Sunday, March 20, 2016

Fall Has Fallen

Kia Ora!

I remember beginning one of my emails with "spring has sprung".  Well now I can say that "fall has fallen".  Except no one says "fall" here, only "autumn".  But it's been so wonderful lately.  The weather is mostly perfect.  We aren't dying of heat anymore and it's just gorgeous.  But it's weird to have Easter in the fall.  These switched seasons, let me tell you.  They're confusing.

It's been such a great week.  I'm just really happy.  I love being a missionary.  Last Monday we "stole" Kelly's hard drive to watch a church movie at the church for preparation day with the Bellblock Sisters.  Sister Flake was still a little sick and didn't want to do anything active.  Kelly had already said we could borrow it but wasn't there when we came to get it.  Later we found out she was in the shower.  But her TV is right by the front window which was a little open.  The door was locked but we used a passionfruit vine to snag the cord and get the hard drive from the window.  She thought it was so funny when we told her how we got it afterwards.  We left a note.  But that was an adventure. 

But Kelly has been going through some really hard things lately and it's been amazing to see everyone in the branch come and visit and love and help her so much!  It means so much to her.  We started teaching her friend Robyn who is actually the older sister of one the Elder's investigators.  So that's fun! 

Victoria is doing well.  Unfortunately she has been really busy so we only saw her once this week and she couldn't come to church, but we took Lena, a wonderful YSA returned missionary in our branch who served in the Philippines, with us to her lesson.  She said how she found out that her dad has been a member of the church in his youth until his family left the church.  She was planning to ask him why his family left the church.  So we've been praying for her!  We keep role playing how we are going to teach her and invite her to be baptized and such.  We have had some really great companionship studies this week.  We really spend so much time planning and thinking and praying for these people.  I hope they can feel God's love for them through us. 

President Riggle (in the District Presidency) was in gospel principles yesterday and he was talking about that.  He said that because of his calling he can feel even more keenly the love that God has for people.  I feel like that's the same for me!  As a missionary I just grow to love people so, so much!  I just want them to be happy with all my heart!  Like our investigator Luke was telling us about how he met his partner Krete at his "get out of jail party".  I didn't know that was a thing, but apparently it is.  But I just still care about them so much no matter what choices they’ve made.  It's just a little, tiny glimpse of how God feels about us.

Krete and Luke were actually our big miracle for the week.  We met them on the street outside one of our less active's houses.  Krete (the girl) was so excited to see us because she'd met with missionaries . . .the Lake Ward Elders in Hamilton actually, before.  So we went over on exchanges last week with Sister Flake and had a good lesson.  We've seen them a couple of times.  They have lots of commandment problems but are so wonderful!  And . . . they came to church!!!!!  They don't have a phone so we had to really be organized with it in advance!  Sister Coles gave them a ride.  But they loved it.  It was such a miracle.  It feels like Christmas morning when I'm waiting in the foyer and just so hoping that they will come . . . and then they do!  I was just so happy.  But after church they said they were going to leave.  I assumed they were going with Sister Coles.  But then later Sister Coles asked me where they were.  It turns out they had started walking home.  And New Plymouth is big and they live on the way other side.  It would have taken them well over an hour to walk home, probably more.  But we called Sister Coles and got them a ride.  So don't worry!  They are great.

Oh, now I'm getting out of order.  On Saturday was a Relief Society Birthday tea party.  It was one of those times when I wished I ate sugar, but I was strong.  We brought little cheese, cucumber, cracker things that I ate a lot of.  Haha But it was so much fun.  We helped set up for it the day before and we are getting very good at putting on white chair covers.  We did them for the Christmas party when I first came here.  It was fun though!  They had all these cute tea cups and paraphernalia and colorful tablecloths.  And they had me sing.  I just sang "Savior Redeemer of My Soul" a cappella.  I sure love singing in a big room where I can go as loud and strong as I like to and it's not too much! 

