Monday, December 23, 2013

Dear Family and Friends - December 23, 2013
 
I will now tell you how I have been celebrating Christmas as a missionary.  As a mission they split us up into three groups and the President and his wife spent a day with each group to celebrate Christmas.  So for me it was on Thursday that my zone and 3 other zones had our turn to head up to San Pedro to celebrate.  We hopped on the bus to San Pedro in the morning and met in this giant stake center in El Benque.  This is where we have cambios and all our big meetings.  President and his wife gave talks on what Christmas means to them.  I really do like my President and his wife.  They are so kind and worry so much about us, though only about one hundreth of how much my mother worries for me.  Then all together we sang every single Christmas hymn in the hymnbook one after the other.  It made me so darn thirsty.  After that we had lunch which was followed by, drumroll.... brownies and ice cream!  We were so thrilled.  And we watched It's a Wonderful Life and went home.  It was a nice peaceful way to spend the day. 
 
Today as a zone we celebrated Christmas by ordering pizza in Puerto Cortes and watching A Christmas Carol.  That is actually kind of a scary movie for small children let me tell you.  Sister Reyes and I bought a piñata to share with everyone and that was fun to watch.  I thought we'd break it the first try but it took 7 missionaries to finally burst it.  Tomorrow we have to enter the house at 6 pm as that is the rule so we can't have Christmas dinner with anyone.  But all day we will help members make their tamales and then 6 families have already promised to bring by tamales for us that day.  Funny thing is Sister Reyes hates tamales so I'm going to have to eat like 50 tamales.  Maybe I won't like them so much after this experience.  I plan on making Christmas dinner tomorrow anyways with the stuffing and instant mashed potatoes mom sent.  Then I'll run across the street to get some fried chicken to go with it.  Feliz Navidad! right?  It wouldn't be Christmas in Honduras without fried chicken and tamales.  Even though the 24th we have to be in the house early, the 25th will just be a regular old day.  So the 24th in the night I'll also open my presents.  I'm so excited!  Then what I am most excited for will be the 25th when I get to TALK TO MY FAMILY!!!!! I might just burst into tears to see your faces.  I do love you so much.  I hope you are all well.  Christmas will be nice this year, just different of course.  So we'll see how it goes.
 
The worst Christmas present of all came yesterday.  Apparently a sister missionary in the mission hurt her leg somehow and had to go home to get it fixed, and so they chose Hermana Gardner to take her place in this emergency companion switch since she's part of a trio right now.  She left Campana this morning!  We've been together the whole mission, and she's my best buddy in the mission.  And just before CHRISTMAS.  I was so sad.  I'll just hope to get sent wherever she is in the next change to be together again.  I do anticipate being moved since I have so much time in this area, but we'll see what happens.  
 
Things are still going well with Hermana Reyes. She's fun and supportive and she has a Michael Buble Christmas CD that we listen to everyday so that has been nice. Just this week will be rough since it's Christmas. Everyone is busy and doesn't have time for us to visit them. I really don't know what we'll be doing all day the 25th.  We shall see.  
 
Sorry that dad had the flu.  I hope everyone's healthy now.  I do love the hymn Silent Night.  I memorized it last week in Spanish, because learning songs in Spanish is one of the most helpful ways for me to study.  I learn new words and it is an easy way to memorize the grammar of Spanish. 
 
To answer dad's questions.... to find new investigators the best way has really just been offering service.  Whether it's washing laundry, taking people's groceries to their house and then they are happy to have us over again and they don't feel like we are just there to preach, but really there to serve.  Also pretty much everyone in Campana is family... it is very weird, but anyways people tell us about their family members who aren't members at times so we get references for that.  Church activities here are pretty hard to do as there is no money at all.  In fact last week the ward was supposed to have a Christmas Dinner and it got cancelled because there wasn't enough money.  It is a challenge.  But last week we did have a movie night with the ward and watched the Guardians and we bought popcorn with the other missionaries in the ward so it was pretty cheap, just to have something for everyone.  All the cute ward member missionaries each brought one powder mix so that all together there could be a drink too for everyone.  They were so excited.  We are working hard with them so that everyone is excited.  But money makes for challenges activity wise.  Though the movie night was a success and lots of investigators came. 
 
Our biggest problem is getting investigators to go to church because people don't have money to take the bus many times and our area is so large.  One house we visited this week the lady wants to go to church but doesn't have enough money to take the bus every week so she's inactive for that.  Though she really wants to go.  It would take her one and a half to 2 hours to walk to the church from her house.  And there really are some members that go that far each week walking or riding a bike.  It is incredible.  But for this getting new investigators to come can be a challenge....
 
I do expect that Anyeli will be baptized real soon.  We will visit her Thursday to set a date.  She is so darling.  I feel like it is easy to relate with her since she's our own age.  
 
Mom wondered if the homemade treats got her well.  Really everything arrived in great shape and tasted good and everything.  I myself was surprised.  Though I can't believe my family spent 100 DOLLARS on a package!  Then sent more packages on top of that.  You people are out of control!  Don't worry so much!  I feel so spoiled.  It really isn't necessary.  
 
I love you all so so much!  I can't wait to talk with you on Wednesday! 
 

 
 
 
ADIOS!  FELIZ NAVIDAD 
 
HERMANA JOHNSON 
Dear Family and Friends - December 16, 2013
 
So glad to hear you are all doing well, minus what happened in the basement.  That is pretty unfortunate news, but I hope that all clears up soon.  Sorry I wasn´t there to spend time with Mark, Darren and Nana but hope they are all well and didn´t mind the cold too much.  Though I would give anything for snow.  I did finally open that package and mom´s sign ¨let it snow¨ is sitting on my desk.  Our house is so, so darling right now all decorated for Christmas.  Thank you so, so, so much!  I have the greatest family in the whole world who send me homemade Christmas goodies and decorations and everything anyone could possibly want for the holidays.  I really will never know what it is like to go without.  I feel so spoiled.  But everything was fabulous!  I loved the toffee, the fudge, cinnamon caramels.... yum yum!  Way more than enough to keep me happy for Christmas.  And please say thanks to Uncle Dave for all the treats he sent me.  Love all those things!  Thanks to Tara for the medicine.  I believe that shall come in handy, though really I have been fine health wise.  Not like poor Sister Gardner who got bit by a giant dog this week and is stuck in the house sick.  The whole back of her leg was purple with these 2 big fang marks.  Strangely enough the same dog bit her companion the week before and her companion was also sick for a few days.  Sister Gardner is actually in a trio now, so there´s only 5 sister missionaries in Campana now instead of 6, because we only had 1 new sister arrive in all of December.  Thanks also to Aunt Leah for the treats she sent, though most of it was wrapped so I won´t be able to thank her until I open it on Christmas.  But thanks for all the love and support you have sent me.  I really have the greatest, most caring family.  I shall send you lots of Christmas pics soon.
 
As for my new companion... she is fabulous!  I love my new companion.  She is probably my favorite of all my Christmas surprises.  Her name is Sister Reyes, and she is from the Dominican Republic.  She is so funny and so darn sassy.  She is from the wealthier touristy part of the country so she is a little more high maintenance like people would expect from an American Sister.  Like today we went to get her eyebrows done and she always has her nails painted and everything.  But I just love it.  Sister missionaries should take care of themselves, right?  We are able to work really well together as she is very hardworking.  She likes the house clean, and we get to cook together and wow, it is a dream.  We have already found a ton of new investigators just this week.  As we went looking for opportunities to serve people we helped this cute lady do her laundry as we just happened to pass by as she was out back, and we helped her and she invited us into her house to meet her family.  Her two daughters who are 20 and 22 I believe will be coming to the ward activity this Wednesday.  Hermana Reyes is super driven and she likes to have lots of activities with the ward, so this week is a movie night to meet new investigators and be more united as a ward.  I think together we will have a lot of success and we get the 8 week transfer thank heavens so even better!  
 
The best experience yet was one day we were walking to a visit when Hermana Nina in our ward passed us and started talking to us.  She told us she had just come from visiting her daughter who lives and works really close to her house.  She says her daughter isn´t a member and doesn´t want anything to do with the church.  That she´s sent tons of missionaries to talk with her and they´ve all been turned away.  But her daughter´s work is sewing and she has a salon too, so the sneaky little spitfire Hermana Reyes just happened to have a dress that needed mending.  So we went up to the house and yelled Buenas, cuz that´s what you do here, and the daughter sent her own daughter to send us away.  But we said we were there for matters of business not to preach, and she let us in.  We just asked about the dress and then got to talking about whatever for a couple minutes and headed out.  And from this small visit, Hermana Nina came up to us at church so excited and was like, my daughter called and said how great you girls are.  And we were like Score!  The first missionaries her daughter has ever had a nice word to say about, so when we have matters of business that we need, we now try to find investigadors or potential investigators.  Even if they don´t accept the gospel they have a good experience with the missionaries and maybe spark an interest.  As we don´t go to preach but to serve and help out.  Service is the answer to everything.  Really it was the greatest week I´ve had in the field.    
 
