Sunday, July 31, 2016

"And Your Mouth Shall Be Filled"

Kia Ora, kiora!  :D

Hope you are all doing great.  If you are too hot in America, you can think of me getting drenched every day in the rain.  But I can't complain at all because we have a car and it is SO beautiful here.  I have seen more rainbows in the last two weeks than in my whole life combined, probably.

Thinking back on this week just feels like such a blur.  We (as usual) played volleyball with our district on Monday.  We had interviews with President Cummings on Tuesday, which was so great.  He is such a wonderful mission president.  He's just very formal, but so spiritual!  

Wednesday we went on exchanges and I got to be with sweet Sister Toaripi.  She is from Papua New Guinea and she is so good!  She reminds a lot of Sister Namariel.  She is doing so well for being so new. 

We've been on splits a lot this week with YSA as well.  We always love that.  They are so fun and we can go to twice as many appointments.  We always have lots of people to visit.  I just love those girls.  Precious and her family finally have moved into their own house and it's huge and fancy and it has an elevator!  They made us chop suey and baked bananas and taro with coconut cream and it was so, so good!  I love that Samoan food. :D 

On Saturday, the Greerton sisters called and said that Sister Aloka was really sick and couldn't go to their baptism.  Isn't that sad? But we got to exchange and I got to go to their baptism and play the piano.  It was great.  Baptisms are always the best. 

But the main focus of the week was wedding/baptism planning.  Some people said that no one knows Erena and Victor really (because she's been in hospice and not able to come to church . . . we had to get permission from President Cummings for her to be baptized after only coming to church once) and that we should just have easy snacks after the baptism.  But Sister Solomon remembers when she got married and baptized and everyone in the ward she was in made it so nice.  She is so wonderful!  She only met Erena once and now she is spending all this time and energy on making it an amazing day.  After feeding the homeless on Saturday night (which was wonderful as usual) I laid on her nice window seat and called heaps of the members and invited them to bring salads, desserts, and drinks.  Almost everyone was so excited and said that they would love to!  We have one member making a fancy cake, another lent her a white dress and is giving tablecloths!  We are so excited.

But then we went over yesterday and they were both really angry and arguing and they told us that it was off because Victor didn't want to get married.  They said they needed time.  Well we just waited in the doorway and I was praying with all my heart that I would know what to say.  Finally I had the opportunity and I talked to Victor and I just KNOW that Heavenly Father guided me for what to say.  It was good.  He is just scared.  Satan is so, so real and puts any excuse into Victor's head to not do it.  But I just knew that we wouldn't have had all the amazing miracles that we have had if Erena was not going to be able to be baptized.  I told Victor that I respected him and that Heavenly Father loved him and that he really was in a stressful, hard situation but that he had to be selfless and humble himself and think of Erena and what is best for her.  (It was scary.  I was really, really bold but I think that's what the Holy Ghost was prompting me to say.)  Of course Victor wants Erena to be baptized and be able to progress towards exaltation.  Finally I asked him.  "What are you going to do to help Erena get there?"  And he said, "I guess we better go to the registry office tomorrow and meet Bishop."  It was such a miracle! 

By the time we left, the whole atmosphere was different.  We happily talked about all the plans.  She has cut from 30 smokes a day to two and she committed to have her last one ever last night!  She is excited to pay tithing!  We have one of the Te Puke investigators doing her hair and make up and we are going to get her all dolled up!  She is getting interviewed tonight.  I know that God is truly in the details of our lives.  He will truly fill our mouths, our minds and our hearts when we need it.  When we are on the right side there is absolutely nothing to fear.  I know it's going to be an intense week leading up to the baptism, but truth will prevail! :P 

I love you all so, so much!  Thanks for all you do to help the work of salvation move forward wherever you are.  There is nothing better than selfless service.  Even though mission life is admittedly harder than normal life, I am happier than I've ever been.   It's something that I can't quite describe.  When you give your whole self, you get a miracle (or lots of miracles) in return!

Arohanui,

Sister Clarissa Johnson


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Pioneers

Kia Ora Whanau,

Hope you are all doing swell!  Also happy Pioneer Day! :D  This week I've been around a lot of amazing modern pioneers.  I'll tell you about each of them.

1.  Chasidy-- Chasidy is such a hero.  She is not drinking still and working with the bishop to prepare to get her patriarchal blessing.  She has changed so much since she was baptized.  She is so good and strong and just wants to take the gospel and run with it all of her life.  She also wants to share it with all of her family.  She says that she just wishes everyone was a member of the church.

