So the absolute worst thing about New Plymouth is the emailing facilities. I guess previous sisters printed too much stuff and caused problems so we aren't allowed to email at the chapel. We come to this library but we have to do it thirty minute increments and when your time runs out you have to scan your card again and then wait 5 or 10 or 20 minutes until your next 30 minute session. It's the worst. But other than that, life is pretty good. I'm still kind of adjusting to everything here but this week has made a world of difference. I really feel like I'm in Taranaki for a reason.
First of all, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my companion! We call each other "Soa" which means Sister in Samoan. I don't know. It's like the cool thing to do in this mission. But we just really click and are super good friends. We tease each other a lot but we have so much fun and I just love that she wants to work hard! I hate not knowing the area. I know almost all the people, but I am so bad at directions. Having the ocean helps because if you go that way too far, you just reach the water and you know you're not right. But it's good. And we have this fun GPS with a voice named Serena with the funniest sounding, almost fake Kiwi accent. It's an adventure.
But I feel like we've made really good progress with our investigators. There are so many people who have just been visited or had a lesson or two, but never really been committed to do anything. I met two investigators for the first time and we had really good, spiritual lessons and then I invited them to be baptized and they said yes! We have four investigators set for baptism which is so exciting. I really love especially this funny old lady named Ngarie. She's been meeting with missionaries for AGES but she agreed to be baptized. The very hardest thing for everyone is getting to church. Even if you don't really have commandment or doctrinal concerns, if you don't come to church, you won't progress. Sacrament meeting and church on Sunday really is such a super important part of following Jesus Christ. We FINALLY got the Conference Ensign last week. It only took 14 years. But I've been devouring it. I love those prophets we have. I got to watch the First Presidency devotional too last night.
But anyway, we got to help decorate and set up chairs and things for an eight year old baptism in our ward. We also sang and harmonized "I Feel My Savior's Love" at the baptism and I played the piano. Her name is Sam and she lives with her grandparents, the Malilis. They are this wonderful Samoan couple. I think I mentioned them last week. But they are so cute and good. We don't get too many dinner appointments here, but they feed us or the Elders every Sunday. Yesterday Sister Malili played the guitar and the two of them sang us Samoan songs. They made me cry. I just could feel the love they have for each other. They are both do heaps of missionary work and fulfil their callings. They aren't very rich and they probably don't think they are anything special, but I could feel the spirit in their home so strongly. Sister Malili started talking to a Samoan girl who was her cashier at Countdown last week. Well it turns out that this girl was looking for a church to attend because she just moved from Wellington. So the Malilis had her over for dinner and brought her to church and everything! And she is super golden! Fellowship and member missionary work is just so important. Brother Malili is pretty hard to understand because his accent is so thick, but he gave us a spiritual thought about always doing your best and trusting the Lord even when people don't accept you. I want to be like them when I grow up.
So yesterday was a crazy, busy day at church! For a week and a half we've been practicing this song for sacrament meeting. I had the sheet music. It's "I Will Lead You Home" by Amy Grant. Well, Sister Pantoja and I sang and one of the Zone Leaders, Elder Lingwall, played the piano. We mostly practiced so much for him because he couldn't play it very well. I was impressed he learned it. But our harmony sounded really good. We just sing and I harmonize above or below the melody all the time. It's so, so fun. I also spoke in sacrament meeting. I talked about the Light of Christ and being a light to the world. Then after church we had ward choir (or excuse me, branch choir) practice. Sister Jones was gone so I got to direct, and it was SO fun. I didn't realize how much I miss doing that. We are singing a bunch of good songs like the Star of Bethlehem and Angels we Have Heard on High with this really high descant on the last verse that some of us do while we join with the congregation. I really love it.
There was this new young couple at church yesterday. They have that "really cool" vibe but they are super nice. The girl is SUPER beautiful and I talked to her and she's only 19. She's younger than me and she is from Alpine, Utah. She knows some people that I knew at BYU and she is super nice. She was really happy that I was there and that we could bond over that. She married a Kiwi and is new here. She just stays home and doesn't know anyone. How crazy is that? I'm going to be her friend.
But I am getting all ready to sing at the Christmas Conference next Tuesday! I'm so, so excited for that. It will be the entire mission all together at Camp Tuikaramia (or however it's spelled). But I sure hope I sound good because that's a lot of missionaries!
I'm excited for Christmas but if I think too much about Christmas I get homesick. It just really doesn't even feel like Christmas because it's hot and sunny and it's just different in New Zealand. But it's really wonderful to be preaching the gospel of Christ! Our little missionary team is so, so good right now and we are going to get the work moving here!
Also, this week we had Zone Conference. It was really, really good. All the missionaries in Taranaki are just awesome. I am humbled to be here. It's still so, so gorgeous and I don't think I'll ever get used to the view! We are going to attempt to hike the mountain today with the Waitera sisters. Hopefully I don't die. It's a pretty steep mountain. But I'm excited!
Keep doing missionary work! Pray that our investigators will come to church and let your light shine!
Sister Clarissa Johnson