Jennifer said she read the chapter we left in the Book of Mormon and that she feels like it is the word of God.  But she still feels like all churches are a good thing that there´s no such thing as a bad or wrong church, all are equal, so we need to review with her the restoration a bit for her to realize how there is just one true church.  I hope we can help her with that.  
 
I am really happy.  Sure I still have much to improve in terms of my Spanish and being a better teacher, but I know if we are obedient and working our hardest God will put people in our pathway as has happened countless times just this week.
 
I love you all so much and wish you a very happy holiday!  
 
Love Hermana Johnson     
Hola Familia y Amigos! - December 9, 2013

I really am just so, so excited for cambios this Wednesday, and I feel pretty good about it, so we´ll just wait and see what happens.  They don't tell us until tonight.  This week was really up and down.  We got to see the baptism of Axel from the Familia Calderon on Saturday and that was super, super special.  They actually requested to have us sing a song in English so Hermana Cifuentes, me, Gardner and Bahr sang that song, I like to look for rainbows whenever there is rain... it was wonderful!  Not due to our voices but that a lot of people came, including nonmember friends of the family to start teaching.  The spirit was so strong.  We even had an investigator come who is 19 and has already come to church 3 times so she is really on the track for baptism already.  She is darling.  It actually reminded me of my own baptism somehow.  A very peaceful day.
So happy to hear about Hanna and Quincy.  Tell them congrats!  Also I am quite proud of Miss Molly to go talk to Jane's little sister.  I hope she is doing alright.  That's really rough to be only 4 years old.  How strange!  I hope Molly is feeling better herself.
 
This week had some really high highs and really low lows.  Each day I understand more the line [Listos, siempre listos, meaning ready always ready, from the Spanish version of called to serve. Missionaries just have to be ready and willing for anything that comes their way.  One visit everything can be going super awesome and everyone's keeping their promises and is happy, and the next visit the world is falling apart. This work and this life is only possible with God.  He knows us and He leads us and guides us each and every day.
 
I don't know that I've written you before about the buses here.  They are pretty sweet. That is how we get everywhere.  They just drive by every 5 minutes or so and you just hop on and say your stop and somehow the guy who stands at the door collecting all the money always remembers where everyone needs to go.  It is a pretty fun way to travel, though if you easily get nausea I wouldn't recommend it.  The world is your highway really.  If you feel like traffic is too slow, feel free to drive a bit on the sidewalk or through a nearby park or beach.  As long as you get to your stops all is well. And the buses usually are blasting rap or hip hop music, so once upon a time the missionaries asked the last president what to do when there's music or something like that that can't be avoided, as buses are the only way to really get around cheaply.  According to Pres. Veirs who was before Pres. Dester... if you can't avoid it, enjoy it.  So this morning on the way to Puerto Cortes to eat Wendy's and write our families, we were rocking out on the bus singing Black Eyed Peas and Akon. ha ha ha.  I love PDAYSSSSSS.  Very much like a top notch missionary no?  Don't worry, that is the first and only time I will be singing rap in public during my missionary days.  I just couldn't help it.  It has been so long.
 
I got some pretty lovely letters from Hunter, Mom and Elise and Sister Frischknect also!  It was excellent to hear from you all. 
 
I realize now there are actually a lot of people that I am friends with here that I have never actually talked about.  Some of my favorite Hondureños are of course Familia Lizardo and Familia Calderon.  Then there's Juan who is 14 and is a recent convert.  He lives with his Grandma who isn't able to attend church as it is hard for her to walk all the way.  I love their family.  They are super cool, and Juan is super funny.  And he always reads all the scriptures we leave him.  He is one of my favorite people to visit because it doesn't feel like missionaries and investigadors, it just feels like friends getting together though we still are talking about the gospel of course.  And Juan has a little brother who we just gave a Book of Mormon to, and hopefully my new companion and I can teach him the lessons and baptize him too now.  Juan also has two twin girl cousins who have the most power house Beyonce voices even though they are only 7 years old.  They go to the evangelist church and always sing hymns from there for us. It is so cool. They are awesome.

 
 
Also Hermana Mercedes gives me really good tamales sometimes so that makes me happy, and we help her make tortillas FROM SCRATCH. As in all parts of the process we have helped, starting with getting the dried out corn kernals off the corn to make the tortillas with.  I really can't wait to teach you people how to make tortillas.
 
I love you all and hope all is well and you're enjoying your holiday season!  Peace and Blessings!
 
Hermana Johnson
Hola Familia! - December 2, 2013
 
Yes it is quite shocking to me that it is already December, but pretty much all my days are the same here so there's no real way to tell when it is Halloween or Valentine's day or whatever.  Though I am quite looking forward to having a day to celebrate Christmas in the mission.  I can't believe my mother sent me a Christmas tree! She totally would, always going above and beyond for her children!  Really though, you people need not be so extravagant!  It hasn't arrived still, no packages yet, but I will keep you posted on that. 
 
To answer dad's questions.... Since arriving here I know my Spanish has gotten better.  I understand most of what is said though still not 100%, and I definitely do not get slang at all.  I definitely still have much to improve.  But with time all will be well.  In terms of praying for our investigators... it is actually a rule that we aren't supposed to ask for specific prayers or fasts from people at home for our investigators.  I am not sure why that is...
 
This week was very special as we got to see the 8 year old son of one of less active members who has returned to the church have a baptism.  The mom and her younger kids started returning to the church with Hermana Cifuentes and her previous companion.  Since we have been working with them, all the older children have returned as well, and one has a daughter age 8 who was also baptized Saturday.  The husband even came to the baptism and has come to church for the past 2 weeks.  They are just so much happier now.  The difference is clear in their faces as now they are always smiling and uplifting others now as well.  Their daughter has a boyfriend who she plans to marry, and we'll be going to visit them this week.  The baptism of two people was such a happy day for everyone.  Next Saturday we will see Axel from Familia Calderon be baptized.  It will be an excellent way for Hermana Cifuentes to finish up her mission.
 
I'm glad you all had a nice Thanksgiving.  Glad you enjoyed your Black Friday shopping even more than your Thanksgiving.  You people are too funny.  We celebrated Thanksgiving here by going to a nearby member's little restaurant to eat fried chicken and tajadas.  It was actually a pretty darn good way to celebrate.  Not turkey, but close enough.
The weather here this week has been absolutely fabulous... London like in fact.  Nice and cool and lots of rain.  I actually even used my jacket one morning.  I was so shocked.  The only bad thing is that that means my shower is a bit more freezing than usual.  Eeeek.  Probably some of the shorter showers I have taken in my lifetime, but I'll take it for the coolness during the day. 
 
Two girls we have been talking to weren't home again this week so we shall see if we can catch them this week. I found out that it is pretty much already certain that I will stay here in Campana so only my companion will change.  They said it is extremely rare for them to send 2 new missionaries to an area, unless they are opening an area. They always keep one who knows the area and since that would be me as Hermana Cifuentes is going home, I will stay put.  I am not sure whether I will be training or not now.  Rumor is something changed in the number of sisters coming in December, and now only 1 will arrive, so I don't really have a clue who my companion will be or if she is new or old.  Hmmmmm.... I think I would like one more change as the younger companion but I'm up for anything. 
 
I love you all so much!  Thank you so, so much for your constant love and support
 
Hermana Johnson

Monday, December 16, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving - November 26, 2013
 
Hola Familia! 
 
To be honest, I forget when holidays and things are going to be happening unless another gringo tells me.  Time passes pretty quickly and all the days blur together.  Thanksgiving will just be a normal day for us.  I am not surprised at all that you people still don't know what you are doing for thanksgiving.,. ha ha sounds like my family.
 
The three days in the house weren't so terrible... I was pretty bored but I needed time to write letters anyways so that was good to be able to do.  I also made a ton of lesson outlines to try to brainstorm different teaching methods.  I tried to be productive.  This time is not my own.  It is God's and there'll be time to rest in Feb of 2015.  But we did spend a lot of time watching Disney movies and enjoying the package the Hays sent me.  Thanks so much to them!  It couldn't have come at a better time.  No other packages came this week.
 
Glad you got to have lunch with Kristy and that Mindy is doing well.  Yeah, me and Kristy got to talk last week so that was fun.  I do love hearing about all the other kids out on missions and how they are doing. 
 
