Kia Ora Whanau,
I'm still here! Haha that is the most asked question I get. Every time I'm at church everyone can't believe that I'm still not transferred. All the adorable old ladies in the Mount Ward think that they could just pluck me away at any moment and are all relieved and happy every time they see me. I just love everyone here so, so much! I've decided that I need to come back and live in New Zealand! Not forever (don't worry family). Maybe just for six months or a year sometime. I just love this place with all my heart. I cried during testimony meeting (actually both of them I think) just thinking about how much I love these people. We sang "Families Can Be Together Forever" and I thought about how lucky I am to have an amazing family at home and an amazing whanau in New Zealand! I am so blessed.
But it was quite the week. It flew by as usual. There has sure been opposition. I think Satan is so tricky. He wants to get us down right when Heavenly Father needs our service the most. I found out some things that I really need to work on and that is always hard. I need to remember that seeing my weaknesses and shortcomings is actually a huge blessing so I can work on them!
I got to go on exchanges with the Greerton Sisters! I went to Greerton with Sister Ah You. She is amazing! She is brand new but inspired as. She is just great at talking to people and we taught heaps of lessons on the street. It was so fun! They don't have a car and we ended up walking 14 ks in 24 hours in Greerton, doing missionary work. (At least that's what her fitbit said.) I was wearing useless, little flats and got a blister and I got super sunburned! I've been a lobster all week. Walking is not for the faint of heart. But we had so much fun and taught an amazing lesson that night! Those sisters are on fire.
The other greatest things this week was the weekend. Saturday was the blessed day of Ryan and Kirsty's wedding! I've been praying for them for so long and I'm so proud of Kirsty for how far she has come. She was baptized a little over a year ago and now she is sealed in the temple. The reception was way out in Pukehina (past Te Puke) and it was at this flash Marae on the beach. It was a ridiculously perfect view! It was so perfect. But I did so much and had the best day helping. I helped set up this massive tent, put on white chair covers (if there's anything I'm good at it is those white chair covers), set up tables and chairs, and worked on the food. Sister Welker peeled 14 million potatoes. We were scrambling to get everything done but it all worked out. And it was so beautiful! Alan and Caroline were so happy and when Kirsty (who looked so gorgeous) gave her little speech she bore her testimony and Alan (Kirsty's dad, our investigator) talked about how even though Kirsty was getting married, he didn't feel like he was losing a daughter. He felt like they were gaining a bigger family (the ward). I am so excited for their progress. They were definitely touched by the Spirit! I just cried! (I'm doing too much of that these days! Everything just seems to make me feel the Spirit.)
Also, yesterday was the BEST day! I don't know why, but church in both wards was just really extra good! We had two cool miracles (well kind of three). This lady just walked into the chapel and ended up in gospel principles. I asked her who she was and her name is Stacey. She said that she believes in God and isn't really religious but said that she just really felt like she needed to come here today. She loved the gospel principles lesson and then left afterwards. We gave her a Book of Mormon and are going back on Friday to teach her! Preach My Gospel talks about finding those who are prepared. "Either He will lead you to them or He will lead them to you." He sure led her to us! Also our new investigator, Dyles, came to Mount Ward. And John and Rangi and Maddysen (returning less-actives) all come every week. Jeanette comes most weeks. We’ve been teaching lessons about tithing to less-actives and they committed to pay it! It's so, so, so fun to watch people change and come to Christ!
Another story like that was after church. This dear lady moved into our boundaries from Greerton Ward. She is in her 30’s, single, and kind of reminds me of Felicity from the Nauvoo Pageant. Her name is Marie and is so wonderful! She's from England and joined the church in the Mount Ward three years ago! So cool! But she is just barely in our boundaries on this far away, country road. She is staying in this flash, beautiful house with an amazing view of practically all of Tauranga, the water, and the Mount in the distance! It's amazing. But the guy who owns the house is named Neil and we met him last week when we tried to stop by. He is a self proclaimed "agnostic" and is really open and humble. He's just a great guy and we had the best time with them. Marie made the best meal and Crème Brulee (if that's how you spell it) for dessert. So good! But we taught the Restoration and it was such a cool lesson. Her conversion story is really, really cool and Neil agreed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. It's really interesting how faith works. I just know that if he has real intent he will get his answer. We had just listened to and talked about President Uchtdorf's talk from the Women's Session in Mount Relief Society and I feel like it prepared me so, so well for that lesson! God's plan is perfect. So pray for Neil to get his answer.
But it's been grand to be here! It's rainy today, but it's been glorious, glorious weather. I am such a sunshine girl. I have seen a lot of reasons this week on why I'm still here in Tauranga. I'm grateful that President was faithful and inspired to leave me even though it seemed like a crazy thing to do. I have such a purpose here. I just want to help everyone as much as I possibly can because "The Time is Far Spent".
I am so grateful for my testimony and the constant strength of the Lord in my life. Where would I even be without it? I'm sure I would be an emotional wreck. But I am praying for more and more faith every day. I'm so grateful for the atonement of Jesus Christ, the power to change we all have, and the beauty and answers we find in the Book of Mormon. The church is true folks. (Sorry I say all the same cliché things about the gospel and my mission every week. I just really mean them I guess. Haha)
Love you all!
Sister Clarissa Johnson