2.  Erena--Erena is our investigator that is dying of kidney failure.  I just feel like I knew her in the pre-existence.  She is so good.  We explained to her that she needs to either get married or separate from Victor.  That was hard for her but she prayed all night and decided that she wants to be baptized no matter what and that she wants to get married! But now Victor doesn't want to get married anymore because some of Erena's family doesn't like him.  I know that it's just Satan working and that things will come right!  Heavenly Father is so real and EVERY single time we try to do something good, Satan tries to stop it.  And the more valiant and committed we are, the more he tries to stop us.  But Heavenly Father is in control and is all powerful! 

3.  All the sister missionaries around me--I am so blessed to be surrounded by amazing sisters!  They are all so good and obedient.  They all are going through different hard things though.  I have done a whole lot of praying, counseling, fasting, studying, thinking, helping, teaching, and loving this week for the other sisters and the different things they are struggling with. 

4.  Sister Solomon--She is our star member who totally changed her life around three years ago and stopped doing drugs, etc.  She got married and baptized and is now the most Christlike person ever.  She's the one we feed the homeless with every week.  She came with us to see Erena and she is so perfect to fellowship her.  She is also so, so excited to take the role of wedding planner for Erena!  I'm so excited! 

5.  Kirsty and Caroline--They are so wonderful and Caroline has been coming to church and learning so faithfully!  Kirsty is a great example.  They are also facing a lot of adversity.  I pray for them so much too.  But they are just always so patient and so kind no matter what happens to them.

6.  Sister Pulotu--Poor Sister Pulotu has been sick almost all week.  I've had to go on mini exchanges with other sisters so that we can still teach our important lessons.  She has been really good about never complaining.  It's no fun to be sick on a mission. 

But we've really had an awesome week.  I think of Neill Marriot’st (she is my hero) talk about "Building the Kingdom through Nurturing".  I feel kind of like a mother who is responsible for all these dear children (or sister missionaries and investigators and recent converts).  I just love them all so much and want them to succeed!  Service really is the way to lose ourselves to find ourselves.  That is such a true principle.  I just never want to leave this area or this country.  I love it so much!

The church is so true.  The gospel is so good and it literally transforms people.  There are no such thing as bad people.  There are only children of God that haven't been transformed yet and that need help getting there.  That is what we are for.  We truly are His hands.  I love you all so much!  Kia kaha and kia ngawari!

Arohanui,

Sister Clarissa Johnson :D 


Monday, July 18, 2016

I'm Staying!

Hello there! 

So, very unfortunately, we are supposed to already be at the Mount to hike it with the other missionaries, so this will have to be a very short email. 

But it was transfers this week and it was pretty crazy.  I feel like I'm a full time Sister Training Leader, but it's been really fun.  First Sister Taimona, from Rotorua, stayed with us for three days because Sister Judd . . .and Sister Flake, Nakagawa, Anderson, and Chudleigh all went home.  But we have sisters in Te Puke now and we are so excited!  It's Sister Lewis, who is my favorite, and Sister Toaripi, who is a brand new missionary from PNG.  She's adorable! But they are whitewashing and don't have a phone yet so that is sad.  So we've been showing them around their area and introducing them to all the Te Puke people so we won't have to it anymore.  (We will still help feed the homeless . . .of course!)  Also, Sister Machen is training and the Greerton Sisters don't have a car anymore.  So we've been driving, helping, and organizing sisters a lot.  It's so fun though.

But our area is doing so great.  We are praying for Erena.  Chasidy is rock solid!  She is having her interview for her patriarchal blessing tomorrow.  Also, we have a new Welcome Bay bishopric so that's exciting.  Also, the Prestons are moving back to Ogden in three months, so we will be in the same country and I can come visit them. And finally, guess who the new Zone Leader is?  Elder Fellingham.  I swear he is following me.  We've been in every area together.  But we are doing great.

I had an amazing experience this week with feeling God's love.  I have been wanting to improve my prayers and make them more meaningful. So one day during studies I was imagining what would happen if Heavenly Father came to my flat.  What would I do?  What would I say to Him?  I decided that I would want Him to teach me, I would worship Him, and I would want Him to tell me how He felt about me.  So then I knelt down and prayed and asked Heavenly Father, really sincerely, how He felt about me.  Of course I know that He loves me, but in that moment, I felt it more powerfully than I ever had.  I just burst into tears!  I just felt this wave of peace and calm and joy and love.  It was so real.  It felt like even though Heavenly Father wasn't physically in my flat, I could feel His arms around me telling me that He is proud of me, despite my weaknesses and that He loves me more than I can imagine.

Sorry that this is short! 

Arohanui,


Sister Johnson :D 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Cummings Have Come!

Kia Ora Whanua!  

It was a great week.  We had our 4th of July celebration last Monday so that was exciting.  Our district is so funny!  

