Sunday, February 28, 2016

Happy Leap Year!

Hello There!

So I am so sad!  I just wrote the LONGEST great email about my week and somehow it is just gone!  I can't find it my drafts or sent or trash or anything.  Sometimes I so hate technology.  Now I'm pretty low on time, but I will try to rewrite it the best I can. 

Anyway, this week was CRAZY!!!!  Transfer weeks always are crazy.  It was really good though.  Sister Pantoja is gone to South Auckland and is with Sister Katipunan, another Filipina!  They are going to have so much fun together.  She was so happy when she found out.  It was sad for her to say goodbye since she's been here six months.  I hated saying goodbye to her.  She was like my older sister and I loved being her companion.  She's such a good missionary!  But all week we were back and forth to the bus stop seeing missionaries off and picking them up.  And we had lots of sisters staying in our flat different nights which was really fun!  A lot of changes happened in our zone.  It's fun to be in a such a close, unified zone where everyone is so good, but it's hard when people leave.  It was especially sad sending Elder Fagaloia off back to American Samoa.  But all the new missionaries are great.  We have two brand new Elders which is fun.

My new companion came late Thursday night.  Her name is Sister Watson.  She was in my district in Glenview and we always gave her and her companion a ride places because they didn't have a car.  She is from Tasmania, Australia.  It will be a good transfer with her! 

Also, on Thursday afternoon after Sister Pantoja was already gone I got a call from the assistants asking me to be the Sister Training Leader in Taranaki!  I was so humbled because there are lots of super wonderful sisters in our zone but I'm really, really excited.  I said yes I would.  So I get to go up to Hamilton later today for MLC (Missionary Leadership Counsel) for Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders.  Poor Sister Watson has a cold and needed to stay home so Sister Flake is coming with me instead and we are exchanging for the day.  Sister Flake and I were probably best friends in the pre-existence so we are really excited! 

We have two wonderful progressing investigators that I don't have time to tell you about.  So sad!  But I just love being a missionary so, so much!  Life is great!

So much love!!!

Sister Clarissa Johnson :D

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Kiora Whanau

Kiora Whanau,

Aoteroa is beautiful as usual!  It's getting a tiny bit less hot, but it's still really hot!  I'm trying to remember what happened to us this week.  Time just goes by so fast.  But we are doing great.  Transfers are this week so we are eagerly awaiting transfer news.  But Sister Pantoja will be leaving because she's been here six months.  So that is sad.  I will miss her so much.  She's such a good example of selfless service and we just have so much fun together!  We worked really hard this week.  We said goodbye to Amy, who is the Jones’ friend.  She is going off to college in Wellington.  We cried during her lesson.  I just feel so natural teaching her because I just want her to love the gospel.  Also we had a cool miracle.  We had this amazing lesson with this older couple that always say they will never come back to church.  I just really felt like it was so led by the Spirit!  I love it when I say things that I just know that I wouldn't have thought to say without the help of the Holy Ghost.

We've been struggling to find new investigators, but it's good for us.  We are trying new ways of doing things and doing everything in our power.  I have been working on having stronger faith that God really is preparing people for us to find.  We will not back down.  Satan will not win in New Plymouth!  Haha!  Really, the more that we don't find people to teach or our investigators don't progress, the harder we want to work and the more we want to improve, so it's just stressing us to be better.

But we had the greatest preparation days here.  We had a sand castle competition and just had the greatest time at the beach with the sisters.  Today we are spending time with the Bellblock Sisters and the new senior missionary couple, the Sterzers.  They are wonderful!!!!  Elder Sterzer is the new 2nd counsellor in the branch presidency because we didn't have one before. They are also starting up addiction recovery class soon, which is so exciting!

We took a lot of members out with us.  The members take such good care of us.  Unfortunately, yesterday was "national day to not be home" so everyone we visited with our members was gone.  So that was too bad.  But we kept trying and then we went tracting.  We said goodbye to Elder Fagaloia this morning.  He serves in our branch with Elder Lingwall and they are the Zone Leaders.  He finished his mission is going home to American Samoa.  All the Elders did the Haka for him and then there were tears shed.  We all just get so close and help each other so much down here in Taranaki. 

But our investigator Emma is doing a little better.  I think her mental health is struggling, but she finally realized that the church is true!!!!  She is not going to be friends with her anti-Mormon bad influence anymore because she found out that he has been stealing drugs from people.

I've been reading in the Book of Mormon about Abinadi.  I love that guy and he is my new inspiration.  King Noah told him that if didn't take back what he had said about the gospel and Jesus Christ, they would kill him.  Yet he was so bold and faithful.  He knew that he hadn't said what God had called him to say so he knew he would be protected until he gave his message.  After he teaches so powerfully, he understands that his purpose has been fulfilled and he is killed.  He didn't care if anyone listened or changed their life as a result of his teachings.  He just knew he had to teach them.  He had obeyed his Heavenly Father and that was enough for him.  He didn't even realize that Alma, one of the priests, had been touched by his message.  Abinadi had planted a seed in Alma.  Through Alma teaching at the Waters of Mormon, hundreds of people were baptized and came unto Christ. 

