Sunday, September 25, 2016

September Showers Bring October Flowers?

Kia Ora!

So this week has been a rollercoaster . . . lots of ups and downs!  It's rained a LOT!  But I guess the title could also say that September flowers bring September flowers because there are already a million flowers everywhere.  There are flower trees here that are gorgeous!  On Monday we went to McClaren Falls which is a pretty waterfall/park towards Hamilton a little ways.  It was so beautiful.  I felt like I was in a Shannon Hale book or something.  But there was this little lake with ducks and one of them had a fishhook all wrapped around its beak and it couldn't even open.  The sisters were all trying to save him but no one was quite brave enough to grab him and then he'd swim away.  Well I thought I'd be a saint and try to herd it towards the sisters, so I waded into the water and I also had to rescue Sister Kendell's jacket that had fallen in.  It was quite the adventure.

Tuesday, we started exchanges with the Otumoetai Sisters!  I went to Otumoetai (finally . . . I've been here four transfers and I'm only now going to their area).  But I loved it.  Sister Kendell is an older sister and I just feel like she is so full of wisdom and always has the Spirit.  We had so much fun together and good talks!  The only downer was that I was sick!  My stomach was really hurting and I didn't eat anything for like a day.  Finally after dinner that night I asked if we could go to the flat. 

We closed on Wednesday and Sister Welker had done a great job leading the area!  It was POURING rain and I still felt sick but I was determined to work!  So we did, gosh darn it, and I think we were blessed!  And to make us feel better, we ate at the Te Puke Diner with the Te Puke Sisters that night.  (I don't really know the logic of eating at a restaurant when you have stomach problems, but that's what we did.)  But it was great! 

Thursday was the greatly anticipated day . . . Zone Conference!  I had been so excited for so long and it just really filled me up!  I needed spiritually enlightenment.  Also . . . I saw Sister Katene after almost six months and I almost died!  I was so happy to see her and we sat together the whole time.  She is training an adorable sister from Idaho who also went to BYU (but the year after me).  Isn't that weird?  I'm becoming so old!  But President Cummings talked a lot about scriptures and prayer.  Those are such often repeated, basic things, but they have immeasurable power and they help people become converted.  We aren't just trying to get people to conform to a list of requirements, but to change their hearts through the Spirit, which transforms their lives.  And even long-time members of the church need that process every day.  If we are just reading and praying to read and pray, it doesn't do us too much good. But if we are "hungering and thirsting" for the word of God and searching and allowing ourselves to be put in a place where we can feel the Spirit, than we will be edified and enlightened every day!  I've been reading in Alma, like 30-34, and it is so good! When crazy things happen, the scriptures help us feel peace.  So cool! 

But Friday and Saturday we had some good lessons.  Caroline and Alan are so faithful but there are a lot of struggles going on.  I just love their family so much!  We read in Moroni 7 with them . . .another way good chapter about faith, hope, and charity.  Also, I think I told you about our star new investigator, Sharee.  She works with Brother Preston and is such a seeker of truth.  She's so smart and good and she just gets it.  We teach her at such a high spiritual level. I learn heaps of things during our lessons.  We taught her at her house on Saturday and then again during Gospel Principles on Sunday with Brother Preston and Sister Solomon.

Saturday night we fed the homeless (my favorite as usual) and then helped clean up and ate at Sister Solomon's.  Her whole family was gone to the ward drive-in movie night and we had the best talks.  I just feel like she's my big sister.  I love her so much!

And finally yesterday was a marathon Sunday!  I loved it though.  I sang "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" in Mount Sacrament Meeting and President Fitzpatrick was there and he loved it.  I was happy with it.  Then they made me sing it again at the Prestons last night when we were there for MCM.  I just really, really love our mission team!  I am kind of not so excited for transfers!  I can't wait to visit the Prestons in Utah (they are moving back on Thanksgiving Day)!  We also visited Chasidy last night.  She is so good. We are praying really hard for her and helping her spend as much time as she can with members who can be there for her.

But it's been a week and I love you all! :D  


Sister Clarissa Johnson

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Another Week in Paradise!