Two of our new investigators weren't there this week when we went to visit, so hopefully in the upcoming days they will be there and we can drop by.  We did go to church on Sunday but all of Honduras only had sacrament meeting so church was only for one hour and then we were back in the house.
 
I really enjoyed your Thanksgiving quotes.  The only thing I would wish for is that I could look out my window and see snow falling.  awwww I just love the winter when it is all cold and cozy.  That I do miss about this time of year, but I've gotten used to the heat now and all is well.
 
I really do love my mission president and his wife.  They remind me of my own mom and dad.  Hermana Dester is just so concerned for everyone's health and wellbeing, and we can call to speak with her whenever we need anything.  She is so kind and just worried about everybody else all the time and just thanks us so much for our service whenever she sees us.  Very uplifting.  Caring as my own mother.  President Dester is a bit nerdy as my father is.  Worried about being businesslike and proper with his speech, but always trying to do what is right and always trying to help his missionaries.  He studies the scriptures long and hard and looks for divine inspiration for all his decisions and to help to lead and guide us.  President and Hermana Dester even look a bit like my own parents, or perhaps I have been gone from home too long.
 
On Friday we had a multi-zone conference with President Dester which was really great.  One of the things I especially liked was when we studied Moses 1 and my personal favorite D&C 6.  We talked about how when Moses spoke with God face to face, God told him he loved him and had a special work for him to do.  He calls Moses "blessed," his "beloved," and his son.  That our Heavenly Father always uses such loving language to lift us up and excite us to keep moving forward.  The same with Oliver Cowdery in D&C 6 when the Lord says, "blessed art thou..."  In contrast Satan refers to Moses in this chapter as Son of Man, and his language may promise things of the world but is to drag us down and forget our potential, never to lift us up.  Our God without end is willing to speak with each and every one of us and does all he does for us.  He likes it when we ask questions that He may illuminate our minds from there.  It was just a detail I had overlooked, but truly anytime our Heavenly Father speaks to us it is with great love, to uplift us and show us that which we can become, though it is only through Him that our fullest potential can be reached.  
 
I love you all very much and hope all is well for you this week!  Happy, happy Thanksgiving
 
Hermana Johnson 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hola familia and amigos! - November 18, 2013
 
Unfortunately Hermana Cifuentes still isn't totally better.  She still has difficulty breathing for some reason so we walk slow and don't go up the mountain as often.  I think a lot of it too is that she is so overwhelmed with going home and really stressed that it is taking a toll on her physically.  She just hasn't been well lately all around.  But that already tells you, I didn't have transfers.  I am still with my same companion and area.  But of course on Dec. 11 I'll get a new companion, and I anticipate staying in the same area since I'll probably be training and that's generally how it works.  We shall see. 
 
I didn't get Sarah's email for some reason... sometimes my ldsmail holds emails an extra week for some odd reason, so maybe it'll come through next Monday I hope.  Glad to hear Darren was able to visit and go to temple square with nana.  I'm glad nana is doing well in terms of her positivity.  She is always a great example to me of staying positive, and I hope to have that trait in my own life.  Glad to hear that Ethan is doing well too. He is so darling!  Say hi to nana, Darren and Sarah for me.
 
Glad that work is going well for you.  I know this can be a very busy time of year for you, but thanks for always being sure to write me.  I love hearing from you all! 
 
And your thoughts that you send are always spot on dad.  Thanks for those.  I hope you are all doing really well!
 
Things that are going on here....  I was quite surprised to see that quite a lot of people here actually put lights on their houses for Christmas like in the US.  We passed a house and I asked my comp, is that for Christmas or what?  and she was like, oh yeah of course.  what???? The only thing I know about Christmas thus far is that the entire month of December people will be giving me tamales all day every day.  ha ha  I'm pretty darn excited because I love tamales, and the ones I've had here are pretty alright. whoooooo  that's all I've been told.  Since it is President Dester's first Christmas here no one knows how the missionaries will be spending Christmas this year.  With the last president I heard it was just fabulous.  Like a huge dinner with everyone and then a talent show and dancing.  Dancing? with missionaries?  I would be so pumped.  But we shall see....
 
This week is going to be a bit lame because we aren't allowed to leave the house for 3 days!!!!!!! due to the elections for president here people just go crazy and it is too dangerous to go outside.  So all the missionaries in all of Honduras are locked inside their houses this Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.  So I won't actually even have pday until Tuesday next week.  oh well... I suppose I can use that time to write you people your Christmas cards. ;)
 
Hermana Gardner and her companion Hermana Bahr from Arizona are just great. I love seeing them during the week.  They told me a funny story about one of their investigators here.... A lot of people here talk about dreams they've had and such and actually read into those types of things a lot.  It was this old lady who had bad stomach pain for a really long time, and so she had a dream this pain was from a demon in her stomach and that a pastor from her church came and put his hands on her belly to bless her and release her from the demon.  But the demon pushed back against the pastor and refused to leave her and her pain continued. Later she had another dream that a man dressed in white came to her and put grape leaves under her legs and she gave birth to 3 fishes and she was healed.... somehow this lady concluded from her vision that Christ saved her from Satanas, that she was healed from the demon and needs no church in her life.... hmmmmmmm  ok   ha ha ha ha ha     the Hondurans and their visions in the nighttime.
 
In other news... I forgot to tell you another good story.  When the Familia Calderon had their baby they didn't give it a name for like a month or 2.  They just couldn't decide what to name it.  So they asked us to help them and so we wrote them a list of names.  That was pretty funny with Hermana Cifuentes because I would say like Alejandro or Juan or Gustavo like stereotypical Spanish names and she would just say how beautiful they were.  But I said the name Fulgencio and she just laughed and laughed and thought it was so ugly.  My goal was to have the Familia Calderon name their baby Fulgencio in honor of my favorite TV show, but my wish didn't come true and his name is Isaac.  But Hermana Cifuentes just thought that was hilarious, and still jokes about the name Fulgencio to everyone.  I wonder if any country actually uses that name because here no one believes me when they hear Fulgencio that it is a name...
 
Like two weeks ago we went contacting on a particular hill, and I had the feeling to go to this really awesome looking orange house with big yellow stars on it. It is quite odd but darling.  Hermana Cifuentes tried to tell me that no one was home, but I really felt like it was important and sure enough there are two lovely young ladies that live there and are super receptive to the gospel.  As in when we invited them to the church they were like oh sure, would you mind coming by to go with us, we were like we would love too!!!!! We gave them a Book of Mormon Thursday, and they seemed so excited to read it and I really feel like perhaps now we can have a baptism before Hermana Cifuentes heads home.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to spend time with them.  One is 15 and the other is 24.  They live next door to each other, but we teach them together at the same time.  They really are just ready for the gospel. I'll keep you posted on how things are going with them, but they are just too cool.  The first time we met with them, we were trying to get to know them a little better, and I asked the 15 year old what she wanted to be when she grows up, and she said she just hopes that whatever she is it will be a work that allows her to glorify God.  That she doesn't like the life that others her age live, but that she wants to follow the Bible and do what God wants of her.  I was like what?  what 15 year old talks like that.  She is really wonderful to me.  Anyways, it is wonderful to see people progressing in the gospel and so willing to learn and  it really strengthens me just as much as it does them I feel.          
 
I hope that you are all well and healthy!  I love you all so so much!  Talk to you again next Tuesday!   
 
Love, Hermana Johnson
 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hola Familia - November 11, 2013
 
Some fun facts... if you ever wondered if the people from Tom's shoes really do give shoes to people in other countries, yes they do.  I saw all the kids wearing the exact same pair of black shoes all the time so I asked my comp what's up with that? And she's like oh those are the Tom's they give out at the school.  Like every kid from elementary to high school has a pair of black Tom's here... I felt so dumb that I hadn't paid attention enough to realize they were Tom's since they all have that little logo on the back of them.  duh.  But yes, Mr. Tom is a man of his word.
 
Other items of business.... don't send gum here.  It literally melts into mush in only 2 to 3 days.  So weird, but yeah, don't send that.  The rope shoes I have don't do well here either.  It is so wet they are forever muddy and just rot.   I don't need socks or clothes or anything like that.   Also, please don't kill me mother, but the holes in my ears for earrings have closed up.  I don't know how that happened, maybe the heat???? I only went one week without and couldn't get them through, and now they are completely gone, like you can tell where the piercing was but yeah... whoops.                          
 
I got your Halloween package on Tuesday!  Thanks so, so much!  We decorated the apartment and my comp absolutely loved that.   I gave out the rings and teeth to some little kids and they just thought that was the greatest thing.  Good thinking mama, I'll send you some picks of that.  I loved the cereal and pasta roni and everything.  I actually eat a ton of ramen here because it is really cheap and we don't have a lot of money.  It is like being a college student.