I love that story because it can relate to me.  Even though right now, no one is coming to church or getting baptized, we are planting seeds that God will eventually harvest.  We don't have to be too concerned or discouraged that no one seems to care too much because we are doing the will of God.  We need to just boldly, lovingly testify of Jesus Christ and do our part at any sacrifice and we will "stand blameless before God at the last day".  I love the scriptures.  And I love prayer.  I've been working on having more specific prayers and it's so much better.  Our district has decided to all pray for each other by name every night.  It's so great!  We are all on the same team! 

I'm so grateful for all the good examples that surround me.  I love being a missionary! 

Thanks for all the letters and valentines and love!  I just love hearing from you!  It was great to hear from Peggy, my wonderful seminary teacher, and the Wells seminary class in the same week!  I felt so loved.  You are all the best!


Sister Clarissa Johnson :D 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hello Family!

This has been such a good week.  It just flew by.  Last Monday Sister Malili taught us to make panikeke, which is my favorite Samoan food!  It's like fried bread with either pineapple or banana inside.  We had such a fun time.  The Malilis are just wonderful in every way.  Tuesday, we had a very opportune, inspired district meeting!  I sure love our district.  I will miss whoever gets transferred . . . and Elder Fangaloia (one of the Elders in New Plymouth) is finishing his mission this transfer.  It's not very nice how they all do that to me.  I get to be such good friends with all these missionaries and then they think they can just go home. :)

But we have decided to back off from Emma after taking the Sterzers (the new senior couple) with us to see her.  She won't read and pray about the Book of Mormon and she's just not mentally ready to change/accept the gospel.  It just breaks my heart because she is struggling so much and on the verge of really starting to be stable in her life and I just know how much the gospel will make her happy.  But we will keep praying for her and stopping by. 

But we found a new, wonderful part member family which I'm so excited about.  There are two kids: Freedim (14) and Ainsley (11).  Freedim is a member and in Young Women's and Ainsley (who's a boy) is not a member.  They live with their dad who is a super nice guy who wants to take lessons as well, but who is on house arrest.  They also live with their wonderful grandma, Sister Healy, who just moved from Waitera branch and who is a returning less active.  But Freedim and Sister Healy especially are so excited for us to come!  We are trying to get Ainsley more excited and to come to church.  But I can just feel how wonderful and prepared they are.  Freedim loved church and they are going to the youth activity tomorrow.

Also, we've been teaching Amy.  She's 18 and she is so good.  She was the head girl at New Plymouth Girl's High.  It's like Harry Potter here.  Everyone has uniforms and there are prefects and head girls and boys.  But she is so humble but really smart and just fun to be around.  She is really close with the Jones family and especially to Noah Jones who just left on his mission to Bulgaria.  But she has read up to the middle of 2 Nephi and she's come to church every week for a month.  She'd never prayed before and on Thursday we taught her to pray.  It was so powerful.  It was just such a spiritual lesson.  It was like a tender mercy from Heavenly Father.  Even though we still don't have too many keen investigators, we can still make a difference.  We are trying our best to teach with the spirit and do all we can, but they also have to receive with the Spirit.  As much as we'd sometimes like to, we can't take their agency away.  But Amy definitely receives with the Spirit.  Unfortunately she is leaving to go to uni in Wellington on Sunday.  But she's already looked up the church there.  We are going to give her as a referral to the Wellington missionaries!  We are excited for her.  It's just so great for her to be experiencing everything in the gospel for the first time with such wonder.  The gospel is wonderful!

Saturday they asked permission, and we got to go help the Bellblock Sisters do service in their area all day.  It was really hardcore service and we had such a good time.  I was sore from shovelling/mowing/weeding/trimming the next day and I'm still sunburned.  I put on sunscreen but only once in the morning.  This thin New Zealand atmosphere though. 

But yesterday was Valentines Day and I got to open some wonderful valentines from my family!  Thanks so much!  You are all gems.  They made my day and we loved the heart glasses.  We heart attacked a bunch of people all over town.  I felt like an elephant stomping around when we tried to sneak up to the doors.  My companion is much better at such things.  But out of 10 houses, we only got caught twice. :D  Everyone has glass doors here, so it's a little tricky.  But that was really fun. 

I also wanted to tell you all again how gorgeous it is here.  Apparently it's like a record hot summer here.  It is so hot, but it is so beautiful.  We also went to the beach on Monday and I can't get enough of that place.  It's just like the perfect beach.  It is so lovely.  And there are apricot, plum, pear, avocado and lemon trees everywhere.  And also everyone has heaps of homegrown tomatos, strawberries, and other berries!  It's amazing! 