Kiora, kiora!

It's been a good week and it just flew by.  It's already week 4 of the transfer and I'm afraid I'm going to get transferred.  I just want to finish my mission here but that would be eight and a half months in one area.  I think they probably wouldn't do that.  But I guess I've already learned that the Lord's plan is lots better than mine.  

This week we worked really hard and saw pretty good fruits from our labors.  First though, Monday was so, so fun.  We went bowling with all the sisters and had the best time.  I got 6th out of 8 sisters which is (possibly) respectable.  I'm no good at bowling.  I did get a strike one time, but you know how you have to do good the next time after the strike to get extra points?  I got two gutter balls the next time. :P  But that's ok.  It was still way fun!  Oh, so I think I told you this, but two days before Erena passed away, she told me that she wanted to get me greenstone earrings. (Greenstone is really big New Zealand thing).  But on Monday Sister Welker bought me a pair of greenstone earrings!  I love them! (It was actually a deal. I'm going to buy her sister a greenstone in exchange.  You can't buy a greenstone for yourself.  It has to be a gift.)  But they are from Erena by proxy of Sister Welker.  Isn't that wonderful!  I've been wearing them every day.

But Monday Sister Rudo had us for dinner!  It was her 82nd birthday and so we made her little cards and gave her a scarf.  She loved it!  Then we went to visit her granddaughter, Saskia and had a really good talk.  We were trying to explain to her that she can choose where she goes in life.  It's such liberating doctrine to understand that while we have to live with the consequences of our choices, but we can choose whatever future choices we want.  I've been thinking a lot about what I've learned on my mission so far and how it is teaching me so much spiritually and also emotionally and mentally.  I want to keep growing like that my whole life.  I LOVED General Conference last October and I keep rereading "Yielding our Hearts to God" and "What Lack I Yet?".  I want to continue to give myself to God and let him shape me.  It was a really good lesson.

This week we had a goal to take out lots of members with us and we succeeded!  We took out three people that we never had before.  We took out Brother Kohu (who is a saint) to our less active John.  He joined the church as a kid and has been less active his whole life.  We love him and he's been to church the last three weeks!  We also took out the wonderful primary president in Mount Ward and had the BEST lesson with Harmony about tithing.  She is so, so faithful and loved it and committed to paying.  Sister Theobald (the primary president) had the best experiences to share.  So cool!

Finally, we took Sister Rudo (the one who turned 82) with us.  She is the salt of the earth, let me tell you!  In District Meeting we all had to say a spiritual gift of our companion.  Sister Welker said that I love everyone.  It's a joke now.  Every time we get out of a meeting or lesson or whatever, I say "I just LOVE them!" and then she makes fun of me. :D  I just have figured it out!  The way to be happy in life is to forget about yourself and serve.  We went on two mini exchanges and I got to be with some of my FAVORITE sisters of my whole mission who just needed someone to listen and support them.  They were both so much fun.  But then I was telling Sister Lewis how even though I've lost weight on my mission, I'm worried because it's more important to look beautiful when you go home.  She told me I was silly and that that was a worldy concern.  If I don't worry too much about how I look here, why should I when I go home.  I just have to take care of myself.  But it's like an eternal principle.  If we focus on others instead of ourselves, we are happy!

But we've found some great new investigators this week and they are starting to progress.  We had the coolest miracle though!  We were walking in the rain (miracles always happen in the rain) and visiting people on the Mount Ward List.  I thought that we needed to go to Links Ave. so we did.  We visited Sister Jenkins who we'd never visited before.  While we were there her phone rang and it was her friend who was at her lowest of lows and didn't see the point of living.  Sister Jenkins wanted to go visit her but had to go to work.  We said that we could visit her so we did.  She is this older lady who had her leg amputated last year.  She lives all alone and is in a wheelchair and her daughter won't talk to her ever since her leg was amputated.  She was just sobbing when we got there and we just hugged her and sat with her.  Eventually we were able to talk and tell her how she was important she is and how God loves her.  We are going to start teaching her now. Her name is Jude, by the way!  It was the coolest experience.  I love when I can actually follow the Spirit!