 
For Christmas, anything you send me would be wonderful.  Really don't send a lot.  Just a card from everyone would be enough for me. And I'm thinking you should probably mail it around Nov. 24 for it to get here for Christmas. It takes about 4 weeks for things to get here.  I found out also, that they don't bring mail around the week before changes so I won't be getting any mail tomorrow, so anytime you send anything I have at least 1 week to enjoy it, so all is well on that front.  But really don't mail anything for like 2 weeks...  Tell Grandma I've been getting her mail, like  4 or 5 letters and a postcard from her, as when she wrote she seemed very concerned that I wasn't getting things.  One more thing for my Christmas package... a new lufa please.  Of course if I forget anything else  my birthday is right around the corner ha ha, and then after that you don't have to mail me another package until next christmas.   
 
I got the packet you sent of Hunter's football program and such.  Some of the other sisters at the zone meeting saw it and thought he was so handsome.  They were like, whoa that's your brother!  Then they asked to see pics of all my family so I showed the one of us at the airport before I left and the ones Molly sent me of herself (I keep pics of all you people in my scriptures) and they thought she was so pretty.  They thought my family was gorgeous.  whooooooooooo whooo.   Hermana Cifuentes goes around telling people how cute my brother is.... that's a little awkward...  anyways, it was good to see that things are going well for him this year.  I'm so happy for your success lil brother!  
 
This week was actually really, really bad.  It rained all week so we couldn't visit the people we were supposed to visit up on the mountain because we can't go up there in the rain...... Also Hermana Cifuentes is sick with Dengue fever, so she didn't have much energy to walk far.  We didn't know that's what she had the first two days, but then it just got worse and worse so we called the nurse and Hermana Cifuentes has been instructed to stay at home a few days... So yesterday we had divisions with some youth in the ward so I went out with them and Karol stayed at the house with Hermana Cifuentes so we could have a few visits. Our only new investigator called to say she doesn't want our visits anymore, idk what happened there since our first 2 visits were so wonderful, talking about families and all.   Boooooo.  Then we have a family who is not doing well economically so it is very hard for them to give up working on Sundays to go to church. Their business is making hammocks, so we helped them make hammocks so they could go to church. Yes I now know how to make a hammock, and we were just having a great time and they really were just saying they felt our love for them and appreciated us so much  and were so excited to go to church.  Then we show up Sunday morning to go to church and they say, sorry we don't have time.  Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh.... I am slowly not becoming a fan of this whole agency thing.  I hate this because we were having such a great relationship but they just won't go to church so we might have to drop them soon.  I really felt like finally they were going to come back to the church (another set of missionaries previously visited them and they had had a baptismal date and everything and were so ready and the pastor from their previous church persuaded them to stop meeting with the missionaries).  So I feel like we have done everything we can do.
 
I'm rather bummed about Bishop Cooper.  He's the greatest.  This week has been hard as some of the people we teach have been telling us of their challenges in life.  I know the gospel can help all people. Christ knows us perfectly and suffers through all our pains with us. This I know.                                
 
 
Fall Greetings from Honduras - November 4, 2013
 
We do not have daylight savings here actually... time pretty much doesn´t exist.  As in no one in Honduras is ever on time or punctual or whatever.  This actually drives me crazy.  Like for visits when we are on time no one is ever there.  Pretty much we just make a list of people we are going to visit that day and then we get there when we get there.  We might say see you Thursday at 3, but that really just means, we will show up at some point on Thursday because no one is ever punctual.  ha ha ha  I worry about this aspect of the mission for when I get home... that I will never be on time myself.  Yet some how miraculously all the members show up for church on time... usually early!  Opposite of the US where we are usually on time for all our meetings but always like 10 minutes late to church ha ha ha
 
My bed is fine, and having a pillow is great.  The weather here has cooled down a lot the past week or so. It rains almost every day now, and I just love it.  I think winter will be easy to survive.  It doesn´t really cool down that much at night.  It is still pretty hot most of the time.  The only bad thing about rain is that it is typically hottest right before it rains... boooooo.  I think it will get cool and stay cool now though as it is becoming winter.  Like 70 to 80.  My body has definitely adjusted though.  Yesterday was fast Sunday and I was able to survive without water.  The first fast Sunday I had to drink water because I worried I would pass out as it was so hot, but now my body is already adjusting.  My health is just fine thanks.  I´m doing well in that regard which is awesome.
 
Glad you figured out the pics.  Sorry about that. The three kids you are asking about... Karol is the only Lizardo.  She is 16.  Jamie is from another family in the ward too.  She and her brothers were baptized a couple months ago and she is 12.  Fran is 18 and working on his mission papers to go soon himself.  He accompanies us every Saturday and Sunday in our visits to practice being a missionary. 
 
And good news we got to move to a new house!  and it is actually pretty cute.  I will send pics of it soon.  Although moving everything in our house was a pain.  We had to do it all alone, so Hermana Cifuentes called 2 kids in the ward to help and it was of course Karol and Jamie´s brother Marvin to help us move.  Thankfully it was just the apartment directly above us that is a little nicer with more space and a little newer.  Idk how people do it when they have to actually move far.  We had to do everything just the 4 of us... fridge, microwave, beds...
 
Please wait to send the package until like the last week of Nov. cuz I really do not want to get it just before transfers. It is super hard to take everything with me on the bus by myself and having a package would be just about impossible.  And we can´t tell the couple missionaries to hold things for another week... they just don´t do that.  Please send me a little wallet, like the kind Hunter uses, and a new waterbottle... one where the top is covered somehow so bugs and things don´t get on the part you drink out of.  I really don´t need a lot of stuff.  We can buy just about anything down here.  Food is nice to get of course since there are treats I can´t buy here ha ha.  But wait until like Nov. 17 or later to mail things for Christmas.  Thanks so much!  Really don´t feel the need to mail me packages.  You don´t need to send something every month.  Just getting letters from people is the greatest.
 
Loved seeing everyone´s Halloween costumes!  So so darling!  Or I should say Elise´s was darling and Hunter´s was quite a treat for the eyes.  ha ha ha.  I didn´t do anything for Halloween.  It was just another regular day.  Except for the Monday before when we ate at Wendy´s and there were Halloween decorations inside since it´s from America ha ha.

My transition to Honduras is going pretty well thanks.  I don´t feel all nervous and antsy about every little thing anymore.  We haven´t had much success here in finding new investigators.  Everyone likes talking about Christ, but no one will go to church... The only progressing investigator we had is having problems with the law of chastity, so if you look at our stats for the week, we look pretty bad.  But our visits to all the non-actives have been really wonderful.  This of course doesn´t really show in the stats but it is so important to visit them as well.  We have familia who we have been visiting.  They had been preparing to go to the temple but the bishop and a previous missionary in the area told them they weren´t ready and were a bit unkind about it so they stopped going to church.  Since we´ve been visiting them they have started coming to church again, are reading their scriptures and having family prayer every night and all their sons who want to be missionaries one day.   The most special event was this past Sunday when their brand new baby was presented to the ward and got a baby blessing and they are once again strong in the church and will be able to go to the temple in December!  Seeing this change and rekindling of the gospel in their lives is a great blessing to me.  And a great reminder that numbers don´t matter in the mission.  Numbers can help us know maybe what we need to focus more or less on, but the most important is just inviting others unto Christ and trying to have the spirit enough in their homes that when we leave they think, I´d like to feel that way again.  It´s a big job.  One I am definitely inadequate for, especially when I still can´t speak the language sufficiently and can´t understand what others are saying.  Every person is so precious to Him when I make a mistake with the language or explaining something not clearly enough I just want to kick myself, but for some reason He wants me here.  He called me here and so I can do it.
 
I love you all very much!  Please also send my 4 generation genealogy chart... I can´t spell anymore sorry.,,.
 
Hermana Johnson       

Monday, October 28, 2013

Dear Mom,

Sorry I did not take a picture of the tarantulas... I will the next time I see one as I'm sure I will.  Ha ha.  Every week gets better here as I actually learn how to be a missionary.  I've finally gotten down all the paperwork we have to fill out and how to take the stats and it only took me 4 weeks to figure it out since it was all in spanish ha ha ha.  Wow.  Most of the time I just worry about if I'm doing things right, I get so confused.  My companion likes me as she requested to stay with me here in Campana for her final month as a missionary.  She tries to protect me a lot too... like tries to hold my hand as we walk across the street.

