Sunday, January 3, 2016

Happy 2016

                                                 This picture is from an artsy museum.


Hello,

My goodness!  Can you believe it's 2016?  Yeah me neither.  It's been such a good week to really focus on the work and go as hard as we can. Missionary work is like anything worth doing. It's hard but it's so rewarding. This week our investigators Linda and Ashley finally came to church!!! We were so happy.  They are this adorable old couple that we just love!  It's like "Gone With the Wind".  The guy's name is Ashley.  We worked hard with them all throughout the week, making daily contact, extending commitments and following up, teaching them, and loving them.  They have been meeting with missionaries for ages but they are finally set for baptism on January 23rd.  They are excited to get baptised even though they are working on cutting out coffee.  I'm really excited for them.  I told them about Auntie Kei and how she gave her coffee and threw away her tea bags!  Linda said, "The first problem will be tonight."  They were going to a party and they would be drinking.  I asked Ashley what's something he could say when they offered him alcohol.  He thought really hard for a minute and then said, "No thanks?"  I said, "Yes, that's exactly right!"  Linda didn't drink at all at the party and Ashley had four beers instead of his usual seven or eight.  I guess progress is progress.  We sure pray hard for them.  It's fun here though in some ways because we have a lot fewer people to visit here so we can visit them a lot more often and really, really focus on a few people. 

The Elders found our investigator, Ngaire's, teaching record in their area book so they gave it to us.  She has been meeting with missionaries for over 20 years, and like 4 years in New Plymouth.  She has this copy of the Book of Mormon that she has all the missionaries sign in the front cover.  She has probably thirty missionary signatures, and good, good missionaries that I know.  But she has never been to church in New Plymouth and has hardly kept a commitment.  But I just really like her and we have hope for her so we are going to press forward.  We've been stopping every day to her too.  We've retaught her Lesson 1 and Lesson 2 but we've really, really focused on CPR (which is church/pray/read the scriptures . . . I don't know.  It's what people say.)  But we have been very bold and loving to her and guess what?  She read a chapter in the Book of Mormon.  Now she just needs to come to church.  I can feel her desire growing though, so I have faith. 

This week we have really been working on developing trust with the members and trying to get referrals from them.  I really do love the members of our branch!  It's a cute little group!  And I've just decided that regardless of what has happened in the past with previous missionaries, Sister Pantoja and I can be hardworking, approachable, loving, and just do our best. I think that we've already made some progress.  It's not about us anyway.  It's about the work of salvation!

Oh, one awesome member of our branch is Kira Brown.  Have I told you about her?  She's 19 and just married a Kiwi and is in our branch now.  She is from Alpine Utah and I just love her.  She gave a Book of Mormon to her neighbour (it auto corrects like that with the "u" . . . silly New Zealand :D), Emma.  But it was really a miracle!  Emma has had pretty much the hardest life you can ever, ever imagine but she wants to turn it around and be happy!  I just feel so blessed to have what these people need.  It humbles me.  I'm excited to keep working with her and see her grow. 

So I think I've said this before, but something that I am just loving on my mission is studying! I love the scriptures, Ensigns, and the missionary library. Personal study is always the fastest hour of the day. I also love in our companion study, sharing what we learned with each other. One of the best ways to really learn something is to explain it to someone else and apply it. That's why missions are so great. We get to teach and apply the gospel in our lives every day.

Oh and I forget to tell you what we did for New Year's Eve!  We got permission to have the Bell Block Sisters sleep over (I guess all the Taranaki missionaries did this) and we got to stay up until midnight in our flat.  We had the funnest time, even though the time flew by!  We played hide and seek (that was mostly a fail in our little flat) and Scattergories.  It was great.  But at midnight we went outside and cheered and jumped around and then we sang "Called to Serve" very exuberantly (well I was exuberant anyway!)  And I have a bunch of New Years Resolutions (like I do).  The hardest one is that I'm not going to eat sugar during the month of January.  It has already been SO hard.  No one ever gives us food and in the last few days everyone we know has been giving us delicious New Zealand chocolate.  And my health nut companion decided to by a chocolate bar this week.  But I am persevering.  I'll be so thin you won't believe it by February!   

But life is great.  I love my companion!  The days are long but the weeks are flying by. I love, love, love serving the Lord.  The more that I forget about my selfish desires and hand my will over to the Lord, the happier I am! The church is so true.  :D

Arohanui,

Sister Johnson


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