism in D&C 20:37 (at least I think that's where they are).  She has had all the lessons and been to church tons of time.  It's one of those situations where we have to do all we can, but then trust in the Lord to make up the rest.  

 

I've really been realizing what an impatient person I am.  "If men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness."  Well, mine is impatience.  But Jane Eyre in my ward said something I just love.  She is so profound sometimes.  She said that impatience is the fear of time.  So I'm going to stop fearing time.  I get impatient with myself and others and I'm learning to trust more. 

 

This week we got to eat with my favorite couple, the Sykes, twice!  They just had their 52nd wedding anniversary and they are so adorable.  I want to be just like Sister Sykes when I grow up and marry someone like Brother Sykes.  They are so humble and good and they always have me sing for them.  I love asking members two things.  I ask how they met if they are married and I ask their conversion story.  It seems like everyone in our ward is a convert.  That's really different from Wells Ward, but it's really cool.

 

I've also been so grateful to spend so much time getting to know children.  We've been helping with the Primary Program and we have two AMAZING families, Margaret's and Patiana's that we visit.  All of those kids in both families have such strong testimonies and are so good, even if they can be crazy!  I just want them to have the gospel in their lives so bad.

 

I've been working on being the fourth missionary again lately.  I want to do everything "willingly because I want to".  I'm still working on that when it comes to waking up in the morning. 

 

But time is short unfortunately!  I love you all and LOVE hearing from you so much.

 

Love,

 

Sister Clarissa Johnson

Sunday, November 8, 2015

It's Summer in New Zealand!



Hello world,

It's HOT here!  And everyone says it's going to get way hotter and humid.  We've been doing 12 week in front of the fan, and I feel like just yesterday we were doing 12 week in front of the heater.  Time flies.  I'm sad that Thanksgiving is not a thing here.  The one American family in our ward was going to feed us, but they will be out of town.  And there are starting to be Christmas decorations up places and it REALLY doesn't feel like Christmas.  It feels like July.  I just want to go swimming. :)  It's super weird.  But it's good.  

All of a sudden, our area is very different.  The school year ended and most of the uni students went home.  And our golden, wonderful investigator that was getting baptized changed her plans and moved to Australia.  So that was really sad.  But we got her email address and physical address in Aussie and she said that she would get baptized there.  I guess we have to trust the Lord on that one.  I will miss her.  She's the one with the short dress in the jumping pictures.  The other is Marina, our AMAZING member that always comes out with us on lessons.  She served in Korea.  But I think Heavenly Father wants us to really branch out in our investigators now because so many students are gone.  We found a Fijian family that I'm really excited about with super cute kids.  I wish we had any Fijians in our ward.  We don't have any . . . yet. ;)

But this week was really good.  On Thursday we had a super good Zone Meeting and took pictures with this awesome Zone Flag that Sister Inia, the Sister Training Leader, made.  Then we got invited to go help put up Christmas lights at the temple.  I guess all the missionaries in Hamilton get to do it on different days.  But the sisters in our zone were this week and it was the funnest time.  I got sunburned though which was too bad.  The sun here is so intense because the atmosphere is so thin here apparently.  I have a new appreciation for temple Christmas lights.  They take forever to put up.  I got to talk to Sister Parkinson a lot, who is the one from BYU Women's Chorus.  Apparently they are singing with David Archuleta this year, which makes me jealous, but I got to meet him so it's ok.  She is so great.

We have been teaching this girl named Shardae.  She is friends with this wonderful, wonderful family in the ward named the Grandlyers.  Her mom joined the church a year ago but she never did because she is lesbian.  Well, she's still been coming to church on and off but now she really wants to change her life and be better and get baptized.  I'm so glad that I have taught lessons to five different lesbians on my mission so far, so I feel more prepared to talk about it with her.  We had a lesson/talk with her in her doorway yesterday which was just perfect.  It was so directed by the Spirit!  I was just amazed at the things I had said when we walked away, because they were things I couldn't/wouldn't have said without the Spirit's help.  My heart really goes out to her.  She is such a good girl and she has been so blessed to have the Grandlyers in her life as an example of gospel living.  She wants more in her life and the gospel can give it to her.  I think about her a lot and how we can help prepare her for baptism.  She is getting baptized on the 28th in a combined baptism with the Grandlyers eight year old grandson, Hemi, who can recite D&C 4 faster than I can . . . and I can say it pretty fast.  