Oh and I did get your package this week!  Thank you so, so much!  I was expecting just a little tiny package like the size of a VHS since all I needed really was my camera cord... I should have known better with my mother ha ha ha.  And Tuesday really is the only time they give mail.  The entire zone meets in Choloma this day for district meetings so the couple missionaries just bring all the mail and set it in a pile for us to pick up.  I have been told by other missionaries that my package arrived pretty quickly.  There's a sister in my ward who has been waiting for her package 2 months and an elder who has been waiting 3 and they still haven't come.  So I guess 1 month is the fastest, but between 1 and 2 months is average for a package.  The corners were a little beat up, but it was in pretty good shape when I got it.  Loved the gummies, the peanut butter m&ms, the trailmix, the peanutbutter and nutella, everything was wonderful!  Thank you so, so much.  It really made my entire week.  My companion loved it too.  Letters also come at this time and generally take 3 to 4 weeks no matter where they are from.  I've gotten mail from Katy Bready (Kentucky), Mindy Wong (Alabama) and Alex Williams (Japan) while I've been here.

So glad you guys had a great time with Hunter this season for football.  I'm so happy for him that he was able to do so well.  Yeah let me tell you, a lot of change is coming to those boys real fast now.  It is crazy to think how much has changed in such a short amount of time in my own life.  Thanks for Nathan's emails.  Katy and I email each other a little paragraph each week, but I don't get her official letters.  I'd love to see one though. She is really on top of things.  I've already gotten 2 letters from her while I've been in Honduras.  And so I have 19 followers from Indonesia huh?  Well it's because I have an Asian heart after all.  In a letter from Hunter this week, he says Mom listens to Asian music when she misses me, I am so honored.  Got letters from Mom also this week and Grace and Ava.  Thanks so much for all your love and support.  It means so, so much to me.  It makes life a lot easier to hear from you guys often, so that I don't have to worry and know you are all well at home so I can focus on what I need to do here.

Glad Molly has found a way to volunteer.  I am so proud!  Is she healthy again now?  Loved to see the photos!  Please with your next written letter include a few photos of our family as I love photos most of all.  

Funny you mentioned God protects his missioaries, as I can definitely testify of that already.  I've already had miracles happen for my own protection that I feel like if I weren't a missionary I would not be so lucky.  For example... earlier this week we had gone contacting in the street in a new area last Sunday and set up some visits to return and talk with the people who wanted to hear more.  Anyways, one man told us he lived right behind this church that we were close to and that he would love for us to come visit his wife and kids with him.  So we returned and went back this little back path behind the church, me, Hermana Cifuentes and member who was with us to visit this family, and I went up to the house and yelled  Buenas, because that's what you do here... nobody knocks or anything.  And this gigantic dog comes running from the backyard of this house... like the kind of dog that is so big it is like a mini horse.  eeek... and I was closest to it, like 15 feet away and it was just barking and barking so we all started to back up real slow.  Normally all the street dogs here are pretty timid like you just have to yell at them or throw water on them from your water bottle and they run off.. but this dog was super crazed like I am pretty sure it had rabies because it was foaming nasty white and green in its mouth.  I was absolutely terrified.  And this man and his family were not home.  The dog ran to come down to eat me, and then this neighbor kid saw us and grabbed the dog as it was only like 4 inches from me ready to bite me.  Ack.  It was a miracle that this kid saw and saved us... otherwise I would probably have had to spend the day at the hospital.  Dogs are a real problem here.  Some missionaries have gotten bitten, but generally you can see big dogs as you are walking along the paths and can avoid them.  IDK, so we are never going back to that house... but really God looks out for His missionaries.  

Another time we were in San Pedro Sula for a meeting with the president's wife and sister training leaders during our pday, so we went to the grocery store after real quick before heading home.  Also this week there was some problem with the debit cards reloading money so we didn't have much money but bought enough to be ok a few days and saved enough to get home... anyways a man came up to us asking for money and we had hardly nothing so we were like no, no.  So he went to try to steal our groceries and who pulls up at that moment on the street but a stake president of San Pedro Sula.  And he gave the man some money and he ran off.  If he hadn't been there, we would've had no food and perhaps no money to get home either.  It was a miracle that he just happened to be there right when we needed him, and he drove us to a bus stop a little ways off so we could get safely home.  

Oh and please go sue Sis Missionary Mall.... the expensive umbrella you got me there broke the first day I used it.  Tell everyone to shop elsewhere for their missionary needs.  And my alarm clock from there had a glitch the first week I used it (it would randomly reset itself) but it has been working great the past two weeks so I think it is ok... but advise others to go elsewhere.  

In other news... apparently the president told my companion that I will be a trainer to whoever is my next companion.  So either this November or December I will be a trainer already and I don't even speak Spanish.  So of course my next companion will be a Latina so we can actually teach people, but goodness I don't feel ready for that just yet.  They say there are just so many new people coming and they are running short on older sisters.  We don't find out whether we are switching companions until the 11th of November though, and then the 13th they make the switches.  

This week we got to do divisions with the sister training leaders and it was a wonderful experience.  I got to go with Hermana Aguilar who is from Logan, Utah, and she came here to Campana with me.  I got to be in charge so we got to contact a street I've always wanted to contact and found two wonderful new families who are so excited to hear the gospel.  We got to all of our visits and trudged through it all in pouring rain.  It was so awesome!  I like to go, go, go all day, missionary pace people!  I learned so much about teaching with her. Mostly I just learned that I should be the kind of missionary I want to be.  

Happy, happy anniversary to mom and dad!  I am so happy for you and your excellent examples.  You could give me a lot of advice on how to make companionships work well.  Also I hope the ACT went well for Hunter and college apps are coming along nicely.  


I love you all so, so, so much!  Thanks again for the package!

Love Hermana Johnson

Monday, October 21, 2013

Two Months on the Mission - October 21, 2013
 
Hola everyone!  Yes I have officially been a missionary for 2 months and it has actually been pretty fast.  Now I just have to repeat what I just did 8 more times... that sounds like a while.... ha ha ha.  It´ll be better when I get to the 3 month mark and then I just have to do that 5 more times.  I have been doing much better this week healthwise.  It´s hard here to be healthy because we aren´t allowed to eat most of the produce as it isn´t cleaned properly or has different germs or idk... and we never eat it at people´s houses of course.  So like one day this week this lady gave me a giant plate of food and it was a huge mountain of spaghetti, white rice, and plantains.  ha ha ha it is just so many carbs every meal it is really hard to stay healthy.  Most missionaries gain weight in this mission apparently.  But I eat a lot of yogurt and nuts and fruit from the grocery store that is safe and that we can clean really well.  I eat cereal every single day... healthy gronola type stuff to try to stay healthy.  And then of course we drink soda whenever we are at people´s houses because we can´t drink the water so I fear cavities greatly but all should be well.  Things I would love to have from home... Graham crackers, nutella, poptarts, crystallite, trail mix and almonds, vitamin c packets, instant breakfast, fruit snacks and gummy bears, dried fruit.... is that enough of a list for now?  For Christmas I would like some new mascara please.  Don´t send lots of packages because it is so darn expensive I feel so guilty and I really don´t need anything.  Don´t worry about so much.  I haven´t eaten anything weird yet... it´s usually just plain stuff like rice, chicken, tajadas, idk how to spell that.  Tajadas are so, so good.  They are fried plantains so they taste like french fries but almost better.  mmmmmmm.  I will make them for you when I get home
I also have probably made like three hundred tortillas here... We are always looking for opportunities to serve and there are always moms cooking and they like help with their tortillas... and I´m actually better at it than my Guatemalan companion ha ha ha.  The Lizardo Family always lets us borrow their daughters to go to appointments with us, so once a week we help them with their tortillas to say thank you.  ha ha ha. 

Idk when we will move.  Don´t worry my fan is perfectly safe I promise, it´s just funny to look at.  My companion goes home I think around Dec. 10.  We have changes Nov. 10ish but they don´t tell us if we are changing companions or areas until the Monday before, and then two days later on Wednesday you switch if you need to switch.  So the longest I would be here is until Dec. 10, but I may change in Nov.  I don´t know.  To go to places you take the local buses, so when I switch I just hop on a bus with all my luggage with whoever else in my area has changes and we all go to a stake center in San Pedro Sula to find out our new assignments.  You have to take everything all by yourself though so I actually wish I had only 2 suitcases instead of 2 suitcases and a carryon and a backpack as that can be a challenge.... a lot of missionaries have broken suitcases here because of the bad roads.  My companion has to get a new one before she goes home, so I hope the ones I have now can last me my mission.  It is such a pain.  I have no help so please don´t send me a lot of stuff.  sorry.  oh and do send me a conference Ensign in English and Spanish for Christmas.  thanks! if that is possible...

Molly´s costume is looking good.  I hope she gets better real soon.  And tell her thanks for my letter.  It came this past week.  She would die to see all the knockoffs here.  Literally every store is knockoffs, and most of it is like obviously fake, but some of it is really good, so I already know what I´ll be bringing home for you people in 18 months ha ha.  They have all brands too, lots of fake Chanel, Michael Kors, Polo, even the grocery stores have it.  ha ha. 