But one more piece of great news:  Ryan and Kirsty have a wedding date . . . November 5th!  They are so darn cute AND Caroline and Alan want to get baptized after they get married.  Caroline texted us last night and said we were the first to know.

I just love all the dear members in these wards.  I could just live here forever.  Maybe I'll move back to Welcome Bay someday. :D  I love this beautiful place.  I love my companion.  I don't love the rain, but she does.  She always says, "Remember Sister Johnson, rain is smiley weather."  I'm just a sunshine girl myself. :D

But I love you all!  The church is way true!


Sister Clarissa Johnson :D  

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Press Forward

Kia Ora Whanau!

You are all wonderful!  My mom told me that heaps of people read this every week.  Sometimes I don't even read over it. Haha But I feel loved by all of you!  It's been the most normal week I've had in ages.  But that can be good. I did get to go to MLC though (Mission Leadership Council).  I sure love that place.  President Cummings is inspired as!  Also, it was so fun to see everyone.  I think I'm getting old in the mission.  I know all the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders (and my zone) and almost no one else in the mission.  But it was great to drive up with Sister Green again.  I just love her.  When I was gone, Sister Welker led our area and did such a great job and found us a new investigator. :D  I just love her!  She is so "Utahn" but we have so much fun.  I think I was just like her when I came in but now I've turned kiwi in some ways! 

But we are having a Lip Sync Ward Activity in the Mount Ward and the mission team is doing the song "Hello" by Adele (that I haven't even heard the real words to).  There's this parody of it for missionaries.  It's funny.  Also, Sister Welker and I have written our own parody.  Are you ready?  Good!

I'm a Believer

I thought church was mostly just a fairy tale,
Meant for someone else but not for me.
Elders out to get me,
That's the way it seemed.
Joseph Smith just had a crazy dream.

But then I saw his face!
Now I'm a believer.
There's not a trace
Of doubt in my mind.
He saw God!
Ooh, I'm a believer.
I couldn't leave this church if I tried.

The Book of Mormon was more or less a blessed thing.
The more I read, the less I doubt, oh yeah!
But to get an answer,
I just had to pray.
And the Spirit showed me the right way.

(Repeat Chorus)

I definitely see it on the Top Ten List very soon.  Also I learned a HILARIOUS joke.  "Why did they not have a feast at the end of the Book of Mormon? Because they buried the plates."  I know, I know!  Hilarious!

But anyway, we had a good week working hard and trying to find new investigators.  We have a new (new to us) less active named John.  He's just so down to earth and good.  He was baptized as a kid and then went inactive right away.  It's been so exciting to watch him progress, learn the gospel, and start coming to church!  I've come to realize that a less-active soul is just as important and exciting as an investigator soul.  Numbers don't matter.  People matter!

Our new investigator Harmony is doing well, but she still hasn't come to church!  So that's sad.  But we had an amazing miracle!  Brother Preston has been talking to the massage therapist, Sharee, at his chiropractor business about the gospel for like a year.  He gave her a Book of Mormon and she's been reading it, and yesterday he invited her to church and she came!!!  We had our own private Gospel Principles with her and Isaac and Brother Preston.  We taught her the Restoration.  She is so sharp and we went in great depth and detail to answer her questions.  But it was fun.  It's interesting how I have different companions that are just right for different investigators at the time.   I think Sister Welker and I are a good match to teach Sharee.  But at the end of the lesson, after she asked all of her hard questions, she surprised us.  She said that she had prayed to know if the Book of Mormon was true and got an answer.  She knows it's true. She started crying!  We are so excited to teach her and hopefully her family as well!

We've had some long days this week where lots of people weren't home or our fellowship was falling through.  But then experiences like that make it all ok. 

