Kia Ora Whanua (for the last time),
My title says it all. My heart is so full. I keep trying to find the words to say how I feel and I can't. This was the best week of my life. It was also a really bittersweet week. I cried buckets and buckets and I can't stop smiling. I rushed around everywhere like a madwoman, but I'm so full of peace and joy. The word that keeps coming to mind is love. That's what it's all about, isn't it? It's amazing how 18 months ago, when I left on my mission, my heart was full. I loved so many people so much, I'd had so many amazing experiences, and I had a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now, 18 months later, I've discovered a whole other world that has filled my heart even fuller. I love so many more people so much and I've had even more amazing experiences, and my testimony is even stronger. Like I didn't know that my heart was capable of loving and learning and growing and knowing and serving that much, but it is. And it can even do more. It will just keep getting better and better.
This week SO many things happened. I went on exchanges with two of my dearest, most favorite sisters (Sister Toaripi and Sister Lewis). I did a million things to organize our baptism. We had the baptismal interviews. I went to Rotorua. I had Zone Conference (which was amazing and I saw so many missionaries I love and I learned so much). Then this weekend was the baptism. It was absolutely perfect! We had to move to the chapel because so many people came! Even their neighbor friends from next door that always sit in on our lessons came. Dyles, Rhyley, Rhyme, Lieshane, and Shyniah looked amazing in their whites. Elder Fellingham ended up baptizing them and he did such a good job. Elder Tahiata and I sang "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus" and Natalie (Lieshane's and Shyniah's mom) gave a talk. She was so nervous and her talk was so heartfelt and beautiful. Also, their aunt Kereama also gave a talk. Then it was the barbeque afterwards. The beach was beautiful and we ate pipis (these little shellfish that are so good), sang, and talked.
Then Sunday was the most perfect day. The confirmations were so good. I wrote down what they all said to give to them. The Spirit was just so strong! Each of them was just glowing with goodness and faith! Also, it was just so fun to see all these people I love that have returned to church: Mel, John, Rangi, Maddysen, the Skudders, the Phillips, Natalie and Sama, and the Emersons! They are all just so wonderful and have come so far. Standing at the door hugging everyone that came in like we always do just felt like a grand reunion. I am so loved. I don't deserve it. So many people in both wards talked about me in their testimonies. And darn Brother Anderson, at the baptism and in sacrament meeting, talked about how we all must have known each other in the preexistence and I was sent here on purpose to find my friends. Lots of people were in tears when we said good-bye, but I was the very worst though. I got up to bear my testimony, wearing my BEAUTIFUL new greenstone from Sister Rudo, and my orange puletasi this time, and I look out at everyone that I love so much . . .like every single one, and I just cried! Heavenly Father really helped me know what to say though. When I wasn't looking, Leah had seriously the entire ward sign this massive card for me. I got all these presents from everyone. I was just always hugging someone. Sister Lewis and Elder Fellingham kept joking with me and asking for my autograph. Elder Tahiata and I sang "The First Noel" for prelude in both wards and "Mary Did You Know?" for the special Relief Society meeting. It was so fun.
Then we had Stake MCM with the Zone Leader and President Fitzpatrick, then we went to Marie and Neil's. I so love them! Then the Te Puke Sisters (Sister Lewis and Reynolds) fed us dinner. We get there and they'd drawn on their glass door "Welcome to the Last Supper". Their table was all set out fancy with fry bread and all this good food they'd made. Then the Elders dropped us dessert! I cried again.
This morning, Sister Tusega fed us a big, amazing Samoan breakfast complete with Coca Rice and cut and straightened my hair. I haven't curled or straightened my hair my whole mission, but now it is. It looks so good.
I just love being a missionary! Tonight we will rush around and see as many people as we can. Then I get on a bus tomorrow morning! I'm just so thankful for the amazing mission I've had. It's been the hardest, hardest thing ever but also, the very, very, very, very best! I would never trade what I've learned and gained. It's so true that if you lose your life for Christ's sake, you will find it! I've found my life. It's found in serving and giving and loving and including and teaching and changing and repenting and forgiving and trying and becoming and studying and praying and fasting and trusting and believing. How did I deserve all that I have? What did I do to be so loved and so happy? Heavenly Father really, really, really loves His children. I am so grateful to be His daughter, His representative, His disciple, His friend. I'm so grateful for this beautiful, crazy life we get to come to earth to live. The only thing that makes it worth anything at all is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When the gospel is written in a list, it doesn't seem very spectacular, but when it is lived in a life, it is the most glorious thing in the world.
Thank you for being Christlike and loving me. I love you all so much! The scriptures say that charity is a gift from God. When you feel the spirit you want to love others. That's how I feel. I can't believe it's over. Luckily I'm "just getting transferred" to a new area. I will continue to press forward and share my experiences. New Zealand is still in my heart, or rather, I think I will leave my heart in New Zealand. I am forever a kiwi! But more importantly, I am forever a missionary!
Sorry for rambling. I wish I could write better and explain how I feel. This is a glimpse of how we will feel in heaven.
Enoho ra, New Zealand (is that right)! I will be back!
Sister Clarissa Johnson