Tell Sister Dobson thanks for the tip about calmoseptine... idk how to spell that.  I use it for mosquito bites actually and it works magic.  Though I don´t have many bites anymore.  That problem is already fading. 

Glad to hear about Hunter´s date.  ha ha ha.  Though I´m disappointed he didn´t wear the pink minnie ears.  Tell him best of luck on the ACT this week.  He is going to do fabulous and I shall be praying for him. 

Things that happened this week... I saw pretty much every creature under the sun.  3 HUGE tarantulas this week.  2 alive 1 dead.  They come out at night.  So we were walking across a bridge to go to a members house and the bridge was just dirty full of trash and lichi peels (this spiky red fruit that everyone eats here, they are actually pretty good)  so it was dark and I walked past this thing thinking it was just a rock or trash and my foot was literally like an inch from this creature, and then I realized it was a massive tarantula, like as big as a dinner plate and I yelped and booked it with my companion for like thirty feet to the end of the bridge as I realized what it was.  God really is looking out for me as he saved me from this massive tarantula.  I really almost just walked into this thing.  ack, I am always afraid one is going to come in the house, but so far only geckos live in our house.  They are so funny, they make surprising loud noises like birds ha ha.  I also have seen 2 snakes, lots of frogs in the night, a monkey which bit one of the daughters in the Lizardo family so I hope she is alright, and a horse giving birth.  It is animal week this week.  I used to only use my flashlight sometimes as there are streetlights that make it bright enough to see most things, but I use the flashlight to be able to see everything clearly now... like snakes and tarantulas as those come out during the night and are very abundant in our area. 

Soccer is massive here of course.  We aren´t even allowed to leave the apartment during games.  We have to stay in because people just go crazy fighting in the streets and setting off bombs it is craziness.  Especially with Honduras going to Mundial now.  ha ha ha you guys should watch the game to tell me how it goes

Most people in our area are less actives so it is a lot of getting people to get excited to go to church again.  Like one lady we met was baptized 18 years ago and hasn´t been to church.  It is crazy.  Every house you go to... ¨Hi we´re the missionaries¨and they are like öh yeah I was baptized like 5 years, or 10 years or 18 years ago.  I love your message come by anytime.  But they just don´t want to go to church.... hmmmmm

We are still teaching Hermana Iris who lives up on the mountain and now the rest of her family too. Her daughter Carla is a teenager like 15ish and is so darling. always asking questions and wanting to know more, even though she is pretty shy.  It is hard to get up to them with the games and we can´t go up the mountain if it is raining so we´ve only visited 3 times now, but I hope we can go soon so they can progress towards baptism. 

And get this... because close to us everyone is less active and we have no one with a baptism date, we went with all the ward missionaries to contact a different town yesterday.  We just knocked on doors for 2 hours and it was so successful.  One man we met was born in Honduras, but has lived in the US the past 20 years and now is back in Honduras as he divorced his American wife.  He spoke English with me, it was so odd.  But he told us he feels we were sent from God to teach him.  That this is the message he has been waiting for his whole life, and he just is so excited to read the Book of Mormon, so I am so excited to visit again tomorrow and perhaps very soon we will have a baptism.  His wife was a Mormon he said but that she never talked about the church with him.  His name is Marcos.  And we found many other new investigators here so I feel like finally we can have some progressing investigators.  I am so excited!  

I love you all so much!  I hope you are doing well and thank you so much for your prayers for me.  They really are working believe me. 

Love Hermana Johnson 

Hola Familia y Amigos - October 14, 2013
I really can tell when you people are praying more for me one week than another, and I could tell this week was one of them, so thank you so, so much.  Your love and support mean so, so much to me.  You all keep me going when things aren´t so hot.  Pdays are the greatest.

Lo siento, your package has not yet come, but tomorrow is mail day so perhaps tomorrow is the day. 

In my apartment... there is a shower with no curtain, just a really old shower head with only cold water and a hole in the floor for a drain ha ha.  The sink you must be careful not to lean on our it can pop off the wall.  The toilet is broken at the moment so you have to reach back and pull a plug to drain it.  It is not all that fancy.  We have a microwave and a mini fridge and a big water jug for drinking water and one stove top.  One fork, one spoon and one knife per person.  This week was great because they gave us pots and pans to cook with in our apartment.  yeaahhhh!!!! Because there are so many missionaries they struggle at times to keep everything up and running and all the apartments accommodated.  I think we may move soon... Me and my companion each have a fan because there´s no AC of course.  You know how fans have like the fan with a cage cover over it... well mine has just the fan part tied to its stand with a shoelace ha ha ha, but it works so all is well.  I am learning a lot to be grateful for what I have at home.  And my house is very nice compared to what so many of our members and investigators have.  Not everyone here even has a little one burner stove like us.  Some people really just live in tin huts and cook on a fire with no bathroom, and the entire family sleeps on the floor or in hammocks in a house smaller than my bedroom at home.  It makes me so sad sometimes to see as why are certain people chosen to be more materially blessed than others.  Or that I may be a little sick and worn down at times, but eventually I´ll go home and be great, yet here people live in sickness their whole lives and never get to know better.  They drink the dirty water and sleep on the ground because that´s all they have.  And yet they are for the most part so happy and generous.  They always want to be so hospitable with us it is amazing.  They love talking about Christ and God and have so much love for the Savior.  It´s pretty cool.  It makes my job pretty easy. 

Maybe God had to take away material things from me at this point in my life to make me focus more on Him and rely more on Him.  Not having ¨Things¨ really is hard.  Like sitting in my apartment, I think oh my goodness, it is Halloween at home and I think of all mom´s Halloween decorations and that is not wise of me... While here I remember one particularly poor family all they have is someone spray painted ¨feliz nabidad´ on their wall one year for Christmas... mispelled and all and that is the homeyness that they have.  We are so blessed!  We have so many opportunities in the US!  For education, for health, for being able to make our own way and choose our own person.  Wow. 

Each day I wake up at 630, then eat breakfast and get ready til 8 is what's allowed, then personal study til 9, companionship study til 10, training with companion as i am a newbie until 11, then we go do an appointment or just talk to people in the street til 12 when we usually have lunch with a member.  Then at 1 we study Spanish at the apartment and after that we just have appointments all day and we get back in the house at 8 or 830,  Sometimes we have dinner with people.  Because people live so far up in the mountain we usually don´t have dinner until we get back at 8, and we come back then as it is dangerous to be out after that here.  It gets dark around 6, but always members are looking out for us and if it is dark someone always walks with us, and we stay near the house after 6 to be cautious. 
They supply bug spray here so no worries, and already that problem is much, much better after just 2 weeks.  Things that would be good in a package... definitely don´t send anything that could melt as that could be a disaster... gummy bears, fruit snacks, cristal lite, herb tea, all those types of things would be great.  I´ll keep thinking.. I'm still learning what´s good here. For example, at home I love bananas, but here they turn to mush within a few hours so I don´t get them.  I eat a lot of apples instead. 

I found out I only get to go to the really nice grocery store that is like America during changes or if I serve in san pedro... the grocery store near me isn´t so nice and doesn´t have things like peanut butter or peppermint tea or whatever.  esta bien.  I´m already figuring out how to manage my way.  They really do expect us to eat with members though... there isn´t really a lot of money if someone tried to cook all their meals themself... I´ll keep working on it...

Also know today I took out like 2,000 limpiras on my card, around 100 USD because the money wasn´t on our mission cards for some reason.  So I needed money for groceries, and now I´ll just always have extra money for emergencies.  So all is well.  gracias

Also we´ve decided to exercise in the evenings when we are already sweaty and nasty instead of the mornings so we are still following the rules... I didn´t bother asking if not exercising was bad... but whatever.

Sorry I think my description of things makes things sound a lot worse than the actually are.  It is hard, but I am adjusting slowly and the people here are just so kind.  Earlier this week, a girl in the ward got set apart as a missionary. She is 20 and went to the airport the next day to leave for her mission to Peru, to the Guatemala MTC, and her family doesn´t have a lot of money so just her and her brother went together to the airport together and here you are a minor until 21 so they wouldn´t let her get on the plane by herself!  She had to come back, and the bishop wouldn´t let her go back to her house, and made her spend the next day with us as a missionary since she had already been set apart.  Thankfully she was able to catch a flight the day after, but I felt so bad for her, as she was already so nervous.  Her family doesn´t have a lot, their dad left their mom for another woman.  And yet their mom is so dedicated to the church that this is her third child she has sent on a mission.  Their family literally dedicates everything they have to the church.  And their youngest son is autistic so that makes things hard too.  The faith of the members is incredible, and many have such hard lives it makes my heart break and I feel so guilty for all I have and they do not.  This is the work of God and people do receive grand blessings both spiritually and temporally by following the teachings of the gospel.