We missed last week feeding the homeless, so it was extra fun to be able to do that again this week.  I just love all the homeless so much.  I know all their names and a lot of their stories.  They are good people and it's so, so rewarding to just help them know that someone cares about them.  Serving others is the best cure for problems!  And Sister Solomon is my hero.   Finally, this week Sister Tusega (Precious's mom) returned from her trip to Samoa!  She bought me a pulu tasi!  That's a Samoan dress and it's so, so pretty!  It kind of corally/pink/orange and it has coconut shells looped into the neck and waist.  And she just bought it for me to be nice!  I am so loved!

I was so excited and kept trying it on every night.  Saturday the Te Puke sisters had permission to sleep at our flat.  But it had a really cheap zipper and the zipper broke!  We tried to fix it but it was really broken.  Sister Lewis is such a go getter!  She got one of my dresses that had bleach stains on it and ripped out that zipper and hand sewed it onto my pulu tai.  It took forever!  Haha and it doesn't look the best, but it worked.  Isn't that so nice of her!  Sister Tusega saw it at church and said that she's going to fix it nicer.  Haha

Sunday in Mount Ward we had a special missionary sacrament meeting.  We all spoke except Elder Fameitau.  He led the music. It was so funny.  He was so, so nervous to and he had me teach him and he kept wanting to practice before church.  He didn't do very well but he tried his darnedest!  But I spoke about member missionaries and talked about Kayla.  I was happy with it.

Also, we had a grand musical number.  We had all the youth and us missionaries sing the EFY medley.  I had the music for it and had to play the piano.  I had to practice like two and a half hours to get it.  It wasn't completely perfect but I don't think anyone really noticed.  I sure love practicing the piano.  They need to put pianos in missionary flats. 

But that pretty much brings you up to date!  Last Monday we hiked the Mount in the rain but then it was sunny and gorgeous with a beautiful rainbow at the top.  I think that's symbolic for us.  The more that we work and press forward in our trails, the more strengthened and blessed we will be and rewarded at the end.

I have really been loving my studies in the morning.  The Book of Mormon and the Ensigns are my favorite!

Love you heaps!


Sister Clarissa Johnson

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Spring Has Sprung

Kia ora, kia ora!  

I remember using this same subject title last spring!  How time flies. This week was wonderful!  Sister Welker and I are officially best friends.  She really is so much like me when it comes to missionary work.  We had a great week.  We found five new investigators, invited our investigator Cindy to be baptized, and had a great cottage evening.  We set it up with a member family and Chasidy, Caroline, and Alan came.  They really liked it.  We played a game kind of like telephone but on paper where you have to draw what people have written and then write what the last one drew and the pictures change.  It was so funny and everyone loved it.  Then we related it to how the doctrines were changed during the great apostasy and we shared the Restoration.  The Spirit was so strong.

It's so fun to be training.  It makes me realize just how much I've learned on my mission.  It's doesn't feel like very long ago when I was the brand new one that didn't know what was going on.  I love serving!  Sister Welker and I just talk and talk and love to analyze situations and we've been working so hard and effectively.  It's just so fun.

We had a cool miracle this week.  We took Precious out with us to visit our Samoan returning less active (the one who blessed her baby).  She ended up not being home so we decided to take her to see this other less active family, the McKinnons.  Well it turns out that Precious was BEST friends with Saskia McKinnon in elementary school.  They cried when they saw each other and Saskia (she's 18 and has two kids and no man in her life anymore . . .she lives with her parents) said, "Well then, I have to come back to church.  Precious, you can help me.  Let's have a family home evening together next week."  Well our favorite, dear member is Sister Rudo and she's Saskia's grandma.  When she fed us, we told her the story and she started crying and just hugged me so tight.  Heavenly Father totally wanted us to visit them at that time when we had Precious with us.  He is so good!  

Our investigator Harmony in the Mount Ward is doing great.  She's been reading the Book of Mormon HEAPS!  She didn't come to church though so we need to help her with that.  There are just lots of new, budding people for us to work with here.  

I love this gospel!  I love learning it.  Even though I've done 12 week (the program for new missionaries) three times already, I'm not tired of it on my fourth time.  There is always so much to learn!

Have a great week!  I will, because the weather is BEAUTIFUL!


Sister Clarissa Johnson :D