Sunday, June 26, 2016

It's Raining . . . Water and Miracles!

Kia Ora!

It's been such a great week.  Time just flies.  I feel like I was just writing my email last week.  It rained HEAPS this week, but it rained water and it also rained blessings!  So I'm happy.  Also, today I got a couple of wonderful emails from people I love in New Plymouth.  They are doing well and progressing in the gospel, which is so exciting to hear! :D  I will have amazing New Zealand friends for the rest of my life (and the next, for that matter).

So first, last Monday was so fun.  We played basketball, touch rugby, and volleyball at the chapel with the whole district and it was so fun!  I was the best out of all the sisters at basketball, semi/kind of decent at volleyball and by far the worst at touch.  But we can't be good at everything, now can we?  But we have a good district.  All the sisters are really doing well and they are great so that's good.  We had dinner with the Burtons (who are related to my Brad and Olivia) so that was fun.  They have some amazing stories of adopting their two youngest kids.  It made me think of Morgan!  I sure love that guy!

It was nice weather Monday and Friday, but all the other days it rained so much.  We have still been trying to take members out with us almost every day and it is so fun.  On Wednesday/Thursday we did exchanges with Rotorua so I had to drive through the winding gorge to and from Rotorua twice in the POURING rain, but we survived so that's good.  Just a little swerving, but that's the norm!  But I went with Sister Judd again and it was her last exchange.  She is an awesome missionary.  We wore our animal onezies from the Warehouse to bed.  (I have a frog.  She has a cow.)

But our investigators are doing so well!  We had a good lesson with Chasidy.  She is so strong and her struggles are so sad.  She is SO, SO good.  I can just feel her spirit every time we meet.  She's the one who says really powerful, sincere prayers.  She has now been alcohol free for three weekends and she's come to church three weeks in a row.  She is all set to be baptized but her partner is back again.  We had a really cool lesson (it was actually over the phone after planning Saturday night), where I just KNOW I was led by the Spirit.  She has been praying and praying all the time to know what she should do about the whole partner/law of chastity/baptism situation and she says she's not getting an answer.  I thought to tell her about the scripture in the Doctrine in Covenants to Oliver Cowdery about how you have to study it out in your mind and make a decision and then take that decision to the Lord for confirmation.  Because I know that she knows what to do.  She knows the church is true but she just doesn't want to accept the answer that Heavenly Father is trying to give her.    

Then the Relief Society lesson on Sunday was just MADE for her.  It was perfect, talking about how to receive answers.  Heavenly Father orchestrates our lives so amazingly!

Then we have Kirsty's parents, Caroline AND the dad Alan came to church!  We had the coolest lesson with them ever.  It was so cool to be teaching such a wonderful family that is really interested in the gospel.  The Spirit was so strong as we shared about the Restoration and the First Vision.  Caroline went to the Visitor Center at the temple last week and she kept saying that she just wants to go back there for some reason and that it felt so good.  So they've organized a trip and the THREE of them are going to the Visitor Center this Friday.  But the church just makes sense to them.  It's hard for them to go against their family's religions they said.  Caroline said that the line "True to the faith that our parents have cherished" really bothered her because this isn't the faith that her parents cherished.  Again, I felt like the Holy Ghost really helped me as we resolved her concern.  I told her about my ancestors that joined the church in Europe and crossed the plains and how a lot of them, their parents had taught them to believe in God and to be honest, good people which helped them make the decision to accept the gospel.  I said how grateful I was for those pioneers in my family.  I told her that they were the pioneers in their family and how the gospel is not taking away what Caroline's parents taught her, but adding to it.  

I feel like it really rang true to everyone.  The gospel is really not against any other religion.  It is just more.  It's the fullness.  It's building.  It's the same with the Book of Mormon!  It strengthens and testifies alongside the Bible and completes the whole picture.  I love truth.  Whenever you hear or read truth, you feel the Spirit.  I remember being in Mrs. Walker’s in High School and finally understanding something in Physics or Chemistry and how it felt so good to get the answer.  That's the same feeling I feel when I study the gospel and learn truth.  I'm grateful that we each can be a "seeker of truth".  And no one but the Holy Ghost can really put that truth in our hearts!  What a blessing we have in this gospel!

But the coming week will be good.  I'll probably eat a lot of big, delicious kiwis as usual, find some more wonderful new investigators in Te Puke, be sad as I think of President and Sister Rudd going home on Thursday, and see even more miracles!  

So much love! 

Sister Johnson

P.S. Precious (one of our favorite YSA’s) and I sang a prelude and musical number in Mount sacrament meeting.  We harmonize together and it's SOOOO fun.  We are also planning a musical fireside with Sister Ngakuru!  So hooray for music!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Miracle Week

Kia Ora!  

This week was truly "Miracle Week". It just might have been the best week of my mission. We've been building and building this area, and this week it finally all came together! We took out a member, usually a YSA every day of the week I think. We invited lots of people to be baptized and we had the most spiritual lesson EVER when we were on exchanges with our investigator Chasidy! She is amazing. And it was such a blessing to have Kirsty, a recent convert of a little over a year, with us to share her own conversion story. Kirsty has been going to the temple like twice a week lately to do baptisms and she is seriously dating a returned missionary! She is such a pioneer in her family.