I love you all so, so much!  I thank you for your prayers and all your support and hope everyone is doing great.  Hopefully I can send you some pictures real soon!  Love you to the moon and back!
Hermana Johnson   
First Letter from Honduras - October 7, 2013
 
Hola Familia! 
 
Not gonna lie, this week has been a bit rough.  The food here is going to kill me off.  All the US kids I've talked to serving here say they eat everything they are given and never get sick, but me and my companion both got sick already from something we ate this week, I'm not sure what.  It was one day where we had 3 dinners! I worry a lot about cleanliness of food so I have great anxiety over this as we pretty much eat with members like almost every day. 
 
My companion is very nice though and funny.  Her name is Hermana Cifuentes and she is 24 from Guatemala.  She'll actually be going home in December, so I may be her last ever companion.  Apparently there is great pride among missionaries if you are someone's last companion.  If you are their last companion you are the one who "killed them off" so I guess that's cool.  ha ha ha... missionaries are so desperate for entertainment.  She's had lots of American companions so she knows I can't drink the water and looks out for me a lot, so this I am grateful for.  She loves going to eat with members as much as possible though, and I'm quite the opposite so.... we are working on that.  She speaks very little in English, but we understand each other for the most part. 
 
To verify the address for mail...
 
For letters it is...
 
Hermana Brie Ann Johnson
Misíon Honduras San Pedro Sula Oeste
12 Calle, Ave. Circunvalación
S.O. Edificio Yudé Canahuati,
3er. Nivel Oficina #4
San Pedro Sula, Cortés, Honduras
 
For Packages it is...
 
Hermana Brie Ann Johnson
Mision Honduras San Pedro Sula Oeste
Apartado Postal 1956
San Pedro Sula, Cortés Honduras
 
 
I'll keep you posted if the mail you sent gets here.  I think it should be alright.  They only bring by the mail to us once a week on Tuesdays...  And yes my Pday is Mondays now.  
 
Getting to Honduras was bad because once again I barfed at the airport.  They do not take good care of missionaries on their travel days.... and something about being in a hot enclosed space makes me really ill really fast.... The temperature here is ridiculously hot.  My first area is called Campana 2, in the zone of Fesitranh.  It is a very, very poor part of the country.  It is very beautiful though, a tropical jungle.  There are little monkeys sometimes that will jump on you if you aren't paying attention... this hasn't happened to me yet thankfully, and I am living in fear of it.  Also there are lots of scary dogs everywhere.  Almost every missionary gets bitten by a dog at some point apparently, so I dread this also.  The animals here that people have as pets are wicked ugly.  Like the mangiest, most starved creatures I have ever seen.  Like a dead dog that was brought back to life 2 weeks after it had been rotting in the ground.  mmmmmm ha ha ha
 
During the night when it is so called "cool" it is typically around 90 when I go to bed. ha ha ha I am wet, wet, wet with sweat all day long.  I have to shower every night because I am just so sweaty and dirty, and lots of people know that white people get eaten by mosquitos like crazy so they light fires to makes the bugs go away but that just makes me sweat harder and smell like smoke.... ha ha ha. Sometimes it is so ridiculous all I can do is laugh.  One day I was sweating so bad, you know how people usually get sweat marks where their armpits are?  I had them ON MY THIGHS.  Like two bigs stripes right down the front of my pink skirt.  It was so nasty.  ha ha ha  I have no idea how hot it is during the day but it is pretty darn hot and humid all the time.  Oh and the mosquitos love me.  Even though I put OFF on like 4 times a day, my legs and feet literally swell with mosquito bites.  My heels look like big red golfballs.  Poor Hermana Gardner, who is actually serving in my ward so I see her all the time, didn't wear OFF one day and she looks so diseased.  Her heels looked like big red apples on the back.  So bad.  Our ward has 6 sister missionaries and no elders.  ha ha.  idk what that's all about.
 
My house is pretty sketchy.... and Hermana Cifuentes showed me a video of when her and her last companion had a TARANTULA come in.  Ackkkkk.  I dread this also, though I haven't seen one yet myself. All my shoes are wonderful.  They are perfect for here. Very comfy, while everyone else brought like flats, and their feet are dying.  
 
I am so sorry to hear about Aunt Tara's dad.  That is awful.  I hope their family is doing better this week.  That is so hard.
 
The members here, besides the food concerns... are wonderful.  They are so kind and generous even though they don't have much and always so willing to help the missionaries.  They always are giving references for us.  We don't have any progressing investigators at the moment actually, so we just spent all week visiting members to get references and so I could get to know the ward.  One lady took us to her friend's house who had literally just had her baby like in the last day or two.  And I was like thinking, what? this lady just had her baby, can we really just go visit her?  But yep, we all just walked right up there and the lady and her baby were just chillin on the bed resting, and right then and there we starting teaching the first lesson and asked the lady if she wanted to be baptized and she said yes.... like what?  I was so shocked.  People are so willing to just accept the gospel here.  Getting them to keep commitments is another story... but they love the message.  The spirit was so strong though.  Her name is Hermana Iris and we will go visit her and her family again later this week.  My area is up on the mountain, so it is a pretty sketchy hike at some parts, like 2 feet of path between you and a thirty foot drop, and sometimes I feel like I'm rock climbing instead of contacting, but whatever.  For this reason we do not exercise in the morning because we work out so much during the very hot day... how do you feel about this?  Should I still try to exercise so I'm keeping all the rules? probably yes.... 
 
The family Lizardo is a particularly strong family in the ward and we go take one of their daughters to all of our visits so there's a member present.  They are all darling.  Carol, Aleda, Lilian... ages 16, 14, and 28.  They've already taught me to make tortillas from scratch and I was pretty good at it.  ha ha they were so shocked.  Actually most people don't think that I am from the US.  Most people ask me if I am from Canada or France because they tell me I speak spanish with a french accent.  ha ha ha.  I've even been asked if I'm Russian, but yep, most people think I'm a Frenchie and not an American.  ha ha ha.  Everyone loves my blue eyes though.  They just stare at me for like minutes and they'll be like, whoa they change color when you move or whatever. are they purple? and I'm like nope, they are blue.  And then they ask me what color the eyes of my family members are and I'm like blue, and my mom is green, and they are just like wow, that is so amazing.  how beautiful!  ha ha ha
 
I wish I could be in San Francisco with Grandma, or someplace with snow.  I hate being hot as you know.  This is going to take some getting used to.  I drink like 3 gallons of water a day to prevent myself from dying.  
 
Tell Molly good luck at school and Hunter with the ACT.  Thanks so much for sending packages to my friends!  You guys are so great.  Maybe send Katy a pic of Tim Gunn and Mindy one of Gloria from Modern Family, and tell her that's what I'm going to look and sound like when I get home.  ha ha.  This country really is beautiful, and some parts of it really are like America.  Like we drive to the richer part by bus to do grocery shopping and it is like an American grocery store.  You can buy pretty much anything you want or need to eat, like peanut butter even! and Pasta sides!  (that thing that is similar to pasta roni).  I would love to serve in that area for reals... maybe on my next change.  They generally switch up companions pretty often, like every 2 or 3 months.  I do not have a cell phone, just a phone in our house.  The water in the shower is always cold, but it actually feels really great here where it is so deathly hot.  
 
I do really miss my district from the MTC.  I loved them so much, we all cried the night we had to all leave.  I think getting close to people and then having to leave them will be really hard for me here as so often I feel really lonely, so when I become friends with someone I cling to them like crazy, so leaving people is hard.  I'm very grateful Hermana Gardner is with me.  Thou I live in a different house, just me and Her Cifuentes live in our house.  The other lucky 4 get to share a much nicer home.  Not fair.  I think we are going to change houses soon though.  Every Saturday night we have a dinner all together the 6 hermanas to be close and have a fun activity to look forward to.  Sorry this week has been hard so I shall be more positive next time I write.  I just am working on finding my way around still I suppose.  Thanks so much for your loving words and all your support!  I am so lucky to have such a wonderful family!  Can't wait to get your mail!  and that camera cord. ; )  Adios!  
 
Love, Hermana Johnson                

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Dear Parents of Missionaries
This is just a quick note to let you know that your missionary arrived safely today in Honduras.  We are delighted to have 22 new missionaries in the mission today.  We were able to talk with them, eat dinner with them, and enjoy some very special moments with them this evening.  President Dester interviewed all of the new missionaries and is excited to have the energy that each of them brings to the mission.  Tomorrow the new missionaries will be assigned to their new areas and start working. We are sending you a photo of your missionary in the airport.  Thank you so much for entrusting your missionary to us and for all of your support.
 