Also this week we went on exchanges with the Stratford Sisters.  We had the best time.  I stayed here in New Plymouth with Sister Parkinson, who was also an Alto 1 in BYU Women's Chorus AND she was the missionary that Victoria met in the Visitor Center originally.  Isn't that cool?  So she got to see Victoria again.  We had the greatest exchange and just talked and talked about everything.  Only we got really, really rained on and drenched.  I'm pretty sure it rained more in one day in New Plymouth than it rains all year in Nevada.  Like I thought the cars were all going to float away.  It was crazy.

My companion is great!  We have fun together and are doing so well.  We help each other a lot. 

Finally, here is my new favorite scripture:  Doctrine and Covenants 123:17.  It talks about cheerfully doing all in our power so that we can stand still with the utmost assurance that God will make everything work out for the salvation of souls.  Sometimes I feel like my effort is so small in this big city of New Plymouth.  But, like our less active Erina said, we are like a pebble dropped in a pool.  Our influence spreads and if we do all we can, we can be happy with that because God is doing the rest.  Isn't that good?

Well I just love you all so, so much!

Kia kaha!


Sister Johnson 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Miracles Happen. . . Once in a While

Hello lovely people,

In reference to my title, do you know that song?  I keep singing that line because miracles keep happening to us!  I have had such a good week.  I feel like all seeds we've been planting during the last two transfers are finally really starting to grow.  Maureen is moving to Wellington, and poor Ainsley and Freedim haven't been home because their dad has been drunk and not making the best choices.  But, we had a new miracle . . . Her name is Victoria.  She's 21 and she was a referral from the Visitor Center.  She just randomly stopped there because she thought the temple looked pretty and didn't know what it was.  She loved it and we have taught her two lessons.  It's amazing the difference it makes when you find someone who is truly prepared for the gospel.  The spirit is so, so strong with her.  She has always felt that it is really important to have a strong relationship with God even though she hasn't had any religion in her life.  But she said that she just knows that something is missing and she thinks that it is spiritual.  She has been reading the Book of Mormon and said that if God tells her that it is true, she will be baptised, the sooner the better!  

When we got out of our first lesson with her I just couldn't contain my joy!  And when she walked into sacrament meeting I was so happy again.  I feel like God is so good to give us a miracle like this.  She truly has been kept from the truth because she knew not where to find it.  I feel humbled to teach her.  And she is even coming to our preparation day movie watching extravaganza with the other sisters.  We are so excited! 

Also this week, we went on an emergency exchange with some other sisters.  I'm so glad we did.  They are learning to compromise and work together but they are both such great missionaries.  Sometimes companionships are just hard and you really have to work to get along.  But they are doing so much better now.  I'm so glad I get to go on lots of exchanges now.  Exchanges are so fun and I always learn so much from the other sisters. Also, Sister Watson is just doing so great.  I'm so glad that we are companions.  The Lord really is inspired.  She has such a testimony and desire to serve.  

So we've been wanting to have a Meet the Mormons movie night for a while and it finally happened this week!  My favorite less active (who's actually not even less active anymore . . . Hooray) came with her family.  Her name is Skye and she's just great.  She has two kids and she's the best mom!  I just love their family.  They told me that they will come to my wedding.  I said ok! :) 

So yesterday was a crazy day! We had to organize lots of people's rides to church, Sister Watson spoke, and we taught Relief Society.  We taught out of the Howard W. Hunter book about Joseph Smith.  We showed the 20 minute movie about Joseph Smith and everyone cried when we were talking afterward.  I told an experience from the Nauvoo Pageant.  I'm so grateful for my testimony of the Restoration.  So many people just don't realize that there's more out there!  I think of that crazy Anti-Mormon guy from a couple months ago.  Emma says that she doesn't talk to him because he is so addicted to drugs still.  I compare the way I felt when he was doing the church to the way I felt during our Relief Society lesson.  Two different worlds.  I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet and that the church of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth in these latter days.  I just know it.  

I'm just so grateful for the gospel this week!

I just really love my mission.  I wish every person on earth could have the opportunity to serve a mission.

Sister Johnson

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Happy March!

Someone posted these pictures of Clarissa. I love how she is hugging someone in several of them. I wish I could hug her!

Kia Ora!