Speaking of Kirsty, we are now teaching her mom . . . and hopefully soon her dad as well. Her mom, Caroline, is so ready for the gospel! She comes to gospel principles every week and we discuss and she learns so much. We had a wonderful Relief Society activity this Friday all about the temple and all those people came and loved it.  There were different stations.  Sister Pulotu made three boards, like the ones they always make at Girls Camp, that say "Family Forever".  One is for our flat and the other two were for sisters there that didn't have time to make one themselves.  I made a temple recommend holder that is really pretty.  I was really fast at it because of my previous cross stitching experience.  It was so fun!

I've just felt so excited and so on fire lately. I had a dream this week that President and Sister Rudd were going home and that I was going home too, at the same time as them. I was so, so sad to be leaving. I'm glad that I still have time to serve with all my heart and change and get better and see miracles as people come to Christ!  I just hope they let me stay in this area long.

Friday was ZONE CONFERENCE . . .  the last one with President and Sister Rudd.  It was so cool because it was at a Marae in Otemotai!  We had to be welcomed and stop at the door and think about our ancestors and take off our shoes.  And they had us all do a Haungi (which is where you touch noses when you shake hands) with the Marae leaders.   We started off in Matthew Cowley grove which is where Matthew Cowley would go to study Maori and the gospel when he first went on his mission.  He's a super famous New Zealand missionary who became an apostle.  I felt the Spirit so much as President Rudd was talking there!  I sure love this amazing country.  Also, I got to see all my favorite Gisbornites!!! :D  Heaps of my Taranaki friends are now in Gisborne all together.  But I got to see Sister Green, Sister Katane, Elder Bredthauer, Elder Lingwall, and Elder Vaea.  So that was so exciting!  

We are going to go have another fun preparation day.  We hiked the Mount again last week with our whole district which was so fun!  I wish you all could come to New Zealand with me someday and hike it with me.  It's so, so beautiful that it almost feels fake.  It's like right off a postcard everywhere you look!  But this week we are playing volleyball and (if you're me, especially) basketball!

But I just love the gospel.  I feel like my testimony is growing stronger and stronger almost imperceptibly, but it is.  I love studying the gospel.  I have been really into "Jesus the Christ", my patriarchal blessing (which I never get tired of reading), and of course the Book of Mormon.  I'm so grateful that the fullness of the gospel is restored.  It is so simple and so beautiful.  I'm glad that God loves me no matter what and He sees our perfect potential.  He never, ever gives up on his children, even when they make mistakes.  I'm grateful for the law of obedience.  If we are just obedient and give God our all, He will give us way, way, way more happiness, peace, joy, and blessings than we could ever imagine, let alone deserve.  I'm thankful for a completely just and wholly merciful Father who is always on my side.  

Miracles happen once in a while . . . and all the time as we keep the commandments and serve!

I love you all.  Keep being brave and loving and doing the best you possibly can!  Pray and thank Heavenly Father for your blessings.  And make the very most you can of the sacrament.  We are so blessed to be able to go to church and mingle with the saints, be strengthened, and renew our covenants.  


Sister Clarissa Johnson

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Hello! Hello!


The sun is FINALLY shining in the Bay of Plenty! :D  It has been pouring rain this whole week.  I, unfortunately don't have too much time because I've been too busy looking at good old Wells High graduation pictures!  But it has been great. 

Tuesday was MLC (Mission Leadership Counsel).  I love that place!  We had to wake up SO darn early to get there, but we made it.  The Zone Leaders drive so fast, but we kept up with them, barely.  But it was President and Sister Rudd's last MLC.  Elder and Sister McGregor compiled this big binder of letters sent in from all the missionaries and presented it to them.  I say this all the time, but I just love those two!  And it's always so fun to see all my missionary friends!  I just know all the Zone Leaders/Sister Training Leaders now.  It's sad though because I know almost everyone going home now every transfer so it's always sad to say goodbye.  I was so happy because Sister Flake was there so we got to hang out and say goodbye before she leaves next transfer.  But luckily, we will see each other back in the Americas.

Something crazy happened though.  Because President is going home he is taking away all the extra stuff that he did for our mission.  We no longer have to keep track of our "talking with everyone" and send it in with our numbers.  Also, he ripped up the protocol page!  It has been so weird.  I realized that I appreciated those rules more than I realized.  All of a sudden we can listen to music in the car, do hand signs in pictures, and spend preparation days with Elders and Sisters.  I feel like the protocols were like the Law of Moses and now we are given the higher law.  I just hope that our mission can be trusted with it.  I've been thinking a lot about obedience.  I actually gave my training at Zone Meeting about obedience.  We learned at MLC from Elder McGregor (who used to work at church headquarters) that they did this big study and found out which topics were taught most often in General Conference.  Well it turns out that the most often taught principle by apostles and prophets, by far, is obedience.  It truly is the first law of heaven and it brings so many blessings.  I love sharing Mosiah 4:31 with people.  It's about the "blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God".  Of course we will still have trials, but it will be easier because we have our foundation rooted on Christ and his gospel.