With kindest regards,
 
Sister Dester and President Dester
 
 
Final E-mail from Mexico City MTC
 
Hola!  
 
Wow, I cannot believe 6 weeks have already passed by and that I'm off to be a real missionary.... eeeek.  I leave the MTC tomorrow morning at 6 and my flight is at 11.  I'm flying Aeromexico.  The flight is a little over 2 hours so not too bad.  I'm so looking forward to meeting my new companion and district, though I am so sad to leave my district here and my sweet companion Hermana Gardner.  I'll get to fly with her to Honduras though and we'll get to meet up at General Conference.  We've already made a deal that if there's ever a San Pedro Sula emple we will go to the open house together. 
 
Ok, yes, don't send any packages or anything just yet.  I will go find out the address and get back to you next week.  I'll have you know that I always read through everyone's email.  I do not care if you write to me about Taylor Swift... all mail is welcome from the people I love, and I love knowing what's going on with you and that you are all well. 
 
I'm so glad Molly is doing well with soccer and Hunter with football.  Hunter is a good example. I am so extremely nervous for my next companion.  This is something that worries me to no end.  If I could ask you all to pray for but one thing, that would be it. 
 
Sorry that kid cut his head open on the pool.  That is so awful!  I hope he's alright now.  And thanks for the scripture you shared, Dad.  I frantically try to memorize as many scripture references as possible every day.  I wish I had done this more before I left.... Chispas.  Also will you let me know if you get my letters so I know they got there.  I've sent 2.  Also tell Sister Hays thank you for her letter.  And tell Hunter to please sign up for the ACT very soon.  He must take the October one so sign up ASAP... December one if the date has already passed for October sign up.  (but try to do the October one since BYU accepts that as the latest time to take it)  Buena suerte, let me know if you have questions.  And have him start on his college applications RIGHT NOW.  BYU's is due by like Nov. 1 or something... much earlier than others.  So he only has a month to jump on that. 
 
This week Brother Cates (idk how he spells his last name) the MTC director gave a super awesome devotional.  He introduced us to the 14th article of faith which goes something as follows... "We believe in gatherings, meetings, and sitting for long periods of time... We hope for meetings, we pray for meetings, our rearends have endured many meetings, and hope to endure all meetings""  ha ha ha  But really there are a lot of meetings in our church, but they are all for our benefit and learning I suppose.  He also emphasized the importance of preparation as a missionary.  He wrote that just as a heart surgeon must study for many, many years to be able to perform well, we as missionaries are about to spiritually operate on hearts and so we must stay busy and stay focused.  We must be anxious to study hard each and every morning.  Man's extremity is God's opportunity.  You must walk to the edge of the cliff as that is where you can launch off to fly.  There is real risk and fear here at the edge, but this is where prophets walk and talk and where Jesus always was.  Cast out doubt and cast every thought on Christ.  Think of what you can be and what you can do through Christ.  Brother Cates is the coolest.  His talk was awesome!!
 
My other favorite quote of the week is from David A. Bednar who said, "Just as in Relief Society women take casseroles to those who are sick or going through a difficult time, missionaries are taking a spiritual casserole to the world."  ha ha ha
 
I love you all so, so much, and I'll let you know all about Honduras very, very soon :)  Muchas gracias for all your love and support!  I can feel your prayers each and every day.
 
Love, Hermana Johnson



 
Adios to Mexico City
 
Oh my word... I cannot believe I am already going to be heading out to Honduras.  I am actually pretty darn sad to leave my district behind.  I may just cry my eyes out.  I do not like this having to leave each other just as you become good buddies.  Oh well.  I already have plans to hang out with some of my district as we all will be going to school at BYU or UVU so we can hang out real soon.   ha ha aka slightly less than 17 months.  I still don't actually know when my flight leaves.  If you serve in the US you know your flight before you even come to the MTC, but for us international missionaries... I won't even know when my flight leaves until Friday even though it could very well be this Saturday or Sunday.  And most unfortunate little missionaries leave in the middle of the night for their missions... even if your flight is like at 10, you have to leave at like 3 in the morning because they like to take all the missionaries to the airport at once and some might have flights at like 6 while others not until 12.  oh well.  I just hate finding out about it so darn late.  I shall start packing today just in case.... That is one thing that sucks about missionary life.  No head's up about anything, you just do it and love it.  ha ha ha
 
I'd like to thank you all for all the mail I got this week.  I got letters from Hunter, Elise, Chris and Jeff, Nana, Dad and Grandma Kent.  It was so wonderful.  I felt so, so loved!  I definitely love letters more than emails, unless it is some big important news of course.  It is just because with letters I have all the time I want to read them and write back or whatever, but with emails I have only 1 hour to read them all and send back so it gets just a little stressful sometimes.  I always feel so guilty that I can't write everyone as much as they all deserve. 
 
So Hunter is the big hottie on campus these days??? I am not surprised.  ha ha ha  this is just too good.  I wish I could've been there to witness and help out with him answering back!  And Molly seems to be doing well too.  I'm glad she is having a fun time at school with all of Hunter's buddies.  Thanks so much for telling me about the season of ANTM that I AM MISSING little sister.... ack.  Please do not speak of all the TV and music and pop culture that I am missing out on.  It makes me all antsy.  It really is good for me to not be watching TV ever, but we really are starved for entertainment here.  Idk what I've talked about or not talked about... I just can't remember... so sorry if I've already mentioned it, but every Sunday night here we get to watch a church movie and as much as I would've shunned the thought at home, here it isn't absolutely horrible.  They are so cheesy, everyone just laughs the entire time.  It is splendid.  A good break from our busy weeks.  
I am uber bummed about missing Alec and Julie's farewells.  Actually I've met two boys here who when I said I was from Highland, asked if I knew Julie Watkins, and I was just like WOW, that just happened.  ha ha ha.  One kid from AF, Elder Conover, told me he had gone to AF, and I said oh my brother is the kicker there, and he was like whoa! He's so good.  And I was so so proud of my little brother.  What an athelete!
 
This week was just so great.  We get to play volleyball every morning and go to the tienda like 2 or 3 times a day.  ha ha ha.  The tienda is a little shop where you can buy treats or little missionary items or garments and we love trying all the mexican food.  Like they have doritos and fritos and american seeming things... but they are all in special mexico flavors.  Yum yum yum.  Nacho Doritos Mexico style are now my all time favorite.  We have got to get these in America.  Also everyone loves Choquis... idk if I spelled that right, which are chocolate chip cookies at the tienda which are fab.  You can even buy ties at the tienda, so our district got a tie for each of our two teachers.  They are both from Mexico and actually went to this school when it was a high school so that was so neat.  They love it as an MTC.  Lots of missionaries here also came here as high school students, and they all say there was always a special spirit here but now it is just even so much grander.  I am glad as I always felt guilty that we were taking away such a great school from people.  I am also glad that I can communicate with latinos sufficiently to have figured that out.  Chispas.  One of our teachers just got engaged, and he told us it was his girlfriend's birthday so we asked if we could sing to her on the phone.  So he made a video of us singing happy birthday and showed it to her when he got home, and he said she was so touched she cried.  ha ha ha he is so nice.  He says Wow really funny in his Mexican accent but only when something really cool or spiritual happens so we try to get him to say WOW as much as possible.  *though it sounds more like VOw.. ha ha  Their names are Hermana Salvador and Osorio.  They teach in the morning, and we have a third teacher in the afternoon, Hermana Young, who served her mission in Chile.  She is very nice.  She only got back like one year ago so she's pretty young.  We love our teachers.
 
My favorite story I heard this week was during a devotional they showed of Richard G. Scott.  He talked all about personal revelation to Oliver Cowdery in D&C 6, 8 and 9 so I was all ears because D&C 6 is my favorite scripture of course.  He talked about the importance of gratitude.  He told of a ward in Guatemala that saved for years to be able to attend the temple.  And once they were able to go one woman after the veil part kneeled down in front of the entrance to the celestial room for like 20 minutes just praying and crying.  One of the temple workers asked her what was wrong or if she needed help and she said, "Oh yes please help me.  I've been trying to thank my Heavenly Father for all my blessings, and I just don't think I'm doing a sufficient job, could you please help me?"  She was so, so incredibly humble.  This week I felt so inadequate as I watched other people teach lessons far superior than when I taught.  I can not express myself in Spanish as I can in English obviously so I am trying so hard to get from just being able to state facts to get to be able to say like analogies and personal stories.  Ack it is so hard.  But it was a good reminder that I need to be humble and realize how inadequate I am, but that with God I can accomplish what is needed of me.  I love you so, so much!  Hope you are all doing wonderfully!
 
Love, Hermana Johnson