This week flew by as usual. We have this miracle new investigator!  Her name is Erena.  Her partner/friend, Victor was speeding out of his driveway last week and it was pouring rain. We hadn't even planned to got to that street but we felt like we should contact some potentials there. We went to the end of the street to contact a woman we'd met. It turns out that she had moved so we were heading back to our car when we saw Victor! He called out to us, "Sisters! I'm a member of your church and I have someone that I want you to teach about the Plan of Salvation." Of course we said yes, we could come now or come back later. He said to come right then. We came in, said a prayer with him and he started crying. He said he'd been praying to come back to church and that his partner only has 6 to 8 weeks to live. He'd thought about going to find the bishop but then he saw us. We were literally an answer to his prayer. I know that Heavenly Father puts us in the path of the people we need to find and teach! It was a huge miracle. We've involved lots of members with them already.  She wants to be baptized and I just feel like I connect with her so much.  She has some commandment concerns but she can do it.  

It's so true that we have to use members in everything we do.  Our recent convert, Chasidy, went to the YSA CTR weekend in Hamilton and loved it. She was just gushing about how wonderful it had been and how Mormons CAN have fun over the phone last night.  She is truly  here to stay!  She loved getting to know the YSA and serving at Camp Tuikaramea, and spending time with the Prestons.  She also said something that I'd never thought she'd say.  She said, "You know.  This weekend I've realized that I don't need to depend on a man in my life to be happy.  Of course, I will find one eventually, but in the meantime I have the gospel."  I was like, "Yes!!!  You are right!"  That was a good moment. 


Also, I forgot to tell you this story.   So back in Hamilton we found this eleven year- old girl named Shekainah.  She was such a smart, wonderful girl and we taught her all the lessons and had people pick her up for church and she had a baptism date.  But then, all of a sudden, her family was just gone.  We went to her house a million times and no one was ever there and we just had to give up finally.  Well, on exchanges the other week, Sister Machen said that she had moved to Otemotai (which is where she serves--part of the Tauranga Zone) and that she had come up to the missionaries on the street and said she knew who they were and that Sister Judd had helped to baptize her!  Isn't that wonderful.  Now she is moved back to Hamilton, but I guess she had turned 12 and the Young Women's leaders would always pick her up.  I just love her, so that was really exciting to hear!  

So this Thursday we had a mini Zone Conference where we got to meet President Cummings.  He had a little meeting beforehand with me and the Zone Leaders to talk about the Zone but he was late so it ended up being really short.  But at first it just seemed so different from the Rudds and I just missed them, but then Sister Cummings spoke and then President Cummings spoke and as they spoke the Spirit whispered really powerfully that they were called of God and that they are perfect for this mission and us specific missionaries at this time.  

President Cummings has such spiritual power!  He is fairly unassuming and he doesn't say "REPENT" and "GO TO WORK" and joke around like President Rudd does, but his talk made me cry.  He talked about how we are allowed to be stubbornly, exactly obedient and how there are no little things to the Lord because it's how we show the Lord we can be trusted with his children.  It just really spoke to me.  It was great. 

Then yesterday was another great Marathon Sunday.  I'm sure you don't care but I . . . sang and played the piano for a special musical number in Welcome Bay sacrament "If You Could Hie to Kolob", taught gospel principles, made sure our four (HOORAY!) investigators that came to church all found their right classes, played the piano for primary the third hour, helped direct choir between churches and took the men to go over their part (they are so good . . . better than the Wells Ward choir men's section, sorry!), played the piano in Mount sacrament, organized the missionaries to sing "Folo fola" for the fireside (which is the BEST song from the Tongan hymnbook", and played the piano in Mount Relief Society.  Then I sang with the missionaries, played the piano, and directed the primary song at our missionary fireside.  President Fitzpatrick (stake president who's son was in my MTC district) gave the best talk about faith! :D  I love the gospel.  

So yeah, life is good!  I'm really anxious for transfer news this week.  I hate waiting for it every six weeks.  But I'm sure that whatever happens will be right.  I just sure hope I stay in this area. Oh, and we are getting sisters in Te Puke, which I'm excited for, but we'll have to give them all of our Te Puke investigators.  But it will be good so that we can focus more on the rest of our massive area!

I just want you all to know that with God, nothing is impossible.  The more that we pray to him, have faith, and really trust him, the more peace we will feel.  I feel like I've learned a lot about being emotionally and spiritually self reliant on my mission.  I used to be TERRIFIED of trials and I still would rather not have them, but now I know that when they come, I will be prepared because I will know how to face them.  I will turn to my Heavenly Father and figure out what I'm supposed to be learning.  I will at least try to keep an eternal perspective.  Missions are great that way.  Sometimes, the only person available who will understand you is your Father in Heaven.

The church is true!

Arohanui,

Sister Clarissa Johnson 

P.S. Sorry my emails are always so long these days.  If you read this whole thing, you are a star! :D

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Song of Redeeming Love


HELLO!!!!  Happy 4th of July! 