I just love New Zealand.  I'm doing really well and I feel like I'm really finding my purpose here in Taranaki.  And I'm still loving the book, Jesus the Christ!


Sister Clarissa Johnson :D

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Be Thou Humble

Good morning!  Good morning!


I know it is really cold where you are, but it is really hot here.  I take two showers a day usually because it's so humid.  And NO ONE has air conditioning.  But the upside is that I'm losing weight!  People at church tell me that I look thinner and it just makes my entire life!


This was a good/weird/hard week.  I don't know.  That's just missionary life for you.  We had an amazing Zone Conference and I learned so much!  We just seem to have fantastic trainings/meeting every week lately.  So that's exciting.  I always love seeing the Rudds.  President Rudd is so, so inspired.  And I learned a lot about charity and using the area book more effectively.  We can always use that.  We also gave all our blankets back to the mission and got new brand new ones!  My bedspread is blue and yellow and adorable so that 's exciting.  But the best part of that trip was the Sterzers.  We have this wonderful new Senior Missionary Couple in our branch!  They are from Highland and they are so, so good.  They are brand new, have never been on a mission before, are a little nervous, and are just so excited and ready to serve.  They are kind of trying to figure out exactly what they will be doing here.  They are going to make such a huge difference here in New Plymouth.  I think we kind of have to share them with the Waitera branch, but I guess that's fair. :D


Tuesday we went on exchanges and I got to serve with Sister Likuborebore from Fiji again.  This time I got to go out to Stratford for the day!  I love Stratford.  It's this adorable little town.  We mowed lawns and weeded (actually we did that three times this week) and visited some people.  I just love spending time with Sister Likuborebore because she is such an AMAZING missionary.  I just learn heaps from her.  Also, we decided that we are kindred spirits.  I just love exchanges.  We had another mini hour long exchange later in the week which was good too.


But this week we worked hard in the heat.  We did a lot of service and talked a lot of people out of feeling bad about themselves.  Emma, bless her heart, is doing alright.  She thought she was losing custody of her two boys, but she didn't.  But we just happened to be there at just the right time to calm her down and convince her to not do anything drastic or illegal.  She was screaming and swearing on the phone while we cleaned up her flat.  Then we said a prayer.  We actually fasted this week with her and she really liked that experience.  She is still working on her smoking and her testimony of Joseph Smith.  But we keep trucking along.

                                              Whalebone Bridge

I think that Heavenly Father is trying to teach me humility this week.  I just want to be a good missionary and help people come unto Christ.  We had a Zone challenge/goal to get heaps of investigators to church.  We only had one, which is better than none I guess.  I was feeling a little sorry for myself that other missionaries are having more success than me.  I'm just so competitive.  Well, I realized that that is bad.  I've been studying humility and praying for it.  We are all on the same team and it's great that they are doing so well.  And we are truly doing our best.  Even if our efforts aren't necessarily ending in baptisms right now, that's alright.  We are here to serve and do the will of the Lord.  It's been really good for me to realize this and feel peace.


So yesterday was a bit of a crazy day at church!  Testimony meeting was just wonderful!  I was feeling the Spirit and feeling rejuvenated and happy.  All the investigators were loving it (at least I felt like they would be).  Well then, at five minutes to the hour, this member guy gets up and starts talking about how his family has been bullied for years.  I guess there's like this crazy family feud going on in our branch.  There was crying and hugging and anger and a lot of tension.  A bunch of people got up and finally the District President got up to stop it all.  The things that happen!  I don't really understand the problems going on.  I really love all the people in our branch.  I just wish they would solve it on their own time. 


But I've been reading Jesus the Christ and the Book of Mormon like nobody's business.  We are so blessed to have the scriptures.  We take them for granted way too much.


Last night after a long day of fasting (that's another thing . . . I'm actually thankful for fasting.  I'm getting better at it.  My companion is a really good example,) we went to dinner at the Malilis like we do.  I just love them.  They are so funny!  I just love Polynesians in general.  But they are so, so funny and I always leave full of food and full of the Spirit!  We were talking about my no sugar thing (which is the topic more often than I wish it was).  Everyone here talks about weight and eating without much thinking and they love to joke about it.  Brother Malili told me a story and I have to really listen closely to understand him.  But in his story there was a lady who thought she was too fat so she went to a doctor.  The doctor told her that she could eat whatever she wanted, as long as she didn't swallow. :D  He thought was so funny.  Sister Malili said, "I think that's the stupidest story ever!"  They are so funny. 

                                                District shirts. Who knew they were a thing?


But life is good!  The church is still true and we are still blessed!




Sister Clarissa Johnson