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! 

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