So I am short on time, which is really tragic because this was very possibly the very best week of my mission!  On Monday, right after emailing last week, we got the chapel to play volleyball and Chasidy called.  She's the one who is 24, has a little 5 year old ADORABLE son named Arepa, has been investigating for four and a half years, and has been interviewed for baptism (now) four times.  Remember how we told her to be like Oliver Cowdery and study it out in her mind, make her decision, and then pray for confirmation.  Well, she texted on Monday asking if she could be baptized this Saturday!  Of course we said yes!  

So we had five days to organize the baptism.  The whole week, Chasidy went through so many trials.  We really worked to get her with members every day.  She just kept praying and reading the scriptures and she made it through.  We made the program, had to talk to every member of the mission presidency and the assistants twice to organize the baptismal interview (because of the change of mission president), and learned to fill the font from the Elders (Elder Fameitau's brother got sealed in the temple and they had permission to go so they weren't around to fill the font.  They came just in time for the baptism.)  We also worked hard to get the word out.  It was also a hard week for us in some ways.  Satan is so real and he was trying to stop this baptism for us in anyway he could.  

So Chasidy is SO, SO, SO blessed to have so many people that love her.  The Welcome Bay Ward is really like a family.  When it was finally the time of the baptism, everything just worked out.  The primary room was PACKED with wonderful, wonderful people who love Chasidy.  Caroline even came and LOVED it.  Brother Preston and Sister McCarthy spoke and did such amazing jobs.  And I sang "How Great Thou Art."  While I was up there singing and looking out over Chasidy and everyone who loves her so much I had to really, really fight to keep from crying while I sung.  I put more emotion and love and conviction into a song than I ever have before, I'm sure.  I sang my heart out with gratitude and love and joy that I just can't even describe at all.  I just think about how we are all so imperfect and struggling, yet God loves us so, so, so, so much.  I looked over and saw Sister Preston, who was just bawling and smiling at me (she is my mother in this area for sure).  Then I looked at Kirsty's mom, Caroline, and Ryan (Kirsty had to work, but I thought of Kirsty) and how they are progressing so much and how Alan (Kirsty's dad) had taken half a day off work so that they could go to the temple visitor center again because Caroline "just felt like she needed to go to the temple again".  They ended up staying for three hours talking to a senior couple there and kept talking about how "they just keep thinking about baptism".  I saw the Solomons who are the absolutely the salt of the earth, who are converts who came from the roughest past and have changed their lives and are now the most humble and faithful servants of God.  They do SO much service and missionary work, and even with family struggles and all kinds of struggles, they give so much.  I saw Brother Anderson, a member of the bishopric, dressed in white, ready to baptize Chasidy.  He came back to church himself around the time Chasidy started investigating the church.  He reminds me a lot of my dad.  I looked at all the YSA (Young Single Adults) who had piled in to support their new fellow YSA.  Then I looked at Chasidy, wearing white, ready to embark on the best journey of her life.  It was the best moment!

After her baptism, we all fed the homeless together! (See one of the pictures I sent).  Yesterday was a typical CRAZY long Sunday with no time to study and only about 20 minutes to have dinner.  But it was great.  Chasidy is a different person now that she is baptized.  She is happy and confident and strong.  And she paid tithing for the first time!  She is the most valiant spirit.  I'm so proud of her.  At the very end of testimony meeting she got up to bear her testimony.  Man!  I didn't know I had so much water in my head.  

I feel like Ammon in Alma 26.  I invite you all to read that entire chapter!  That's how I feel.  I think of all the hard days, all the early mornings, all of the exact obedience even when I didn't really want to, all the prayers and trusting God, all the pouring rain, all the companion idiosyncrasies, all the pressing forward and planning and fasting and studying and knocking on doors and mean people and cancelled appointments I've had in my mission.  They are absolutely nothing compared to the miracles of this weekend!  

Alma 26:16 "Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever.  Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord?  Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards to the children of men?  Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel."  

And in verse 13 it talks about how thousands were "loosed from the pains of hell; and . . .brought to sing redeeming love, and this because of the power of word which is in us, therefore have we not great reason to rejoice?"

I am so grateful that God sent me here.  He sent us the beautiful, perfect Book of Mormon.  He sent us angels (physical and spiritual) to help us.  He sent us each other to love, to help, to support.  And he sent us ALL his Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.  

I know He is real.  I've felt his presence undeniably this week!  I can't wait for more and more miracles.

Well, that's all folks!  I have to go get ready for our district "America themed" extravaganza!  I made pancakes for the occasion.

Arohanui forever and ever,

Sister Clarissa Johnson 

Editorial note from Clarissa's mother. Fortunately, she captioned the baptism picture below by saying that she was the one in black. I was so glad she said that because I couldn't tell which one she was! :)