How are you all?  Let's all hope this email doesn't get erased somehow this week.  It's been a good week but a crazy one.  I feel like time is on fast forward and I can just barely keep up.  Last Monday we left at four to go to Hamilton.  I think I told you last week that I went with Sister Flake from Bellblock and Sister Watson stayed here with Sister Katene because she was sick.  But I just adore Sister Flake!  We had the greatest times.  I kind of live off of singing and harmonizing and really, really good conversations.  We had plenty of both on the way to and from Hamilton.  It was just the kind of trip that is good for the soul. 

But that night we stayed with Sister Asiata and Sister Likuborebore in Claudeland!  They both came from Taranaki in the last two transfers.  It was great to see them!  Also I got to talk to the Hamilton East Elders.  They said that everyone asks about me all the time and misses me.  That really made my day!  I miss those Hamilton Easterners!

MLC (Mission Leadership Counsel) was so fun!  It was at President Rudd's house.  It was interesting because there were 22 Zone Leaders there from the eleven Zones and only seven Sister Training Leaders.  We all stuck together a lot because we were all companionless.  But it was great.  I just felt the Spirit so strong during the meeting.  I loved how it wasn't so much a training, but a counsel.  President Rudd gave us notes to take back to our zones and then he brought up different goals/concerns/etc. and we all just talked about how we could help the mission.  I just felt so much appreciation and love for President Rudd!  He is just a normal, good guy but he is doing everything he possibly can to do the will of Lord here.  He has such a big responsibility and he does great!  We talked a lot about the protocols (extra mission rules specific to our mission) and he said that if they have helped facilitate the salvation of even one missionary then he is glad we have them.  In the missionary handbook (it's not the white handbook . . . according to President Rudd because it teaches us how to be missionaries not how to be white), but anyway, it says that your loyalty is "first to the Lord, then to your mission president, then to the missionaries."  I love that!  I've also liked going to branch council here in New Plymouth, even though it is sooo long.  It's good to see all the leaders just doing their best to magnify their callings and serve!

On Thursday we had Zone Meeting.  I helped the Zone Leaders plan it.  I gave a training that I changed about a million times in two days, but I think it ended up going really well.  I talked about using time wisely and remembering the urgency and greatness of our calling.  I also talked about Abinadi like I did in my email a few weeks ago.  I made Sister Sterzer cry.  I just really, really love our zone.  Then last night we had a zone leadership meeting with the Zone Leaders, the two district leaders, and me.  We talked about what it means to be a good leader.  Someone said that a good leader is a good follower. . . of Jesus Christ!  I want to be like that.

Our area has been really interesting this week.  The Sterzers (the Senior Couple here) are going through the branch list that is like 20 years out of date and we're visiting all these old inactive people and seeing if they still live there or where they live now.  I've been amazed at how many are so cranky and don't want anything to do with the church.  They just really don't know what they are missing! 

But we have two great investigators right now.  One is in a part member family.  I think I've told about them before.  Freedim is a 14 year old member and her brother Ainsley is our investigator!  They are so great!  The other is Maureen.  She broke up with her partner and is now living at . . . the Malilis!!!!!  Isn't that perfect!  They are our Samoan family that feeds us and we love them.  It's an islander thing.  They feed you every time you go over no matter what.  I always feel so bad and try to say no but they don't care!  So we are getting fed a bit more and Maureen (who is also Samoan) has some amazing fellowship!  The only hard thing with her is that she works at Countdown (a grocery store) really long, random hours so she is often working during church.  Pray for her to have Sundays off! :D 

My new companion, Sister Watson, is doing great!  She is good and really good at validating and supporting me.  She has such a strong testimony.

Finally, I know I say this a lot, but I LOVE THE BOOK OF MORMON!  It is getting easier and easier to understand and I just fly through it sometimes.  Other times I'll have a certain scripture that just helps me so much and I'll spend the whole time just studying that couple of verses.   In Preach My Gospel one of the headings is, "The Book of Mormon answers the questions of the soul".  That is definitely true!


Sister Clarissa Johnson

P.S.  Remember me talking about Kira Brown from Utah who married a Maori and lives here now.  Well she is the seminary teacher now and she is going to have a baby!!!!! :D  Isn't that great!