Another cool thing happened this week.  We found out at church that our dinner appointment was canceled and Sarah Potter was with us (speaking of the American family in our ward).  Well, the Potters insisted that we come to dinner at their house and they were also having Elton over.  Elton is their great neighbor with a family back in South Africa who is working for the same company as Brother Potter.  We found him a couple months ago when we were trying to find the Potter’s house and knocked on the wrong flat.  Well, they got to know him through us.  We invited him to learn two months ago and we sent the Elders to him.  They gave him a Book of Mormon but never had an actual lesson.  Well, we had the best talk about grace and the atonement with him last night and we are going to start teaching him every Sunday at the Potters.  The Potters are called as the new YSA leaders in our ward and they were having a YSA fireside/devotional deal at their house after dinner.  Sister Potter called and told me that Elton had stayed for that and loved it.  I'm so excited to start teaching him.  It's so fun to find really prepared people to teach!  Our investigator, Cavell, that the Elders "stole" from us when I was sick is getting baptized on Saturday.  I'm so excited for her!  It's just exciting to see the work progress.

It's so funny when Brother Tichborne is really, really excited!  He cracks me up.  And he called me "the bomb" this week on the phone.  (He calls us or we call him every day.)  I was so happy!  

So I've been singing a lot recently.  I felt like my life was getting a little mundane and less exciting so I started singing more.  Singing is the solution to almost everything, especially when you're singing hymns.  This morning I was really praying to have the Spirit more fully with me and to know that God is pleased with me.  Well, when we were singing at the beginning of companion study I just started crying.  We sang "Savior Redeemer of My Soul" and "How Great Thou Art" which are my two favorite songs ever (along with There is Sunshine in My Soul).  But it really made me think about how God really loves me.  I was just hit with this huge wave of the Spirit and God and Jesus Christ's love for me.  Like I already knew it and I teach it to people every day, but I internalized it more deeply.  I thought about how much my parents love me and how much I will love my future children.  God loves us even more than that.  It's amazing how God can answer your prayers by teaching you something you already know, just more deeply with the Spirit.  

And the scriptures are the best!  I think I say this every week, but I love the Book of Mormon.  I've been reading the war chapters in Alma and they are exciting!  I think of Brother Tichborne and how "we're on the frontlines".  It's great.  

This week we are going on exchanges with the Lake Sisters and I get to exchange out of our area for the first time ever in my whole mission.  And I get to go with Sister Sau and . . . Sister Ye!  I'm very excited.  Enjoy the snow in Nevada!  I'll enjoy the heat and try not to get burned again. :)

Heaps of love,

Sister Clarissa Johnson  


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Captain! What's Happening?

Kia Ora!

So when Brother Tichborne calls me or answers the phone he always says, "Captain!  What's happening?  What's the good news?"  I don't know if I told you that he calls me Captain, because after all, "we're on the frontlines."  It's so exciting.  

It's been the best week in a long time!  I'm all healthy except coughing and I just feel all this urgency to do the work as fast and as well as I can.  We have all these new progressing investigators that we mostly found this week.  I realized that I will most likely be leaving on December 3rd, and as much as I wish it wasn't true, I need to accept it and make the most of the time I do have here.

Natalie was confirmed yesterday and she looked so radiant.  She is going back to China for the summer break next week, so I'm so glad she was baptized before leaving.  I hope she can find a church/some Mormons in China.  We have her Chinese address so they can send her records so that's good.  

Ripeka and Auntie Kei are wonderful.  Ripeka's operation went well and she'll be in bed for six weeks.  She's in pain, but that's to be expected so hopefully she will be all good from now on after she heals.  I'm so glad that she found out she had a cyst and she could get it out.  So Auntie Kei works so hard and is just such a giver.  Saturday night we went there and she had these pretty shirts she'd bought at an Op Shop for Sister Urgel and me.  She said Leanna had helped her choose them and she had really specific things in mind.  Isn't that so nice?

