Kia Ora Whanau!
It was a very eventful week in the life of the New Plymouth sister missionaries. The most recent event was ten minutes ago in this very library, two angry Maori guys got into a fist fight. The police had to come and break it up. It was crazy. I was just sitting here emailing and hear all this commotion.
But other than that, we had our last District Meeting on Tuesday. It was on the importance of family in the gospel. We were given like three minutes to ponder and write down all the ways the gospel has blessed our families. I pulled out my picture of my family and just cried. We are so, so blessed to have the gospel. I just wish everyone had a wonderful family in the gospel. I guess that's why I'm here.
Wednesday, we went on exchanges with the Hawera Sisters. We left the two non-drivers together so it was a lot of driving for me. But my word! New Zealand sure is beautiful. Only, there aren't many fall colors. I guess in every season, the color is green! But I got to exchange with Sister Gunderson from Oregon. She is just being trained and she is wonderful! She went to BYU and we didn't even know each other. I guess there are a lot of people at that place. But we had so many miracles happen on our exchange. Wonderful Sister Snow said the prayer to begin our exchange and prayed that we'd all be able to invite someone to be baptized on May 14th like President challenged us to. I had already been thinking, "Who in the world are we going to invite?" But I obviously didn't have enough faith. We FINALLY had a lesson with Krystel. She's the one that Sister Flake and I met on the way home from MLC in the fish and chips shop who lives below the Elders' flat. But she has met with missionaries before and the lesson was really, really spiritual. We invited her to be baptized, and she said YES! Unfortunately she couldn't come to church because she had worked night shift. But she felt bad she couldn't come and is excited for next week. She said that she misses going to church a lot.
Friday, the Elders got us permission to attend the Malili's son, Sioli's, funeral. It was such a sad, sad thing. The Malilis were gone to Australia when they found out their 36 year old son had been killed in a car accident by Opunake. He had a wife and four little kids. But there were so many people at the funeral, mostly Samoans. Let me tell you, I LOVE Samoans so much! But we were passing out programs and we had a lot but we ran out! My heart just goes out to the wife in Opunake so much, but the Malilis were such a picture of love, peace, and goodness during the whole thing. They both spoke and just made me cry so much. They are the salt of earth in every way. We are just so incredibly blessed to know about the Plan of Salvation. There was just such a visible difference between those who really had internalized the gospel and those who didn't know about it. I love the Malilis!
Saturday, we got to help at the Marai outside of New Plymouth with the Bellblock Sisters. I always love doing that. We harvested some kind of legume things (Mr. Noorda would have known what they were) and picked a million tomatoes! Then we rushed home to beautify ourselves for Ava's baptism! It was such a beautiful day. We've been working on this for over a month. Ava is only eight so it was technically not a convert baptism, but she was nervous to get baptized in the font and hates doing things in front of people, but we finally set it up to have her baptism at the swimming pool where she takes swimming lessons. It was a very, very small group. But I was proud of the nice program that we made with Skye. And I got to sing and speak at the baptism. I made Ava a little book that I (very poorly) tried to illustrate. It was about all the different roles and blessings we get from the gift of the Holy Ghost. And I sang a combination of "I Feel My Savior's Love" and "When I Am Baptized". And it was so special to see her grandpa, John (Vicki's husband) who is a recent convert and a newly-made priest, baptize his granddaughter. I just loved it!
Yesterday was probably my last Sunday at church! :( I am excited to have a new adventure, but I never dreamed of how much I'd grow to absolutely love New Plymouth and the people here! Sister Jones told me that she wishes that she hadn't been so busy and had us over more. We connected over music! And Skye is just a kindred spirit for sure! I have loved growing with her and seeing her testimony grow. And I will cry saying goodbye to Kira Brown. We came here at the same time and were both a little overwhelmed. We've needed each other so much through these last five months. And I will miss Krete and Luke! They are so cool! We just taught them the Word of Wisdom and especially Krete is on fire! They just so want to choose the right. Luke has been smoking since he was seven so it will be hard for him to quit, but I know he can do it!
The gospel is true! The church is true! And I have another new favorite scripture to add to the list. It's Doctrine and Covenants 130:2. Look it up!
Have a wonderful week!!!
Sister Clarissa Johnson
The pictures are pancakes on her birthday (with a lovely birthday bow), the sisters at Paritutu, and the Malilis.