Yellow has always been her favorite color!
Sorry this email is a novel, but this week was so crazy and wonderful! So much happened! Monday we went to the waterfall again but this time with the Bellblock Sisters and I didn't even hurt myself! We also had a dinner appointment with the Webers and had hamburgers that aren't fast food, salad with bleu cheese in it, and corn on the cob--three things I haven't had since I've been in New Zealand. Sometimes I really love the Americans in our branch. We also taught the Webers a lesson about Joseph Smith and the Restoration and asked how the gospel has blessed their lives. Then we challenged each of them to give a Book of Mormon away to a friend before February 10th. Then we role played with them and practiced doing it! So that was really great. We want to do that with everyone in the branch. Tuesday we had a great district meeting and almost died of heatstroke (well that's an exaggeration, but almost).
Wednesday we went to Emma's for our lesson and her friend Michael, who we'd never met, happened to be there. Well it turns out he's the one that has been putting all the doubts in her head. He was super, super anti-Mormon and quickly set in to telling us a thousand smart sounding ways why the church is not true. We tried to answer his first few concerns, but we soon realized that he was indeed NOT an honest seeker of truth at all. We tried to bear our testimonies but he kept interrupting us. We even had Sister McIlroy and she shared a scripture but he just kept talking over her too. Emma was really stressed and felt bad and didn't know what to think. Finally I said, "We have an appointment. I'm sorry. It was good to talk to you, but we don't want to be late." And we left. But it was so cool though how past experiences and the current strength of my testimony was enough that it didn't shake me at all. It made me think about the line in "We Thank Thee Oh God for a Prophet that says "We've proved Him in days that are past". Because I already know that the restored gospel is real I don't have to wonder anymore. And the fact there is so much opposition makes me realize that the church is even more true. Satan only fights against truth, so it MUST be true.
After a regular (hot) day of missionary work, the Zone Leaders called at like 10 pm, which is a fairly regular thing. But they had extra exciting news. This is the story. Elder D. Todd Christofferson was planning to visit Vanuatu this week, but the runways at the airport there are so bad that they won't let anyone fly into Vanuatu right now. (Hopefully they can fix that up in time for Sister Namariel to go home.) But he was already in Samoa so he wanted to still go somewhere so he decided to, as he said, "Come visit the beautiful and handsome missionaries in New Zealand."
So Friday we went to Hamilton and stayed in our favorite hotel. :D We had 12 sisters in the room that reminds me of the dwarves' cottage in Snow White: the eight Taranaki sisters and the four Gisborne sisters (two of which were Sister Pulotu and Sister Ye who are companions!!!). We had to get up at 4:30 to get ready and leave. We wanted to be super early to Auckland to get good seats. Well we stopped at McDonalds and then we got the chapel (the one right by the MTC). But they had like three rows reserved for the MTC missionaries, but our zone got into the fourth and fifth rows! I had a great seat! And I got to sit by Sister Urgel!!!! She is just doing great and I LOVE being with her. We are definitely kindred spirits.
But the meeting was amazing!!! All 500 missionaries from both missions got to shake his hand at the beginning! Then Elder and Sister Pearson, the Pacific Area President, and Sister and Elder Christofferson spoke! I really love the Area Presidency here. Elder Pearson said something that I so, so needed to hear! He talked about in Doctrine and Covenants 4 it says "See that ye serve Him with all your heart, might, mind and strength that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day." I'd been thinking about that a lot before then. But then he said that the function of how well we stand blameless before God at the last day is NOT how many people we help get baptised, but it is a function of how well we serve with all our heart, might, mind, and strength every single day. That was perfect counsel for me. Then when Elder Christofferson spoke, he invited us to ask questions. About four questions were asked and everything that was said was so good. Then he said that we had time for one or two more questions (it ended up being only one). I was SO nervous, but I had a question. The whole time I'd been thinking about it and writing it down and rewording it. But I shot my hand up before I could talk myself out of it and Elder Christofferson pointed at me, I stood up, and they brought me a microphone. I said, "I love the part in Preach My Gospel that talks about becoming a successful missionary, but can you expand more on how we can really know that the Lord is pleased with our offering as missionaries?" Well he gave the best answer! And he looked right at me when he talked. He said that that is something that we all want, to have the Lord tell us, "Well done, my good and faithful servant", but to not worry too much about it but just to focus on those we serve. Then he talked about the enabling power of the atonement and at the end he gave an amazing apostolic promise that we would be protected and strengthened now and throughout our lives. He said that God would see us through this mortal experience and that we would be able to know that He is pleased with us. He said that we will be rewarded for the good that we want to do, the good that we would do if we could. It was so powerful for me because even though I pretty much knew already everything he was saying, I really believed that he was talking to me. I could feel right then how real our Heavenly Father is and that He does love me more than I can know and that He IS proud of me! Afterwards a whole bunch of missionaries told me how good my question was. So that was great.
But that was another WONDERFUL thing this week! It was so fun to be with the other missionaries. Our Taranaki Zone has got to be the best missionary zone in the world. Everyone is so good and fun to be around. We are all so united and focused on our purpose and we just strengthen each other so much. I wish that they could just be my friend group forever. I should try to convince them all to go to BYU someday and we can somehow be in the same ward. But I just love it. I feel like my confidence and individual worth has grown so much lately. I am doing my best and taking care of myself and working hard and I can just be myself and all these great missionaries around me just love and accept me! I don't know. It's just great. On the way home we stopped at a grass clearing by the beach. We played this game that my sisters would love and I was the last sister in! But an Elder beat me. But then they invited me to sing. I sang "Savior Reedemer of My Soul". That was fun. I just am so blessed to be here in the New Zealand Hamilton mission. It's evidence that God really knows me. My call was inspired.
Also, our companionship is doing amazingly well lately. I just so love Sister Pantoja and we both learn from, support, and help each other. I really wish that we had more people to teach. We are doing everything we can to find those that are prepared and I know that as we keep doing our all and try to rely on the Spirit, we will find them!
Heaps of love,
Sister Clarissa Johnson