We have been working hard to take members out with us more.  We took three YSA girls out with us this week and had such a fun time with them!  One even came to feed the homeless with us.  She's 18 and is so excited to serve a mission and her name (like Sister Pantoja) is Precious.  We also have been really focusing on helping our investigators keep commitments.  We invited two people to be baptized this week.  They are still working towards it but we are helping them with their concerns so hopefully they will be ready soon.  But this is the best news ever . . . Chasidy came to church!!!  I was so, so excited! 

We had Elder Thompson of the Seventy in Mount Ward this week.  Precious and I harmonized and sang "You Can Believe in Christ" and I played the piano.  It was so, so fun!  Having a musical number to work on keeps me going in life! :D

But I'm afraid I have to go.  I love you all.  I'm so grateful for wonderful members that help us with the missionary work, feed us, and make us feel loved.  Make sure to take good care of the missionaries near you.  Go out and do missionary work with them and you will have an amazing experience.  Keep reading the Book of Mormon every single day.  It will work miracles in your life. 

The church is true!  It just is and the Holy Ghost will witness it to you if you don't know it yet or even if you do.

I love you all!  Kia kaha!  Kia Ngawari! 


Sister Clarissa Johnson

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Happy Queen's Birthday

Kia ora!

So it's the Queen's birthday in these parts! (Well kind of.  They celebrate it on the first Monday of June so it's close enough.)  But life is good.  First of all . . .here's an unfortunate thing.  I am not actually training.  False alarm!  Silly Elder Fameitau (Zone Leader) told me that I would be training but it was miscommunication.  The Assistants asked them who would be good in their zone to train and they said, "Sister Johnson".  But it wasn't actually a for sure thing like they made it sound.  So that's kind of too bad.  But I was excited to hear from Kelly in New Plymouth just now that there will be a brand new sister coming to New Plymouth.  That will be good.

But luckily . . .my new companion is Sister Pulotu! :D  I love her.  I couldn't believe it when I heard the news.  When I was in Hamilton East, she was in Claudelands and we were so close.  She gave me my stuffed dog named Provo, because she wanted to go to BYU with me someday.  Well, now we are companions!  She only has three months of her mission left.  If I stay here two more transfers I will be her last companion!  I guess killing Tongans is my specialty!  Haha (That sounds really bad if you don't understand it.  Oh well!)

But it was crazy week!  I stayed with the Greerton Sisters until Thursday and we had the BEST time.  I just love them both.  It was especially wonderful to be with Sister Urgel again.  She is so cute!  We are such kindred spirits and laugh together all the time.  I feel like I know all of the people they are working with now!  They have a great area . . . even though their flat is really old and SO freezing cold!  It's been really cold this week.  Sad. . . winter is coming!

But then on Thursday I brought Sister Pulotu back to our area and started introducing her to everyone.  Too bad it's a long weekend though.  A lot of people have been gone.  But we are excited to focus more on the members this transfer!  We are going to teach them, ask them for referrals, and take them out with us.  It's so nice that everyone wants to feed us, but we'd rather have a good referral than a good feed.  So all of you member missionaries out there remember that!  You are not there to help the missionaries with their work.  They are there to help you with yours.  "Every member a missionary!"

Poor Kathy though!  She got her big shoulder surgery today and she's been so, so miserable so that's sad.  But we just have wonderful members!

I LOVE feeding the homeless on Saturdays. We do it every week and I know all their names and I just feel so good making them feel like someone in the world cares about them.  I feel like they all really like me!  Sister Solomon . . . and Brother Solomon are such saints! 

Yesterday was crazy!  We did the marathon church from 7:30 Ward Council until the end of Mount Ward at 4.  I bore my testimony in both wards.  Did primary singing time with no notice in Welcome Bay (but it was fun), played the piano in Mount sacrament meeting and Relief Society, sang a solo with no notice in Welcome Bay Relief Society, and taught gospel principles in Mount.  I was fasting and felt really sick by the end.  I think I just have a cold so hopefully I will be feeling better soon.  I have to be healthy for MLC tomorrow. :D 

We rearranged and cleaned our flat so beautifully today!  And we have a cottage evening at the Preston's tonight and hopefully lots of people will come.  Their other Sam just got off his mission last night so that's exciting!  Melissa and her girls are coming so I'm really happy about that.

Speaking of Melissa, the best part of my week was hearing her bear her testimony in sacrament.  She leaned over twice and asked me what the word for certain things were.  (The words were "convert" and "Relief Society".)  She was nervous, but she got up and bore the sweetest testimony.  She is progressing so much.  Sometimes we look for miracles in the wrong places.  The progress a cute little family of two daughters and their mother is a huge miracle!  They have been coming to church every week and doing family prayers morning and night.  I love them so much! Missions are sure the best!

This week, I have been thinking a lot about the Holy Ghost again.  I have been trying to always be evaluating myself to notice if I have the Spirit with me.  It is such a priceless gift from our Heavenly Father. 

I love you all!  Happy graduation to Deseret and all the other lovely class of 2016! 


Sister J