So this week we did a lot of service and we saw a lot of miracles.  We have a less active named Tiana that has been to prison and is now confined to her house for a year.  She's only in her early twenties and she did something really, really bad but she's not a bad person at all.  I love her so!  Brother Tichborne sent us the first night after she'd been out of prison.  We didn't know what had happened, but when she explained, I felt really prompted to teach her about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and his complete love for her.  We said things that we wouldn't have thought of without the help of the Spirit.  You know that book, You are Special, about the wooden people and the carpenter, Eli, that made them and they give each other stars and dots?  I love that book.  Leanna had it at her house, so we'd just heard it there.  I told her that story and told her that God loves her despite her sins and what people think of her and that he will forgive her.  The Spirit was there so powerfully.  There was not a dry eye!

Our investigator Joanna is finally back from Aussie and is on fire!  She came to church, we taught her the best Lesson 3, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we've ever had.  And she's getting baptized November 28th.  It was going to be December 5th, but I realized I'd be gone so she decided to move it up so I could be there.

We had another really fun idea!  We were with these awesome less active siblings and asked about their scripture reading.  One of the girls, Ese, said it was only sometimes.  I said, "Well you know, it takes 30 days to make a habit."  She said that she should try to read every day for 30 days.  Well, then it became a thing!  We told some other investigators about it and they want to do it too.  So then we made bookmarks.  We made a million bookmarks that said "November 30 Day Scripture Challenge" and then we numbered them 1-30.  We gave them to all of our less actives and investigators and a couple members that are into missionary work or are fellowshipping.  We got the Elders to do it with their people and the Claudeland Ward Elders and Sisters too.  We are going to have a movie party at the end of the month and watch the Testaments and eat food and share the miracles that came into our lives that came from doing the "small and simple" thing of reading our scriptures every day.  I'm excited!

Also, the Relief Society Christmas party is randomly on November 13th so it's happening while I'm still here.  It's a musical number type deal and Sarah Potter and I are doing a number.  It's O Holy Night/Silent Night.  She's playing and I'm singing and I'm so, so excited!  I love having a good musical number to prepare for.  Speaking of singing and such, there is a girl that was also an Alto 1 in Women's Chorus here, and she's in my district. Her name is Sister Parkinson.  I didn't really know her in Women's Chorus, but talked to her on facebook before I came.  But then I forgot all about it.  But she's so, so great.  Also, Sister Ye, my MTC companion, is sitting right next to me.  Her companion (that I really loved too) broke her ankle and had to go back to Korea to heal.  So that's sad, but Sister Ye is staying with Sister Inya and Sister Sau in our zone, so I get to see her!  Sister Rudd told me at the fireside last night that they are trying to find a permanent (well, transfer long) place to put her.  I said that we would love to have her and we even have an extra mattress!  Wouldn't that be amazing!  I guess we'll see.

Saturday was a service day for us!  We weeded this lady's yard and got Brother Amai lined up to come mow it.  She is this cute, old Maori lady but never wanted to hear the gospel, but is really friendly.  But she was just so, so happy with her lawn.  She can't bend over and didn't know how she would get it done.  She was just praising us left, right and center and made us a delicious smoothie after we refused tea and coffee.  But she said that she has tons of Mormon family and told us to "please come back".  It's amazing how you love those you serve so much and also how much service softens people's hearts.  We've really been working on that recently and it makes missionary work so much more fun.  Well after that we went to straight to Patiana's.  She has these six amazing, and really crazy, kids.  She just had a goiter removed and can't do any work.  So I mowed her big lawn for her.  Sister Urgel and Fa'aki and Sula picked up all the trash in the yard and I mowed.  I was so exhausted by the end of the day.  It's been getting hot in the middle of the day, but it's so gorgeous!  I'm getting some fun tan lines.  I have a really bad one under my watch and on my feet from my sandals.  

But it wasn't until later in the day that I even remembered that it was Halloween.  Halloween is like NOTHING here.  It's crazy.  Almost no one even celebrates it apparently here.  

But I am just so excited for all our new investigators and people.  Missionary work is so fun!  The gospel is just the best.

LOVE,

Sister Clarissa Johnson